Meeting of March 30, 2021

Join us at 7 PM, March 30, for an online ZOOM meeting. Login information will be emailed to all members. This month’s topic is

Tom Roza on “The 1868 Impeachment Trial of President Andrew Johnson”

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, among others focused on this approach. This presentation is a combination of delving into the personalities of people involved coupled with the political impeachment-based functions written into our US Constitution.

We are all well aware, regardless of our individual political party affiliations, that Donald John Trump was the first (and hopefully, last) President to be impeached and put on trial twice by the United States Congress. Fortunately, there have only been two previous impeachment trials in our history and we should all pray that we never again have another.

As with the first two impeachment trials that were performed for Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, Trump’s impeachments had two issues raised: first, were impeachable offenses committed by the President; and second, was the impeachment process employed unconstitutional. The 1868 impeachment trial of Andrew Johnson embraces both of those issues among others. And, in the last year and one-half, so much discussion on impeachment has occurred in our country, the presentation examines what actually is in the US Constitution on the topic of impeachment and how that affected the decision to impeach President Andrew Johnson.

Meeting of May 25, 2021

Join us at 7 PM, May 25, for an online ZOOM meeting. Login information will be emailed to all members. This month’s topic is

Robert O’Connor on “Mrs. Slater — The Missing Lincoln Conspirator”

This mysterious lady who always wore a mourning veil over her face was a confidant of John Surratt, Jr. She was a courier of messages between Richmond and the Confederate Secret Service office in Montreal. She is mentioned by several witnesses in the Lincoln Conspiracy trials, but there is a lot of confusion about their testimony. No one can describe her. She is arrested and questioned, but released and disappeared. Her story is interesting.

Robert O’Connor is an historian, researcher, and the author of 18 Civil War books who lived in Charles Town, WV. Is now retired and writes full-time. Writes about subjects or characters not widely known in the field. Has been named finalist four times in national book competitions. www.boboconnorbooks.com

Meeting of February 23, 2021

Jim Rhetta & Alan Sissenwein on “The Worst Generals of the Civil War, Part III”

This meeting is a continuation of the November meeting topic.

Most authors of the Civil War have focused on presenting the best Generals of the Civil War and their traits that led to that status. They focus heavily on Lee, Grant, Sherman, and Jackson as books on them abound. This focus overlooks the fact that there were generals at the opposite end of the leadership spectrum who were ineffective leaders.

For this presentation Alan Sissenwein will present some of the worst Federal generals and Jim Rhetta will cover the worst of the Confederate generals. What made these generals selected for that status include bad leadership, bad battlefield results, poor decision-making, abrasive personalities, and abuse of subordinates. This will also cover the factors that allowed for bad Generals to emerge and in some cases the inability to remove them from senior leadership positions.

Jim Rhetta retired from Lockheed Corp, and also retired from the USAF Reserve as a Colonel in the Intelligence Community. In both careers he monitored, analyzed, and reported on global conflicts and crisis for the DoD Community. His careers required him to write threat assessments, weekly activity reports, and publish classified documents. He continues to study both current events and historical subjects for their impacts on us today. He has produced several presentations for Round Tables, including “Civil War Newspapers, the first use of Open Source intelligence”, “The Blockade and its Effectiveness”, “Tracing Slave Family History,” and “Attack and Die, Cultural Influences on Civil War Combat.”

Alan Sissenwein, a native Californian, is a professional writer who has been a member of the South Bay Civil War Round Table since 1997. He has a bachelor’s degree in history from UC Berkeley and a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University. Although he has been fascinated by history since he was a teenager, his interest in the Civil War only took root during his last semester of graduate school, which was spent in Washington D.C. He likes to say that in California the Civil War is an abstraction but on the East Coast it’s a presence. He has previously given talks to the South Bay Civil War Round Table on such subjects as George Armstrong Custer and George Brinton McClellan.

