What is a Civil War Round Table?

Nearly 20 years ago I attended my first Civil War Round Table meeting in Washington Pennsylvania. I was about 11 years old and my dad saw a small add in the newspaper advertising a talk on the Civil War. The next week we attended and ever since that night I have been hooked. Personally, I think that a night at a Civil War Roundtable is almost always a worthwhile venture. But some may not know what a Round Table is. Therefore I thought I would write a little about these devoted bodies of Civil War Buffs, for those who may not be familiar with these organizations.

A Civil War Round Table is a collection of folks that have an interest in the American Civil War. The size of the group varies between 10 to 150. Though the number of members may vary, every round table seems to be made up of roughly the same mix of members. There always seems to be one or two members that work hard at scheduling speakers and keep the meeting moving forward. Of course there are the members who come to listen and are there month after month. And then there is the old sage. Every roundtable has that one member who knows a little bit of everything about the Civil War, and are always the go to person in case the scheduled speaker can’t make it.

Some groups will have nationally known historians, while smaller groups may have some speakers you may not know, but are many times just as good as the big names. Many of the larger groups hold annual field trips to historic sites and battlefields.

In my career I have had the opportunity to travel and speak at many Round Table’s. Larger groups normally have a dinner, while smaller groups normally serve to light refreshments. Some are there for the dinner or the cookies, but most are there to be surrounded by fellow buffs and are looking to expand their knowledge on the war.

It is always great to hear the lively discussions of the war over dinner. Following dinner there are normally announcements, a recap of the last meeting, and then the speaker is introduced and they do their thing.

Dinner or no dinner I love to hang around after my talks and speak to some of the members in greater detail. Almost every group has a handful of devotees that do not want the night to end, and want to pick the speakers brain all they can.

To those of you thinking of going to a Round Table and just haven’t pulled the trigger yet, GO. You will not be sorry. Every Round Table I have attended have been warm and welcoming. Don’t feel like you have to be an expert, believe me, there are all knowledge levels there.  Plus, with the 150th cycle upon us, many Round Tables have some great topics following the 1862 timeline of the war.

If you should decide to find a Round Table, take your kids or grand-kids. The one fact that always sticks out at every roundtable that the Civil War Community is an aging community.  At almost every Round Table I speak, I am the youngest person in the room, normally by 20 or 30 years.

Be sure to check our homepage for a list of Round Tables. If we don’t have one listed in your area do a Google search. Believe me they are out there and not just in the United States. The American Civil War is a hot topic in Great Britain and Europe; and even across the pond there are Round Tables. Plus don’t forget to check our Upcoming Presentations Page, we are always out there speaking on a variety of topics.

About Kristopher D White

Civil War historian.
This entry was posted in Civil War Events, Emerging Civil War, Upcoming Events and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to What is a Civil War Round Table?

  1. Meg Thompson says:

    I am SO glad you did this post. I had actually been thinking it would be a good topic. My first CWRT was the one in Long Beach, California. It had a good age range, but that was in the 80s. We are all pretty much geezers now, or quickly approaching geezerhood. There is one in the general vicinity of where I am now–north central CA–but I haven’t been yet.

    Taking the kids or grandkids is a great idea. I may float that one at work.

    • It would be great to see an influx of younger people. I have noticed a shift in the interest in history. Many are shifting to World War II (my other great love). World War II Round Table numbers are growing, where as Civil War Round Table numbers have been shrinking. A few presidents of Round Tables have told me about the shifts in their membership, as well as their aging membership.

  2. I’ve been a civil war buff all my life and I’ve never even heard of a Civil War Roundtable anywhere where I have lived (mostly in Central Florida). Since I’m in Thailand now I don’t think there’s one anywhere nearby.

    • I know there are a few small Round Table’s in Central Florida. Now Thailand that is a whole other story…You may be on your own there (Civil War-wise). Either way consider the site your virtual Round Table. Great to have you as a reader, you have had some great and insightful comments.

  3. Ricky Hollis says:

    I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to atttened many CWRT’s because I’ve lived in several states and they ALL ARE GREAT. I’ve met a lot of people and glad to say that many of them have remained my friends after moving to another area and still stay in contact. I would recommend visiting a CWRT in your area and then joining. You won’t regret a minute of it.

  4. Mike Powell says:

    We are a relatively new RT, in Southport, NC., only 4 years old. Believe it or not we have over 700 members and attract approx. 275-300 per meting. Women make up a significant portion of our membership, so our topics need to be diverse and more than battles. I am having difficulty in reaching historians to speak to our group. Is there a type of clearing house for speakers? Someplace I can find contact points for speakers? THe only group we have not been able to reach are the youth. WE have reached out to schools, etc., but no luck. And that is a shame.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s