September 2023 Meeting Announced

Our September 2023 meeting will feature Evan Rothera offering a presentation titled, “‘Our sister republic of Mexico must be relieved from foreign domination’: The U.S. Civil War, the French Intervention, and the Monroe Doctrine.”

In April 1861, the U.S. Civil War began when rebels fired on Fort Sumter. Several months later, Mexican President Benito Juárez suspended debt payments because the War of the Reform (1857-1861) had drained the country’s treasury. Juárez’s decision led Great Britain, Spain, and France, Mexico’s European creditors, to send armies to Mexico to seize customs houses. Emperor Napoleon III of France then decided to occupy Mexico City and overthrow Juárez’s government in order to recreate a French New World empire. Scholars often view the U.S. Civil War and the French Intervention in Mexico as separate events. However, this talk illustrates that the two conflicts were interwoven and part of a larger war pitting republicanism against the forces of reaction. Furthermore, by discussing the cooperation that developed between the U.S. and Mexico during this period, this talk demonstrates that the U.S.-Mexico relationship involved more than conflict and xenophobia. People in both countries imagined themselves as sister republics engaged in a common struggle and acted on these beliefs by raising money and arms and crossing borders to fight for freedom.

Evan C. Rothera

Evan C. Rothera is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith. He received his Ph.D. from the Department of History at The Pennsylvania State University in 2017. He published Civil Wars and Reconstructions in the Americas: The United States, Mexico, and Argentina, 1860 – 1880 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2022) and co-edited, with Brian Matthew Jordan, The War Went On: Reconsidering the Lives of Civil War Veterans (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2020). He has published articles in Nebraska History, The Journal of Mississippi History, and the Journal of Supreme Court History, several book chapters, and many book reviews and encyclopedia entries. He has received fellowships and grants from the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, the Louisiana Historical Association, the New Orleans Center for the Gulf South, the Texas State Historical Association, the Virginia Historical Society, and the Institute for Political History.

July 2023 Meeting

Our July meeting will feature Myers Brown, executive director of Belmont Mansion. He previously served as an archivist with the Tennessee State Library and Archives (TSLA) and the curator of extension services at the Tennessee State Museum. Mr. Brown has held numerous positions, including serving as Chairman of The Tennessee War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission and on the advisory board of the Tennessee Great War Commission and the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area. He authored the books Tennessee’s Union Cavalrymen (2008) and Tennessee’s Confederates (2011) and was elected a Fellow of the Company of Military Historians in 2008.

His presentation is titled “Joe Wheeler, Chief of Cavalry, Army of Tennessee.” It will focus on the life, exploits, and military operations of General Joseph Wheeler. Despite his youth, Wheeler commanded the entire Cavalry Corps of the Confederacy’s second largest army and at times his division commanders included such famous generals as John Hunt Morgan and Nathan Bedford Forrest. While his Civil War actions are impressive, his post-Civil War career is also noteworthy. By the time of his death in 1906, he had served nearly eighteen years in the US Congress, commanded cavalry (including Roosevelt’s Rough Riders) in the Spanish-American War, operated a 30,000 acre cotton farm in North Alabama and served as a lawyer for the railroads. He is one of only two former Confederate generals to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

General Grant is Coming!

The SICWRT will host General U.S. Grant at our next meeting, Thursday, May 18th, at 7:00 p.m., at FOP #73, 804 Court Street, Evansville, Indiana. Dr. Curt Fields researches and reads extensively about General Grant in order to deliver an accurate persona of the General. His presentations are in first person, quoting from General Grant’s memoirs; articles and letters the General wrote, statements he made in interviews or wrote himself, and first-person accounts of people who knew the General or were with him and witnessed him during events. He is the same height and body style as General Grant and, therefore presents a convincing, true-to-life image of the man as he really looked. His program will cover Grant’s pursuit of Lee to Appomattox.

March 2023 Meeting

This month’s meeting of the Southern Indiana Civil War Roundtable will take place on Thursday, March 16th, at 7:00 p.m. The meeting will be at Evansville FOP Lodge #73, located at 801 Court Street in downtown Evansville. Our program will be presented by SICWRT member Tom Van Wormer. His program will be about the Dred Scott case, a matter decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1857. This decision had a profound affect in galvanizing the opinions of those leaning towards anti-slavery, and was a major factor in bringing about the start of the Civil War in 1861.

Tom was born and raised in the Detroit metro area. He practiced law in Toledo, Ohio, for five years. He came to Evansville in 1990 as a new FBI Special Agent and retired in 2010. He plays the French Horn in the Old Dam Community Band and the E Flat Alto Horn in the Red Bank Reunion Band.

