Author Archives: hlj

Meeting of September 29, 2015

Tom Roza on “The Battle of Antietam, Part 1: Invasion and the Battle of South Mountain”

Battle of South Mountain (Wikipedia)

Battle of South Mountain (Wikipedia)

Tom’s study of the American Civil War has primarily focused on the people who fought in the war, who they were, what their role was in the Civil War, and what was it about them that made them significant characters in that great conflict. His previous presentations on John Buford, Winfield Scott Hancock, Robert Gould Shaw, Ambrose Powell Hill, US Grant, and most recently Jeb Stuart, covered their lives including their family history, education, military background, roles in the Civil War, and in the case of Hancock, life after the War. Tom has always been more interested in the study of people and relationships; why people do what they do, what were their relationships, and how these relationships helped make these individuals who they were.

While the Battle of Gettysburg has traditionally been labeled as the Highpoint of the Confederacy and the turning point of the Civil War, there is another conflict that in Tom’s years of studying the Civil War was as important, if not more so than Gettysburg; that conflict is the Battle of Antietam.

The Battle of Antietam, or as the Southerners refer to it, The Battle of Sharpsburg has always been referred to as the Bloodiest Day in American history. That is because in approximately 12 hours of horrific combat, approximately 23,000 casualties were inflicted. But, Antietam was much more than just the bloodiest day in our military history. It was as the Civil War Historian James M. McPherson labeled it, “The Battle That Changed the Course of the Civil War.”

Tom’s research on Antietam has uncovered many critical events and factors proceeding September 17, 1862, that influenced dramatically what occurred on the outskirts of that little Maryland town by a lazy flowing creek. This is the first of a two-part presentation, to be concluded next month.

Meeting Minutes September 2015

Quiz for September 29, 2015

Civil War Quiz: What Happened During the Month of September, 1861–1865?

Q#1 – In September 1861, President Lincoln revoked an unauthorized military proclamation of emancipation in Missouri and relieved the Union commander who issued it. What was the name of that Union commander?

Q#2 – What was the date of the Battle of Antietam?

Q#3 – What action did President Lincoln take on September 22, 1862?

Q#4 – The Battle of Chickamauga was fought on September 19/20, 1863. What were the names of the Confederate and Union commanders?

Q#5 – What significant Union victory occurred on September 2, 1864?

Q#6 – What major military action occurred on September 12 that was part of Lee’s first invasion of the North?

Q#7 – After many failed attempts to capture it, what Confederate fort located in South Carolina was finally captured by Union troops on September 7, 1863?

Q#8 – What was the name of the battle that was fought on September 18-20, 1861, in Missouri that was won by the Confederates and threatened keeping Missouri in the Union?

Q#9 – On September 4, 1861, a large Confederate Army moved into Kentucky, occupied Columbus, and began occupying high ground overlooking the Mississippi River. What was the name of the Confederate commander?

Q#10 – Following Union general Pope’s disastrous defeat at the Battle of Second Bull Run, what action did President Lincoln take on September 2, 1862?

Q#11 – What major legal action did President Lincoln take on September 24, 1862, that now affected all the states in the North?

Q#12 – On September 8, 1863, the Second Battle of Sabine Pass was fought when a Union flotilla of four gunboats and seven troop transports steamed into Sabine Pass and up the Sabine River. What was the reason for this military engagement?

Q#13 – What was the name of the battle fought on September 21-22, 1864, when Union general Philip Sheridan defeated the Confederate Army led by General Jubal Early, which opened up the Shenandoah Valley to a Union “scorched earth” invasion that became known as the “Burning” or “Red October”?

Q#14 – During March 19-21, 1865, what battle was fought in North Carolina?

Q#15 – What was the name of the battle fought on September 14, 1862, initiated by Union general George McClellan after he found Lee’s General Order 191?

