Central Ohio Civil War Round Table – Columbus

18 03 2008

This past Wednesday (March 12), I made the 3 hour drive to Columbus to deliver my Threads presentation to the Central Ohio Civil War Round Table.  Mike Peters, the round table’s group historian (programs director) and an old e-quaintance with whom I’ve stomped Civil War battlefields in North Carolina, met me at the Holiday Inn in Pickerington.  From there we went over to what’s left of Camp Chase, which served as a training camp, parole camp, and prison camp during the war.  It’s most famous as a facility in which both prisoners of war and civilian detainees were held, and over 2,200 of them rest in the cemetery that represents all that is left of the once vast camp (I reviewed in brief a new book on Camp Chase in the May 2008 issue of America’s Civil War ).  One of those buried there is an ancestor of Mike’s – that’s them in the last photo below (click on the thumbnail for a larger image):

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We spent a short while in the cemetery, and then drove to the offices of Blue & Gray Magazine.  There I was introduced to Jason Roth, who works with his father Dave, the founder of the magazine.  I was about 19 issues short of a full run of Blue & Gray, and had packed a list of all the issues I needed, which of course I left back at the hotel.  I remembered one of the issues off the top of my head (a rare occurrence) which Jason had in stock.  I also purchased a copy of Tom McGrath’s new book on the Battle of Shepherdstown, and told Jason I would try to stop by the next day before heading for home (I did return, and bought another three back issues – now just 15 to go!).  Here is the home of the magazine:

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 Next we drove to the Motts Military Museum in Groveport.  This place is a real jewel, with a wonderful collection of paraphernalia spanning American military history.  The museum is now the home of the Pickett’s Charge diorama formerly displayed in the Gettysburg Cyclorama; numerous edged weapons and firearms; uniforms; tanks; helicopters; a rare WWII Higgins boat; an exact replica of Columbus native Eddie Rickenbacker’s  boyhood home; and much more.  After wandering the grounds, Mike introduced me to the director, Warren Motts.  Many of you have met Wayne Motts, Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide and the Director of the Adams County Historical Society.  Warren is Wayne’s father, and all I can say is the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.  Talk about energy and enthusiasm!  Warren showed us the new (unopened) wing of the museum, which has lots of stuff from NASA (including a live feed!), an extensive collection of women’s uniforms, and the lens used by Matthew Brady to photograph Lee on his porch in Richmond after Appomattox.  The last photo below is of Mike (l) and Warren (r):

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 It was getting pretty late, and the meeting was to begin at 7:30, so Mike dropped me at the hotel where I changed.  About 10 minutes later I was back in Mike’s car and we met another member of the round table, author and fellow blogger Eric Wittenberg, at Max & Erma’s for dinner.  I’ve known Eric for about seven years, and realized that I hadn’t seen him in nearly three, so it was nice to have some time to catch up.  Check out his very kind comments regarding my presentation.  Thanks for the plug, Eric.

The meeting was held in Westerville, which is a pretty cool Victorian town.  I had a little time to schmooze with some of the members I had met a few years ago in North Carolina, and round table President Tim Maurice had some business to conduct, so I began my program around 7:45.  About 35 folks showed up, and  I started off by taking this picture (sorry, it’s out of focus):   

 

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I think things went pretty well.  Mike had told me that the speaker usually goes 30-45 minutes.  I went to about 9:15, and only one person had to leave during the program.  I didn’t have any time for a formal Q&A (I think on a Wednesday night most folks had already had a long day), but there were quite a few questions during the presentation and three or four hung around afterward to chat.  Thanks to the fella (Jamie Ryan) who provided the probable identity of Colonel — whose death Romeyn B. Ayres felt would enable his family to be proud (see here) as Norval Welch of the 16th MI.  Welch’s actions at Little Round Top on July 2, 1863 had cast a shadow over his reputation.  He was killed at the head of his regiment at Peebles Farm on Sept. 30, 1864.  Here’s a photo of Welch that I found on this site:  

 

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All in all, a good trip.  The reworking of the program really paid off, and the whole thing flowed a lot better.  Thanks to Tim Maurice, Mike Peters, Eric Wittenberg and everyone at the Central Ohio Civil War Round Table for a great time, and for their pledge of a donation to the Save Historic Antietam Foundation.

 

 

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9 responses

18 03 2008
Mike Peters

Harry,

The gentleman who gave the Colonel an identity was AOP Fifth Corps aficionado Jamie Ryan.

Thanks for speaking to our group. Feedback has been unanamously positive. Had a blast! Come back any time.

Mike Peters

18 03 2008
Harry Smeltzer

Thanks Mike. I’m glad they liked it.

Harry

18 03 2008
Eric Wittenberg

Harry,

It was my pleasure to plug your talk. The bottom line is that I’ve been to a lot of CWRT talks over the years, and I’ve given a lot of them, too, and yours was, without question, one of the two or three most interesting I’ve ever heard. As you know, I really love the obscure stuff, so I was in my glory for your talk. Thanks again for coming, and it was great to see you.

Eric

18 03 2008
Tim Maurice

Harry,

A good time was had by all! Thanks for the visit Harry. As Mike said everyone seemed very pleased with your presentation. Thanks again and we hope to have you back again soon.

Tim Maurice

18 03 2008
Harry Smeltzer

Thanks Eric and Tim. I’m very picky about what groups I’ll talk to. Pretty much I limit them to those who ask me.

10 09 2008
Top of the World, Ma!!! « Bull Runnings

[...] version of my last roundtable talk, which may include some stuff I was not able to get to in Columbus.  I think I’ll still work up a program on Kilpatrick, so if any of you are interested in [...]

4 12 2009
Civil War Times – February 2010 « Bull Runnings

[...] Matthew Brady used to take this photo, in Warren Motts’s Military Museum in Columbus (see here).  This issue includes two Lee pieces, one by Gary Gallagher (Do the Number Add up for [...]

13 11 2010
george wilson

I attended the meetings some years ago–at Chem Astracts. would like to attend again. I spent today with Eric and told me that you meet at an Ohio Health location on Polaris Pkwy. Please send me an address so I can Google it
Thanks
George P Wilson

13 11 2010
Harry Smeltzer

George, While I spoke there a few years ago, I’m not a member of the COCWRT, and I’m not sure where they meet. Eric however is a member and should be able to give you that info.

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