Posted by: cocwrt | March 12, 2014

Meeting Announcement

When: April 9th

Where:  Otterbein University. Towers Hall 3rd floor. Room 318. Westerville Ohio 43081. Please go to the “About the COCWRT” tab for more information.

Time:  7pm

Speaker: Scott L. Mingus Sr.

Topic:  “Extra Billy Smith”

Confederate General William “Extra Billy” Smith: From Virginia’s Statehouse to Gettysburg Scapegoat

 William “Extra Billy” Smith, the oldest and one of the most controversial Confederate generals on the field at Gettysburg, was also one of the most colorful and charismatic characters of the Civil War and the antebellum Old South.


Known nationally as “Extra Billy” because of his prewar penchant for finding loopholes in government postal contracts to gain extra money for his stagecoach lines, Smith served as Virginia’s

governor during both the War with Mexico and the Civil War, served five terms in the U.S. Congress, and was one of Virginia’s leading spokesmen for slavery and States’ Rights. Extra Billy’s extra-long speeches and wry sense of humor were legendary among his peers.A lawyer during the heady Gold Rush days, Smith made a fortune in California and, like his income earned from stagecoaches, quickly lost it.

Despite his advanced age Smith took the field and fought well at First Manassas, was wounded at Seven Pines and again at Sharpsburg, and marched with Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia into Pennsylvania. There, on the first day at Gettysburg, Smith’s frantic messages about a possible Union flanking attack remain a matter of controversy to this day. Did his aging eyes see distant fence-lines that he interpreted as approaching enemy soldiers—mere phantoms of his imagination?—or did his prompt action stave off a looming Confederate disaster? What we do know is that his calls for support diverted limited Confederate manpower away from attacks against Cemetery Hill and Culp’s Hill that might have turned the tide of Southern fortunes in Pennsylvania.

Mingus’s biography draws upon a wide array of newspapers, diaries, letters, and other firsthand accounts to paint a broad, deep, and colorful portrait of one of the South’s most interesting leaders and devoted sons. Complete with original maps and photos, Extra Billy Smith will satisfy anyone who loves politics, war, and a great story well told.

About the Author: Scott L. Mingus Sr. is a scientist and executive in the paper and printing industry. He is theWrightsville09140901_s author of Flames Beyond Gettysburg (2010) and five wargaming books, and maintains a popular blog on the Civil War history of his home in York County, PA, for the York Daily Record ( He is also a sanctioned Civil War tour guide for the York County Heritage Trust and together with his wife Debi, publishes CHARGE!, the leading international newsletter for Civil War miniature wargaming.

April Newsletter

Posted by: cocwrt | February 19, 2014

Meeting Announcement

When:   March 12th

Where: Otterbein University. Towers Hall 3rd floor. Room 318. Westerville Ohio 43081. Please go to the “About the COCWRT” tab for more information.

Time:  7pm

Speaker: Harry Smeltzer

Topic:   “McDowell’s  Plan for Bull Run: Brilliant, Sound or Something Less”

Irvin McDowell’s Plan and Other Bull Run Misconceptions. This program will explore what the presenter feels are popular misconceptions surrounding the First Bull Run campaign, with primary focus on the army commander’s intentions up to the early hours of July 21, 1861. We will discuss how we have come to know the story of Bull Run as we know it, various primary sources and secondary accounts of the campaign, treatments by historians and institutions, the general interest (or lack thereof) of Civil War enthusiasts in the details of the campaign, and other related – or even unrelated – topics. As always, the audience will likely play no small role in the content of the program as it progresses.

Harry Smeltzer, host of Bull Runnings, lives just outside Pittsburgh, and was born and raised in Southwestern PA.  He earned an undergraduate degree at The Pennsylvania State University and a graduate degree at the Katz School ofHarrySmeltzer4 the University of Pittsburgh.  He’s been published in the journal Civil War History, The Civil War Monitor, Civil War Times, and America’s Civil War.  He was a Contributing Writer for America’s Civil War and is a Digital History Advisor for The Civil War Monitor. He is Vice-President of the board of directors of the Save Historic Antietam Foundation.  He’s presented programs on Bull Run and digital history related topics to organizations in five states and the District of Columbia. He’s available to lead tours of the battlefield of First Bull Run, and has been hosting Bull Runnings since November 2006.

March Newsletter

Posted by: cocwrt | January 14, 2014

Meeting Announcement

When:   February 12th

Where:   Otterbein University. Towers Hall 3rd floor. Room 318. Westerville Ohio 43081. Please go to the “About the COCWRT” tab for more information.

