Welcome to the American Civil War Round Table (UK) site

To help you navigate around the site, all articles fall under one of 4 headings: Battles & Campaigns, Preservation, Profiles and UK Heritage.

 

We can now highlight articles on our front page, where we will give priority to forthcoming meetings, events and special announcements.

 

- Webmaster

Our invitation to you

Our Round Table comprises people from all walks of life who are interested in any or all aspects of the war, but who also care enough to contribute to the growing number of initiatives to preserve this heritage for future generations.

 

If after browsing our site you would like to join us we’d be very happy to enrol you, whatever colour you prefer!

Quotation

 

"I confess, without shame, that I am sick and tired of fighting — its glory is all moonshine; even success the most brilliant is over dead and mangled bodies, with the anguish and lamentations of distant families, appealing to me for sons, husbands, and fathers ... it is only those who have never heard a shot, never heard the shriek and groans of the wounded and lacerated ... that cry aloud for more blood, more vengeance, more desolation."

 

(William Tecumseh Sherman)

 

 

The website

If you find something that needs changing, like a web link that is no longer active, please tell us.

Welcome to the website of the American Civil War Round Table (UK)

American Civil War Round Table UK

We’re a growing group of mostly British-based members, who get together and share information about all aspects of one of the greatest conflicts of the 19th century. You will also find here articles taken from our thrice yearly magazine ‘Crossfire’, that is free to members. If after browsing our site you would like to join us we’d be very happy to enrol you, whatever colour you prefer!

 

Our Round Table comprises people from all walks of life who are interested in any or all aspects of the war, but who also care enough to contribute to the growing number of initiatives to preserve this heritage for future generations. We meet frequently, mostly in London, to hear a wide variety of presentations on the war. Our speakers have included such published historians as Ed Bearss, Amanda Foreman and Gary Gallagher.

 

Why all this interest in American events of the past with so much history of our own? Surprisingly, we are the first in the line of Civil War Round Tables set up in the 1950s - almost exclusively in the United States. We have maintained a natural affinity with events of the Civil War. With many of its participants hailing from these islands it is perhaps not surprising that British viewpoints have been brought to bear on this all-American affair.

 

Latest news

 

21/10/2020 - Virtual AGM on 14 November 2020

 

Date: Saturday 14th November 2019

Time: 12:30 (AGM) 13:30 (Lectures)

 

1st Lecture: The Battle of Big Bethel

Speaker: Erick Bush

 

2nd Lecture: Ulysses S Grant – The Formative Years

Speaker: Neil Morley

 

Venue: ZOOM – Registration Required

 

https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJIpf-GorzsqGNXyk8QzPhMBhV0eY6x-sbBK

 

Close: c. 15.00 – 15.30.

 


 

20/10/2020 - AGM 2020 – Details of Lectures

 

1st Lecture: The Battle of Big Bethel

Speaker: Erick Bush

 

Erick Bush is a military historian with a specialization in the Civil War in Alabama and Virginia. His areas of focus in Virginia include the Battle of Big Bethel, the role of intelligence and artillery in the Peninsula Campaign, and the early development of ironclads. His particular areas of specialty in Alabama include the ironclads built in Selma, Alabama's series of ironworks, and Wilson’s Raid in 1865. He has previously lectured to Civil War Round Table groups, history groups, and military professional development activities in England, Ohio, Alabama, Texas, Virginia, and New York. Additionally, he has developed and led military staff rides and history tours focused on the Battle of Big Bethel, Civil War Intelligence, the French & Indian War in Central New York, and the Siege of Fort Stanwix/Battle of Oriskany.

 

2nd Lecture: Ulysses S Grant – The Formative Years

Speaker: Neil Morley

 

Neil Morley has been a member of the Round Table for a number of years. His interest in the ACW was kindled many years ago when he watched the PBS programme by Ken and Ric Burns ‘The American Civil War’. There are many pivotal moments in the Civil War, but also many innovations and tactics which influenced and shaped future conflicts, that keep his interest alive. He has always tended to side with the Federals, while understanding the partisan and territorial nature of the conflict which became inevitable. In 2019 Neil was elected to the Committee in the role of Webmaster and has taken on the challenge of having our website updated.

 

 

The Battle of Big Bethel, 10 June 1861

 

The first planned land battle of the Civil War was fought at the Battle of Big Bethel on June 10, 1861, over five weeks before the Battle of First Manassas (Bull Run). This lecture explores the key aspects of Big Bethel to include leadership, intelligence, infantry, artillery, fortifications, and planning, which set the foundation for future operations in the Peninsula Campaign in 1862.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ulysses S Grant – The Formative Years

 

What makes the adult. What are the childhood and parental influences which shape the mature person? How important is nurture, parental and family influence?

