Author Archives: hlj

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.

Quiz for August 27, 2019

Civil War Quiz: What Do You Know About Civil War Battlefield Preservation and National Cemeteries?

Q#1 – When did the U.S. Congress authorize the creation of military burial places during the Civil War?

Q#2 – What were the first three efforts at Civil War memorialization during the war itself?

Q#3 – What battlefield and cemetery that were established in 1862, but title to the land was not transferred to the War Department until 1877?

Q#4 – Who began erecting markers on battlefields beginning with the First Battle of Bull Run in July 1861?

Q#5 – What is the oldest surviving monument Civil War monument and where is it located?

Q#6 – In the 1890s, the United States government established five Civil War battlefield parks under the jurisdiction of the War Department. Two were: Antietam National Battlefield in Maryland and Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania; what were the other three?

Q#7 – The modern Civil War battlefield preservation movement began in 1987 with the founding of what organization?

Q#8 – In 1991, the original Civil War Trust organization was initially created in the mold of what other organization?

Q#9 – From 1987 through late 2017, the Civil Trust and its predecessor organizations saved more than 40,000 acres at how many Civil War battlefields and sites in 21 states?

Q#10 – The American Civil War was the defining event in our nation’s history. Between 1861 and 1865 approximately how many battles and engagements were fought across the continent from Vermont to the New Mexico Territory, and beyond?

Q#11 – Starting in 1991, what event caused interest in the Civil War to soar and led to major donations to various preservation battlefield organizations?

Q#12 – Whose efforts 25 years after the Civil War resulted in the creation of these national military parks: Gettysburg, Shiloh, Antietam, Vicksburg, Chickamauga?

13 – In the mid-1890s, what planned action led to a Supreme Court decision that established the government’s right to acquire and condemn land in the interest of historic preservation?

Q#14 – What was the “Antietam Plan” that was developed in the second half of the 19th Century related to how battlefield preservation specifications were defined?

Q#15 – What is thought to be the first monument to be erected on a Civil War battlefield?

Meeting of September 14, 2019

South Bay CWRT 2019 Annual Picnic Meeting

The SBCWRT annual picnic meeting will be held Saturday, September 14, 1–4 pm, at the home of Marilyn Comstock, 6574 Crystal Springs Drive, San Jose, CA 95120. The meal cost will be $10 per person. Dues will be collected: $20 Individual / $35 Couple.

The presentation will be

Jim Rhetta on “The Federal Blockade: Its Overlooked Impacts on the Confederate War Effort.”

There is no doubt that the Civil War had tremendous impact on the nation’s history. However, some Civil War enthusiast and historians have stated that the Civil War is still currently studied for examples to shape and influence modern military practices and tactical operations.

This presentation will describe the Generations of Human Warfare and that the Civil War was at a unique tipping point between the Generations of Mass and Firepower. Some initial uses in the Civil War as armored ships, submarines, and observation balloons later improved and evolved into common components of later conflicts. However technological changes quickly rendered Civil War era tactics and operations ineffective and obsolete.

A look at the three Generations of Warfare currently in practice will reveal how human conflict has evolved in directions and means beyond what could be conducted and even imagined in the Civil War.

Meeting of July 30, 2019

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.

Quiz for July 30, 2019

Civil War Quiz: What Do You Know About the “Lost Cause” of the Confederacy?

Q#1 – When and where did the term “Lost Cause” first appear?

Q#2 – What was the objective of the “Lost Cause”?

Q#3 – Why were so many white Southerners devastated economically, emotionally, and psychologically by the defeat of the Confederacy in 1865?

Q#4 – How did believers in the “Lost Cause” explain the Confederate defeat?

Q#5 – How did many who advocated the virtues of the “Lost Cause” portray the slavery system?

Q#6 – What purpose did these Southern memorial associations such as the United Confederate Veterans, the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and Ladies Memorial Associations have in advancing the concepts of the “Lost Cause”?

Q#7 – How did proponents of the “Lost Cause” movement view the Reconstruction that followed the Civil War?

Q#8 – The 1881 publication of “The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government” by Jefferson Davis, a two-volume defense of the Southern cause, provided what important justification in the history of the Lost Cause?

Q#9 – How did Robert E. Lee indirectly help in advancing the beliefs central to the “Lost Cause”?

Q#10 – Confederate Memorial Literary Society (CMLS), founded by elite white women in Richmond, Virginia, in the 1890s, established the Confederate Museum. What was the main purpose of the Museum?

Q#11 – What was the primary role of The United Daughters of the Confederacy as it related to the “Lost Cause”?

Q#12 – What was one method employed by The United Daughters of the Confederacy that helped promulgate the Lost Cause’s ideology?

Q#13 – What financial and economic action did proponents of the “Lost Cause” initiate to help reduce the severe poverty prevalent in the South after the Civil War?

Q#14 – In October 1875, the second son of General Robert E. Lee made the following statement at the Annual Meeting of the Virginia Division: “I object to the phrase too often used—South as well as North—that the Confederates fought for what they thought was right. They fought for what they knew was right. They, like the Greeks, fought for home, the graves of their sires, and their native land”. What was this person’s name?

Q#15 – “Lost Cause” advocates viewed Confederate generals such as Lee, Albert Sidney Johnston, and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson as representing the virtues of Southern nobility and fought bravely and fairly. How did these same people view Northern generals?

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?