Call for Nominations for the 2022

Edwin C. Bearss Preservation Award
and the
Edwin C. Bearss Legacy Award


These two awards were created by the Civil War Round Table of the District of Columbia (CWRTDC) to honor the life and legacy of one of the nation’s preeminent Civil War historians: the late Edwin C. Bearss. Ed spent more than seven decades crusading for battlefield site preservation, expanding interest and education in the military, political and socio-cultural history of events leading up to the Civil War, the War itself, and its aftermath. He led countless tours of battlefields and other Civil War related sites. 

Severely wounded as a Marine in the South Pacific during WW2, Ed understood the chaos and horror of battle and therefore was uniquely able to communicate the battlefield experience to his audience.  He authored more than two dozen books on the Civil War, joined the US National Parks Service, and served as its chief historian from 1981-1994 and later as its Historian Emeritus.  Ed was an honorary lifetime member of our Round Table and spoke regularly at its meetings and as its guide during many of its battlefield tours.

Seeking to assist Ed in his mission to protect, preserve and interpret Civil War sites around the country, this Round Table for many years made financial gifts for these purposes to an organization Ed selected. With his passing in 2020, the Round Table decided to continue this tradition by creating a new Edwin C. Bearss Awards program. More information about Ed Bearss and the Awards Program is posted below in separate entries on this page or by clicking HERE (

Monetary gifts to support the program are essential for the continuation of this awards and may be made through the Round Table’s by using the payment module at the end of this post. All donations are maintained separately from the Round Table’s regular accounts and are tax deductible to the extent permitted by law. 

The first recipient (2021) of the new  Edwin Bearss Preservation Award was the African American Civil War Memorial Museum of Washington, DC, which recognizes the contributions of the U.S. Colored Troops and the persons of color who served in the US Navy during  the Civil War.  Dr. Frank Smith, the museum’s Executive Director, plans to use the grant for exhibits and youth educational outreach.  The 2021 Bearss Legacy Award, a non-monetary award, was presented to Wendy Swanson, for her outstanding contributions to the preservation of US Civil War sites, landmarks, and education. 

More information about the 2021 Awards Program is posted below in separate entries on this page or by clicking HERE (


 Purpose and Amount of the Edwin C. Bearss Preservation Award

A monetary award is presented to a person or entity (a non-profit organization or public agency) to assist in preservation of a Civil War site or history, with “preservation” being used in the broadest sense of the word. This includes but is not limited to, the acquisition of property; the building, repair or restoration of a property; and the promotion, definition or narration of a site through interpretion, information or infrastructure, including research and educational materials or displays.

It is the intent of the CWRTDC Board that the Preservation Award in any given calendar year will be $2,500. The grant amount may, at the discretion of the CWRTDC Board of Directors, be increased or decreased.  Use of the Award for financial matching for similar purposes is encouraged. 

Purpose of the Edwin C. Bearss Legacy Award

This award, which is non-monetary, is to be given to a person or persons who exemplify and emulate Ed Bearss’s dedication in their personal efforts and commitment to preserve Civil War historic sites, landmarks, and relevant educational activities.


Nominees need not be members of the CWRTDC, but their membership is encouraged.  Any person who meets the criteria set forth in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, any non-profit entity, or any public entity or agency is eligible for the Preservation Award.  Any person or group of persons is eligible for the Legacy Award.

Nomination Process

  • Call for nominations will be issued not later than September 15, 2022.
  • Sharing information about the Ed Bearss Awards and the nomination process as widely as possible is permitted and encouraged.
  • Nominations will be due by close of business November 15, 2022. 
  • Submissions may be made by completing the form available HERE ( and sending it via email to or by mail to 3601 Pickett Road, #2123, Fairfax, VA 22031 (postmarked no later than November 15, 2022).
  • Nominations may be made by either (1) a CWRTDC member, or (2) a non-member, provided the nomination is endorsed by a CWRTDC member. In order to ensure fair and impartial consideration of nominations consistent with conflict of interest requirements, nominations may not be submitted or endorsed by persons on the Board of Directors or on the ad hoc Ed Bearss Awards Selection Committee of the CWRTDC.
  • Selections of the 2022 awardees will be recommended by the ad hoc Ed Bearss Award Selections and approved by the CWRTDC Board of Directors.
  • Absent unforeseen circumstances, the awards will be presented in person at the joint dinner meeting of the CWRTDC and the Lincoln Group of the District of Columbia scheduled to be held at the Officers’ Club at Fort Myer, Virginia, on February 8, 2023. 