 

This talk will look at Ulysses S Grant from his birth to the point of his entry into the Civil War. Where he was born and raised. What was his education and strong influences. Why did he go to West Point and into the Army? Who he met of importance at West Point and in the Army? Where he was based in his time in the army. Who he married? What he did in the Mexican War? Why he resigned? How did he occupy himself between the resignation and re-joining the army at the start of the War?

 

In answering these questions and more, Neil Morley will seek to demonstrate how Grant became the great man he turned out to be. Thoughtful, slow to anger, willing to listen and, very importantly to him, a faithful husband and patient father.

 

 


 

19/9/2020 - Drawing the War: Correspondent artists, illustrated newspapers and authenticity. An online talk by Graham Whitham.

 

 

Graham Whitham presented a very interesting and detailed talk. This is now available on YouTube for those of you unable to join us and is highly recommended to view. He presents a wealth of information that words alone couldn’t match and that most people will not have seen before.

 

The story of the artists, the drawings they made and the industry that published them is fascinating, but are these images reliable historical documents or journalistic hyperbole?

 

Here is the link to the YouTube. Copy and paste this link into your preferred browser.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hgypkzDyGxs&fbclid=IwAR0xG9wQQF-e98J6aGW-KbrAiB-wQt0Vm89PB5s7Dcon0HJkwvveBr9H1cM

 

 


 

14/9/2020 - Your Favourite Civil War Quotation

 

You will no doubt be aware that ACWRT is in the process of updating out website. Currently we have some Civil War Quotations at various places on the site and we would like to refresh these. If you have a favorite quotation why not send it to the webmaster and hope that it is selected for inclusion on the new website?

 

Please send it to: webmaster@acwrt.org.uk

 

Forthcoming events

 

ACWRT(UK) 2020/21 Programme

 

14 November - AGM by ZOOM Meeting. VOLUNTEERS TO SPEAK NEEDED and WELCOMED!!!

 

2021 - ALL EVENTS SUBJECT TO CONFIRMATION

 

Conference - Wokefield Park

Dates and subject TBC but pencil in 7-9 May 2021

 

Field Trip - Sedan and Metz Franco-Prussian war 1870

Dates to be announced

Postponed from 2020

 

 


 

18/7/2020 - Was this the Worst Regiment in the Union Army?

 

The American Civil War Round Table (UK) July 2020 meeting presents a lecture by former Round Table President and current editor of Crossfire Greg Bayne in which he tells the extraordinary story of how an entire regiment was court-martialled in the winter of 1862-63. With some participation in advance from the attendees, Greg explored what made a potentially good regiment bad. It’s a fascinating piece of original research, and you can watch a recording of the lecture here.

 

 

https://youtu.be/EzcX2jA-y0U

Preservation news

 

01/06/2020 SHENANDOAH VALLEY BATTLEFIELDS FOUNDATION - DONATION REQUEST APPROVED

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In last month’s Vedette we mentioned an appeal being organised by the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation to support some of the smaller historic sites who don’t get Federal or State funding to help them through the shutdown. A $500 donation has been approved by the Committee, but under our Constitution we need to formally put this to our members to have their say. In the circumstances we cannot do this at a meeting and waiting till the shutdown ends would rather defeat the object of the donation. So we are seeking deemed consent through Vedette. If anyone has objections to this use of funds please contact Mike Somerville to make your views known. If we have not heard any objections by 15 June 2020 we will make the donation.

 

Information can be found on the Foundations’s website

 

https://www.shenandoahatwar.org/

 

Book reviews

 

16/10/2020 - Alias “Paine”: Lewis Thornton Powell, the Mystery Man of the Lincoln Conspiracy

 

 

Book review by ACWRT (UK) member Keith Steiner: October 2020

 

Alias “Paine”: Lewis Thornton Powell, the Mystery Man of the Lincoln Conspiracy

Betty J. Ownsbey: Second Edition: 2015: McFarland & Company, Inc: 209 pages, Illustrated.

 

In late April 1865, the photographer Alexander Gardner sited his camera opposite the turret of the Union monitor USS Saugus, at anchor near the Washington Navy Yard, Washington DC, and focused the image of the man seated against the turret. This man, a prisoner, was mute, manacled, and under guard. This prisoner, Lewis Thornton Powell, alias Lewis Paine, alias Lewis Payne, alias Mr. Kincheloe, alias Mr. Wood, alias Mr. Hall, could not evade the searching vision of his photographer, and is powerless to evade the scrutiny of his modern day biographer Betty J. Ownsbey. However, and with some irony, paradoxically, this prisoner ultimately escaped the confining picture frame to encounter us, head on, in an instant, and in our own age.

