Meeting of February 27, 2018

Join us at 7 PM, February 27, 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 K. Adams on “The 2nd Minnesota in the Western Theater”

Nick K. Adams, great-great-grandson of Cpl. David Brainard Griffin, will describe the organization of, and first two years of action of the 2nd Minnesota Regiment of Volunteers in the Western Theater. His compelling presentation will be personalized by selected readings from the 100 letters Griffin wrote back to his young family on the Minnesota prairie prior to his death at the Battle of Chickamauga.

Those letters have been published as My Dear Wife and Children: Civil War Letters from a 2nd Minnesota Volunteer. A companion novel that tells the home front story of the family’s difficult struggle to survive while Griffin was gone has recently been published as Away at War: A Civil War Novel of the Family Left Behind. Autographed copies of both books will be available for purchase at the meeting.

Nick K. Adams grew up in Los Angeles County and now resides in Tacoma, WA, having retired from a career in elementary education. He has followed a life-long passion of interest in the American Civil War after learning of his own g-g-grandfather’s participation and sacrifice in that pivotal period. He continues to speak at schools, libraries, service clubs, and Civil War Round Tables, and is an avid Civil War re-enactor in his portrayal of Minnesota’s 1861 Governor Alexander Ramsey who sent his grandfather into the conflict to preserve the Union.

Quiz for February 27, 2018

Civil War Quiz: Little Known Facts About the Civil War

Q#1 – Approximately what percent of the soldiers who fought for the Union Army were immigrants?

Q#2 – When black soldiers began signing up with the Union Army in early 1863, why did they refuse their salaries for 18 months?

Q#3 – True or False: Was there more than one attempt to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln?

Q#4 – Both before and during the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln advocated a policy called colonization – what was this policy all about?

Q#5 – In 1863, what justification did the United States Government use to confiscate Robert E. Lee’s Virginia estate and turn it into a cemetery?

Q#6 – During the Civil War, there were two prominent individuals named Jefferson Davis. One was the president of the Confederate States of America. Who was the other?

Q#7 – Stonewall Jackson was a well known hypochondriac. Often, Jackson thought himself “out of balance.” What physical action did Jackson perform, even under fire, to counteract this perceived medical malady?

Q#8 – Stonewall Jackson also suffered from poor eyesight. What action did he perform to attempt to improve his vision?

Q#9 – After President Abraham Lincoln died on April 15, 1865, what unusual item was found in his leather wallet??

Q#10 – Daniel Emmett, a loyal Unionist who in the 1850s was the composer of the song “Dixie,” became disgusted by the song’s popularity in the South after the Civil War began. How did President Abraham Lincoln characterize the song “Dixie”?

Q#11 – What was the original name of the holiday that is now known as Memorial Day?

Q#12 – What were the names of the seven future U.S. presidents who served in the Civil War?

Q#13 – At the Battle of Gettysburg, which Confederate unit suffered the worst regimental losses in a single battle: 708 of 800 killed, wounded, or missing?

Q#14 – Horses and other draft animals had about a 7-month life expectancy during the Civil War. Approximately how many horses died during the war?

Q#15 – What happened to President Lincoln’s personal copy of the Emancipation Proclamation?

Meeting of March 27, 2018

Join us at 7 PM, March 27, 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

Robert Burch on “California in the Civil War: Securing the State in 1861″

California’s involvement in the American Civil War remains one of the great hidden facets of that conflict. One subject never explored by Civil War historians are the military operations within the state. Despite public expression of hope and confidence, doubt existed among senior Unionist politicians and U.S. Army officer’s regarding the prospects of preserving California in the Union in April 1861. Yet eight months later California was secured Union state after bold use of very limited Federal military resources and emergence of pro-Unionist Governor Leland Stanford.

The internal state Secessionist and external Confederate threat to California was real. Three lines of effort were developed to achieve their goal. Secessionists politically advocated a ballot referendum proposing to secede California from the Union and establish the “Republic of the Pacific” with intend of ultimately joining the Confederacy. At the same time, they militarily pursued raising a Secessionist Army to seize state by force. Externally the Confederate Army in Texas proposed capturing Southwest U.S. with assistance from California, Nevada and Arizona volunteers (the New Mexico Campaign, discussed in a later presentation).

