Our 2016-2017 Campaign is being updated and should be soon.
Wed. Sept. 28, 2016 Meeting
"Myth of the Lost Cause:
False Remembrance of
the Civil War"
The Southern-created Myth of the Lost Cause has
long dominated Americans' remembrance of the Civil War, the country's watershed
event. In many ways, that Myth has been America's most successful propaganda
Bonekemper examines the accuracy of the Myth and how it has affected our
perception of slavery, states' rights, the nature of the Civil War, and the
military performance of Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant and James Longstreet. He
begins by discussing the nature of slavery in 1860, including whether it was a
benign and dying institution.
The heart of his analysis is whether slavery was
the primary cause of secession and the Confederacy's creation. He does this by
examining Federal protection of slavery, slavery demographics, seceding states'
conventions and declarations, their outreach to other slave states, Confederate
leaders' statements, and the Confederacy's foreign policy, POW policy and
rejection of black soldiers.
Drawing on decades of research, Bonekemper then discusses other controversial Myth issues,
such as whether the South could have won the Civil War, whether Lee was a great
general, whether Grant was a mere "butcher" who won by brute force,
whether Longstreet lost Gettysburg for Lee, and whether the North won by waging
Ed Bonekemper earned a B.A., cum laude,
in American history from Muhlenberg College, an M.A. in American history from
Old Dominion University, and a J.D. from Yale Law School.
He is the author of six Civil War books:
The Myth of the
Lost Cause: Why the South Fought the Civil War and Why the North Won;
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
A Victor, Not a
Butcher: Ulysses S. Grant’s Overlooked Military Genius, and
How Robert E. Lee
Lost the Civil War.
Ed is the Book Review Editor of Civil War News and was an adjunct lecturer in military history at
Muhlenberg College from 2003 to 2010. He served as a Federal Government
attorney for 34 years and is a retired Commander, U.S. Coast Guard Reserve.
Robert E. Lee
Wed. Oct. 26, 2016 Meeting
Hilda C. Koontz,
FREEDOM’S DREAM GONE AWRY"
In the early morning hours of April 27, 1865, the steamship
Sultana exploded and sank on the Mississippi River seven miles north of
Memphis. To this day, it is still the
most costly disaster in U.S. maritime history, yet it receives scant mention in
the annals of the Civil War.
the ship that night were nearly 2400 people, mostly Union prisoners of war
returning from Andersonville and Cahaba; a mere 600 of them survived.
This program will introduce you to the ship,
the hapless souls that sailed aboard her that night, the heroic and not so
heroic acts of the survivors, and the greed, incompetence and mechanical forces
that caused her demise. We will also discuss why this tragedy is still buried
in American history.
Ms. Hilda C. Koontz
is a writer, editor and former journalist. She is a frequent speaker for the National
Museum of Civil War Medicine in Washington DC and Frederick MD, for Civil War
round tables and historical associations in the mid-Atlantic region, the Chicago
Civil War Round table, The Little Big Horn Associates, the “Maryland and the
Civil War: A Regional Perspective” conference and for the Road Scholar program.
Ms. Koontz is a current Director and Past President of the Gettysburg Civil War
Round table, holds an MA from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul MN and a
BA from Hood College in Frederick MD.
She is the editor-in-chief of A Sanctuary for the Wounded, The Civil War
Hospital at Christ Church, Gettysburg PA and is currently writing a history of
one Maryland family’s human contribution to the Civil War. She has been a Civil
War re-enactor for over 20 years and resides near Gettysburg PA.
Wed. Nov. 30, 2016 Meeting
T. J. Stiles,
"Jesse James Joined a Death Squad:
The Causes and Consequences of Missouri's War within the Civil War"
T.J. Stiles discusses why Missouri, a border state that was overwhelmingly pro-Union, suffered the Civil War's most savage guerrilla fighting—far worse than what Custer experienced in Confederate Virginia—and explores its lasting consequences.
T.J. Stiles received the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in history for his new book, Custer's Trials: A Life on the Frontier of a New America, and the 2010 prize in biography for his previous work, The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt, which also received the 2009 National Book Award for nonfiction. Trained as a historian at Carleton College and Columbia University, he has written independently about the Civil War era since he began work on his first book, Jesse James: Last Rebel of the Civil War, published in 2002.
