Monthly gathering brings together fans of Civil War and U.S. history
BY KREG ROBINSON • Correspondent • May 29, 2010
Excerpt: "Mingus got the crowd laughing when he spoke of the Knights of the Golden Circle. This consisted of two men from Brooklyn who hoodwinked the citizens of York County, Pa. The two men sold golden tickets and gestures to the York farmers with the assurance that if shown the gestures and tickets, the Confederates would not loot their farms. Despite the gestures and tickets, York still lost much of its wealth."
ZANESVILLE -- History came alive Monday as Zanesville hosted its monthly Civil War Roundtable at the Stone Academy.
Don Moody, the president of the Muskingum County Civil War Administration, headed the event. Moody has been coordinating the roundtables for five years. Along with help from fellow association members, he find speakers for the roundtable and organizes historical events in the Zanesville community.
Moody thinks the roundtable has taken off in the few years that he has been involved.
"Local interest has grown," he said. "We only started with about 20 people. I use the Internet and e-mail to keep people up to date on the meetings. The local media outlets are also a big help."
Moody brings in speakers, who often come to the events for little or no pay. They come simply for their love of history and the Civil War.
"We've been very fortunate, we get some local people who will come three or four times a year," he said. "We can't fly people in. Many people will come for the gas money we can give them."
The Stone Academy, 115 Jefferson St., is an ideal location for the roundtable. The building, built in 1809, originally was erected to lure the state capital to Putnam. It now is the home of the Pioneer and Historical Society. The presentation took place in a small room decorated with old paintings and antique pottery and glassware adorned the mantle pieces of the historic site.
Guests piled into the academy, where there were barely enough room for all who chose to attend. Young and old alike gathered at the academy to partake in the roundtable, but all in attendance shared a love of history.
The roundtable's featured guest was Scott Mingus, a native of southeast Ohio, who is a scientist, inventor and author of seven books about the Civil War. Mingus also writes for Gettysburg Magazine, one of the top Civil War-related magazines, and is a tour guide for Civil War sites in York County, Pa.
The main theme of Mingus's presentation was the Confederate attempted seizure of Harrisburg, Pa., right before the Battle of Gettysburg. Mingus used colorful anecdotes to bring life to the presentation for the overflowing crowd.
Mingus brought such characters to life as Jubal Early, a Confederate leader from Georgia who led the assault on Maryland and Pennsylvania. Mingus described Early as Robert E. Lee's "Bad old man." Early, after the Confederate defeat, never took the oath of citizenship to the United States for as long as he lived.
Mingus also described John Brown Gordon, another Confederate from Georgia. Gordon was almost killed when he was shot five times at the Battle of Antietam. Gordon almost drowned in his own blood in his hat until a shot punctured the hat and saved his life. Gordon went on to become a governor and senator in Georgia and founded the Ku Klux Klan in the state.
Mingus rarely took a breath as he described the Confederate march through Maryland and Southern Pennsylvania. He spoke of a Confederate soldier's description of Pennsylvania, "Ripe cherries, ugly women and mean Dutch farmers."
Mingus got the crowd laughing when he spoke of the Knights of the Golden Circle. This consisted of two men from Brooklyn who hoodwinked the citizens of York County, Pa. The two men sold golden tickets and gestures to the York farmers with the assurance that if shown the gestures and tickets, the Confederates would not loot their farms. Despite the gestures and tickets, York still lost much of its wealth.
Mingus, who was interrupted several times during the interview by people complimenting his presentation, was very appreciative for the opportunity to speak at the roundtable.
"Civil War roundtables exist in many small towns," he said. "There are about 700 or 800 around the country. It's great because there is usually no charge for people to attend and talk about some aspect of the Civil War. It's great for dialogue. People can share their own Civil War stories, many that are first hand, passed down from their grandparents."
Mingus' grandmother, who told him stories about his family's involvement in the Civil War, helped foster his love of history. Mingus also is involved in Civil War miniature gaming, which is played on dioramas of battlefields created by Mingus. He described the game as "chess on steroids."
The roundtable, which was the final meeting of the season that resumes in September, is not the only event history buffs can attend. The Pioneer Society is planning a 200th celebration of Zanesville as the capital of Ohio scheduled for July 4. At the celebration, there will be a monument dedicated as well as a performance by the Zanesville Municipal Band and an ice cream social.