Category Archives: Meeting archive

Meeting of September 28, 2021

Jim Rhetta on “Tennessee, the Strategic Value of the State”

Most attention of writers on the Civil War is focused on events and leaders in the Northern Virginia area of operations. What many overlook is that Tennessee had an important strategic position that both sides valued for their war efforts. Most battles fought in the state were not just meeting engagements between armies, but were to protect or seize key rail, river, and infrastructure systems that both sides viewed as essential.

Tennessee had a rail and river system essential for Confederate movements that would also enable the Federal Army to advance in the deep south to seize the industrial areas of Atlanta and Savannah. The conflict over this river and rail network would draw the Federal Army of the Tennessee into combat against the Confederate Army of Tennessee.

This topic will have both a slide presentation on the strategic value and operations in the state as well as a 25-min video on the subject with human accounts of the impact of the conflict in Tennessee.

Meeting of August 31, 2021

Abby Eller on “King Cotton”

The Confederacy was confident that a cotton embargo would induce Britain and France to ally with the Confederacy. Why was the South so confident of this? Cotton was indeed King,… but not in the way the South thought it was. Come hear the fascinating story of cotton and its importance in the world economy since the 19th century.

Abby Eller has long been a history lover, American history especially, because history explains how we got to now. Abby is fascinated by the Civil War as the single most transformative event in American history.

Fort Point Civil War Tour, August 28, 2021

The South Bay Civil War Round Table has scheduled a special event to help celebrate the return to in-person Roundtable meetings. On Saturday, August 28, 2021, a tour of the Civil War era Fort Point facility in San Francisco has been arranged. Here is the schedule:

Noon: Meet at Holder’s Country Inn; park in back parking lot at restaurant

Noon–1 pm: Carpool to Fort Point in San Francisco

1–4 pm: Tour Fort Point

4–5 pm: Carpool back to Holder’s

5–7 pm: Dinner at Holder’s

Meeting of July 27, 2021

Alan Sissenwein on “The Worst Generals of the Civil War, Part IV”

This is a continuation of previous meeting presentations.

Most authors of the Civil War have focused on presenting the best Generals of the Civil War and their traits that led to that status. They focus heavily on Lee, Grant, Sherman, and Jackson as books on them abound. This focus overlooks the fact that there were generals at the opposite end of the leadership spectrum who were ineffective leaders.

For this presentation Alan Sissenwein will present more of the worst Federal generals. What made these generals selected for that status include bad leadership, bad battlefield results, poor decision-making, abrasive personalities, and abuse of subordinates. This will also cover the factors that allowed for bad generals to emerge and in some cases the inability to remove them from senior leadership positions.

Alan Sissenwein, a native Californian, is a professional writer who has been a member of the South Bay Civil War Round Table since 1997. He has a bachelor’s degree in history from UC Berkeley and a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University. Although he has been fascinated by history since he was a teenager, his interest in the Civil War only took root during his last semester of graduate school, which was spent in Washington D.C. He likes to say that in California the Civil War is an abstraction but on the East Coast it’s a presence. He has previously given talks to the South Bay Civil War Round Table on such subjects as George Armstrong Custer and George Brinton McClellan.

Meeting of June 29, 2021

Mark Costin on “1864 General Sterling Price Raid”

By 1864 Missouri had been in Union control for two years. Believing that Missourians wanted liberation from Union forces, the Confederates made a desperate to divert Union forces from other war theatres; the Confederates attempted to retake Missouri. The campaign, often referred to as a raid but much larger in actuality, was led by General Stirling Price, former Missouri Governor, and consisted of 11 major and minor engagements. The campaign was ultimately a disaster for the Confederacy.

This talk will outline the strategic situation in Missouri in 1864 as well describe the personalities and battles of the campaign.

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 first presentation the SBCWRT. He holds a Ph.D. in Systems Engineering from Case Western Reserve University, an M.Eng from McMaster University, and B.Eng from McGill University.

Meeting of May 25, 2021

Robert O’Connor on “Mrs. Slater — The Missing Lincoln Conspirator”

This mysterious lady who always wore a mourning veil over her face was a confidant of John Surratt, Jr. She was a courier of messages between Richmond and the Confederate Secret Service office in Montreal. She is mentioned by several witnesses in the Lincoln Conspiracy trials, but there is a lot of confusion about their testimony. No one can describe her. She is arrested and questioned, but released and disappeared. Her story is interesting.

Robert O’Connor is an historian, researcher, and the author of 18 Civil War books who lived in Charles Town, WV. Is now retired and writes full-time. Writes about subjects or characters not widely known in the field. Has been named finalist four times in national book competitions. www.boboconnorbooks.com

Meeting of April 27, 2021

Dana Lombardy on “Defending the Arteries of Rebellion: Building a Navy, Building a Book”

Dana Lombardy is back with another interesting talk, this one about his work editing Neil Chatelain’s book on Confederate Naval Operations in the Mississippi River Valley, 1861-1865 (published by Savas Beatie in 2020). Using a slide presentation created by the author, Dana will reveal the challenges and surprising discoveries that he and Chatelain uncovered while preparing this book for publication.

