Monthly Archives: February 2021

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?