Meeting of July 30, 2019

Join us at 7 PM, July 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 “Military Operations Out of State″

A post war period photo of Fort Bowie, Arizona Territory, named after the commander of the 5th California Infantry and initially built by soldiers from that unit

Bob’s presentation will focus on operations conducted by the California Volunteers during the Civil War in rough chronological order. Two battalions were first deployed to the Pacific Northwest to replace outbound Regular Army units joining the Army of the Potomac in late 1861. In early 1862 three regiments composed the famous California Column in its epic march across present-day Arizona and New Mexico into Western Texas during the heat of summer to assist repelling a Confederate invasion. This remains one of the classic marches in U.S. Army history in terms of organization and logical preparation. Later that same year another two regiments marched overland to Utah to defend the primary line of communications between California and the East. Finally, two regiments were concentrated in Southeast Arizona Territory to deter possible war with France as French forces occupied the Mexican state of Sonora in late 1864. Collectively these Volunteer units protected all U.S. territory west of the Rocky Mountains for nearly five years from outlaws, hostile Indians, and Confederate threats.

Bob Burch is a native Californian from Santa Clara County, a retired U.S. Army colonel and studied U.S. history with a concentration in U.S. military history at San Jose State University. He is also a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and War College. He is also a lifetime student of the American Civil War. He read his first Civil War book while in the fifth grade. He had the opportunity to visit all of the principle and most secondary Civil War sites from Florida to Pennsylvania to New Mexico during his 30-year military career, including multiple week-long visits to Gettysburg, his favorite battlefield site. Like most CWRT members, he desires to understand his home state’s role in the war. He collected material for this presentation for over ten years followed by several years of analysis. This series documents his research in great detail. Time allows only a key points 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 August 27, 2019

Join us at 7 PM, August 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

Jim Rhetta and Tom Roza on “How to Write a Book”

Writing is something that people do almost every day whether it is associated with their work profession or just on a personal basis. One of the most intriguing and compelling components of writing is storytelling where the author presents their thoughts that, depending on the content, is intended to either entertain, educate, or both.

Students of history such as members of the South Bay Civil War Roundtable are exposed to numerous stories regarding events and people that are associated with the Civil War, the most significant aspect in the history of the United States of America. And, often that exposure to literally tens of thousands of events and characters can stimulate within a person the creative desire to tell a story from their perspective.

The purpose of this presentation is to share with the SBCWRT membership the personal experiences of two of its members, Jim Rhetta and Tom Roza, on how to leverage that creative desire into positive action.

Tom will share is personal experience regarding his love of writing and how that was translated into the creation of his recently published novel, “Windows to the Past” A Virginian’s experience in the Civil War.” The presentation will include a description of the actual writing effort and the advice and guidance Tom received on how to effectively write a historically-based novel. This will include the extensive work Tom preformed with an experienced fictional editor. Tom’s portion of the joint presentation will include the often-frustrating effort to get his book published.

Jim will provide guidance on the descriptive components of writing in that era to reach the reader and provide a more captivating book. Writers should be aware of and describe the wide variety of vehicles and horses on the roads in that time. The social factors of the time include the large family sizes, drinking practices, social manners, and the role of religion. Sights and sounds include the colors and styles of clothing worn, type and state of crops in the fields, the feel of travel, and conditions of the buildings and infrastructure. Descriptions of these factors can combine to take the reader back to that era and have a deeper connection to the story.

Tom Roza has been a student of history for over 60 years. 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 organizations in the Bay Area. Tom is 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, and is currently working on a sequel.

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 foreign threat systems, global conflicts and crisis for the DoD Community. His careers required him to fuse multiple data sources 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.

2019 West Coast Civil War Conference: Civil War Leadership, 1861-1865

November 8–10, 2019, Crowne Plaza Hotel, Sacramento, Sponsored by Sacramento Civil War Round Table

Our Speakers are:

  • Chris Mackowski: A Professor of Journalism and Mass Communication at Saint Bonaventure University, and the author of more than 10 books. He works with the National Parks Service and is the founder of the Emerging Civil War Blog.
  • David A. Powell: A Vice-President of Airsped, Inc., a delivery firm. He has published many articles in magazines & historical simulations of different battles. He specializes and leads tours on the Battle of Chickamauga.
  • Sarah Kay Bierle: A Managing Editor for Emerging Civil War’s Blog. She has spent the last few years researching. writing, and speaking across the country about the American Civil War.
  • Paul Kahan: An expert on the political, diplomatic, and economic history of the United States in the nineteenth century. Dr. Kahan has published several books and is a former resident of Sacramento.
  • Jim Stanbery: A retired Professor of Political Science and History at Los Angeles Harbor College, and speaker at the West Coast Civil War Conference for more than thirty years. He is a frequent CWRT speaker.
  • Theodore P. Savas: An attorney, adjunct college instructor, award-winning author, and Partner and Managing Director of Savas Beatie LLC. He specializes in military history and the American Civil War.
  • Edwin L. Kennedy Jr.: A graduate of West Point and former Professor of the U.S. Army Command & General Staff College History Department & Combat Studies. He is the leader of staff rides, including the Battle of Chickamauga.

