The Civil War Along The Cumberland Plateau

On Sunday, October 11th at 3 P.M., the Franklin Civil War Round Table will host professor,, author, and historian Dr. Aaron Astor, who will speak on the his new book, The Civil War Along Tennessee’s Cumberland Plateau.

The terrain, the people, and the politics of the Cumberland Plateau combined to become the perfect setting for the most vicious guerrilla warfare outside of Missouri. The violence was epitomized by the rivalry between the Confederate Champ Ferguson and the Unionist Tinker Dave Beaty. The landscape, full of hidden hollows, gorges and streams, provided perfect cover for those who preyed on the local populace in the name of war. These guerilla fighters ranged from murderers, opportunists and psychopaths with no loyalties to local farmers trying to protect their families. The bitter conflict affected thousands of Tennesseans and its effects are still felt today.

Dr. Astor is associate professor of History at Marysville College in East Tennessee. He has written numerous articles on the Civil War era focusing largely on the Upper and Border South. In 2013, Louisiana State University Press published his first book, Rebels on the Border: Civil War, Emancipation and the Reconstruction of Kentucky and Missouri, 1860-1872.

Astor is currently president of the East Tennessee Civil War Preservation Association and is on the board of the Tennessee Civil War Preservation Association, the Blount County Historical Museum and the Blount Historic Trust.  He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy from Hamilton College (NY) and earned his Ph.D. in History from Northwestern University. He resides in Maryville with his wife, Samantha and their children.

The 1861 Project at September Round Table

On Sunday, September 13th at 3 P.M., the Franklin Civil War Round Table will host songwriter and producer Thomas Jutz, who will speak on “The 1861 Project.

Created by Jutz, The 1861 Project is a 3-CD collection of songs about the soldiers and civilians touched by the Civil War, and features artists such as Marty Stuart, John Anderson, Kim Richey, Bobby Bare, Sierra Hull and many others. The third volume contains emotional and haunting songs about the Battle of Franklin, such as “Two Miles of Lightning,”  “City of the Dead” and “Hallowed Ground.” Jutz will play many of these songs and discuss the ideas behind The 1861 Project.

A native of Germany, Jutz studied and played blues, rock and country, winning national competitions before studying classical guitar at the University of Stuttgart.  He came to Nashville in 2003 producing albums for numerous artists including Country Music Hall of Fame member Mac Wiseman. Many of Jutz’s compositions have been used in movies and television series worldwide.  He was awarded a SESAC award for his work with Grammy Award-winning artist Nanci Griffith and was part of the Nashville 2013 Leadership Music program.

The 1861 Project was performed before a packed house at the Franklin Theater during the sesquicentennial events in the fall of 2014.  The executive producer of the project, Paul Schatzkin, will also speak. Schatzkin provided the photography used on the 3-CD series. Among other credits, he was the film editor for over fifty episodes of the television series, Barney Miller.

The Tullahoma Campaign at August Round Table

On Sunday, August 9th at 3 P.M., the Franklin Civil War Round Table will host author, historian, and tour guide Gregory S. Biggs, who will speak on “The Tullahoma Campaign.

Prior to June 27th, 1863, the Confederate cavalry in the West consistently dominated their Federal counterparts. Leaders like Nathan Bedford Forrest, Joe Wheeler and John Hunt Morgan had easily handled their Northern opponents. But at Shelbyville, Tennessee, during the Tullahoma Campaign, the Federal cavalry in the West and its commanders came into their own as a formidable fighting machine.

Biggs has written articles for Blue & Gray magazine, Civil War Regiments JournalNorth-South Trader, and other publications. He is considered an expert on Civil War flags and had consulted with numerous museums and authors, and has presented flag programs at the Museum of the Confederacy and the National Civil War Museum among others. Biggs has founded and helps lead several Round Tables, lectures across the country, and has led numerous tours of the Western Theater of the war.

Reclaiming the Franklin Battlefield

On Sunday, July 12th at 3 P.M., the Franklin Civil War Round Table will host community leader and preservationist Julian Bibb, who will present “Reclaiming the Franklin Battlefield: An Update.

