Welcome to the Civil War Roundtable of Gettysburg. "The most important Roundtable, in the most important small town, at the most important battlefield, in the most important country in the world."
—Joe Mieczkowski, past president


December 2


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Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation

Kevin Pawlak

The Emancipation Proclamation is one of our country’s most misinterpreted documents. Often seen as a bland and blank document of Lincoln’s lacking the flair of his Gettysburg Address or his Second Inaugural Address, the Emancipation Proclamation in fact proved to be one of the Civil War’s major turning points from a diplomatic and military standpoint. It also upped the ante on the war, for as of the Proclamation’s issuance on January 1, 1863, there were only two possible outcomes of the Civil War: either two separate nations would emerge, one with slavery and the other without, or there would be one reunited country without the institution of slavery.

Kevin Pawlak is a Historic Site Manager for the Prince William County Office of Historic Preservation and an Antietam Battlefield Guide. He graduated from Shepherd University with a BA in History. Kevin is the author of five books on the American Civil War, including To Hazard All: A Guide to the Maryland Campaign, 1862. He also authored, 'The Heavyest Blow Yet Given the Confederacy': The Emancipation Proclamation Changes the Civil War in Turning Points of the Civil War, part of Southern Illinois University Press' Engaging the Civil War series.

Kevin is also the editor of the Antietam Institute's Antietam Journal and a founding member (among many others) of the Antietam Institute.

Our meetings are the Fourth Thursday of each month.

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Bruce Davis, President  402.686.6969

Peter Miele, Vice President petemiele@gmail.com

Eleanor Cingire Bilz, Recording Secretary 717.420.2183

Linda Seamon, Membership Secretary 717.359.7339

David Diner, Treasurer 717.420.5730

Roger Heller, Program Director 717.398.2072

Linda Joswick, Webmaster 717.253.5477

Lynn Heller, Facebook Administrator 717.398.2072


Fred Hawthorne (5/22), Lynn Heller (5/24), Roger Heller (5/22), Michele Hessler (5/23), Abbie Hoffman (5/23), Leon Reed 5/24)
Board Member Ex Officio:
Therese Orr

Next Board Meeting:

Board Meetings are are virtual meetings until it is safe to meet again. Minutes will be posted.

Board Meeting Minutes



Plaque Committee:
Reviews and places plaques on buildings that existed during the Battle in Adams County. For information or an application, contact Deb Novotny.

Book Award Committee:
Review books for the Gettysburg Civil War Roundtable Book Award.

Field Trip Committee:
Plan future trips for the members of the Civil War Roundtable.

If you are interested in more information, or joining, one the committees, please contact any Officer or Board Member.


The Holiday Banquet scheduled for the Dobbin House on Dec. 2nd has been cancelled due to the continuing pandemic.
We are pleased that the presentation will be done using a ZOOM link.

Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation

Presented by Kevin Pawlak

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My wife and I are both Midwest transplants, who spent most of our lives in Missouri. We were there last month, visiting family, and on the way back swung south to visit Civil War sites in Kentucky and Tennessee.

Columbus, Kentucky, situated on a bluff high above the Mississippi River, isn’t much of a town, but in 1861 was called the Gibraltar of the West. Fighting Bishop Leonidas Polk had 140 guns positioned up here to blast Union vessels trying to pass; 56 of these were ginormous Model 1829 cannon, each monster weighing just under four tons, throwing a 32-pound iron ball with a range of 1 ½ miles. As further deterrent, a mile long chain was stretched the width of the channel, each link weighing twenty pounds five ounces. On November 7, 1861, heretofore unheralded Ulysses S. Grant floated 3,000 Federals downstream from Cairo, Illinois. Taking Columbus was out of the question; Grant’s more modest goal was a Confederate garrison at Belmont, Missouri, on the opposite bank. The assault looked to be a big success until the Nationals started looting the enemy camp, giving Polk time to send reinforcements across the river. Grant himself narrowly escaped being made a prisoner of war. The Columbus-Belmont State Park, on Polk’s Kentucky bluff, is well worth visiting. The great anchor and a section of the chain are on display, as is a “32-pounder,” the tube towering above my head.

We were with Leonidas Polk again in Perryville, Kentucky, 70 miles southeast of Louisville. The Bishop of Louisiana had been at the right hand of Commanding General Braxton Bragg when the Confederates set out from Chattanooga, Tennessee, for an invasion of the North. The Secessionists moved in two wings. On October 8, 1862, Bragg was up at Frankfort, Kentucky, with half the army, leaving Polk and the other half to face the entire Army of the Cumberland. Fighting at a 3-1 numerical disadvantage, Leonidas made a stand worthy of his Thermopylae namesake. Truth be told, the Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site was kind of a disappointment--though I did pick up a great t-shirt in the gift shop. Of more interest was St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Harrodsburg, ten miles north of the battlefield. Darkness having ended the five-hour battle at Perryville, Bishop General Polk took the survivors to Harrodsburg. According to a sign in front of St. Philip’s, he entered the church, had the bell tolled and prayed “Peace to the land and blessings on friend and foe alike.” (If you’re wondering about all this religious stuff, I’m retired clergy, having particular interest in the intersection of church and war.) With both wings of Bragg’s army concentrated at Harrodsburg, Polk and others in high command, assumed the army would resume the offensive. Braxton Bragg, however, seems to have lost his nerve. The invasion was called off, the army ordered back into Tennessee.

