Category Archives: Meeting archive

Meeting of May 28, 2013

Dana Lombardy on “The Long Arm of Mr. Lincoln’s Army”

man posing in library

Dana Lombardy

Dana presented diagrams and data to show how the artillery evolved in the Union Army of the Potomac during the American Civil War, and compare its effectiveness to the guns used by their primary opponent, Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. Gun types, numbers and organization, plus a look back at Napoleon’s artillery at Waterloo were also covered.

Tom Roza provided the following summary of Dana’s talk.

Continue reading

Meeting of April 30, 2013

René Accornero on “William Henry Seward, Secretary of State”

Early Years

William Henry Seward (Wikipedia)

William Henry Seward was a politician who was born in 1801 in the state of New York. Seward studied law at Union College, graduating as a member of Phi Beta Kappa and was then admitted to the New York State Bar. In 1821 he met Frances Adeline Miller and they married 3 years later and raised six children.

In 1846 Seward defended an African American who was accused of stabbing four people to death. Seward was an advocate of prison reform and better treatment for the insane, and won a verdict for the defendant using the defense of insanity. Many whites felt bitter toward Seward for defending a black man who had killed whites.

Seward encountered a problem while traveling and a stranger named Thurlow Weed stopped to help out. That was the beginning of a life-long friendship and Weed helped Seward enter politics and was instrumental in this role throughout Seward’s political career. Seward first served as a member of the New York State Senate. In 1839, he won election as the 12th Governor of New York. And from 1849-1861, he served as US Senator from New York. Continue reading

Meeting of March 26, 2013

Bob Hubbs on “Was General Grant Really Surprised at Shiloh?”

Battle of Shiloh by Thure de Thulstrup (Wikipedia)

Bob addressed a few provocative questions about this famous battle:

  • Shiloh – the horrible experience during which Grant became a general and Lincoln is elevated to Commander-In–Chief – How so?
  • Grant and his trial by fire – What happened to him?
  • Shiloh, the never expected, the least understood, and the most painful experience of the American Civil War – Why?
  • Shiloh – the battle with more myths and less facts than any major killing of American soldiers – How can this be? Continue reading

Meeting of February 26, 2013

Alan Sissenwein on “The Battle at Fredericksburg, Part 2”

Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside

Alan concluded his two-part presentation, covering the main portion of the 1862 battle and its aftermath.

Meeting Minutes February 2013

Tom Roza wrote the following summary.

Alan Sissenwein conducted the second of a two-part presentation on the Battle at Fredericksburg.  Part 1 had covered all the activities up thru December 12, 1862; Part 2 covered the main portion of the battle and its aftermath. Continue reading

Meeting of January 29, 2013

Alan Sissenwein on “The Battle at Fredericksburg, Part 1”

Kurz & Allison–Battle of Fredericksburg (Wikipedia)

Tom Roza provided the following meeting summary.

Alan Sissenwein conducted the first of a two-part presentation on the Battle at Fredericksburg.  Part 1 covered all the activities up thru December 12, 1862; Part 2 at the February 26, 2013, meeting will cover the main portion of the battle and its aftermath. Continue reading

Meeting of November 27, 2012

Death and The Civil War, Part 2

From acclaimed filmmaker Ric Burns, based on Drew Faust’s groundbreaking book, This Republic of Suffering, this film tracks the increasingly lethal arc of the war from its opening, through the chaos of Shiloh, and the following major battles which left an American landscape littered with the bodies of hundreds of thousands of soldiers, many unburied, most unidentified. The staggering casualties brought death to the American experience as never before—permanently altering the character of the republic, the psyche of the American people, and posing challenges for which there were no ready answers when the war began.

Meeting Minutes November 2012

Meeting of October 30, 2012

Death and The Civil War, Part 1

From acclaimed filmmaker Ric Burns, based on Drew Faust’s groundbreaking book, This Republic of Suffering, this film tracks the increasingly lethal arc of the war from its opening, through the chaos of Shiloh, and the following major battles which left an American landscape littered with the bodies of hundreds of thousands of soldiers, many unburied, most unidentified. The staggering casualties brought death to the American experience as never before—permanently altering the character of the republic, the psyche of the American people, and posing challenges for which there were no ready answers when the war began.