The acquisition of core battlefield property in Franklin has increased in pace and acreage since the 2005 purchase of the Eastern Flank property. Much has been accomplished and much remains to be done. Julian Bibb will update the efforts to establish the Carter Hill battlefield park next to The Carter House. He will discuss recreation of the Cotton Gin and future plans for the park.

Bibb, an attorney with Stites & Harbison, works tirelessly for the betterment of life in Franklin and Williamson County. He is a founding member of Franklin’s Charge, and in 2011 was awarded the Shelby Foote Preservation Legacy Award for battlefield preservation by the Civil War Trust.

June Round Table Visits Historic Hiram Masonic Lodge

On Sunday, Jun 14th at 3 P.M., the Franklin Civil War Round Table will meet at the historic Hiram Masonic Lodge No. 7 to hear historian Rachael Finchspeak on the history of the building before, after, and during the Battle of Franklin. There will also be a display of historic artifacts.

Hiram Masonic Lodge is one of Franklin’s oldest structures and a key witness to both the Civil War and Reconstruction. Founded in 1809, it is the oldest lodge in continuous use in Tennessee. The site of the signing of the Treaty of Franklin in 1830, it was used as a hospital for the wounded after the Battle of Franklin.

Finch is a Research Historian for the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area and works on many heritage related projects including a partnership with the Hiram Masonic Lodge.  She conducts research and writes text for the Civil War Trails program, speaks at teacher workshops encouraging innovative approaches to better understanding of the Civil War period, and works to improve communication between historic sites and preservationists.

Finch received her B.A. in History and Political Science from Metropolitan State University in Denver and received her M.A. in Public History from Middle Tennessee State University. She has served as research consultant for the Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission and Nashville Public Television documentary, “Desperate Days: Last Hope of the Confederacy” and has authored numerous history related magazine articles.

Religious Interest in the Civil War: 1861-1862

On Sunday, April 12th at 3 P.M., the Franklin Civil War Round Table will host historian and author Dr. Kent Dollar, who will present “Religious Interest in the Civil War: 1861-1862.

Religion played a major role in both the life of the Civil War soldier and the politics of the war at the national level. Waves of religious fervor swept the ranks and the nation. Dr. Dollar, Associate Professor of History at Tennessee Tech University will give an in-depth exploration of the role of religion during the war years.

Dollar has authored “Soldiers of the Cross: Confederate Soldier-Christians and the Impact of War on the Their Faith,” published by Mercer University Press in 2005, and has co-edited several other books on this topic.  His latest project is “Border Wars: Tennessee and Kentucky in the Civil War,” to be released later this year.

Thinking in Pictures and Sound: Making Civil War Films

On Sunday, March 8th at 3 P.M., the Franklin Civil War Round Table will host historian, writer, and filmmaker Robert Lee Hodge, who will present Thinking in Pictures and Sound: Making Civil War Films.

Hodge has a wide range of experience working in the national media in the area of Civil War history and research. He has appeared in dramas such as ABC’s North and South, and TNT’S Gettysburg and Andersonville. Hodge has worked at the National Archives and Library of Congress as a researcher for nationally known Civil War experts and was the principal researcher for the Time-Life series Voices of the Civil War and The Illustrated History of the Civil War.  More recently he has been featured on the National Geographic Channel and Time   magazine.

Hodge has been a student Civil War since age four and over the years has appeared on productions such as the NBC Late, Late Show and National Public Radio’s Talk of the Nation.  He has written for the Nashville TennesseanThe Washington Post, and the magazines  America’s Civil War and North and South.

An active preservationist, Hodge has organized battlefield preservation fundraisers that have garnered over $140,000 for the purchase of endangered battlefield lands, including Franklin. He serves on the board of directors of the Central Virginia Battlefields Trust which has saved over 1,000 acres of Virginia battlefields.  His Emmy award-winning documentary of the Battle of Franklin was shown during the Franklin Sesquicentennial in 2014.

