Meeting of July 31, 2018

Join us at 7 PM, July 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

Tom Roza on “Ambrose Powell (A.P.) Hill: Third Corps Commander, Army of Northern Virginia”

A native Virginian, Ambrose Powell Hill (aka A.P. Hill) was a West Point graduate who served in the United States Army in both the Mexican–American War and Seminole Wars. A strong believer in state’s rights, Powell resigned his US Army commission in March 1861 and offered his services to the fledgling Confederate Army.

After the start of the Civil War, Hill gained early fame as the commander of the “Light Division” in the Seven Days Battles and became one of Stonewall Jackson’s ablest subordinates, distinguishing himself in the 1862 battles of Cedar Mountain, Second Bull Run, Antietam, and Fredericksburg.

In 2014, Tom Roza (current South Bay Civil War Round Table Secretary) presented a general overview on the life and experiences of A.P. Hill. However, during the past four years, Tom has conducted additional extensive research on Hill focusing on his critical role as Third Corps Commander beginning with the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863 and concluding with his death in April 1865 at Petersburg.

The untimely death of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson at the Battle of Chancellorsville in May 1863 caused General Robert E. Lee to significantly reorganize his Army of Northern Virginia into three Corps. Lee promoted A.P. Hill from his role as a division commander to commander of the newly formed Third Corps. Hill had established an exemplary record as a division commander. But, there is significant evidence that Hill’s leadership skills did not always translate into the more complex role of Corps Commander. Hill often struggled with the logistical, tactical, and most importantly, strategic differences between leading a single 4,000 to 5,000-man infantry division versus an infantry Corps consisting of three divisions of 15,000-18,000 soldiers.

These differences exposed weaknesses in Hill’s leadership that from time to time resulted in an adverse impact on the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia’s chances for success. The presentation effectively details both Hill’s accomplishments and shortcomings during the critically important period of June 1863 to April 1865.

Tom Roza’s primary interest in the Civil War is not centered on the battles, armaments, or politics of that momentous period in our country’s history. Instead, he has focused on a study of the people who were involved in the Civil War—who they were; what was their background; what were their values and principles; and how did they influence the outcome of the Civil War. Civil War personalities that Tom has made presentations on include: John Buford, Jeb Stuart, Winfield Scott Hancock, Robert Gould Shaw, and Nathan Bedford Forrest among others.

Tom is also a published author; his book Windows to the Past: A Virginian’s Experience in the Civil War was published in May 2107 and was accepted by the Library of Congress into its catalog in November 2017. The book is available on Amazon.com in both paperback and eBook formats.

Quiz for July 31, 2018

Civil War Quiz: What Do You Really Know About the Battle of Gettysburg?

Q#1 – What was the name of the battle fought on June 9, 1863, that involved Union and Confederate cavalry and preceded the Battle of Gettysburg?

Q#2 – When General Jubal Early entered Gettysburg on June 26, 1863, why was his demand of $10,000 worth of goods and produce not met by the town’s citizens?

Q#3 – What action by Pennsylvania militia thwarted Confederate General Early’s plan to attack Harrisburg, PA?

Q#4 – What was the name of the Union cavalry officer who fired the first shot at the Battle of Gettysburg on the morning of July 1, 1863, in the vicinity of a stone bridge across Marsh Creek?

Q#5 – What were the names of the two Union colonels who commanded the two brigades under John Buford?

Q#6 – Jennie Wade was the only civilian killed at the Battle of Gettysburg when a skirmisher’s bullet pierced two wooden doors while she was standing in her sister’s kitchen kneading dough. Who built the coffin that she was buried in?

Q#7 – Early on July 2, Confederate General Longstreet made his arguments to Robert E Lee in favor of disengaging from Gettysburg and making a wide swing around the Union’s left flank. What reason did Lee give Longstreet for rejecting that suggestion?

Q#8 – Early on July 2, Union XII Corps division commander General John Geary was ordered to remove the two regiments he had stationed on Little Round Top and relocate them to Culp’s Hill. Geary recognized the danger of leaving Little Round Top undefended thus leaving the Union line open to being flanked by Confederates. Who did Geary notify of this concern and what was the response?

Q#9 – What was the name of the general who Union Commander George Meade ordered to accompany General Sickles in assessing if Sickles should relocate his III Corps from their position on the southern end of Cemetery Ridge further west to a line along the Emmitsburg Road? What was that general’s reaction to Sickle’s request?

