Category Archives: Meeting archive

Meeting of May 29, 2018

Abby Eller on “Judah Benjamin, The Brains of the Confederacy”

Judah Benjamin is scarcely remembered today. And yet, Jefferson Davis’s wife Varina Howell Davis stated that he would meet with President Davis for hours every day to discuss Confederate government matters. Judah Benjamin was known as “The brains of the Confederacy.” During the Civil War, Judah Benjamin, Jefferson Davis, and Varina Howell Davis formed a close friendship that lasted the rest of their lives. But when Jefferson Davis wrote his memoirs at the end of his life, he only made the briefest mention of this man. Why was this? And Judah Benjamin’s life story after the Civil War was so remarkable, it would be unbelievable if it weren’t actually true.

Abby Eller joined the Peninsula Civil War Round Table in July of this year. She and her husband Dave live in Menlo Park. Abby has been an American history buff ever since high school. In 2013 she joined Historic Union Cemetery Association based here in Redwood City.

Meeting Minutes May 2018

Meeting of April 24, 2018

Tom Roza presents the DVD “History Channel/Civil War Journal: West Point Classmates – Civil War Enemies”

The Presentation: “Civil War Journal” is The History Channel’s series that chronicles the happenings of the American Civil War through the memoirs of those who took place in it.

The episode entitled “West Point Classmates – Civil War Enemies” focuses on the story of a special fraternity of men who attended the US Military Academy at West Point in the years leading up to the start of the Civil War. The program features such Civil War notables as: Robert E Lee, Ulysses Grant, Stonewall Jackson, William Sherman, Jefferson Davis, and George Pickett among others some of whom while cadets at West Point, became close friends and comrades, but often ended up facing each other on the battlefield.

This 43-minute program effectively communicates how West Point training influenced the eventual outcome of the war and how the camaraderie and relationships that were fostered at West Point in the end were instrumental in how the war ended.

The Presenter: Tom Roza has been a student of history in general for the past 60+ years and became an avid historian of the American Civil War beginning in 1961 during the 100 year Centennial of that great conflict. Tom’s professional career spanned 48 years in the field of Information Technology until he retired from in 2013.

During over five decades of studying the Civil War, Tom’s main interest has primarily focused on the human interest aspects of the people involved and affected by that event. Tom’s recently published novel, “Windows to the Past – A Virginian’s Experience in the Civil War” effectively examines and portrays the impact on everyday people living in the South of the political, social, and economic factors that first led to secession, then Civil War.

Tom has been a member of the South Bay Civil War Roundtable organization since 2008 and is currently an officer and Secretary for that organization. Tom has made numerous presentations to both his Roundtable organization and other organizations on topics such as: Confederate Cavalry Generals Nathan Bedford Forrest and Jeb Stuart, Union Cavalry General John Buford, and Union Infantry Generals Winfield Scott and Robert Gould Shaw.

Meeting Minutes April 2018

Meeting of March 27, 2018

Robert Burch on “California in the Civil War: Securing the State in 1861″

California’s involvement in the American Civil War remains one of the great hidden facets of that conflict. One subject never explored by Civil War historians are the military operations within the state. Despite public expression of hope and confidence, doubt existed among senior Unionist politicians and U.S. Army officer’s regarding the prospects of preserving California in the Union in April 1861. Yet eight months later California was secured Union state after bold use of very limited Federal military resources and emergence of pro-Unionist Governor Leland Stanford.

The internal state Secessionist and external Confederate threat to California was real. Three lines of effort were developed to achieve their goal. Secessionists politically advocated a ballot referendum proposing to secede California from the Union and establish the “Republic of the Pacific” with intend of ultimately joining the Confederacy. At the same time, they militarily pursued raising a Secessionist Army to seize state by force. Externally the Confederate Army in Texas proposed capturing Southwest U.S. with assistance from California, Nevada and Arizona volunteers (the New Mexico Campaign, discussed in a later presentation).

