Meeting of January 31, 2017

Join us at 7 PM, January 31, at Holder’s Country Inn in San Jose. See the UPCOMING MEETINGS/MEETING INFO tab for specific times and meeting details. This month’s topic is

Ted Savas on “Rediscovering the Battle Payne’s Farm: Combat and Relics from the Mine Run Campaign”

Ted Savas will give a unique presentation on how he discovered, mapped, and ultimately preserved an important “lost” Civil War battlefield.

The short but bloody battle was fought in Northern Virginia on November 27, 1863, and was much more important to the course of the war than previously known.

The engagement was the first in Federal general George G. Meade’s ultimately unsuccessful Mine Run Campaign, which was designed to cross the Rapidan River quickly, march behind General Lee’s exposed right flank, turn it, and crush the Confederates. Although it got off to a good start, one wing of the Federal Army got bogged down fording the Rapidan River and unexpectedly ran into one of Lee’s veteran divisions, triggering the critical Payne’s Farm combat.

Ted will give a PowerPoint presentation with extensive photos, maps, and commentary, including showing hundreds of relics he discovered on the field. He will also welcome questions on how to get published, writing history, and other topics.

Theodore P. Savas is an award-winning author, attorney, publishing consultant, and the managing director of one of America’s leading independent publishing companies (Savas Beatie LLC: www.savasbeatie.com). Ted founded the South Bay Civil War Round Table in 1989; its first meeting of four people was held in his living room in San Jose.

Quiz for January 31, 2017

Civil War Quiz – What Do You Know About Life of the Everyday Soldier?

Q#1 – At the beginning of the Civil War, what was the “fancy idea” that most volunteers for the army harbored regarding what would be their principal occupation as a soldier?

Q#2 – On the eve of the Civil War, what was the total number of enlisted men in the United States Army?

Q#3 – What was the main reason men fought in the Civil War? From the North? From the South?

Q#4 – At the start of the Civil War, what was the name of the tent that was most frequently used by both North and South?

Q#5 – At full strength, how many companies of about 100 men each made up an infantry regiment?

Q#6 – What was the main reason why the election of company officers was abolished and replaced with a board examination process?

Q#7 – Which military rank in a company dominated a soldier’s everyday life and existence?

Q#8 – What was the most frequent activity performed when soldiers were in camp?

Q#9 – For doctors who served in the Civil War, what were the requirements for them to enter medical school?

Q#10 – How did doctors during the Civil War view infection and the festering of a wound, known as laudable pus?

Q#11 – What was the most contagious disease that recruits contracted when they joined the army?

Q#12 – In some portions of the Confederate Army, the names “The Virginia Quickstep” and “The Tennessee Trots” were associated with what medical malady?

Q#13 – Quality of the food was a major problem for both sides. What was the most frequent problem with Hardtack? With Corn bread?

Q#14 – What were the two main reasons prisoner exchanges were formally discontinued in 1864?

Q#15 – By the end of the Civil War, counting both sides, how many prisons were created and how many men were imprisoned?

Meeting of February 28, 2017

Join us at 7 PM, February 28, at Holder’s Country Inn in San Jose. See the UPCOMING MEETINGS/MEETING INFO tab for specific times and meeting details. This month’s topic is

Doug Rees on “The Plot to Kidnap Abe Lincoln”

History is a dialogue between the present and the past. It’s a truism. But it begs the question, “What use is the past to the present, and what use does the present make of the past?” Because if the past is to have any significance, it’s up to the present to find it, and to use it to cast light on the present. Conventional histories are written to establish that connection. Without it, they are either adventure tales or antiquarianism. In the case before you tonight, an obscure “almost”—the attempted, and nearly successful kidnapping of Abraham Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth and his gang, led to the creation of a play based on the almost-event. When the medium changes from the printed book to the stage, the mode of transmission is also changes. How is making this use of the past similar to, and different from, a work of history?

Douglas Rees holds a master’s degree in history from UC Riverside, where he studied the Civil War under Hal Bridges. He is the author of a number of books for young people, including Lightning Time, a novel about the Harper’s Ferry raid, and a number of plays which have been produced locally, and in venues from Los Angeles to Panama, including Kidnap!; Or, The Abduction of Abraham Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth and Company.

Meeting of March 28, 2017

Join us at 7 PM, March 28, at Holder’s Country Inn in San Jose. See the UPCOMING MEETINGS/MEETING INFO tab for specific times and meeting details. This month’s topic is

John Fitzpatrick on “‘No Fail Here’: The Personal, Political and Policy Pressures Impacting President Lincoln at Gettysburg, November 1863”

john-fitzpatrickColonel John J. Fitzpatrick, Jr., Esq. will present the personal, political, and policy issues and pressures impacting President Lincoln when he came to Gettysburg, only once for about 24 hours on November 18 and 19, 1863. We will see how the President dealt with them and channeled many of them into the Gettysburg Address. The country was fractured, the Civil War was ongoing, there was no end in sight—and the President was not even invited as the Keynote Speaker! In short, we will learn of his three goals and hear the real back-story to the immortal Gettysburg Address.

