Category Archives: Meeting archive

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

Meeting of April 28, 2015

Tom Roza on “Jeb Stuart, Southern Knight, and the Battle of Yellow Tavern”

James Ewell Brown “Jeb” Stuart earned his fame as a Confederate States Army general during the American Civil War. Stuart was a cavalry commander who excelled and mastered reconnaissance as well as effectively utilizing his cavalry in support of both offensive and defensive operations.

Jeb Stuart exhibited bravado unmatched by any other military person either in the Confederate or Union armies with his red-lined gray cape, yellow sash, and hat cocked to the side with an ostrich plume, and red flower in his lapel. His skills as a cavalryman earned the respect and trust of Robert E. Lee and inspired his fellow Confederate troops and Southern citizenry.

This is Tom Roza’s fifth presentation to the South Bay Civil War Round Table and his second featuring an individual who served in the Confederate armed forces (the first was A.P. Hill). This presentation on Jeb Stuart focuses primarily on his last military engagement, the Battle of Yellow Tavern, which took place on May 11, 1864, in the northern outskirts of Richmond, VA. The presentation will include important details that influenced the actual battle, how the battle was fought, and what happened to Jeb Stuart.

Meeting Minutes April 2015

Meeting of March 31, 2015

Steve Batham on “Catalina Island in the Civil War”

Catalina Island Army barracks

Catalina Island Army barracks

Just twenty-six miles off the coast of Los Angeles, Santa Catalina Island became the home of the Union Army for one mysterious year. On January 2, 1864, eighty enlisted men under the command of Captain West occupied Catalina Island and forced the evacuation of its residents. By the end of the year, they were gone as quickly as they had arrived, leaving only their barracks behind. But why? The army remained completely silent about their intentions for the island and as a result, it has led to much speculation about their motivations. This forgotten military operation seems to be an inconsequential event in the scope of the Civil War, but this occupation reveals some of the larger issues that consumed California 150 years ago.

While we may never definitively know why the Union Army occupied Catalina, the presentation outlines three plausible scenarios. Could it have been to protect the coastline from Confederate privateers? Could it have been motivated by the allure of gold and silver mining? And what could be the possible connection to Indian wars in Eureka? Heavily researched utilizing firsthand accounts and other primary sources, the presentation will attempt to answer all these questions through a PowerPoint presentation. The Union Army barracks are still standing in Catalina and although it is privately owned today, the Professor Batham was granted a rare opportunity to photograph the interior of the original structure and will be sharing those pictures with the group during the presentation.

Steve Batham grew up in Los Angeles and spent several summers in Catalina. After receiving his B.A. and M.A. in history from CSU, Northridge, he lectured at his alma mater, College of the Canyons, and with students abroad at the University of Vienna. Steve moved to the Bay area in 2012 to teach at Foothill College where he serves as a professor of U.S. and Latin American history.

Meeting Minutes March 2015

Meeting of February 24, 2015

Robert Burch on “The Battle of Big Bethel and the Struggle for Control of the Yorktown Peninsula”, Part 2

Battle of Big Bethel, sketch by Alfred R. Waud

Battle of Big Bethel, sketch by Alfred R. Waud

Nested between the Siege of Fort Sumter and the Battle of First Bull Run (aka First Manassas) during the spring of 1861 is the often overlooked action at Big Bethel church, Virginia, on June 10th, 1861. Many historians and Civil War enthusiasts consider this action the first true battle of the war. Unfolding political and military events quickly turned Virginia into the first active theater of campaigning for Union and Confederate armies. The Yorktown Peninsula soon became the first contested area within that theater. Conceived by local Union Army leaders as raid to stop Confederate pickets from harassing Union troops, Big Bethel instead became the testing ground for two citizen armies that were mustered, equipped, trained, and deployed over a six-week period following Fort Sumter. Union volunteer regiments attacked Confederates led by John Magruder and Daniel Harvey Hill for three hours. What happened that day and its results were the focus of national attention on both sides until Bull Run six weeks later.

