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Calvin Zon Speaks on his new book "Divided We Fall:The Confederacy's Collapse From Within"


Calvin Goddard Zon speaks to the Civil War Round Table of the District of Columbia on June 9, 2015, at the Fort McNair Officers' Club in Washington D.C.  Questions and answers follow the presentation.

About Our Topic:  Many have the impression that the North and South had solid support from within their respective states but nothing is further from the truth. The North was full of Copperheads, Radical Republicans, pro-war Democrats, abolitionists, and newspapers that were all divided on the issues of secession and emancipation.  And the Confederacy had its own problems and that is what we will explore in this meeting.

Our speaker, Calvin Goddard Zon, will explore each Confederate state’s opposition and its source. Opposition came from different factors including dissatisfaction with the strong central government, the draft, and even loyalty to the Union. How this opposition was expressed also varied from state to state. The Carolinas were plagued by opposition to conscription with many seeing it as a violation of states’ rights.  By 1863, there were bands of deserters and draft dodgers in the Appalachians that were raiding Confederate holdings in the Carolinas and attacking conscription officials.

Mississippi saw the creation of the Free State of Jones in protest to the draft and seizure of private property by the Confederacy. Jackson County Alabama went so far as to secede from the Confederacy and proclaim loyalty to the Union. Georgia’s governor help back thousands of men from the fighting because he deemed them critical to keeping Georgia’s government functioning.  Unionists in Georgia actually met in February 1865 to demand the Confederacy’s surrender.  Texas’ own Sam Houston opposed secession and refused to take the oath of allegiance to the Confederate States of America. As a result, he was summarily deposed as its governor in early 1861.

Most of this opposition was met with force--hanging, imprisonment and banishment were common punishments for those opposing the Confederacy.  But the opposition forced the Confederates to fight two wars--a war with the Union and another war against many of its own citizens. As Zon will show us, these many ripples of discontent would unite to contribute to the Confederacy’s collapse.  He will discusses opposition state by state and demonstrate how this active obstruction and resistance among Southerners played a major role in the Confederacy's downfall.

About Our Speaker:  Calvin Goddard Zon is a third generation Washingtonian.  He holds a B.A. in history from Davidson College and an M.A. from American University.  He was a staff writer for the Washington Star daily newspaper during the 1970s, and in subsequent years a staff writer for Press Associates, Inc. and the United Mine Workers Journal.  Mr. Zon retired as a copy editor for Bloomberg BNA's Daily Labor Report in 2012.   He also served for six years in the U.S. Army Reserve.

Mr. Zon's interest in the Civil War includes membership in the Lincoln-Cushing Camp No. 2 of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War and past service as their commander.  He is also a member and treasurer of the D.C. Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States.  Mr. Zon has written articles on the Civil War that have appeared in such varied publications as the Civil War News, the Progressive, the National Catholic Reporter, and People magazine.

Besides his new book, "Divided We Fall: The Confederacy's Collapse From Within, A State-by-State Account," which is the subject of his June 9 presentation, Mr. Zon is the author of “The Good Fight That Didn't End: Henry P. Goddard's Accounts of Civil War and Peace.”  He presented on that work to our Round Table in 2009 and it is based on the writings of Mr. Zon's great-grandfather, a captain in the 14th Connecticut Infantry. The 14th Connecticut fought in every major battle from Antietam to Appomattox.
For information about the Round Table and to apply for membership, click HERE or the "About Us / Membership" Tab above. 
Dr. Craig Symonds on:
"The Naval View of the Civil War"


Dr. Craig L. Symonds speaks to the Civil War Round Table of the District of Columbia about the Naval aspects of the War.  The presentation was made on May 12, 2015, at the Fort McNair Officers' Club in Washington D.C.  Questions and answers follow presentation.

A PDF copy of the PowerPoint to Mr. Symond's presentation is available by clicking HERE (

"The Naval View of the War"

About the Topic: 
Just as the Civil War was fought on the land, the North and South fought another war on the water. A war consisting of rapid and spectacular battles and an ongoing vigilance of the coasts, rivers, and seas. Join us May 12 as the “Ed Bearss” of naval history, Craig Symonds, takes us through the Civil War on the water.

As the Southern states seceded, Union General-in-Chief Winfield Scott proposed a plan to subdue the South that emphasized blockading Southern ports followed by an advance down the Mississippi River to cut the South in two. This became known as the "Anaconda Plan" or "Scott's Great Snake" and was meant to bring the seceding states back into line without a lot of bloodshed. Because of the passive nature of the plan, it was widely disdained by a very vocal faction, including Union commander George McClellan. This bloc clamored for a more vigorous prosecution of the war and hung its hopes on the capture of the Confederate capital city.

