Meeting of August 20, 2016

Join us Saturday afternoon, 1–3 p.m. August 20, at our annual picnic meeting in San Jose. Contact Robert Burch, Rene Accornero, or Tom Roza for the meeting location and details; click the ABOUT US tab above for their contact information. This month’s topic is

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. This presentation will describe the Federal effort to build and operate a blockade force and the counter-efforts by blockade runners. It will also identify the blockade impacts that crippled the economy, restricted transportation, reduced military effectiveness, and lowered social morale in the Confederacy.

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 September 27, 2016

Join us at 7 PM, September 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

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

Aftermath of BattleMeg’s presentation is a book talk about The Aftermath of Battle, her volume in the Emerging Civil War series, published by Savas Beatie. She will present 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

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

Quiz for July 26, 2016

Civil War Quiz: Death in the Trenches, Petersburg 1864-65

Q#1 – What was name of the Union army commanded by General Butler that was located on Bermuda Hundred northeast of Petersburg?

Q#2 – What was the name of the battle fought on May 15, 1864, where Union general Butler’s army was defeated in its attempt on Richmond?

Q#3 – The Confederate fortifications at Petersburg proved formidable. What elements did these fortifications consist of?

Q#4 – On June 15, 1864, Union general William (Baldy) Smith broke through Confederate lines with a wide open road to capture Petersburg. Why did Smith halt his attack and lose this opportunity?

Q#5 – What was the name of the commander of the Irish Brigade who was killed in the June 16, 1864, Union attack on Confederate Redans 13, 14, and 15?

Q#6 – Who provided Robert E. Lee with conclusive evidence that US Grant had moved his entire army over the James River and was positioning it across from Petersburg?

Q#7 – On June 18, 1864, while leading a Union attack against Confederate lines called Rives’s Salient, what was Col. Joshua Chamberlain doing when a Minie Ball slammed through both of his hips?

Q#8 – In the assault on Rives’s Salient, what is the statistical significance of the casualties incurred by the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery regiment?

Q#9 – What was the name of the Union regiment that consisted mostly of miners that dug the tunnel for the Battle of the Crater?

Q#10 – In feet, how long was the tunnel dug by Union soldiers that produced the Battle of the Crater?

Q#11 – How many tons of gunpowder were placed in the tunnel for the Battle of the Crater?

Q#12 – What was the total number of casualties resulting from the Battle of the Crater?

Q#13 – The Battle of Globe Tavern during August 18-21, 1864, which resulted in over 5900 combined casualties, resulted in the loss of a critical Confederate railroad supporting Petersburg. What was the name of that railroad?

Q#14 – The Second Battle of Reams Station, fought on August 25, 1864, which resulted in 3700 casualties, was a stunning victory for the Confederates. Against which Union commander was this victory achieved?

Q#15 – After the Union victory at the Battle of Five Forks on April 2, 1865, the Confederates abandoned Petersburg and Richmond. What was the total number of casualties incurred by both sides from June 1864 to April 1865?

Meeting of June 28, 2016

Paul Quigley on “The Fourth of July in the Civil War Era”

US_flag_35_starsHow did Americans celebrate the anniversary of their nation’s birth when the nation was falling apart? In this lecture, Professor Paul Quigley explores Civil War Americans’ varied attitudes to the Fourth of the July. Northerners used the holiday to rejoice in Union victories. African Americans seized the opportunity to prove their American identity. And white southerners wondered whether they should celebrate Independence Day at all. These fascinating stories are hidden in thousands of newspaper articles, speeches, letters, and diaries from the Civil War years. Quigley demonstrated a new website, “Mapping the Fourth of July in the Civil War Era,” which allows anyone interested in Civil War history to transcribe, tag, and discuss these documents online.

Paul Quigley is Director of the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies and the James I. Robertson, Jr., Associate Professor of Civil War History in the History Department at Virginia Tech. A native of Manchester, England, he holds degrees from Lancaster University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Quigley is the author of Shifting Grounds: Nationalism and the American South, 1848-65, which won the British Association for American Studies Book Prize and the Jefferson Davis Award from the Museum of the Confederacy.

Meeting Minutes June 2016

Quiz for June 28, 2016

Civil War Quiz: What Do You Know About William Tecumseh Sherman That’s Not Associated with the Civil War?

Q#1 – What was William Tecumseh Sherman’s birth date?

Q#2 – What town and state was Sherman born in?

Q#3 – What explanation did Sherman provide for how he was given his middle name of Tecumseh?

Q#4 – What famous American Founding Father was Sherman distantly related to?

Q#5 – Sherman’s father, Charles Robert Sherman, died unexpectedly in 1829. At the time, what legal position in did Sherman’s father hold?

Q#6 – When Sherman entered West Point in 1836, what future famous Union Civil War general was his roommate?

Q#7 – After graduating from West Point in 1840, in what conflict did Sherman experience his first military action?

Q#8 – Did Sherman see any combat action in the Mexican–American War of 1846-48?

Q#9 – In 1850, Sherman married Eleanor Boyle (“Ellen”) Ewing. How many children did they have?

Q#10 – In 1853, Sherman resigned his captaincy in the United States Army. What position did he assume in the private sector?

Q#11 – In 1859, what important administrative position in the academic sector was Sherman appointed to?

Q#12 – In June 1865, Sherman received his first post Civil War command. What was that command?

Q#13 – In 1875, Sherman published a two-volume book of his memoirs. What was the title of the memoirs?

Q#14 – In retirement, Sherman was much in demand as a colorful speaker at dinners and banquets. What famous playwright was Sherman fond of quoting?

Q#15 – In 1891, what famous Confederate general served as a pallbearer at Sherman’s funeral and died one month later of pneumonia?

Book Faire, July 2016

In 2015, the SBCWRT membership approved the acceptance of two very large donations of a wide variety of Civil War media (books, magazines, brochures, newspaper clippings, videos, etc). We then agreed to use the donations as part of a fundraising effort.

We formed a subcommittee and developed the concept of having a “Book Faire”. This event will be held in July 2016 at Laney College in Oakland in collaboration with other military historical organizations. Book Faire 2016

Meeting of May 31, 2016

Tom Roza on “The Civil War: The Story of the Artillery DVD”

artillery DVDThe Civil War pitted countrymen against countrymen in the most brutal and bloody chapter in American history. This commemorative 40-minute DVD entitled “The Story of Civil War Artillery” from the History Channel archives explores one of the factors that finally helped bring it all to a close: the revolutionary new artillery weapons of the day.

This in-depth documentary uses period photographs, factual re-enactments, first-person accounts, and interviews with noted historians to bring fascinating details of the use of artillery to life. The feature begins with a description of the role of the Artillery Commanders and how they used their weapons for maximum effectiveness. Next is a graphic presentation of the advancements in artillery engineered and developed primarily by Federal forces and manufacturers that eventually evolved into “Big Gun Warfare”.

The video then explores the various types of fortifications that both North and South used during the Civil War and the effect that artillery bombardments had on reducing their effectiveness. It concludes with a detailed presentation on the use of artillery at the Battle of Gettysburg including the massive bombardment executed by the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia preceding Pickett’s Charge on July 3, 1863.

Meeting Minutes May 2016