The Richmond Civil War Round Table was founded on February 8, 1951. Following is a brief history, written by one of the group's long-time members, Dan Balfour:
The Richmond Civil War Round Table was organized 70 years ago in 1951 at Fort Harrison. The first meeting resulted from an announcement published in the Richmond Newsleader asking any one interested in forming a group to discuss the Civil War to meet at a cabin at Fort Harrison. As a result, several men began monthly meetings and organized as a round table following the examples of the first ones, The Chicago and D.C. Roundtables.
The first members included J. Ambler Johnston whose father was a Confederate veteran, Hobson Goddin ( still a member), Bill Mallory ( a navy WW 2 veteran who corresponded with D. Freeman while at sea.), Louis Manarin., of the Virginia Library. They met monthly first at Fort Harrison, then at an airport restaurant with members usually as speakers but, included occasional outside speakers including Dr. Freeman and probably Clifford Dowdey. The group then was men only and grew in members as the Centennial approached. The round table almost folded after 1965, but due primarily to the efforts of current member, many years Judge Doug Tice, the round table regrouped and expanded its membership. In those days the club met for dinner and program and later met at Morton’s Tearoom.
Programs over the years included debates, quiz competitions by members divided into Corps, and members' favorite personal war anecdotes/relic/book nights. There were two field trips a year; one or two overnight trips to Antietam, Gettysburg, or Harpers Ferry and a day trip usually in the fall. Over the years our round table would sometimes host and join other round tables visiting Richmond including Chicago and Cincinnati. Some members would portray war figures including Sam Moore as Jeff Davis and Doug Tice as R.E. Lee for guest round tables or civic groups.
Over the years we grew from 30+ to today and met at various times at VCU, First Colony Furniture and a church on Grove Avenue. Many years ago the dinner meetings ended and women joined. Two early lady members were Judy Anthis and Sandy Parker. Sandy and her mother for years would be the after meetings refreshment committee of two with layer cakes, pies ,cookies, etc. I recall regretfully over the years we've only attracted one or two black members, usually park service rangers. As I recall, one gave a good program on Buffalo soldiers. Our members have usually come also from Petersburg, Fredericksburg, Williamsburg, and Charlottesville.
Over the years our officers have worked hard to keep our group superb. Among our past presidents, Dan Jordan, stands out . He personally knew so many national authors that we began to have more out of town celebrity speakers and he conducted our debates and quiz programs. In the real old days, (60s and 70s) with fewer members, J. Ambler Johnston, Hobson Goddin, Bill Mallory and Roland Galvin were so knowlegable they could just give programs or start debates extemporaneously, and often did.
One regrets we have attracted few high school students or local history teachers as members.