2013 – 2014 Campaign
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September 25, 2013

Ed Bonekemper holds a B.A., cum laude, in American history from Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania and an M.A. in American history from Old Dominion University in Virginia. He also earned a J.D. from Yale Law School. Ed was a Federal Government attorney for 34 years, including 11 years on active duty with the U.S. Coast Guard, from which he retired as a commander. He taught maritime and constitutional law at the Coast Guard Academy and military history at Muhlenberg. Ed has been the Book Review Editor of Civil War News since early 2010. For over 15 years, he has been a Civil War speaker at hundreds of Roundtables and numerous other forums, including eight appearances at the Smithsonian Institution.

His five Civil war books are: “Lincoln and Grant: The Westerners Who Won the Civil War”, “Grant and Lee: Victorious American and Vanquished Virginian”, “McClellan and Failure: A Study of Civil War Fear, Incompetence and Worse”, “A Victor, Not a Butcher: Ulysses S. Grant’s Overlooked Military Genius”, and “How Robert E. Lee Lost the Civil War”. His many published articles include: “The Butcher’s Bill: Ulysses S. Grant is often referred to as a ‘butcher,’ but does Robert E. Lee actually deserve that title?”, Civil War Times, April 2011, pp. 36-43; “General Disobedience: ‘Little Mac’ Let John Pope Twist in the Wind,” Civil War Times, December 2010, pp. 32-39, and “Is Grant or Lee Greatest General?”, The Washington Times, March 29, 2008, p. D3.

“Antietam: A Calamity of Errors” will explore the Maryland, or Antietam, Campaign and focus on the deadly Battle of Antietam fought by the armies of Robert E. Lee and George B. McClellan. That battle was the deadliest in American military history. Ed will discuss the strategic and tactical errors that placed Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia in a position in which it should have been destroyed and the offsetting strategic and tactical errors of McClellan that saved Lee’s army from destruction. He will conclude with an explanation of the battle’s ramifications and significance that made it perhaps the most important battle of the Civil War.

October 23, 2013

"The U.S. Marines at the Battle of Bull Run: Emending the Record" by David M. Sullivan


David M. Sullivan, Fellow of The Company of Military Historians and recipient of its Distinguished Service Award, received his B.A. in Military History from the University of Massachusetts in 1993. Mr. Sullivan is an award winning author with over seventy articles dealing with The United States Marine Corps, the Confederate States Marine Corps, and the Confederate States Navy published in Civil War Times Illustrated and numerous other publications. His four-volume "The United States Marine Corps in the Civil War" (1997-2000) places the Marine Corps in its rightful place beside the most famous units of the American Civil War. "He has produced an encyclopedic yet readable historical account that documents the Marine Corps' splendid service, dispelling incorrect notions and correcting erroneous assumptions," noted Foundation President Lt. Gen. Ron Christmas, USMC (Ret.) "…the standard by which all other Civil War accounts must be judged."

Mr. Sullivan is the co-author of "The Civil War Uniforms of the United States Marine Corps - The Regulations of 1859" (2009). He edited, revised, annotated, and expanded Ralph W. Donnelly’s 1984 version of "Biographical Sketches of the Commissioned Officers of the Confederate States Marine Corps" (2002) and has been the editor of "Military Collector & Historians", the journal of the Company of Military Historians, from 1999 to the present, and since 2000 has held the position of administrator of that organization.

Numerous authors have disparaged the performance of the Marines in the Battle of Bull Run.


December 4, 2013

"Gone with the Glory: The Civil War in Cinema"

by Brian Steel Wills, Ph.D.

When it comes to popular presentations of the American Civil War, few phrases evoke images of that conflict as powerful as "Gone with the Wind", although that epic motion picture had more to do with the adventures of a young Southern woman than depictions of war-related themes. This difficulty in melding stories with facts has been the dilemma of film regarding historical subjects, with Hollywood frequently turning its focus first to entertainment values and then to the historical foundation or framework. Nevertheless, from the silent era to the present day, motion pictures have provided one means by which people have connected with their past. In the process a rich mosaic of figures has emerged for movie audiences that, in some instances, have become iconic, and the sweep and grandeur of the subject matter has proven particularly well-suited to the big screen of the cinema. In more recent years, subjects have broadened to include other aspects, such as the famed 54th Massachusetts in "Glory", the smaller-scale drama in backcountry Kentucky of "Pharaoh’s Army", or the struggle for passage of the 13th Amendment in "Lincoln".