To properly place the action at Big Bethel in perspective, the presentation begins by summarizing the political and military events that led a peaceful nation to war. The political factors that caused thousands of volunteers to fight with passion on June 10th are highlighted. Next the military factors that caused Virginia to become the first active theater of operations and Yorktown Peninsula to host the war’s first battle are surveyed. All participating Union and Confederate regiments and their leaders are concisely portrayed. Finally, the aftermath, analysis and significance of the battle are reviewed. The PowerPoint slides document the product of the speaker’s 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 bringing to life the drama and passion of the war’s first test of arms. Continue reading

Meeting of January 27, 2015

Robert Burch on “The Battle of Big Bethel and the Struggle for Control of the Yorktown Peninsula”, Part 1

Battle of Big Bethel, sketch by Alfred R. Waud

Battle of Big Bethel, sketch by Alfred R. Waud

Nested between the Siege of Fort Sumter and the Battle of First Bull Run (aka First Manassas) during the spring of 1861 is the often overlooked action at Big Bethel church, Virginia, on June 10th, 1861. Many historians and Civil War enthusiasts consider this action the first true battle of the war. Unfolding political and military events quickly turned Virginia into the first active theater of campaigning for Union and Confederate armies. The Yorktown Peninsula soon became the first contested area within that theater. Conceived by local Union Army leaders as raid to stop Confederate pickets from harassing Union troops, Big Bethel instead became the testing ground for two citizen armies that were mustered, equipped, trained, and deployed over a six-week period following Fort Sumter. Union volunteer regiments attacked Confederates led by John Magruder and Daniel Harvey Hill for three hours. What happened that day and its results were the focus of national attention on both sides until Bull Run six weeks later.

To properly place the action at Big Bethel in perspective, the presentation begins by summarizing the political and military events that led a peaceful nation to war. The political factors that caused thousands of volunteers to fight with passion on June 10th are highlighted. Next the military factors that caused Virginia to become the first active theater of operations and Yorktown Peninsula to host the war’s first battle are surveyed. All participating Union and Confederate regiments and their leaders are concisely portrayed. Finally, the aftermath, analysis and significance of the battle are reviewed. The PowerPoint slides document the product of the speaker’s 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 bringing to life the drama and passion of the war’s first test of arms. Continue reading

Meeting of November 25, 2014

Tom Roza presents the video, “Ulysses S. Grant and the Virginia Campaign in 1864”

Brooks Simpson at CWI 2014

Brooks Simpson at CWI 2014

As part of the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, the Gettysburg College Civil War Institute hosted its Annual Summer Conference. One of the featured events was “U.S. Grant and the Virginia Campaign in 1864,” presented by Brooks Simpson, an American historian and History Professor at Arizona State University.

Simpson is the author of six books, the coauthor of two more, and the editor or coeditor of eight other books and is perhaps best known for his work on Ulysses S. Grant. At the Gettysburg College Civil War Institutes’s Summer Conference held in June 2014, Professor Brooks Simpson discussed Union General Ulysses S. Grant’s Overland Campaign, which was a series of battles fought in Virginia during May and June of 1864.

Simpson discusses numerous little known facts such as how Grant’s initial plans for taking over command in the eastern theater of the Civil War were vetoed by then Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton. The presentation discusses how Grant’s role as commander developed and evolved in the Eastern Theater of the Civil War during the 1864 period.

The presentation will be a video streamed from C-SPAN’s web site.

Meeting of September 30, 2014

Hal Jespersen on “Civil War Cartography”

CWMaps web page

CWMaps web page

Readers say that one of the most important features of a modern book about the Civil War is a good collection of understandable, accurate maps. Hal’s presentation will reveal some of the details behind the process for creating such maps. Hal Jespersen’s cartography business has produced over 800 maps for Wikipedia and numerous books, magazines, and battlefield displays. Hal discussed  the state of mapmaking during the war, reviewed the work of some famous cartographers, and described tools and processes he uses to create maps. Some of the technical concepts included were projection, elevation rendering, evaluating the accuracy of the Official Records Atlas, and plotting the courses of 19th century rivers, roads, and railroads.

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Meeting of August 23, 2014

Jim Rhetta on “Slavery & Slave Ancestry”

Jim Rhetta and John Herberich

Jim Rhetta and John Herberich at the 2014 Picnic

Jim’s two-part presentation started with Slavery, a Socioeconomic System. It discussed the economic conditions that created slavery, the comparative value of slaves, and the emerging financial forces on slavery. The South was unaware that the increasing amount of currency in circulation, growing immigrant-fueled labor pool, and changing social values were threatening the economic viability of slavery. These emerging socioeconomic forces would have eventually made slavery unprofitable had the Civil War not been fought.

The second part was on Tangled and Incomplete, Tracing Slave Family Histories. It presented the difficulties of researching African-American family histories due to the forced illiteracy in slavery, limited census data, and paucity of travel, legal, and property records. It includes the family history of Jim’s Great-Grandfather’s slave-holders as well as both sides of his family. The value of oral traditions and histories were revealed in this 40-year search of his family history.

