Meeting of May 30, 2017

Join us at 7 PM, May 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

John Herberich on “Nathan Bedford Forrest and the 4th United States Cavalry”

As the only Regular Cavalry regiment in the Western Theater, the 4th Cavalry became the primary nemesis of Forrest’s (and Wheeler’s) cavalry – from the earliest contact at Fort Donelson to the final cavalry charge at Selma, AL, with the final, tragic conclusion during the last week of the war.

Quiz for May 30, 2017

Civil War Quiz – What Did The Northern Home Front Have to Deal With?

Q#1 – What was the estimated population of the northern states at the beginning of the Civil War?

Q#2 – The Civil War did not stifle immigration into the North. On average, how many people immigrated each year into the northern states?

Q#3 – The war caused a significant split in the Democratic Party. What two factions were created as a result of the split?

Q#4 – While many northerners were against slavery as being immoral, what was the prevailing opinion of Negroes by people living in the North?

Q#5 – At the beginning of the Civil War, what was the existing debt owed northern merchants by people and companies from the South?

Q#6 – The fear that the North would lose the Civil War mostly by financial default through the loss of the South as customers never really materialized – why?

Q#7 – To pay for the war, Congress began to print money as did the Confederate Congress. However, why was the North able to avoid the ruinous levels of inflation that beleaguered the South?

Q#8 – What inventions greatly improved the North’s agricultural capacity?

Q#9 – What discovery just prior to the war in 1859 provided the North with a source of income and wealth that helped pay for the cost of the Civil War?

Q#10 – When Congress passed legislation in 1862 authorizing conscription and the draft of men into military service, what were the age limits?

Q#11 – What was the justification provided by Congress for the $300 “commutation fee,” which allowed a person to be excused from the military service?

Q#12 – What was an unexpected adverse side effect of the draft?

Q#13 – What organization was founded with the assistance of Mary Livermore and George Templeton Strong to support sick and wounded soldiers of the U.S. Army during the American Civil War?

Q#14 – The elections of 1862 both for the House of Representatives and governors in six states were extremely volatile and divisive. What was the narrow margin that President Lincoln’s Republican party retained its role as majority party in the House?

Q#15 – What two major Northern military victories in the late summer/early fall of 1864 sealed Lincoln’s re-election bid?

Meeting of June 27, 2017

Join us at 7 PM, June 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

Bob Burch on “California in the Civil War: Other California Units”

This is the fifth of a twelve-part series on California and the American Civil War. This presentation will explore the history of those units that served in the Eastern Theater during the American Civil War that enlisted a good portion of their recruits from California or had that state’s name in their unit designation. Nearly ten percent of Californians who volunteered during the war did so into units from other states. They did so for a variety of reasons including the desire to represent their state during the war to preserve the Union. Consequently these “other California units” represented their state continuously from the Battle of First Bull Run until General Lee’s surrender at Appomattox four years later.

Eventually Californians served in five other states’ volunteer regiments. On the West Coast these units were the 1st Washington Territory Infantry and 1st Oregon Cavalry Regiments. On the East Coast these were the 32nd New York Infantry Regiment (aka “California Regiment”), Baker’s Brigade (aka “California Brigade”) of four regiments, and the 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry Regiment’s “California Hundred” and “California Battalion”.

Along the way we will meet several forgotten Californians who served their country well. Colonel Roderick Matheson from Healdsburg who fought at First Bull Run and later died from wounds received at the Battle of Crampton’s Gap. Colonel Francis Pinto of San Francisco who commanded regiments during the Peninsula, 2nd Manassas, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville Campaigns. Major Archibald McKendry who commanded the California Battalion and eventually the 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry Regiment when only a captain. Captain James Sewell Reed of the California Hundred who died while leading his unit against Mosby’s partisans and Captain Hugh Armstrong who replaced him and led that company from Battle of Fort Stevens until Appomattox. And Captain Henry Crocker of San Francisco who participated in nine battle and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for valor at the Battle of Cedar Creek.

Except for the “CAL 100” Cavalry, these units have disappeared from history despite the presence of the California Regiment’s monument on Cemetery Ridge at Gettysburg and mention in many original source documents from newspapers to the Official Records. This presentation will attempt to remember and honor their contribution to the Union cause.

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 July 25, 2017

Join us at 7 PM, July 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

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

“Civil War Journals” 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 show uses historical memoirs to examine the prelude to the war, and the bloody months that followed. Using diaries, photographs, historical accounts, and reenactments, the show aims to get a private and intimate look at some of the aspects of the bloody conflict, from individual personalities to larger battles.

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, George Custer, 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.