Follow up by Awardee

The awardee of the Edwin C Bearss Preservation Award should confirm in writing within one calendar year after receipt of the award how the grant was used as described in connection with the nomination process.  If the intended use of the grant is not possible, the awardee should advise the CWRTDC of any change to the requested purpose or return the grant to the CWRTDC to allow it to be reallocated for future awards. 

It would also be appreciated if the awardee of the Edwin C Bearss Preservation Award publicly acknowledge its receipt of the award from the CWRTDC.  


Please contact Bill Dickinson, Chair of the CWRTDC’s Edwin C. Bearss Awards Selections Committee at or 703.403.8721.

A copy of this document is available by clicking HERE (





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Awards To Honor the Life and Legacy of  


to be presented to 
and to 

Awards Ceremony via Zoom on June 15, 2022 at 6pm ET
Free and Open to All 


It was very sad to hear in 2020 that Ed Bearss -- legendary Civil War historian and lifetime member of our Round Table -- had passed away. We miss him dearly.  Ed showed many of us literally what it meant to have our "boots on the ground" at a battlefield, and we will remember him and that phrase every time we take a battlefield tour from here on out.  

And it is fitting that we seek to celebrate his legacy and his contributions to the study of Civil War history on a continuing basis for many years and many generations to come. Ed was an honorary lifetime member of the CWRTDC, spoke regularly at our meetings, and guided many of our tours.


In appreciation of Ed’s dedication to battlefield preservation, the CWRTDC had for years made an annual donation to a historic site selected by Ed.  See complete history below.  In 2021, the Board of Directors unanimously decided to broaden the Preservation Award to a Civil War-related site selected by the Board and to increase the amount of donation using a newly created fund supported by individual contributions by members and other admirers of Ed. Monetary gifts to support future CWRTDC awards in honor of Ed’s life and legacy can be submitted using the PayPal module below.

On June 15, 2022, via Zoom, the Round Table will present the awards to honor the extraordinary life and legacy of Civil War historian Edwin Cole Bearss. The recipient of the “Edwin C. Bearss Preservation Award” is the African American Civil War Museum, and the recipient of the “Edwin C. Bears Legacy Award” is Ms. Wendy Swanson.

The ceremony will be followed by a presentation from CWRTDC member Carl Adams entitled “March to Juneteenth," which will cover his in-depth research into the more than 20,000 US Colored Troops from regiments comprised of men from all over the country sent to Texas at the close of the War to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation.  Mr Adams' research helped support the bi-partisan recognition of the event as a Federal holiday.

Edwin C. Bearss Preservation Award

The recipient of the expanded Preservation Award is the African American Civil War Museum,, founded by Dr. Frank Smith and located in Washington DC at 1925 Vermont Ave., N.E. (to be re-opened in late summer 2022). The mission of the museum compliments the iconic “Spirit of Freedom Memorial” located across the street by telling the story of the  heroic contributions made by the over 200,000 brave U.S. Colored Troops and sailors to end slavery and to keep our Nation united under one flag. Some of these men were slaves from the Chesapeake region who had been transported for resale to the deep South and were released in 1863 when the Union forces gained control of the lower Mississippi River area. Their ability to formally wear U.S. uniforms, bear arms, and participate in combat was authorized by President Lincoln’s signing of the  Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, and they proved to be exceptionally able soldiers and sailors in combat. 

Edwin C. Bearss Legacy Award

The Board also approved the creation of an annual Legacy Award, which is non-monetary, to be given to persons who exemplify and emulate Ed’s mission through their own efforts to preserve U.S. Civil War historic sites, landmarks, and education. The Board is pleased to announce that the recipient of the Legacy Award is Ms. Wendy Swanson of Falls Church, VA. Among only one of Ms. Swanson’s many contributions to Civil War-related preservation was to host annual parties to celebrate Ed’s birthday as an opportunity to solicit donations for the preservation or interpretation of the historic sites Ed selected. Over the years, her efforts (and those of the “Bearss Brigade”) collected over $250,000 to support such activities. 

