Author Archives: hlj

Meeting of August 22, 2015

Jim Rhetta on “Newspapers and Open Source Intelligence in the Civil War”

Jim Rhetta

Jim Rhetta

The Civil War is called the “first modern war” due to the first use of many new and modern technologies. Often overlooked is the fact that it was also the first war that newspapers covered capable of reporting events in less than 12 hours. With the majority of the population literate, this capability produced a new and significant impact on both war efforts that politicians on both sides had not experienced before and were unprepared for. In addition, newspapers frequently printed information of high and timely military value, an action that never occurred before, which enraged generals on both sides. This information is now known as Open Source Intelligence, can be of high value, and is commonly used by all participants in current global conflicts.

See photos from the picnic meeting.

Meeting Minutes August 2015

Quiz for August 22, 2015

Civil War Quiz: Naval Battles of the American Civil War

Q#1 – On what date were the first shots of naval warfare in the Civil War fired and where were they fired?

Q#2 – On what date were the final shots of the naval warfare in the Civil War fired and where were they fired?

Q#3 – Other than performing blockade duty or trying to sink each other’s naval ships, what were the two primary objectives of each side’s naval forces?

Q#4 – What was a secondary use of each side’s naval forces during the Civil War?

Q#5 – What significant event occurred during the naval Battle of Aquia Creek, which took place from May 29, 1861 to June 1, 1861?

Q#6 – What was the first battle involving Union ironclads in the Civil War (Hint: It was not the naval Battle of Hampton Roads between the Monitor and Merrimac)?

Q#7 – What significant event occurred during the naval battle at Fort Pillow, Tennessee (aka Plum Point Bend) between ships of the Confederate River Defense Fleet and the Union Mississippi River Squadron?

Q#8 – The naval Battle of Arkansas Post (aka, Battle of Fort Hindman) fought January 9–11, 1863, near the mouth of the Arkansas River at Arkansas Post, Arkansas, resulted in what significant adverse consequence for the Confederacy?

Q#9 – What was the outcome of the Second Naval Battle of Sabine Pass which took place on September 8, 1863?

Q#10 – What significant naval event occurred on February 17, 1864, in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina?

Q#11 – What was the name of the naval battle where the Confederate CSS Alabama ship was sunk and what was the date of the battle?

Q#12 – What is the significance of the Second Battle of Fort Fisher fought on January 13–15, 1865, involving an assault by the Union Army, Navy, and Marine Corps against Fort Fisher, outside Wilmington, North Carolina?

Q#13 – Which naval battle is considered the greatest Union naval victory of the war?

Q#14 – What international diplomatic flap on October 7, 1864, was labeled the “Bahia Incident”?

Q#15 – The Union naval blockade of Southern ports and harbors were part of what overall Northern plan for defeating the Confederacy?

Meeting of July 28, 2015

Ted Savas on “Lincoln and Davis at War”

Lincoln and Davis (Wikipedia)

Lincoln and Davis (Wikipedia)

Ted discussed how the presidents of the Union and the Confederacy approached the war in terms of weaponry and objectives, offering fresh and often humorous insights on Lincoln and Davis, their chief subordinates, the choices they made, and the challenges they faced as they fought the Civil War.

Theodore P. Savas graduated from The University of Iowa College of Law in 1986 (With Distinction). He practiced law in Silicon Valley for twelve years before moving to El Dorado Hills. He co-founded Savas Woodbury Publishers (subsequently Savas Publishing) in 1990 with David Woodbury, and is the owner and managing director of Savas Beatie LLC, one of the largest independent Civil War publishers in the world. He has been teaching legal, history, and business college classes since 1992, and is the author or editor of fourteen books (published in six languages) including A Guide to the Battles of the American Revolution, Hunt and Kill: U-505 and the U-Boat War in the Atlantic, and Silent Hunters: German U-boat Commanders of World War II. While in San Jose he founded the South Bay Civil War Round Table in 1989; its first meeting of four people was held in his living room.

