Meeting of January 29, 2019

Join us at 7 PM, January 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

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?

Meeting of March 26, 2019

Join us at 7 PM, March 26, 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 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.

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.

Meeting of November 27, 2018

Jim Rhetta on “Paying for the Civil War”

A very significant and invariably overlooked component to any conflict is that fact that it has to be paid for. Historian focus on tactical and strategic decisions and actions and commonly ignore the revenue sources necessary to maintain an effectively military force. Two examples will be presented of cases where Nations ran out of funds to continue a conflict, and the impacts of one to this day.

This presentation will cover how both sides funded their forces in the Civil War from the only three sources still available to nations today – Taxes, Bonds, and Printing Money. Both sides used a mix of these three sources in different ratios and faced social and economic limitations on how much could be extracted from each funding source. The amount of funds raised and management of the National economies involved had a strong correlation to the tactical results of the Civil War.

Meeting Minutes November 2018

Quiz for November 27, 2018

What Do You Know About Sherman’s March to the Sea?

Q#1 – Initially, Sherman’s March to the Sea had a more formal and official name; what was that name?

Q#2 – What was the primary objective that Grant & Sherman hoped to accomplish with Sherman’s March to the Sea?

Q#3 – The terrain of southeastern Georgia between Atlanta and Savannah was swampy and criss-crossed with numerous rivers and streams. What was the name of the man who was Sherman’s Chief of the Bridge Building Team?

Q#4 – For the campaign, Sherman’s force consisted of 62,000 men: 55,000 infantry, 5,000 cavalry, and 2,000 artillerymen manning 64 guns. What marching formation did Sherman establish for his troops?

Q#5 – Confederate John Bell Hood had taken the bulk of his forces in Georgia on his campaign to Tennessee in hopes of diverting Sherman to pursue him. What was Sherman quoted as saying in response to Hood’s maneuver?

Q#6 – What was the name of the military unit that served as Sherman’s personal escort on the march?

Q#7 – The 300-mile march began on November 15. The first real Confederate resistance was felt by Union General Howard’s right wing on November 22. What was the name of this battle and the results?

Q#8 – In what order did Sherman align his troops as they marched through Georgia?

Q#9 – What orders did General Sherman give to his foragers?

Q#10 – Southern civilians with property in the line of march, before Union troops reached their properties attempted to hide their food and valuables. What two groups of people did the Union troops rely on to help them find these hidden items?

Q#11 – On the few occasions when Union foragers were captured by Confederate troops while they were taking goods from Southern citizens, what was usually their fate?

Q#12 – As Sherman’s march continued towards Savannah, they were joined by a group of approximately 25,000 people. Who were these people?

Q#13 – On December 8, 1864, what tragic incident occurred at a place called Ebeneezer Creek located about 20 miles north of the city of Savannah?

Q#14 – When Sherman’s armies reached the outskirts of Savannah on December 10, what actions did they find that Confederate General William Hardee had performed which blocked Sherman from linking up with the U.S. Navy as he had planned?

Q#15 – On December 17, 1864, Sherman sent a note to Confederate General Hardee demanding the surrender of the city of Savannah. What were Hardee’s and the City of Savannah’s responses?

2018 West Coast Civil War Roundtable Conference

The Trans-Mississippi Theater: The Not So Glamorous Step-Sister of Civil War Historians

Hosted by the San Joaquin Valley CWRT and the Inland Empire CWRT

November 9–11, 2018: Wyndom Garden Hotel, Fresno, California

REGISTRATION FEE $200. For registration form & info see website: SJVCWRT2.com

Nov. 9 – 11, 2018 CONFERENCE SCHEDULE

FRIDAY
4:00–REGISTRATION BEGINS
5:00-5:45–SOCIAL HOUR
5:45—6:45- DINNER (President’s Welcome, Invocation)
7:00—INTRODUCTION TO THE TRANS-MISSISSIPPI THEATER: Ron Vaughan
7:30 -8:00—TRANS-MISSISSIPPI COMMAND OVERVIEW: THOMAS CUTRER
8:00 –9:00– RED RIVER CAMPAIGN: Parker Hill

