Everyone is welcome at our monthly meetings

NOTICE: We've been moved back (by the hotel chain) to the Holiday Inn Oakbrook for our meetings. Meetings for the 2023-24 Year will be in-person. but will also be simulcast on Zoom. Zoom details for each meeting will be emailed to members via the newsletter.

June 14th
Tim Smith on The Nevins-Freeman Award Address: Grierson's Raid

Benjamin Grierson's Union cavalry thrust through Mississippi is one of the most well-known operations of the Civil War. There were other simultaneous operations to distract Confederate attention from the real threat to Vicksburg posed by U. S. Grant's Army of the Tennessee, but Grierson's operation, mainly conducted with two Illinois cavalry regiments, has become the most famous, and for good reason. For 16 days (April 17 to May 2) Grierson led Confederate pursuers on a high-stakes chase through the entire state of Mississippi, entering the northern border with Tennessee and exiting its southern border with Louisiana.

The daily rides were long, the rest stops short, and the tension high. Ironically, the man who led the raid was a former music teacher who some say disliked horses. Throughout, he displayed outstanding leadership and cunning, destroyed railroad tracks, burned trestles and bridges, freed slaves, and created as much damage and chaos as possible. Grierson's Raid broke a vital Confederate rail line at Newton Station that supplied Vicksburg and, perhaps most importantly, consumed the attention of the Confederate high command. While Confederate Lt. Gen. John Pemberton at Vicksburg and other Southern leaders looked in the wrong directions, Grant moved his entire Army of the Tennessee across the Mississippi River below Vicksburg, spelling the doom of that city, the Confederate chances of holding the river, and perhaps the Confederacy itself.

Novelists have attempted to capture the large-than-life cavalry raid in the popular imagination, and Hollywood reproduced the daring cavalry action in The Horse Soldiers, a 1959 major motion picture starring John Wayne and William Holden. Although the film replicates the raid's drama and high-stakes gamble, cinematic license chipped away at its accuracy. Based upon years of research and presented in gripping, fast-paced prose, Timothy B. Smith's The Real Horse Soldiers: Benjamin Grierson's Epic 1863 Civil War Raid through Mississippi captures the high drama and tension of the 1863 horse soldiers in a modern, comprehensive, academic study. This talk, based on the book, will bring you along for the ride.

Timothy B. Smith (Ph.D. Mississippi State University, 2001) is a veteran of the National Park Service and currently teaches history at the University of Tennessee at Martin. In addition to numerous articles and essays, he is the author, editor, or co-editor of more than twenty books with several university and commercial presses. His books have won numerous book awards, his trilogy on the American Civil War's Tennessee River campaign (Forts Henry and Donelson, Shiloh, and Corinth) winning a total of nine book awards. He is currently finishing a five-volume study of the Vicksburg Campaign for the University Press of Kansas and a new study of Albert Sidney Johnston for LSU Press. He lives with his wife Kelly and daughters Mary Kate and Leah Grace in Adamsville, Tennessee.

For our 2023-2024 program year, we proudly welcome these outstanding speakers:

Sept. 8th, 2023: Al Ovies on "The Boy Generals. George Custer, Wesley Merritt and the Cavalry of the Army of the Potomac"
Oct. 13th: Carleton Young on "Two Vermont Brothers in the Army of the Potomac"
Nov. 10th: Ernest Dollar on "Hearts Torn Asunder: Trauma in the Civil War"
Dec. 8th: Scott Mingus on "Texans at Chickamauga"
Jan. 12th, 2024: Pat and Dylan Brennan on "Gettysburg in Color" (zoom only)
Feb. 9th: Carolyn B. Ivanoff on "We fought at Gettysburg. The 17th Connecticut"
March 8th: Chris Bryan on "The Union XII Corps"
April 12th: Will Greene on "The Cracker Line in the Battle of Chattanooga"
May 10th: Lynn and Julianne Herman on "The Allegheny Arsenal Explosion"
June 14th: Tim Smith (Nevins-Freeman Award) on "Grierson's Raid"

Copies of recorded meetings are available for a small charge. Click here for a printable list of recorded meetings. More current meetings can be viewed on Youtube.

Our meetings are held at:

Holiday Inn Oakbrook
350 W 22nd St., Oakbrook Terrace, IL 60181
Parking at the Holiday Inn is FREE
Map and Directions

Dinner $40.00 Members and Non- Members
Cocktails at 5:30, Dinner at 6:30

Presentation only is $10 per person.
Payable at the door, cash or check. Be there by 7:15. For those attending the presentation only, your reservation is appreciated but not required.
Dinner reservations should be received by Sunday evening prior to the meeting.
Please make your reservation in advance by emailing DinnerReservations@ChicagoCWRT.org with the names of your party or by calling (630) 460-1865
Cancellations: email us at DinnerReservations@ChicagoCWRT.org  or call (630) 460-1865

Dinner choices. The CWRT has gone to a buffet style dinner. The buffet will generally include salad, pasta, garlic bread, two meats and dessert.