January 2021 Southern MD Civil War Round Table Meeting

January 12, 2021

The Southern Maryland Civil War Round Table is pleased to announce that its January meeting will take place virtually on Tuesday January 12, 2021 at 7:00pm from your computer. Due to continuing concerns over the COVID 19 virus and in the interest of member health and safety, we are moving our meeting on line for the immediate future. Members should be checking their email for directions on how to connect to the meeting on January 12, 2021 at 7pm. Not a member! Please reach out to us at bsunderland@somdcwrt.org to learn how to become a member.

Guest Speaker:  Gene Schmiel

Tonight we welcome back author Gene Schmiel. who spoke to us in December 2018 about Union General Jacob Cox. In this evening’s presentation, Mr. Schmiel will introduce us to fifty notable women from the Civil War from his book “Civil War Women: Underestimated and Indispensable”. Harriet Tubman. Clara Barton. Sojourner Truth. Harriet Beecher Stowe. These and many other women, including the less well-known like Kady Brownlow, Elizabeth Van Lew, Susie King Taylor, and Sister Anthony O’Connell, were important actors who had a significant influence on the United States during the Civil War. They campaigned for abolition, they nursed the wounded soldiers, and some of them even fought on battlefields. At the time they were underestimated because of the social norms of the era. But over time they came to be seen as indispensable in many fields, not only nursing, but also, strangely enough, espionage. Their actions were critical in changing the mindset of the nation as to the worth and role of women, as well as the formerly-enslaved, and it would never be the same. There are obviously more than 50 such women, but this talk will re-introduce you to many who in the author’s view were particularly important and influential.  

Gene Schmiel is a student of the Civil War whose book, Citizen-General: Jacob Dolson Cox and the Civil War Era, was published in 2014 by Ohio University Press.  The book, a History Book Club selection, was deemed “best biography of the year” by Civil War Books and Authors. Subsequently, Gene has spoken to many Civil War Round Tables, including that of Southern Maryland.

Gene holds a Ph. D. degree from The Ohio State University and was an assistant professor of History at St. Francis University (PA)  before becoming  a Foreign Service Officer with the Department of State.

Early in 2020 Gene began work on a series of books entitled, CIVIL WAR PERSONALITIES, 50 AT A TIME, and one of them, “Civil War Women: Underestimated and Indispensable,”  will be the subject of his talk  Each book highlights 50 people via short essays highlighting their impact on the Civil War era.  Using period photographs and other information from the era, such as political cartoons, the books bring to life these interesting personalities.  Each essay also includes a reading list for further information.  The books are:

Civil War Trailblazers and Troublemakers

Civil War Rogues, Rascals, and Rapscallions

Civil War Political Generals in Blue and Grey

Civil War Women: Underestimated and Indispensable

Civil War Unsung Heroes and Other Key People “Behind the Scenes.”

The books are available via :https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00HV4SSWK or you can email Gene at geneofva@gmail.com to arrange for purchase of an autographed copy.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns at bsunderland@somdcwrt.org or at 443-975-9142. We look forward to seeing you!

January 2018 Southern MD Civil War Round Table Meeting

January 9, 2018

The Southern Maryland Civil War Round Table is pleased to announce that its next meeting will take place on Tuesday, January 9, 2018 at 7:00pm at the College of Southern Maryland’s Center for Business and Industry, Chaney Enterprises Conference Center, Room BI-113, at 8730 Mitchell Road in La Plata, MD.

Guest Speaker:  Bonnie Mangan


Rescheduled from March 2017 due to inclement weather, the Southern Maryland Civil War Round Table is happy to be able to present Ms. Bonnie Mangan as she educates us about Clara Barton’s Efforts to Identify Civil War Missing Soldiers!

Clara Barton is often identified as a Civil War nurse and the founder of the American Red Cross. But between the end of the Civil War and her introduction the Red Cross while traveling in Switzerland, she sought to find out what happened to the thousands of unknown Union dead.

Barton considered the naming of the dead an obligation of the nation that sent so many to an unaccounted death far from home. Just as she saw a need to have medical care and supplies at hand on the field during the battle, she recognized that “an accounting of the dead is an accounting to the bereaved,” as Drew Gilpin Faust explains in This Republic of Suffering. Barton understood both of these needs before the government did.

Barton began her work just prior to the Quartermaster Office’s Reburial Program.

In April 1866 Congress passed a Joint Resolution that authorized and required the Secretary of War “to take immediate measures to preserve from desecration the graves of soldiers of the United States who fell in battle or died of disease in hospitals; to secure suitable burial places in which they may be properly interred; and to have the graves enclosed so that the resting places of the honored dead may be kept sacred forever.” Barton sought to name the individual dead, something finally done with the National Cemetery Act of 1872.

Using Barton’s writings, this talk will concentrate on the work of the Missing Soldiers Office. During this period, Barton went on the lecture circuit speaking about her wartime experiences to fund the Missing Soldiers Office. Barton also testified before the Congressional Joint Committee on Reconstruction reporting on conditions in Georgia, which she viewed first hand when she accompanied the expedition to set up the Andersonville National Cemetery.

Though Barton’s work on behalf of the missing was undertaken independently of the government’s (as Clara often preferred) they were part of the overall national program to honor those who gave the last full measure. And Barton certainly should be considered a pioneer in this endeavor.



Bonnie Mangan grew up in Chicago and attended the University of Illinois.  She earned Masters degrees in Middle East Studies and Library Science. After working aboard she was hired by the Congressional Research Service at the Library of Congress. She recently retired after 36 years of faithful federal service.

Bonnie became interested in mid 19th century history reading about the Alcotts and the Transcendentalists. After hearing Eileen Conklin speak on Women at Gettysburg, 1863, she signed up to attend the first Conference on Women and the Civil War, the precursor to the Society for Women and the Civil War (SWCW). To learn about the Civil War she followed the Vermont Brigade. Bonnie credits her late friend, Dorie Silber of Walden, VT, and Wilbur Fisk  (2nd VT) with nurturing this interest.

Since 2011 Bonnie has been a National Park Service volunteer at Arlington House where she is considered the resident Yankee. She is a docent at the Clara Barton Missing Soldiers Office. She also serves on the board of SWCW.

Bonnie lives in Arlington, VA with her cats Fuller (named for Margaret Fuller) and Alcott (named for all the Alcotts).

Please come out and shake off some of those post holiday blah’s!  Attendance is free, but membership is recommended.  For more information, please call Round Table President, Ben Sunderland, at 443-975-9142 or email at bsunderland@somdcwrt.org.