This presentation describes this threat and the Union response. It is the product of original research that drew on multiple original and secondary sources, principally the Official Records and various secondary local history articles. This story is described in rough chronological order:

  • Non-Military Actions Laying Foundation for Bloodless Military Victory
  • U.S. Army Secured San Francisco
  • U.S. Army Secured Los Angeles & San Diego
  • U.S. Army Secured San Bernardino
  • California Volunteers Relieved Regular Army Units
  • California Volunteers Secured Southern California
  • Measurement of Success – Capture of Daniel Showalter

What is the so what? It’s relevance. First, how state politicians and U.S. Army leaders secured California for the Union in 1861 offers insight into a successful counter-insurgency operation. Secondly, unlike similar situations in the Border States during the Civil War, and the nation as a whole, this success was without bloodshed or lingering, deep division among the civil population. Finally, the state “economic boom” resulting from the Federal government’s appreciation to California for its loyalty after the war is still attracting immigrants to California over 150 years later.

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 2018

Meeting of February 27, 2018

Nick K. Adams on “The 2nd Minnesota in the Western Theater”

Nick K. Adams, great-great-grandson of Cpl. David Brainard Griffin, will describe the organization of, and first two years of action of the 2nd Minnesota Regiment of Volunteers in the Western Theater. His compelling presentation will be personalized by selected readings from the 100 letters Griffin wrote back to his young family on the Minnesota prairie prior to his death at the Battle of Chickamauga.

Those letters have been published as My Dear Wife and Children: Civil War Letters from a 2nd Minnesota Volunteer. A companion novel that tells the home front story of the family’s difficult struggle to survive while Griffin was gone has recently been published as Away at War: A Civil War Novel of the Family Left Behind. Autographed copies of both books will be available for purchase at the meeting.

Nick K. Adams grew up in Los Angeles County and now resides in Tacoma, WA, having retired from a career in elementary education. He has followed a life-long passion of interest in the American Civil War after learning of his own g-g-grandfather’s participation and sacrifice in that pivotal period. He continues to speak at schools, libraries, service clubs, and Civil War Round Tables, and is an avid Civil War re-enactor in his portrayal of Minnesota’s 1861 Governor Alexander Ramsey who sent his grandfather into the conflict to preserve the Union.

Meeting Minutes February 2018

Meeting of January 30, 2018

Abby Eller on “The History in Historic Union Cemetery in Redwood City”

A quarter century ago, Jean Cloud in Redwood City led a coalition of concerned citizens who fought hard and succeeded in saving Historic Union Cemetery from being lost forever to demolition and commercial development. What was so important about this cemetery?

Abby Eller will share some of the many stories that Historic Union Cemetery has to tell us. You’ll find out why Redwood City is called that and why it was originally called Mezesville.

Why the Grand Army of the Republic was so important to Union Civil War Veterans, and what made their burial plot in Union Cemetery distinctive. You’ll hear the story of the woman who served as national president of a nationwide organization dedicated to serving Union Civil War veterans and their families.

Last but not least, you might be curious as to why Union Cemetery is called that? So, please come to hear about these…and some more stories as well!

Abby Eller has been an American history buff ever since high school. Abby is particularly interested in exploring Civil War history, since the Civil War and aftermath was truly the beginning of modern America. So, Abby joined the Redwood City Civil War Round Table in July this year. She has been a member since 2013 of Historic Union Cemetery Association based in Redwood City. Abby and her husband Dave live in Menlo Park.

Meeting Minutes January 2018

Meeting of November 28, 2017

Tom McMahon on “Civil War Statues in Southern States”

Tom briefly concluded his presentation on the battle of Monocacy from the October meeting. He then introduced the subject of Civil War Statues in Southern States, Their Removal and/or Preservation. Tom has gathered information, particularly of a psychological nature, and welcomed audience input.

Tom is a third generation San Franciscan whose ancestral people came from the devastating Irish Potato Famine in the mid 1800s, miners who never set roots on the East Coast, settling in Butte, Montana, Virginia City, Nevada, and San Francisco. One great grandmother is said to have traveled by boat to the Isthmus of Panama, crossing by donkey, and sailing to the City by the Bay around 1856. The closest any of Tom’s relatives came to the American Civil War was Grandpa Alexander John McMahon’s mining much coveted silver in the Comstock mines of Virginia City, where Tom’s father was born in 1881. Maternal grandfather James Bresnahan was born in San Francisco in 1866, five years after the fall of Fort Sumter and a year after the aassassination of President Lincoln. Unfortunately none of these pioneer people were alive when Tom was born on November 16, 1928. There was once a day when Tom used this historical background with ease, yet now approaching 89 relies on a dimming memory, research, and carefully prepared written notes.

