Meeting of December 29, 2020

Join us at 7 PM, December 29, for an online ZOOM meeting. Login information will be emailed to all members. (Note that we have historically not conducted December meetings, but we will this year because of the online format.) This month’s topic is

Jim Rhetta & Alan Sissenwein on “The Worst Generals of the Civil War, Part II”

This meeting is a continuation of the November meeting topic.

Most authors of the Civil War have focused on presenting the best Generals of the Civil War and their traits that led to that status. They focus heavily on Lee, Grant, Sherman, and Jackson as books on them abound. This focus overlooks the fact that there were generals at the opposite end of the leadership spectrum who were ineffective leaders.

For this presentation Alan Sissenwein will present some of the worst Federal generals and Jim Rhetta will cover the worst of the Confederate generals. What made these generals selected for that status include bad leadership, bad battlefield results, poor decision-making, abrasive personalities, and abuse of subordinates. This will also cover the factors that allowed for bad Generals to emerge and in some cases the inability to remove them from senior leadership positions.

Jim Rhetta retired from Lockheed Corp, and also retired from the USAF Reserve as a Colonel in the Intelligence Community. In both careers he monitored, analyzed, and reported on global conflicts and crisis for the DoD Community. His careers required him to write threat assessments, weekly activity reports, and publish classified documents. He continues to study both current events and historical subjects for their impacts on us today. He has produced several presentations for Round Tables, including “Civil War Newspapers, the first use of Open Source intelligence”, “The Blockade and its Effectiveness”, “Tracing Slave Family History,” and “Attack and Die, Cultural Influences on Civil War Combat.”

Alan Sissenwein, a native Californian, is a professional writer who has been a member of the South Bay Civil War Round Table since 1997. He has a bachelor’s degree in history from UC Berkeley and a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University. Although he has been fascinated by history since he was a teenager, his interest in the Civil War only took root during his last semester of graduate school, which was spent in Washington D.C. He likes to say that in California the Civil War is an abstraction but on the East Coast it’s a presence. He has previously given talks to the South Bay Civil War Round Table on such subjects as George Armstrong Custer and George Brinton McClellan.

Quiz for December 29, 2020

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

Q#1 – The flamboyant Confederate cavalry commander of the Army of Northern Virginia went by the name Jeb Stuart – what did the letters J.E.B. stand for?

Q#2 – What was the name of the Union cavalry commander who led a raid thru Mississippi during April-May 1863? (Note: The John Wayne movie “Horse Soldiers” was based on this event)

Q#3 – What was the name given to the cavalry brigade that George Armstrong Custer commanded at the Battle of Gettysburg?

Q#4 – What was the nickname given to Confederate cavalry battalion commander John Singleton Mosby?

Q#5 – During the Civil War, what was the main mission of cavalry for both the Union & the Confederates?

Q#6 – What was the nickname Union cavalry troopers gave to Union commander Hugh Judson Kilpatrick?

Q#7 – It is well known that JEB Stuart was killed at the Battle of Yellow Tavern – who was the Union cavalry commander at that battle?

Q#8 – What is the name of the battle that was the largest predominantly cavalry engagement of the American Civil War, as well as the largest ever to take place on American soil?

Q#9 – What was the name of the Union cavalry commander who repulsed a flanking attack by Confederate Nathan Bedford Forrest that was instrumental in saving the Union Army at the Battle of Franklin in November 1864?

Q#10 – He was nicknamed the “Black Knight of the Confederacy”, commanded Stonewall Jackson’s cavalry forces in the Valley Campaign and was killed in battle in 1862 – what was his name?

Q#11 – How was Confederate general and cavalry officer John Hunt Morgan killed?

Q#12 – What was the name of Union cavalry general Philip Sheridan’s horse?

Q#13 – After Jeb Stuart was killed at the Battle of Yellow Tavern, who was named commander of the Confederate cavalry of the Army of Northern Virginia?

Q#14 – John Buford commanded two cavalry brigades on July 1, 1863 at the Battle of Gettysburg – what were the names of the two brigade commanders?

Q#15 – He was considered the tactical master of modern 19th-century mounted forces, wrote a cavalry tactics manual just prior to the Civil War that became the training and fighting textbook for troopers from both sides, and was called “The Father of the United States Cavalry” – what was his name?

Meeting of January 26, 2021

Join us at 7 PM, January 26, for an online ZOOM meeting. Login information will be emailed to all members. This month’s topic is

David Dixon on “The American Civil War: A Radical, International Revolution”

Radical Warrior: August Willich’s Journey from German Revolutionary to Union General (University of Tennessee Press 2020) is the biography of a Prussian army officer who renounced his nobility and joined in the failed European revolutions of 1848. He emigrated to America, edited a daily labor newspaper in Cincinnati, and became one of the most accomplished generals in the Union Army. This story sheds new light on the contributions of 200,000 German-Americans who fought for the Union in the Civil War.