The Lost Papers of General John Bell Hood

On Sunday, February 8th at 3 P.M., the Franklin Civil War Round Table will present Stephen “Sam” Hood, who will speak on his new book, The Lost Papers of Confederate General John Bell Hood, which is being released just in time for his presentation.

A few years ago Hood, a descendent and vigorous defender of Army of Tennessee General John Bell Hood, discovered a cache of formerly unknown papers of the general stored in the closet of a direct descendant. These papers, including correspondence with a “who’s who” of the Confederate high command, post-war letters, medical logs and other priceless documents, shed a new light on the embattled Army of Tennessee commander.

Stephen Hood lives in West Virginia and is a graduate of Marshall University, a retired building contractor and a Marine Corps veteran. He has served on various historical boards including Confederate Memorial Hall in New Orleans and the Blue and Gray Educational Society. His first book, John Bell Hood: The Rise, Fall and Resurrection of a Confederate General, was published in 2013.

Divided Loyalties: Life Behind the Lines at January Round Table

On Sunday, January 11th at 3 P.M., the Franklin Civil War Round Table will present Gregory L. Wade, who will speak on “Divided Loyalties” and the incredible challenges for civilians during the Civil War.

While Civil War battles are well researched, documented and discussed, life behind the lines has not been as deeply explored. The home front was often an atmosphere of divided loyalties and tensions where citizens were not united in their political views. Soldiers home on furlough were often hunted down by neighbors loyal to the other side. Foraging was usually a polite term for “stealing,” with starvation a real threat in many areas of the South before the war ended.

Gregory L. Wade was raised in Chattanooga, where stories from his grandmothers ignited his love of history, especially the Civil War.  After graduation from Middle Tennessee State University, most of his adult life has been in the mid-state area where he is very active in battlefield preservation, especially in Franklin. He has served as president of Save the Franklin Battlefield and currently serves on the board of Franklin’s Charge. He founded the Franklin Civil War Round Table in 2008, which now has over 125 members and presents lectures and tours on mostly Western Theatre topics. He has spoken to numerous history-related groups, including this past April as a guest historian at the Civil War Trust’s annual meeting in Nashville.

Wade published his first historical novel, Broken Valley, in 2014 which deals with a family’s trials behind the lines in the Sequatchie Valley of East Tennessee. He has written as a staff member for the Civil War News for several years and has been published in historical publications such as Sea Classics and North and South. He currently writes a monthly guest column on the Civil War for the Franklin Home Page.  Wade and his wife, Beth, reside in Franklin. He has three children, two of which serve in the military and the other is a police officer.

The Battle of Spring Hill at December Round Table

On Sunday, December 14th at 3 P.M., the Franklin Civil War Round Table will host historian and author Jamie Gillam, who will present a discussion on the Battle of Spring Hill and the controversial events that led up to the Battle of Franklin one day later.

Having marched into Tennessee under General John Bell Hood, the Army of Tennessee managed, through a series of flanking moves, to cut off a large Federal force under John Schofield from their safe haven in Nashville at Spring Hill. Schofield’s command was trapped and would certainly be destroyed the next day giving the Confederates a major victory and an open path to Franklin and beyond.  Instead, through a series of blunders, misunderstood or not followed orders, fatigue or the general fog of war, this didn’t happen.  In a move that has been studied and debated ever since, the Federals marched right past the Confederate Army and to the relative safety of the earthworks at Franklin, setting up the tragic battle there the very next day.

Gillum is a native Tennessean and author of Twenty-Five Hours to Tragedy: The Battle of Spring Hill and Operations on November 29, 1864: Precursor to the Battle of Franklin.  He has studied events leading up to the Battle of Spring Hill extensively and is considered one of the premier experts on the controversial events.

Gillum served fourteen years in the United State Marine Corps and studied at Middle Tennessee State University with an emphasis in military history.  He has served as assistant military historian at the Carter House in Franklin and has written extensively on Tennesseans in the Civil War as well as the 1864 Tennessee Campaign.

