Meeting of October 25, 2016

Join us at 7 PM, October 25, 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

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.

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 November 29, 2016

Join us at 7 PM, November 29, 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

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 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

Bob Burch on “Other California Units”

California Regiments monument at Gettysburg

California Regiments monument at Gettysburg

Bob’s presentation will explore the history of those units serving in the Eastern Theater during the American Civil War that enlisted a good portion of their recruits from California or had that state’s name in their unit designation. Nearly ten percent of Californians who volunteered during the war did so into units from other states. They did so for a variety of reasons including the desire to represent their state during the war to preserve the Union. Consequently these “other California units” represented their state continuously from the Battle of First Bull Run until General Lee’s surrender at Appomattox four years later.

Eventually Californians served in five other states’ volunteer regiments. On the West Coast these units were the 1st Washington Territory Infantry and 1st Oregon Cavalry Regiments. On the East Coast these were the 32nd New York Infantry Regiment (aka “California Regiment”), Baker’s Brigade (aka “California Brigade”) of four regiments, and the 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry Regiment’s “California Hundred” and “California Battalion”.

Along the way we will meet several forgotten Californians who served their country well. Colonel Roderick Matheson from Healdsburg who fought at First Bull Run and later died from wounds received at the Battle of Crampton’s Gap. Colonel Francis Pinto of San Francisco who commanded regiments during the Peninsula, 2nd Manassas, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville Campaigns. Major Archibald McKendry who commanded the California Battalion and eventually the 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry Regiment when only a captain. Captain James Sewell Reed of the California Hundred who died while leading his unit against Mosby’s partisans and Captain Hugh Armstrong who replaced him and led that company from Battle of Fort Stevens until Appomattox. And Captain Henry Crocker of San Francisco who participated in nine battle and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for valor at the Battle of Cedar Creek.

Except for the “CAL 100” Cavalry, these units have disappeared from history despite the presence of the California Regiment’s monument on Cemetery Ridge at Gettysburg and mention in many original source documents from newspapers to the Official Records. This presentation will attempt to remember and honor their contribution to the Union cause.

Bob Burch is a native Californian, born and raised in Santa Clara County. He is also a lifetime student of the Civil War. He had the opportunity to visit many Civil War sites from Florida to Pennsylvania to New Mexico during his 30 year military career. Like many California CWRT members, he desires to understand his home state’s role in the war. He started collecting material for this presentation ten years ago and initiated a serious study 15 months ago. This series documents his research in great detail. Time allows only a few key points from each slide to be presented. Numerous period photographs and magazine drawings are included for visual effect with the intent of comprehending California’s role in the Civil War.

Quiz for September 27, 2016

Civil War Quiz – The Battles for Atlanta

Q#1 – What was the nickname the City of Atlanta gave itself during the middle of the 19th Century?

Q#2 – When Union general William T. Sherman began his Atlanta Campaign in May 1864, what was the name of the commanding general of the Confederate forces?

Q#3 – General Sherman’s Military Division of the Mississippi consisted of three large armies; what were their names?

Q#4 – In the spring of 1864, what shocking proposal did General Patrick Cleburne submit to increase the number of soldiers in the Confederate Army of Tennessee?

Q#5 – What tactic did Union general Sherman employ during the early stages of the campaign to avoid a frontal confrontation with the Confederate force?

Q#6 – What were the conflicting reasons that on May 19, 1864, Confederate general Johnston retreated instead of going forward with an attack at Cassville, Georgia?

Q#7 – During the last week of May 1864, three major engagements were fought continuously during that period: New Hope Church, Pickett’s Mill, and Dallas, Georgia. What name did the Union troops give to this series of battles?

Q#8 – At the June 27, 1864, Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, which resulted in a minor victory for the Confederacy, what attack tactic did Union general Sherman employ that he would never use again during the remainder of the war?

Q#9 – In July 1864, Confederate President Jefferson Davis sent what general to Atlanta to determine if General Joseph E. Johnston was planning to defend Atlanta or abandon it?

Q#10 – On July 17, 1864, what was the name of the Confederate general who replaced Joseph E. Johnston?

Q#11 – What was the name of the battle fought on July 20, 1864, which marked the first battle of the Confederate Army of Tennessee under its new commander?

Q#12 – What was the name of the only commander of a Federal army to die in the Civil War?

Q#13 – What was the name of the highest ranking Union prisoner of war who was captured in July 1864 attempting to free the Union prisoners at the Confederate Andersonville prison?

Q#14 – What was the reason Union general Sherman authorized a bombardment of the City of Atlanta beginning on August 9, 1864?

Q#15 – What were the contents of the telegram sent by Union general Sherman to his superiors in Washington after the surrender of Atlanta on September 2, 1864?