President Abraham Lincoln responded by sending Union armies to capture Richmond as McClellan proposed, but he also implemented Scott’s general strategy, and the Anaconda Plan made a huge contribution to eventual Northern victory. Lincoln set the Union’s naval war in motion by ordering a blockade of the Southern coasts.  The intent of the blockage was to cut off Southern trade with the outside world and prevent its sale of cotton. It was a daunting assignment requiring the Union to cover over 2,500 miles of coast and, at the time, the Union navy numbered fewer than 40 seaworthy ships. Lincoln’s naval secretary, Gideon Welles, pitched in to fill the void and acquire enough boats to assure that every Southern inlet, port, and bay was made perilous for trade. The North began construction of dozens of new warships and bought hundreds of merchant ships to retrofit with a few guns for service as blockaders. Welles’ critics christened it his “soapbox navy.”

Ships alone would not be enough, however.  The Union’s blockade effort needed bases on the Southern coast from which to operate. To acquire those beach heads, the Union began a series of attacks on port cities along the southeastern seaboard in 1861. Poorly defended, they quickly succumbed to Union gunnery and fell under Union control. While never completely airtight, by late 1862 the blockade was a huge obstacle to Confederate trade. In addition to the coastal and high seas navy, the Union also had need of a “brown water navy” to support its army campaigns in northern Virginia and the Mississippi River valley.

The Confederacy had fewer resources than the North at the start of the war. The South had only a handful of shipyards, a small merchant marine, and no navy whatsoever. The Confederates would have to scramble to thwart the Union blockade and defend its ports. Yet Stephen Mallory, Confederate Secretary of the Navy, rose to the challenge, found ships, and even managed an offensive operation to attack Union merchant shipping on the high seas.

With a smaller fleet and fewer shipyards than the North, the Confederate’s naval strategy relied on making the fleet they did have as formidable as possible. They decided to challenge the Union navy with the latest in naval engineering technology: ironclads. Ironclads had appeared in Europe in the 1850s, but Union warships were still built of wood. The first Confederate ironclad was constructed from a Union cruiser, the Merrimack, that had been captured when the Rebels seized the navy yard in Norfolk Virginia. The Confederates renamed it Virginia—and replaced everything above the waterline with a skeleton of heavy timbers covered by four inches of iron plating. Though underpowered and crude, Lincoln had nothing to match her.

The Union quickly responded with inventor John Ericsson and his ironclad—the Monitor. Most of the Monitor was underwater. All that appeared above board looked like a “tin can on a raft” with a flat deck and a circular housing with two guns. Tin can it might have been, but it had the world’s first rotating gun turret, and it was amply protected with eight inches of iron. 

The Monitor and the Virginia met in March 1862 at Hampton Roads, Virginia. After a three-hour engagement—often at point-blank range—the result was a draw but it was the world's first battle between ironclad vessels. The presence of the Virginia was able to postpone Union army operations in the area for several months. The advent of ironclads made wooden naval vessels—and thus most of the Union fleet—out-of-date. Shipyards on both sides began to manufacture ironclads as quickly as they could.

Union efforts to split the Confederacy in two along the Mississippi River also began in early 1862. General Ulysses S. Grant’s army, with the support of a squadron of gunboats, moved down the Mississippi River from Cairo, Illinois into the heart of the Confederacy. Most of the boats were flat-bottomed barges with steam engines and heavy timbered sides. A few were iron plated. Grant’s army and this brown water navy captured Forts Henry and Donelson in Tennessee. Simultaneously, David Farragut, commanding a similar fleet in the Gulf of Mexico, engaged the defenses of New Orleans. His objective was to move past the city and northward via the Mississippi River. In April 1862, Farragut fought his way past two formidable forts and forced the surrender of New Orleans. In July, 1863, after hard-fought campaigns against both Rebel forts and fleets, these two Union naval forces—one moving south and one moving north—would converge at Vicksburg, Mississippi. The result was everything west of the Mississippi was cut-off from the rest of the Confederacy.