Meeting Minutes August 2014

Meeting of June 24, 2014

Tom Roza on “Ambrose Powell Hill, A Confederate Warrior: Gettysburg to Petersburg”

During the four year history of the Civil War, there have been a number of military leaders on both sides who exhibited a wide variety of both strategic and tactical skills as well as personal courage under fire. For the Union, there were Joshua Chamberlain, Ulysses S. Grant, William Sherman, and Philip Sheridan among others. For the South, you have Robert E. Lee, James Longstreet, Stonewall Jackson, and Nathan Bedford Forrest.

But, there is one other person who is on a par with these individuals: Ambrose Powell Hill of Virginia. Hill’s entire adult life was spent in the military and during that period, his body was wracked with a variety of medical illnesses and maladies. Despite his very poor health, which deteriorated over time, Hill rose to become the best division commander in the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia and finally the Corps Commander of Lee’s Third Corp. Hill’s exceptional battlefield tactics were nowhere better demonstrated then at the Battle of Antietam when he marched his troops 17 miles and saved Lee’s army from almost certain destruction.

Despite Hill’s exceptional qualities as a battlefield commander, he often had run-ins with his superiors that resulted in Hill being arrested on several occasions and relieved of command, only to be reinstated when the Army really needed him. Hill was involved in virtually every major military event that the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia was involved in from First Bull Run in July 1861 to the collapse of the Southern defense of Petersburg in April 1865.

The story of A.P. Hill takes numerous interesting twists and turns both in his personal and military lives. And, Hill’s interaction with his troops and his superiors reveals numerous little known insights into what made the Army of Northern Virginia the effective fighting force it became. Therefore, in order to do justice to telling the story of AP Hill, there will be two presentations:

  • May: West Point to Chancellorsville
  • June: Gettysburg to Petersburg

Tom Roza has been a student of the American Civil War since 1960 and has toured several battlefields that AP Hill participated at (Bull Run, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, the Wilderness, and Spotsylvania Courthouse). This provided Tom with the ability to see first-hand the terrain where Hill led his troops in combat and these experiences have helped shape the content of the presentations.

Tom’s previous presentations for the SBCWRT have been on John Buford, Winfield Scott Hancock, and Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Massachusetts Regiment.

Meeting Minutes June 2014

Meeting of May 27, 2014

Tom Roza on “Ambrose Powell Hill, A Confederate Warrior: West Point to Chancellorsville”

A.P. Hill (Wikipedia)

During the four year history of the Civil War, there have been a number of military leaders on both sides who exhibited a wide variety of both strategic and tactical skills as well as personal courage under fire. For the Union, there were Joshua Chamberlain, Ulysses S. Grant, William Sherman, and Philip Sheridan among others. For the South, you have Robert E. Lee, James Longstreet, Stonewall Jackson, and Nathan Bedford Forrest.

But, there is one other person who is on a par with these individuals: Ambrose Powell Hill of Virginia. Hill’s entire adult life was spent in the military and during that period, his body was wracked with a variety of medical illnesses and maladies. Despite his very poor health, which deteriorated over time, Hill rose to become the best division commander in the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia and finally the Corps Commander of Lee’s Third Corp. Hill’s exceptional battlefield tactics were nowhere better demonstrated then at the Battle of Antietam when he marched his troops 17 miles and saved Lee’s army from almost certain destruction.

Despite Hill’s exceptional qualities as a battlefield commander, he often had run-ins with his superiors that resulted in Hill being arrested on several occasions and relieved of command, only to be reinstated when the Army really needed him. Hill was involved in virtually every major military event that the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia was involved in from First Bull Run in July 1861 to the collapse of the Southern defense of Petersburg in April 1865.

The story of A.P. Hill takes numerous interesting twists and turns both in his personal and military lives. And, Hill’s interaction with his troops and his superiors reveals numerous little known insights into what made the Army of Northern Virginia the effective fighting force it became. Therefore, in order to do justice to telling the story of AP Hill, there will be two presentations:

  • May: West Point to Chancellorsville
  • June: Gettysburg to Petersburg

Tom Roza has been a student of the American Civil War since 1960 and has toured several battlefields that AP Hill participated at (Bull Run, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, the Wilderness, and Spotsylvania Courthouse). This provided Tom with the ability to see first-hand the terrain where Hill led his troops in combat and these experiences have helped shape the content of the presentations.

Tom’s previous presentations for the SBCWRT have been on John Buford, Winfield Scott Hancock, and Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Massachusetts Regiment.

Meeting Minutes May 2014