John Fitzpatrick is an attorney, arbitrator, aviator, reenactor, veteran, and Licensed Battlefield Guide Emeritus at the Gettysburg National Military Park, Pennsylvania, who brings those perspectives to his tours at Gettysburg and to this presentation. Since 2009, John has made this presentation 50 times in 7 different States and the District of Columbia.

Meeting of November 29, 2016

Rene Accornero presents “Civilians and the Battle of Gettysburg” Video

Tim Smith

Tim Smith

In this C-Span DVD, Tim Smith discusses the frequently overlooked story of the role and impact of the Battle of Gettysburg on the local civilian population. The video includes a brief history of the town of Gettysburg and how its location was pivotal to why the battle was fought there.

Tim’s discussion includes testimonials from civilians describing their actual experiences before, during, and after the battle. Letters and diary entries serve as the sources for much of the description of the impact on the Gettysburg civilians. The presenter describes in detail how civilians were tasked with a number of overwhelming responsibilities such as assisting in the care of over 20,000 wounded soldiers, the disposal of thousands of dead horses, and the removal of the massive amount of wreckage of military armaments.

Tim Smith is a native of Baltimore, Maryland, and has been a Licensed Battlefield Guide at Gettysburg National Military Park since 1992. Tim is the Research Historian for the Adams County Historical Society, and has written numerous articles, booklets, and books about the Gettysburg area including co-authoring the book Devil’s Den, A History and Guide. The DVD is about 45 minutes in length.

Meeting Minutes November-2016

Quiz for November 29, 2016

Civil War Quiz – What Do You Know About the War Along the Mississippi River?

Q#1 – At the beginning of the Civil War, what city was considered the most strategic along the Mississippi River?

Q#2 – Which Union commander was placed in charge of naval operations on the Mississippi River?

Q#3 – What naval battle on the Mississippi River in June 1862 resulted in a crushing defeat for the Confederate forces, and marked the virtual eradication of a Confederate naval presence on the river?

Q#4 – This ground and naval battle was fought on August 5, 1862, and resulted in the Union capture of which major Confederate State Capital?

Q#5 – What were the names of the two Confederate forts that guarded the mouth of the Mississippi River south of New Orleans?

Q#6 – What action by Union Major General John McClernand infuriated Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and caused both General-in-Chief Henry Halleck and Grant to totally revise their campaign strategy for capturing Vicksburg, MS?

Q#7 – General John C. Pemberton, Confederate Commander of Mississippi, was suspected of having divided loyalties – why?

Q#8 – What was the name of a river located northeast of Vicksburg, MS, that was critically important to the Union plans to capture Vicksburg?

Q#9 – What was the failed attempt by Gen. Ulysses S. Grant to float gun boats and his infantry past Vicksburg without coming under the fire of Confederate guns?

Q#10 – What was the name of the Union naval commander who successfully sailed his ships past Vicksburg as part of General Grant’s plan to land infantry troops of the east shore of the Mississippi south of Vicksburg?

Q#11 – The 1959 movie entitled “The Horse Soldiers” starring John Wayne was based on what actual Civil War event related to the eventual capture of Vicksburg, MS?

Q#12 – Once General Grant had landed his army below Vicksburg, which three major battles were fought during May 1863 that eventually led to the Siege of Vicksburg?

Q#13 – What was the name of a key Confederation fortification that was the main target for Grant’s May 22, 1863, assault on Vicksburg?

Q#14 – In an attempt to break through the Confederate defense at Vicksburg, General Grant approved an action that almost a year later would be attempted again during the siege of Petersburg, VA. What was the action?

Q#15 – Before surrendering Vicksburg, Confederate commanders considered and then rejected what last maneuver?

Meeting of October 25, 2016

Blaine Lamb on “The Extraordinary Life of Charles Pomeroy Stone”

stone-bookAs the secession crisis came to a head in the winter of 1861, an obscure military engineer, Charles Pomeroy Stone, emerged as the rallying point for the defense of Washington, D.C., against rebel insurrection or attack. He was protector of the president and right hand man of the army’s commanding general. Nevertheless, in just a year, this same hero sat in a military prison accused of incompetence and disloyalty.

Like other Union officers, Stone had the misfortune to run afoul of politicians who sought to control the war effort by undermining the professional military establishment. Their weapon, the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War, applied a litmus test of commitment to abolition, loyalty to the Republican Party, and battlefield success for the retention and promotion of army commanders. Stone, a Democrat who did not see the conflict as a crusade against slavery, and who lost his only battle, failed on all counts.