Meeting Minutes February 2021

Quiz for February 23, 2021

Civil War Quiz: What Do You REALLY Know About Edmund Ruffin?

Q#1 – Edmund Ruffin was born on January 5, 1794. Where was his birthplace?

Q#2 – Who was Edmund Ruffin married to and how many children did they have?

Q#3 – In his twenties, long before he became an advocate for secession, what scientific activity did Ruffin become active in that gained him a degree of notoriety?

Q#4 – In addition to his work with marl, what was Ruffin’s chief agricultural legacy?

Q#5 – Because of his agricultural work, what title has been assigned to Edmund Ruffin?

Q#6 – As the political climate in the United States began to become polarized in the 1840s, Edmund Ruffin became a political activist with an organization named the Fire-Eaters—what were they?

Q#7 – In 1859, Ruffin traveled to attend the execution of John Brown at Charles Town, Virginia (now West Virginia), following the abolitionist’s abortive slave revolt at Harper’s Ferry earlier that year. Access to the general public was restricted; how did Ruffin gain access to the hanging?

Q#8 – After John Brown’s execution, Edmund Ruffin purchased several of the pikes captured from Brown and his forces, which had been intended to arm slaves in a general uprising. What did Ruffin do with the spikes?

Q#9 – In 1860, Ruffin published his book, “Anticipations of the Future, to Serve as Lessons for the Present Time.” What was the purpose of the book?

Q#10 – Ruffin is credited with firing one of the first shots from Morris Island against the federally held Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861. Who actually fired the first shot?

Q#11 – There was another first at Ft Sumter that is credited to Edmund Ruffin – what was it?

Q#12 – Two part question: 1) After Ft Sumter, Edmund Ruffin joined what military unit that participated in the First Battle of Manassas Junction? 2) What military action is Ruffin credited with performing at that battle?

Q#13 – Just moments after the Union Army retreated from Manassas Junction and left the battlefield, what did Edmund Ruffin do?

Q#14 – In 1865, Union soldiers overran one of Ruffin’s three plantations in the Tide Water region of Virginia. What graffiti did they write on his main house?

Q#15 – It is a well known fact that Edmund Ruffin committed suicide on June 18, 1865, despondent over the Confederacy’s loss of the Civil War. However, the suicide attempt did not go smoothly. What happened?

Meeting of January 26, 2021

David Dixon on “The American Civil War: A Radical, International Revolution”

Radical Warrior: August Willich’s Journey from German Revolutionary to Union General (University of Tennessee Press 2020) is the biography of a Prussian army officer who renounced his nobility and joined in the failed European revolutions of 1848. He emigrated to America, edited a daily labor newspaper in Cincinnati, and became one of the most accomplished generals in the Union Army. This story sheds new light on the contributions of 200,000 German-Americans who fought for the Union in the Civil War.

In an age of global social, economic, and political upheaval, transatlantic radicals helped affect America’s second great revolution. For many recent immigrants, the nature and implications of that revolution turned not on Lincoln’s conservative goal of maintaining the national Union, but on issues of social justice, including slavery, free labor, and popular self-government. The Civil War was not simply a war to end sectional divides, but to restore the soul of the nation, revive the hopes of democrats worldwide, and defend human rights.

David Dixon earned his M.A. in history from the University of Massachusetts in 2003. His first book, The Lost Gettysburg Address, told the unusual life story of Texas slaveholder Charles Anderson, whose speech followed Lincoln’s at Gettysburg, but was never published. It turned up 140 years later in a cardboard box in Wyoming.

David spoke at Gettysburg National Military Park’s Sacred Trust Talks, appeared on Civil War Talk Radio and has presented to more than sixty Civil War Round Tables from coast to coast. He hosts B-List History, a website that features obscure characters and their compelling stories at www.davidtdixon.com.

David’s current book, published by the University of Tennessee Press, is the biography of German revolutionary and Union General August Willich. His current project is a biography that highlights the role of emotions in Southern allegiance in the Civil War.

