Category Archives: Meeting announcement

Meeting of October 26, 2021

Bob Sweetman on “How the Union Won the Battle of Gettysburg”

[While our group will be meeting in-person at Holder’s Country Inn, Bob Sweetman will be joining us from Gettysburg, PA, via a ZOOM session.]

The Union victory at Gettysburg was not just a matter of luck—it was the combination of great leadership, courageous fighting spirit, and a fortunate choice of terrain. All three factors came together to allow the Army of the Potomac to achieve a victory. This victory was not certain until the last moments of the battle.

This Zoom talk examines these factors and is a companion to the novel The Loyal, True, and Brave, which chronicles the action between the beginning of the battle of Chancellorsville and the end of the battle of Gettysburg. Set in a narrative form, the format allows the reader to experience the thoughts and motivations of four of the key players in the final Union victory. These four individuals are Generals George Meade, Winfield Hancock, and Daniel Sickles. Sergeant Henry Taylor of the First Minnesota is also one of the individuals.

The talk takes a bigger picture view of the operations, concentrating of the main action and key decisions. One cannot understand what happened at Gettysburg unless they know the events of the battle of Chancellorsville. The talk, then, begins with Chancellorsville, Lee’s greatest victory, and ends with Gettysburg, Lee’s greatest defeat.

Join Bob Sweetman in a fact-filled presentation of the events involved in this critical two months of American history.

Robert J. Sweetman (Bob) has been deeply interested in the American Civil War since his father took him to visit Gettysburg at the age of ten. As a graduate of the U. S. Military Academy at West Point and as an army officer after graduation, he has experience with both the theory and application of the military art. Bob is a member of the Civil War Talk Forum and the Historical Writers of America. He remains an avid student of civil war history. Stay in touch with him at www.robertjsweetman.com and at facebook.com/robertjsweetman.

Meeting of November 30, 2021

Join us at 7 PM, November 30, at Holder’s Country Inn in San Jose. See the UPCOMING MEETINGS/MEETING INFO tab for specific times and meeting details. This month’s topic is

Kristin Patterson on “United States Tax Stamps Used to Raise Funds for the Civil War”

The United States Government enacted its first Federal Tax on October 1, 1862, to raise money to support a Civil War that had been going on much longer than President Lincoln had anticipated. This presentation will talk about the different revenue stamps that were created including ones inscribed Agreement, Bank Check, Certificate, Insurance, Mortgage, Playing Cards, Probate of Will, Proprietary, and more, ranging in face value from 1¢ to $200. These stamps are gorgeous pieces of history with many still attached to the item for which they collected the tax.

An 1865 receipt for salary payment to Brigadier General Lucius Fairchild who at the time was Wisconsin Secretary of State.

Kristin started collecting postage stamps when she was 10. For the past 20 years, she has focused on U.S. Civil War tax stamps and documents with revenue stamps. She has been very active in the philatelic community, serving 4 years as President of Sequoia Stamp Club, 15 years as Chair of PENPEX Stamp Show (www.penpex.org), and currently serving on the American Philatelic Research Library Board.

Kristin has authored two books. In 2003, she self published It’s a Wrap! U.S. Revenue Stamps Used on Playing Cards, 1862–1883. This colorfully illustrated book highlights fifteen U.S. Playing Card Manufacturers. In 2010, she published her second book, WESTPEX – The First 50 Years, about the most successful stamp show in the U.S.

Kristin has also written many articles for philatelic journals, including the Soldiers’ National Cemetery at Gettysburg. This article discusses how the Gettysburg Cemetery came to be and how the union states funded the effort.

Kristin has donated for our raffle some taxed documents (signed by Civil War Brigadier Generals) from the period she will be talking about in her presentation. Make sure to purchase some raffle tickets at this meeting; all proceeds go to the SBCWRT. We hope to see you November 30, 2021.