Time:     7pm

Speaker:  Zach Fry

Topic:      59th New York  Infantry

Zach Fry graduated from Kent State in 2010 after participating in the Gettysburg Semester at Gettysburg College with Allen Guelzo, and  also interned with fellow Buckeye Wayne Motts at the Adams County Historical Society.  His honors thesis at Kent was a social/military history of the 59th New York, which was also the subject of his two Gettysburg Magazine articles in 2006 and 2009.  It’s currently under review with KSU Press.  Zach is a member of the Civil War Education Association, the Society for Military History, and the Society of Civil War Historians.  He’s now a Ph.D. candidate and graduate teaching associate in the Military History program at Ohio State, where his adviser is Mark Grimsley; His dissertation topic examines how the politics of emancipation affected the organization and administration of the Army of the Potomac.

Mr. Fry’s topic of the 59th New York, as the articles will show, deals with the oddity of 125 Ohioans serving in the regiment through its trials in the West Woods at Antietam, the streets of Fredericksburg, and behind the wall on Cemetery Ridge at Gettysburg.  He will tackle a controversy or two along the way.

February Newsletter

Posted by: cocwrt | January 5, 2014

Meeting Announcement

When:   January 8th

Where:  Otterbein University. Towers Hall 3rd floor. Room 318. Westerville Ohio 43081. Please go to the “About the COCWRT” tab for more information.

Time:     7pm

Speaker:   YOU!   Annual member discussion month.

Topic:   This year’s subject will be how we
each became interested in the Civil
War—what sparked our interest and
how we stay involved.


January 2014 newsletter

Posted by: cocwrt | November 29, 2013

No meeting in December

The Central Ohio Civil War Roundtable does not meet in December.

Please join us on January 8th 2014 for our annual roundtable discussion.

Happy Holidays

December Newsletter

Posted by: cocwrt | October 22, 2013

Meeting Announcement

When:    November 13th

Where:  Otterbein University. Towers Hall 3rd floor. Room 318. Westerville Ohio 43081. Please go to the “About the COCWRT” tab for more information.

Time:      7pm

Speaker: Charles R. Knight

Charles R. Knight’s ‘Valley Thunder’ is the first full-length account in more than three decades to examine the combat at New Market on May 15, 1864-the battle that opened the pivotal 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign.

4681383754_89f04e3d87_bLt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, who set in motion the wide-ranging operation to subjugate the South in 1864, intended to attack the Confederacy on multiple fronts so it could no longer “take advantage of interior lines.” One of the keys to success in the Eastern Theater was control of the Shenandoah Valley, a strategically important and agriculturally abundant region that helped feed Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. Grant tasked Maj. Gen. Franz Sigel, a German immigrant with a mixed fighting record, and a motley collection of units numbering some 10,000 men to clear the Valley and threaten Lee’s left flank. Opposing Sigel was John C. Breckinridge, a former vice president and now Confederate major general who assembled a scratch command to repulse the invading Federals. Included within the ranks of his 4,500-man army were cadets from the Virginia Military Institute under the direction of VMI Commandant of Cadets Lt. Col. Scott Ship, who had marched eighty miles in just four days to fight Sigel.

When the two armies faced off at New Market, Breckinridge boldly announced, “I shall advance on him. We can attack and whip them here and we will do it!” As the general rode by the cadets he shouted, “Gentlemen, I trust I will not need your services today; but if I do, I know you will do your duty.” The sharp fighting seesawed back and forth during a drenching rainstorm, and was not concluded until the cadets were dramatically inserted into the battle line to repulse a Federal attack and launch one of their own.

The Confederate victory drove Union forces from the Valley, but they would return, reinforced and under new leadership, within a month. Before being repulsed, these Federals would march over the field at New Market and capture Staunton, burn VMI in Lexington (partly in retaliation for the cadets’ participation at New Market), and very nearly capture Lynchburg. Operations in the Valley on a much larger scale that summer would permanently sweep the Confederates from the “Bread Basket of the Confederacy.”

Charlie Knight is a native Virginian, having been born in Newport News and growing up in Richmond. He developed an interest in history at an early age,4681383678_993bde2ca5_o the Civil War in particular. He is a graduate of Bridgewater College, with a history degree, and is currently pursuing his masters degree in military history at American Military University.

He is a writer and museum professional, having worked at New Market Battlefield State Historical Park in the Shenandoah Valley. He currently works at the MacArthur Memorial in downtown Norfolk, serving as its curator since 2006.

He has written articles for various publications including Blue & Gray, Classic Trains and the Civil War Preservation Trust’s Hallowed Ground magazine. His first book, Valley Thunder: The Battle of New Market and the Opening of the Shenandoah Valley Campaign, May 1864, was published in the Spring of 2010 by Savas Beatie. He is currently working on a biography of Confederate general and railroad magnate William Mahone.

November Newsletter

Charles R. Knight’s Blog

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