In April 1863, the Union navy took on the defenses of Charleston, South Carolina. With two years to anticipate such an attack, the Confederates had positioned guns, floating obstructions, and mines to meet it. Their defenses successfully fended off the Union, and Charleston remained in Rebel hands until the war was nearly over. After its decisive loss at Charleston, the Union targeted Mobile, Alabama—the last major Confederate port on the Gulf—and Wilmington, North Carolina—the last and most important Atlantic gateway to the Confederacy. 

Mobile was defended by two large forts but these fell under Farragut’s assault in August 1864. After a failed first try, the largest Union fleet ever assembled attacked Fort Fisher in January 1865. Fisher was the linchpin of Wilmington’s defense and the stronghold fell. Wilmington’s loss robbed Robert E. Lee’s army, under siege in Virginia, of a major supply source and helped bring on the end of the war.

As the war dragged on, Mallory equipped a series of commerce raiders to attack Union merchant ships globally. These ships were obtained from Europe and most never saw a Southern port.  The Alabama, under the command of Raphael Semmes, is the best known. It destroyed more than 60 ships in a 21-month cruise and sent Union shipping interests into a panic.  The Alabama was finally confronted by the Union boat Kearsarge off the coast of France in 1864 and was sunk by Union gunfire in one of the last classic one-on-one duels at sea. 

Interestingly, the last official action of the Confederate States of America was a naval one. The Confederate raider Shenandoah was in the Pacific and its command and crew got the news of the Civil War’s end four months after all of the Confederate armies surrendered. The Shenandoah lowered her flag in England on November 6, 1865.

About Our Speaker:  
Craig L. Symonds, Ph.D. is Professor of History Emeritus at the United States Naval Academy and a pre-eminent naval historian. Symonds was the first person to win both the Naval Academy’s “Excellence in Teaching” award (1988) and its “Excellence in Research” award (1998), and received the Department of the Navy’s Superior Civilian Service medal three times.  Symonds was also awarded the Dudley Knox Medal for Lifetime Achievement by the Naval Historical Foundation in 2014.

Symonds is a native of Anaheim, CA. He served as a U.S. Navy officer and became the first ensign ever to lecture at the prestigious Naval War College in Newport, R.I. After his naval service, Symonds remained at the War College as a civilian professor of strategy from 1974-1975. In 1976, he came to the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. During his tenure there, Symonds became a popular professor whose Civil War classes always had waiting lists. From 1988 to 1992, he served as chair of the Academy’s history department. From 1994 to 1995 he was professor of strategy and policy at the Britannia Naval College in Dartmouth, England. After his retirement in 2005, he returned to the Naval Academy for one year in 2011-12 to serve as “The Class of 1957 Distinguished Professor of American Naval History.” 

Symonds is the author or editor of twenty-eight books, including prize-winning biographies of Civil War figures Joseph E. Johnston (1992), Patrick Cleburne (1997), and Franklin Buchanan (1999), as well as The American Heritage History of the Battle of Gettysburg (2001).  Decision at Sea: Five Naval Battles that Shaped American History, (2005) won the Theodore and Franklin D. Roosevelt Prize for Naval History.  His 2008 book, Lincoln and His Admirals: Abraham Lincoln, the U.S. Navy, and the Civil War, won the Barondess Prize, the Laney Prize, the Lyman Prize, the Lincoln Prize, and the Abraham Lincoln Institute Book Award.  He also won the Nevins-Freeman Prize in 2009.  His book on the Battle of Midway was published in 2011. His newest book is NEPTUNE: The Allied Invasion of Europe and the D-Day Landings, released in May 2014.

Symonds remains much in demand around the country as a speaker on Civil War subjects and all things naval history. He has spoken at Civil War Round Tables in 27 states and two foreign countries, given tours of battlefields and other historical sites and helped conduct leadership workshops based on the life of Abraham Lincoln. He and his wife Marylou live in Annapolis, Maryland; they have one son and two grandchildren.
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Joseph Scopin, Jr. 
discusses the design and content of his book As I Remember:  A Civil War Veteran Reflects on the War and Its Aftermath" based on the life of Lewis Cass White


A PDF copy of the slides that accompanied the presentation is available by clicking HERE 
Note: the book contains photographs, drawings and other materials in higher resolution. Books are available through Mr. Scopin's website at (Chrome browser preferred).

Joseph Scopin, Jr., speaks to the Civil War Round Table of the District of Columbia on April 14, 2015, at the Fort McNair Officers' Club in Washington D.C.  