Readers of Civil War history know Stone best for his disgrace and imprisonment. His story, however, goes far beyond this unfortunate occurrence — from the Halls of the Montezumas to Gold Rush California, and from the pyramids of Egypt to the Statue of Liberty. In a presentation drawn from his recently published biography, The Extraordinary Life of Charles Pomeroy Stone: Soldier, Surveyor, Pasha, Engineer, historian Blaine Lamb weaves a narrative of adventure, exploration, war and intrigue with a cast of characters ranging from the dour William Tecumseh Sherman to the flamboyant Ismail the Magnificent. But the center remains Stone himself, a man of honor, steadfast loyalty and tragic innocence.

blaine-lambA native of San Diego, California, Blaine Lamb obtained his BA and MA degrees in history from the University of San Diego. He then moved to Tempe, Arizona, and entered the doctoral program in history at Arizona State University, receiving his Ph.D. in 1982. Dr. Lamb returned to California and joined the staff of the State Railroad Museum as an archivist and later became a senior archivist at the California State Archives. In 2007, he took the position of Chief of the Archaeology, History and Museums Division of California State Parks, where he remained until his retirement in 2012. Since retirement, he completed work on his biography of General Charles Pomeroy Stone, which was published in 2016.

In addition to the Stone biography, Dr. Lamb’s publications include articles and reviews in California History, Journal of Arizona History, Western Historical Quarterly, Journal of America’s Military Past, Journal of the West, and Overland Journal.

Meeting Minutes October 2016

Quiz for October 25, 2016

Civil War Quiz: What Happened During the Month of October 1861–1865?

Q#1 – In October 1862, who was appointed as Union commander of the Army of the Cumberland?

Q#2 – What action did Governor Thomas More of Alabama take in 1861 that he hoped would pressure the governments of France and Great Britain to recognize the Confederate government?

Q#3 – What legal action did President Lincoln take reluctantly, that was necessary for the war effort?

Q#4 – In 1862, which Union general replaced Major General Don Carlos Buell as commander of Army of the Ohio?

Q#5 – Who won the Second Battle of Corinth, Mississippi, which was fought October 3–4, 1862?

Q#6 – On October 8, 1862, what was the name of the largest battle fought on Kentucky soil?

Q#7 – In October 1862, this Union general was given command of the Department of the Tennessee – who was he?

Q#8 – In October 1863, what event did President Lincoln designate as a national holiday at the end of November?

Q#9 – In October 1863, General Grant approved the plan of “Baldy” Smith to supply Union troops in Chattanooga – what was this supply line called?

Q#10 – Who won the Battle of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, fought on October 25, 1863?

Q#11 – In October 1863, Ulysses S. Grant traveled to Louisville, Kentucky, to meet with Secretary of War Edwin Stanton for what purpose?

Q#12 – In October 1864, which border state abolished slavery in their new constitution?

Q#13 – What was the name of the battle in October 1864 where Union General Philip Sheridan made his famous ride to rally his retreating troops?

Q#14 – In October 1864, which territory did the Republican-controlled Congress rush into statehood in order to assist in the re-election of President Lincoln?

Q#15 – In October 1865, which former Confederate political official was released from military prison in Boston, Massachusetts?

Meeting of September 27, 2016

Meg Groeling on “The Aftermath of Battle: The Burial of the Civil War Dead”

Aftermath of BattleMeg’s presentation was a book talk about The Aftermath of Battle, her volume in the Emerging Civil War series, published by Savas Beatie. She presented a series of short discussions about the stories within the covers, such as the contribution of Dr. Jonathan Letterman to the advancement of military medicine, how TAPS came to be—and came to be played for military funerals—and the evolution of embalming and mortuary science to ensure the safe transport of remains from the battlefield to home, wherever that was. Aftermath looks at many different “aftermaths,” and the good (or bad) that came from so much injury and death. Things we take for granted today, like photojournalism, military cemeteries, veteran’s care, amputation and reliable prostheses, and forensic science—all began during or after the American Civil War. From the first Union Army officer death—Colonel Elmer Ellsworth—to the last surviving Civil War veteran—Albert Woolson—Aftermath covers these and almost everything in between. Understanding what every soldier risked is what speaks to the heart of military history. Whether wearing blue or gray, firing a gun or a cannon, being a prisoner or a submariner, or even simply hauling supplies or carrying the general, each had an aftermath. Meg’s book honors them all.

Meg-GroelingMeg Groeling currently teaches math at Brownell Middle School, named for E. E. Brownell, a California educator who was named for Colonel Elmer Ellsworth and is related to Corporal Francis Brownell, the man who shot the man who killed Ellsworth. She has also taught at other public schools in California and Maryland. She contributes to World At War and Strategy and Tactics, history and war-gaming magazines. Her undergraduate degree in Liberal Studies with a minor in American History was from California State University, Long Beach, and she will receive her Masters degree in History, with a Civil War emphasis, in January 2016.

Savas Beatie published her first book, The Aftermath of Battle: The Burial of the Civil War Dead, in the fall of 2015. This is a volume in the Emerging Civil War Series, although it differs from the others in that it takes on a much broader range of subjects. The book has received excellent reviews.

She has also written First Fallen: the Life and Times of Colonel Elmer Ellsworth, the only biography written about Ellsworth since Ruth Painter Randall’s, published in 1960. In it, she challenges some of the assumptions made about Ellsworth and uses his life as a lens through which to view the attitudes and events of the urban North prior to the Civil War. Southern Illinois Press has picked it for publication sometime within the next two years.

She is a regular contributor to the blog Emerging Civil War, exploring subjects beyond the battlefield such as personalities, politics, and practices that affected the men who did the fighting.

Meeting Minutes September 2016