Monthly Archives: November 2015

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

Quiz for February 23, 2016

Civil War Quiz: Civil War Generals and Their Horses

Provide the name of the “Favorite” horse ridden by each of these Civil War Personalities

Q#1 – US Grant

Q#2 – Robert E Lee

Q#3 – George McClellan

Q#4 – William T Sherman

Q#5 – Philip Sheridan

Q#6 – Stonewall Jackson

Q#7 – Jeb Stuart

Q#8 – George Meade

Q#9 – George Thomas

Q#10 – Joe Hooker

Q#11 – Philip Kearny

Q#12 – Albert Sidney Johnston

Q#13 – George Armstrong Custer

Q#14 – Jefferson Davis

Q#15 – Nathan Bedford Forrest

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

Quiz for January 26, 2016

Civil War Quiz: Spies, Scouts, and Raiders

Q#1 – Before he performed his most famous role as artillery commander for Pickett’s Charge, what Confederate officer’s first role was that of spying on Union troops movements?

Q#2 – In the spring of 1862, US Grant appointed a man to create Grant’s espionage apparatus. What was this man’s name?

Q#3 – What is the name of the Southern woman whose spying activities earned her the name “The Siren of the Shenandoah”?

Q#4 – In 1863, a Union officer was appointed head of the Army of the Potomac’s Bureau of Information. What was his name?

Q#5 – What was the name of the Confederate Officer who set up the Confederate Secret Service Bureau?

Q#6 – Name the woman who was a Union sympathizer who lived in Richmond and among her spying activities also took food to the Union prisoners kept in Libby Prison?

Q#7 – What was the name of the Confederate spy who lived in Washington DC and stole George McClellan’s Peninsula order of battle and plans in April 1862?

Q#8 – A man who spied for the Union was actually the Superintendent of the key southern RF&P Railroad that supplied General Lee’s troops in 1862-63. What was his name?

Q#9 – What is the name of the Confederate spy who planted a bomb containing 12 pounds of power and exploded it on August 9, 1864 with the subsequent blast almost killing US Grant at the Union’s City Point Supply Depot?

Q#10 – What Confederate commander spoke these words: “In general my purpose was to threaten and harass the enemy on the border and in this way compel him to withdraw troops from his front to guard the line of the Potomac and Washington. This would greatly diminish his offensive power”

Q#11 – What was the name of the Union raider who in 1862 stole the Confederate locomotive named “The General”?

Q#12 – On April 21, 1862, the Confederate Congress passed legislation that was intended as a stimulus for recruitment of irregulars for service into the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. What was the name of this law?

Q#13 – Confederate William Quantrill named a Kansas Senator “…the chief of all the Jayhawkers and the worst man that was ever born into this world.” What was this Senator’s name?

Q#14 – In 1864, the Louisville Kentucky Courier Newspaper wrote that a band of Confederate guerrillas in Kentucky was led by a woman named Sue Mundy. This person was in fact a man. What was his name?

Q#15 – On August 25, 1863, General Thomas Ewing Jr., who was William Tecumseh Sherman’s brother-in-law, issued his General Order No. 11, which isn considered one of the most repressive measures ever inflicted upon an American civilian population. What was that order?

Jack Leathers Memorial, December 19, 2016

Lisa Leathers D’Angelo has provided information about the obituary and memorial service for her father, long time roundtable member Jack Leathers:

John C. (Jack) Leathers

March 3, 1933 – November 13, 2015

Longtime Resident of Saratoga, San Jose, and Los Gatos

Jack Leathers 1970sJohn C. (Jack) Leathers passed away on November 13, 2015, in Davis, CA. Preceded in death by his wife of 51 years, Giske Leathers, survived by daughter Lisa D’Angelo (Philip) of Davis, son John Leathers (Susan) of San Carlos, and Grandchildren Dominic, Benjamin, Christopher, Davin, and Jamie. He will be remembered as a great dad, a loving grandfather, a prolific reader of history books and writer of letters, a dedicated member of the Peninsula Civil War Roundtable, his weekly and exceptional grilling of steaks and “daddy” burgers, and for his LONG, daily walks throughout his life. He was one of the truly “good guys”.

Jack Leathers was born on March 3, 1933 (3-3-33!) to Alexander Frank Leathers and Margaret Cochran Leathers in Marion, Indiana. An only child, he grew up in Des Moines, Iowa and Winona, Minnesota, playing golf and football (wearing # 33!) before attending college at the University of Minnesota, the University of Washington, and graduating from the University of California, Berkeley in 1955, where he would earn a degree in Business, row on the crew team, and serve as president of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity and sports editor of the yearbook. A two-year stint in the Air Force was followed by the start of his career as a stockbroker for Merrill Lynch in Oakland, CA. He began working in Commercial Finance in the early 60’s, working for various banks and lending institutions in San Francisco and Chicago throughout the 70’s and 80’s before closing his career as a San Jose based small business consultant.

In 1962 his passion for all things Scandinavian led him to meet and marry Giske Erichsen, the daughter of a Norwegian banker who had recently moved to San Francisco from Oslo, Norway. His daughter, Lisa (Elisabeth), was born in 1963 as they settled in San Jose. Son John Erich was born in 1967, and three years later they settled in Saratoga. A five (5) year stay in Barrington, Illinois was followed by a return to the Bay Area and Saratoga, where they would settle in the Blue Hills neighborhood for the better part of sixteen (16) years before living in Santa Clara, Los Gatos, the Villages in San Jose, and finally Davis, CA to be near daughter Lisa and family.

An only child, he valued time by himself, enjoying long (5-10 miles), solitary walks to think and hours reading and writing in his home office. But as a father, he was always accessible, always supportive of our endeavors yet honest in his commentary, generous with his time despite his long commutes from Barrington to Chicago or Saratoga to San Francisco, and always able to tell you that he loved you. Always.

A celebration of his life will be held Saturday, December 19, 2015, at 2:00 pm at Saratoga Federated Church at 20390 Park Place in Saratoga with a celebration of life right after (most likely 3 pm) at Los Gatos Lodge, 50 Los Gatos/Saratoga Rd in Los Gatos (near highway 17). There will be hors d’oeuvres and wine and lots of sharing about my dad. My brother and I would be honored to have you all join us.