Meeting Minutes July 2015

Quiz for July 28, 2015

Civil War Quiz: What Do You Know About Pickett’s Charge?

Q#1 – What were the names of the three Confederate Division commanders in Pickett’s Charge?

Q#2 – On Cemetery Ridge, which Union Corp was the target of the Confederate assault and who was the Corps Commander?

Q#3 – Which Union division was directly in the center of the Union line on Cemetery Ridge?

Q#4 – What other military action did Lee plan to initiate concurrent with the infantry attack on Cemetery Ridge?

Q#5 – Approximately how many Confederate cannons were used to bombard the Union Line on Cemetery Ridge prior to Pickett’s Charge?

Q#6 – What are the three main reasons given for the ineffectiveness of the Confederate bombardment of the Union Line on Cemetery Ridge prior to Pickett’s Charge?

Q#7 – What was the name of the general in charge on the Union artillery?

Q#8 – What was the reason there was little or no close artillery support provided by E. Porter Alexander’s artillery once the Confederate infantry actually began to move toward the Union lines?

Q#9 – What is the current most accurate estimate of the number of Confederate infantry troops that actually made Pickett’s Charge?

Q#10 – Of the 3 main divisions involved in Pickett’s charge, how many Confederate brigades were involved?

Q#11 – As the Confederate infantry lines approached Cemetery Ridge, what were the Union troops on Cemetery Ridge heard to be shouting at them?

Q#12 – Which Union regiment attacked Confederate General Brockenbrough’s brigade on the left flank of Pickett’s Charge causing the Southerners to retreat back to Seminary Ridge?

Q#13 – What was the name of the Union brigade that delivered devastating musket fire into the right flank of Pickett’s division as it attacked up the slope of Cemetery Ridge?

Q#14 –What was the name of the Union brigade that defended the Union center where a low stone wall took an 80-yard right-angle turn that became known afterward as “The Angle?”

Q#15 – What were the approximate number of Union casualties resulting from Pickett’s Charge? What were the Confederates?

Meeting of June 30, 2015

Bill Noyes on “Lincoln’s Photographic Journey”

Bill has provided the following description:

Any time is a great time to consider Abe Lincoln and his story. Thus I thought as I rediscovered the book, “Lincoln: his Life in Photographs” by Stefan Lorant, done in 1941. I’d buried it away in one of my sheds many years before and after a quick read I could see what an opportunity it presented to view Old Abe’s journey from the back woods to greatest American in the District of Columbia. Soon I was putting together a digital slide show for presentation to the Round Table from the pages of Lincoln’s images which had taken him 19 years to assemble.

Lincoln was born well before photography and grew to mid age without expecting to see images of himself or most people he might meet, other than in fleeting representations in a mirror. Expensive painted miniature portraits were in vogue in the best of families, and also oil portraits and chalk drawings or engravings but average people didn’t spend hard money on such unchanging luxuries. Then things changed in 1840 when the daguerreotype came to America, but Abe was slow to take to the process.

In 50 pictures we’ll trace Lincoln’s life and accomplishments photographically as he adjusted to and learned to use the new medium. Mythic tales and questionable facts must yield to the new documentary evidence we have all come to know and expect in this digital age. Please bring your vast knowledge and ready experience concerning President Lincoln to share as each photo might warrant. We’ll see old familiar images and unusual or forgotten ones, any of which may spark unexpected comments and shared insights about Mr. Lincoln and his times.

Noyes Lincoln Photos


Meeting Minutes June 2015

Quiz for June 30, 2015

Civil War Quiz: Little Known Facts About the Seven Days Battles

Q#1 – How many “major” battles were fought during the Seven Days Battles?

Q#2 – What are the names of the “major” battles that were fought and in what sequence were they fought?

Q#3 – What was the name of the minor battle that was fought on June 25 that signaled the beginning of the Seven Days Battle?