SATURDAY
8:00-8:50–: SECESSION CRISIS IN THE TRANS-MISSISSIPPI: Jim Stanberry
9:00-9:50: BATTLE OF WILSON’S CREEK: Richard Hatcher III
10: BREAK
10:15-11:10– SIBLEY’S CAMPAIGN: Thomas Cutrer
11:15-11:45– CALIFORNIA IN THE CW: Ron Vaughan
LUNCH– 11:45—1:00
1:00-1:50– BATTLE OF PEA RIDGE: Richard Hatcher III
2:00-2:50– BATTLE OF PRAIRIE GROVE: Ron Vaughan
3:00 BREAK
DINNER 4:45 – 5:45
5:45—6: JERRY RUSSEL AWARD
6:00-6:50– PRICE’S 1864 RAID: Thomas Cutrer
7:00-7:50— STEEL’S CAMPAIGN: Parker Hills
8:00–RAFFLE

SUNDAY
8:30-9:20– NATIVE AMERICANS IN THE CIVIL WAR : Jim Stanbery
9:30-10:00– MEDICAL CARE IN THE T.M.: Brian Clague
10:00-10:30– BATTLEFIELD ARCHEOLOGY: Parker Hills
10:30-10:45– SJVCWRT DONATIONS TO RAYMOND BATTLEFIELD: Mike Green
10:45-10:50– BREAK
10:50-11:45–

Meeting of October 30, 2018

Robert Burch on “California in the Civil War: Defending the State 1861–1865″

Wartime photo of Camp Babbitt at Visalia, an alleged center of Confederate partisan activities

California’s involvement in the American Civil War remains one of the great hidden facets of that conflict. Many amateur historians and journalists in recent years have published articles in magazines or on the Internet discussing alleged Civil War events across California between 1862 and 1865. This presentation combines all documented events into one forum for a clear, concise and complete operational picture of what happened within the state during the last four years of the war. In hindsight, none of these events has any connection with the war. However, at that time they were so considered and reflect California’s involvement in the great struggle to preserve the Union. The story ends with the post-war return of Regular Army regiments.

The U.S. Army transitioned from combat to stability operations upon successfully securing the state for the Union in late 1861. The Army also transferred operational responsibly at the military district level to various California Volunteer regiments. These units conducted what we today call “military support to civil authority.” These ranged from operations against hostile Indian “war bands” to assistance to local law enforcement to counter common criminal gangs disguised as partisans. Concurrently the state militia supported local law enforcement agencies in some of the “California Squatter Wars” during this period. This story is presented in rough chronological order:

  • Background – Military Situation in January 1862
  • Events Shift North
  • San Jose, Healdsburg and Vallejo
  • Bald Hills Indian War (Omitted)
  • Owens Valley Indian War (Omitted)
  • Northeast California Indian Wars (Omitted)
  • Visalia
  • Santa Clara County
  • Preparation for War with France (Omitted)
  • Victory: End of California Secessionism & Return of Regular Army

This presentation omits discussion of the various Indian Wars and preparation for war with France to focus on alleged Civil War-related events. Omitted parts are part of the California wartime experience, but excluded due to time constraint. They are listed above simply to offer a complete outline of wartime military events within the state during the war.

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 October 2018

Quiz for October 30, 2018

Civil War Quiz: Do You Know Who These Civil War Generals Are?

Q#1 – Before the Civil War, this Union general was the Speaker of the House in the US House of Representatives. What’s his name?

Q#2 – This Confederate general gave Thomas J. Jackson his nickname of “Stonewall”. What’s his name?

Q#3 – This Union general commanded the Army of the Ohio at the Battle of Shiloh in 1862. What’s his name?

