Author Archives: hlj

Meeting of September 27, 2022

Join us at 6:30 PM, September 27, at Denny’s Restaurant located at 2077 North First St, San Jose, CA 95131 and via ZOOM. This month’s topic is

Abby Eller on “Grant’s Memoirs: How and Why They Came to Be Written”

Ulysses Grant: One of America’s greatest generals, his strength was an iron will and nerves of steel that kept him clear-headed and determined under conditions of enormous stress. His great weakness was inability to realize that some people, no matter how friendly, should never be trusted. Grant’s strength and weakness would unexpectedly collide to produce what critics have acclaimed as a great military memoir and an American literary classic.

Abby Eller, a lifelong American history enthusiast and Civil War history buff, is an active member of the Peninsula Civil War Round Table and the South Bay Civil War Round Table. She volunteers at the San Mateo County History Museum secondhand bookshop, where she curates the military history section.

Quiz for September 27, 2022

Civil War Quiz: What Do You Know About The Copperheads?

Q#1 – What were the Copperheads?

Q#2 – What historical political set of values was the Copperhead Movement based on?

Q#3 – Where did the name “Copperheads” originate?

Q#4 – Why did those individuals and groups accept being called Copperheads?

Q#5 – While many Democrats opposed the war, hat title was given to those who supported the war?

Q#6 – What were the names of two Democratic Congressmen from Ohio who were considered leaders of the Copperhead movement?

Q#7 – How did the Copperheads view President Lincoln and the Republican Party?

Q#8 – What were some of the more drastic actions taken by Copperheads?

Q#9 – Who was John Mullaly?

Q#10 – What was the name of the Copperhead Wisconsin newspaper editor who referred to Lincoln as: “Fungus from the corrupt womb of bigotry and fanaticism” and a “worse tyrant and more inhuman butcher than has existed since the days of Nero. The man who votes for Lincoln now is a traitor and murderer. And if he is elected to misgovern for another four years, we trust some bold hand will pierce his heart with dagger point for the public good”?

Q#11 – What was General Ambrose Burnside’s 1863 General Order Number 38, issued in Ohio as it related to Copperhead actions?

Q#12 – What was The Knights of the Golden Circle (KGC)?

Q#13 – What was the Charleston Riot?

Q#14 – What Congressman declared the war was being fought not to save the Union, but to free the blacks and enslave Southern whites?

Q#15 – The 1864 Democratic convention in Chicago. This convention adopted a largely Copperhead platform and selected Ohio Representative George Pendleton (a known Peace Democrat) as the vice presidential candidate. However, it also chose a pro-war presidential candidate—who was that?

2022 West Coast Civil War Conference Announced

2022 West Coast Civil War Conference: “Grant vs Lee: Combat Strategy & Tactics in 1864 Virginia”

Update from the conference organizers:

THE FINAL WEST COAST CIVIL WAR ROUNDTABLE CONFERENCE, 2019 or 2022? So far we have only 11 persons registered. We always have had a number of last-minute registrations, but we need at least 40 registered attendees by October 1st to make it financially fly. Otherwise, we will have to cancel once again! This may be the last WCCWRT Conference (if it flies), so please join us to make it happen!

November 4-6, 2022

Hosted By the San Joaquin Valley CWRT. Speakers include Gordon Rhea, Eric Wittenburg, Chris Mackowski, Jim Stanbery, and Brian Clague.

Wyndham Garden Hotel Fresno Yosemite Airport, 5090 East Clinton Way, Fresno, CA 93727-1506, (1-559-252-3611 or 1-866-238-4218), $103.00 per night, or wydhamguestreservations.com.

To register, send in the registration form.

Meeting of October 25, 2022

Join us at 6:30 PM, October 25, at Denny’s Restaurant located at 2077 North First St, San Jose, CA 95131 and via ZOOM. This month’s topic is

Abby Eller on “The Grand Army of the Republic: Fraternity, Charity and Loyalty in the Gilded Age”

After the Civil War, the United States would never be the same. Historian Stuart McConnell said “ The Civil War experience hung over the postwar North in a thousand different ways.” The Grand Army of the Republic, the largest of all Civil War veterans’ organizations, was a fraternal lodge, benevolent society, special interest political lobby, and tireless promoter of patriotism on the local and national level. During the tumult of the Gilded Age, the GAR grappled with the nation’s obligations to those who’d sacrificed in the service of their country, and worked tirelessly to promote patriotism and recognition of veterans’ valor.

We hope you’ll join us at our next meeting, to explore the significance of this unique organization. As Stuart McConnell said, “the late 19th century was a postwar era.”

Abby Eller is president of the Peninsula Civil War Round Table, as well as an active member of the South Bay Civil War Round Table, for the past several years. Since high school Abby has been interested in American history. In her opinion, there are so many aspects of Civil War history to explore, the impact of the war was so far reaching, that a final, complete Civil War history can never be written.