The Conference cost is $200 per person, which includes Friday dinner, Saturday lunch and dinner, as well as all sessions. A full hotel breakfast buffet is included for guests staying at the hotel. Partial day attendance: Friday Only is $50; Saturday Only is $125; Saturday Dinner and Lecture Only is $50; Sunday Only is $25. There will be a no-host bar set-up Friday and Saturday evenings for your enjoyment before dinner.

Download the flyer and registration form.

For more information, contact Paul Ruud at 530-886-8806.

Room reservations are available by calling the Crowne Plaza Hotel directly at 877-504-0054 or online at www.crowneplaza.com. The hotel has rooms set aside for us at $139 per night, plus tax. Please mention the Conference.

Meeting of June 25, 2019

Bill Yenne on “The Civil War Careers of Tom Custer”

The life, the legacy, and the Civil War years of Captain Thomas Ward Custer have long been overshadowed by those of his older brother—George Armstrong Custer—yet he was significant in his own right as the first soldier ever to be awarded two Medals of Honor. Tom fought at his brother’s side through the climactic battles of 1865 and during campaigns in the West, yet it is widely forgotten that he had two distinct Civil War careers—the first as an enlisted infantryman in an Ohio regiment, and a second as a cavalry officer in a Michigan brigade. Bill Yenne pulls back the curtain from the life of the wrongly overlooked younger brother and tells the stories of those two Civil War careers.

Bill Yenne is the award-winning author of numerous works of military history, as well as books on other historical subjects, including a highly regarded biography of Sitting Bull, and several novels. His recent book, The Other Custers: Tom, Boston Nevin & Maggie in the Shadow of George Armstrong Custer, tells the compelling stories of Tom and the “other” siblings, and how not one, not two, but three of the brothers died at the Little Bighorn. He lives in San Francisco, and on the web at www.BillYenne.com.

Quiz for June 25, 2019

Civil War Quiz: What Do You Know About These Civil War Authors and Historians?

Q#1 – Who was the American historian, noted for his writing on the American Civil War, who was widely acclaimed for his book on The Origins of the Republican Party, 1852-1856, which is still considered one of the most important books ever written on 19th-century American politics?

Q#2 – Who was the author who, in 1988, published his Pulitzer-winning book Battle Cry of Freedom?

Q#3 – This famous Civil War author and historian was inspired by his planter grandfather, who had died two years before his birth. Who was he?

Q#4 – After the publication of Captain Sam Grant (1950) by historian and biographer Lloyd Lewis, who wrote the second and third volumes of this trilogy?

Q#5 – Who is this author who has long been considered a leading authority on the Reconstruction Era of American history as evidenced by his seminal essay in American Heritage in October 1982?

Q#6 – The founding executive director of the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies research and education center is also considered the preeminent scholar on Confederate Lieutenant General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson. Who is he?

Q#7 – What well renowned Civil War historian made this profound quote: “I don’t want to call it a conspiracy to ignore the role of the Blacks, both above and below the Mason-Dixon Line, but it was definitely a tendency that began around 1910”?

Q#8 – This famous author and Civil War historian won the 2005 Lincoln Prize (for the best book about the American Civil War) for her 2005 book about Abraham Lincoln’s presidential cabinet. Part of the book was adapted by Tony Kushner into the screenplay for Steven Spielberg’s 2012 film Lincoln. Who is she?

Q#9 – Who is the Bay Area author who wrote Brady’s Civil War Journal: Photographing the War, 1861-65?

Q#10 – This famous Civil War author’s initial interest in the history of the Civil War first began after an eighth grade school field trip to the Gettysburg battlefield. Who is he?

Q#11 – Who is this now deceased famous Civil War author and historian who is attributed to this quote: “The point I would make is that the novelist and the historian are seeking the same thing: the truth – not a different truth: the same truth – only they reach it, or try to reach it, by different routes?

Q#12 – This famous Civil War historian was named Chief Historian of the National Park Service, a position he held until 1994. From 1994 to 1995, he served as special assistant to the director. After his retirement in 1995, he received the title Chief Historian Emeritus, which he holds to this day. What is his name?

