Meeting of April 30, 2019

Join us at 7 PM, April 30, 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

Nick Adams on “A Civil War Story of the Family Left Behind”

What was the Civil War like for the families of those who chose to fight?

Nick Adams will be telling one such story in a thematic outline of his new book: Away at War: A Civil War Story of the Family Left Behind. This will be a follow-up to his presentation last year which focused on the 100 letters his great-great-grandfather wrote back from the Western Theater battlefields (My Dear Wife and Children: Civil War Letters from a 2nd Minnesota Volunteer).

He will share with us the terrible impact, the pain and anxiety, and the untold suffering war can cause the families of soldiers. With the winter of 1861 approaching, Minerva Griffin and her three young children are alone on the Minnesota prairie, for the husband and father of the family has left them for the fight to preserve the Union. She is now responsible for preserving both farm and family for his hoped-for eventual return. It is a true tale, developed from his letters home, of the difficult struggle to survive experienced by those left behind.

Nick Adams

Nick Adams’s passion for the American Civil War began at the age of nine, when his mother first told him about her great-grandfather, David Brainard Griffin, who had fought with the 2nd Minnesota Regiment of Volunteers, and had been killed at the Battle of Chickamauga. What she didn’t tell him about at that time was the 100 preserved letters he had written back to his young family on the Minnesota prairie … because she didn’t know about them, for they had been passed down in another branch of the family. When they were finally shared with her some forty years ago, she was permitted to make a single copy, which she graciously gave to Nick because she knew of his life-long interest. The originals are presumed no longer to survive, but his copies have been deposited with the Minnesota Historical Society.

Following post-graduate studies in Church History (Abilene Christian) and Sociology of Religion (University of Iowa), Nick spent 30 years in Pastoral Ministry and Social Justice, then returned to teaching, this time at the Elementary School level, and completed 20 years in the classroom. It was during those classroom years that the letters were given to him. By reading his personal account of involvement in the conflict, they became the perfect instrument for creating student interest in the period.

Since retirement, Nick has authored three books about the letters. Last spring he presented to our roundtable his story, as related in the letters (My Dear Wife and Children: Civil War Letters from a 2nd Minnesota Volunteer). This year he will tell his family’s story: Away at War: A Civil War Story of the Family Left Behind.

Quiz for April 30, 2019

Civil War Quiz: What Do You Know About the Funeral and Burial of Abraham Lincoln?

Q#1 – After being assassinated, where was Lincoln’s body first laid in state?

Q#2 – A catafalque was hastily constructed to support the casket of Abraham Lincoln while the president’s body lay in state in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, DC. What happened to that catafalque after Lincoln’s body was removed?

Q#3 – At the funeral service in Washington DC, who offered the sermon and also a prayer and benediction, which moved many listeners to tears?

Q#4 – Lincoln was laid in State in 12 locations; which two locations that were located in the same state are missing from this list: Washington, DC, Baltimore, MD, Harrisburg, PA, Philadelphia, PA, New York City, Albany, NY, Buffalo, NY, Indianapolis, IN, Chicago, IL, and Springfield, IL?

Q#5 – What name was given to Lincoln’s funeral train which had his portrait fastened to the front of the engine above the cattle guard?

Q#6 – What was the purpose of the pilot train that preceded Lincoln’s funeral train?

Q#7 – Why did Lincoln’s funeral train take the 1654 mile route that it did?

Q#8 – Why was Lincoln’s funeral train limited to 20 miles an hour?

Q#9 – In addition to Lincoln’s body, there was a second body on the funeral train; whose body was it?

Q#10 – Why did Lincoln’s wife Mary Todd Lincoln remain at the White House and not travel on the funeral train?

Q#11 – The funeral procession in New York City had the most number of horses of all the processions used to draw Lincoln’s hearse – how many horses were used?

Q#12 – During Lincoln’s funeral procession in New York City, what future US President watched the procession with his grandfather?

Q#13 – What was the name of the cemetery in Springfield, IL, where Lincoln was interred?

Q#14 – What happened to the railroad car that so famously carried Lincoln’s body to its final resting place?

Q#15 – In November 1876, why did Chicago counterfeiter James “Big Jim” Kennally plan to steal Lincoln’s body?