Meeting Minutes October 2012

Meeting of August 25, 2012

Hal Jespersen on the “Seven Days Battles”

map

Seven Days Battles

In the Peninsula Campaign of 1862, Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan landed his Army of the Potomac at Fort Monroe, Virginia, and slowly advanced up the Virginia Peninsula in an attempt to capture the Confederate capital of Richmond. At the indecisive Battle of Seven Pines (Fair Oaks), the Confederate commander, Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, was severely wounded and soon replaced with Gen. Robert E. Lee. In late June, Lee launched a series of attacks against McClellan that have come to be known as the Seven Days Battles, including the battles of Mechanicsville, Gaines’s Mill, Glendale, Malvern Hill, and a few other (comparatively) minor engagements. Some historians describe the Seven Days as a campaign, others as a lengthy battle with daily engagements. If you subscribe to the latter view, the Seven Days ranks behind Gettysburg as the second bloodiest battle of the war, with approximately 36,000 casualties. Hal gave a brief overview of the initial movements and battles in the Peninsula Campaign, and then described each of the Seven Days in detail. He discussed the strategic importance of the campaign and gave his opinions on the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of the two opposing commanders. Continue reading

Meeting of May 29, 2012

Jim Campbell on “A Marine Artist’s View of Famous Civil War Naval Battles”

Jim Campbell’s pen and ink drawings tracing Americas rich maritime past can be seen in galleries on the west coast as well as the east coast. Campbell’s art work has been exhibited at the Mariners Museum in Newport News, Virginia, where he did a series of drawings of the famous battles of the Civil War including the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia, the first ironclads to do battle at Hampton Roads, Virginia. He has also done a series of drawings of the Confederate submarine H. L. Hunley, the first submarine in world history to sink an enemy ship. Recently discovered, the Hunley is now on display in the Warren Lasch Conservation Center in South Carolina. Jim discussed the duel at Hampton Roads and the Confederate submarine H. L. Hunley, and displayed some of his artwork.

Meeting Minutes May 2012

Meeting of April 24, 2012

Ernie Manzo on “History of the Forts and Batteries Guarding the Golden Gate During the Civil War”

Ernie discussed the little known history of the series of forts and batteries that defended the Golden Gates entrance from Confederate raiding sea vessels. In order to protect the precious gold and silver coming out of the California and Nevada mountains, which financed the Union war effort, the army expended substantial resources to install fortifications. Continue reading

Meeting of March 27, 2012

Arthur W. Henrick on “Civil War Currency, Monetary Policy, and Soldiers’ Pay”

man in a Civil War paymaster uniform

Arthur Henrick

Arthur’s talk described what Union soldiers were paid in 1861 (Gold/Silver) and the first issue of the new paper currency in early 1862 and the result of the mass issue of these “United States Notes” (commonly called “Greenbacks”) and the beginning of “Fiat” money. Confederate quartermasters paid their troops irregularly and inflation made their pay a fraction of the value that Union soldiers received. Arthur has a number of sources to cite. Readings from the Union prospective, the 1863 book “Light and Dark of the Rebellion” by Rev. Charles Edward Sester will cover the chapter “The Life of an Army Paymaster for a Day.” Another book is the 1887 “Corporal Si Klegg and his Pard” by Lt. Colonel Hinman and the chapter “An Interview with a Paymaster.” Data and facts from 1869 book by Hon. E. G. Spaulding, Chairman of the Sub-Committee of Ways and Means when the Greenback Law was passed in February 25th, 1862. As with 19th Century books, the full title is “History of the Legal Tender Paper Money issued during the GREAT REBELLION. Being a Loan without Interest and a national Currency.” Gold, silver, copper coins and Postage and Fractional Currency will be present for inspection of those who attend. Continue reading

Meeting of January 31, 2012

Lee Meredith on “The Strategic Impact of Railroads in the Civil War”

man with arms akimbo

Lee Meredith

As we have studied the Civil War we have become aware of the major impact railroads had on the outcome of the war. Not even in existence 32 years before Bull Run, there were over 29,000 miles of track when the war started. The armies of McClellan, Lee, Grant, Sherman, and others could not have undertaken the massive movement of men and material without them. You can argue for Napoleon’s massive armies, however Napoleon fought on the relatively flat, cultivated open country of western Europe and Russia and not the mountainous, forested and wet lands of the eastern United States. Continue reading

Meeting of September 27, 2011

Bobb Hubbs on “Holly Springs—Grant’s Worst Nightmare?”

