News & Events

Spring 2022 Programs

Our program on April 21, 2022, will feature a video from the Gary Gallagher series. The first is The Background to Emancipation and the second is Emancipation Completed.

Our next program on May 19, 2022, will be provided by SICWRT member Greg Briggs and is titled “The Cumberland River: Avenue for Middle Tennessee and the Civil War.” The river system of mid-America carried people and commerce across the nation. Flatboats and later steamboats greatly expanded America. The coming of the railroads added to this expansion as well as big increases in commerce. The Cumberland River in Tennessee was not only an avenue of commerce but also one of invasion. In 1862, the Federals would advance up this river taking forts and cities, including Nashville. Later, the river would be a vital part of the Union supply line for the fighting not only in Tennessee but also Alabama and Georgia. This program teaches the history of water commerce as well as the expansion of railroads and how both played into the Civil War in Tennessee for both sides.

Our meeting scheduled for June 16, 2022, will provided by SICWRT member Carol Hancock and will cover the book Lincoln’s Team of Rivals.

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.

September 2021 Meeting

Our next meeting will take place on Thursday, September 16th at at 7:00 p.m., at the Evansville Fraternal Order of Police (801 Court St, Evansville, Indiana 47708). It will feature Dr. Tom Sabetta discussing Dick Mitchell, Morgan cavalryman and guerrilla. Mitchell rode with the famous General John Hunt Morgan from mid 1862 to the end of 1863 and then became a guerrilla fighter until the end of the war. This past March, Tom contracted with Scuppernong Press in North Carolina to publish his biography on Dick Mitchell. Tom’s round-table presentation will tie in with the earlier SICWRT presentations by Gerry Fischer and Derrick Lindow while giving background on how the War for Southern Independence in Kentucky became a guerrilla fight in the end.

Tom is a retired lecturer in the College of Communication at the University of Kentucky where he taught in the system for 26 years. He has a BA in History, an MA in Organizational Communication from Western Kentucky University, and a Ph.D. from Wayne State University. He is a reenactor for Cobb’s Battery and is also the author of two books and several articles, his first at age 17 in the Kentucky Heritage. Additionally he was the past Vice President of the Owensboro – Daviess County Historical Society and currently serves on the Meade County Historical and Archeological Preservation Society Board of Directors.

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.

Remembering Martha Kohler

With great sadness we report the passing of Martha Kohler, one of our long time roundtable members. Martha and her husband Norm have been faithful members and supporters for year. She will be greatly missed. Please keep Norm in your thoughts and prayers as he deals with his loss.

Martha (Earp) Kohler, 80, passed away on 2 March 2021. Martha was born in Evansville on 23 December 1940 to the late Mildred (Fuquay) and Joseph Earp. She worked 13 years for Orr Iron Company, six years for Permanent Federal Bank, and also worked at Dr. James Ploch’s chiropractic office for 10 years. Martha was an active member of McCutchanville Community Church and was a member of the Civil War Roundtable. In 2001, she was a kidney transplant recipient.

Martha is survived by her husband of 57 years, Norman Kohler of Evansville, IN; a daughter, Diane Elizabeth Wallen, (Paul) of Bristol, CT.; and several cousins, nephew and nieces. She was preceded in death by her parents, her brothers, Robert and Louis Earp and her sister, Mary Ann Ritchie.

Wabash Literary Prize Winner Announced

Elizabeth R. Varon, professor of American History at the University of Virginia and author of Armies of Deliverance: A New History of the Civil War, is winner of the 2020 Wabash Literary Prize. Varon’s new book offers a sweeping narrative of the Civil War and a new interpretation of Union and Confederate war aims. She argues Northerners imagined the war as a crusade to deliver the Southern masses from slaveholder domination and to bring democracy, prosperity, and education to the region. As the war escalated, Lincoln and his allies built the case that emancipation would secure military victory and benefit the North and South alike. The theme of deliverance was essential in mobilizing a Unionist coalition of Northerners and anti-Confederate Southerners.

A specialist in the Civil War era and 19th-century South, Varon is the author of We Mean to be Counted: White Women and Politics in Antebellum Virginia (1998); Southern Lady, Yankee Spy: The True Story of Elizabeth Van Lew, A Union Agent in the Heart of the Confederacy (2003), which won the Lillian Smith Prize of the Southern Regional Council, the People’s Choice Award of the Library of Virginia, and the Richard Slatten Biography Prize of the Virginia Historical Society; and Disunion!: The Coming of the American Civil War, 1789-1859 (2008) and Appomattox: Victory, Defeat and Freedom at the End of the Civil War (2013). Appomattox won the 2014 Library of Virginia Literary Award for Nonfiction, and the 2014 Dan and Marilyn Laney Prize for Civil War History (Austin Civil War Roundtable), was finalist for the 2014 Jefferson Davis Award (Museum of the Confederacy), and was named one of Civil War Monitor’s Best Books of 2014.

July Meeting Canceled

Due to a recent reported surge in Covid-19 cases in Evansville, this past Friday the Mayor of Evansville directed mandated face masks beginning Wednesday. Although he indicated his directive will not be enforced with fines, arrests, etc., he has asked the public to voluntarily comply and follow his guidelines.

After discussing with other key members of SICWRT planning, we believe this announcement would cause many members not to attend the SICWRT meeting this week and would greatly reduce attendance for our out of town guest’s presentation. Therefore, we will cancel the meeting once again. We apologize for this inconvenience.

July Meeting Scheduled

Our meetings will once again resume on July 16th at the Evansville Fraternal Order of Police with a presentation from Charles Matson of the Monroe County Civil War Roundtable. Mr. Matson will present on John T. Wilder.

A Note on Meetings During the Pandemic

The current public health crisis has changed a lot of things in our day to day lives. The changes in guidelines for interpersonal contact and the current regulations related to gatherings and non-essential travel have proven to be a challenge for groups like ours. In light of those changes and the uncertainty as to when those guidelines may be relaxed, the need to make a decision regarding the rest of the SICWRT season has been thrust upon us.

At this time, the decision has been made to cancel our regularly scheduled meetings for April and we may very well need to do the same thing for May. While it is disappointing, maintaining the health and safety of our members, families, and friends is our top priority. We will keep you up to date on the progress of those potential opportunities as best we can.