Q#4 – At the Battle of Gettysburg, this Confederate general was captured by a Union soldier, Private Patrick Maloney of the 2nd Wisconsin, where he was taken behind enemy lines and briefly met an old colleague, Union General Abner Doubleday. This Confederate became the first general officer to be taken captive from the Army of Northern Virginia since General Lee assumed command. What’s his name?

Q#5 – This Union general fought in the Seven Days Battles at Gaines’ Mill on June 27, 1862, where he was wounded but demonstrated the bravery that was eventually recognized in 1892 with the Medal of Honor. What’s his name?

Q#6 – Before the Civil War, this Confederate general who was born in Ireland enlisted in the 41st Regiment of Foot of the British Army. During his three years there, he subsequently rose to the rank of corporal. What’s his name?

Q#7 – This Union general requested reassignment after quarreling with General Joe Hooker after the Battle of Chancellorsville. He then commanded the newly created Department of the Susquehanna during the Gettysburg Campaign in 1863. What’s his name?

Q#8 – Before the Civil War, this Confederate general was a member of the Whig political party and strongly opposed secession at the April 1861 Virginia convention. However, he was soon roused by the actions of the Federal government when President Abraham Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to suppress the rebellion. What’s his name?

Q#9 – After the Civil War, this Union general was elected as the 20th President of the United States in 1881 and became the second president to die by assassination. What’s his name?

Q#10 – This Confederate general was court-martialed by Stonewall Jackson for his actions in command of the Stonewall Brigade at the First Battle of Kernstown, and was subsequently killed during Pickett’s Charge at the Battle of Gettysburg. What’s his name?

Q#11 – This Union general led the XX Corps competently in the 1864 Atlanta Campaign under Sherman, but asked to be relieved before the capture of the city because of his dissatisfaction with the promotion of Maj. Gen. Oliver O. Howard to command of the Army of the Tennessee, upon the death of Maj. Gen. James B. McPherson. This general had seniority over Howard. What’s his name?

Q#12 – This Confederate general’s first field assignment was commanding Confederate forces in western Virginia, where he was defeated at the Battle of Cheat Mountain and was widely blamed for Confederate setbacks. He was then sent to organize the coastal defenses along the Carolina and Georgia seaboard and appointed commander, “Department of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida” on November 5, 1861. What’s his name?

Q#13 – This Union general on November 25, 1862, was arrested and court-martialed for his actions at Second Bull Run. By this time, McClellan had been relieved by President Abraham Lincoln and could not provide political cover for this general who was McClellan’s protégé. This Union General’s association with the disgraced McClellan and his open criticism of Union General Pope were significant reasons for his conviction at court-martial where he was found guilty on January 10, 1863, of disobedience and misconduct, and was dismissed from the Army on January 21, 1863. What’s his name?

Q#14 – This Confederate general was the son-in-law of Union Brigadier General Philip St. George Cooke. Also, the general’s wife’s brother was John Rogers Cooke. What’s his name?

Q#15 – On October 16, 1863, this Union general was assigned command of the newly formed Division of the Mississippi, including the Armies of the Ohio, Tennessee, and Cumberland. His first order was to put General George Thomas in charge of rescuing the Army of the Cumberland, which had retreated into Chattanooga where they were trapped. What’s his name?

Meeting of September 25, 2018

Abby Eller on “The Destruction of Slavery During the Civil War”

At the outbreak of the Civil War, as Southern white men went off to fight, everyone knew they could count on the labor and loyalty of their slaves back home. Or could they?

Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation has been criticized for only freeing the slaves in the rebel states but not in the loyal states. It is said, it did not really free any slaves at all. Or … did it? Would it surprise you to know that tens of thousands of slaves were already emancipated before the Emancipation Proclamation?

Abby’s talk will cover the fascinating story behind the demise of slavery during the Civil War, and how decisive this was to the war’s outcome.

Meeting Minutes September 2018