Bob’s presentation detailed the Holly Springs Raid and reviewed Grant’s greatest challenge. Grant’s strategy for the capture of Vicksburg and the final phase of the Anaconda Plan was introduced. The first campaign for the capture of Vicksburg and the ramifications of that effort was presented. What was Grant’s reaction to the incompetent response to the attack by Van Dorn and his cavalry and the capture of Holly Springs. Why of all of the events in Grant’s life would the Holly Springs Raid be worse than others? Continue reading

Meeting of August 14, 2011

Gary Yee on “Civil War Prisons – Interesting Prison Escapes”

At this year’s picnic meeting in Los Gatos, Gary Yee described several of the more famous and infamous prison escapes performed by both Union and Confederate POWs. The presentation also included descriptions of the types of facilities used for prisons on both sides, along with how they were managed (or in most cases mis-managed). Gary described in detail the elaborate efforts POWs performed in escaping from their captivity. This most likely was Gary’s last SBCWRT presentation since he is moving to Colorado. Continue reading

Meeting of July 26, 2011

Tom McMahon on “The Wheel Becomes a Weapon of War, From Iron Age Cart to Iron Horse”

Tom McMahon’s maternal Irish grandfather was born the year the Civil War ended. Tom often wonders what life would have been for him if the military draft had reached his great grandfather in San Francisco. Tom’s dad, born in 1881 in Virginia City, Nevada, maintained locomotives for the Western Pacific Railroad. Tom is having a ball, searching and discovering.

Meeting of June 28, 2011

Dr. Libra Hilde on “Healing Bodies, Morale, and Memory: Female Nursing in the Civil War South”

Meeting description provided by Gary Yee:

Prof. Hilde’s book is being released by the Univ. of Virginia this coming February. There’s already another book on CW nurses, but the author whose name escapes me covers mostly the North. There’s a lot of presumption that the South did the same. That’s where Libra differs. Continue reading

Meeting of May 31, 2011

Adam Arenson on “The Great Heart of the Republic: St. Louis and Cultural Civil War”

headshot

Adam Arenson

The Civil War revealed what united as well as what divided Americans in the nineteenth century—not only in its deadly military conflict, but also in the broader battle of ideas, dueling moral systems, and competing national visions that preceded and followed. This cultural civil war was the clash among North, South, and West, as their leaders sought to shape Manifest Destiny and slavery politics.

No site embodied this struggle more completely than St. Louis, the largest city along the border of slavery and freedom. This sweeping history reveals a city at the heart of the cultural civil war. St. Louisans heralded a new future, erasing old patterns as the United States stretched across the continent. They tried to reorient the nation’s political landscape, with westerners in the vanguard and St. Louis as the cultural, commercial, and national capital. Continue reading

Meeting of April 26, 2011

Donald Stoker on “Grand Strategy in the Civil War”

book cover

Donald Stoker’s book

There are more than 60,000 books on the Civil War. None provide a full discussion of the conflict’s strategy—except Donald Stoker’s Grand Strategy in the Civil War. Stoker, of the U.S. Naval War College’s NPS program, reveals, in the words of the presidents, generals, and admirals, the grand, strategic sweep of the war. The much maligned George McClellan had a vision of Union strategy stretching far beyond his ill-fated Peninsula campaign, one that could have produced Union victory in 1862. The clearest picture yet of Lincoln’s evolution as a strategic thinker also emerges, one in which his clarity and decisiveness in political thought and control shines through just as brightly as his strategic failures. Lincoln had many good strategic ideas, but too often he failed to insure that his subordinates carried them out. One of these, Henry Halleck, McClellan’s successor, cost the Union many lives, and was one of the reasons Union victory was so long delayed. Grant and Sherman emerge as decisive operational and strategic thinkers. Sherman, in many respects, was the best of all. Continue reading

Meeting of March 29, 2011

Larry Comstock on “The Union is Saved! The Atlanta Campaign of 1864”

Atlanta Campaign Map

Atlanta Campaign Map

Larry’s talk covered two campaigns proceeding at the same time in the spring of 1864. The first of these was the military campaign of the army group under General William T. Sherman to attack General Joe Johnston’s Army of Tennessee encamped at Dalton, GA and to drive towards Atlanta, GA. The key figures in the three armies making up the force were presented. The logistics of the campaign was discussed with particular reference to the Western & Atlantic Railroad that supported both armies (from each end). Two significant battles of this military campaign (Resaca and the Battle of Atlanta) were emphasized. This campaign was one of the five campaigns directed by the new commander of the Union Army, Lt. General U.S. Grant. By mid-July the Atlanta campaign was the only one with any likelihood of significant military success. This was the result of the Army of the Potomac being in a standoff with the Army of Northern Virginia with both entrenched around the Richmond-Petersburg lines. Continue reading

Meeting of February 22, 2011

Dana Lombardy on “Secret Turning Points of the American Civil War”

man posing in library

Dana Lombardy

Dana Lombardy, designer and editor of the battlefield guidebook The First Battle of Bull Run: Campaign of First Manassas, presented one his popular series of “secret” turning points lectures with a look at the decisions (and non-decisions) that have been overlooked or downplayed in most books written about America’s Civil War. What nearly happened in 1862 that could have crippled or stopped President Lincoln’s war plans? What act of disobedience enabled the Union army to stay and fight at Gettysburg after its initial defeat on July 1? Continue reading