Meeting of August 22, 2015

Jim Rhetta on “Newspapers and Open Source Intelligence in the Civil War”

Jim Rhetta

Jim Rhetta

The Civil War is called the “first modern war” due to the first use of many new and modern technologies. Often overlooked is the fact that it was also the first war that newspapers covered capable of reporting events in less than 12 hours. With the majority of the population literate, this capability produced a new and significant impact on both war efforts that politicians on both sides had not experienced before and were unprepared for. In addition, newspapers frequently printed information of high and timely military value, an action that never occurred before, which enraged generals on both sides. This information is now known as Open Source Intelligence, can be of high value, and is commonly used by all participants in current global conflicts.

See photos from the picnic meeting.

Meeting Minutes August 2015

Quiz for August 22, 2015

Civil War Quiz: Naval Battles of the American Civil War

Q#1 – On what date were the first shots of naval warfare in the Civil War fired and where were they fired?

Q#2 – On what date were the final shots of the naval warfare in the Civil War fired and where were they fired?

Q#3 – Other than performing blockade duty or trying to sink each other’s naval ships, what were the two primary objectives of each side’s naval forces?

Q#4 – What was a secondary use of each side’s naval forces during the Civil War?

Q#5 – What significant event occurred during the naval Battle of Aquia Creek, which took place from May 29, 1861 to June 1, 1861?

Q#6 – What was the first battle involving Union ironclads in the Civil War (Hint: It was not the naval Battle of Hampton Roads between the Monitor and Merrimac)?

Q#7 – What significant event occurred during the naval battle at Fort Pillow, Tennessee (aka Plum Point Bend) between ships of the Confederate River Defense Fleet and the Union Mississippi River Squadron?

Q#8 – The naval Battle of Arkansas Post (aka, Battle of Fort Hindman) fought January 9–11, 1863, near the mouth of the Arkansas River at Arkansas Post, Arkansas, resulted in what significant adverse consequence for the Confederacy?

Q#9 – What was the outcome of the Second Naval Battle of Sabine Pass which took place on September 8, 1863?

Q#10 – What significant naval event occurred on February 17, 1864, in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina?

Q#11 – What was the name of the naval battle where the Confederate CSS Alabama ship was sunk and what was the date of the battle?

Q#12 – What is the significance of the Second Battle of Fort Fisher fought on January 13–15, 1865, involving an assault by the Union Army, Navy, and Marine Corps against Fort Fisher, outside Wilmington, North Carolina?

Q#13 – Which naval battle is considered the greatest Union naval victory of the war?

Q#14 – What international diplomatic flap on October 7, 1864, was labeled the “Bahia Incident”?

Q#15 – The Union naval blockade of Southern ports and harbors were part of what overall Northern plan for defeating the Confederacy?

Meeting of July 28, 2015

Ted Savas on “Lincoln and Davis at War”

Lincoln and Davis (Wikipedia)

Lincoln and Davis (Wikipedia)

Ted discussed how the presidents of the Union and the Confederacy approached the war in terms of weaponry and objectives, offering fresh and often humorous insights on Lincoln and Davis, their chief subordinates, the choices they made, and the challenges they faced as they fought the Civil War.

Theodore P. Savas graduated from The University of Iowa College of Law in 1986 (With Distinction). He practiced law in Silicon Valley for twelve years before moving to El Dorado Hills. He co-founded Savas Woodbury Publishers (subsequently Savas Publishing) in 1990 with David Woodbury, and is the owner and managing director of Savas Beatie LLC, one of the largest independent Civil War publishers in the world. He has been teaching legal, history, and business college classes since 1992, and is the author or editor of fourteen books (published in six languages) including A Guide to the Battles of the American Revolution, Hunt and Kill: U-505 and the U-Boat War in the Atlantic, and Silent Hunters: German U-boat Commanders of World War II. While in San Jose he founded the South Bay Civil War Round Table in 1989; its first meeting of four people was held in his living room.

Meeting Minutes July 2015

Quiz for July 28, 2015

Civil War Quiz: What Do You Know About Pickett’s Charge?

Q#1 – What were the names of the three Confederate Division commanders in Pickett’s Charge?

Q#2 – On Cemetery Ridge, which Union Corp was the target of the Confederate assault and who was the Corps Commander?

