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May 1, 2020

Again, I find myself in my library looking out the backdoor and watching anything that might be happening just to break the monotony. I started to count the birds and then squirrels. After that was complete, I started separating them by color and size. I need help. I have been on lock down since March 12. I am getting just a little bit stir crazy. Since I cannot go anywhere at this time (by the way I fully support this), I have started to plan future trips. You might remember that I refer to these Civil War related trips as Wargasms. I didn’t invent this phrase; Tony Horowitz introduced me to it in his book Confederates in the Attic.

For my next Wargasm I have started plans to visit Vicksburg and the sites of the supporting battles. When I go to a battlefield, I like to travel the routes the armies took. As best a possible anyway. I have been able to follow Lee/Meade into Gettysburg, Lee/McClellan into Antietam, Jackson up and down the valley, Early to Monacacy, Rosecrans’ retreat to Chattanooga from Chickamauga and Sherman’s march to Atlanta and the sea. By taking Longstreet’s march on Little Round Top, you discover, even today, that if he continued on his original route he would have been exposed to the Federal troops and any surprise would be gone. By the way, locally if you want to know why the battles of Price's Raid in the Kansas City area were fought where they were, don’t follow the troops -- follow the wagon train. I like to do the research to find these routes and by taking these routes develop an understanding of why a battle was fought where it was. Needless to say, planning for these trips takes some time. The experience at the battlefield is enriched with a little background study. Knowing where, what, when and how will enrich the experience of your battlefield excursion. So, take some time (you have plenty of time right now) and start planning your Wargasm.

Just because the tour brochure says your battlefield exploration will take 3 hours, it doesn’t mean you can’t take 3 days or more. Good luck, good travels and stay safe. We will be able to travel together again before we know it.

PS: If you ever begin to question why you have been in your house for weeks on end, read this.

'No Man is an Island'

No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man's death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

Devotions upon Emergent Occasions
John Donne 1624

-- Mike Calvert, President of the Civil War Round Table of Western Missouri

April 8, 2020

I was sitting in the library this evening and it dawned on me that I wasn’t where I supposed to be on the 2nd Wednesday of the month. I wasn’t with the group of people that I have shared the pursuit of knowledge with for 25 plus years. I wasn’t with you my friends and fellow history buffs. Each day seems to be much like another here on lock down. I watch or read the news, get upset, shout against what I have no control over and listen to Cindi say “If it upsets you that much, quit watching!” So I retreat to my sancta sanctorum to travel back in time to find an answer to what has turned the world upside down.

We have been here before and I don’t refer to the 1918 Flu Pandemic. I am referring to the Civil War. The first time our nation had to find an answer to a time of personal upheaval. The first time citizens had to confront masses of death, mass of sickness and masses of wounded. It wasn’t easy to find any solution. How to notify loved ones at home. How to understand that your soldier died alone. How to honor the dead. How to get an astronomical amount of needed medical supplies to the point of need. And to do this without a national or for that matter a local organization to provide the means. It was a steep learning curve. At the beginning of the war there wasn’t even a method to remove wounded from the battlefield to the hospital and most of the time even that hospital didn’t exist. The Army finally solved this, but the Army could never provide a solution for supplying the much needed material for healing.

United States Sanitary CommissionOut of this chaos The United States Sanitary Commission (USSC) was formed. A private relief agency created by federal legislation on June 18, 1861, to support sick and wounded soldiers of the United States Federal Army. It operated across the North, raised an estimated $25 million in Civil War era revenue (assuming 1865 dollars, $417.55 million in 2020) and in-kind contributions to support the cause, and enlisted thousands of volunteers. The president was Henry Whitney Bellows, and Frederick Law Olmsted acted as executive secretary. The power of the American people in a most grass roots sense.

We don’t have a Sanitary Commission. We do have a nation of people that when, a need is known they come together for a solution. We see it every day from the individuals that sew masks, to the food pantries and to the people that make sure that no one is forgotten. We all do our part every day by staying at home or if you must go out staying apart. Did you ever think that we would come together for a common cause by staying apart? We have been through this before. It is not easy. It never has been. Stay home. Stay safe and we will see each other before long. Oh, the stories we will tell.

-- Mike Calvert, President of the Civil War Round Table of Western Missouri

[Photo credit -- True Williams (1839-1897) -, Public Domain,]

With the status of the coronavirus changing daily, please check in advance for any programs or meetings you see listed on our website and on our calendar to make sure they are still being held.  While we endeavor to keep our information up to date, we sometimes are not notified about changes in other organization's events.

Publication of our bi-monthly newsletter, the Border Star, will be suspended until further notice.

Online programs are one way of continuing your interest in history while staying at home.  Check your favorite organization's website for streaming opportunities.


A Young General and the Fall of Richmond: The Life and Career of Godfrey Weitzel
A Young General and the Fall of Richmond: The Life and Career of Godfrey Weitzel
, by G. William Quatman, takes a look at the Union general who occupied Richmond after the Fall on April 3, 1865.  Check out the Ohio University Press for ordering information, available February 2015.  Pre-order prices are available.

Mr. G. William Quatman is a member of the Civil War Round Table of Kansas City and is a local attorney and author.  He has spoken at the Kansas City and St. Louis Round Tables in past years.

quantrills revenge coverAuthors:  James C. Edwards and Dick Titterington
Forward:  Dr. Tony R. Mullis

In August 1863, guerrilla chieftain William C. Quantrill led around 400 Missouri guerrillas deep into Kansas to attack Lawrence, “the great hot-bed of abolitionism in Kansas.”  Over a four-day period, Quantrill led his men over 90 miles from Johnson County, Missouri, to Lawrence where they burned much of the town and killed over 150 townsmen.  After spending 4 hours in Lawrence, Quantrill took an 80 mile route back into Missouri, skirmishing with Union cavalry along the way.  This tour guide contains 49 tour stops and follows the route taken by Quantrill’s guerrillas during their 1863 raid on Lawrence, Kansas.  The tour begins in Johnson County, Missouri and goes west through Jackson and Cass Counties, Missouri, to the Kansas state line.  The tour enters Kansas just north of the boundary between Johnson and Miami Counties, Kansas, and continues heading northwest through Johnson and Douglas Counties, Kansas, on the way to Lawrence.  As you might expect, most of the tour stops are located in Lawrence, Kansas.  After Lawrence there are a number of tour stops following the route taken by Quantrill’s guerrillas on their way back to Missouri as they were pursued by Federal troops.  Altogether the tour covers a distance of approximately 175 miles from start to finish.

List price:  $24.99 on Amazon

amazonsmile logoClick the AmazonSmile logo to the right to purchase it through AmazonSmile (be sure to sign into AmazonSmile) and have your order routed through the philanthropic arm of Amazon. The Civil War Round Table of Western Missouri is a duly registered not-for-profit which can receive a small remittance for your order.

lincolnandthepowerofthepressLincoln and the Power of the Press: The War for Public Opinion, by Harold Holzer, is now available in hard cover.  Check out the Press Release and the Conversation with Harold Holzer that ppeared in the fall issue of Lincoln Lore, the publication of Friends of the Lincoln Collection of Indiana (PO Box 11083, Fort Wayne, IN 46855 or

Mr. Holzer will be the speaker at the Civil War Round Table of Kansas City meeting on Tuesday, February 24 at 6:30 p.m.  Dinner is $27.  Location is the Holiday Inn & Suites, 8787 Reeder Road, Overland Park, KS.  (ballroom on the 8th floor).  Park on the south side of the hotel and use elevators in the lobby.  For reservations call Paul Gault at (816) 741-2962.