Meeting of January 25, 2022

Join us at 7 PM, January 25, 2022, at Holder’s Country Inn in San Jose. See the UPCOMING MEETINGS/MEETING INFO tab for specific times and meeting details. This month’s topic is

Meg Groeling on “First Fallen: The Life of Colonel Elmer Ellsworth, the North’s First Civil War Hero”

Colonel Elmer Ellsworth was the first Union officer killed in the American Civil War. When it happened, on May 24, 1861, the entire North was aghast. Ellsworth was a celebrity and had just finished traveling with his famed and entertaining U. S. Zouave Cadets drill team. They had performed at West Point, in New York City, and for President Buchanan before returning home to Chicago. Ellsworth then joined his friend and law mentor Abraham Lincoln in his quest for the presidency. When Lincoln put out the call for troops after Fort Sumter was fired upon, Ellsworth responded. Within days he was able to organize over a thousand New York firefighters into a regiment of volunteers.

Was it youthful enthusiasm or a lack of formal training that resulted in his death? There is evidence on both sides. What is definite is that the Lincolns rushed to the Navy Yard to view the body of the young man they had loved as a son. Mary Lincoln insisted that he lie in state in the East Room of their home. The elite of New York brought flowers to the Astor House en memoriam. Six members of the 11th New York accompanied their commander’s coffin. When the young colonel’s remains were finally interred in the Hudson View Cemetery, the skies opened up. A late May afternoon thunderstorm broke out in the middle of the procession, referred to as “tears from God himself.” Only eight weeks later, the results of the battle of First Bull Run knocked Ellsworth out of the headlines. The trickle of blood had now become a torrent, not to end for four more years of war.

The story of Ellsworth’s life is complex, and fascinating, but it is also the story of many young men who fought and died for the Union. Elmer, however, was the first and -according to those who remember him – perhaps the best. Join us and REMEMBER ELLSWORTH!

Meg Groeling has spent years examining archival resources, diaries, personal letters, newspapers, and other accounts to tell Ellsworth’s story. In the sixty intervening years since the last portrait of Ellsworth was written, new information has arisen that gives readers and historians a better understanding of the Ellsworth phenomenon. She has included accounts of John Hay, George Nicolay, Abraham Lincoln, and the Lincoln family which put Ellsworth clearly at the forefront of the excitement that led up to the 1860 election of a president.

Meeting of June 27, 2017

Bob Burch on “California in the Civil War: Other California Units”

This is the fifth of a twelve-part series on California and the American Civil War. This presentation will explore the history of those units that served in the Eastern Theater during the American Civil War that enlisted a good portion of their recruits from California or had that state’s name in their unit designation. Nearly ten percent of Californians who volunteered during the war did so into units from other states. They did so for a variety of reasons including the desire to represent their state during the war to preserve the Union. Consequently these “other California units” represented their state continuously from the Battle of First Bull Run until General Lee’s surrender at Appomattox four years later.

Eventually Californians served in five other states’ volunteer regiments. On the West Coast these units were the 1st Washington Territory Infantry and 1st Oregon Cavalry Regiments. On the East Coast these were the 32nd New York Infantry Regiment (aka “California Regiment”), Baker’s Brigade (aka “California Brigade”) of four regiments, and the 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry Regiment’s “California Hundred” and “California Battalion”.

Along the way we will meet several forgotten Californians who served their country well. Colonel Roderick Matheson from Healdsburg who fought at First Bull Run and later died from wounds received at the Battle of Crampton’s Gap. Colonel Francis Pinto of San Francisco who commanded regiments during the Peninsula, 2nd Manassas, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville Campaigns. Major Archibald McKendry who commanded the California Battalion and eventually the 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry Regiment when only a captain. Captain James Sewell Reed of the California Hundred who died while leading his unit against Mosby’s partisans and Captain Hugh Armstrong who replaced him and led that company from Battle of Fort Stevens until Appomattox. And Captain Henry Crocker of San Francisco who participated in nine battle and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for valor at the Battle of Cedar Creek.

Except for the “CAL 100” Cavalry, these units have disappeared from history despite the presence of the California Regiment’s monument on Cemetery Ridge at Gettysburg and mention in many original source documents from newspapers to the Official Records. This presentation will attempt to remember and honor their contribution to the Union cause.

Bob Burch is a native Californian, 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 June 2017