Q#3 – Which Union division was directly in the center of the Union line on Cemetery Ridge?

Q#4 – What other military action did Lee plan to initiate concurrent with the infantry attack on Cemetery Ridge?

Q#5 – Approximately how many Confederate cannons were used to bombard the Union Line on Cemetery Ridge prior to Pickett’s Charge?

Q#6 – What are the three main reasons given for the ineffectiveness of the Confederate bombardment of the Union Line on Cemetery Ridge prior to Pickett’s Charge?

Q#7 – What was the name of the general in charge on the Union artillery?

Q#8 – What was the reason there was little or no close artillery support provided by E. Porter Alexander’s artillery once the Confederate infantry actually began to move toward the Union lines?

Q#9 – What is the current most accurate estimate of the number of Confederate infantry troops that actually made Pickett’s Charge?

Q#10 – Of the 3 main divisions involved in Pickett’s charge, how many Confederate brigades were involved?

Q#11 – As the Confederate infantry lines approached Cemetery Ridge, what were the Union troops on Cemetery Ridge heard to be shouting at them?

Q#12 – Which Union regiment attacked Confederate General Brockenbrough’s brigade on the left flank of Pickett’s Charge causing the Southerners to retreat back to Seminary Ridge?

Q#13 – What was the name of the Union brigade that delivered devastating musket fire into the right flank of Pickett’s division as it attacked up the slope of Cemetery Ridge?

Q#14 –What was the name of the Union brigade that defended the Union center where a low stone wall took an 80-yard right-angle turn that became known afterward as “The Angle?”

Q#15 – What were the approximate number of Union casualties resulting from Pickett’s Charge? What were the Confederates?

Meeting of June 30, 2015

Bill Noyes on “Lincoln’s Photographic Journey”

Bill has provided the following description:

Any time is a great time to consider Abe Lincoln and his story. Thus I thought as I rediscovered the book, “Lincoln: his Life in Photographs” by Stefan Lorant, done in 1941. I’d buried it away in one of my sheds many years before and after a quick read I could see what an opportunity it presented to view Old Abe’s journey from the back woods to greatest American in the District of Columbia. Soon I was putting together a digital slide show for presentation to the Round Table from the pages of Lincoln’s images which had taken him 19 years to assemble.

Lincoln was born well before photography and grew to mid age without expecting to see images of himself or most people he might meet, other than in fleeting representations in a mirror. Expensive painted miniature portraits were in vogue in the best of families, and also oil portraits and chalk drawings or engravings but average people didn’t spend hard money on such unchanging luxuries. Then things changed in 1840 when the daguerreotype came to America, but Abe was slow to take to the process.

In 50 pictures we’ll trace Lincoln’s life and accomplishments photographically as he adjusted to and learned to use the new medium. Mythic tales and questionable facts must yield to the new documentary evidence we have all come to know and expect in this digital age. Please bring your vast knowledge and ready experience concerning President Lincoln to share as each photo might warrant. We’ll see old familiar images and unusual or forgotten ones, any of which may spark unexpected comments and shared insights about Mr. Lincoln and his times.

Noyes Lincoln Photos


Meeting Minutes June 2015

Quiz for June 30, 2015

Civil War Quiz: Little Known Facts About the Seven Days Battles

Q#1 – How many “major” battles were fought during the Seven Days Battles?

Q#2 – What are the names of the “major” battles that were fought and in what sequence were they fought?

Q#3 – What was the name of the minor battle that was fought on June 25 that signaled the beginning of the Seven Days Battle?

Q#4 – What was the name of the farm where on June 28 Confederate General Brig. Gen. Robert A. Toombs’s brigade was severely battered by the Union 49th Pennsylvania and 43rd New York regiments?

Q#5 – After a major battle was fought on June 26, what was the number of Confederate troops that Union General McClellan reported to Washington that he estimated he was facing?

Q#6 – What are the other two names given to the Battle of Gaines’s Mill?

Q#7 – Of the “major” battles fought during the Seven Days Battle, which is the only one that was a clear-cut Confederate tactical victory?