Wed. Jan. 25, 2017 Meeting
"My Dear Molly: The Civil War Letters
of Captain James Love"
Upon the outbreak of the Civil War, James E. Love enlisted
as a sergeant in the United States Reserve Corps, and left St. Louis with his
fellow Union soldiers on June 15, 1861. The following day, James sent the first
of many letters home to Eliza Mary “Molly” Wilson, the beloved fiancée he left
behind. A prolific writer, James continued to write to her, 160 letters in all,
for the duration of his Civil War service. These letters are now part of the
Archives at the Missouri Historical Society in St. Louis, and the Society published
the letters as a book, My Dear Molly: The
Civil War Letters of Captain James Love. Molly Kodner, editor of the book and
Archivist at the Missouri Historical Society, will read excerpts from James’s
letters regarding his Civil War service and the great love story of James and
Molly, which also evolves throughout the letters.
Molly Kodner has lived in St. Louis for her entire life,
except for her four years as a student at the University of Michigan in Ann
Arbor, where she got a Bachelor of Arts in History in 1997. Following
graduation, Molly started as an intern in the Archives department at the
Missouri Historical Society. She received her Masters degree in History and
Museum Studies from the University of Missouri-St. Louis in 2001. During her
time in graduate school, Molly continued to work in the Archives at the
Missouri History Museum, eventually leading to her current position as Archivist.
Wed. Feb. 22, 2017 Meeting
"On the Altar of the Nation:
The aftermath of the Civil War"
The Civil War will for the first time in American
history create the nation state. The bodies of the 620,000 - 750,000 men
who died in the war lay on the altar of the nation. This conflict had
profound effects on the federal government, national politics, Northern
economy, changing social and economic structure of the South but the most
radical development would be the change in the black experience. The
question has to be asked is “did they die in vain”? You will make that
decision at the end of the presentation.
received an undergraduate degree in history from Washington University in St.
Louis and has a Masters in Counseling Psychology from St. Louis
University. Ms. Vega has taught Global
History at St. Louis University High School and American History and AP US
History at Evansville Day School in Evansville, IN.
For the past
five years Bonnie has lectured in American History at the Missouri History
Museum. A few of the topics she has
covered are a five-part series on the Civil War; programs on George Washington;
the history of St. Louis; the history of American slavery; Thomas Jefferson;
Prohibition; Manifest Destiny; Religion in America. She is now doing a 28-part series called
“Great Moments in American History” which is the history of the United States
from the first inhabitants of North America to the Civil Rights Movement.
volunteers at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in
Springfield, IL and presents lectures to the volunteers on topics relating to
Wed. March 22, 2017 Meeting
To Be Determined
Watch for Updates
Wed. April 26, 2017 Meeting
"Weapons of Mass Destruction
considered during the Civil War"
In an effort to bring about resolution to the Civil War, creative
suggestions and research was offered by individuals, many of whom were
civilians. Several of such suggestions
involved the use of chemical and biological agents as unconventional weapons by
both Confederate and Union forces against their adversaries.
The Confederacy considered weaponizing numerous chemicals and
biological agents. A Southern civilian offered a detailed plan to take Fort
Pickens by the deployment of a poison gas from a balloon. Another suggested using red pepper and
veratria, or hydrocyanic acid and arseniuretted hydrogen in artillery
shells. To combat a tunneling operation
by Union forces, Confederate troops created fuse activated sulfur smoke
cartridges. Chinese stink balls were considered as an adjunct to break the
siege of Petersburg. Chloroform was to be used in a plan to thwart USS Monitor. A plot to sell smallpox
contaminated clothing to Union forces was devised by a Southern sympathizer. A
high ranking Confederate surgeon suggested the use of potassium cyanide and
hydrochloric acid in artillery shells. A
medical doctor from Kentucky schemed to contaminate the New York water supply
with strychnine, arsenic, and prussic acid.
This same physician executed a plan to infect the population of major
Northern cities and President Lincoln with yellow fever.