The program provides a unique insight into the values and principles that West Point attempts to instill into those fortunate enough to earn a congressional nomination, a process which is described along with the Academy’s demerit system and how class rankings were determined. It examines the powerful mystique that produces a strong male bonding amongst the classmates as the Academy advances its series of objectives to train the cadets in military tactics and leadership responsibilities.

As secession sweeps across the South, the documentary delves into the how this resulted in placing a significant strain on even the strongest friendships as cadets struggled with where their loyalties resided: with their Country or their State? As philosophical differences become magnified by political events, clashes between cadets intensified to the point where there were some actual physical altercations.

Once the War began, the program describes the radically different approach that each side initially employed using its West Point graduates. At first, the North relegated many of its West Point trained lower ranked officers to training the volunteer regiments that were being formed. The South however chose to rely on its West Point trained military personnel to build their Confederate armies from scratch. This difference proved valuable in the early days of the war as one Southern victory after another was produced.

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

Meeting of April 25, 2017

Tom Roza on “Nathan Bedford Forrest – First with the Most”

South Bay Civil War Roundtable Secretary Tom Roza provides an intriguing and detailed examination of the life and career of one of the most polarizing figures and greatest cavalrymen of the Civil War, Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest.

Born July 13, 1821, in Chapel Hill, Tennessee, along with a twin sister, Forrest had very little formal education, yet he is remembered as a self-educated, brutal, and innovative cavalry leader during the Civil War and as a leading Southern advocate in the postwar years. Before the Civil War, Forrest had already amassed a fortune as a planter, real estate investor, and slave trader. He was one of the few officers in either army to enlist as a private and be promoted to general officer and corps commander during the war. Although Forrest lacked formal military education, he had a gift for leadership, strategy, and tactics. He created and established new doctrines for mobile forces, earning the nickname The Wizard of the Saddle.

After the Civil War, Forrest and most Southerners railed against the Northern-implemented Reconstruction effort. He was a pledged delegate from Tennessee to the New York Democratic National Convention of July 1868. He served as the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, but later distanced himself from the organization.

Tom Roza’s main interest in the Civil War has focused on what type of people fought in the war as opposed to the actual battles. The presentation on Nathan Bedford Forrest follows in line with most of Tom’s presentations on John Buford, Winfield Scott Hancock, Jeb Stuart at Yellow Tavern, A.P. Hill, and Robert Gould Shaw. Tom also presented an in-depth two part presentation of Robert E. Lee’s first invasion of the north in September 1862, which culminated in the Battle of Antietam.

Meeting Minutes April 2017

Quiz for April 25, 2017

Civil War Quiz: What Do You Know About the Assassination of President Lincoln?

Q#1 – What did President Lincoln dream just a few nights before the events of April 14, 1865?

Q#2 – What was the name of John Wilkes Booth’s father?

Q#3 – John Wilkes Booth had a brother named Edwin. Was Edwin older or younger than John?

Q#4 – John Wilkes Booth sympathized strongly with the South. A number of historians suggest there were three contributing factors for this sympathy – what were they?

Q#5 – In 1859, Booth witnessed the execution of John Brown. What were his reactions to the execution?

Q#6 – In the fall of 1864, what plot did Booth come up with that did not involve assassinating President Lincoln?

Q#7 – What was the name of the woman who gave Booth a special ticket to attend the March 4, 1865, Inauguration of President Lincoln?

Q#8 – How did Lincoln’s visit to Richmond on April 2 indirectly result in the assassination of the President?

Q#9 – On April 14, 1865, Booth ordered Lewis Paine to assassinate which Union General. And when that plot failed, who was the next target for Paine?

Q#10 – What type of pistol did Booth use to assassinate President Lincoln?

Q#11 – Who was the politician that George Atzerodt was supposed to assassinate?

Q#12 – On April 14, 1865, what were the names of the betrothed couple who were guests in the box at Ford’s Theater with the Lincolns?

Q#13 – What are the two most likely reasons why John Parker, the person assigned to guard the Presidential box at Ford’s Theater, was not present at the time of the assassination?

Q#14 – Which leg did Booth break when jumping to the stage after he shot Lincoln?

Q#15 – 23 year old surgeon Charles A. Leale was the first doctor to reach Lincoln in the Presidential box. What medical procedure did Leale perform that relieved pressure on Lincoln’s brain?

Meeting of March 28, 2017

John Fitzpatrick on “‘No Fail Here’: The Personal, Political and Policy Pressures Impacting President Lincoln at Gettysburg, November 1863”

john-fitzpatrickColonel John J. Fitzpatrick, Jr., Esq. presented the personal, political, and policy issues and pressures impacting President Lincoln when he came to Gettysburg, only once for about 24 hours on November 18 and 19, 1863. We saw how the President dealt with them and channeled many of them into the Gettysburg Address. The country was fractured, the Civil War was ongoing, there was no end in sight—and the President was not even invited as the Keynote Speaker! In short, we learned of his three goals and heard the real back-story to the immortal Gettysburg Address.

