Monthly Archives: June 2018

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.