Meeting Minutes January 2021

Quiz for January 26, 2021

Civil War Quiz: What Do You Know about Native Americans in the Civil War?

Q#1 — This Native American served as adjutant and secretary to General Ulysses S. Grant. He wrote the final draft of the Confederate surrender terms at Appomattox. Who was he?

Q#2 — This Native American tribe suffered its own civil war within the Civil War, with bitter factions supporting either the south or the north. Name the tribe.

Q#3 — On June 25, 1865, this Native American was the last Confederate general in the field to cease hostilities at war’s end. Who was he?

Q#4 — This battle in Arkansas saw a combined force of Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, and Seminole cavalry fighting for the Confederacy. Name it.

Q#5 — This Confederate general was appointed as Confederate envoy to Native American nations and was commissioned based on his ability to recruit Native Americans to the southern army. Who was he?

Q#6 — This battle was unique in the Civil War in that the white soldiers were the minority in both fighting forces with Native Americans making up a significant portion of each of the opposing armies and the Union force contained African-American units. Name the battle.

Q#7 — Two battles were fought near the present-day town of Big Cabin, Oklahoma, then in the Cherokee Nation within Indian Territory. What was the name of these two battles?

Q#8 — What happened to the Native American Tonkawa tribe on October 23–24, 1862?

Q#9 — The three pitched battles Battle of Round Mountain, the Battle of Chusto-Talasah, and the Battle of Chustenahlah fought between pro-Union Creek Indians and against Confederate troops and other Native Americans that joined the Confederates are collectively known as what?

Q#10 — The Third Colorado Cavalry was responsible for what action on November 29, 1864?

Q#11 — In July 1862, settlers fought against Santee Sioux in Minnesota. Who led the Sioux?

Q#12 — This famous American frontiersman was a colonel during the Civil War. He was responsible for forcing the Mescalero Apache and the Navajo onto a bleak reservation called Bosque Redondo. Name him.

Q#13 — How many Native Americans from the Indian Territory are estimated to have participated in the Confederate Army?

Q#14 — In 1862 the Union attempted an “Indian Expedition” into Indian Territory. Who commanded this expedition called and what was the outcome?

Q#15 — What was the impact on the Cherokee Nation as a result of the Union victory in the Civil War?

Meeting of December 29, 2020

Jim Rhetta & Alan Sissenwein on “The Worst Generals of the Civil War, Part II”

This meeting is a continuation of the November meeting topic.

Most authors of the Civil War have focused on presenting the best Generals of the Civil War and their traits that led to that status. They focus heavily on Lee, Grant, Sherman, and Jackson as books on them abound. This focus overlooks the fact that there were generals at the opposite end of the leadership spectrum who were ineffective leaders.

For this presentation Alan Sissenwein will present some of the worst Federal generals and Jim Rhetta will cover the worst of the Confederate generals. What made these generals selected for that status include bad leadership, bad battlefield results, poor decision-making, abrasive personalities, and abuse of subordinates. This will also cover the factors that allowed for bad Generals to emerge and in some cases the inability to remove them from senior leadership positions.

Jim Rhetta retired from Lockheed Corp, and also retired from the USAF Reserve as a Colonel in the Intelligence Community. In both careers he monitored, analyzed, and reported on global conflicts and crisis for the DoD Community. His careers required him to write threat assessments, weekly activity reports, and publish classified documents. He continues to study both current events and historical subjects for their impacts on us today. He has produced several presentations for Round Tables, including “Civil War Newspapers, the first use of Open Source intelligence”, “The Blockade and its Effectiveness”, “Tracing Slave Family History,” and “Attack and Die, Cultural Influences on Civil War Combat.”