Q#10 – On July 2nd, what was the name of the Union regiment that Union General Hancock ordered forward to close a large gap in the Union line on the south end of Cemetery Ridge that was being threatened by the Confederate General Cadamus Wilcox’s brigade?

Q#11 – On July 2nd, what was the name of the Confederate Division commander that General Lee had counted on to continue the echelon attack against the center of the Union Line on Cemetery Ridge, but was severely wounded before he could order his division forward?

Q#12 – At General Meade’s council of war on the evening of July 2nd, to facilitate the decision-making regarding options for the Army of the Potomac, Meade’s Chief of Staff General Daniel Butterfield wrote down three questions that the generals in attendance needed to answer. What were those three questions?

Q#13 – Lee’s initial plan for attacking on July 3rd involved two flanking attacks launched at the same time: Longstreet attacking the Federal center on Cemetery Ridge from his positions in the Peach Orchard and Devil’s Den; Ewell attacking southward from the trenches that General Johnson had seized on Culp’s Hill. Why did this plan disintegrate before it even had a chance to get started?

Q#14 – Approximately how many cannons were deployed for the Confederate artillery bombardment that preceded Pickett’s Charge on July 3rd? Approximately how many rounds of ammunition were available to each gun?

Q#15 – What was the final attack on July 3rd following the defeat of Picket’s Charge?

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

SPEAKERS: Brian Clague, Tom Cutrer, Richard Hatcher III, General Parker Hills, Jim Stanbery

TOPICS: Wilson’s Creek, Pea Ridge, Prairie Grove, Red River, Sibley’s Campaign, & others

Meeting of August 18, 2018

Join us at noon to 4 p.m., Saturday, August 18, for our annual picnic meeting. (RSVP Tom Roza (tomroza@earthlink.net) for meeting location) See the UPCOMING MEETINGS/MEETING INFO tab for specific times and meeting details of our regular meetings. This month’s topic is

Ted Savas on “The War Outside My Window: The Civil War Diary of LeRoy Wiley Gresham, 1860-1865.

LeRoy Wiley Gresham was born to an affluent slave-holding family in Macon, Georgia. A horrific leg injury left him an invalid, and the educated, inquisitive, perceptive, and exceptionally witty 12-year-old began keeping a diary in 1860–just as secession and the Civil War began tearing the country and his world apart. He continued to write even as his health deteriorated until both the war and his life ended in 1865. His unique manuscript of the demise of the Old South—lauded by the Library of Congress as one of its premier holdings—is published here for the first time in The War Outside My Window: The Civil War Diary of LeRoy Wiley Gresham, 1860-1865.

LeRoy read books, devoured newspapers and magazines, listened to gossip, and discussed and debated important social and military issues with his parents and others. He wrote daily for five years, putting pen to paper with a vim and tongue-in-cheek vigor that impresses even now, more than 150 years later. His practical, philosophical, and occasionally Twain-like hilarious observations cover politics and the secession movement, the long and increasingly destructive Civil War, family pets, a wide variety of hobbies and interests, and what life was like at the center of a socially prominent wealthy family in the important Confederate manufacturing center of Macon. The young scribe often voiced concern about the family’s pair of plantations outside town, and recorded his interactions and relationships with “servants” Howard, Allen, Eveline, and others as he pondered the fate of human bondage and his family’s declining fortunes.

Unbeknownst to LeRoy, he was chronicling his own slow and painful descent toward death in tandem with the demise of the Southern Confederacy. He recorded—often in horrific detail—an increasingly painful and debilitating disease that robbed him of his childhood. The teenager’s declining health is a consistent thread coursing through his fascinating journals. “I feel more discouraged [and] less hopeful about getting well than I ever did before,” he wrote on March 17, 1863. “I am weaker and more helpless than I ever was.” Morphine and a score of other “remedies” did little to ease his suffering. Abscesses developed; nagging coughs and pain consumed him. Alternating between bouts of euphoria and despondency, he often wrote, “Saw off my leg.”

The War Outside My Window, edited and annotated by Janet Croon with helpful footnotes and a detailed family biographical chart, captures the spirit and the character of a young privileged white teenager witnessing the demise of his world even as his own body slowly failed him. Just as Anne Frank has come down to us as the adolescent voice of World War II, LeRoy Gresham will now be remembered as the young voice of the Civil War South.