This presentation describes this threat and the Union response. It is the product of original research that drew on multiple original and secondary sources, principally the Official Records and various secondary local history articles. This story is described in rough chronological order:

  • Non-Military Actions Laying Foundation for Bloodless Military Victory
  • U.S. Army Secured San Francisco
  • U.S. Army Secured Los Angeles & San Diego
  • U.S. Army Secured San Bernardino
  • California Volunteers Relieved Regular Army Units
  • California Volunteers Secured Southern California
  • Measurement of Success – Capture of Daniel Showalter

What is the so what? It’s relevance. First, how state politicians and U.S. Army leaders secured California for the Union in 1861 offers insight into a successful counter-insurgency operation. Secondly, unlike similar situations in the Border States during the Civil War, and the nation as a whole, this success was without bloodshed or lingering, deep division among the civil population. Finally, the state “economic boom” resulting from the Federal government’s appreciation to California for its loyalty after the war is still attracting immigrants to California over 150 years later.

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 of April 24, 2018

Join us at 7 PM, April 24, 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

Tom Roza presents the DVD “History Channel/Civil War Journal: West Point Classmates – Civil War Enemies”

The Presentation: “Civil War Journal” is The History Channel’s series that chronicles the happenings of the American Civil War through the memoirs of those who took place in it.

The episode entitled “West Point Classmates – Civil War Enemies” focuses on the story of a special fraternity of men who attended the US Military Academy at West Point in the years leading up to the start of the Civil War. The program features such Civil War notables as: Robert E Lee, Ulysses Grant, Stonewall Jackson, William Sherman, Jefferson Davis, and George Pickett among others some of whom while cadets at West Point, became close friends and comrades, but often ended up facing each other on the battlefield.

This 43-minute program effectively communicates how West Point training influenced the eventual outcome of the war and how the camaraderie and relationships that were fostered at West Point in the end were instrumental in how the war ended.

The Presenter: Tom Roza has been a student of history in general for the past 60+ years and became an avid historian of the American Civil War beginning in 1961 during the 100 year Centennial of that great conflict. Tom’s professional career spanned 48 years in the field of Information Technology until he retired from in 2013.

During over five decades of studying the Civil War, Tom’s main interest has primarily focused on the human interest aspects of the people involved and affected by that event. Tom’s recently published novel, “Windows to the Past – A Virginian’s Experience in the Civil War” effectively examines and portrays the impact on everyday people living in the South of the political, social, and economic factors that first led to secession, then Civil War.

Tom has been a member of the South Bay Civil War Roundtable organization since 2008 and is currently an officer and Secretary for that organization. Tom has made numerous presentations to both his Roundtable organization and other organizations on topics such as: Confederate Cavalry Generals Nathan Bedford Forrest and Jeb Stuart, Union Cavalry General John Buford, and Union Infantry Generals Winfield Scott and Robert Gould Shaw.

Meeting of January 30, 2018

Abby Eller on “The History in Historic Union Cemetery in Redwood City”

A quarter century ago, Jean Cloud in Redwood City led a coalition of concerned citizens who fought hard and succeeded in saving Historic Union Cemetery from being lost forever to demolition and commercial development. What was so important about this cemetery?

Abby Eller will share some of the many stories that Historic Union Cemetery has to tell us. You’ll find out why Redwood City is called that and why it was originally called Mezesville.

Why the Grand Army of the Republic was so important to Union Civil War Veterans, and what made their burial plot in Union Cemetery distinctive. You’ll hear the story of the woman who served as national president of a nationwide organization dedicated to serving Union Civil War veterans and their families.

Last but not least, you might be curious as to why Union Cemetery is called that? So, please come to hear about these…and some more stories as well!

Abby Eller has been an American history buff ever since high school. Abby is particularly interested in exploring Civil War history, since the Civil War and aftermath was truly the beginning of modern America. So, Abby joined the Redwood City Civil War Round Table in July this year. She has been a member since 2013 of Historic Union Cemetery Association based in Redwood City. Abby and her husband Dave live in Menlo Park.