About the Topic:
Just when you think everything about the Civil War that can be said has been said, along comes a previously unknown batch of historical materials that sheds new light on everything.  Our speaker, Joseph Scopin, Jr., experienced such a moment in 2011 when he was cleaning out the basement of an elderly relative.  Forgotten in the Bethesda, Maryland basement among a lifetime of moldy, water-logged belongings, Mr. Scopin unearthed a bag of handwritten reminiscences, daily notes from diaries, correspondence, speeches, newspaper clippings, photos, and other odds-and-ends of Lewis Cass White, a Civil War veteran of the 102nd Pennsylvania Infantry.  No one seemed to know how the materials ended up in that basement and Mr. Scopin wasn't sure just what he had found.  Fortunately, he reached out to someone who did: our very own Civil War scholar, Benjamin Franklin Cooling, III.

The materials were rescued and have now been published in Mr. Scopin's book, “As I Remember:  A Civil War Veteran Reflects on the War and Its Aftermath.” It presents new, never-seen-in-public, original source material from Lewis Cass White's collection.  The book includes hand-written histories and reminiscences, daily notes from diaries from 1861, 1862, 1863 and 1865 and an original diary covering part of 1861. White participated in 24 battles, including Williamsburg, Fair Oaks, Malvern Hill, Salem Church, The Wilderness, Cold Harbor, Fort Stevens, Winchester and Cedar Creek.  The collection also contained correspondence to and from other veterans and veterans associations; speeches; newspaper clippings; and other related ephemera.  Those documents were transcribed for the book and some have been reproduced in full color and augmented with Civil War era illustrations.

Of particular note to those of us in the DC metro area are several first-hand accounts of the Battle of Fort Stevens, the only time a sitting President has come under fire.  White was there and requested assistance from his colleagues in memorializing this “small event” that he believed had large consequences.  The book includes a diagram, reproduced in color, from Surgeon C.C.V. Crawford, who was wounded while standing close to President Abraham Lincoln, and a seven-page account from Lieutenant George Jewett, who was also standing near the President. Several items include quotes from President and Mrs. Lincoln.  Memorializing the events became a part of White's life after the war, as a member of the Grand Army of the Republic and as a resident near the battlefield.

Gordon Berg has written a delightful review of Mr. Scopin’s book, available on our website at: 
About Our Speaker:  
Joseph Scopin, a native of the Washington DC area, operates his own art and design studio.  He received an associate degree from Montgomery College and a bachelor of fine arts degree from Virginia Commonwealth University.  Mr. Scopin served two years as art director for the National Art Education Association and worked as an editorial art director for The Washington Star and The Washington Post. Mr. Scopin joined The Washington Times in 1982 as magazine art director and he became its overall Art Director in 1983.  He left the Times in 1984 to assemble and head an expanding graphics department for United Press International.  

Mr. Scopin returned to The Washington Times in 1987 as Assistant Managing Editor/Design and Photography.  He managed the art department where he helped implement a major redesign of the publication and introduce Saturday and Sunday editions in 1991. He also art directed special sections and several books for the Times until his departure in 2010. 

Mr. Scopin now operates his own company, Scopin Design (, which published the “As I Remember.” He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Mooseum, a Montgomery County Dairy museum.

Mr. Scopin's work has received recognition from various design organizations, including the Society for News Design, the New York Art Directors Club, the Art Directors Club of Metropolitan Washington, and the Communication Arts magazine.  Mr. Scopin has also participated as a member of the Society of Newspaper Design and the Society of Publication Designers. 
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C.R. Gibbs on
"The 1st Regiment U.S. Colored Troops"


C.R. Gibbs speaks to the Civil War Round Table of the District of Columbia on the topic of "1st Regiment USCT."  The presentation was made on March 10, 2015, at McNair Officers' Club in Washington D.C. Questions and answers follow presentation.

About the Topic: 
Historian C.R. Gibbs will speak of the creation of the United States Colored Troops and their service during the Civil War. Over 180,000 African-Americans enlisted in the USCT, constituting 10% of the Union Army by the end of the Civil War. Soldiers of the USCT served with distinction in every theater of the war and nearly 40,000 never returned. Although placed in segregated units, the Civil War service of African-American soldiers marked a major advancement toward equal civil rights and helped create opportunity for Black Americans.
About the Speaker:
C.R. Gibbs is the author/co-author of six books and a frequent national and international lecturer on an array of topics.  He has appeared on the History Channel, French and Belgian television, and wrote, researched,and narrated "Sketches in Color," a 13 part companion series to the acclaimed PBS series "The Civil War" for the Howard University television station.