John Fitzpatrick is an attorney, arbitrator, aviator, reenactor, veteran, and Licensed Battlefield Guide Emeritus at the Gettysburg National Military Park, Pennsylvania, who brings those perspectives to his tours at Gettysburg and to this presentation. Since 2009, John has made this presentation 50 times in 7 different States and the District of Columbia.

Meeting Minutes March 2017

Meeting of February 28, 2017

Doug Rees on “The Plot to Kidnap Abe Lincoln”

History is a dialogue between the present and the past. It’s a truism. But it begs the question, “What use is the past to the present, and what use does the present make of the past?” Because if the past is to have any significance, it’s up to the present to find it, and to use it to cast light on the present. Conventional histories are written to establish that connection. Without it, they are either adventure tales or antiquarianism. In the case before you tonight, an obscure “almost”—the attempted, and nearly successful kidnapping of Abraham Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth and his gang, led to the creation of a play based on the almost-event. When the medium changes from the printed book to the stage, the mode of transmission is also changes. How is making this use of the past similar to, and different from, a work of history?

Douglas Rees holds a master’s degree in history from UC Riverside, where he studied the Civil War under Hal Bridges. He is the author of a number of books for young people, including Lightning Time, a novel about the Harper’s Ferry raid, and a number of plays which have been produced locally, and in venues from Los Angeles to Panama, including Kidnap!; Or, The Abduction of Abraham Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth and Company.

Doug’s website is douglasrees.com.

Meeting Minutes February 2017

Quiz for February 28, 2017

Civil War Quiz: What Did the Southern Home Front Have to Deal With?

Q#1 – At the beginning of the Civil War, approximately what percentage of Southern families owned slaves?

Q#2 – At the bottom of the Southern economic ladder were 2 million or so impoverished whites; what nicknames were they called?

Q#3 – What employment exclusion of the 1862 Confederate conscription act establishing a military draft was most often violated by draft boards attempting to meet their draft quotas?

Q#4 – At the start of the Civil War, the North had approximately 22,000 miles of railroad tracks. How many miles existed in the South?

Q#5 – As the war continued, food shortages across the South increased resulting in skyrocketing inflation. For example, during the winter of 1864, in Richmond, what was the cost for a pound of bacon?

Q#6 – What were the two main reasons why so many of the South’s 260 institutions of higher learning closed during the Civil War?

Q#7 – What recurring theme regarding slavery permeated the homilies of Southern ministers at their Sunday church sessions?

Q#8 – The Civil War radically changed the role of women in Southern society. What was the prevailing role for women before the war?

Q#9 – The vast majority of Southerners differed dramatically on exactly what they were fighting for. Where were the origins of Southern loyalty planted?

Q#10 – What two actions by the Confederate Congress in 1863 had a devastating impact of the food supply throughout the South?

Q#11 – What type of graft was very common among Confederate Commissary units?

Q#12 – What Union general became known as the “Beast of New Orleans”?

Q#13 – When the Confederate Congress approved printing money that was not backed up by gold, what process was implemented that (unsuccessfully as it turned out) would reduce counterfeiting?

Q#14 – In 1864, in a desperate effort to replace huge losses in their armies, how did the Confederate government revise its draft laws?

Q#15 – During the period October 1, 1864, to January 1865, how many Confederate soldiers deserted their armies?

Meeting of January 31, 2017

Ted Savas on “Rediscovering the Battle Payne’s Farm: Combat and Relics from the Mine Run Campaign”

Ted Savas gave a unique presentation on how he discovered, mapped, and ultimately preserved an important “lost” Civil War battlefield.

The short but bloody battle was fought in Northern Virginia on November 27, 1863, and was much more important to the course of the war than previously known.

The engagement was the first in Federal general George G. Meade’s ultimately unsuccessful Mine Run Campaign, which was designed to cross the Rapidan River quickly, march behind General Lee’s exposed right flank, turn it, and crush the Confederates. Although it got off to a good start, one wing of the Federal Army got bogged down fording the Rapidan River and unexpectedly ran into one of Lee’s veteran divisions, triggering the critical Payne’s Farm combat.

Ted gave a PowerPoint presentation with extensive photos, maps, and commentary, including showing hundreds of relics he discovered on the field. He also welcomed questions on how to get published, writing history, and other topics.

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 Minutes January 2017