Category Archives: Meeting archive

Meeting of August 26, 2017

 

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

In June we took an unplanned detour to explore the Secessionist and Confederate units raised in California as well as a look at several biographies from private to general officer from Californians who served in the Confederate Army. This contribution was much larger than acknowledged among historians, but too small to affect the outcome of the war. This was truly a “lost cause” within the Southern “Lost Cause” experience.

This presentation explored the history of those Union 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 remembered and honored 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 August 2017

Meeting of July 25, 2017

Howard Jones on “John Paul Jones – An American Hero”

John Paul Jones took the fight for American independence to the British Isles during the Revolutionary War. The epic battle between the American Ship, Bonhomme Richard, and the British ship, Serapis, is legendary in naval history. His ultimate victory became the basis for the creation of the United States Naval Academy and a world-power American Navy.

Howard is the President of the Peninsula Civil War Round Table. He is a Marine Corps Veteran and a graduate of the University of Oregon. He is the immediate Past Commander General of the Military Order of the Stars and Bars. He is a former President of the Silicon Valley Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution. In addition, he served for 12 years as the Public Member of San Mateo County’s Local Agency Formation Committee. Howard frequently gives presentations about American history to elementary grade school children and heritage groups such as the DAR, SAR, and the UDC.

Meeting Minutes July 2017

Meeting of May 30, 2017

John Herberich on “Nathan Bedford Forrest and the 4th United States Cavalry”

As the only Regular Cavalry regiment in the Western Theater, the 4th Cavalry became the primary nemesis of Forrest’s (and Wheeler’s) cavalry – from the earliest contact at Fort Donelson to the final cavalry charge at Selma, AL, with the final, tragic conclusion during the last week of the war.

Meeting Minutes May 2017

Meeting of April 25, 2017

Tom Roza on “Nathan Bedford Forrest – First with the Most”

South Bay Civil War Roundtable Secretary Tom Roza provides an intriguing and detailed examination of the life and career of one of the most polarizing figures and greatest cavalrymen of the Civil War, Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest.

Born July 13, 1821, in Chapel Hill, Tennessee, along with a twin sister, Forrest had very little formal education, yet he is remembered as a self-educated, brutal, and innovative cavalry leader during the Civil War and as a leading Southern advocate in the postwar years. Before the Civil War, Forrest had already amassed a fortune as a planter, real estate investor, and slave trader. He was one of the few officers in either army to enlist as a private and be promoted to general officer and corps commander during the war. Although Forrest lacked formal military education, he had a gift for leadership, strategy, and tactics. He created and established new doctrines for mobile forces, earning the nickname The Wizard of the Saddle.

After the Civil War, Forrest and most Southerners railed against the Northern-implemented Reconstruction effort. He was a pledged delegate from Tennessee to the New York Democratic National Convention of July 1868. He served as the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, but later distanced himself from the organization.

Tom Roza’s main interest in the Civil War has focused on what type of people fought in the war as opposed to the actual battles. The presentation on Nathan Bedford Forrest follows in line with most of Tom’s presentations on John Buford, Winfield Scott Hancock, Jeb Stuart at Yellow Tavern, A.P. Hill, and Robert Gould Shaw. Tom also presented an in-depth two part presentation of Robert E. Lee’s first invasion of the north in September 1862, which culminated in the Battle of Antietam.

Meeting Minutes April 2017

Meeting of March 28, 2017

John Fitzpatrick on “‘No Fail Here’: The Personal, Political and Policy Pressures Impacting President Lincoln at Gettysburg, November 1863”

john-fitzpatrickColonel John J. Fitzpatrick, Jr., Esq. presented the personal, political, and policy issues and pressures impacting President Lincoln when he came to Gettysburg, only once for about 24 hours on November 18 and 19, 1863. We saw how the President dealt with them and channeled many of them into the Gettysburg Address. The country was fractured, the Civil War was ongoing, there was no end in sight—and the President was not even invited as the Keynote Speaker! In short, we learned of his three goals and heard the real back-story to the immortal Gettysburg Address.