 

 

Alone among his fellow conspirators in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, Powell was equally an object of some fascination for the many society ladies of Washington, who, daily, claimed their places in the trial courtroom of the Washington Old Arsenal. Betty J. Ownsbey, however, tracks him forensically from childhood to his service in the Confederate army, from his wounding on the second day at Gettysburg to his service in Union army hospitals, from his service with partisan irregulars Mosby’s Rangers to his probable service in the Confederate Secret Service; and, including his fatal encounter with the actor John Wilkes Booth. Any grey areas or shadows are identified as such.

 

Ownsbey passes her accomplished historian’s gaze over a panoply of evidence and assembles a compelling narrative with the skill of a historical novelist. The reverberations first encountered in the Gardner image are given form by her interrogation of family photographs, personal mementoes, and extended conversations with surviving family relatives. Her incisive research ranges from trial records, witness statements to the poignant itemisation of the extensive range of items recovered from Powell’s person on his arrest – these items ranging from an embroidered pin cushion to a pack of pistol cartridges.

 

From there, the author follows her subject from the rifle box into which his body was placed minutes after his execution, through his various subsequent interments, to what is likely his final resting place.

 

However, this may not be the final chapter in this fascinating account of an enigmatic persona. Betty J. Ownsbey’s narrative simultaneously captures the chaotic milieu of civil war circumstance. Union Major General Lewis Wallace, one of the nine jurists of the military tribunal which tried Lewis Thornton Powell, was the later author of the publication which became the film epic Ben Hur. Perhaps Wallace’s courtroom sketches of Powell during the trial were a later source of inspiration.

 

Alexander Gardner’s portrait of Powell is cinematic in its ambition, as was his frame by frame sequence of Powell’s execution. In the Director Robert Redford’s 2011 film The Conspirator, Powell’s depiction is of that of a passing presence. The full story of the enigmatic presence of Lewis Thornton Powell and its place in history is one that cries out for fulfilment as a poignant, romantic epic of the silver screen. Any putative film Producer or Director worth their salt must consider the narrative of Betty J. Ownsbey as their point of departure. As a reader, hers is a title to which I return, again, and again.

 


 

24/9/2020 - Dixie Betrayed: How The South Really Lost The Civil War

 

Book review by ACWRT (UK) member Keith Steiner: September 2020

 

David J. Eicher: Little, Brown And Company: 2006: 341 pages: Illustrated

 

“Revolutions are much easier started than controlled, and the men who begin them, even for the best purposes and objects, seldom end them….The selfish, the ambitious, and the bad will generally take the lead.”

 

Alexander Stephens

 

The title of the above publication may prove a provocation or stumbling block too far for some potential readers. Those who reason that the passage of over 150 years has been time enough to settle any doubts, or those whose engagement with the history of the civil war is wholly the matter of unfurled banners and booming cannon, might, however, halt in their retreat and turn the pages of this illuminating book, for, within, there is fire and fury enough for even the most jaded martial palette.

 

This is the story of the struggle to establish, from 1861, the political and civic structures of the Confederate States of America. The figure of Jefferson Davis is central to this narrative and he is the focal point around which this publication is built.

 

 

 

 

 

 

See full article


 

28/8/2020 - Midnight Rising: John Brown And The Raid That Sparked The Civil War

 

 

Book Review by ACWRT (UK) member Keith Steiner

 

Author: Tony Horwitz

Publisher: Henry Holt and Company, LLC: 2011: 365 pages: Illustrated.

 

“I John Brown am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty, land: will never be purged away; but with Blood” December 2nd 1859

 

The above hand-written testament of John Brown, delivered on the morning of his execution, features in the final section of Tony Horwitz’s exceptional narrative of the events of the John Brown raid on the United States Arsenal at Harpers Ferry.

 

 

What transpired in the aftermath of the John Brown testament is the matter of our collective fascination and, as such, there may be a temptation to resist a presumed long tramp through the passage of events with which we might believe ourselves thoroughly familiar. However, at the conclusion of Tony Horwitz’s scintillating and closely researched narrative I felt fulfilled at having taken such a journey.

 

Most will have an appreciation of the generality of the circumstance, but Horwitz goes much, much further into the chronology of the events and their significance. The role of Colonel Robert E. Lee and Lieutenant J.E.B Stuart in the unfolding chaotic chapter of events at Harpers Ferry is particularly intriguing, as was the presence of the actor John Wilkes Booth and of Major Thomas J. Jackson at the execution of John Brown. These individuals are, in themselves, the living epitaph of the enduring struggle to come.