2019 West Coast Civil War Conference: Civil War Leadership, 1861-1865

November 8–10, 2019, Crowne Plaza Hotel, Sacramento, Sponsored by Sacramento Civil War Round Table

Our Speakers are:

  • Chris Mackowski: A Professor of Journalism and Mass Communication at Saint Bonaventure University, and the author of more than 10 books. He works with the National Parks Service and is the founder of the Emerging Civil War Blog.
  • David A. Powell: A Vice-President of Airsped, Inc., a delivery firm. He has published many articles in magazines & historical simulations of different battles. He specializes and leads tours on the Battle of Chickamauga.
  • Sarah Kay Bierle: A Managing Editor for Emerging Civil War’s Blog. She has spent the last few years researching. writing, and speaking across the country about the American Civil War.
  • Paul Kahan: An expert on the political, diplomatic, and economic history of the United States in the nineteenth century. Dr. Kahan has published several books and is a former resident of Sacramento.
  • Jim Stanbery: A retired Professor of Political Science and History at Los Angeles Harbor College, and speaker at the West Coast Civil War Conference for more than thirty years. He is a frequent CWRT speaker.
  • Theodore P. Savas: An attorney, adjunct college instructor, award-winning author, and Partner and Managing Director of Savas Beatie LLC. He specializes in military history and the American Civil War.
  • Edwin L. Kennedy Jr.: A graduate of West Point and former Professor of the U.S. Army Command & General Staff College History Department & Combat Studies. He is the leader of staff rides, including the Battle of Chickamauga.

The Conference cost is $200 per person, which includes Friday dinner, Saturday lunch and dinner, as well as all sessions. A full hotel breakfast buffet is included for guests staying at the hotel. Partial day attendance: Friday Only is $50; Saturday Only is $125; Saturday Dinner and Lecture Only is $50; Sunday Only is $25. There will be a no-host bar set-up Friday and Saturday evenings for your enjoyment before dinner.

Download the flyer and registration form.

For more information, contact Paul Ruud at 530-886-8806.

Room reservations are available by calling the Crowne Plaza Hotel directly at 877-504-0054 or online at www.crowneplaza.com. The hotel has rooms set aside for us at $139 per night, plus tax. Please mention the Conference.

Meeting of May 28, 2019

Join us at 7 PM, May 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

Libra Hilde on “African American Soldiers and the Civil War”

The talk explores the recruitment of African American men into the Union Army, their motivations for fighting, who fought, treatment and experiences in the army, and exemplary service. Although the talk given by Dr. Hilde in her university class only considers African American soldiers in the Union, she hopes to add information on the proposed recruitment of enslaved men into the Confederate Army, a plan that never came to fruition (the war was essentially over) and did not have the support of slaveholders.

Dr. Libra Hilde is a professor in History at San Jose State University. She received her Ph.D. at Harvard University in 2003. While she teaches a broad array of undergraduate and graduate courses, her research focuses on race and gender in the 19th century U.S., with a particular emphasis on the Civil War and slavery.

Meeting of March 26, 2019

Tom Roza on “American Revolution vs. the Civil War: Similarities and Differences”

The two most momentous events in the history of the United States of America occurred less than a century apart; the Revolutionary War occurred in 1775-1783 and the Civil War in 1861-1865. The objective of the Revolutionary War was to create United States of America; the objective of the Civil War was to preserve it. Being a student of history for over 60 years and having conducted extensive research into the root causes for each of these two conflicts, there are numerous social, economic, and political similarities – as well as some differences.

From a high level, people living in the Thirteen Colonies, because of the vast geographical distance from England and Europe in general, and the mixing of different ethnic cultures, with each passing day, were drifting further apart from their European ancestors. In the United States, the North had become more urban, industrialized, and its citizens were more migrant that produced a philosophy that America was a “Union of States”. Conversely, the South was more rural, agrarian, and its population was more sedentary; generation after generation grew up and lived in the same towns and counties; that produced a philosophy that America was a “Collection of Independent States”.

From a social perspective for the period leading up to the Revolutionary War, while most of the people living in the thirteen colonies were of English ancestry, cohabitating with other European ethnic groups as well as being in close proximity to Native American Indians produced a vastly different set of values from those living in England and other European countries. The American colonists saw themselves as more independent and were creating a more homogenous society. For the period leading up to the Civil War, American citizens living in the North had retained that homogenous society perspective that resulted in a more inclusive citizenry. American citizens living in the South sociologically had evolved into a more exclusive society that supported slavery and viewed non-Caucasians and those from non-Protestant religions as foreigners.

From an economic perspective, the British Parliament used its power to impose numerous trade tariffs, barriers and regulations that retarded the economic growth of the colonies. Similarly, the United States Congress imposed numerous trade tariffs, barriers, and regulations that retarded the economic growth of the Southern States.

From a political perspective, the thirteen colonies had no representation in Parliament and were denied the same individual rights that were granted to citizens living in England. With the abolitionist movement in the North attempting to prevent slavery from being allowed in the new states being formed in the western territories, Southerners feared they would lose political power in Congress that would both perpetuate the imposition of unfair economic laws but also eventually result in the abolition of slavery throughout the United States.