John Fitzpatrick is an attorney, arbitrator, aviator, reenactor, veteran, and Licensed Battlefield Guide Emeritus at the Gettysburg National Military Park, Pennsylvania, who brings those perspectives to his tours at Gettysburg and to this presentation. Since 2009, John has made this presentation 50 times in 7 different States and the District of Columbia.

Meeting Minutes March 2017

Meeting of February 28, 2017

Doug Rees on “The Plot to Kidnap Abe Lincoln”

History is a dialogue between the present and the past. It’s a truism. But it begs the question, “What use is the past to the present, and what use does the present make of the past?” Because if the past is to have any significance, it’s up to the present to find it, and to use it to cast light on the present. Conventional histories are written to establish that connection. Without it, they are either adventure tales or antiquarianism. In the case before you tonight, an obscure “almost”—the attempted, and nearly successful kidnapping of Abraham Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth and his gang, led to the creation of a play based on the almost-event. When the medium changes from the printed book to the stage, the mode of transmission is also changes. How is making this use of the past similar to, and different from, a work of history?

Douglas Rees holds a master’s degree in history from UC Riverside, where he studied the Civil War under Hal Bridges. He is the author of a number of books for young people, including Lightning Time, a novel about the Harper’s Ferry raid, and a number of plays which have been produced locally, and in venues from Los Angeles to Panama, including Kidnap!; Or, The Abduction of Abraham Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth and Company.

Doug’s website is douglasrees.com.

Meeting Minutes February 2017

Meeting of January 31, 2017

Ted Savas on “Rediscovering the Battle Payne’s Farm: Combat and Relics from the Mine Run Campaign”

Ted Savas gave a unique presentation on how he discovered, mapped, and ultimately preserved an important “lost” Civil War battlefield.

The short but bloody battle was fought in Northern Virginia on November 27, 1863, and was much more important to the course of the war than previously known.

The engagement was the first in Federal general George G. Meade’s ultimately unsuccessful Mine Run Campaign, which was designed to cross the Rapidan River quickly, march behind General Lee’s exposed right flank, turn it, and crush the Confederates. Although it got off to a good start, one wing of the Federal Army got bogged down fording the Rapidan River and unexpectedly ran into one of Lee’s veteran divisions, triggering the critical Payne’s Farm combat.

Ted gave a PowerPoint presentation with extensive photos, maps, and commentary, including showing hundreds of relics he discovered on the field. He also welcomed questions on how to get published, writing history, and other topics.

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 Minutes January 2017

Meeting of November 29, 2016

Rene Accornero presents “Civilians and the Battle of Gettysburg” Video

Tim Smith

Tim Smith

In this C-Span DVD, Tim Smith discusses the frequently overlooked story of the role and impact of the Battle of Gettysburg on the local civilian population. The video includes a brief history of the town of Gettysburg and how its location was pivotal to why the battle was fought there.

Tim’s discussion includes testimonials from civilians describing their actual experiences before, during, and after the battle. Letters and diary entries serve as the sources for much of the description of the impact on the Gettysburg civilians. The presenter describes in detail how civilians were tasked with a number of overwhelming responsibilities such as assisting in the care of over 20,000 wounded soldiers, the disposal of thousands of dead horses, and the removal of the massive amount of wreckage of military armaments.

Tim Smith is a native of Baltimore, Maryland, and has been a Licensed Battlefield Guide at Gettysburg National Military Park since 1992. Tim is the Research Historian for the Adams County Historical Society, and has written numerous articles, booklets, and books about the Gettysburg area including co-authoring the book Devil’s Den, A History and Guide. The DVD is about 45 minutes in length.

Meeting Minutes November 2016

Meeting of October 25, 2016

Blaine Lamb on “The Extraordinary Life of Charles Pomeroy Stone”

stone-bookAs the secession crisis came to a head in the winter of 1861, an obscure military engineer, Charles Pomeroy Stone, emerged as the rallying point for the defense of Washington, D.C., against rebel insurrection or attack. He was protector of the president and right hand man of the army’s commanding general. Nevertheless, in just a year, this same hero sat in a military prison accused of incompetence and disloyalty.

Like other Union officers, Stone had the misfortune to run afoul of politicians who sought to control the war effort by undermining the professional military establishment. Their weapon, the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War, applied a litmus test of commitment to abolition, loyalty to the Republican Party, and battlefield success for the retention and promotion of army commanders. Stone, a Democrat who did not see the conflict as a crusade against slavery, and who lost his only battle, failed on all counts.

