Meeting of January 30, 2018

Join us at 7 PM, January 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

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.

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 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.

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

Quiz for September 26, 2017

Civil War Quiz: What Do You Know About Civil War Medicine?

Q#1 – What were the main reasons infection was one of the main causes why a soldier died from his wounds?

Q#2 – During the first year of the Civil War, frequent epidemics of which four childhood diseases was rampant in Union Army camps?

Q#3 – Both Union and Confederate soldiers involved in military operations developed which four main illnesses?

Q#4 – What liquid solutions were used during amputations to partially sedate patients?

Q#5 – Today, it is known that if a wound produces pus, it means the injury is infected. During the Civil War, what did doctors think the presence of pus in a wound meant?

Q#6 – For the Union, what was the ratio of casualties dying of disease? What was the ration for the Confederacy?

Q#7 – For the Union, what was the name of the governmental agency that handled most of the nursing care of the armies, together with necessary acquisition and transportation of medical supplies?

Q#8 – Because there were no antibiotics yet developed during the Civil War to deal with diseases, what treatments did many doctors and surgeons prescribe for their patients?

Q#9 – In August 1861, what Union general appointed surgeon Charles S. Tripler as the first Medical Director of the Army?

Q#10 – In February 1861, who appointed David C. DeLeon as Surgeon General of the Confederate Medical Department?

Q#11 – During 1861 and most of 1862, why did the Confederacy employ a policy of furloughing wounded soldiers to return home for recovery?

Q#12 – At the beginning of the war, the Union ambulance service was very ineffective for several reasons: poorly made vehicles, lack of organization, and corrupt and dishonest staff that manned the ambulances and sought to steal from the wounded passengers. What was the name of the individual who made significant improvements in the Union ambulance service?

Q#13 – For both the North and South, approximately how many women volunteered to work in hospitals?

Q#14 – In addition to assisting surgeons during procedures, giving medicines, supervising the feedings, and cleaning the bedding and clothes of patients, with what two very personal tasks did women assist wounded soldiers?

Q#15 – For more than a century and a half, it has been accepted that about 620,000 Americans died in the Civil War. What is the name of the historian who in 2011 published a paper that described the use of demographic methods and sophisticated statistical analysis that produced a number of 750,000 soldiers who died in the war?

Meeting of August 26, 2017

 

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

In June we took an unplanned detour to explore the Secessionist and Confederate units raised in California as well as a look at several biographies from private to general officer from Californians who served in the Confederate Army. This contribution was much larger than acknowledged among historians, but too small to affect the outcome of the war. This was truly a “lost cause” within the Southern “Lost Cause” experience.

This presentation explored the history of those Union 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 remembered and honored 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 Minutes August 2017

Quiz for August 26, 2017

Civil War Quiz: What Do You Know About What Civil War Soldiers Ate?

Q#1 – Why was there never enough meat for Confederate soldiers?

Q#2 – By 1863, next to planning strategy and tactics, what did Confederate generals spend most of their time on?

Q#3 – What seasoning ingredient was sometimes added to beef and always added to pork?

Q#4 – What were the most common field rations issued to individual Union soldiers?

Q#5 – What was a major problem that affected the quality of food?

Q#6 – Condensed milk was very helpful in supplementing the rations for the Union army. Who invented it?

Q#7 – Confederate soldiers had more access to tobacco than their Union counterparts. While opposing troops were on picket duty, it was common for Union soldiers to trade what food item with the Confederate soldiers in exchange for tobacco?

Q#8 – What food item did Southern soldiers frequently substitute for coffee?

Q#9 – Due to its wide availability throughout southern North America, what item was also an important source of food for Confederate soldiers?

Q#10 – What was the name of the military unit that existed in both armies that had the responsibility to organize the feeding of soldiers during the war?

Q#11 – How was the common dish named “Skillygalee” prepared?

Q#12 – For Confederate soldiers, how was another common dish named “coosh” prepared?

Q#13 – What was a “Spirit Ration” that during the American Civil War both armies provided to their troops?

Q#14 – What was the name of the book written in 1853 by William J. Hardee that contained the guidelines for providing food rations for soldiers?

Q#15 – What were the three main reasons that hampered the Confederate government attempts to provide adequate rations for their troops?