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

Quiz for April 25, 2017

Civil War Quiz: What Do You Know About the Assassination of President Lincoln?

Q#1 – What did President Lincoln dream just a few nights before the events of April 14, 1865?

Q#2 – What was the name of John Wilkes Booth’s father?

Q#3 – John Wilkes Booth had a brother named Edwin. Was Edwin older or younger than John?

Q#4 – John Wilkes Booth sympathized strongly with the South. A number of historians suggest there were three contributing factors for this sympathy – what were they?

Q#5 – In 1859, Booth witnessed the execution of John Brown. What were his reactions to the execution?

Q#6 – In the fall of 1864, what plot did Booth come up with that did not involve assassinating President Lincoln?

Q#7 – What was the name of the woman who gave Booth a special ticket to attend the March 4, 1865, Inauguration of President Lincoln?

Q#8 – How did Lincoln’s visit to Richmond on April 2 indirectly result in the assassination of the President?

Q#9 – On April 14, 1865, Booth ordered Lewis Paine to assassinate which Union General. And when that plot failed, who was the next target for Paine?

Q#10 – What type of pistol did Booth use to assassinate President Lincoln?

Q#11 – Who was the politician that George Atzerodt was supposed to assassinate?

Q#12 – On April 14, 1865, what were the names of the betrothed couple who were guests in the box at Ford’s Theater with the Lincolns?

Q#13 – What are the two most likely reasons why John Parker, the person assigned to guard the Presidential box at Ford’s Theater, was not present at the time of the assassination?

Q#14 – Which leg did Booth break when jumping to the stage after he shot Lincoln?

Q#15 – 23 year old surgeon Charles A. Leale was the first doctor to reach Lincoln in the Presidential box. What medical procedure did Leale perform that relieved pressure on Lincoln’s brain?

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

Quiz for February 28, 2017

Civil War Quiz: What Did the Southern Home Front Have to Deal With?

Q#1 – At the beginning of the Civil War, approximately what percentage of Southern families owned slaves?

Q#2 – At the bottom of the Southern economic ladder were 2 million or so impoverished whites; what nicknames were they called?

Q#3 – What employment exclusion of the 1862 Confederate conscription act establishing a military draft was most often violated by draft boards attempting to meet their draft quotas?

Q#4 – At the start of the Civil War, the North had approximately 22,000 miles of railroad tracks. How many miles existed in the South?

Q#5 – As the war continued, food shortages across the South increased resulting in skyrocketing inflation. For example, during the winter of 1864, in Richmond, what was the cost for a pound of bacon?

Q#6 – What were the two main reasons why so many of the South’s 260 institutions of higher learning closed during the Civil War?

Q#7 – What recurring theme regarding slavery permeated the homilies of Southern ministers at their Sunday church sessions?

Q#8 – The Civil War radically changed the role of women in Southern society. What was the prevailing role for women before the war?

Q#9 – The vast majority of Southerners differed dramatically on exactly what they were fighting for. Where were the origins of Southern loyalty planted?

Q#10 – What two actions by the Confederate Congress in 1863 had a devastating impact of the food supply throughout the South?

Q#11 – What type of graft was very common among Confederate Commissary units?

Q#12 – What Union general became known as the “Beast of New Orleans”?

Q#13 – When the Confederate Congress approved printing money that was not backed up by gold, what process was implemented that (unsuccessfully as it turned out) would reduce counterfeiting?

Q#14 – In 1864, in a desperate effort to replace huge losses in their armies, how did the Confederate government revise its draft laws?

Q#15 – During the period October 1, 1864, to January 1865, how many Confederate soldiers deserted their armies?

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

Quiz for January 31, 2017

Civil War Quiz – What Do You Know About Life of the Everyday Soldier?

Q#1 – At the beginning of the Civil War, what was the “fancy idea” that most volunteers for the army harbored regarding what would be their principal occupation as a soldier?

Q#2 – On the eve of the Civil War, what was the total number of enlisted men in the United States Army?

Q#3 – What was the main reason men fought in the Civil War? From the North? From the South?

Q#4 – At the start of the Civil War, what was the name of the tent that was most frequently used by both North and South?

Q#5 – At full strength, how many companies of about 100 men each made up an infantry regiment?

Q#6 – What was the main reason why the election of company officers was abolished and replaced with a board examination process?

Q#7 – Which military rank in a company dominated a soldier’s everyday life and existence?

Q#8 – What was the most frequent activity performed when soldiers were in camp?

Q#9 – For doctors who served in the Civil War, what were the requirements for them to enter medical school?

Q#10 – How did doctors during the Civil War view infection and the festering of a wound, known as laudable pus?

Q#11 – What was the most contagious disease that recruits contracted when they joined the army?

Q#12 – In some portions of the Confederate Army, the names “The Virginia Quickstep” and “The Tennessee Trots” were associated with what medical malady?

Q#13 – Quality of the food was a major problem for both sides. What was the most frequent problem with Hardtack? With Corn bread?

Q#14 – What were the two main reasons prisoner exchanges were formally discontinued in 1864?

Q#15 – By the end of the Civil War, counting both sides, how many prisons were created and how many men were imprisoned?

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

Quiz for November 29, 2016

Civil War Quiz – What Do You Know About the War Along the Mississippi River?

Q#1 – At the beginning of the Civil War, what city was considered the most strategic along the Mississippi River?

Q#2 – Which Union commander was placed in charge of naval operations on the Mississippi River?

Q#3 – What naval battle on the Mississippi River in June 1862 resulted in a crushing defeat for the Confederate forces, and marked the virtual eradication of a Confederate naval presence on the river?

Q#4 – This ground and naval battle was fought on August 5, 1862, and resulted in the Union capture of which major Confederate State Capital?

Q#5 – What were the names of the two Confederate forts that guarded the mouth of the Mississippi River south of New Orleans?

Q#6 – What action by Union Major General John McClernand infuriated Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and caused both General-in-Chief Henry Halleck and Grant to totally revise their campaign strategy for capturing Vicksburg, MS?

Q#7 – General John C. Pemberton, Confederate Commander of Mississippi, was suspected of having divided loyalties – why?

Q#8 – What was the name of a river located northeast of Vicksburg, MS, that was critically important to the Union plans to capture Vicksburg?

Q#9 – What was the failed attempt by Gen. Ulysses S. Grant to float gun boats and his infantry past Vicksburg without coming under the fire of Confederate guns?

Q#10 – What was the name of the Union naval commander who successfully sailed his ships past Vicksburg as part of General Grant’s plan to land infantry troops of the east shore of the Mississippi south of Vicksburg?

Q#11 – The 1959 movie entitled “The Horse Soldiers” starring John Wayne was based on what actual Civil War event related to the eventual capture of Vicksburg, MS?

Q#12 – Once General Grant had landed his army below Vicksburg, which three major battles were fought during May 1863 that eventually led to the Siege of Vicksburg?

Q#13 – What was the name of a key Confederation fortification that was the main target for Grant’s May 22, 1863, assault on Vicksburg?

Q#14 – In an attempt to break through the Confederate defense at Vicksburg, General Grant approved an action that almost a year later would be attempted again during the siege of Petersburg, VA. What was the action?

Q#15 – Before surrendering Vicksburg, Confederate commanders considered and then rejected what last maneuver?