But, in each instance, the Civil War in cinema has provided at least the introductory platform for learning more about the era’s issues, events and personalities.



Brian Steel Wills is the Director of the Center for the Study of the Civil War Era and Professor of History at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Georgia. He has received various teaching awards and is the author of numerous works relating to the American Civil War including "George Henry Thomas: As True as Steel" (2012); "The Confederacy’s Greatest Cavalryman: Nathan Bedford Forrest"; "The War Hits Home: The Civil War in Southeastern Virginia" (2001); and "Gone with the Glory: The Civil War in Cinema" (2006).

January 22, 2014
“The Big Divide: A Travel Guide to Historic and Civil War Sites in the Missouri-Kansas Border Region” by Diane Eickhoff and Aaron Barnhart


The Big Divide: A Travel Guide to Historic and Civil War Sites in the Missouri-Kansas Border Region, by Diane Eickhoff and Aaron Barnhart.


Called everything from the country's "top television critic" (KNX Radio) to "the dean of Leno criticism" (New York Observer), Aaron Barnhart has been on the staff of the Kansas City Star since 1997. His syndicated columns, blog posts, even his tweets are regularly quoted everywhere from the New York Times to Gawker. He is widely regarded as the nation's leading expert on late-night television. He has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, CBS Radio, and countless NPR and news-talk programs from coast to coast, including Canada.

For 16 years the authors have been driving back and forth across one of the least visible and most contentious borders in American history: the Missouri-Kansas state line.  This boundary — this line in the dirt — once produced the fierce border wars that gave the world John Brown, Jesse James, William Clarke Quantrill and Ride With the Devil. But it also produced Harry Truman, Amelia Earhart, George Washington Carver, and three world-famous painters whose works could not have happened anywhere else.  The Civil War was fought here in the West before it was won in the East. The battles at Wilson’s Creek and Pea Ridge were crucial to keeping Missouri in the Union. History was made right here, by African American regiments who were seeing combat for the first time in the Civil War (long before the 54th Massachusetts of Glory renown).  Now it’s your turn to discover this remarkable landscape. The Big Divide will take you to the most compelling and unique sites where history happened along this turbulent border. Diane and Aaron — she’s a historian, he’s a journalist — can tell you why these sites mattered and make it easy for you to put together a themed driving tour to your tastes. If you’ve got kids, they’ve got you covered, too.


The web site is www.TheBigDivide.com

February 26, 2014 - Meeting

Custer historians Father Vince Heier (left) and Gregory J. W. Urwin (right) author of: Custer victorious: the Civil War battles of General George Armstrong Custer

February 26, 2014“Not the Best General, But Certainly the Best Man: A Curious Event in Custer’s Civil War Career (Among Others)” by Round Table Member Reverend Vincent A. Heier


Reverend Vincent A. Heier

George Armstrong Custer is known primarily for his tragic defeat at Little Bighorn in 1876. Civil War students will recognize him as one of the most effective Cavalry commanders in that war. But can we separate the legend from the man? This presentation will focus upon an incident between Lt. Custer and Confederate officer John "Gimlet" Lea. Both had been friends in the Civil War and now will meet again in a most unique situation. The presentation will also relate another later event in General Custer's Civil War career and finally will offer some of his personal answers to a questionnaire he filled out for a young admirer.

Fr. Vincent Heier is a retired St. Louis priest and longtime member of the Roundtable. he has authored a book on Little Bighorn postcards and contributed to a number of books and articles on all aspects of Custer.
March 26, 2014“Lincoln’s Tragic Admiral, The Life of Samuel Francis Du Pont” by Colonel Kevin J Weddle (US ARMY Retired), Professor of Military Theory and Strategy US Army War College


Kevin J. Weddle, Ph.D.

COL(Ret), US Army

Professor of Military Theory and Strategy

Department of Distance Education, US Army War College

Once revered as one of the finest officers in the U.S. Navy, Rear Admiral Samuel Francis Du Pont is now, when remembered at all, criticized for resisting technological advancement and for half-heartedly leading the disastrous all-ironclad Union naval attack on Charleston.

Although his reputation appeared unshakable after he won the first major Union victory of the Civil War in South Carolina, the failed attack on Charleston brought his career to an abrupt end. Relieved of his command, he was also maligned in the press.