On the Eastern Flank: Attack of the Confederate Right

On Sunday, November 9th at 3 P.M., the Franklin Civil War Round Table will present Robert D. Jenkins, an expert on the Army of Tennessee and the Atlanta campaigns, who will speak on the “Attack of the Confederate Right.” This will be the 75th presentation of the Round Table commemorating the attack across the Eastern Flank for this month of the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Franklin.

Confederate General William Loring’s Division on the right Confederate flank marched into the fray along the Lewisburg Pike. Loring’s men attacked across ground almost lost to development and saved by preservationists in 2005. The 110 acres makes up the plain between the Carnton Plantation and Lewisburg Pike and was once a golf course. Ten years later it is now known as the Eastern Flank Battlefield. The battlefield park is now fully interpreted with markers and walking paths and is a critical component of the reclamation of the Battle of Franklin story.

Robert Jenkins is an attorney practicing in Dalton, Georgia. He graduated from Georgia Southern University with a B.B.A. in Business Management and received his Juris  Doctor degree from Mercer University.  In 2013 his book, The Battle of Peach Tree Creek, was published by Mercer University Press, and is a study of the fighting in what are today the Atlanta suburbs. He recently completed his second book, To the Gates of Atlanta, expected to be released in 2015 by Mercer University Press.

Jenkins has done extensive study and research on the Battle of Franklin, especially the attack by the right Confederate flank along the Lewisburg Pike.  He was a pioneer in the 1980’s and 90’s in discussing the importance of the attacks in the area where his ancestors fought in the 31st Mississippi Infantry Regiment.

Improbable Civil Warriors: Forrest and Thomas

On Sunday, October 12th at 3 P.M., the Franklin Civil War Round Table will host Dr. Brian Steel Wills, Director of the Center for the Study of the Civil War Era and Professor of History at Kennesaw University in Georgia, who will present “Improbable Civil Warriors: Forrest and Thomas.”

Dr. Wills has written extensively on the Civil War and his works include:  The River was Dyed with Blood:  Nathan Bedford Forrest and Fort Pillow (University of Oklahoma Press), Confederate General William Dorsey Pender: The Hope of Glory (Louisiana State University Press), and George Henry Thomas: As True as Steel (University Press of Kansas), which was the recipient of the 2013 Richard Barksdale Harwell Award for the best book on a Civil War topic for the year 2012 presented by the Civil War Round Table of Atlanta.

His biography of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest, A Battle From the StartThe Life of Nathan Bedford Forrest was chosen as both a History Book Club selection and a Book of the Month Club selection.

In 2000, Dr. Wills received the Outstanding Faculty Award from the Commonwealth of Virginia, one of eleven recipients from all faculty members at public and private institutions across the state.  He was named Kenneth Asbury Professor of History and won both the Teaching award and the Research and Publication award from the University of Virginia’s College at Wise.  He currently serves as the Director of the Center for the Study of the Civil War Era at Kennesaw State University

Confederates in Canada at September Round Table

On Sunday, September 14th at 3 P.M., the Franklin Civil War Round Table will host Franklin native and retired physicist Dr. Gale Pewitt, who will present “Confederates in Canada: The St. Albans Raid.”

The unexpected and successful Confederate attack at St. Albans, Vermont on October 19, 1864 caught the Federal government off guard and shocked a war-weary Northern public. With a few notable exceptions, the loyal states had been largely spared invasion by Southern forces. People in the North were unprepared for a raid launched from Canada by Southern agents, deep in their homeland. Northern cities and towns were forced to consider the possibility that Southern agents and disloyal Northerners might attack without warning, and the Lincoln administration now faced the unpleasant possibility of fighting a war on two fronts.

Born in Franklin, Pewitt recalls studying the Civil War as a child at Battle Ground Academy. He graduated from Vanderbilt University, the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University), and the University of Chicago. He is a retired particle physicist from the Argonne National Laboratory and the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Chicago.

Pewitt is an avid scholar of all periods of American military history, and has traveled the world visiting historic sites and famous battlefields. He has served as President of the Salt Creek Illinois Civil War Round Table, and is a Franklin Round Table member.