Readers of Civil War history know Stone best for his disgrace and imprisonment. His story, however, goes far beyond this unfortunate occurrence — from the Halls of the Montezumas to Gold Rush California, and from the pyramids of Egypt to the Statue of Liberty. In a presentation drawn from his recently published biography, The Extraordinary Life of Charles Pomeroy Stone: Soldier, Surveyor, Pasha, Engineer, historian Blaine Lamb weaves a narrative of adventure, exploration, war and intrigue with a cast of characters ranging from the dour William Tecumseh Sherman to the flamboyant Ismail the Magnificent. But the center remains Stone himself, a man of honor, steadfast loyalty and tragic innocence.

blaine-lambA native of San Diego, California, Blaine Lamb obtained his BA and MA degrees in history from the University of San Diego. He then moved to Tempe, Arizona, and entered the doctoral program in history at Arizona State University, receiving his Ph.D. in 1982. Dr. Lamb returned to California and joined the staff of the State Railroad Museum as an archivist and later became a senior archivist at the California State Archives. In 2007, he took the position of Chief of the Archaeology, History and Museums Division of California State Parks, where he remained until his retirement in 2012. Since retirement, he completed work on his biography of General Charles Pomeroy Stone, which was published in 2016.

In addition to the Stone biography, Dr. Lamb’s publications include articles and reviews in California History, Journal of Arizona History, Western Historical Quarterly, Journal of America’s Military Past, Journal of the West, and Overland Journal.

Meeting Minutes October 2016

Meeting of September 27, 2016

Meg Groeling on “The Aftermath of Battle: The Burial of the Civil War Dead”

Aftermath of BattleMeg’s presentation was a book talk about The Aftermath of Battle, her volume in the Emerging Civil War series, published by Savas Beatie. She presented a series of short discussions about the stories within the covers, such as the contribution of Dr. Jonathan Letterman to the advancement of military medicine, how TAPS came to be—and came to be played for military funerals—and the evolution of embalming and mortuary science to ensure the safe transport of remains from the battlefield to home, wherever that was. Aftermath looks at many different “aftermaths,” and the good (or bad) that came from so much injury and death. Things we take for granted today, like photojournalism, military cemeteries, veteran’s care, amputation and reliable prostheses, and forensic science—all began during or after the American Civil War. From the first Union Army officer death—Colonel Elmer Ellsworth—to the last surviving Civil War veteran—Albert Woolson—Aftermath covers these and almost everything in between. Understanding what every soldier risked is what speaks to the heart of military history. Whether wearing blue or gray, firing a gun or a cannon, being a prisoner or a submariner, or even simply hauling supplies or carrying the general, each had an aftermath. Meg’s book honors them all.

Meg-GroelingMeg Groeling currently teaches math at Brownell Middle School, named for E. E. Brownell, a California educator who was named for Colonel Elmer Ellsworth and is related to Corporal Francis Brownell, the man who shot the man who killed Ellsworth. She has also taught at other public schools in California and Maryland. She contributes to World At War and Strategy and Tactics, history and war-gaming magazines. Her undergraduate degree in Liberal Studies with a minor in American History was from California State University, Long Beach, and she will receive her Masters degree in History, with a Civil War emphasis, in January 2016.

Savas Beatie published her first book, The Aftermath of Battle: The Burial of the Civil War Dead, in the fall of 2015. This is a volume in the Emerging Civil War Series, although it differs from the others in that it takes on a much broader range of subjects. The book has received excellent reviews.

She has also written First Fallen: the Life and Times of Colonel Elmer Ellsworth, the only biography written about Ellsworth since Ruth Painter Randall’s, published in 1960. In it, she challenges some of the assumptions made about Ellsworth and uses his life as a lens through which to view the attitudes and events of the urban North prior to the Civil War. Southern Illinois Press has picked it for publication sometime within the next two years.

She is a regular contributor to the blog Emerging Civil War, exploring subjects beyond the battlefield such as personalities, politics, and practices that affected the men who did the fighting.