Meeting Minutes January 2018

Quiz for January 30, 2018

Civil War Quiz: What Do You Know About Confederate Government?

Q#1 – What was the motto adopted by the Confederate Congress for the Confederacy?

Q#2 – There were no official Confederate National Anthems. However, there was an unofficial anthem – what was it?

Q#3 – What was the Provisional Confederate Congress?

Q#4 – The Confederate Congress was modeled after the United States Congress with both a House of Representatives and a Senate. How many Senators and Representatives were there?

Q#5 – The Preamble to the US Constitution begins with the phrase “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union…” What was the opening phrase of the Confederate Preamble that signified the stark difference in governmental philosophy?

Q#6 – How many articles were contained in the Confederate States Constitution? How many amendments were added?

Q#7 – In addition to the President and Vice President, what were the names of the other Confederate Cabinet Offices?

Q#8 – During the course of the Civil War, which Confederate Cabinet Offices did Judah P. Benjamin hold?

Q#9 – What famous American historical figure is on the Great Seal of the Confederate States of America?

Q#10 – The First Confederate Congress did not meet on a continuous basis. How many sessions did it hold?

Q#11 – What was the name of the politician who fulfilled the role of President of the Confederate Senate?

Q#12 – How were Confederate Senators determined?

Q#13 – In the Confederate Congress, there were three regions that were represented by non voting members of the House of Representatives. What were the names of those regions?

Q#14 – What was the name of the politician who was Speaker of the Confederate House of Representatives for the Second Confederate Congress that began session in May, 1864?

Q#15 – What was the date of the last session of the Second Confederate Congress?

Meeting of November 28, 2017

Tom McMahon on “Civil War Statues in Southern States”

Tom briefly concluded his presentation on the battle of Monocacy from the October meeting. He then introduced the subject of Civil War Statues in Southern States, Their Removal and/or Preservation. Tom has gathered information, particularly of a psychological nature, and welcomed audience input.

Tom is a third generation San Franciscan whose ancestral people came from the devastating Irish Potato Famine in the mid 1800s, miners who never set roots on the East Coast, settling in Butte, Montana, Virginia City, Nevada, and San Francisco. One great grandmother is said to have traveled by boat to the Isthmus of Panama, crossing by donkey, and sailing to the City by the Bay around 1856. The closest any of Tom’s relatives came to the American Civil War was Grandpa Alexander John McMahon’s mining much coveted silver in the Comstock mines of Virginia City, where Tom’s father was born in 1881. Maternal grandfather James Bresnahan was born in San Francisco in 1866, five years after the fall of Fort Sumter and a year after the aassassination of President Lincoln. Unfortunately none of these pioneer people were alive when Tom was born on November 16, 1928. There was once a day when Tom used this historical background with ease, yet now approaching 89 relies on a dimming memory, research, and carefully prepared written notes.

Tom has worn a variety of hats in a rich, happy, and varied life, married 40 years to Elaine with two sons and five grandchildren who live in San Bruno and Santa Clara. Best described as teacher, this talent has permeated 26 years of Catholic priesthood that includes being a commissioned officer chaplain in the U.S. Army, 70 years of kindergarten, grade, high school, college, and adult education of self and others. In 1977 Tom was licensed by the State of California as a mental health therapist working mainly with teens who had run away from home in a decades long study of the changing American family, nationwide as well as local. Tom has written weekly for 11 years a worldwide internet column out of Sydney, Australia, on religion and spirituality in the age of modern technology.

Meeting Minutes November 2017

Meeting of October 24, 2017

Tom McMahon on “The Battle of Monocacy”

Along with the help of fellow member Rene Arcornero, Tom sought audience participation to investigate the Battle of Monocacy, 1864, a local defeat for the Union Army that had tangible far reaching good results for the United States. The presentation will conclude in November.