In an age of global social, economic, and political upheaval, transatlantic radicals helped affect America’s second great revolution. For many recent immigrants, the nature and implications of that revolution turned not on Lincoln’s conservative goal of maintaining the national Union, but on issues of social justice, including slavery, free labor, and popular self-government. The Civil War was not simply a war to end sectional divides, but to restore the soul of the nation, revive the hopes of democrats worldwide, and defend human rights.

David Dixon earned his M.A. in history from the University of Massachusetts in 2003. His first book, The Lost Gettysburg Address, told the unusual life story of Texas slaveholder Charles Anderson, whose speech followed Lincoln’s at Gettysburg, but was never published. It turned up 140 years later in a cardboard box in Wyoming.

David spoke at Gettysburg National Military Park’s Sacred Trust Talks, appeared on Civil War Talk Radio and has presented to more than sixty Civil War Round Tables from coast to coast. He hosts B-List History, a website that features obscure characters and their compelling stories at www.davidtdixon.com.

David’s current book, published by the University of Tennessee Press, is the biography of German revolutionary and Union General August Willich. His current project is a biography that highlights the role of emotions in Southern allegiance in the Civil War.

Meeting of November 24, 2020

Jim Rhetta & Alan Sissenwein on “The Worst Generals of the Civil War, Part I”

Most authors of the Civil War have focused on presenting the best Generals of the Civil War and their traits that led to that status. They focus heavily on Lee, Grant, Sherman, and Jackson as books on them abound. This focus overlooks the fact that there were generals at the opposite end of the leadership spectrum who were ineffective leaders.

For this presentation Alan Sissenwein will present some of the worst Federal generals and Jim Rhetta will cover the worst of the Confederate generals. What made these generals selected for that status include bad leadership, bad battlefield results, poor decision-making, abrasive personalities, and abuse of subordinates. This will also cover the factors that allowed for bad Generals to emerge and in some cases the inability to remove them from senior leadership positions.

Jim Rhetta retired from Lockheed Corp, and also retired from the USAF Reserve as a Colonel in the Intelligence Community. In both careers he monitored, analyzed, and reported on global conflicts and crisis for the DoD Community. His careers required him to write threat assessments, weekly activity reports, and publish classified documents. He continues to study both current events and historical subjects for their impacts on us today. He has produced several presentations for Round Tables, including “Civil War Newspapers, the first use of Open Source intelligence”, “The Blockade and its Effectiveness”, “Tracing Slave Family History,” and “Attack and Die, Cultural Influences on Civil War Combat.”

Alan Sissenwein, a native Californian, is a professional writer who has been a member of the South Bay Civil War Round Table since 1997. He has a bachelor’s degree in history from UC Berkeley and a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University. Although he has been fascinated by history since he was a teenager, his interest in the Civil War only took root during his last semester of graduate school, which was spent in Washington D.C. He likes to say that in California the Civil War is an abstraction but on the East Coast it’s a presence. He has previously given talks to the South Bay Civil War Round Table on such subjects as George Armstrong Custer and George Brinton McClellan.

Meeting Minutes November 2020

Quiz for November 24, 2020

Civil War Quiz: What Do You Know About Generals to Politicians and Politicians to Generals?

Q#1 – This Civil War general was very significant in the history of the Whig party. Who was he and why was he significant?

Q#2 – This general finished second in the 1880 presidential election. Name him.

Q#3 – This former congressman was appointed as a brigadier general in the Provisional Army of Tennessee and then was commissioned a brigadier general in the Confederate States Army. He was killed commanding troops at the Battle of Mill Springs. Name him.

Q#4 – John C. Breckinridge was the 14th vice-president of the United States and became a Confederate general. He was commander at what Confederate victory and what position in the Confederate government did he hold at the end of the war?

Q#5 – Of officers without previous military experience, he was one of three to achieve the rank of lieutenant general in the Confederate army. He was elected to the South Carolina General Assembly in 1852 and served as a state Senator from 1858 to 1861. After the Civil War he narrowly won the bloody 1876 election to became governor of South Carolina. Name him.

Q#6 – This professor and Civil War general was elected governor of Maine four times (1866, 1867, 1868, 1869). Name him.

Q#7 – This Civil War general and author made two unsuccessful bids for a seat in Congress (in 1868 and 1870) and was appointed territorial governor of the New Mexico Territory, where he served from August 1878 to March 1881. Name him and his most successful novel.

Q#8 – This Confederate cavalry commander in 1880 was elected from Alabama as a Democrat to the United States House of Representatives. He later served as major general of volunteers in the Spanish-American war. Name him.

Q#9 – Future president Rutherford B. Hayes ended the war as a brevetted major general. In which campaigns of the war did he mainly serve?

