Category Archives: Meeting announcement

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.

Meeting of June 27, 2017

Bob Burch on “California in the Civil War: Other California Units”

This is the fifth of a twelve-part series on California and the American Civil War. This presentation will explore the history of those units that served in the Eastern Theater during the American Civil War that enlisted a good portion of their recruits from California or had that state’s name in their unit designation. Nearly ten percent of Californians who volunteered during the war did so into units from other states. They did so for a variety of reasons including the desire to represent their state during the war to preserve the Union. Consequently these “other California units” represented their state continuously from the Battle of First Bull Run until General Lee’s surrender at Appomattox four years later.

Eventually Californians served in five other states’ volunteer regiments. On the West Coast these units were the 1st Washington Territory Infantry and 1st Oregon Cavalry Regiments. On the East Coast these were the 32nd New York Infantry Regiment (aka “California Regiment”), Baker’s Brigade (aka “California Brigade”) of four regiments, and the 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry Regiment’s “California Hundred” and “California Battalion”.

Along the way we will meet several forgotten Californians who served their country well. Colonel Roderick Matheson from Healdsburg who fought at First Bull Run and later died from wounds received at the Battle of Crampton’s Gap. Colonel Francis Pinto of San Francisco who commanded regiments during the Peninsula, 2nd Manassas, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville Campaigns. Major Archibald McKendry who commanded the California Battalion and eventually the 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry Regiment when only a captain. Captain James Sewell Reed of the California Hundred who died while leading his unit against Mosby’s partisans and Captain Hugh Armstrong who replaced him and led that company from Battle of Fort Stevens until Appomattox. And Captain Henry Crocker of San Francisco who participated in nine battle and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for valor at the Battle of Cedar Creek.

Except for the “CAL 100” Cavalry, these units have disappeared from history despite the presence of the California Regiment’s monument on Cemetery Ridge at Gettysburg and mention in many original source documents from newspapers to the Official Records. This presentation will attempt to remember and honor their contribution to the Union cause.

Bob Burch is a native Californian, 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 June 2017