The CWRTDC had planned to present the awards during an in-person meeting, but COVID-related restrictions prevented it from doing so. The ceremony and presentation will now be held via Zoom: 

Wed., June 15, 2022, at 6pm ET
Or point your browser to the following link and use the Meeting ID and passcode shown below:
Zoom "Join A Meeting" Page
Meeting ID: 737 7733 3091
Passcode: Zoom1861

Or dial in by your location:

        +1 301 715 8592 US (Washington DC)

        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
        +1 669 900 9128 US (San Jose)
Meeting ID: 828 9304 8523
Passcode: 24641769

Find your local number:

For a cheat sheet on how to use Zoom's control features click HERE

The event is free to attend and all are welcome! Additional details about the ceremony are posted on the CWRTDC’s website at More information about Ed Bearss and the awards is posted at

A copy of the News Release for the awards ceremony is available HERE (


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Copied below is a post about Ed written by our former President and current Director Susan Claffey.



We've received the sad news that legendary Civil War Historian and Lifetime member of our Round Table Ed Bearss has passed away. Ed was 97 years old.

Edwin Cole Bearss was born in Billings, Montana, on June 26, 1923. He grew up on his grandfather's ranch near Hardin, Montana, in the shadow of the Rosebud Mountains and within a bike ride of the Little Bighorn Battlefield. In Ed's own words, 

I was interested in history from the time I was in the second grade. At that time, I was interested in Lewis and Clark and the Nez Perce, because I grew up in Montana. I became interested in the Civil War in the seventh grade. My father liked to read to my brother and me books that he was interested in. He did not read children’s books. Someone had given him a book by John Thomason on Jeb Stuart. My father read this book to me, and that captured me—I’ve been interested in the Civil War since then. 

That interest was reflected by the fact that on the ranch, the E Bar S, he started naming the cattle for Civil War generals and battles. He often said his favorite milk cow was Antietam.

He attended a one-room school in Sarpy, Montana and in 1937 was sent to St. John's Military Academy in Delafield, Wisconsin. He graduated from Hardin High School and, with World War II underway, he immediately joined the Marine Corps (Ed's family has a long history with the Marines, his father, Omar, served in World War I.  His father’s cousin Hiram I. Bearss, a famous Marine colonel nicknamed “Hiking Hiram,” fought in France during World War I and received the Medal of Honor for service in the Philippines in 1901.  Ed’s daughter and grandson also served in the Corps). 

He served with the 3rd Marine Raider Battalion and 1st Marine Division. In the invasion of Guadalcanal and New Britain, Ed was seriously wounded by machine gun fire. He spent 26 months in various hospitals for multiple surgeries, bone grafts, and rehabilitation. In fact, it was only a couple of years ago that Ed was treated at a VA hospital during a trip to Johnstown, PA for a piece of bone fragment that worked its way to the surface after 75 years. He got quite a kick out of telling that story. 

After the war, he took advantage of the GI bill to study at Georgetown University, receiving a bachelor's degree in Foreign Service in 1949. He took a job with the Navy Hydrographic Office in Suitland, MD, where he stayed for 3 years. He then attended Indiana University and graduated with his M.A. in history, writing his thesis on Patrick Cleburne. 

Ed’s career with the National Park Service got its start in 1955, when he was stationed at Vicksburg, Mississippi as a Park Historian. While there, he did the research leading him and two friends to the long lost resting place of the Union gunboat Cairo and he was instrumental in its rise from the bottom of the Yazoo River. He also located two forgotten forts at Grand Gulf, Mississippi and helped get Grand Gulf named a Mississippi State Military Monument. He was the founder of the Mississippi Civil War Round Table in 1956, which later consolidated with the Jackson Civil War Round Table. 

In 1966, Ed was transferred to Washington, DC. He rose to prominence and became the Chief Historian in November 1981, a position he held until July 1994. Then he served as the Director's Special Assistant for Military Sites until his retirement on October 1, 1995. But Ed never really retired; through lectures, television, writing, and as a renowned battlefield guide, he continued his association with our nation's military history. He spoke to our Round Table and many other round tables many, many times. He also served as our guide for more field trips and day tours than can be counted. His final field trip for us was the 2013 trip to Vicksburg. He last spoke to us in September 2019 on the discovery and raising of the Cairo. 