Tom has worn a variety of hats in a rich, happy, and varied life, married 40 years to Elaine with two sons and five grandchildren who live in San Bruno and Santa Clara. Best described as teacher, this talent has permeated 26 years of Catholic priesthood that includes being a commissioned officer chaplain in the U.S. Army, 70 years of kindergarten, grade, high school, college, and adult education of self and others. In 1977 Tom was licensed by the State of California as a mental health therapist working mainly with teens who had run away from home in a decades long study of the changing American family, nationwide as well as local. Tom has written weekly for 11 years a worldwide internet column out of Sydney, Australia, on religion and spirituality in the age of modern technology.

Meeting Minutes November 2017

Meeting of October 24, 2017

Tom McMahon on “The Battle of Monocacy”

Along with the help of fellow member Rene Arcornero, Tom sought audience participation to investigate the Battle of Monocacy, 1864, a local defeat for the Union Army that had tangible far reaching good results for the United States. The presentation will conclude in November.

Tom is a third generation San Franciscan whose ancestral people came from the devastating Irish Potato Famine in the mid 1800s, miners who never set roots on the East Coast, settling in Butte, Montana, Virginia City, Nevada, and San Francisco. One great grandmother is said to have traveled by boat to the Isthmus of Panama, crossing by donkey, and sailing to the City by the Bay around 1856. The closest any of Tom’s relatives came to the American Civil War was Grandpa Alexander John McMahon’s mining much coveted silver in the Comstock mines of Virginia City, where Tom’s father was born in 1881. Maternal grandfather James Bresnahan was born in San Francisco in 1866, five years after the fall of Fort Sumter and a year after the aassassination of President Lincoln. Unfortunately none of these pioneer people were alive when Tom was born on November 16, 1928. There was once a day when Tom used this historical background with ease, yet now approaching 89 relies on a dimming memory, research, and carefully prepared written notes.

Tom has worn a variety of hats in a rich, happy, and varied life, married 40 years to Elaine with two sons and five grandchildren who live in San Bruno and Santa Clara. Best described as teacher, this talent has permeated 26 years of Catholic priesthood that includes being a commissioned officer chaplain in the U.S. Army, 70 years of kindergarten, grade, high school, college, and adult education of self and others. In 1977 Tom was licensed by the State of California as a mental health therapist working mainly with teens who had run away from home in a decades long study of the changing American family, nationwide as well as local. Tom has written weekly for 11 years a worldwide internet column out of Sydney, Australia, on religion and spirituality in the age of modern technology.

Meeting Minutes October 2017

Meeting of September 26, 2017

Jack Nakash and Marcelo Pontin on “Civil War Reenacting”

Jack Nakash and Marcelo Pontin, Civil War Living Historians and Reenactors, discussed their portrayals, equipment, and sources for reenacting the American Civil War.

Jack Nakash

Jack Nakash is a Civil War Reenactor/Living Historian who currently portrays a Confederate soldier in the 14th Tennessee Volunteer Infantry, Co. B. He returned to reenacting in 2016 but has done both Union and Confederate impressions for a combined twenty years. He is a member of the American Civil War Association and the National Civil War Association. Jack is a US Marine Corps Veteran, lives in San Jose, CA, and is a retail clerk. Jack has been interested in the American Civil War starting at a very young age, and has participated in numerous Civil War Reenactments both in California and back East. He is a devotee of the Civil War “common soldier” and the life and trials of that soldier.

Marcelo Pontin has been an Union Soldier Civil War Reenactor for the last three years in the 7th West Virginia Volunteer Infantry of the National Civil War Association and “represents” a Second Sergeant in that unit. He is a nine year veteran of both the United States Army and the Air National Guard in both Illinois and California. He currently lives in San Francisco, and is an engineer with AT&T. He also studies and lectures about history as a hobby.

Meeting Minutes September 2017

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