Meeting Minutes September 2016

Meeting of August 20, 2016

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

Jim Rhetta

Jim Rhetta

The blockade was one of the three strategic objectives of the Federal war effort against the Confederacy. Civil War readers and historians still debate its effectiveness, with some citing the fact that blockade running ships still got through to a Southern port in the last days of the conflict as proof that it was not very effective.

What is overlooked is that the blockade produced secondary and indirect impacts to the Confederate war effort that are often not attributed to the blockade. These secondary impacts had a combined effect that seriously weakened the Confederate war effort and made the blockade more effective than most readers realize. Jim’s presentation described the Federal effort to build and operate a blockade force and the counter-efforts by blockade runners. It also identified the blockade impacts that crippled the economy, restricted transportation, reduced military effectiveness, and lowered social morale in the Confederacy.

Meeting Minutes August 2016

Meeting of July 26, 2016

Bob Burch on “Californian U.S. Volunteer Units, Part 3: Infantry”

This is the fourth of a twelve-part series on California and the American Civil War, and the third on the state’s Volunteer Regiments. The first regimental presentation provided an overview of the mustering process used by Union states to generate new regiments with an emphasis on its application in California. The second presentation focused on the two California volunteer cavalry regiments and one battalion. The third presentation will highlight the Infantry regiments.

California contributed eight infantry regiments and several battalions to the Union war effort. Time prevents discussion of each of the eight infantry regiments. However, the breadth of the California Infantry experience can be gleaned by concentrating on the first four regiments. Each unit history includes a historical summary, commander’s biography, and map detailing duty locations. These soldiers served across the entire Western United States from Idaho to Arizona Territories, and as far east as Wyoming Territory and Texas. They checked Secessionist activities in southern California, repelled a Confederate invasion of New Mexico, protected mail routes across the West, and conducted numerous campaigns against hostile Indians, including the famous Battle of Apache Pass. Also discussed is the authorized, but never organized, 9th California Infantry Regiment intended for a possible war with France in 1865.

Drawing from extensive original and secondary historical sources and photographs, Bob’s presentation provides the most exhaustive history of these regiments available. This presentation will put to rest the notion that California did not actively participate in the Union war effort and highlight the contributions of the Californians Volunteers.

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 July 2016

Meeting of June 28, 2016

Paul Quigley on “The Fourth of July in the Civil War Era”

US_flag_35_starsHow did Americans celebrate the anniversary of their nation’s birth when the nation was falling apart? In this lecture, Professor Paul Quigley explores Civil War Americans’ varied attitudes to the Fourth of the July. Northerners used the holiday to rejoice in Union victories. African Americans seized the opportunity to prove their American identity. And white southerners wondered whether they should celebrate Independence Day at all. These fascinating stories are hidden in thousands of newspaper articles, speeches, letters, and diaries from the Civil War years. Quigley demonstrated a new website, “Mapping the Fourth of July in the Civil War Era,” which allows anyone interested in Civil War history to transcribe, tag, and discuss these documents online.

Paul Quigley is Director of the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies and the James I. Robertson, Jr., Associate Professor of Civil War History in the History Department at Virginia Tech. A native of Manchester, England, he holds degrees from Lancaster University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Quigley is the author of Shifting Grounds: Nationalism and the American South, 1848-65, which won the British Association for American Studies Book Prize and the Jefferson Davis Award from the Museum of the Confederacy.

Meeting Minutes June 2016

Meeting of May 31, 2016

Tom Roza on “The Civil War: The Story of the Artillery DVD”

artillery DVDThe Civil War pitted countrymen against countrymen in the most brutal and bloody chapter in American history. This commemorative 40-minute DVD entitled “The Story of Civil War Artillery” from the History Channel archives explores one of the factors that finally helped bring it all to a close: the revolutionary new artillery weapons of the day.

This in-depth documentary uses period photographs, factual re-enactments, first-person accounts, and interviews with noted historians to bring fascinating details of the use of artillery to life. The feature begins with a description of the role of the Artillery Commanders and how they used their weapons for maximum effectiveness. Next is a graphic presentation of the advancements in artillery engineered and developed primarily by Federal forces and manufacturers that eventually evolved into “Big Gun Warfare”.

