American Civil War education, preservation and restoration
The round table meets on the third Tuesday of the month from September through May, except April, at the Knights of Columbus, 1114 American Boulevard West, Bloomington, MN 55420, for members and their guests. Social hour starts at 5:45 pm followed by dinner and a speaker at 6:30 pm. If you are not yet a member please see Join the Table for more information or contact Carol VanOrnum, Treasurer, at email@example.com.
For a more complete description of the program, and a speaker bio, click on the presentation title.
2021-2022 Guest Speaker Schedule
September 21, 2021
“Milliken’s Bend: Fighting for Freedom on the Mississippi”
– Linda Barnickel
September 21, 2021
Early on the morning of June 7, 1863 a brigade of Texans under Gen. Henry McCulloch assaulted a Union outpost at Milliken’s Bend, Louisiana, just a few miles upstream from Vicksburg, Mississippi. Defending the post was a brigade of newly-emancipated slaves who had joined the Union army, many of them with less than a month of freedom, and even less training. The onslaught they faced would result in some of the greatest losses, proportionally, during the entire war – by some measures even exceeding that of the notably famous 1st Minnesota at Gettysburg. And yet few have heard of Milliken’s Bend. What happened there, why has it been so forgotten, and why is it worth remembering?
Linda Barnickel is an archivist and freelance writer, with master’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and The Ohio State University. She is the author of Milliken’s Bend: A Civil War Battle in History and Memory (LSU Press, 2013) which received the Jules and Frances Landry Award from LSU Press for “outstanding contribution to Southern studies,” and the A.M. Pate Jr. Award from the Fort Worth Civil War Round Table for “outstanding original research” on the Trans-Mississippi. In addition, her articles have appeared in North and South Magazine; Civil War News; Tennessee Historical Quarterly; and elsewhere, and she compiled the records of Battery G, 2nd Illinois Light Artillery in the book: We Enlisted as Patriots (Heritage Books, 1998). Learn more about her work at: lindabarnickel.com or millikensbend.com.
October 19, 2021
– Nicole Etcheson
October 19, 2021
Americans began killing each other in Kansas Territory five years before the Civil War began. “Bleeding Kansas” explores the origins of the violence in the sectional dispute over slavery and the hardening of political differences between free-staters and proslavery advocates. Illinois Senator Stephen A. Douglas’s Kansas-Nebraska Act allowed settlers to choose whether to have slavery. Missourians led by Senator David Atchison crossed the Missouri River to plant slavery in neighboring Kansas. New Englanders led by Dr. Charles Robinson migrated to the territory to save it for freedom. Midwesterners led by former Congressman James H. Lane overcame their distaste for eastern abolitionists to unite with the New Englanders to make Kansas a home for white men. Violence and political turbulence arose from this volatile mix, creating both a prelude and a further cause for the Civil War.
Nicole Etcheson is Alexander M. Bracken Professor of History at Ball State University. She is the author of A Generation at War: The Civil War Era in a Northern Community (which won the 2012 Avery O. Craven Award from the Organization of American Historians for the most original book on the coming of the Civil War, the Civil War era, or Reconstruction, excepting works of purely military history); Bleeding Kansas (2004); and The Emerging Midwest (1996). She is currently working on a project about suffrage in the post-Civil War era.
November 16, 2021
– Larry Babits
November 16, 2021
Today Black Confederates are seen as a VERY controversial topic in politically correct circles. As a veteran who entered the US Army on the 100th anniversary of the Union capture of the CSS Atlanta, I am well aware that political correctness has no relationship to unvarnished history as facts. Black Confederate infantrymen and cavalrymen existed and were accepted as members of United Confederate Veteran posts after the war. That one fact should be enough to cope with those who say black men did not serve in the Confederate Army. Documentary sources, especially those from Union soldiers writing during the war, clearly indicate that black soldiers existed, so why deny this as a fact? The real question is how many there were. This presentation shows some of the documentary and photographic evidence and raises questions about what were black folk in some Southern states.
Lawrence E. Babits, George Washington Distinguished Professor, East Carolina University Professor Emeritus, former Director of Maritime Studies Ph.D., Brown University, BA and MA, University of Maryland-College Park. Babits has extensive experience in military and maritime archaeology. He has excavated battlefields, fortifications, and a World War II POW camp. In addition to his academic side, Babits served three years in the US Army, largely with B Company, 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry (Gimlets). He has been a reenactor since 1961, especially as a Revolutionary War and Civil War private soldier. He is currently involved with researching smoothbore musketry accuracy and shooting Civil War weaponry competitively with the First Maryland Infantry of the North-South Skirmish Association.