Q#4 – What was the name of the farm where on June 28 Confederate General Brig. Gen. Robert A. Toombs’s brigade was severely battered by the Union 49th Pennsylvania and 43rd New York regiments?

Q#5 – After a major battle was fought on June 26, what was the number of Confederate troops that Union General McClellan reported to Washington that he estimated he was facing?

Q#6 – What are the other two names given to the Battle of Gaines’s Mill?

Q#7 – Of the “major” battles fought during the Seven Days Battle, which is the only one that was a clear-cut Confederate tactical victory?

Q#8 – What was the name of the railroad line where the Battle of Savage’s Station was fought?

Q#9 – What was the name given to the first instance of an armored railroad battery to be used in combat by the Confederate Army?

Q#10 – At the Battle of White Oak Swamp, what Confederate government official came under artillery fire and had to be ordered from the field by AP Hill?

Q#11 – Which Union General prepared the Union positions on Malvern Hill?

Q#12 – How many Union cannon were placed on Malvern Hill to repulse the Confederate attack on July 1?

Q#13 – What was the name of the location on the James River that Union General McClellan retreated to after the last engagement of the Seven Days Battle?

Q#14 – Which side incurred more casualties during the Seven Days Battle?

Q#15 – After the end of the Seven Days Battle, the Army of the Potomac encamped around Berkeley Plantation. What was the name of the US President who was born there?

Meeting of May 26, 2015

Robert Burch on “California in the Civil War: Background and Military Situation in April 1861”

California in the Civil War, Part 1California’s involvement in the American Civil War remains one of the great hidden facets of that conflict. Yet it is rich by the value of its unique contribution to the Union war effort and resemblance to national trends throughout that period. Background and Military Situation in April 1861 was the first of a five-part series concerning California and the war. This series considers all aspects of the state’s involvement from a military perspective. Subsequent presentations discuss Californian U.S. Volunteer Units, U.S. Navy in California, Military Bases in California, Famous Californian Generals, Military Operations and Aftermath (1861-66). This is a fresh reevaluation of an old subject utilizing new material available on the Internet supplementing numerous traditional original and secondary sources. This series reveals that our pre-war history is more complex and wartime contribution is greater than generally appreciated.

Background and Military Situation in April 1861 put these wartime experiences into perspective by highlighting key economic, military and political events within California leading up to the war. Discussion started with a condensed military history of Spanish and Mexican California culminating in the Mexican-American War of 1846. Initial political divisions and U.S. military presence in California begins in this period. Next, discussion led to the state’s political history before the war. This revealed that California entered the Union as an anti-slavery state in 1850, but strong Southern influence moved the state into the “pro-slavery” camp by 1860 as part of the Southern national agenda to defend slavery. Finally, the state’s military situation in April 1861 was highlighted. The U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, California State Militia, and Secessionist Militia were each individually summarized. Special attention was given to the obscure Santa Clara County state militia and the secessionist militia companies. This revealed that while pro-Southern politics became dominate by 1860, it was also a “house of cards” as its leadership and most-radical followers fled the state after Fort Sumter and Union patriotism blossomed in April 1861.

This topic is of special interest to the author. Bob is a native California, born and raised in Santa Clara County. He is also a lifetime student of the Civil War. He had the opportunity to visit many Civil War sites from Florida to Pennsylvania to New Mexico during his 30 year military career. Like many California CWRT members, he desires to understand his home state’s role in the war. He started collecting material for this presentation ten years ago and initiated a serious study 15 months ago. This series documents his research in great detail. Time allows only a few key points from each slide to be presented. Numerous period photographs and magazine drawings are included for visual effect with the intent of comprehending California’s role in the Civil War.

Meeting Minutes May 2015

Quiz for May 26, 2015

Civil War Quiz: Battle of Seven Pines

Q#1 – What were the dates when the Battle of Seven Pines was fought?

Q#2 – What two other names are often given to the Battle of Seven Pines?

Q#3 – Near what river on the Virginia Peninsula was the battle fought?