Q#10 – Future brigadier general and president James A. Garfield only personally commanded at one battle. Name it.

Q#11– General George B. McClellan, as the democratic candidate, lost the 1864 Presidential election to Lincoln. Did ever he compete for any other political office?

Q#12 – This Civil War general was a member of the House of Representatives and an important ally to Illinois Senator Stephen A. Douglas. His commission as a general was based on Lincoln’s desire to retain political connections with the Democrats of Southern Illinois and he eventually became second in command under Ulysses S. Grant. Who was he?

Q#13 – How was General John C. Frémont, Union commander at the battle of Cross Keys, very significant in the history of the Republican party?

Q#14 – This Civil War general was a Republican member of the House of Representatives for Missouri prior to the war. He was appointed a colonel of Missouri volunteers in July 1862. He was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers in August 1862 and then to major general in November. He commanded a division in the Vicksburg campaign and in the fighting about Chattanooga, and was one of William T. Sherman’s corps commanders in the final campaigns in Georgia and the Carolinas. After the war he opposed the Congressional Reconstruction policy, and on that issue left the Republican Party. In 1868, he was the unsuccessful Democratic candidate for vice president, running with Horatio Seymour. Who was he?

Q#15 – He was an attorney, the first Chief Justice of Kansas, and leading free state advocate and Union Army general during the American Civil War, commanding the defense of Fort Davidson at Pilot Knob, Missouri, during Sterling Price’s raid. After the war he became a two-term United States Congressman from Ohio, 1877–1881, and narrowly lost the 1880 campaign for Ohio Governor. Who was he?

Meeting of October 27, 2020

Tom Roza on “The Presidential Election of 1864”

South Bay Civil War Roundtable Secretary Tom Roza provides an intriguing and detailed examination of the critically important and impactful presidential election of 1864.

Throughout its history as a democracy, the electing of a President has become one of the most important decisions Americans make as citizens. We not only select a political leader to guide our country through its legislative process, but also a person who is the Commander in Chief of our military and who in partnership with Congress, is responsible for the security of our nation.

Over the 230 years as a country, some presidential elections have become more significant than others. In his nearly 60 years of being a student of the American Civil War and the history of our country, Tom has concluded that the presidential election of 1864 has become the most critically important one. A civil war continued to rage and the destiny and future of our country was at stake as at no other time before or since.

Given that 2020 is a Presidential election year, this presentation on another very important election is particularly appropriate and timely.

Tom Roza has been a student of history for over 60 years. His interest in history in general and the Civil War in particular 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 that has been accepted by the Library of Congress into its Catalog; Tom is currently working on a sequel entitled Lost Cause – Justice Found.

Meeting Minutes October 2020

Quiz for October 27, 2020

Civil War Quiz: What Do You Know About The South’s Reasons For Secession?

Q#1 – During the election in 1860, Abraham Lincoln ran on a message of leaving slavery to where it currently existed, which should have been viewed by Southerners in a positive way. What were the two reasons Southerners still did not vote for Lincoln?

Q#2 – What was the legal basis by which Southern states believed that they had the right to secede from the United States?

Q#3 – What was the complaint by Southern states regarding the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850?

Q#4 – There were some inconsistencies among the Southern states regarding the reasons they included in their individual ordinances of secession. Three states—Texas, Alabama, and Virginia—specifically mentioned one obvious condition; the rest made no mention it; what was the condition?

Q#5 – What was the prevailing belief among the Southern states that slaveholding was a constitutional right and that the movement to abolish slavery and that movement’s influence over the politics of the northern states justified secession?

Q#6 – In the Texas Ordinance of Secession there was condition unique to that state that did not exist in the other Southern states, which Texas believed was another reason that justified secession. What was that condition?

Q#7 – The Supreme Court 1857 Dred Scott decision in effect declared unconstitutional one critical requirement of the 1820 Missouri compromise that the Federal government refused to honor. What was that requirement that was declared unconstitutional?

Q#8 – What was the adverse political impact regarding prohibiting slavery in the new western territories that was another reason justifying secession by the Southern states?

Q#9 – What was a main reason that the Southern states thought that if their secession from the Union led to civil war, France and Britain would intervene on their behalf?

Q#10 – There was a last ditch effort to end the secession crisis through a Constitutional amendment. What was the effort and its result?

Q#11 – How did the “Homestead Act” of 1860 serve as another reason for Southern states to secede from the Union?

Q#12 – How did the Pacific Railway Bill of 1860 provide additional justification for the South to secede from the Union?

Q#13 – Why were the implementation of tariffs one of the root causes that Southerners used to justify secession?

Q#14 – Why was the effort to create a system of banks that would be chartered and regulated by the federal government a reason Southern states believed helped to justify secession?

Q#15 – While most states in the Confederacy simply passed Ordinances of Secession, South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Texas, and Virginia included what other justifications in their ordinances?