Ed received numerous awards in the field of history and preservation: the T. Harry Williams Award; the Bruce Catton Award; the Alvin Calman Award; the Bell I. Wiley Award and others. He was chosen Man of the Year at Vicksburg in 1963. He received the Harry S. Truman Award for Meritorious Service in the field of Civil War History. In 1964 he was chosen to become a member of the Company of Military Historians and was voted a Fellow in that organization. In 1983 he won the Department of the Interior's Distinguished Service Award, the highest award given by the department. He received a commendation from the Secretary of the Army in 1985. He is a veteran of 50 years of Government Service.

He has done detailed studies for the National Park Service for many areas: Vicksburg; Pea Ridge; Wilson's Creek; the Ray House; Fort Smith; Stones River; Fort Donelson; Battles around Richmond; Bighorn Canyon; Eisenhower Farm; the gold miners' route over Chilkoot Pass; LBJ Ranch; Fort Moultrie; Fort Point; William Howard Taft House; Fort Hancock; Boston Navy Yard; Herbert Hoover National Historic Site and others. He was instrumental in the establishment of Monocacy National Battlefield. In 1990, he was featured as a commentator on the PBS program The Civil War, which as of this writing is the most popular program ever to be broadcast by that network. More recently, he has appeared on the Arts & Entertainment Channel's Civil War Journal.

Ed was a force of nature and always at his best “on the ground” of a battlefield. Those of us who were privileged enough to see him in “full sway,” with eyes closed and voice booming, will never forget. He made history come alive and truly was its “Pied Piper.” We won’t see the likes of his amazing charismatic personality again. 

Thank you, Ed. Thank you for your service. Thank you for your knowledge. And thank you for sharing it so willingly. May you rest in peace.

Author: Susan K Claffey



History of the CWRTDC’s Edwin C. Bearss Award

The December 2003 Newsletter of the Civil War Round Table of the District of Columbia announced that the Board had established a $1000 donation to a Civil War preservation cause to honor Edwin C. Bearss' extensive contributions to Civil War historical research, preservation, and interest.  The recipient of the donation would be chosen by the Board and would be based on recommendations from Ed Bearss.  See

Also added to the dinner reservation form used at the time was a line that read “Contribution to Edwin C. Bearss Award.”  In addition, members attending the dinners could contribute spare change and bills to a collection jar shaped like a bear: a big plastic Bear(ss) jar.  

This effort was promoted and coordinated principally by Susan Claffey, former President and current Director of the CWRTDC. Thank you, Susan!

The donation was often awarded in conjunction with an annual party that Wendy Swanson (also a former President and Director of CWRTDC) and the “Bearss Brigade” organized and sponsored not only to celebrate Ed’s birthday, but also -- per Ed’s wishes – to collect donations from many other organizations and friends to support a recipient of Ed’s choosing.  Wendy and the Bearss Brigade often collected over $10,000 in donations at those parties!  Thank you, Wendy!  

Now that Ed is no longer with us, the Board decided to enhance the Ed Bearss Award so as to continue to honor Ed and his legacy, as described above.  Ed’s friends miss him dearly, and it is fitting to see what the CWRTDC can do to expand the award that celebrates his legacy and his contributions to CW history on a continuing basis for many years to come. 

The recipients to date of the CWRTDC’s Edwin C. Bearss Awards are listed below:

Year Amount   Recipient

2004 1,000.00   Civil War Preservation Trust – for Fort Donelson

2005 1,000.00   Gettysburg Battlefield Preservation Association – Daniel Lady Farm

2006 1,000.00   Friends of Chickamauga & Chattanooga

2007 1,000.00   Civil War Trust - for White Oak Road, Bentonville, and Shiloh

2008 1,000.00   Monocacy National Battlefield

2009 1,000.00   Civil War Preservation Trust - for Port Republic

2010 1,000.00   Richmond Battlefield Association

2011 1,000.00   Civil War Trust - for Shiloh National Military Park

2012 1,000.00   Civil War Trust - for Franklin

2013 1,000.00   Friends of Raymond Battlefield

2014 1,000.00   Franklin's Charge

2015 1,000.00   Friends of Raymond Battlefield

2016 1,000.00   Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation

2017 1,000.00   Gettysburg Foundation

2018 1,000.00   Appomattox Court House National Historical Park

2019 1,000.00   Friends of Vicksburg National Military Park

2020 1,000.00   Grand Gulf Military Park

2021        2,500.00    African American Civil War Museum (Preservation Award)

2021        N/A           Ms. Wendy Swanson (Legacy Award)

TOTAL $19,500

For information about the the history of other awards given by the CWRTDC, click HERE or visit