Q#8 – What was the name of the railroad line where the Battle of Savage’s Station was fought?

Q#9 – What was the name given to the first instance of an armored railroad battery to be used in combat by the Confederate Army?

Q#10 – At the Battle of White Oak Swamp, what Confederate government official came under artillery fire and had to be ordered from the field by AP Hill?

Q#11 – Which Union General prepared the Union positions on Malvern Hill?

Q#12 – How many Union cannon were placed on Malvern Hill to repulse the Confederate attack on July 1?

Q#13 – What was the name of the location on the James River that Union General McClellan retreated to after the last engagement of the Seven Days Battle?

Q#14 – Which side incurred more casualties during the Seven Days Battle?

Q#15 – After the end of the Seven Days Battle, the Army of the Potomac encamped around Berkeley Plantation. What was the name of the US President who was born there?

Meeting of May 26, 2015

Robert Burch on “California in the Civil War: Background and Military Situation in April 1861”

California in the Civil War, Part 1California’s involvement in the American Civil War remains one of the great hidden facets of that conflict. Yet it is rich by the value of its unique contribution to the Union war effort and resemblance to national trends throughout that period. Background and Military Situation in April 1861 was the first of a five-part series concerning California and the war. This series considers all aspects of the state’s involvement from a military perspective. Subsequent presentations discuss Californian U.S. Volunteer Units, U.S. Navy in California, Military Bases in California, Famous Californian Generals, Military Operations and Aftermath (1861-66). This is a fresh reevaluation of an old subject utilizing new material available on the Internet supplementing numerous traditional original and secondary sources. This series reveals that our pre-war history is more complex and wartime contribution is greater than generally appreciated.

Background and Military Situation in April 1861 put these wartime experiences into perspective by highlighting key economic, military and political events within California leading up to the war. Discussion started with a condensed military history of Spanish and Mexican California culminating in the Mexican-American War of 1846. Initial political divisions and U.S. military presence in California begins in this period. Next, discussion led to the state’s political history before the war. This revealed that California entered the Union as an anti-slavery state in 1850, but strong Southern influence moved the state into the “pro-slavery” camp by 1860 as part of the Southern national agenda to defend slavery. Finally, the state’s military situation in April 1861 was highlighted. The U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, California State Militia, and Secessionist Militia were each individually summarized. Special attention was given to the obscure Santa Clara County state militia and the secessionist militia companies. This revealed that while pro-Southern politics became dominate by 1860, it was also a “house of cards” as its leadership and most-radical followers fled the state after Fort Sumter and Union patriotism blossomed in April 1861.

This topic is of special interest to the author. Bob is a native California, 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 May 2015

Quiz for May 26, 2015

Civil War Quiz: Battle of Seven Pines

Q#1 – What were the dates when the Battle of Seven Pines was fought?

Q#2 – What two other names are often given to the Battle of Seven Pines?

Q#3 – Near what river on the Virginia Peninsula was the battle fought?

Q#4 – What was the approximate size of the Union Army?

Q#5 – What was the approximate size of the Confederate Army?

Q#6 – What was Confederate Joseph E. Johnston’s attack plan?

Q#7 – What critical mistake did Confederate General James Longstreet make at the beginning of the battle?

Q#8 – Where was Union General George McClellan at the start of the battle?

Q#9 – What fairly new scouting technique did the Union employ to identify where Confederate forces were located and where they were marching to?

Q#10 – What was the name of the bridge over the Chickahominy River that collapsed almost immediately after Union General Edwin V. Sumner’s II Corps crossed it?

Q#11 – What wounds did Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston suffer that resulted in him having to be replaced by Robert E. Lee as Commander of the Army of Northern Virginia?

Q#12 – Which side won the Battle of Seven Pines?

Q#13 – What did Union General George McClellan write his wife regarding his reaction to the battle?

Q#14 – After the battle, what maneuver did the Army of Northern Virginia execute?

Q#15 – After the battle, what action did Union General McClellan take with his army?