Q#13 – Civil War Times (formerly Civil War Times Illustrated) is a history magazine published bi-monthly that covers the American Civil War. It was established in 1962 by whom?

Q#14 – Who is this American documentarian known for his style of using archival footage and photographs in his films?

Q#15 – Which Civil War historian served for nine years as co-chairman of the United States Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, appointed to the commission by President Bill Clinton in 2000, and elected co-chair by his fellow commissioners?

Meeting of May 28, 2019

Libra Hilde on “African American Soldiers and the Civil War”

The talk explores the recruitment of African American men into the Union Army, their motivations for fighting, who fought, treatment and experiences in the army, and exemplary service. Although the talk given by Dr. Hilde in her university class only considers African American soldiers in the Union, she hopes to add information on the proposed recruitment of enslaved men into the Confederate Army, a plan that never came to fruition (the war was essentially over) and did not have the support of slaveholders.

Dr. Libra Hilde is a professor in History at San Jose State University. She received her Ph.D. at Harvard University in 2003. While she teaches a broad array of undergraduate and graduate courses, her research focuses on race and gender in the 19th century U.S., with a particular emphasis on the Civil War and slavery.

Quiz for May 28, 2019

Civil War Quiz: What Do You Know About the Presidential Election of 1860?

Q#1 – Why didn’t incumbent President James Buchanan run for re-election in 1860?

Q#2 – The Republican Party replaced what then defunct political party as the major opposition to the Democrats?

Q#3 – The Constitutional Union Party replaced what two political parties?

Q#4 – The Republican Party held its nominating convention in Chicago. What was the name of the temporary wood-frame assembly hall it was held in?

Q#5 – Lincoln’s nomination at the Republican Party’s convention was a surprise. Who was the favorite before the convention was held?

Q#6 – There were two Democratic National Conventions in 1860; why?

Q#7 – In what city were the two 1860 Democratic National Conventions held?

Q#8 – Abraham Lincoln was the Republican Party nominee; Stephen Douglas was the Northern Democratic Party nominee. Who were the nominees for the Southern Democratic and Constitutional Union parties?

Q#9 – Hannibal Hamlin was Lincoln’s VP running mate. What was the name of Stephen A. Douglas’s VP running mate?

Q#10 – What were some of the critical key differences between modern presidential elections and those of the mid-nineteenth century?

Q#11 – What was the main campaign platform that Stephen Douglas, the Northern Democrat’s presidential candidate, ran on?

Q#12 – What was the only state in which Stephen A. Douglas won the Electoral College vote?

Q#13 – Percentage wise, the voter turnout for the 1860 presidential election was the highest in American history up to that time; what was the percent?

Q#14 – What percentage of the popular vote did Lincoln win?

Q#15 – Abraham Lincoln, the endorsed Republican candidate for President, didn’t even appear on ten states’ ballots in 1860. What were those states?

Meeting of April 30, 2019

Nick Adams on “A Civil War Story of the Family Left Behind”

What was the Civil War like for the families of those who chose to fight?

Nick Adams will be telling one such story in a thematic outline of his new book: Away at War: A Civil War Story of the Family Left Behind. This will be a follow-up to his presentation last year which focused on the 100 letters his great-great-grandfather wrote back from the Western Theater battlefields (My Dear Wife and Children: Civil War Letters from a 2nd Minnesota Volunteer).

He will share with us the terrible impact, the pain and anxiety, and the untold suffering war can cause the families of soldiers. With the winter of 1861 approaching, Minerva Griffin and her three young children are alone on the Minnesota prairie, for the husband and father of the family has left them for the fight to preserve the Union. She is now responsible for preserving both farm and family for his hoped-for eventual return. It is a true tale, developed from his letters home, of the difficult struggle to survive experienced by those left behind.

Nick Adams

Nick Adams’s passion for the American Civil War began at the age of nine, when his mother first told him about her great-grandfather, David Brainard Griffin, who had fought with the 2nd Minnesota Regiment of Volunteers, and had been killed at the Battle of Chickamauga. What she didn’t tell him about at that time was the 100 preserved letters he had written back to his young family on the Minnesota prairie … because she didn’t know about them, for they had been passed down in another branch of the family. When they were finally shared with her some forty years ago, she was permitted to make a single copy, which she graciously gave to Nick because she knew of his life-long interest. The originals are presumed no longer to survive, but his copies have been deposited with the Minnesota Historical Society.

Following post-graduate studies in Church History (Abilene Christian) and Sociology of Religion (University of Iowa), Nick spent 30 years in Pastoral Ministry and Social Justice, then returned to teaching, this time at the Elementary School level, and completed 20 years in the classroom. It was during those classroom years that the letters were given to him. By reading his personal account of involvement in the conflict, they became the perfect instrument for creating student interest in the period.