Pewitt has a special interest in the St. Albans Raid and the Confederate Secret Service in Canada, and has lectured on these and related subjects at numerous Civil War Round Table meetings. He is the coauthor of the 2008 book “The St. Albans Raiders.”

“The Sultana Tragedy” at August’s Round Table

On Sunday, August 10th at 3 P.M., the Franklin Civil War Round Table will present Memphis attorney and historian Jerry O. Potter, who will speak on “The Sultana Tragedy.”

The greatest maritime disaster in United States history occurred on April 17, 1865, when the Sultana, a Mississippi River side-wheel steamboat, exploded, killing an estimated 1,900 of her almost 2,500 passengers. Most of the victims were Federal soldiers just released from Confederate prison camps at Andersonville and Cahawba, including many who saw action at Franklin.

Sultana, contracted by the U.S. government, was far above the legal capacity of 376 when three of the boat’s four boilers exploded near Memphis. Survivors were badly burned and endured the bitter cold and current of the Mississippi River. With the assassination of President Lincoln on the day before, the Sultana disaster was pushed off of the nation’s front pages and even to this day most Americans are not aware of the disaster’s incredible loss of life.

Potter, a 1973 graduate of UT Martin and the University of Memphis Law School in 1975, has spoken and written extensively on the Sultana disaster as well as Nathan Bedford Forrest in publications such as Blue and Gray and  American History magazines.  He continues to research America’s greatest marine disaster and is often a consultant for presentations concerning it.

“The Funeral of General Leonidas Polk” at July Round Table

On Sunday, July 13th at 3 P.M., the Franklin Civil War Round Table will present The Carter House’s Alan Corry, who will present “The Funeral of General Leonidas Polk.”

Corry earned his Bachelors from Sam Houston State University and his Masters in Counseling and Christian Education at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.An ordained minister, he has served on several church staffs in the South and joined the Carter House in 2007, serving as the Community Relations director. Corry established Time Capsule Ministries to recreate historical sermons from the 1830’s to Reconstruction and engage audiences with inspiring messages and dramatic reenactments.

Citizen-General Jacob Cox and the Battle of Franklin

On Sunday, June 8th at 3 P.M., the Franklin Civil War Round Table will present retired diplomat and author Dr. Gene Schmiel, who will speak on “Citizen-General Jacob Cox and the Battle of Franklin.”

Jacob Donson Cox, with a degree in theology from Oberlin College and a practicing lawyer, joined the Federal service at the start of the war, rising through the ranks to become the commanding Union general on the field at Franklin. He is credited with saving the center of the Federal lines at the Battle of Franklin. After the war Cox was a governor of Ohio and a United States Secretary of the Interior. Dr. Schmiel contends Genera Cox is, “the untold story of the Battle of Franklin.”

Dr. Schmiel is a retired U.S. Department of State Foreign Service officer who has served in several embassies across the world including Sweden, South Africa, Kenya, Djibouti and Iceland.  Before joining the Foreign Service, he served as a professor of history at Marymount, Shenandoah, and Penn State universities.  He holds the Ph.D degree from Ohio State University in 19th century American history and is the author of Citizen-General: Jacob Cox and the Civil War Era (Ohio State University Press, 2014).  He has also coauthored, with his wife Kathryn, a book on life in the Foreign Service.

Heritage Tourism at April Round Table

On Sunday, April 13th at 3 P.M., the Franklin Civil War Round Table will present Commissioner of Tourist Development Susan Whitaker, who will speak on the impact of heritage tourism in Tennessee.

As the co-chair of Tennessee’s Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, Whitaker is a strategic part of the planning and overseeing of Tennessee’s 150th Civil War commemoration. In preparation for this Civil War milestone, Whitaker launched the Tennessee Civil War Trails Program, with markers in place at almost 300 sites and the goal to have a marker in every Tennessee county.  The Commission also is responsible for the annual Civil War Sesquicentennial Signature events during the 150th commemoration.

