Fort Sumter Civil War Round Table 4/12/2021

29 04 2021
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My now traditional pre-talk selfie.

This past April 12, I was in the Holy City, otherwise known as Charleston, SC, to present my program on McDowell’s plan for what became the First Battle of Bull Run. We had about 30-35 people on hand at the hall of Stella Maris Catholic Church on Sullivan’s Island, in the shadow of Ft. Moultrie. This presentation capped of a very full day that included a trip out to Shute’s Folly in Charleston Harbor, the site of Castle Pinckney, which for a time was home to Federal prisoners taken at First Bull Run. But more on that later.

The talk was a long time coming, as friend Jim Morgan (a co-founder of the round table) had first invited me down a couple-or-three years ago. I was scheduled to speak last May, I think, when the group held their meetings at The Citadel, but Covid put the kibosh on that. So things loosened up and we rescheduled, but with a change in venue as things had not loosened up enough for the folks at the Citadel.

I’ve presented “McDowell’s Plan” more times than any other program I’ve done. And I’m never happy after I finish, as I always think I left something out, or put something in that I shouldn’t have, or said something stupid (see below for my pre-talk stupid story). This time was non different, and I vow again to make big changes before next time (which right now looks like April 2022 in Frederick, MD). But I got some good feedback, answered some good questions, and I think folks generally liked it.

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We started out pledging allegiance to this flag.

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This flag was also there, but no one pledged anything to it.

All in all it was a good time, and I have to say there are some really sharp minds in this group (including present and former Citadel history profs. Kyle Sinisi and Steve Smith, and retired USMC Col. Ed Forte, among others), so be on top of your game if you’re lucky enough to be invited to speak there.

I did have the opportunity to really embarrass myself with one other esteemed member of the group, and I’ll share that story which I posted on Facebook again here because I’m a glutton for punishment.

So, after a full morning of boating and exploring Castle Pinckney, I got back to my base of operations and was able to take a nap and freshen up. I met up with a few members of the RT at a place called “Poe’s” on Sullivan’s Island, near the venue. (Turns out some hack writer from Baltimore was stationed for a time at Ft. Moultrie, also on Sullivan’s Island.) Jim Morgan, one of the founders of the RT and the person who invited me to speak, makes the introductions. Now, I’m horrible with names and forget them as soon as I hear them. I’m seated next to a man named Rick Hatcher, and am told he is a retired NPS historian who had worked at both Ft. Sumter and Ft. Moultrie, among others. At some point, I was handed a copy of one of my Collateral Damages articles from Civil War Times. Mr. Hatcher asked me if I ever wrote about the Ray house. I’m thinking on it, and having trouble focusing what with all the new names that are rapidly escaping my brain. He says “Wilson’s Creek.” I say, “Oh yeah, I did,” and he tells me he used to work there, and I try to remember the man’s name who I talked to at the site when I wrote “the article.” Well it soon dawns on me that I’m thinking of the Bottom House at Perryville, and that I never wrote an article on the Ray House at Wilson’s Creek. Trying to explain this mix-up, I say, “Well, same state.” Which can only be true if Missouri and Kentucky are the same state. And they’re not. Still trying to dig myself out, I bring up a fine study of Wilson’s Creek that I read years ago, which was authored by William Garrett Piston “and some other guy.” Ummmm….did I mention it was a long day? (Mr. Hatcher was a good sport about it.)

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