In late December 1862, Bragg’s army was at Murfreesboro, southeast of Nashville. The Federal Army of the Cumberland came marching down the Nashville Pike; Bragg brought the Army of Tennessee across Stones River to meet them. The Stones River National Battlefield will be of great interest to any student of the Civil War. Stop #2 on the auto tour is particularly evocative: The Slaughter Pen. (Yes, I know, Gettysburg has a Slaughter Pen, but slaughter was hardly exclusive to our three days.) On the morning of December 31, both Bragg and Union commander William Rosecrans planned to attack the other’s right. Bragg beat Rosecrans to the punch and might have overwhelmed the Unionists if not for Philip Sheridan’s stand in this cedar forest, floored with flat limestone ledges, some waist high, blood running between the crevices. Stop #5 is also of great interest. General William Hazen’s repulse of Bishop Polk’s Corps is marked by “the oldest American Civil War monument still standing in its original battlefield location.” The first permanent regimental monument at Gettysburg (the 2nd Massachusetts, just south of Spangler’s Springs) was dedicated in 1879. The men of Hazen’s brigade had their monument up in the summer of ’63! Unable to dislodge the Federals, Bragg again put his army into reverse gear. Why a modern-era army base would be named for Braxton Bragg, arguably the worst commander in either Blue or Gray, is beyond me.

Maybe the biggest buzz of the trip was following Pat Cleburne to Franklin, Tennessee. Born in Ireland, Cleburne had been a pre-war lawyer in Helena, Arkansas, his combat record so outstanding that Jefferson Davis dubbed him the “Stonewall of the West.” But the Confederate Irishman had come to bad odor for suggesting slaves be issued gray uniforms and muskets, with the promise of emancipation for those who volunteered. If Black men were permitted to fight, the entire theory of the Confederacy would go kaput. In November 1864, Cleburne was taking orders from John Bell Hood, who’d lost the use of an arm in Gettysburg and had a leg shot off at Chickamauga, currently commanding what had been Bragg’s army. Having recently lost Atlanta, Hood was taking what was left of the army north. Six miles south of Columbia, Tennessee, the march went past St. John’s Episcopal Church. Built twenty years earlier by Leonidas Polk on family land in Maury County, St. John’s was modeled after parish churches in rural England, set in a grove of trees, with a pretty cemetery out back. (I was surprised to find a door unlocked, so I could go inside, my visit cut short when alarms started going off.) St. John’s so impressed Cleburne that he was heard to say, “It is almost worth dying to rest in so sweet a spot.” 35 miles further north, Pat Cleburne would be one of six Confederate generals to fall in a Pickett’s Charge-like attack at Franklin, the place he fell marked beneath a magnolia tree. Patrick Ronayne Cleburne would in fact be buried in the St. John’s churchyard, later dug up to be reinterred in his adopted hometown of Helena. Hood would get as far as Nashville, but with his army wrecked at Franklin, was overwhelmed by the Federals, including United States Colored troops.

Other stops in this Civil Wargasim included Monument Circle in Indianapolis, the Harriett Beecher Stow House in Cincinnati, and Stonewall Jackson’s birthplace and childhood home in the West Virginia mountains. The adventure took us through some of the most covid-infested parts of the nation, and I’m pleased to report that both of our double-vaccinated selves returned without any ill-effects. After an absence of 19 months, I’ve been really looking forward to returning to the G.A.R. Hall in September, but I’d be lying if I said this covid spike isn’t kind of concerning. The Board will be meeting in early September to talk about it. Be looking for a mailing soon thereafter.

My heart goes out to school administrators, church leaders and other trying to plan for this fall. To stay current with Round Table programming, check out our website, cwrtgettysburg.org.

Bruce Davis


2022 CWRT Speaker’s List


Jan 27
Douglas Douds
Staff Officers of the AOP – Part 2


Feb 24
Scott Hartwig
an Antietam subject TBD


March 24
Sue Boardman
The Snyder County Boys


April 28
Mike McDonnell
Canadians in the Civil War


May 14
Larry Korczyk
A tour of Day’s Hill ( Saturday morning -outdoors 9:30-noon)


May 26
Cooper Wingert
The Underground RR in South Central PA


June 23 (27)
Dr.Jennifer Murray
A Meade at Gettysburg outdoor tour TBD.


July 28 (Aug 4)
James Hessler
Iverson’s Brigade at Gettysburg (outdoors)


August 25 (29)
Therese Orr
Outdoor tour TBD


Sept 22
Mary Turk-Meena
The Committee on the Conduct of the War.


Oct 27
Tom Vossler & Jeffrey McCausland
Leadership on the Gettysburg Battlefield


Nov 17
Dr. Brian Luskey
Men Is Cheap


Dec 1 - Holiday Banquet
Kent Masterson Brown
Meade at Gettysburg


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Reenactment photos courtesy of the Gettysburg Times

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