The video then explores the various types of fortifications that both North and South used during the Civil War and the effect that artillery bombardments had on reducing their effectiveness. It concludes with a detailed presentation on the use of artillery at the Battle of Gettysburg including the massive bombardment executed by the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia preceding Pickett’s Charge on July 3, 1863.

Meeting Minutes May 2016

Meeting of April 26, 2016

Eric Faust on “The 11th Michigan Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War”

11thMichiganVolunteerInfantryFollow a hard-fighting Union regiment all the way from its recruitment at the outset of the war through its participation in several major battles in the western theater, and finally, through muster out. Michigan’s 11th regiment was initially raised independent from its state government, much to Governor Austin Blair’s consternation. In some respects, this unit typified Federal infantry units as a whole: Its soldiers enlisted to preserve the Union, initially giving little thought to slavery. They marched off to war confident of a quick victory. And they learned to fear disease more than bullets.

But in other respects—especially on the battlefield—this was not your average Union infantry regiment. The 11th Michigan fought tenaciously at Stones River, Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, and in the Atlanta Campaign. The unit’s finest moment came at Chickamauga, where it captured a Confederate general and repeatedly employed the bayonet against superior numbers on Horseshoe Ridge to help prevent the destruction of the Army of the Cumberland. Yet despite its impressive battle record, this enigmatic regiment suffered from shaky discipline at times (scarcely being restrained on one occasion from murdering Copperhead Clement L. Vallandigham and vice presidential candidate George H. Pendleton), and unlike the majority of Federal soldiers, its war-weary men overwhelmingly and emphatically declined to reenlist when the time came.

Eric R. Faust Conspicuous GallantryEric R. Faust is a software engineer by day, and a historian on nights and weekends. He holds a B.S. in computer science, with a cognate degree in history, from Michigan State University. He is the author of The 11th Michigan Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War (McFarland, 2015) and editor of Conspicuous Gallantry: The Civil War and Reconstruction Letters of James W. King, 11th Michigan Volunteer Infantry (Kent State University Press, 2015). He recently moved to Palo Alto from Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Meeting Minutes April 2016

Meeting of March 29, 2016

Bob Burch on “Californian U.S. Volunteer Units, Part 2: Cavalry”

This is the second of a three-part presentation on the California Volunteers and the third in the California and the American Civil War series. The first presentation provided an overview of the mustering process used by Union states to generate new regiments with an emphasis on its application in California. This second presentation focused on California Volunteer cavalry regimental histories while the third will focus on the infantry regiments. Each unit history includes a historical summary, commander’s biography, and map detailing duty locations. Drawing from extensive original and secondary historical sources and photographs, this presentation provides the most exhaustive history of these regiments available.

California contributed two regiments and one battalion of cavalry to the Union War effort. These soldiers served across the entire Western United States from Idaho to Arizona Territories, and as far eastward as Wyoming Territory and Texas. They checked Secessionist activities in southern California, repelled a Confederate invasion of New Mexico, protected mail routes across the West, and conducted numerous campaigns against hostile Indians including the famous Battle of Apache Pass. They also suffered the highest losses of all the California regiments during the war.

Among the eleven regimental and battalion commanders were some of the most famous or colorful characters serving with the California Volunteers. These include detached Regular Army officers Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Franklin Davis of Alabama who commanded the 1st California Cavalry and died leading a Union brigade at Brandy Station, as well as Colonel Andrew Jackson Smith of the 2nd California Cavalry who later commanded a corps with distinction at Nashville and Mobile Bay. Most commanders were long forgotten Californians who served their country in time of crisis. They include Colonel Edward McGarry of the 1st Cavalry who gained fame during the Shoshone Indian Campaign. Colonel Clearance Bennett, also of the 1st Cavalry, was instrumental in preventing Secessionist capture of Southern California. Major Salvador Vallejo, Native California Cavalry (NCC) Battalion, whose troops fought Confederate Partisans near San Jose. And eccentric Major John Cremony who later led the NCC against hostile Indians in Arizona.

This presentation put to rest the notion that California only panned gold for four years to pay for the Union war effort. It highlights the exploits and contributions of the California Volunteer Cavalry.

