Q#1 – What was the most important use of railroads during the Civil War? Continue reading
René Accornero on “Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain”
René presented a detailed accounting of the life of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, from his birth, to his early academic career, to his service in the American Civil War, and finally his life in politics and as a university president.
Bobb Hubbs on “Holly Springs—Grant’s Worst Nightmare?”
Bob’s presentation detailed the Holly Springs Raid and reviewed Grant’s greatest challenge. Grant’s strategy for the capture of Vicksburg and the final phase of the Anaconda Plan was introduced. The first campaign for the capture of Vicksburg and the ramifications of that effort was presented. What was Grant’s reaction to the incompetent response to the attack by Van Dorn and his cavalry and the capture of Holly Springs. Why of all of the events in Grant’s life would the Holly Springs Raid be worse than others? Continue reading
Gary Yee on “Civil War Prisons – Interesting Prison Escapes”
At this year’s picnic meeting in Los Gatos, Gary Yee described several of the more famous and infamous prison escapes performed by both Union and Confederate POWs. The presentation also included descriptions of the types of facilities used for prisons on both sides, along with how they were managed (or in most cases mis-managed). Gary described in detail the elaborate efforts POWs performed in escaping from their captivity. This most likely was Gary’s last SBCWRT presentation since he is moving to Colorado. Continue reading
Tom McMahon on “The Wheel Becomes a Weapon of War, From Iron Age Cart to Iron Horse”
Tom McMahon’s maternal Irish grandfather was born the year the Civil War ended. Tom often wonders what life would have been for him if the military draft had reached his great grandfather in San Francisco. Tom’s dad, born in 1881 in Virginia City, Nevada, maintained locomotives for the Western Pacific Railroad. Tom is having a ball, searching and discovering.
Dr. Libra Hilde on “Healing Bodies, Morale, and Memory: Female Nursing in the Civil War South”
Meeting description provided by Gary Yee:
Prof. Hilde’s book is being released by the Univ. of Virginia this coming February. There’s already another book on CW nurses, but the author whose name escapes me covers mostly the North. There’s a lot of presumption that the South did the same. That’s where Libra differs. Continue reading
Adam Arenson on “The Great Heart of the Republic: St. Louis and Cultural Civil War”
The Civil War revealed what united as well as what divided Americans in the nineteenth century—not only in its deadly military conflict, but also in the broader battle of ideas, dueling moral systems, and competing national visions that preceded and followed. This cultural civil war was the clash among North, South, and West, as their leaders sought to shape Manifest Destiny and slavery politics.
No site embodied this struggle more completely than St. Louis, the largest city along the border of slavery and freedom. This sweeping history reveals a city at the heart of the cultural civil war. St. Louisans heralded a new future, erasing old patterns as the United States stretched across the continent. They tried to reorient the nation’s political landscape, with westerners in the vanguard and St. Louis as the cultural, commercial, and national capital. Continue reading
Donald Stoker on “Grand Strategy in the Civil War”
There are more than 60,000 books on the Civil War. None provide a full discussion of the conflict’s strategy—except Donald Stoker’s Grand Strategy in the Civil War. Stoker, of the U.S. Naval War College’s NPS program, reveals, in the words of the presidents, generals, and admirals, the grand, strategic sweep of the war. The much maligned George McClellan had a vision of Union strategy stretching far beyond his ill-fated Peninsula campaign, one that could have produced Union victory in 1862. The clearest picture yet of Lincoln’s evolution as a strategic thinker also emerges, one in which his clarity and decisiveness in political thought and control shines through just as brightly as his strategic failures. Lincoln had many good strategic ideas, but too often he failed to insure that his subordinates carried them out. One of these, Henry Halleck, McClellan’s successor, cost the Union many lives, and was one of the reasons Union victory was so long delayed. Grant and Sherman emerge as decisive operational and strategic thinkers. Sherman, in many respects, was the best of all. Continue reading
Larry Comstock on “The Union is Saved! The Atlanta Campaign of 1864”
Larry’s talk covered two campaigns proceeding at the same time in the spring of 1864. The first of these was the military campaign of the army group under General William T. Sherman to attack General Joe Johnston’s Army of Tennessee encamped at Dalton, GA and to drive towards Atlanta, GA. The key figures in the three armies making up the force were presented. The logistics of the campaign was discussed with particular reference to the Western & Atlantic Railroad that supported both armies (from each end). Two significant battles of this military campaign (Resaca and the Battle of Atlanta) were emphasized. This campaign was one of the five campaigns directed by the new commander of the Union Army, Lt. General U.S. Grant. By mid-July the Atlanta campaign was the only one with any likelihood of significant military success. This was the result of the Army of the Potomac being in a standoff with the Army of Northern Virginia with both entrenched around the Richmond-Petersburg lines. Continue reading