Author Archives: hlj

Meeting of September 27, 2011

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

Meeting of August 14, 2011

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

Meeting of July 26, 2011

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.

Meeting of June 28, 2011

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

Meeting of May 31, 2011

Adam Arenson on “The Great Heart of the Republic: St. Louis and Cultural Civil War”


Adam Arenson

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

Meeting of April 26, 2011

Donald Stoker on “Grand Strategy in the Civil War”

book cover

Donald Stoker’s book

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

Meeting of March 29, 2011

Larry Comstock on “The Union is Saved! The Atlanta Campaign of 1864”

Atlanta Campaign Map

Atlanta Campaign Map

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

Meeting of February 22, 2011

Dana Lombardy on “Secret Turning Points of the American Civil War”

man posing in library

Dana Lombardy

Dana Lombardy, designer and editor of the battlefield guidebook The First Battle of Bull Run: Campaign of First Manassas, presented one his popular series of “secret” turning points lectures with a look at the decisions (and non-decisions) that have been overlooked or downplayed in most books written about America’s Civil War. What nearly happened in 1862 that could have crippled or stopped President Lincoln’s war plans? What act of disobedience enabled the Union army to stay and fight at Gettysburg after its initial defeat on July 1? Continue reading

Meeting of January 25, 2011

René Accornero, DVM, on “Horses in the Civil War”

photo of numerous dead horses on a battlefield

Horses of Bigelow’s Battery

René’s discussion on horses in the Civil War included man’s relationship to the horse and why over a million horses and mules died in the war. The ancestral horse was discussed as well as purchasing horses, care and diseases of horses, and horses in battles such as in the Peach Orchard and the Bliss farm in the Battle of Gettysburg. Pictured here are some of the eighty-eight horses of Capt. Bigelow’s battery killed at the Trostle farm. Famous horses of generals were mentioned and the fact that Gen. Grant permitted the Confederates to keep their horses after the surrender at Appomattox.

Horses in the Civil War (René’s PowerPoint slides in PDF format)

Meeting of November 30, 2010

Bill Noyes on “Sketch Artists of the Civil War”

sketch of wounded Civil War soldiers

Waud, Wilderness wounded

The following description was provided by Bill after his talk:

The American Civil War was the beginning effort at illustrated journalism on a large and comprehensive scale on our side of the Atlantic and a far bigger and more successful effort than had occurred anywhere. The first such weekly newspaper, the Illustrated London News, had been established in 1842 and covered the Crimea and Garibaldi campaigns but not to the extent that our war was covered. American papers merely copied their coverage during these conflicts. Continue reading