October 2022 Program

Our program on October 20, 2022, at 7:00 p.m. features David Mowery on “Cincinnati in the Civil War: Then and Now.” During the American Civil War, Cincinnati played a crucial role in preserving the United States. Not only was the city the North’s most populous in the West, but also it was the nation’s third most productive manufacturing center. The Queen City of the West served as a key provider of the Union’s soldiers, weapons, supplies, medical aid, and political influencers. In this presentation, Cincinnati historian David L. Mowery will reveal some of the Queen City’s key structures, such as military installations, hospitals, churches, businesses, and private homes, in the way they appeared at the time of the Civil War. Simultaneously, he will show how those same buildings look today. Come join David as he gives the highlights of Cincinnati’s impact on the outcome of the Civil War through a visual comparison of the past with the present.

David L. Mowery is a native resident of Cincinnati, Ohio, and a graduate of the University of Cincinnati. American military history piqued his interest at an early age. Since childhood, he has researched and visited over seven hundred battlefields across fifty states and nine countries. In 2001, David joined the all-volunteer Ohio Civil War Trail Commission as its Hamilton County representative, but over the years his role expanded to include the final design and historical validation of the entire length of the John Hunt Morgan Heritage Trail of Ohio. He is the coauthor of Morgan’s Raid Across Ohio: The Civil War Guidebook of the John Hunt Morgan Heritage Trail (Ohio Historical Society, 2014) and the author of Morgan’s Great Raid: The Remarkable Expedition from Kentucky to Ohio (History Press, 2013) and Cincinnati in the Civil War: The Union’s Queen City (History Press, 2021). Since 1995, David has been a member of the Cincinnati Civil War Round Table, for which he has written various papers on Civil War subjects and has led many Civil War tours of the Cincinnati region. He has also served with the Buffington Island Battlefield Preservation Foundation, the grass-roots organization working to preserve Ohio’s largest Civil War battlefield.

August 2022 News

Twenty-two members attended our July meeting, with several good programs on our future schedule. Our treasurer, Ron Sproatt, reports we have a balance of $1,618.11. Members voted to donate $225.00 to the FOP Lodge. We appreciate the use of their facility for our meetings. We want to remind members that you can pay your dues at the next meeting or mail them to our treasurer Ron Sproatt.

CDV of Theodore S. Bowers
Our speaker in July was Myers Brown, Director of Archival Collection Services and Chief Historian at the Tennessee State Library and Archives. Prior to joining the Tennessee State Library and Archives, Myers served as a curator with the Tennessee State Museum, the Alabama Historical Commission, and as Curator of Military History at the Atlanta History Center. He also served as the chairman of the Tennessee War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission. His program was: Loyal Cavaliers-Tennessee’s Unionist Cavalry (based on his book). The author of two books: Images of Tennessee’s Union Cavalrymen (published in December 2008) and Images of Tennessee Confederates (April 2011). In his program Myers described 14 Regiments of Union Cavalry in Tennessee. Some of the people he mentions that are important in Tennessee Civil War history are: John Bell, William Bowen Campbell, William Driver, Alvan Cullem Gillem, Samuel P. Carter, and Frank Cheatham.

On September 15th, Kevin Williams will offer a presentation on Grant’s staff. From the beginning of Grant’s Civil War service he was always shadowed by his aide, Theodore S. Bowers. Bowers was with him at Cairo prior to Ft. Donelson and was with him at the McLean House for Lee’s Surrender. Bowers’s story is one of fidelity, service, and, in the end, personal sacrifice to Grant. Prior to the war, Bowers was the editor of the Mt. Carmel Register, the Democratic-leaning paper of Wabash County, Illinois. Our presenter on this topic, Kevin Williams, is life-long student of the Civil War and resident of Evansville. Kevin has taught Civil War and World War II history at the junior college level – including experiential trips to battlefields of the Civil War. He is the father of four and Grandpa to eleven grandchildren – five in Illinois, three in Indiana, and three in Alaska.

On October 20th, David Mowery will offer a program titled “Cincinnati in the Civil War – Then & Now.”

July 2022 Program

Our scheduled speaker on July 21, 2022, is Myers Brown, Director of Archival Collection Services and Chief Historian at the Tennessee State Library and Archives. Prior to joining the Tennessee State Library and Archives, Myers served as a curator with the Tennessee State Museum, the Alabama Historical Commission, and as Curator of Military History at the Atlanta History Center. He also served as the chairman of the Tennessee War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission.

His planned program is: Loyal Cavaliers-Tennessee’s Unionist Cavalry (based on his book). He is the author of two books: Images of Tennessee’s Union Cavalrymen (published in December 2008) and Images of Tennessee Confederates (April 2011). Myers will bring copies to the meeting so that interested members may purchase their own signed copy.