Alan Sissenwein, a native Californian, is a professional writer who has been a member of the South Bay Civil War Round Table since 1997. He has a bachelor’s degree in history from UC Berkeley and a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University. Although he has been fascinated by history since he was a teenager, his interest in the Civil War only took root during his last semester of graduate school, which was spent in Washington D.C. He likes to say that in California the Civil War is an abstraction but on the East Coast it’s a presence. He has previously given talks to the South Bay Civil War Round Table on such subjects as George Armstrong Custer and George Brinton McClellan.

Meeting Minutes December 2020

Quiz for December 29, 2020

Civil War Quiz: What Do You Know About Civil War Cavalry?

Q#1 – The flamboyant Confederate cavalry commander of the Army of Northern Virginia went by the name Jeb Stuart – what did the letters J.E.B. stand for?

Q#2 – What was the name of the Union cavalry commander who led a raid thru Mississippi during April-May 1863? (Note: The John Wayne movie “Horse Soldiers” was based on this event)

Q#3 – What was the name given to the cavalry brigade that George Armstrong Custer commanded at the Battle of Gettysburg?

Q#4 – What was the nickname given to Confederate cavalry battalion commander John Singleton Mosby?

Q#5 – During the Civil War, what was the main mission of cavalry for both the Union & the Confederates?

Q#6 – What was the nickname Union cavalry troopers gave to Union commander Hugh Judson Kilpatrick?

Q#7 – It is well known that JEB Stuart was killed at the Battle of Yellow Tavern – who was the Union cavalry commander at that battle?

Q#8 – What is the name of the battle that was the largest predominantly cavalry engagement of the American Civil War, as well as the largest ever to take place on American soil?

Q#9 – What was the name of the Union cavalry commander who repulsed a flanking attack by Confederate Nathan Bedford Forrest that was instrumental in saving the Union Army at the Battle of Franklin in November 1864?

Q#10 – He was nicknamed the “Black Knight of the Confederacy”, commanded Stonewall Jackson’s cavalry forces in the Valley Campaign and was killed in battle in 1862 – what was his name?

Q#11 – How was Confederate general and cavalry officer John Hunt Morgan killed?

Q#12 – What was the name of Union cavalry general Philip Sheridan’s horse?

Q#13 – After Jeb Stuart was killed at the Battle of Yellow Tavern, who was named commander of the Confederate cavalry of the Army of Northern Virginia?

Q#14 – John Buford commanded two cavalry brigades on July 1, 1863 at the Battle of Gettysburg – what were the names of the two brigade commanders?

Q#15 – He was considered the tactical master of modern 19th-century mounted forces, wrote a cavalry tactics manual just prior to the Civil War that became the training and fighting textbook for troopers from both sides, and was called “The Father of the United States Cavalry” – what was his name?

Meeting of November 24, 2020

Jim Rhetta & Alan Sissenwein on “The Worst Generals of the Civil War, Part I”

Most authors of the Civil War have focused on presenting the best Generals of the Civil War and their traits that led to that status. They focus heavily on Lee, Grant, Sherman, and Jackson as books on them abound. This focus overlooks the fact that there were generals at the opposite end of the leadership spectrum who were ineffective leaders.

For this presentation Alan Sissenwein will present some of the worst Federal generals and Jim Rhetta will cover the worst of the Confederate generals. What made these generals selected for that status include bad leadership, bad battlefield results, poor decision-making, abrasive personalities, and abuse of subordinates. This will also cover the factors that allowed for bad Generals to emerge and in some cases the inability to remove them from senior leadership positions.

Jim Rhetta retired from Lockheed Corp, and also retired from the USAF Reserve as a Colonel in the Intelligence Community. In both careers he monitored, analyzed, and reported on global conflicts and crisis for the DoD Community. His careers required him to write threat assessments, weekly activity reports, and publish classified documents. He continues to study both current events and historical subjects for their impacts on us today. He has produced several presentations for Round Tables, including “Civil War Newspapers, the first use of Open Source intelligence”, “The Blockade and its Effectiveness”, “Tracing Slave Family History,” and “Attack and Die, Cultural Influences on Civil War Combat.”