Since retirement, Nick has authored three books about the letters. Last spring he presented to our roundtable his story, as related in the letters (My Dear Wife and Children: Civil War Letters from a 2nd Minnesota Volunteer). This year he will tell his family’s story: Away at War: A Civil War Story of the Family Left Behind.

Quiz for April 30, 2019

Civil War Quiz: What Do You Know About the Funeral and Burial of Abraham Lincoln?

Q#1 – After being assassinated, where was Lincoln’s body first laid in state?

Q#2 – A catafalque was hastily constructed to support the casket of Abraham Lincoln while the president’s body lay in state in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, DC. What happened to that catafalque after Lincoln’s body was removed?

Q#3 – At the funeral service in Washington DC, who offered the sermon and also a prayer and benediction, which moved many listeners to tears?

Q#4 – Lincoln was laid in State in 12 locations; which two locations that were located in the same state are missing from this list: Washington, DC, Baltimore, MD, Harrisburg, PA, Philadelphia, PA, New York City, Albany, NY, Buffalo, NY, Indianapolis, IN, Chicago, IL, and Springfield, IL?

Q#5 – What name was given to Lincoln’s funeral train which had his portrait fastened to the front of the engine above the cattle guard?

Q#6 – What was the purpose of the pilot train that preceded Lincoln’s funeral train?

Q#7 – Why did Lincoln’s funeral train take the 1654 mile route that it did?

Q#8 – Why was Lincoln’s funeral train limited to 20 miles an hour?

Q#9 – In addition to Lincoln’s body, there was a second body on the funeral train; whose body was it?

Q#10 – Why did Lincoln’s wife Mary Todd Lincoln remain at the White House and not travel on the funeral train?

Q#11 – The funeral procession in New York City had the most number of horses of all the processions used to draw Lincoln’s hearse – how many horses were used?

Q#12 – During Lincoln’s funeral procession in New York City, what future US President watched the procession with his grandfather?

Q#13 – What was the name of the cemetery in Springfield, IL, where Lincoln was interred?

Q#14 – What happened to the railroad car that so famously carried Lincoln’s body to its final resting place?

Q#15 – In November 1876, why did Chicago counterfeiter James “Big Jim” Kennally plan to steal Lincoln’s body?

Meeting of March 26, 2019

Tom Roza on “American Revolution vs. the Civil War: Similarities and Differences”

The two most momentous events in the history of the United States of America occurred less than a century apart; the Revolutionary War occurred in 1775-1783 and the Civil War in 1861-1865. The objective of the Revolutionary War was to create United States of America; the objective of the Civil War was to preserve it. Being a student of history for over 60 years and having conducted extensive research into the root causes for each of these two conflicts, there are numerous social, economic, and political similarities – as well as some differences.

From a high level, people living in the Thirteen Colonies, because of the vast geographical distance from England and Europe in general, and the mixing of different ethnic cultures, with each passing day, were drifting further apart from their European ancestors. In the United States, the North had become more urban, industrialized, and its citizens were more migrant that produced a philosophy that America was a “Union of States”. Conversely, the South was more rural, agrarian, and its population was more sedentary; generation after generation grew up and lived in the same towns and counties; that produced a philosophy that America was a “Collection of Independent States”.

From a social perspective for the period leading up to the Revolutionary War, while most of the people living in the thirteen colonies were of English ancestry, cohabitating with other European ethnic groups as well as being in close proximity to Native American Indians produced a vastly different set of values from those living in England and other European countries. The American colonists saw themselves as more independent and were creating a more homogenous society. For the period leading up to the Civil War, American citizens living in the North had retained that homogenous society perspective that resulted in a more inclusive citizenry. American citizens living in the South sociologically had evolved into a more exclusive society that supported slavery and viewed non-Caucasians and those from non-Protestant religions as foreigners.

From an economic perspective, the British Parliament used its power to impose numerous trade tariffs, barriers and regulations that retarded the economic growth of the colonies. Similarly, the United States Congress imposed numerous trade tariffs, barriers, and regulations that retarded the economic growth of the Southern States.

From a political perspective, the thirteen colonies had no representation in Parliament and were denied the same individual rights that were granted to citizens living in England. With the abolitionist movement in the North attempting to prevent slavery from being allowed in the new states being formed in the western territories, Southerners feared they would lose political power in Congress that would both perpetuate the imposition of unfair economic laws but also eventually result in the abolition of slavery throughout the United States.

The presentation “American Revolution vs. the Civil War: Similarities and Differences” takes in-depth look at these two momentous events.

Tom Roza has been a student of history for over 60 years. His interest in both the Revolutionary War and the Civil War 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.