Welcome to the website of the 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.
Every year in the spring we hold our annual conference in Ascot, Berkshire where we have presentations from well know experts in the field, often attending from the USA specifically to address the conference. In 2016 it will take place on 1st to 3rd April and you can read more about the conference below under forthcoming events. The conference is 3 days of interesting talks, debate and making friends with others who share a common interest. The food is quite good as well!
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 exlusively 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.
NEXT MEETING - 30th JANUARY 2016
Our Round Table will commence the New Year with a bang as our very own Miles Thomson (Royal Artillery – Ret.) Speaks to us on the role and evolution of artillery during the American Civil War. The details of the meeting are as follows
Date: Saturday 30 January 2016
Subject: Artillery in the American Civil War – Weapons and Tactics – How Did it all Work?
Speaker: Miles Thomson
Venue: The Civil Service Club, 13 - 15 Great Scotland Yard, London SW1A 2HJ.
Close: 16.30 hours
You can download the meeting reservation form by clicking here. The form contains all the details of how to register for the meeting. Please note that your registration form needs to be sent in by Monday 25th January 2016.
You can access the raffle application form by clicking here.
Miles writes: Was the American Civil War the last Napoleonic war, or the first Modern One? What a silly question - we all know that it was both.
It is an interesting era for an artilleryman to study. While I was just too young to have been at Appomattox myself, I haves spent quite a few years studying and pondering how the combatants employed their artillery. What were the favoured weapons? Which were less successful? What ammunition was used for what end and how was the combat arm organised?
During my presentation I will discuss the pros and cons surrounding the introduction of rifled guns and recount the introduction of rudimentary breech-loaders. Were they a leap ahead for the arm or just inventors’ toys? I will also describe the different types of ammunition expended. After all it is the ammunition what does the business - the gun just facilitates its arrival at the target!
I will then survey for the roundtable the different systems the opponents devised to achieve efficient tactical command of artillery in the field. I will do so in the context of actual practical difficulties encountered by the red legs both blue and grey. Who tells whom what to do - ammunition resupply - target identification - local protection - smoke - communications – horsepower - and much more.
I will close with several examples of how artillery was actually used in Civil War battles. Because of time constraints, I will confine myself to discussing the artillery operations in the field armies – forts and ship vs. forts will have to wait.
Miles wore the cap badge of the Royal Artillery for thirty-four years. The first half of his career was with the guns in various capacities including commanding a battery of the Sultan of Oman’s Artillery in the Dhofar War and commanding the specialist Naval Gunfire Support Spotting Unit in support of 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines.
Editor’s note: as many members know, Miles is congenitally bad tempered and it will come as no surprise that Jubal Early is one of his heroes. However, he has promised not to behave like “Mr Angry” just because he thinks he knows more about artillery in the Civil War that anyone who was there at time.
Annual Conference 2016, 1st to 3rd April
The American Civil War Round Table, UK conference is be held over the weekend of Friday 1st to Sunday 3rd April 2016 at the De Vere Conference Centre, Ascot.
The theme of the conference in 2016 will be:
"Reflections on the American Civil War, the Good, the Bad and the Grey"
In the title the word "Grey" does not indicate the Confederate Army but is to do wIth grey issues (for example costly assaults during 1864).
The two key speakers are:
Peter Carmichael (The Lost Cause)
Aaron Sheehan-Dean (How the war was fought').
Other speakers with their topics will be announced in due course
An early booking is essential to avoid disappointment and you can register by downloading and completing the booking form.
Meeting Dates 2016
|Saturday January 30th at the Civil Service Club, London (CSC)||Miles Thomson – Civil War Artillery|
|Friday 1st April to Sunday 3rd April 2016 |
at the Ascot Conference Centre, Sunningdale Park
Please see our item above to download the registration form.
Reflections on the ACW, Good, Bad and Grey.
Featuring as guest speakers from the USA:
Professor Peter Carmichael and
Professor Aaron Sheehan-Dean.
|Saturday May 7th at the CSC||TBA|
|Saturday July 16th at the CSC ||TBA|
|Saturday September 17th at the CSC ||TBA|
|Friday October 7th to Monday 10th October||FIELD TRIP to The Somme.|
Guide – Iain Standen
CSS Georgia - Something doesn't add up.
