GIDDAY & WELCOME!
The American Civil War Round Table of Queensland (ACWRTQ) began in 1998. There was just one such club then, the American Civil War Round Table of Australia (ACWRTA), founded in the 1970’s and based in Melbourne, Victoria but with an Australia-wide membership. In June 1998, four ACWRTA members living in Brisbane held a meeting at the University of Queensland, St. Lucia. They formed the ACWRTA (Queensland Chapter). In August, the club started a newsletter Rebel and Yankee News.
A Civil War seminar at the University of Queensland, a BBQ picnic at Mt Coot-tha, a black powder rifle shoot at the Ripley Range, Ipswich and stalls at local Gun Shows attracted new members during 1998-2000. In 1999, the club met in a small basement room of the Coorparoo Returned Service League (RSL) Club. The Coorparoo RSL has remained the ACWRTQ meetings venue. In October 2000, there were enough members for the club to become a separate, incorporated body under state law. It was renamed the American Civil War Round Table of Queensland Inc and after 9 issues, Rebel and Yankee News was renamed the American Civil War Round Table of Qld Newsletter. Rhonda O’Dwyer was elected the first president of the ACWRTQ.
In 2001, the ACWRTQ was invited to put on a Civil War display at the Brisbane Medieval Fayre then held annually at Musgrave Park, South Brisbane. This elicited more invitations. The ACWRTQ has held displays at the Ipswich Heritage Festival, the Esk (now Brisbane Valley) Multicultural Festival, the Gold Coast Militaria & Medieval Festival, the Redcliffe Military Fair, the Glen Innes Celtic Festival (New South Wales [NSW]), Toowoomba’s Heritage Rally and Napoleon’s Military Bookshop, Brisbane City. In 2004, the impressive 600-figure diorama of Picket’s Charge entitled In God’s Hands was donated to the club by Rockhampton modellers Gary and Alan Woodfield. Their diorama became the centrepiece of the club’s Civil War display at the Beenleigh Historical Village in 2008. Beenleigh developed because cotton plantations with riverboats and Kanaka labour were established there in 1861 to profit from the English cotton shortage caused by the Union blockade. The ACWRTQ has been invited to mount displays for two Civil War-themed movie premiers in Brisbane – Gods and Generals at the Balmoral Cinema (23 October 2003) and The Conspirator at the Palace Cinemas (25 July 2011).
A display highlight comes from a group of living historians within the ACWRTQ. This had humble beginnings when member and US expatriate Ed Best formed the “Private John C. Babb Memorial Colour Guard” in early 2002. Ed is a descendant of Babb, who had joined Company ‘A’, 44th Georgia Volunteer Infantry Regiment on 10 March 1862. Babb fought with the Army of Northern Virginia at Mechanicsville, Gin’s Mill and Malvern Hill. Babb died of fever and was buried at Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond on 20 September 1862. Starting with four re-enactors, the living history group grew to ten (with 4 ladies) and the Colour Guard expanded into Company ‘A’, 44th Georgia Volunteer Infantry Regiment by June 2002. Another US ‘expat’ Trace Scalf, who had living history experience, taught proper drill to the ACWRTQ. On 21-23 January 2005, the living historians participated in the largest Civil War re-enactment in Australia. The Battle of Williamsburg event occurred in the Old Sydney Town theme park at Gosford, NSW.
Research and discussion are ACWRTQ priorities. Items are perused before publication in The Bugle that replaced American Civil War Round Table of Qld Newsletter in June 2006. Some individual members conduct their own research into Civil War veterans buried in Queensland and northern NSW. There are 12 confirmed veterans graves of interest to the ACWRTQ. The club has put a headstone or plaques on the unmarked graves for Edward Wright (Union Army) at Dunwich Cemetery, Stradbroke Island, William Waters (USN) and Richard Curtis (CSN) both at Toowong Cemetery. Formal grave rededication ceremonies were held for Waters (24 July 2007), Curtis (7 November 2010) and William Seymour (30 May 2010, Old Tweed Heads Cemetery, NSW). With a third veteran (Union) confirmed buried at Toowong and a fourth being researched, the ACWRTQ hopes to organise a Civil War heritage walk with the Friends of Toowong Cemetery group. This will be an Australian first!
Exciting the public’s interest in the Civil War is another club priority. In April 2002, the ACWRTQ established its first website (now defunct). Media-wide coverage of club activities has involved newspapers (The Redland Times, Wynnum Herald, Tweed Daily News, Gatton Star), magazines (Take 5, Broadsword), radio (4QR, 4BC) and television (ABC News, Ch.7’s The Great South East program).
Your’s and other’s interest in the American Civil War lies at the core of ACWRTQ.