Tom is a third generation San Franciscan whose ancestral people came from the devastating Irish Potato Famine in the mid 1800s, miners who never set roots on the East Coast, settling in Butte, Montana, Virginia City, Nevada, and San Francisco. One great grandmother is said to have traveled by boat to the Isthmus of Panama, crossing by donkey, and sailing to the City by the Bay around 1856. The closest any of Tom’s relatives came to the American Civil War was Grandpa Alexander John McMahon’s mining much coveted silver in the Comstock mines of Virginia City, where Tom’s father was born in 1881. Maternal grandfather James Bresnahan was born in San Francisco in 1866, five years after the fall of Fort Sumter and a year after the aassassination of President Lincoln. Unfortunately none of these pioneer people were alive when Tom was born on November 16, 1928. There was once a day when Tom used this historical background with ease, yet now approaching 89 relies on a dimming memory, research, and carefully prepared written notes.

Tom has worn a variety of hats in a rich, happy, and varied life, married 40 years to Elaine with two sons and five grandchildren who live in San Bruno and Santa Clara. Best described as teacher, this talent has permeated 26 years of Catholic priesthood that includes being a commissioned officer chaplain in the U.S. Army, 70 years of kindergarten, grade, high school, college, and adult education of self and others. In 1977 Tom was licensed by the State of California as a mental health therapist working mainly with teens who had run away from home in a decades long study of the changing American family, nationwide as well as local. Tom has written weekly for 11 years a worldwide internet column out of Sydney, Australia, on religion and spirituality in the age of modern technology.

Meeting Minutes October 2017

Quiz for October 24, 2017

The Civil War quiz for October has been postponed until the November meeting.

Civil War Quiz: What Do You Know About Events Leading up to the Civil War?

Q#1 – What were the names given to Article IV, Section 2, Clause 3 of the US Constitution that had an eventual effect on the Civil War?

Q#2 – What was the purpose of Fugitive Slave Act of 1793?

Q#3 – In 1807, Congress passed what law making the importing or exporting slaves a federal crime?

Q#4 – What was the objective of American Colonization Society that was established in 1816?

Q#5 – The Missouri Compromise of 1820 involved Missouri and what other state?

Q#6 – Why was the Tariff of 1828 called the “Tariff of Abominations” by its opponents in the South?

Q#7 – The 1830 Supreme Court ruling in the case North Carolina v. Mann had what effect on slave owners?

Q#8 – What was the name of the newspaper that Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison began publishing in 1831?

Q#9 – Who was Nat Turner and what event was he associated with?

Q#10 – The Compromise of 1850 was a package of five separate bills passed by the US Congress. What do many historians argue was the net effect of the Compromise?

Q#11 – Before it was published in book form, in 1851, where did Uncle Tom’s Cabin first appear for readers?

Q#12 – How did the 1853 Kansas–Nebraska Act affect where slavery would be allowed?

Q#13 – What act of violence occurred on May 22, 1856, in the US Senate?

Q#14 – What was the purpose of John Brown’s attack on the federal armory at Harpers Ferry in 1859?

Q#15 – In the presidential election of 1860, what were the names and political parties of the other candidates who ran against Abraham Lincoln?

Meeting of September 26, 2017

Jack Nakash and Marcelo Pontin on “Civil War Reenacting”

Jack Nakash and Marcelo Pontin, Civil War Living Historians and Reenactors, discussed their portrayals, equipment, and sources for reenacting the American Civil War.

Jack Nakash

Jack Nakash is a Civil War Reenactor/Living Historian who currently portrays a Confederate soldier in the 14th Tennessee Volunteer Infantry, Co. B. He returned to reenacting in 2016 but has done both Union and Confederate impressions for a combined twenty years. He is a member of the American Civil War Association and the National Civil War Association. Jack is a US Marine Corps Veteran, lives in San Jose, CA, and is a retail clerk. Jack has been interested in the American Civil War starting at a very young age, and has participated in numerous Civil War Reenactments both in California and back East. He is a devotee of the Civil War “common soldier” and the life and trials of that soldier.

Marcelo Pontin has been an Union Soldier Civil War Reenactor for the last three years in the 7th West Virginia Volunteer Infantry of the National Civil War Association and “represents” a Second Sergeant in that unit. He is a nine year veteran of both the United States Army and the Air National Guard in both Illinois and California. He currently lives in San Francisco, and is an engineer with AT&T. He also studies and lectures about history as a hobby.

Meeting Minutes September 2017