The presentation “American Revolution vs. the Civil War: Similarities and Differences” takes in-depth look at these two momentous events.

Tom Roza has been a student of history for over 60 years. His interest in both the Revolutionary War and the Civil War began with his elementary education in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and has evolved ever since. As an officer and the Secretary of the South Bay Civil War Roundtable, Tom has made numerous presentations on the topic of the Civil War to both his roundtable organization and other historical organizations in the Bay Area. Tom is also a published author of the book entitled Windows to the Past: A Virginian’s Experience in the Civil War, which has been accepted by the Library of Congress into its catalog. Tom is currently working on a sequel.

Quiz for March 26, 2019

Civil War Quiz: What Do You Know About Foreign Involvement in the Civil War?

Q#1 – Why were the vast majority of European nations extremely cautious when dealing with the United States of America during the Civil War, usually attempting to remain neutral during its duration?

Q#2 – What global decree did the United States Government issue at the beginning of the Civil War?

Q#3 – What was the main reason behind Great Britain’s considering to become involved in the American Civil War?

Q#4 – On May 13, 1861, what proclamation was issued by Great Britain’s Queen Victoria regarding the American Civil War?

Q#5 – Where was a vast majority of the Confederate Navy built?

Q#6 – During the early period of the Civil War, there was increasing sentiment for Great Britain to join the American Civil War in favor of the Confederate States of America. What event prevented this?

Q#7 – What action did the Confederate government threatened England and France with if they did not assist them in the war?

Q#8 – What was the official position of France regarding any possible involvement in the Civil War?

Q#9 – Why did many French industrialists and politicians wish for a quick Confederate victory?

Q#10 – Under the orders of Emperor Napoleon III, French troops landed in Mexico in December 1861 for trade and plans of a transoceanic canal. What was the position of the Federal government regarding the French action? What was the position of the Confederate government regarding the French action?

Q#11 – What deal did the Confederate delegate in Paris, John Slidell, offer to Napoleon III in exchange for French recognition of the Confederate States and naval help sent to break the blockade?

Q#12 – The Confederate delegate John Slidell succeeded in negotiating a loan of $15,000,000 that was used to buy ironclad warships as well as military supplies that came in by blockade runners. Who loaned the Confederacy the money?

Q#13 – What was the name of the ironclad that in keeping with its official neutrality, the French government blocked the sale of to the Confederacy in February 1864?

Q#14 – Czarist Russia initially showed support for the North. What military action did they perform in support of the Northern war effort?

Q#15 – What action did the Federal government attempt to pursue that involved the Netherlands?

Meeting of February 26, 2019

Mike MacDonald on “Civil War Swords”

Mike McDonald is a sword collector with over 200 in his collection. He will cover the different sword patterns, designs, and manufactures of the Civil War era. The foreign influence on US sword designs was strong and due to a continuous shortage, foreign manufacturers supplied many of the swords used on both sides in the conflict. Although they accounted for a very small percentage of casualties, they were a highly visible item in the war due to regulations that officers carry them as a symbol of rank and authority.

Quiz for February 26, 2019

Civil War Quiz: What Do You Know About the Causes for the Civil War Other Than Slavery?

Q#1 – Historically, why did southern slave-holding states have little perceived need for industrialized mechanization?

Q#2 – Why were the Northern states generally opposed to the South’s right to sell cotton and purchase manufactured goods from any nation?

Q#3 – When the Southerners Democrats controlled Congress in the 1830s, 1840s, and 1850s, what legislative actions did they take to favor the Southern economy?

Q#4 – In the 1850s, what legislative actions did the Republican-controlled Congress take to protect Northern industrial interests?

Q#5 – What was the constitutional rationale the South argued to support a state’s right to secede?

Q#6 – What was the Northern response to the Southern rationale that each state had the right to leave the Union?

Q#7 – In the early 19th century, famous spokesmen such as Andrew Jackson and Daniel Webster were advocating what philosophy regarding the country?

Q#8 – As the 19th Century evolved and time passed, what philosophy regarding the country did Southerners hold?

Q#9 – What was the main reason most of America’s premier entrepreneurs such as Cornelius Vanderbilt and Samuel Colt based themselves in the North?

Q#10 – What action in 1832, where military action was threatened by the Federal government against South Carolina, helped to plant the initial seeds of secession?

Q#11 – What important factor was changing the political balance of power that increasingly was adversely affecting the South?

Q#12 – Why was the “American System” (which was an economic plan) advocated by Henry Clay in Congress and supported by many nationalist supporters, whose purpose was to develop American industry and international commerce, opposed by the South?