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 March 2016

Meeting of February 23, 2016

Jim Balassone on “George Henry Thomas, Virginian for the Union”

George H. Thomas (Wikipedia)

Few Southerners in the U.S. Army remained loyal to the Union. Thomas fought for the North and secured key victories at Mill Springs, Stones River, Chickamauga Creek (after which he became known as the Rock of Chickamauga), Chattanoga, and Nashville, where Hood’s Army of the Tennessee was nearly annihilated by Thomas’s forces.

At the time, Thomas was considered one of best Union generals of the Civil War, never having been defeated. Yet he has been eclipsed by the likes of Grant, Sherman, and Sheridan. Furthermore, Thomas distinguished himself during Reconstruction, fighting for the rights on newly freed blacks and using Federal troops to enforce the law in his military district (Tennessee, Kentucky, and Alabama).

Why is he a near unknown? Understanding George Thomas gives all of us a new perspective of the Civil War, and undermines many of the assumptions of the “Lost Cause”.

Jim Balassone, recently retired from a hi-tech and teaching careers here in Silicon Valley, has been a Civil War “buff” for about 15 years, reading extensively on the subject, traveling to numerous battle sites in both the East and the West. The more he reads, the more he understands that the topic is limitless. He is, however, a die-hard unionist!

Meeting Minutes February 2016

Meeting of January 26, 2016

David Dixon on “The Lost Gettysburg Address: The Civil War Odyssey of Charles Anderson”

David Dixon Dixon - Lost Gettysburg AddressDavid explained why Anderson, a slave owner, sacrificed nearly everything to help save the Union and how he ended up sharing the spotlight with Lincoln at Gettysburg in November 1863. He gave one of the two principal speeches that bookended Lincoln’s masterpiece, then the speech itself was lost for 150 years and uncovered at a remote ranch in Wyoming.

Anderson’s colorful history includes a series of dramatic escapes from a Civil War prison in Texas, a close brush with death, commanding a Union regiment at the Battle of Stones River, defeating notorious Copperhead Clement Vallandigham in the Ohio gubernatorial race, then becoming Ohio’s governor himself.

David Dixon earned his M.A. in history from the University of Massachusetts in 2003. He has published numerous articles in scholarly journals and magazines. Most focus on black history and on Union sympathizers in the Civil War South. His short biography of U.S. and Confederate congressman Augustus R. Wright appeared in The Georgia Historical Quarterly in 2010. He remains intrigued by the problem of defining “loyalty” in the context of civil war. He hosts “B-List History,” a website celebrating lesser-known historical characters and their amazing stories.

Meeting Minutes January 2016

Meeting of November 24, 2015

Robert Burch on “California in the Civil War, Part 2: Californian U.S. Volunteer Units”

4th California Volunteer Infantry

4th California Volunteer Infantry

California contributed twelve regiments and five battalions of U.S. Volunteer infantry and cavalry to the Union War effort of 1861-65. These 15,575 soldiers served across the entire Western United States from Washington to Arizona Territories, and as far east as Wyoming Territory and Texas. They checked Secessionist activities in southern California, repelled a Confederate invasion of New Mexico, and conducted numerous campaigns against hostile Indians including the famous Battle of Apache Pass.

This presentation provides an introductory analysis of the California Volunteers followed by detailed histories of each regiment and battalion. Each unit history includes a historical summary, commander’s biography, and map with detailed wartime duty locations. Drawing from extensive original and secondary historical sources and photographs, this presentation provides the most exhaustive history of these regiments available.

This is the second of an eight-part series on California and the American Civil War. This series explores California’s role and contribution to the Union with an emphasis on the military aspect of the conflict. Part one outlined California’s political and military situation in April of 1861. The third part will summarize Californian soldiers in units credited to other states, including the famous “California Hundred” and California Battalion. Continue reading

Meeting of October 27, 2015

Tom Roza on “The Battle of Antietam, Part 2: 12 Hours; 23,000 Casualties; 100 Yards”

Burnside's Bridge at the Battle of Antietam (Wikipedia)

Burnside’s Bridge at the Battle of Antietam (Wikipedia)

Tom concluded his study of the Maryland Campaign.

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.

Meeting Minutes October 2015

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

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

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

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

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