Theodore P. Savas is an award-winning author, attorney, publishing consultant, and the managing director of one of America’s leading independent publishing companies (Savas Beatie LLC: www.savasbeatie.com). Ted founded the South Bay Civil War Round Table in 1989; its first meeting of four people was held in his living room in San Jose.

Meeting of September 25, 2018

Join us at 7 PM, September 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

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 of June 26, 2018

Larry Tagg on “The Generals of Shiloh”

Storytellers instinctively know the importance of character. Writers of history too frequently forget this, especially writers of military history, whose work is too often limited to strategy and tactics, weapons and supplies. Battles, particularly, present a chaos so intense that merely describing events and sorting out causes and effects is a difficult task. Historians must devote so much effort to faithfully reconstructing a battle’s events that men’s characters are often too little mentioned.

The biographical approach to Shiloh is also valuable as a snapshot of American culture, fourscore and six years after the country’s birth. The color and diversity of the battle’s generals provide a kaleidoscopic view of the society of the period. The United States in 1860 was an unmilitary nation with a tiny standing army. When war broke out in Charleston Harbor in April 1861, hundreds of new generals had to be minted to command hundreds of thousands of new soldiers. These new warrior-leaders were not professionals, but were elevated overnight from a hodge-podge of street-level occupations. Of the 63 brigade-and-up leaders at Shiloh presented in this book, only 14 were serving as career soldiers when Fort Sumter fell, a year before the battle. Thirteen more were lawyers, prominent in their communities and well-connected. Twelve were politicians, including the previous Vice President of the United States, now a Confederate. There were five businessmen (including an Iowa hatter), four plantation owners, two teachers, a millwright, a sheriff, a blacksmith, a riverboat man, a geologist, a horse breeder, a bishop, a newspaper editor, a farmer, a cotton broker, a stagecoach operator, a bridge engineer, a Navy ordnance officer, and an architect. The most famous of them all, Ulysses S. Grant, was clerking at his father’s dry goods store in Illinois.

A study of the generals of Shiloh also illuminates the entire history of the Western Theater in the first year of the war. Shiloh was the improbable rendezvous of more than a hundred thousand Americans. They were men here who had fought in and brought experience from every battle in the West over the previous twelve months. Mostly, however, Shiloh was a meeting of young men who had never fired a gun in anger. Some of the new recruits had just received the first muskets they had ever held. That they fought so hard and so well in dense, ravine-crossed woods, under amateur officers, is an indication of the intensity of their will to fight.

The consequences of the Battle of Shiloh were profound. Strategically, the Union armies, by defeating the Confederate concentration of the Army of the Mississippi, opened the way to capturing the rail hub of Corinth on May 30 and the city of Memphis on June 6, 1862, two months after the battle. The horrific casualty totals that appeared in the nation’s newspapers, however, produced both the most immediate and the longest-lasting result of the battle: its effect on the nation’s psyche. More than twenty thousand men lay on the field killed or wounded at the battle’s end (and 19 of the 63 leaders on these pages), a number which shocked and dismayed the entire American public. These were unimaginable losses, higher than the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, and Mexican War combined. In the Eastern Theater, news of the holocaust convinced Major General George McClellan, stalled on the Yorktown Peninsula, that his campaign must be won by strategy and maneuver, to avoid the sort of hard fighting that had produced such hideous gore at Shiloh. McClellan’s decision resulted in the Siege of Yorktown, followed by a slow build-up around Richmond that ended, three months later, with the loss of the Peninsula Campaign after a week of hard blows by Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.

What followed was a Civil War that took on the dimensions first glimpsed only after Shiloh. Richmond would not be threatened again for two more years, after hundreds of thousands more casualties, and the war would not end for three more bloody years.

Born in Lincoln, Illinois, Larry Tagg graduated from the University of Texas at Austin. A bass player/singer of world renown, Larry co-founded and enjoyed substantial commercial success with “Bourgeois Tagg” in the mid-1980s. He went on to play bass for Todd Rundgren, Heart, Hall and Oates, and other acts. He recently retired after teaching high school drama, English and Asians and Middle Eastern literature in the prestigious Humanities and International Studies Program in Sacramento, CA. Larry is the author of the bestselling book The Generals of Gettysburg, a selection of the Military Book Club, and The Unpopular Mr. Lincoln.

Meeting Minutes June 2018

Quiz for June 26, 2018

Civil War Quiz: What Do You Know About The Coastal War?

Q#1 – What was the first Union combined Army-Navy operation of the war, executed in August 1861?

