Monroe County Civil War Roundtable


The Sentinel

February, 2006


                                The January program was delivered by MCCWR member Rick Watson, and presented a detailed and enlightening account of the first “large” battle of the war. Rick is an IT person for Indiana University in his “spare” time, but devotes his serious studies to all topics relating to the Civil War. Semi-annually, he does a deep and determined battlefield trip with friends. Recently, Shiloh National Military Park in southwestern Tennessee was his focus.

                With pictures, maps, and his daughter as an able assistant, Rick laid out the basic strategies and tactics of the battle, especially the first day which was, by far, the more pivotal day for General U.S. Grant and his Union forces.



                  Pittsburgh Landing , the northern name for the April 6/7, 1862, battle more commonly know as Shiloh, as it appears today.


                Rick steadily laid out the reasons for the battle and, as happened so many times during the war, the reasons why it did not go quite as expected, especially by the Confederate leaders. Fickle commanders, rain, swollen streams, unexpected movements...all combined to give the South a real chance for a great victory that was, ultimately, turned into a demoralizing defeat. It would be followed by a similar setback in the fall at not-too-distant Perryville, Kentucky, and the stage would be set for the steady decline of Confederate power in the western theater.

                One of the more interesting revelations of Rick’s presentation was the new research into the area of the battle called the Hornet’s Nest that show that it may well not have been quite the inferno that had been portrayed by historians over the years. Recent archaeological finds, studies of battle records and statistics and  other data have indicated that the ferocity of the battle may have been more the creation of the imaginations of some post-war Iowa veterans groups than anything that actually happened.

                Kudos to Rick for a great job!


Call for Programs

                If you have a topic that you would like to share, please contact Program Chair John Crosby, 339-2572, or President Steve Rolfe, 336-0757, and let them know. We do not have to have experts, only those with an interest and a passion for some aspect of the war.. personal family histories, travel experiences, favorite books...anything at all. Programs can run as long as an hour to an hour-and-a-half, but any length will do. We have had programs on re-enacting, the problems of the Indiana monuments at Gettysburg, the Civil War through tombstones and funerary art, holiday celebrations during the war and more. The idea of our group is to share, so jump in and give us all a piece of your CW experience!

Monument to Confederate dead at Shiloh, complete with Victory sadly passing her laurel wreath off to those forces that bested her.


Anyone interested in or willing to help out in providing refreshments for one or more meetings should contact Steve Rolfe or Hospitality chair Deborah Cronin and let them know. We are hoping to be able to sample some Civil War recipes (hardtack with mealy works excepted!), so jump in and be creative. Expenses will be covered. All we need is the enthusiasm and desire.

Monument honoring CSA General Albert Sidney Johnston, the highest ranking officer of either side to die of battle wounds in the war.


Civil War Trivia

Ambrose Burrnside, the US general officer who met his Waterloo at Fredericksburg in December, 1862, but later went on to a long career in Rhode Island politics and state government, was actually born in Liberty, Indiana.




It takes a little money to keep an organization like the Roundtable going. There are refreshments to be provided, postage, honorarium purchases, etc. If you are a regular attendee, or plan to be, and have not yet paid, please see Kevin Shiflet, our treasurer, at the next meeting.


Many Thanks to the

Monroe County History Center


                Our roundtable could not function nearly as well as it has over the last year without the generous assistance and support of the Monroe County History Center, 6th & Washington in downtown Bloomington. Beyond providing us with a meeting place once a month, the director of the center and all the staff have been most helpful in promotion, refreshments and just plain encouragement.

                If you have not been to the old Carnegie Library building recently for more than our meetings, stop in to see their collections, use the extensive genealogy library or simply browse in their first-class gift and book shop (Civil War titles available!).

                Even further, if you have not considered it before, think about a membership to the Monroe County Historical Society. It is keeping the legacy of our area alive and vibrant for the generations to come.


Did You Know?

African Americans constituted less than 1% of the Northern population, yet by war’s end made up 10% of the Union Army.   A total of 180,000 black men, more than 85% of those eligible, enlisted.


February Program

Join us at the History Center on Tuesday, February 21, at 6:30 pm to hear member Bill Overlease relate the story of John Brown’s Body– The Single Best Narrative of the War!