There were about eleven us at the Indianapolis Round Table program June 8 2015 to hear Ed Bonekemper describe what he thought were the six turning points of the Civil War: Henry/Donaldson, Antietam (Sharpsburg), Gettysburg, Vicksburg, the break out at Chattanooga, and Sherman taking Atlanta. It was a traditional presentation of each of those military events using power point or the like.
Each of us would have a different take on the Bonekemper choices, and the reader will have their opinions. The gentleman I sat next to told me George Thomas’s stand at Chickamauga was the turning point, noting also that Gettysburg/Vicksburg were not separate events. Bonekemper thought Antietam was “a tactical draw [for the Union] but a strategic victory.” It cleared the way for the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. Mr. Bonekemper asserted that slavery was the cause of the war, regardless of post war assertions to the contrary on the part of various parties to the controversy.
Mr. Bonekemper has a Facebook page, and there is a Wikipedia article on him that lists his books. During the talk he said that the Lost Cause Myth has been the greatest propaganda success in American history. One of his books includes that subject. He said another of his books—McClellan & Failure–is possibly the most severely critical book on that general, especially for his mechanizations in respect to the battle of Second Bull Run (2nd Manassas). Bonekemper was critical of Lee’s strategic role in the war; that Lee tended unnecessarily to offensive campaigns to the detriment of the Confederacy, and that Lee failed to facilitate the sharing of military resources with the rest of the Confederacy.
Five of us (Margaret, Dick, Tim, Bob, and myself) rode now together in Dick’s van and the discussions round trip were interesting and humorous and made the time pass quickly and delightfully as well.
There were about fifty people in attendance at the Table, which census included us. Someone passed out copies of a paper, “Civil War News,” which is worthy of looking up. You may find it online.
News of our calendar from this point will be worth-coming.