By Greg Bayne
The CSS Georgia was reluctantly purchased by James Bulloch in March 1863. Originally the Japan, she was designed and built in Scotland to complement the East Indies Tea Trade, but she had an iron-bottom design which Bulloch new would hamper her for any high speed chases and length of service at sea. It would also as we shall see lead to lengthy repairs. In need of raiders, Bulloch wasted little time and on April 1st she departed Greenock to rendezvous with her tender, the Alar, off the coast of France near Ushant. Her captain was to be Commander William Lewis Maury and his orders were simple, to seek out, stop and destroy Union shipping. To aid him, the Georgia was armed with 2 x 100 pounders, 2 x 24 pounders and a single 32 pounder.
See full article
Alonzo H. Cushing - Medal of Honor
By Greg Bayne
It was announced by the White House in September 2014 that Alonzo Cushing will receive the Medal of Honor.
Lieutenant Alonzo Cushing graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in June 1861. Neither Cushing nor any of his classmates who included George Armstrong Custer and Adelbert Ames had any portent of the horrors that the Civil War would unfold nor that they would pay the ultimate price. All that they knew was that they would have to play their part. By the time of his death, he had already spent two years fighting for the Union in nearly every major engagement starting with Bull Run. On July 3, 1863, the third and final day of the battle, Lieutenant Cushing commanded an artillery battery with 125 men in the centre of the Union “fishhook”. Fate decided that Lee would attack here in what would become widely recognised in later years as the Confederacy’s High Tide.
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The Prioleau Papers
Ed Note – We received this note from Richard Ford www.richardfordmanuscripts.co.uk which details the discovery and sale of the Prioleau papers. I asked Jerry Williams to comment.
From Richard Ford
I recently paid my first ever visit to Liverpool. While there I checked out on the internet what had happened to the papers of C.K. Prioleau, banker to the Confederate States. I sold these to the Merseyside archives in 1981 (or possibly 1982 just before I left the Company) on behalf of the bookseller I was working for.
One of the first websites to reveal itself was this one, with Jerry Williams’ article “Charles K. Prioleau – Lost for the Cause” on the ACWRTUK website. Jerry devoted a paragraph to the Prioleau archive, encouraging me to add a few details about its discovery.
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The European Diary of William L Yancey, March-June, 1861
Edited by Charles Priestley
This article originally appeared in Crossfire, the magazine of the ACWRT(UK) - Summer 2014
Among the William Lowndes Yancey Papers in the Alabama Department of Archives and History is a brief diary of Yancey’s visit to Europe as the first Confederate States Commissioner to Great Britain. Some ten years ago, I was able to obtain from the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa a photocopy of this diary, together with a typed transcription clearly made some years before. I quickly saw that the typescript had a large number of inaccuracies, some probably because the writer was not familiar with the various British or French references, others because he or she had simply failed to read the manuscript correctly. For example, in describing his visit to Paris from London, Yancey states that he travelled “via Boulogne”; in the typescript, this appears as “in a Bourogue”.
The photocopy of the manuscript is very faint in places, as indeed is that of the typescript, but by comparing manuscript and typescript I was eventually able to produce what I felt was a reasonably accurate version of the diary, although I was unable to identify a number of the Americans mentioned.
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Lord Lyons and Civil War Diplomacy 1859-1865
click image to zoom
Speaker: Scott T Cairns
Scott,, a U.S academic at the London School of Economics, is currently researching the career of Lord Lyons.
It was evident that the influence of a skilled diplomat, whose hands were not directly on the levers of power, significantly affected the attitude of the British Government.
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The Confederate Bazaar at Liverpool
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by John Bennett
(This Article originally appeared in 'Crossfire - The Magazine of the American Civil War Round Table (UK)' Issue No. 61 - December 1999)
Liverpool during the American Civil War was probably the most pro-Confederate city in Britain. The birthplace of the commerce raider CSS Florida, a major port for blockade running, and the scene of frantic speculation in cotton brought out of the beleaguered Confederacy, the fortunes of its large and wealthy merchant class were closely bound up with those of the Southern States. 'Does anyone... who knows Liverpool doubt that the overwhelming balance of sympathy is on the side of the South?' asked the Liverpool Albion in May 1862 (1), while prominent Liverpool businessman James Spence, one of the Confederacy's most active sympathisers, described it as 'the headquarters of Southern sentiment.'
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