History Buffs Come Together at Civil War Roundtable

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Byline: Joanne Leis Daily Herald Correspondent

Americans are more united now than they have been in decades, but the time when Americans were at war with each other still captivates thousands of people.

The Northern Illinois Civil War Roundtable was created in 1983 to serve part of that captive audience. Once a month a speaker lectures on a specific Civil War topic. The lecture is followed by a question and answer period. Members then attend a second meeting where they discuss the lecture.

"The purpose is to get people together who are interested in the Civil War and want to learn more about it," said member Liz Feltmann, who is also a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

The lecture takes place at 7:30 p.m. the first Friday of the month at the Arlington Heights Memorial Library, 500 N. Dunton St. The discussion portion of the club is held from 10 a.m. to noon the third Saturday of the month at the Barrington Area Public Library, 505 N. Northwest Highway, Barrington. Dues for an individual are $35 per year.

Civil War roundtables are extremely popular. At least 40 states have a roundtable and many of them have several. There are four roundtables in Illinois. In addition to the Northern Illinois club, there are roundtables in McHenry County, Chicago and Joliet. Even foreigners are interested in the Civil War. There are roundtables in Canada, Australia, Germany, France and the United Kingdom.

Hundreds of topics are discussed at roundtables. Specific battles and military leaders, weapons and uniforms are a few of the subjects that come up. There are also social topics that are relevant, such as Civil War art, music, and the role of Caucasian and African-American women.

"It's a good bunch of people and some of the speakers are fabulous," said John Walsh, who joined the club in 1992. "It all depends on your interest in that particular topic."

The Northern Illinois roundtable has 150 members and about 50 to 60 usually attend the lecture, Feltmann said. …