 

The stories of the civil war are still being written and Tony Horwitz makes an invaluable contribution to our understanding of the circumstances of the war. He collects the many loose threads of events and skilfully weaves a compelling account. His is not just the narrative of the tragedy of one man’s fanatic passion but a deeply researched overview of the context of such an historic passage. His skill as an author brings to bloody life an important historic episode which typically passes as preamble or footnote. Although some might be checked by the claim articulated in the book subtitle I would encourage readers to step into a past vividly and assuredly brought to life by the skill and diligence of this fine author.

 


 

28/8/2020 - Grant and Lee: The Virginia Campaigns 1864-65

 

 

Book Review by ACWRT (UK) member Keith Steiner

 

Author: William A. Frassanito

Publisher; Charles Scribner’s Sons New York: 1983: 442 pages: Illustrated.

 

There can be few in the American Civil War community unfamiliar with the work of William A. Frassanito. His work will likely grace many enthusiasts’ collections. The title of Frassanito’s 1983 publication Grant and Lee: The Virginia Campaigns 1864-65, as well as its pagination of over 400 pages is a clear signal that it is a work of serious intent.

 

 

Readers of Frassanito’s previous volumes on Antietam and Gettysburg will need no introduction to the narrative style and typical content of this publication. Frassanito is a photographic historian, a battlefield historian and a historian of the American Civil War. His method is steeped in meticulous research, depth of experience and enormous reverence for his subject.

 

In this book, photographs by James Gardner, Andrew J. Russell, Timothy O'Sullivan, T.C. Roche and the studio of Mathew Brady illustrate the featured period between May 1864 and April 1865. These historic photographs should be manna enough for the genuine enthusiast, but, characteristically, Frassanito pairs the historic images with his own photographs taken at the sites, from a near identical placement. His narrative is crisp and authoritative, and is a perfect and sober accompaniment to the photographs.

 

One of the satisfying aspects of this book is its allowance of space to include a close consideration of events that general studies exclude. One fine example is the consideration given to the Confederate attack during the concluding phase of the Battle of Spotsylvania at the Harris Farm and which features the extraordinary photography by Timothy O'Sullivan of Confederate casualties at the Susan Alsop Farm. Although these are images which tend to be selected in many modern references to the period by virtue of their starkness and clarity, it is rare for any reference to context and circumstance. Satisfyingly, Frassanito supplies this missing context, as also in such many other instances as the detailed photography of Confederate dead at Fort Mahone and Fort Sedgwick – both these sequences recorded at the conclusion of the Petersburg campaign.

 

William A. Frassantio has a mighty eye and his work is an invaluable source for students and enthusiasts of the period. I would further venture that the American Civil War community owes him a sincere debt of gratitude. The civil war photography of this volume is of an extraordinary intimacy and I cannot imagine anyone seeking insight into this period being anything but thoroughly rewarded by this wonderful book.

 

Crossfire magazine

 

18/8/2020 Latest Three Issues of Crossfire

 

 

Number 123 Summer 2020 - Articles Include

 

The Battle of Prairie Grove by Matthew Mulheran

Turner Ashby by Ian Mitchell

Who is this man? Is it Polignac? by Charles Priestley

Views on Fort Pillow – John Scales and Edwin Kennedy

Dead Confederates by Graham Whitham – views on familiar photographic images

The worst regiment in the Union Army by Greg Bayne

1st Vermont at Big Bethel by Erick Bush

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Number 122 Contents - Spring 2020

 

The Battle of Springfield, Missouri, Jan 8 1863 - William Piston

Under a Sulphorous Sky - Manxmen and the Battle of Gettysburg - John Murray

A Postmaster in the Cavalry - Pvt George R Adderton 63rd NC - Charles Priestley

Two Scouts of the border Part 2 - Steve French

Barnacles - Alabama Crewman George Gitsinger - Maurice Rigby

Lonesome Pine - Fort Pillow - Tony Daly

We've all gone Quackers - Fake remedies - Greg Bayne

Letter from CW Alabama - Alabama at Gettysburg - Erick Bush

Buddy can you spare a dime? The CSA Tobacco tax - Greg Bayne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Number 121 Contents - Winter 2019

 

Railroads in the Gettysburg Campaign - Scott Mingus Sr

Two letters from Polignac - Charles Priestley

Depicting Combat: Veracity in drawings by Frank Vizetelly and Alfred Waud - Graham Whitham

Letter from CW Alabama - CSS Nashville, Selma & the Mobile Bay Squadron - Erick Bush

Two Scouts of the border Part 1 - Steve French

Barnacles - Alabama Crewman Richard Hambly - Maurice Rigby

From the White House to Gettysburg and to Arlington - Robert Tyler Jones - John Murray

Established 1953