Upcoming 2022 Programs

The SICWRT’s slate of 2022 programs kicks off on Thursday, January 20th, with a presentation from Michael Eisenhut on “The Iron Brigade at Gettysburg.” Eisenhut graduated from Purdue University in 1991 and lives in Monrovia, Indiana. Despite a lifelong career as a pilot and working for a major airline, he has studied the American Civil War his entire life. For the past several years, Eisenhut has focused his study primarily on the Battle of Gettysburg and also on the Civil War’s famous Iron Brigade, particularly the Nineteenth Indiana Volunteer Infantry regiment. He visits the Gettysburg battlefield many times per year, including having spent over 75 days there in 2021 alone. Eisenhut is a member of the Indianapolis and Hamilton County Civil War Round Tables and is the author of the newly released historical fiction novel titled Brothers of War: The Iron Brigade at Gettysburg.

Our February 2022 meeting will feature Krista Castillo on “Soldiers for Freedom: How Military and Pension Records Reveal Forgotten Stories.” Castillo is a native of northeastern Ohio, but moved to Fort Negley Park, a Nashville metro park, as the education manager in 2008. In 2010, she was promoted to site manager. Castillo holds degrees from Mount Union College (B.A., History) and Austin Peay State University (M.A., Military History). While completing her education, she held internships at the William McKinley National Memorial and Museum in Canton, Ohio, and at the Don F. Pratt Museum at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Castillo has served as president of the Nashville Civil War Roundtable since 2009. In addition to published work in Civil War News, Tennessee Conservationist Magazine, and The World of the Civil War: A Daily Life Encyclopedia, she has researched and presented on Fort Negley and other Civil War topics across the country. Between August 1862 and March 1863, more than 2,700 impressed African American men enrolled as laborers with the Engineers Department on St. Cloud Hill. In just four months, they built Fort Negley, the largest inland masonry fortification constructed during the Civil War. While impressment promoted a view of people as property and exploited laborers, it also deprived the Confederacy of its main labor force while granting African Americans a sense of freedom and personal investment in undermining the rebellion and the slave system. This program traces the experiences of Jerry Jackson, an impressed laborer and veteran of the Co. F, 12th USCT, and his family throughout the war and their struggle to receive federal benefits.

Our March 2022 program will feature David Coker on Ambrose Bierce, an American short story writer, journalist, poet, and American Civil War veteran.

November 2021 Program on Civil War Poetry

Our November 2022 will be presented by George Payne and Sherry Darrel on “Civil War Poetry,” which introduces seven poets writing about battles and other events during and immediately after the Civil War. Several of these poets served as either soldiers or war correspondents. Our presenters begin in 1859 with John Brown’s hanging and end in 1885 with Grant’s death. George presents information about the poets and the settings of these battles; Sherry analyzes and reads the poems.

George Andrew Payne was born in Vincennes and grew up in Lawrenceville, Illinois. Two of his great-grandfathers fought in the the Civil War, Ensley G. Andrew, 138th Indiana Volunteer Infantry, and James W. McKibben, 12th Ohio Infantry.

George graduated from Lawrenceville Township High School in 1966 and earned a B. S. in petroleum engineering from University of Oklahoma in 1970. After graduation, he served in the United States Navy for three years as a supply and disbursing officer. George earned an M. S. in petroleum engineering from University of Tulsa in 1975. He worked in Denver for four years before returning to Indiana in 1979.

Since then he has been self-employed, working in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and Kansas. He joined SICWRT about 20 years ago and is a founding member of the John W. Foster Camp of Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War.

Sherry Bevins Darrell was born in Drumright, Oklahoma, and grew up in Borger, Texas. In 1970 she earned a B. A. in English and philosophy from McMurry College in Abilene, Texas; in 1972, an M. A. in English and in 1975 a Ph.D. in English from Vanderbilt. Sherry taught at USI for 34 years in English and humanities, retiring in 2009.

The Roundtable Returns!

After a long absence due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Southern Indiana Civil War Roundtable (SICWRT) returns with a slate of interesting programs. As before, meetings take place on the third Thursday of the month at 7:00 p.m., at the Evansville Fraternal Order of Police (801 Court St, Evansville, Indiana 47708). All lectures are free and open to the public.

  • May 20th: Charles Matson of the Monroe County Civil War Roundtable presents on John T. Wilder. Wilder was an officer in the Union Army, noted principally for capturing the key mountain pass of Hoover’s Gap during the Tullahoma Campaign in Central Tennessee in June 1863. Wilder’s “Lightning Brigade” of mounted infantry used the new Spencer repeating rifle, a key factor in victory at Hoover’s Gap.
  • June 17th: Gerry Fisher offers a presentation on Partisan Rangers. Gerry Fisher serves as the Meade County Historian and was one of the founding members of the Meade County Historical Society.
  • July 15th: Scott Southerland of the SICWRT presents on “Spies and Espionage in the Civil War.”
  • August 19th: Derrick Lindow will present on “Adam Rankin Johnson and Partisan Rangers.” Derrick, who teaches 8th-grade U.S. history at Daviess County Middle School, has signed a contract with Savas Beatie to publish a book exploring the history of the Civil War in the Daviess County area. The narrative follows Confederate Adam Rankin Johnson and covers extensive measures taken by Union forces to quell Johnson’s success.