The Smithsonian Institution's Anacostia Community Museum features Mr. Gibbs among its scholars at the museum's Online Academy website. He is also a D.C. Humanities Council Scholar.
In 1989, Mr. Gibbs founded the African History & Culture Lecture Series whose scholars continue to provide free presentations at libraries, churches, schools, and other locations in the Washington-Baltimore area.  In 2002, he authored "Black, Copper, and Bright," the first book ever written on the District of Columbia's African-American Civil War Regiment.  In 2008, he was awarded by the mayor of the District of Columbia for excellence in historic preservation public education. In 2009, Mr. Gibbs was honored by the Black Caucus Veterans Braintrust for many years of articles and presentations on African-Americans in the U.S. armed forces. 
Mr. Gibbs provided historical commentary for WUSA Channel 9 for both the dedication of the King memorial and the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.

For additional information about Mr. Gibbs and his presentations, listeners can visit:

For information about the Round Table and to apply for membership, click HERE or the "About Us / Membership" Tab above. 
Elizabeth Varon on
"Appomattox: Victory, Defeat and Freedom at the End of the Civil War"
Dr. Elizabeth Varon speaks to the Civil War Round Table of the District of Columbia on the topic of her new book: "Appomattox: Victory, Defeat and Freedom at the End of the Civil War." The presentation was made on January 13, 2015, at the Fort McNair Officers' Club in Washington D.C. Questions and answers follow presentation.

About The Topic: Dr. Varon will argue that Grant and Lee, as well as the sides they represented, held intensely different ideas of what the end of the war would mean.  As a result, Appomattox would not be the start of a national reconciliation but rather of a bitter argument over exactly what the war and surrender meant and what sort of nation would emerge from its crucible.

Robert E. Lee saw Union victory as might over right. The South had merely been worn down by the North’s relentless war machine.   Dr. Varon’s view is that Lee in no way felt that his cause had been justly defeated.  His old values remained intact and after Appomattox he would demonstrate a restrained resistance to the new order of things as would many former Confederates.  Dr. Varon does not see Lee as the proud yet resigned old man that will spend his post war years trying to rebuild his side as a model of reconciliation and forward thinking for a reunited country. She sees him as outraged over the defeat, the Union’s conduct of the war, and its effects on Virginia and the South.  If anything, her assessment is that Lee grew evermore angry up until his death in 1870.  Despite his public restraint and resignation, in private his frustration and bitterness were always just beneath the surface.  Although assuredly committed to peace, Lee was equally committed to restoration—the restoration of the South's political power within the reestablished Union and of the continuation of white supremacy.  Those feelings and that vision of the war were embraced by many Confederates and conservative northerners and stimulated Southern resistance to reconstruction.

Ulysses S. Grant did not see a future about restoration but about transformation.  He and most people in the North saw the Union’s triumph as that of “right makes might” and proof of the moral superiority of a free society.  For most African Americans, the surrender was the beginning of freedom itself.  Grant was committed to making the war mean something transformational in the history of the United States.  He viewed the surrender as the beginning of that new chapter and he never quit trying to get that new chapter started. 

 The irony is that Grant was defeated in the peace.  The politics of Reconstruction would ultimately best Grant as they did virtually everyone who tried to honor the promise made to the slaves and to the nation of a new birth of freedom as envisioned by Abraham Lincoln.  In the end, Appomattox disappointed both generals and both sides. The fighting of the armies was replaced by new political battles over realizing the potential that slavery’s end promised the freedmen.

About The Speaker:  ELIZABETH R. VARON is the Langbourne M. Williams Professor of History at the University of Virginia.  She is author of We Mean to be Counted: White Women and Politics in Antebellum Virginia (1998) and Southern Lady, Yankee Spy: The True Story of Elizabeth Van Lew, a Union Agent in the Heart of the Confederacy (2003), which was named one of the "Five Best" books on the "Civil War away from the battlefield" by the Wall Street Journal.  Dr. Varon's latest book is Appomattox: Victory, Defeat and Freedom at the End of the Civil War, which will be the subject of her presentation.

Dr. Varon graduated from Swarthmore College, and from Yale University, with a Ph.D, and was professor of history at Wellesley College, and Temple University. She is a member of the Distinguished Lectureship Program of the Organization of American Historians and the winner of the 19th annual Daniel M. & Marilyn W. Laney Book Prize given by the Austin Civil War Round Table, Inc.

For more information about Dr. Varon, please visit:  

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