Meeting of September 29, 2020

Differing Viewpoints: If Jackson Was at Gettysburg, Would the CSA have Won the Battle? YES: Tom Roza; NO: Jim Rhetta

To enhance the experience and enjoyment for South Bay Civil War Roundtable members who attend the monthly meetings, a new format for presentation topics has been developed to augment the more traditional formats. The new format is entitled “Differing Viewpoints”.

For a specific Civil War related topic, two views are presented on whether a critical component or element was present or occurred that would have changed the outcome. The two views are: YES – the outcome would have been different; NO – the outcome would not have been different. Each view can be presented by one or more members with each view taking up no more than 15–20 minutes. Slides or other visual aids can be used to support a view. This is NOT a debate—just a presentation of differing views.

For the September 29, 2020, SBCWRT meeting, the presentation topic is, “If Jackson was at Gettysburg, would the CSA have won the battle?”

The vast majority of Civil War historians have concluded that the Battle of Gettysburg was the high water mark of the Confederacy’s effort to become an independent country. Over the nearly 160 years since the battle was fought in July 1863, there have been numerous discussions on whether the outcome of the battle would have been different if Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson had not died in May 1863 from wounds suffered at the Battle of Chancellorsville. Tom Roza will present the YES view; Jim Rhetta will present the NO view.

Jim Rhetta retired from Lockheed Corp, and from the USAF Reserve as a Colonel in the Intelligence Community. In both careers he monitored, analyzed and reported on global conflicts and crisis for the DoD Community. His careers required him to write threat assessments, weekly activity reports, and publish classified documents. He continues to study both current events and historical subjects for their impacts on us today. He has made several presentations on social, economic, and military subjects of the Civil War.

Tom Roza has been a student of history for over 60 years. His interest in history in general and the Civil War in particular 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 entitled Lost Cause – Justice Found.

Meeting Minutes September 2020

Quiz for September 29, 2020

Civil War Quiz: What Happened During the Month of September 1861-1865

Q#1 – On September 6, 1861, General Ulysses S. Grant captured which city in Kentucky unopposed?

Q#2 – On September 11, 1861, who did President Abraham Lincoln have Secretary of War Simon Cameron order the arrest of?

Q#3 – September 12-15, 1861, what was the name of the first battle in which Robert E. Lee led troops into combat?

Q#4 – On September 1, 1862, what was the name of the battle where Union Major General Phillip Kearny was killed when he crossed Rebel lines while riding his horse?

Q#5 – September 5, 1862, what military maneuver did Robert E. Lee perform with his Army of Northern Virginia?

Q#6 – On September 22, 1862, what policy action did President Lincoln perform?

Q#7 – On September 27, 1862, the Confederate Congress passed what significant legislation that directly affected the Confederate armies in the field?

Q#8 – Also on September 27, 1862, what was the significance regarding the formation of the First Regiment Louisiana Native Guard?

Q#9 – During the period September 3-5, 1863, what specific action by the British government dashed any remaining Confederate hopes of British support during the war?

Q#10 – On September 9, 1863, Federal troops entered what major Southern City after it was abandoned by the Confederate Army of Tennessee?

Q#11 – September 9, 1863, after consultation between General Robert E. Lee and Confederate President Jefferson Davis regarding the war effort in the Tennessee/Georgia theater, what action did Confederate General James Longstreet begin?

Q#12 – On September 15, 1863, using the authority granted him by the Habeas Corpus Suspension Act of 1863, what conditions did President Lincoln use for suspending the writ of habeas corpus?

Q#13 – On September 1, 1864, the Confederates began the evacuation of what major Southern City?

Q#14 – On September 4, 1864, what significant event occurred regarding the Confederate General John Hunt Morgan?

Q#15 – On September 27, 1864, a small Confederate force under “Bloody” Bill Anderson was involved in what action?

2020 West Coast Civil War Conference, November 6–8

This conference has been canceled and is expected to be rescheduled in 2021.

Combat Strategy & Tactics In 1864 Virginia (Looking with 2020 Vision at Grant vs. Lee)

Featuring Gordon Rhea, Eric Wittenberg, Chris Mackowski, Dana Lombardi & others

Hosted By San Joaquin Valley Civil War Round Table

WYNDHAM GARDEN HOTEL, 5090 E. Clinton Way, Fresno Airport
(559-252-3611) $99 per night

ATTENDEE REGISTRATION: $200 per person including meals.

(Non participants who wish dinner Friday or Saturday Night: $30 each meal)

Name____________________________

Address___________________________

Phone____________

Email_____________________________

Member of which CWRT?________________

Please address check to SJVCWRT

SEND TO Ron Vaughan (Conference Co-ordinator)
730 E. Tulare Ave.
Tulare, CA 93274
(ronvaughan@prodigy.net)