His publications include numerous site reports including Fort Dobbs on the Carolina Frontier and Archaeological Investigations at Causton’s Bluff, Chatham County, Georgia. He authored chapters and articles in Documentary Archaeology in the New World, Archaeology, Military Collector and Historian, Geoarchaeology, and Maryland Historical Magazine. He was the McCann-Taggert Lecturer for the American Institute of Archaeology in 1995, was named George Washington Distinguished Professor of History by the NC Society of the Cincinnati in 2003, and a Fellow of the Company of Military Historians in 2006. His most recent book, Long, Obstinate and Bloody, deals with the 1781 Battle of Guilford Courthouse. It was co-written with Josh Howard and published by the University of North Carolina Press in 2009.
December 21, 2021
“How Christmas Won the War” – George Romano
December 21, 2021
The Civil War had a profound effect on American culture and one of those effects was how the Civil War changed the Christmas holiday in America. Christmas was part of that war and waged four “campaigns” during the course of the war. The country would never be the same, and the Christmas holiday too would be changed forever. Come hear the story of the four “campaigns” of Christmas and how the war changed the celebration of Christmas and how, in the end, Christmas does indeed win the Civil War.
George Romano has had an interest in the Civil War since growing up 20 minutes away from the Chickamauga Battlefield site in NW Georgia. He is past President of the Rochester Civil War Round Table and the past President of the Board of the Wood Lake Battlefield Preservation Association. The WLBPA is dedicated to preserving and commemorating the 1862 Dakota War Wood Lake Battlefield site (near Granite Falls) for future generations. An annual speaker at the Rochester Civil War Roundtable, George has also been a guest presenter at other Roundtables in the Twin Cities, Winona, Wasioja, Mankato, New Ulm, St Cloud, Lichfield, Hastings, and Stillwater. George is a member of Toastmasters and is a Distinguished Toastmaster. He lives in Rochester and is now retired from IBM as a Consultant.
May 18, 2021: “The Infamous Dakota War Trials of 1862: Revenge, Military Law, and the Judgment of History” – John Haymond
May 18, 2021
“The Infamous Dakota War Trials of 1862: Revenge, Military Law, and the Judgment of History”
– John Haymond
January 19, 2021
The military commission trials that took place in the immediate aftermath of the US-Dakota War of 1862 remain an intensely controversial element of Minnesota’s most devastating conflict. The grim details of those proceedings –the frequently cursory nature of the 392 trials and the secrecy under which they were conducted; the total lack of defense counsel for the Dakota defendants; the 303 death sentences; the 38 men hanged on a single gallows in Mankato – have led many modern observers to conclude that the trials, executions, and subsequent expulsion of Dakota people from Minnesota were appalling injustices. The prevailing view also holds that Colonel Henry H. Sibley never had the necessary authority to convene the military court in the first place. Historian John A. Haymond examines the US-Dakota War and the military commission trials from the essential perspective of 19th century military law and reaches several surprising conclusions that directly challenge many long-held interpretations of this history.
John A. Haymond is a conflict historian who studies the history of military law and social justice issues. He has a BA in history from the University of Minnesota Duluth, an MSc in history from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and is working on a PhD based on his research on the Dakota War trials. He is the author of three books: The Infamous Dakota War Trials of 1862: Revenge, Military Law, and the Judgment of History (McFarland & Co, 2016); The American Soldier, 1866-1916: The Enlisted Man and the Transformation of the United States Army (McFarland & Co, 2018); and Soldiers: A Global History of the Fighting Man 1800-1945 (Stackpole Books, 2018). His fourth book, a study of the 1917 Houston Mutiny and courts-martial, a case that resulted in the largest mass execution of American soldiers in U.S. history, is currently underway. His work has been published in scholarly journals both in the United States and Great Britain, and he writes a regular feature about the history of the laws of war for Military History Quarterly. He served twenty-one years in the U.S. Army and currently resides in Washington, where his wife is an Army medical officer at Joint Base Lewis McChord.