Q#2 – How many Union soldiers participated in the first large amphibious assault that took place on February 7, 1862, at Ashby’s Harbor, North Carolina?

Q#3 – What were the names of the two Confederate forts that guarded the mouth of the Mississippi River south of New Orleans?

Q#4 – What was the name of the Union officer who was the overall commander of the naval attack on New Orleans in April 1862?

Q#5 – What was the name of the Union commander of the Federal mortar flotilla that participated in the attack on New Orleans?

Q#6 – What type of barrier did Confederate defenders use to try to prevent Union warships from sailing up the Mississippi River?

Q#7 – What was the name of the Confederate ironclad deployed to assist in the Southern attack on the Union strategic supply depot at Plymouth, North Carolina?

Q#8 – Beginning in August 1863 for almost 280 consecutive days, how many artillery shells did Union forces fire in their bombardment of Fort Sumter in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina?

Q#9 – During the Federal siege of Charleston, South Carolina, what was the name of the Confederate Commander?

Q#10 – What was the name of the Confederate fort in South Carolina that was attacked by the 54th Massachusetts Regiment in July, 1863?

Q#11 – What was the name of the Federal warship that was attacked by the Confederate experimental submarine HL Hunley?

Q#12 – In 2013, the most likely cause for the sinking of the HL Hunley was discovered. What was the cause?

Q#13 – In his attack plan for Mobile Bay, Admiral Farragut asked for several ironclad monitors. What nickname did Farragut give to these types of vessels?

Q#14 – What was the name of the Confederate ironclad that was used in the defense of Mobile Bay?

Q#15 – What was Confederate Drift Torpedo?

Meeting of May 29, 2018

Abby Eller on “Judah Benjamin, The Brains of the Confederacy”

Judah Benjamin is scarcely remembered today. And yet, Jefferson Davis’s wife Varina Howell Davis stated that he would meet with President Davis for hours every day to discuss Confederate government matters. Judah Benjamin was known as “The brains of the Confederacy.” During the Civil War, Judah Benjamin, Jefferson Davis, and Varina Howell Davis formed a close friendship that lasted the rest of their lives. But when Jefferson Davis wrote his memoirs at the end of his life, he only made the briefest mention of this man. Why was this? And Judah Benjamin’s life story after the Civil War was so remarkable, it would be unbelievable if it weren’t actually true.

Abby Eller joined the Peninsula Civil War Round Table in July of this year. She and her husband Dave live in Menlo Park. Abby has been an American history buff ever since high school. In 2013 she joined Historic Union Cemetery Association based here in Redwood City.

Meeting Minutes May 2018

Quiz for May 29, 2018

Civil War Quiz: What Facts Do You Know About Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant?

Q#1 – Robert E. Lee’s father, “Light Horse” Harry Lee, fought with George Washington during the Revolutionary War. What role did Lee have a Washington’s funeral?

Q#2 – What was Ulysses S. Grant’s actual name at birth and what does the letter ‘S’ in Grant’s name stand for?

Q#3 – Lee was born on his father’s 51st Birthday. What are the origins for giving him the names ‘Robert’ and ‘Edward’?

Q#4 – After Grant resigned from the Army in 1854, he spent the next seven years in several professions: farmer, real estate agent, and rent collector. What was the job he performed on St Louis street corners?

Q#5 – What reason did the Federal Government give to justify the seizing of Lee’s home ‘Arlington’?

Q#6 – Grant struggled to secure a field command at the outbreak of the Civil War. What was the first field command he was given?

Q#7 – Where did Lee rank in his West Point graduating class of 1829?

Q#8 – Where did Grant rank in his West Point graduating class of 1843?

Q#9 – Lee served as a tactical commander in the Mexican-American War under what General?

Q#10 – Grant struggled with alcohol throughout his life. During the Civil War, Grant’s penchant for binge drinking was usually kept in check by what person?

Q#11 – What was the result of Lee’s first military operation as a Confederate general at the Battle of Rich Mountain that took place on July 11, 1861, in Randolph County, Virginia?

Q#12 – What was Grant’s and his wife’s reason for declining the invitation to attend the play at Ford’s Theater with President Lincoln and his wife?

Q#13 – Lee never referred to Northern soldiers as “the enemy”. What phrase did he use to refer to them?

Q#14 – How did Grant prevent Robert E. Lee from being charged with treason after the Civil War?

Q#15 – What were the causes of Lee’s and Grant’s deaths?

Meeting of April 24, 2018

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 Minutes April 2018