Stillwater Civil War roundtable meets


TROY — The Stillwater Civil War Roundtable met for their monthly meeting at the Hayner Cultural Center recently, but rather than discuss a Civil War battle, the group advanced a few decades to hear one of their long-time members talk about a pivotal battle in World War I.

More than half a century after the Civil War ended, Europe and much of the rest of the world was plunged into one of the deadliest global conflicts in history.

Tipp City Council member and Civil War re-enactor Doug Slagle donned a World War I American helmet and provided his audience with a lively account of the battle, which remains one of the deadliest battles in all of human history. The battle was fought between the armies of the British Empire and the French Third Republic against the German Empire.

“The battle began on July 1, 1916,” Slagle explained in a press release. “Although the battle was intended to hasten the end of the war and end in a victory for the Allies, it simply resulted in more than one million men being killed or wounded, and did not end until Nov. 18.”

Slagle brought along with him a German Mauser rifle and several slides that included a map to help his audience better understand the intricacies of the battle. No American troops were involved in the battle. In fact, America did not enter the war until 1917.

“On the first day of the battle, the German 2nd Army suffered a serious defeat opposite the French Sixth Army,” Slagle said. “However, 57,470 casualties were suffered by the British, including 19,240 killed, were the worst in the history of the British Army. They knew at that point that the battle could not be won, and yet, they continued to press forward. It was a meat-grinder.”

“In fact, the battle raged more than 100 more days. By the end of the battle, British and French forces had penetrated about 6 mile into German-occupied territory along the majority of the front,” Slagle said. “It was the largest territorial gain the Allies had made since the First Battle of the Marne in 1914. Despite those gains, the original operational objectives of the Anglo-French armies were unfulfilled.”

Slagle answered numerous questions from the audience, many of the questions asked by students from Tipp City High School. The moderator of the Stillwater Civil War Roundtable is Joe Bellas, Ohio’s 2005-06 Gilder Lehrman American History Teacher of the Year. Bellas teaches at Tipp City High School.

The Stillwater Civil War Roundtable normally meets September through June on the third Tuesday of the month at the Troy Hayner Cultural Center. The meetings begin at 7 p.m.

However, the next meeting will be the group’s annual dinner meeting. It will be held on Friday evening, April 21, at First Place. Dayton area author Martin Gottlieb will speak about Clement Valandigham, a colorful figure from Dayton history who served in Congress during the Civil War. An anti-war adversary of President Lincoln, Vallandigham was arrested and exiled into enemy territory in May 1863. From exile, Vallandigham unsuccessfully ran for the Ohio governor’s seat that same year.

The Stillwater Civil War Roundtable welcomes new members. Those who are interested in becoming members can contact Bellas by email ([email protected]) for more information.

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