February 15, 2022
“U.S. Grant in Missouri: The Re-education of a Civil War Legend” – Dave Page
February 15, 2022
Ulysses Grant began his military career in 1843 at Jefferson Barracks just south of St. Louis, Missouri. After service in the Mexican-American War and at posts in New York and California, he returned to Missouri in 1854 and settled down to work on his father-in-law’s farm at White Haven. As his fortunes suffered, he moved his family to Galena to work in his father’s leather store. The Civil War saved him from obscurity, and he gained his first command experience during campaigns in Missouri. He visited the state for the last time in 1854, meaning that Missouri played a central role in Grant’s life and career for over twenty years.
Dave Page is the 2020 winner of the Council on America’s Military Past’s Herbert M. Hart military history writing award for his article on the Civil War battle at Fort Pemberton, Mississippi. Through the years, he has given talks on the Civil War throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin. In 2001, he appeared on History Channel’s This Week in History program devoted to the Civil War vessel Star of the West. His articles on the Civil War have appeared in Military History, America’s Civil War, Civil War Times Illustrated, Artilleryman, and Historic Traveler. He served as president of the St. Croix Valley Civil War Round Table for several years.
March 15, 2022
“Competing Memories of the Civil War“ – Caroline Janney
March 15 2022
Appomattox has long served to mark the end of the American Civil War. Yet closely examining the spring and summer of 1865 reveals a far more contentious, uncertain, ambiguous, and lengthy ending to the American Civil War than previously understood. It underscores the complexity of decisions made by the US army, civilian authorities, and soldiers from Lee’s army as well as the unintended consequences of those decisions. Rather than serving as a clear ending to the conflict, the surrender of Confederate forces brought into stark relief many of the legal, social, and political questions that had plagued the war from the beginning. Most importantly, what followed the surrender would offer the first real test of how a democracy might end a civil war.
Caroline E. Janney is the John L. Nau III Professor of the American Civil War and Director of the John L. Nau Center for Civil War History at the University of Virginia. A graduate of the University of Virginia, she worked as a historian for the National Park Service and taught at Purdue University before returning to Virginia in 2018. An active public lecturer, she has given presentations at locations across the globe. She is a speaker with the Organization of American Historians’ Distinguished Lectureship program and a recipient of the Kenneth T. Kofmehl Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award from Purdue’s College of Liberal Arts. She serves as a co-editor of the University of North Carolina Press’s Civil War America Series and is the past present of the Society of Civil War Historians. She has published seven books, including Remembering the Civil War: Reunion and the Limits of Reconciliation (2013) and Ends of War: the Fight of Lee’s Army after Appomattox (available summer 2021).
January 18, 2022
“James Longstreet in Chattanooga and Knoxville”
– COL (ret) Ed Lowe
January 18, 2022
Following the Battle of Gettysburg, James Longstreet’s First Corps of Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia was sent to support Braxton Bragg’s Army of Tennessee. As the Army of the Cumberland and William Rosecrans withdrew to Chattanooga after their defeat at Chickamauga (September 1863), Bragg’s army setup a partial siege of Chattanooga. A tumultuous command climate soon arose within Bragg’s army. Upon the arrival of General Grant and the Confederates losing its stranglehold on Union supply efforts, Bragg sent Longstreet to handle Ambrose Burnside and the Union forces in and around Knoxville, TN to the north. A stifled attack on Fort Sanders in Knoxville and the threat of Union reinforcements obliged Longstreet to withdraw deeper into East Tennessee. During this period, Longstreet had to handle his own command issues with some of his more senior commanders. Eventually, Longstreet’s First Corps reunited with Lee just in time for the Battle of the Wilderness in early May, 1863.
COL (ret) Ed Lowe served 26 years on Active Duty with deployments to Operation Desert Shield/Storm, Haiti, Afghanistan (2002 & 2011), and Iraq (2008). He attended North Georgia College and has graduate degrees from California State University, U.S. Army War College, U.S. Command & General Staff College, and Webster’s University. He is currently an adjunct professor for the University of Maryland/Global Campus where he teaches humanities and government. He is awaiting publication of his first book with Savas Beatie that covers Longstreet’s First Corps from Gettysburg to East Tennessee. He currently serves as President of the Chickamauga & Chattanooga Civil War Round Table, reconstituted in September of 2020.