The Union also researched and discussed uses of chemicals on Rebel
troops. A New York City schoolteacher thoroughly researched a chlorine
ordinance to be contained in an artillery shell. Another idea was to fill a
hand-pump fire engine with chloroform for dispersal on troops. A captain
proposed using a cacodyl glass grenade for ship-to-ship fighting. The grenade would also have contained
arsenious acid. In a letter to President
Abraham Lincoln, a professor envisioned the combination of hydrochloric and
sulfuric acids on Confederate lines.
There were over 1500 different schemes, suggested by Northern citizens,
for disposing of CSS Virginia (Merrimac), including a plot to poison
the crew. A Wisconsin citizen wrote to the governor, and suggested using kites
to drop red pepper over Confederate camps.
With the exception of the yellow fever scheme, weapons of mass
destruction were not sortied as neither President Lincoln nor President Davis
gave authorization, as both disapproved of unconventional warfare. Both feared the negative propaganda, the
infuriation of the citizens, and reprisals from irregular warfare. As a result, on April 24, 1863, President
Lincoln issued General Order No. 100, which prohibited the use of poison in any
manner. This presentation, complete with
photos and descriptions, will discuss and illustrate the chemical and
biological poisons considered by both
militaries during the War Between the States. It is imperative that
history shows that such weapons of mass destruction were considered, but not
Mark Laubacher is a RN and paramedic working as a Certified
Specialist in Poison Information since 1992 at the Central Ohio Poison Center
located at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus, Ohio. Prior to this, he was a full time staff nurse
at Children’s Emergency Department for 4 years.
He received his Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Capital University
in 1989. He is also currently a faculty
member for Grant Medical Center Paramedic Program in Columbus, Ohio. Having delivered over 400 presentations, he
routinely presents at the state and national levels on various topics of
A student of US Civil War history, Mark presented a paper on snake
bites to Union and Confederate soldiers at the National Museum of Civil War
Medicine Conference in 2013. He did the
same at the Society of Civil War Surgeons Conference in May 2014. A review of unconventional weapons that were
considered during the Civil War was given in New Orleans in September 2014 to
the North American Congress of Clinical Toxicology. He is active member of the
following: 1st Ohio Light Artillery Battery A, Central Ohio Civil War
Roundtable, Society of Civil War Surgeons, National Museum of Civil War
Medicine, and Society of Civil War Historians.
His publications include:
Laubacher, Mark. "Snake Bit--Perpetuated Error: No Snake
Bites to Civil War Soldiers." Blue & Gray Magazine 30, no. 5
(July 2014): 45-52.
Laubacher, Mark. "The First Medical Man aboard USS Monitor," Journal of Civil War
Medicine 19, no. 2 (April/May/June 2015): 60-71.
Wed. May 24, 2017 Meeting
"Teacher of Civil War Generals"
From the training field at West Point to the entrenchments at Fort Donelson, Charles Ferguson Smith was the soldier's soldier. The call of duty was a magic sound for which he was always ready to make every sacrifice. He was the very model of a soldier, calm, prudent, self-poised, and bold. During his nearly forty-two year military career, these qualities earned him the respect and admiration of his peers. As both a teacher and role model, he influenced army officers who became generals during the Civil War. However, his story is more than an account of battles fought and victories won. Through his correspondence, we discover a man who combined the qualities of a faithful officer, an excellent disciplinarian, an able commander, and a modest, courteous gentleman.
ALLEN MESCH is an author, educator, and historian. Allen teaches classes on the Civil War at Collin College. He has visited over 132 Civil War sites and shares his over 4,000 photographs through his web site Civil War Journeys (http://www.civil-war-journeys.org). Mr. Mesch writes a Civil War blog called Salient Points (http://salient-points.blogspot.com) and reviews books for theCivil War Courier. Allen earned a masters degree from MIT and his bachelors from Clarkson University. Please see Allen's web site, www.AllenMesch.com, for more information.
For more information on his book click on PDF below.
Join us for a Friendly & Fun Evening of Civil War History!
We meet at:
ROYALE ORLEANS BANQUET CENTER
2801 Telegraph Road
Mehlville (St Louis), MO 63125
For directions (Click Here)
Doors open at 5:30
Meal served at 6:30
Presentation at 7:30