Dana Lombardy was an Associate Online Editor for Armchair General and now does research, writing and design through LombardyStudios.com. Dana is known for his nearly twenty television appearances, including multiple episodes of The History Channel’s “Tales of the Gun” series. He has contributed as an editor, cartographer, graphic artist,  and designer on many books, games, and magazines, was publisher of Napoleon Journal from 1996 to 2000 and published nine issues of World War One Illustrated.

Meeting of March 30, 2021

Tom Roza on “The 1868 Impeachment Trial of President Andrew Johnson”

Tom’s study of the American Civil War has primarily focused on the people who fought in the war, who they were, what their role was in the Civil War, and what was it about them that made them significant characters in that great conflict. His previous presentations on John Buford, Winfield Scott Hancock, Robert Gould Shaw, Ambrose Powell Hill, US Grant, among others focused on this approach. This presentation is a combination of delving into the personalities of people involved coupled with the political impeachment-based functions written into our US Constitution.

We are all well aware, regardless of our individual political party affiliations, that Donald John Trump was the first (and hopefully, last) President to be impeached and put on trial twice by the United States Congress. Fortunately, there have only been two previous impeachment trials in our history and we should all pray that we never again have another.

As with the first two impeachment trials that were performed for Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, Trump’s impeachments had two issues raised: first, were impeachable offenses committed by the President; and second, was the impeachment process employed unconstitutional. The 1868 impeachment trial of Andrew Johnson embraces both of those issues among others. And, in the last year and one-half, so much discussion on impeachment has occurred in our country, the presentation examines what actually is in the US Constitution on the topic of impeachment and how that affected the decision to impeach President Andrew Johnson.

Meeting of February 23, 2021

Jim Rhetta & Alan Sissenwein on “The Worst Generals of the Civil War, Part III”

This meeting is a continuation of the November meeting topic.

Most authors of the Civil War have focused on presenting the best Generals of the Civil War and their traits that led to that status. They focus heavily on Lee, Grant, Sherman, and Jackson as books on them abound. This focus overlooks the fact that there were generals at the opposite end of the leadership spectrum who were ineffective leaders.

For this presentation Alan Sissenwein will present some of the worst Federal generals and Jim Rhetta will cover the worst of the Confederate generals. What made these generals selected for that status include bad leadership, bad battlefield results, poor decision-making, abrasive personalities, and abuse of subordinates. This will also cover the factors that allowed for bad Generals to emerge and in some cases the inability to remove them from senior leadership positions.

Jim Rhetta retired from Lockheed Corp, and also retired from the USAF Reserve as a Colonel in the Intelligence Community. In both careers he monitored, analyzed, and reported on global conflicts and crisis for the DoD Community. His careers required him to write threat assessments, weekly activity reports, and publish classified documents. He continues to study both current events and historical subjects for their impacts on us today. He has produced several presentations for Round Tables, including “Civil War Newspapers, the first use of Open Source intelligence”, “The Blockade and its Effectiveness”, “Tracing Slave Family History,” and “Attack and Die, Cultural Influences on Civil War Combat.”

Alan Sissenwein, a native Californian, is a professional writer who has been a member of the South Bay Civil War Round Table since 1997. He has a bachelor’s degree in history from UC Berkeley and a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University. Although he has been fascinated by history since he was a teenager, his interest in the Civil War only took root during his last semester of graduate school, which was spent in Washington D.C. He likes to say that in California the Civil War is an abstraction but on the East Coast it’s a presence. He has previously given talks to the South Bay Civil War Round Table on such subjects as George Armstrong Custer and George Brinton McClellan.

Meeting Minutes February 2021

Meeting of January 26, 2021

David Dixon on “The American Civil War: A Radical, International Revolution”

Radical Warrior: August Willich’s Journey from German Revolutionary to Union General (University of Tennessee Press 2020) is the biography of a Prussian army officer who renounced his nobility and joined in the failed European revolutions of 1848. He emigrated to America, edited a daily labor newspaper in Cincinnati, and became one of the most accomplished generals in the Union Army. This story sheds new light on the contributions of 200,000 German-Americans who fought for the Union in the Civil War.

In an age of global social, economic, and political upheaval, transatlantic radicals helped affect America’s second great revolution. For many recent immigrants, the nature and implications of that revolution turned not on Lincoln’s conservative goal of maintaining the national Union, but on issues of social justice, including slavery, free labor, and popular self-government. The Civil War was not simply a war to end sectional divides, but to restore the soul of the nation, revive the hopes of democrats worldwide, and defend human rights.

David Dixon earned his M.A. in history from the University of Massachusetts in 2003. His first book, The Lost Gettysburg Address, told the unusual life story of Texas slaveholder Charles Anderson, whose speech followed Lincoln’s at Gettysburg, but was never published. It turned up 140 years later in a cardboard box in Wyoming.

David spoke at Gettysburg National Military Park’s Sacred Trust Talks, appeared on Civil War Talk Radio and has presented to more than sixty Civil War Round Tables from coast to coast. He hosts B-List History, a website that features obscure characters and their compelling stories at www.davidtdixon.com.

David’s current book, published by the University of Tennessee Press, is the biography of German revolutionary and Union General August Willich. His current project is a biography that highlights the role of emotions in Southern allegiance in the Civil War.

Meeting Minutes January 2021