Meeting of November 29, 2022

Join us at 6:30 PM, November 29, at Denny’s Restaurant located at 2077 North First St, San Jose, CA 95131 and via ZOOM. This month’s topic is

Jean Libby on “Kansas Free State Battery, 1856”

Commanding a crude dugout fortification, the daguerreotype of a cannon with a battery of six men records the first battles of the American Civil War known as Bleeding Kansas. This presentation suggests a more specific date than that in the Kansas Historical Society “September 1856,” the probable location as Lawrence, Kansas, and attributed photographer as John Bowles. The donor of the image was the abolitionist Rev. Thomas Wentworth Higginson. The presentation documents identities of the men of the cannon battery as close associates of John Brown, including one of his sons. Subsequent interaction with Brown and service during the Civil War is remarked.

“Old Sacramento,” which some Kansas historians and the author Jean Libby suggest is at the center of the daguerreotype, is a six-pound bronze cannon taken in the Mexican-American War in 1847. In his famous epic march, Col. Alexander Doniphan and the 1st Missouri Volunteers Regiment rolled the artillery over 900 miles to the Mexican Gulf Coast, steamed up the Mississippi to St. Louis, then brought ten cannons to Kansas Territory in 1856. “Old Sacramento” changed possession four times between Proslavery and Free State advocates in the battles of Bleeding Kansas.

The story seemed to end when the cannon exploded in 1896, filled with mud to attempt to raise bodies from the Kansas River. A second large piece was found in an archaeological dig in 2014. The Watkins Community Museum of History in Lawrence, which owns the relics, with the University of Kansas, has examined the artifacts and concluded the composition is “more like a church bell than a cannon” in public presentations held in 2021 and 2022. The manufacture of artillery using the Napoleonic methods of the late 17th and early 18th centuries is an integral part of the history for this presentation.

Jean Libby is a retired history instructor at California Community Colleges in northern California. John Brown publications: “After Harper’s Ferry: California Refuge for John Brown’s Family” in The Californians, January-February 1989; “John Brown’s Maryland Farmhouse” in Americana Magazine, January-February 1983 (with John Frye); author and photographer of Mean To Be Free: John Brown’s Black Nation Campaign, produced by the Radio and Television Station of the University of California, Berkeley, 1986.

“The John Brown Daguerreotypes” was published by The Daguerrean Society in The Daguerreian Annual 2002-2003: 31-50. Jean curated and published John Brown Photo Chronology, catalog of the exhibition at Harpers Ferry 2009 with a Supplement in 2016. The traveling collection has been exhibited by the National Archives and Records Administration at Philadelphia (2010), the Gallery of the Kansas Historical Society in Topeka (2011), and the Watkins Community Museum of History in Lawrence (2012).

Meeting of August 30, 2022

Tom Roza on “New York City Draft Riots”

One of the ugliest events to occur during the Civil War was the Draft Riots that took place in New York City in July 1863. The riots exposed deep rooted racial, political, and ethnic divisions that existed in New York City; these prejudices were fueled by massive numbers of immigrants fleeing Europe to escape famine, political division, and war. The riots were driven by several root causes:

  • Draft requirements that allowed wealthy white men to avoid the draft
  • Pervasive racial hatred directed at Negroes
  • Political corruption and division

Tom’s presentation delves into these root causes, what they caused, and the aftermath of the riots.

Tom Roza has been a student of history for over 60 years. His interest in history in general and the Civil War began with his elementary education in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and has evolved ever since. As an officer and the Secretary of the South Bay Civil War Roundtable, Tom has made numerous presentations on the topic of the Civil War to both his Roundtable organization and other historical organizations in the Bay Area. Tom is also a published author of the book entitled Windows to the Past: A Virginian’s Experience in the Civil War, which has been accepted by the Library of Congress into its Catalog; Tom is currently working on a sequel entitled Lost Cause – Justice Found.

Quiz for August 30, 2022

Civil War Quiz: What Do You Know About the Border States?

Q#1 – What are the names of the original four Border States?

Q#2 – Which state became a border state in 1863?

Q#3 – What main social/economic element did all the border states share in common?

Q#4 – Which Border State provided the Union Army with approximately 50% of its gunpowder during the Civil War?

Q#5 – Which of the Border States voted for Abraham Lincoln in the Presidential election of 1860?

Q#6 – Which of the Border States voted for Abraham Lincoln in the Presidential election of 1864?

Q#7 – Besides formal combat between regular armies, the border regions saw what other type of combative action?

Q#8 – Did Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation apply to the Border States?

Q#9 – What was the main political concern by the Border States in 1861 that might have led to them seceding from the Union?

Q#10 – What was the Maryland Legislature’s position on secession and the Civil War?

Q#11 – Which Border State did President Lincoln see as strategic to Union victory in the Civil War?

Q#12 – In 1861, what action was taken by President Lincoln against which Border State that was ruled unconstitutional by Chief Justice Roger Taney, at that time acting only as a circuit judge?