Alan Sissenwein, a native Californian, is a professional writer who has been a member of the South Bay Civil War Round Table since 1997. He has a bachelor’s degree in history from UC Berkeley and a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University. Although he has been fascinated by history since he was a teenager, his interest in the Civil War only took root during his last semester of graduate school, which was spent in Washington D.C. He likes to say that in California the Civil War is an abstraction but on the East Coast it’s a presence. He has previously given talks to the South Bay Civil War Round Table on such subjects as George Armstrong Custer and George Brinton McClellan.

Meeting Minutes November 2020

Quiz for November 24, 2020

Civil War Quiz: What Do You Know About Generals to Politicians and Politicians to Generals?

Q#1 – This Civil War general was very significant in the history of the Whig party. Who was he and why was he significant?

Q#2 – This general finished second in the 1880 presidential election. Name him.

Q#3 – This former congressman was appointed as a brigadier general in the Provisional Army of Tennessee and then was commissioned a brigadier general in the Confederate States Army. He was killed commanding troops at the Battle of Mill Springs. Name him.

Q#4 – John C. Breckinridge was the 14th vice-president of the United States and became a Confederate general. He was commander at what Confederate victory and what position in the Confederate government did he hold at the end of the war?

Q#5 – Of officers without previous military experience, he was one of three to achieve the rank of lieutenant general in the Confederate army. He was elected to the South Carolina General Assembly in 1852 and served as a state Senator from 1858 to 1861. After the Civil War he narrowly won the bloody 1876 election to became governor of South Carolina. Name him.

Q#6 – This professor and Civil War general was elected governor of Maine four times (1866, 1867, 1868, 1869). Name him.

Q#7 – This Civil War general and author made two unsuccessful bids for a seat in Congress (in 1868 and 1870) and was appointed territorial governor of the New Mexico Territory, where he served from August 1878 to March 1881. Name him and his most successful novel.

Q#8 – This Confederate cavalry commander in 1880 was elected from Alabama as a Democrat to the United States House of Representatives. He later served as major general of volunteers in the Spanish-American war. Name him.

Q#9 – Future president Rutherford B. Hayes ended the war as a brevetted major general. In which campaigns of the war did he mainly serve?

Q#10 – Future brigadier general and president James A. Garfield only personally commanded at one battle. Name it.

Q#11– General George B. McClellan, as the democratic candidate, lost the 1864 Presidential election to Lincoln. Did ever he compete for any other political office?

Q#12 – This Civil War general was a member of the House of Representatives and an important ally to Illinois Senator Stephen A. Douglas. His commission as a general was based on Lincoln’s desire to retain political connections with the Democrats of Southern Illinois and he eventually became second in command under Ulysses S. Grant. Who was he?

Q#13 – How was General John C. Frémont, Union commander at the battle of Cross Keys, very significant in the history of the Republican party?

Q#14 – This Civil War general was a Republican member of the House of Representatives for Missouri prior to the war. He was appointed a colonel of Missouri volunteers in July 1862. He was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers in August 1862 and then to major general in November. He commanded a division in the Vicksburg campaign and in the fighting about Chattanooga, and was one of William T. Sherman’s corps commanders in the final campaigns in Georgia and the Carolinas. After the war he opposed the Congressional Reconstruction policy, and on that issue left the Republican Party. In 1868, he was the unsuccessful Democratic candidate for vice president, running with Horatio Seymour. Who was he?

Q#15 – He was an attorney, the first Chief Justice of Kansas, and leading free state advocate and Union Army general during the American Civil War, commanding the defense of Fort Davidson at Pilot Knob, Missouri, during Sterling Price’s raid. After the war he became a two-term United States Congressman from Ohio, 1877–1881, and narrowly lost the 1880 campaign for Ohio Governor. Who was he?