Richard Metzger, member of the Stillwater Civil War Roundtable, will present “The Battle of Ball’s Bluff and Other Stuff: The Very Important month of October 1861” at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 13 at the Milton-Union Public Library, 560 S. Main Street, West Milton. He is the second speaker in a series sponsored by the New Friends of the Milton-Union Public Library and the Stillwater Civil War Roundtable (SCWRT).
When asked why he chose to touch on Ball’s Bluff, Metzger replied, “Partly because it would be the 150th anniversary of the battle a few days after I spoke, but mostly because it isn’t covered much by historians, even though two events that it triggered had an historic impact on the Federal government during that era.”
Metzger also intends to address other key Civil War events that took place during October 1861.
Metzger, a lifelong resident of the Miami Valley area and a graduate of Capitol University, is retired and lives in Dayton with his wife, Susanna. He is an avid reader and has read extensively on the topics of the American Civil War and other military history for “almost a century,” to use his words.
He explains that his interest in history began with the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor when he was only “9 ¾ years old when it happened and I knew nothing about the international world.” He closely followed events in the newspaper and drew and colored his own maps to show troop movements.
“I visited Gettysburg the first time in 1966 and seeing such history before me sparked my interest at that time in the Civil War,” Metzger says.
He has presented programs to his fellow members of the Stillwater Civil War Roundtable, which meets monthly September through May, at the Troy-Hayner Cultural Center in Troy. He has written one book and is working on a second one. The first was about his great-grandfather who fought in the Army of the Cumberland and the second is on his ancestor’s artillery section chief.
“I have visited 23 battle sites and never cease to wonder how those noble men could march forward into a hailstorm of bullets and cannon fire and not run the other way,” Metzger exclaims, “The most impact, however, came when I stood on Horseshoe Ridge at Chickamauga where my great-grandfather helped stave off Confederate attacks against that hill and keep them from overrunning the entire Army of the Cumberland. That inspired me to write his biography.”
The SWCRT was started in 1995 by two American Civil War enthusiasts, Dr. David Hayes and Dr. Warren Kaebnick. West Milton resident, Norm
Stickel, is credited by the roundtable as being an integral part of the group’s success during the first decade by recruiting new members, publishing the monthly newsletter and arranging for the yearly annual dinner.
According to its website, the SCWRT’s monthly speakers have included Lincoln and soldier impersonators, authors, lecturers, musicians, genealogists, and local experts. Last month the group heard from a re-enactor who used bugle calls to help explain how vital buglers were to communication on the battlefield and in camp.
The website states that the mission of the SCWRT is “promoting and enhancing the knowledge, education, and preservation, of historically significant lands and facilities and the historical significance of this tragic event in our Nation’s history.”
When asked what we can learn from remembering the civil war 150 years later, Metzger answered, “I would say to be willing to stand up for, and to fight if we have to, for what we believe in. As terrible as that war was, the people on both sides gave ‘their last full measure’ for a cause that they considered right, while risking life and limb.”
Mark Holbrook, of the Ohio Historical Society is scheduled to talk on “Ohio’s Unknown Generals” at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, October 18 at a meeting of the Stillwater Civil War Roundtable to be held at the Troy Hayner Cultural Center, 301 W. Main Street, Troy. Jeanette Dohner, the library’s P. R. Specialist and a member of the roundtable, will finish the series with “Civil War Ghost Stories” at 7 p.m. on Thursday, October 27, at the library.
All programs are FREE and open to the public.