Everyone is welcome at our monthly meetings


See list of meeting dates and speakers below for our 2016-2017 program year.

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 O'Hare
5615 N. Cumberland
Chicago, IL 60631
Parking at the Holiday Inn is FREE
Map and Directions


Dinner $50.00 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. When you make your dinner reservation, please be sure to indicate your entrée choice.

Please make reservations your reservation in advance by emailing DinnerReservations@ChicagoCWRT.org with the names of your party and choice of entre'e or calling (630) 460-1865

Cancellations: email us at DinnerReservations@ChicagoCWRT.org  or call (630) 460-1865

Entrée choices are:
   Ham
   Tilapia

December 9th, 2016
Bjorn Skaptasan:

Ambrose Bierce at Shiloh

In many respects, a battlefield like Shiloh National Military Park in Tennessee is as much a historical text as is any book about the battle. Like a good history, an interpretation of a battlefield tells a story – a nonfiction story, but a story just the same. Also like a good history, the story is built upon primary sources. These first-hand accounts, including after-action reports, soldiers’ diaries, letters, memoirs, and the research of the original park historian, serve as the building blocks for the story the battlefield tells. However, the primary sources are more than just tools. Each offers its own story, the value of which is dependent on the accuracy of the information and the literary merit of the writing. By these standards Ambrose Bierce’s twelve-part essay, “What I Saw of Shiloh,” is one of the finest accounts of soldiers in battle ever written.

“What I Saw of Shiloh” provides an unsanitized look at Civil War combat. While other sources provide frank descriptions of the horrible evidence of warfare, Bierce’s descriptions are simply better than most. Bierce understood that the brutality forced upon soldiers by combat estranged them from the communities that sent them to war, and he wished to force civil society to confront the results. As Brian M. Thomsen observes, Bierce does not just paint a hideous picture: he also dares the reader to look away.

Bjorn Skaptason holds a M.A., in history from Loyola University Chicago. He worked as a seasonal ranger at the National Park Service’s Shiloh National Military Park and Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center for two summers, helping to set up their Bierce Interpretive Walk. He still returns to Shiloh yearly on the anniversary of the battle to help lead special interpretive hikes of the battlefield. He has previously published essays on Ambrose Bierce at Shiloh for the Ambrose Bierce Project Journal, on the United States Colored Troops in the campaign and battle of Brice’s Crossroads for the West Tennessee Historical Society Papers, and in the Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society on The Chicago Light Artillery. A dealer in antiquarian books, Bjorn produces and guest hosts Author's Voice, a live Civil War book discussion program webcast from Abraham Lincoln Book Shop in Chicago.

For our 2016-17 program year, we proudly welcome these outstanding speakers:

Sept. 9th: Steve Quick on The C.S.S. Hunley

Oct. 14th: Lance Herdegen, Nevins-Freeman Address

Nov. 11th: Dave Connon on Iowa Copperheads

Dec. 9th: Bjorn Skaptasan on Ambrose Bierce at Shiloh

Jan. 13th, 2017: Richard Sommers on Lessons in Leadership in the Petersburg Campaign

Feb. 10th: Bob O'Neil on Cavalry During the Peninsula Campaign

Mar. 10th: Paul Kahan on Simon Cameron, Lincoln's First Secretary of War

Apr. 14th: Diane Smith on Command Conflict in the Overland Campaign

May 12th: Connie Hansen presents a First Person Portrayal of Jennie Wade's mother

June 9th: Don Sender on Custer and the Little Big Horn Campaign