Q#4 – What was the approximate size of the Union Army?

Q#5 – What was the approximate size of the Confederate Army?

Q#6 – What was Confederate Joseph E. Johnston’s attack plan?

Q#7 – What critical mistake did Confederate General James Longstreet make at the beginning of the battle?

Q#8 – Where was Union General George McClellan at the start of the battle?

Q#9 – What fairly new scouting technique did the Union employ to identify where Confederate forces were located and where they were marching to?

Q#10 – What was the name of the bridge over the Chickahominy River that collapsed almost immediately after Union General Edwin V. Sumner’s II Corps crossed it?

Q#11 – What wounds did Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston suffer that resulted in him having to be replaced by Robert E. Lee as Commander of the Army of Northern Virginia?

Q#12 – Which side won the Battle of Seven Pines?

Q#13 – What did Union General George McClellan write his wife regarding his reaction to the battle?

Q#14 – After the battle, what maneuver did the Army of Northern Virginia execute?

Q#15 – After the battle, what action did Union General McClellan take with his army?

Meeting of April 28, 2015

Tom Roza on “Jeb Stuart, Southern Knight, and the Battle of Yellow Tavern”

James Ewell Brown “Jeb” Stuart earned his fame as a Confederate States Army general during the American Civil War. Stuart was a cavalry commander who excelled and mastered reconnaissance as well as effectively utilizing his cavalry in support of both offensive and defensive operations.

Jeb Stuart exhibited bravado unmatched by any other military person either in the Confederate or Union armies with his red-lined gray cape, yellow sash, and hat cocked to the side with an ostrich plume, and red flower in his lapel. His skills as a cavalryman earned the respect and trust of Robert E. Lee and inspired his fellow Confederate troops and Southern citizenry.

This is Tom Roza’s fifth presentation to the South Bay Civil War Round Table and his second featuring an individual who served in the Confederate armed forces (the first was A.P. Hill). This presentation on Jeb Stuart focuses primarily on his last military engagement, the Battle of Yellow Tavern, which took place on May 11, 1864, in the northern outskirts of Richmond, VA. The presentation will include important details that influenced the actual battle, how the battle was fought, and what happened to Jeb Stuart.

Meeting Minutes April 2015

Quiz for April 28, 2015

Civil War Quiz – Politicians During the Civil War

Q#1 – Who was President Abraham Lincoln’s first Secretary of War?

Q#2 – Who was President Jefferson Davis’s first Secretary of War?

Q#3 – What was the name of the only Confederate Vice President?

Q#4 – What was the name of the President Abraham Lincoln’s first Vice President?

Q#5 – What was the name of the Governor of South Carolina when that state seceded from the Union in December 1861?

Q#6 – When George McClellan ran for President in 1864, who was his Vice Presidential running mate?

Q#7 – For the Presidential election of 1864, there was a splinter political party given the name the Radical Republicans. What was the name of their Presidential candidate who withdrew before the actual election?

Q#8 – What were the names of the two Confederate Commissioners that were taken prisoner by Union naval personnel off the British ship Trent while traveling in England in 1861?

Q#9 – Who was the first Speaker of the Confederate House of Representatives?

Q#10 – Who was the Speaker of the US House of Representatives at the start of the Civil War in April, 1861?

Q#11 – During President Lincoln’s time in office, who held the cabinet position of Secretary of Commerce?

Q#12 – What was the name of the Governor of Maryland in 1861 who opposed abolitionists and supported slave owners, but also sought to prevent Maryland from seceding and joining the Confederacy?

Q#13 – Who was the Confederate States’ first Attorney General, who later was named its Secretary of War?

Q#14 – What was the name of the US Congressman who during his term in office introduced the first bill for a constitutional amendment abolishing slavery that eventually led to the adoption of the 13th amendment to the US Constitution?

Q#15 – What was the name of the Governor of Massachusetts who authorized the creation of the first Negro military unit in the Union Army, the 54th Massachusetts Regiment?