In Lincoln's Tragic Admiral: The Life of Samuel Francis Du Pont, Kevin J. Weddle challenges this reduction of Du Pont's legacy, combining new and known sources to uncover a thoroughly modern, though flawed, Du Pont.

Despite the fact that Du Pont's name has become intertwined with the ironclad due to the catastrophic battle that brought shame on both the man and the machine, Weddle reveals that the admiral was the victim of a double irony: although Du Pont championed technological innovation, he outspokenly opposed the use of the new ironclads to attack Charleston.

Only when his objections were overridden did his use of these modern vessels bring his career to a tragic end. Weddle exposes this historical misunderstanding, while also pinpointing Du Pont's crucial role in the development of United States naval strategy, his work in modernizing the navy between the Mexican War and the Civil War, and his push for the navy's technological transition from wood to iron.

In his examination of key documents from Du Pont's life and career, Weddle unveils the life-long partnership that Du Pont shared with his wife and confidante, Sophie, who served as an immediate counsel to many of his decisions, while also tackling larger historical questions such as civil-military relations, attitudes toward slavery, innovations in military strategy and organization, and the introduction of new military technology in wartime. Both enlightening and moving, Lincoln's Tragic Admiral will appeal to scholars interested in American, technological, and military history, as well as the general reader interested in the Civil War.

Click here for link to this web site
April 23, 2014 - meeting
“Guerrillas in Civil War Missouri"
by James W. Erwin
James Erwin, former owner of Main Street Books, signed copies of his new release, Guerrillas in Civil War Missouri (The History Press) at Main Street Books in historic St. Charles, Missouri.

Jim Erwin will speak about Guerillas and Guerilla Hunters in Civil War Missouri. Federal troops fought more than 1,000 engagements with Confederates in Missouri during the Civil War – most of them with guerrillas throughout the state. It was left to the armies in other theaters to provide the dramatic charges and the heroic defenses. In the guerrilla war, a seemingly peaceful countryside could turn into a bloody ambush without warning. Civilians, regardless of their allegiance or attempts to remain neutral, were caught in a war where they had to choose a side.

Mr. Erwin is the author of two books on the subject. Guerrillas in Civil War Missouri tells the stories of guerrillas led by William Quantrill, Bill Anderson, and others (including future Missouri bank and train robbers Jesse and Frank James) who carried on hit-and-run warfare against soldiers and civilians. Guerrilla Hunters in Civil War Missouri covers the Union troops recruited to fight the guerrillas. In over three years of the war, these boys for most were in their teens and early twenties, were engaged in what one of them called “hard service,” and they became hard men. Combat, when it came, was often short, sharp, brutal, and unforgiving. In Missouri neither side showed mercy for defeated foes.

May 28, 2014 Meeting
May 28, 2014 "Cinders & Silence: Order No. 11 and Western Missouri's Burnt District" by Tom Rafiner, author and storyteller


Tom Rafiner
Author and historian
Parkville, MO

Link to web site - click here

Tom Rafiner is an independent researcher, historian, and author.  Tom grew- up  in Jackson County, Mo. and has western Missouri ancestral roots stretching back to 1831.  During the Border War and through the Civil War his ancestors felt the angst of the fighting and suffered the pain of refugees under Order No. 11.

Since 2003 Tom has devoted his full energy and passion to recovering the Burnt District’s lost history.  By relentlessly pursuing the stories of individual families and communities, he has brought the historical mosaic of Jackson, Cass, and Bates counties into clearer focus.

The commitment to documented detail has carried Tom to the National Archives in Washington, D.C. five times.  His pursuit of first hand stories has led him throughout the Midwest.

A sought after speaker, storyteller, and historian, Tom has appeared on Public Television and, as a historical consultant, provided material to Midwestern newspapers. 

In addition to local presentations in over 40 Missouri and Kansas counties, he has been appeared at the Kenosha, Wisconsin Civil War Museum, the Missouri History Museum, the State Historical Society of Missouri, and the Kansas City Public Library’s “Missouri Valley Series.”  Tom has been the keynote speaker at the Missouri state conventions of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the Daughters of Union Veterans.

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2801 South Telegraph Road

Mehlville (St Louis), MO   63125

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Please note: as of August 7 2014, MapQuest will not longer allow us to show Mehlville as the town but now uses St. Louis.

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2801 South Telegraph Road
St Louis MO 63125