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

Meeting of August 20, 2016

Jim Rhetta on “The Federal Blockade—Its Overlooked Impacts on the Confederate War Effort”

Jim Rhetta

Jim Rhetta

The blockade was one of the three strategic objectives of the Federal war effort against the Confederacy. Civil War readers and historians still debate its effectiveness, with some citing the fact that blockade running ships still got through to a Southern port in the last days of the conflict as proof that it was not very effective.

What is overlooked is that the blockade produced secondary and indirect impacts to the Confederate war effort that are often not attributed to the blockade. These secondary impacts had a combined effect that seriously weakened the Confederate war effort and made the blockade more effective than most readers realize. Jim’s presentation described the Federal effort to build and operate a blockade force and the counter-efforts by blockade runners. It also identified the blockade impacts that crippled the economy, restricted transportation, reduced military effectiveness, and lowered social morale in the Confederacy.

Meeting Minutes August 2016

Quiz for August 20, 2016

Civil War Quiz: Brother Against Brother – The War Begins

Q#1 – What were the five main provisions of the Compromise of 1850?

Q#2 – Who were the other three candidates on the ballot for President in the election of 1860 in addition to Lincoln?

Q#3 – Why was Hannibal Hamlin chosen as Abraham Lincoln’s Vice Presidential running mate in 1860?

Q#4 – The attack on Fort Sumter on April 14, 1861, was not the first Union fort to be taken. What were the names of three Union facilities taken by the Confederates in January 1861?

Q#5 – In April 1861, were the organized territories of Nebraska, Washington, Kansas, Utah, and New Mexico in favor of slavery or opposed to it?

Q#6 – How many hours did the Confederate bombardment of Fort Sumter last: 25? 30? 33? 40? 42?

Q#7 – What reason did President Lincoln give for bypassing Congress when on April 15, 1861, he called for 75,000 militiamen for the Army?

Q#8 – In late April, 1861, proposing an army of 80,000 men, George McClellan submitted two plans to Winfield Scott that McClellan stated would “bring about the destruction of the Southern Army.” What were the plans?

Q#9 – What was the name of the first Union officer to die in the Civil War?

Q#10 – What was the name of the first general to die in the Civil War (Hint: He was a Confederate)?

Q#11 – The Battle of Big Bethel occurred on June 10, 1861, with Union forces led by Benjamin Butler. What was the name of the Confederate commander Butler faced in the battle?

Q#12 – What Union general’s military actions in June/July 1861 eventually secured West Virginia’s entry into the Union?

Q#13 – At the Battle of First Bull Run, each side had an army of about 35,000 men. However, not all these were actually engaged in the fighting. Approximately the same number of soldiers on each side was actually involved in combat. What was the number?

Q#14 – During the Battle of First Bull Run, what was the name of the Confederate general who gave Thomas Jackson his name of “Stonewall”?

Q#15 – What were the approximate total number of casualties for both Union and Confederate forces at the Battle of First Bull Run?

Meeting of July 26, 2016

Bob Burch on “Californian U.S. Volunteer Units, Part 3: Infantry”

This is the fourth of a twelve-part series on California and the American Civil War, and the third on the state’s Volunteer Regiments. The first regimental presentation provided an overview of the mustering process used by Union states to generate new regiments with an emphasis on its application in California. The second presentation focused on the two California volunteer cavalry regiments and one battalion. The third presentation will highlight the Infantry regiments.

California contributed eight infantry regiments and several battalions to the Union war effort. Time prevents discussion of each of the eight infantry regiments. However, the breadth of the California Infantry experience can be gleaned by concentrating on the first four regiments. Each unit history includes a historical summary, commander’s biography, and map detailing duty locations. These soldiers served across the entire Western United States from Idaho to Arizona Territories, and as far east as Wyoming Territory and Texas. They checked Secessionist activities in southern California, repelled a Confederate invasion of New Mexico, protected mail routes across the West, and conducted numerous campaigns against hostile Indians, including the famous Battle of Apache Pass. Also discussed is the authorized, but never organized, 9th California Infantry Regiment intended for a possible war with France in 1865.

Drawing from extensive original and secondary historical sources and photographs, Bob’s presentation provides the most exhaustive history of these regiments available. This presentation will put to rest the notion that California did not actively participate in the Union war effort and highlight the contributions of the Californians Volunteers.

Bob Burch is a native Californian, born and raised in Santa Clara County. He is also a lifetime student of the Civil War. He had the opportunity to visit many Civil War sites from Florida to Pennsylvania to New Mexico during his 30 year military career. Like many California CWRT members, he desires to understand his home state’s role in the war. He started collecting material for this presentation ten years ago and initiated a serious study 15 months ago. This series documents his research in great detail. Time allows only a few key points from each slide to be presented. Numerous period photographs and magazine drawings are included for visual effect with the intent of comprehending California’s role in the Civil War.

Meeting Minutes July 2016