Meeting of April 28, 2009

Jack Mather on “Sherman—Fall 1864 to the End of the War: Myth and Reality”

Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman (Wikipedia)

Jack’s presentation evolved around the two following communications:

Oct. 9, 1864, Sherman to Grant: “Until we can repopulate Georgia, it is useless to occupy it, but the utter destruction of its roads, horses and people will cripple their military resources … I can make the march and make Georgia howl.” Continue reading

Meeting of March 31, 2009

Brad Schall on “The Political Climate in California 1850-1870”

Brad’s presentation centered around the crucial elements of the 1856 and 1870 elections. He examined both the role and impact of California’s first two Senators: William Gwin and John C. Frémont. He addressed “Why the South needed California to be a Slave State” and to what extent did slavery already exist in California. Within this context Brad related the stories of Mary Ellen Pleasant and the David Broderick vs. David Terry duel.

Newsletter March 2009

Meeting of February 24, 2009

Larry Comstock on “The Other End of the Line — The Union Right Flank at Gettysburg”

Culp’s Hill at Gettysburg, July 2, 1863 (Hal Jespersen)

Most attention about the battle of Gettysburg is given in the popular press and in the movie Gettysburg to the attacks on July 2, 1863, on the Union left flank and on the center of the Union line on July 3rd (Pickett’s Charge). Who has not heard about Little Round Top, Devils Den, the Peach Orchard, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, and the 20th Maine? Larry’s excellent presentation described the events that took place on the Union right flank that were equally important. The geography of Gettysburg and the military importance of the surrounding hills were emphasized. Continue reading

Meeting of January 27, 2009

Charles Sweeney on “Aspects of Slavery During the Civil War”

Charles Sweeney’s presentation focused primarily on slavery and its ramifications during the Civil War, but his presentation also examined slavery in a more comprehensive context. Among the key points of his presentation were:

Meeting of November 25, 2008

Jean Libby on “John Brown: A History and Photo Chronology”

antique photo calling card

Image purchased on eBay by Jean Libby in 2001. It was one of the mystery photographs (date, original sitting and photographer unknown) examined at the November 25th meeting.

Jean’s presentation charted twelve photographs of John Brown the abolitionist through three time periods: the organization of the Underground Railroad and resistance to the Fugitive Slave Law (1846 – 1850), Free State vs. Slave State (1854 – 1857), and the Harpers Ferry Raid (1858 – 1859).

There are several versions of the dozen photos studied, including “How many photo portraits are there of John Brown with his beard?”

Jean’s original chronology in 2002 was made with forensic anthropologist Eileen Barrow at Louisiana State University, who specializes in making aging models of missing children. Her original research on the subject has convinced archivists and experts that some dates and places of commonly viewed photo images of John Brown were incorrect. Continue reading

Meeting of October 28, 2008

Fred Bohmfalk on “Baseball During the Civil War”

Civil War “buffs” and baseball enthusiasts alike were in for a real treat as Fred Bohmfalk’s presentation of “Baseball during the Civil War” enlightened us relative to the origin and somewhat obscure beginning of the game to its reputation as our “national pastime” of the modern era. Continue reading

Meeting of September 30, 2008

Tom Roza on “John Buford at Gettysburg”

portrait of Civil War cavalry officer

Brig. Gen. John Buford (Wikipedia)

Although covering other aspects of of John Buford’s life and Civil War exploits, this presentation focused primarily on his role and strategic contributions to the Union cause at the Battle of Gettysburg. Here is a brief synopsis of Buford’s role on that fateful first day of the battle:

“On the morning of July 1st, 1863, Buford’s men faced west as the sun rose to their backs. Shortly after daylight, one of his troopers posted on the road to Cashtown fired at the advance of Maj. Gen. Henry Heth’s entire Confederate division, sending up the alarm in Buford’s camp. The dismounted cavalrymen, acting like infantry skirmishers, put up a stubborn, slow defense over the two miles to Buford’s main battle line atop McPherson’s Ridge. The Union tactics here called for measured, deliberate resistance that traded ground for time. By the time Heth’s men reached Herr’s Ridge opposite Buford’s main line, two hours of precious daylight had passed and supporting Federal infantry had approached to enter the brawl. Buford, and then infantry commander Maj. Gen. John Reynolds, had their eyes on the ultimate prize—the higher, better ground to the east and south of the town.” This action, combined with the strategic decision of commanding the high ground would have a major impact on the outcome of the Battle of Gettysburg. Continue reading

Meeting of August 10, 2008

Jack Leathers on “George Thomas: The Rock of Chickamauga”

portrait of Civil War general

Maj. Gen. George Henry Thomas (Wikipedia)

Although Jack’s presentation was comprehensive in covering much of George Thomas’s personal history and military career, Jack began by focusing on what was to be his most notable battle—the September 19-20, 1863, Battle of Chickamauga, the one that would earn him the acclaimed nickname of “The Rock of Chickamauga.”

Following his recounting of this momentous battle, Jack reviewed the career of George Thomas—how Thomas graduated near the top of his class at West Point in 1840 and received his first assignment to fight the Seminole Indians in Florida.

Jack next touched on Thomas’s service during the Mexican War as he served under Gen. Zachary Taylor and proved himself in the battles of Monterrey and Buena Vista. Continue reading