With more than 300 members, a lecture series featuring nationally recognized speakers, a community outreach program, plus a new high school scholarship program, the Lowcountry Civil War Round Table is a valuable resource for education and opportunity.
"Our membership is made up of people with an array of interests, in that some of them are serious scholars and some would just like to get more information about the Civil War,'' said the group's current president Robert Waite of Bluffton.
Waite said learning more about the Civil War was on his bucket list since moving south.
"I had read Shelby Foote's novels about the war with their incredible detail and research, and they whetted my appetite to delve deeper," he said.
Founded in 2000 in Bluffton, the Lowcountry Civil War Round Table is the second largest Civil War Round Table in the United States with 325 members. There are about 200 Civil War Round Tables across the U.S., including one in Hawaii.
New this year was the creation of a $500 scholarship program that was open to high school seniors in Beaufort and Jasper counties. Twelve students submitted Civil War essays, but it was Bluffton High School senior Marrcel Smith who won the scholarship with a "terrific" essay about the four Confederate flags used during the war, said past round table president Joe Roney. The group plans to increase the scholarship to $1,000 next year.
Now a student at Clemson Univeristy, Smith was a familiar face at Lowcountry Civil War Round Table events and had attended multiple meetings and special events. He said the club's members have a devout dedication to learning and sharing history, and made the process interesting, too.
"What surprises me the most is the club's ability to select captivating speakers. The club manages to keep its members engaged in the living history of the Civil War era," Smith said. "I couldn't be more honored to have been the first of many more Lowcountry Civil War Round Table scholarships."
All Lowcountry Civil War Round Table events are open to the public. Admission is $10; students and teachers can attend lectures for free with a valid ID.
The group meets monthly at the Bluffton High School auditorium from September through May. In addition to lecture series, the group also hosts special events including historic site visits.
Instead of paying guest speakers, the group donates $500 to the Civil War Trust in the speaker's name.
"In 15 years, we have given more than $60,000 to the Civil War Trust for battlefield restoration,'' Roney said.
On Oct. 14, Dr. Mary A. DeCredico, professor of history at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., will present a program titled, "Myths and Realities of Reconstruction.''
In November, the group will host a three-day event that will include a cruise to Fort Walker in Port Royal. On Nov. 11 author Michael Coker and Dr. Stephen Wise of the Parris Island Museum will discuss the "The Battle of Port Royal From the Naval Perspective." On Nov. 12, the group will travel by bus to Port Royal Plantation and visit the forts that were attacked on Port Royal Sound. On Nov. 13, the group will take a boat from Shelter Cove and explore the battle from Port Royal Sound and travel the route of the "Ring of Fire." For more information, go to http://www.lcwrt.squarespace.com.