Q#13 – What was a mitigating social factor that pushed upper-class white Southerners to support secession from the Union and eventually Civil War?

Q#14 – What economic event occurred in 1857 that strengthened the Republican Party and heightened sectional tensions?

Q#15 – Thomas Prentice Kettell, former editor of the Democratic Review, in the late 1850s gathered an array of statistics published in his book on Southern Wealth and Northern Profits. What premise did Kettell’s book advance that convinced many Southerners their only option for economic fairness was secession?

Meeting of January 29, 2019

Jim Tortorici on “Federal Ironclads and Their Technology”

During the Civil War, the CSS Virginia, a captured and rebuilt Union steam frigate formerly known as the USS Merrimac,engaged the USS Monitor in the first battle between iron-fortified naval vessels in history. The ironclad warships proved their value in battle. No longer would wooden ships be viable in war. The battle had changed the course of naval warfare.

USS Cairo

The Union built a formidable force of river ironclads, beginning with several converted riverboats and then contracted engineer James Eads of St. Louis, Missouri, to build the City-class ironclads. These excellent ships were built with twin engines and a central paddle wheel, all protected by an armored casement. They had a shallow draft, allowing them to journey up smaller tributaries, and were very well suited for river operations. They were not as heavily armored as the ocean-going monitors of the Union, but they were adequate for their intended use. More Western Flotilla Union ironclads were sunk by torpedoes (mines) than by enemy fire, and the most damaging fire for the Union ironclads was from shore installations, not Confederate vessels.

Jim’s presentation will cover the armor, engine, and guns of the federal ironclads, focusing on the USS Cairo.

Jim Tortorici was born in 1946 in Chicago, IL. He spent much of his youth in Chicago and Westchester, IL, Ogden, UT, and moved to San Jose, CA, in 1960. He attended Campbell and Blackford High Schools graduating in 1964. In 1969, Jim graduated from San Jose State University with a BS in Industrial Arts specializing in Business and Industry. Jim received his MA in Industrial Technology in 1976 from San Jose State University.

Upon graduation from San Jose State University in 1969, Jim served on active duty for three years in the US Marine Corps and then entered the Reserves retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1995. Upon release from active duty, Jim was hired as a Design Draftsman in 1972 at Ford Motor Co in Milpitas, CA. In 1974 Jim was hired by IBM in San Jose retiring as an Advisory Engineer in 2001.

Jim has been married for 50 years to his wife Barbara. They have three children, eight grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.

Jim’s interest in ship modeling began in his youth building plastic and wood models. This interest broadened to flying scale model aircraft and scale model railroad trains as an adult. Later Jim began specializing in ship models with his affiliation with the South Bay Model Shipwrights Club. Some of his more detailed projects include the HMS Victory, HMS Halifax, the 1678 Grosse Jacht, the USS Monitor, and currently the USS Cairo.

Quiz for January 29, 2019

What Do You Know About Civil War Prisons and Prisoners?

Q#1 – In July 1862, Union & Confederate armies agreed to formalize the prisoner exchange system. What was the title of the agreement that was named for the two officers who developed it?

Q#2 – The formal prisoner exchange system established a scale of equivalents for the exchange of military officers and enlisted men. What was the scale for a navy captain or an army colonel versus army privates or ordinary seamen?

Q#3 – Did the formal exchange agreement include non-combatants?

Q#4 – What were the specifications that captives had to agree to before they were paroled or exchanged?

Q#5 – Why did the prisoner exchange system collapse in 1863?

Q#6 – Starting in 1863, how many Union soldiers were sent to Confederate prison camps? How many Confederate soldiers were sent to Union prison camps?

Q#7 – Starting in 1863, approximately how many Union soldiers died in Confederate prison camps? How many Confederate soldiers died in Union prison camps?

Q#8 – Which Union prison was sometimes described as “The North’s Andersonville”?

Q#9 – What was the official name assigned by the Confederacy to the prison located at Andersonville, Georgia?

Q#10 – Approximately how many Union prisoners were imprisoned at the Andersonville Prison?

Q#11 – Nearly 13,000 Union prisoners died at Andersonville. What were the three chief causes for the deaths?

Q#12 – What was the name of the Confederate prison where a majority of Union officer prisoners were incarcerated? Where was it located?

Q#13 – What was the name of the Confederate general who escaped from the Ohio Penitentiary in 1863?

Q#14 – What was the nickname Confederate prisoners gave to the prison located at Elmira, NY?

Q#15 – What was the name of the first Federal military installation seized forcefully by a Southern state government that eventually was used as a Confederate prison?