13 – What was Missouri Governor Claiborne F. Jackson’s reaction to the Missouri Constitutional Convention voting to remain within the Union, but rejecting coercion of the Southern states by the United States?

Q#14 – In 1861, after a series of military defeats, the Missouri secessionist forces retreated to southwestern Missouri where Governor Jackson and his exiled Confederate sympathizing took what political action?

Q#15 – The Kentucky legislature did not vote on any bill to secede, but passed two resolutions of neutrality, issuing a neutrality proclamation May 20, 1861, asking both sides to keep out of the state. What action broke that neutrality?

Meeting of July 26, 2022

Mark Costin on “Confederate Campaign to Invade New Mexico, Battles of Valderde and Glorieta Pass”

The New Mexico campaign of 1862 was the only major Confederate campaign to expand the boarders of the Confederacy. Confederate Brigadier General Henry Hopkins Sibley invaded the northern New Mexico Territory in an attempt to gain control of the Southwest, including the gold fields of Colorado and the ports of California. The talk will cover the campaign with particular attention to the two major battles of the invasion, the Battles of Valderde and Glorieta Pass.

Mark Costin is an engineer living in Sunnyvale, CA, working on functional safety for automated and autonomous vehicles. A long-time history buff, this is Mark’s third presentation the SBCWRT about the war in the Trans-Mississippi. He holds a Ph.D. in Systems Engineering from Case Western Reserve University, an M.Eng from McMaster University, and a B.Eng from McGill University.

Quiz for July 26, 2022

Civil War Quiz: What Do You Know About Little Known Facts Regarding Stonewall Jackson?

Q#1 – What was Stonewall Jackson’s middle name?

Q#2 – How did Jackson’s Paternal Great Grandparents John Jackson and Elizabeth Cummins meet and end up in America?

Q#3 – Where was Stonewall Jackson born?

Q#4 – How did Stonewall Jackson learn to read and how was a Negro slave involved?

Q#5 – What was the reason that Jackson began his studies at West Point at the bottom of his class?

Q#6 – Jackson graduated 17th out of 59 students in the West Point Class of 1846. What reason did his classmates give that could have resulted in Jackson graduating first?

Q#7 – While on duty in Florida during the Second Seminole War, what future Union general was Jackson’s commanding officer who Jackson frequently disagreed with and each filed numerous complaints against each other?

Q#8 – After leaving the Federal Army in 1851, Jackson became a professor at the Virginia Military Institute. What did he teach?

Q#9 – What was Jackson’s view on slavery?

Q#10 – Brig. General Barnard Elliott Bee Jr. gave Jackson his nickname of Stonewall. Where on the battlefield of First Bull Run/Manassas did Jackson earn that nickname?

Q#11 – In his exceptionally successful 1862 Valley Campaign, what Union commander did Jackson repeatedly defeat in the Shenandoah Valley?

Q#12 – What breed of horse was Jackson’s Little Sorrel?

Q#13 – When Robert E. Lee took over command of the Army of Northern Virginia in June 1862, he created two command structures; one assigned to James Longstreet, the other to Stonewall Jackson. What was the first official designation for these two command structures?

Q#14 – What day of the week did Stonewall Jackson die on and what were his last words?

Q#15 – What was Jackson’s sister Laura Jackson Arnold’s reaction to learning of her brother’s death?

Meeting of June 28, 2022

“Wargames: Fighting the Battle Before Firing a Shot”

This unique presentation will have three speakers—Jim Rhetta. Nick Stern, and Alan Sissenwein—cover the history, types, and usefulness of wargames to military planners. Simulating a battle in advance allows staff planners to identify factors that can have adverse or advantageous impacts on the desired outcome of military operations. Two examples will be presented of war games conduced prior to a planned military conflict that predicted the actual outcome.

Methods of conducting war games at the Strategic, Operational, and Tactical levels will be presented. Some questions this will present is if Civil War leaders could have wargamed their plans, could they have learned from them and achieved battlefield success more efficiently and with a lower cost in lives?

Jim Rhetta retired as a Col, USAFR, on the Intelligence Staff. In his career he participated in about 20 command post exercises that simulated planned combat operations in Korea, Europe, and other locations. Some of these war games simulated new and emerging weapon systems to determine their impact in Operation Plans and educate Staff planners on their impacts and limitations.

Nick Stern, like many of his fellow boomers, became interested in the Civil War during its centennial. A retired Disney artist, he now combines his pastimes of reading military history and painting toy soldiers to organize and play historical miniature wargames. The games are set in a variety of periods, including the Civil War. When not engaged in his hobby, he teaches art classes for the South San Francisco Parks and Recreation Department.

Alan J. Sissenwein became fascinated by history when he was a teenager and started playing board wargames when he was 16, later expanding this hobby to encompass miniatures wargaming and computer wargaming. He has been a member of the South Bay Civil War Round Table since 1997 and currently serves as its vice president. He has given several talks to the round table, including a series on the worst Union generals. A professional writer, he holds a Bachelor’s in history from UC Berkeley and a Master’s from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.