As Commissioner, Whitaker is responsible for marketing Tennessee’s tourism industry domestically and internationally. Tourism is one of Tennessee’s largest industries, providing a $15.36 billion direct economic impact and generating more than $1 billion annually in state and local sales tax revenue for the past six years. Tennessee is now ranked 9th among all states in total travel.

Whitaker oversees the development and implementation of statewide tourism’s comprehensive marketing, publicity and promotions campaigns, all designed to stimulate growth of tourism in Tennessee.

Serving the State of Tennessee since her appointed in 2003 by Governor Phil Bredesen, Whitaker is a native of Chicago and a direct descendent of Tennessee’s first governor, John Sevier.  She also serves on the Civil War Trust Board of Trustees. Whitaker was named the 2013 National Tourism Director of the Year by the U.S. Travel Association’s National Council of State Travel Directors.

Forbidden, Hidden and Forgotten: Women in the Ranks

On Sunday, March 9th at 3 P.M., the Franklin Civil War Round Table will present author and educator Shelby Harriel who will speak on “Forbidden, Hidden and Forgotten: Women in the Ranks” during the Civil War.

The wartime experiences and sacrifices of women were often similar to their male counterparts. There are many documented cases of women serving in combat positions. Women served in picket duty along the snowy banks of the Rappahannock, languished in Andersonville, suffered horrible wounds during the Wilderness and lost their lives during Pickett’s Charge. Harriel will relate many of the fascinating stories of women in the ranks.

Harriel received both her B.A. in History and M. Ed from the University of Southern Mississippi.  She is currently a teacher of mathematics at Pearl River Community College.

Harriel has written numerous Civil War articles for various publications and has spoken to many groups such as the Louisiana Civil War Round Table and the Louisiana Historical Association’s annual meeting.   In May 2013 she presented “Women in Combat During the Civil War” at the Vicksburg National Military Park

“The Destructive Impact on Familes” at February Round Table

On Sunday, February 9th at 3 P.M., the Franklin Civil War Round Table will present author and educator Amy Murrell Taylor who will speak on “The Destructive Impact on Families” during the Civil War.

Amy Murrell Taylor is associate professor of history at the University of Kentucky.  She graduated from Duke University and received her Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. Taylor is the author of The Divided Family in Civil War America (UNC Press, 2005) as well as co-editor of Major Problems in the Civil War and Reconstruction (Cengage, 2010) and now serves as an editorial advisor for Civil War Monitor magazine.  In the spring of 2014 she will be a featured commentator on “Civil War: The Untold Story,” a five-part series airing on PBS stations nationwide.  She is currently completing a book about the experiences of families who fled slavery and took refuge in Union lines during the war.

Shiloh: The Union Left, The First Day

On Sunday, January 12th at 3 P.M., the Franklin Civil War Round Table will present former Shiloh National Military Park Superintendent, Woody Harrell who will speak on “Shiloh: The Union Left, The First Day.”

Confederate success at Shiloh depended on pushing to the Tennessee River, then turning north to drive General Grant from Pittsburg Landing.  In the early morning of April 6, 1862 only three regiments under Colonel David Stuart stood in their way.  For over two hours this area north of Lick Creek saw some of the battle’s fiercest fighting.

Harrell served with the National Park Service (NPS) at Moore’s Creek National Military Park, Wright Brothers National Memorial, Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, the Gateway Arch in St Louis and the NPS National Training Center at the Grand Canyon.  In addition to Shiloh, he served as Historian at Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park and Manassas National Battlefield.

Before retiring in 2012, Harrell oversaw Shiloh’s most ambitious land acquisition program in 80 years and was awarded the Civil War Trust’s National Park Service Preservationist of the Year in both 2002 and 2010. He was also instrumental in designing the award winning Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center.  He has been named Time Magazine’s “Man of the Year.”

A North Carolinian, Harrell holds degrees in history and geography from Duke University and the University of North Carolina.  He holds the NPS record for running across the Grand Canyon rim and has qualified for the Boston Marathon finishing among the top runners in 1975.  In 2013 he completed his goal to visit all 401 of the national parks.