Category Archives: Meeting archive

Meeting of November 24, 2020

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

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 November 2020

Meeting of October 27, 2020

Tom Roza on “The Presidential Election of 1864”

South Bay Civil War Roundtable Secretary Tom Roza provides an intriguing and detailed examination of the critically important and impactful presidential election of 1864.

Throughout its history as a democracy, the electing of a President has become one of the most important decisions Americans make as citizens. We not only select a political leader to guide our country through its legislative process, but also a person who is the Commander in Chief of our military and who in partnership with Congress, is responsible for the security of our nation.

Over the 230 years as a country, some presidential elections have become more significant than others. In his nearly 60 years of being a student of the American Civil War and the history of our country, Tom has concluded that the presidential election of 1864 has become the most critically important one. A civil war continued to rage and the destiny and future of our country was at stake as at no other time before or since.

Given that 2020 is a Presidential election year, this presentation on another very important election is particularly appropriate and timely.

Tom Roza has been a student of history for over 60 years. His interest in history in general and the Civil War in particular began with his elementary education in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and has evolved ever since. As an officer and the Secretary of the South Bay Civil War Roundtable, Tom has made numerous presentations on the topic of the Civil War to both his Roundtable organization and other historical organizations in the Bay Area. Tom is also a published author of the book entitled Windows to the Past: A Virginian’s Experience in the Civil War that has been accepted by the Library of Congress into its Catalog; Tom is currently working on a sequel entitled Lost Cause – Justice Found.

Meeting Minutes October 2020

Meeting of September 29, 2020

Differing Viewpoints: If Jackson Was at Gettysburg, Would the CSA have Won the Battle? YES: Tom Roza; NO: Jim Rhetta

To enhance the experience and enjoyment for South Bay Civil War Roundtable members who attend the monthly meetings, a new format for presentation topics has been developed to augment the more traditional formats. The new format is entitled “Differing Viewpoints”.

For a specific Civil War related topic, two views are presented on whether a critical component or element was present or occurred that would have changed the outcome. The two views are: YES – the outcome would have been different; NO – the outcome would not have been different. Each view can be presented by one or more members with each view taking up no more than 15–20 minutes. Slides or other visual aids can be used to support a view. This is NOT a debate—just a presentation of differing views.

For the September 29, 2020, SBCWRT meeting, the presentation topic is, “If Jackson was at Gettysburg, would the CSA have won the battle?”

The vast majority of Civil War historians have concluded that the Battle of Gettysburg was the high water mark of the Confederacy’s effort to become an independent country. Over the nearly 160 years since the battle was fought in July 1863, there have been numerous discussions on whether the outcome of the battle would have been different if Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson had not died in May 1863 from wounds suffered at the Battle of Chancellorsville. Tom Roza will present the YES view; Jim Rhetta will present the NO view.

Jim Rhetta retired from Lockheed Corp, and 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 made several presentations on social, economic, and military subjects of the Civil War.

Tom Roza has been a student of history for over 60 years. His interest in history in general and the Civil War in particular began with his elementary education in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and has evolved ever since. As an officer and the Secretary of the South Bay Civil War Roundtable, Tom has made numerous presentations on the topic of the Civil War to both his Roundtable organization and other historical organizations in the Bay Area. Tom is also a published author of the book entitled Windows to the Past: A Virginian’s Experience in the Civil War, which has been accepted by the Library of Congress into its Catalog; Tom is currently working on a sequel entitled Lost Cause – Justice Found.

Meeting Minutes September 2020

Meeting of August 25, 2020

Tom McMahon on “Finding and Preserving the Past Through Human Memory”

Tom McMahon has conducted extensive research on the history of monuments going back to ancient times. With that as a backdrop, he will be discussing the issues today with Civil War related monuments and the appeal to remove those that are related to the Confederacy.

Tom McMahon is a 12-year member of the South Bay Civil War Round Table who never had a relative on either side of the Civil War as his great grandparents immigrated directly to San Francisco in 1858 from a devastated Ireland. Now, in his senior years, Tom is a person in constant transition who faces aging with an eagerness to stay young of heart and as educated as possible. A Depression era child, Tom has held a variety of jobs in a religious ministry, military service, teacher, mental health.

Meeting Minutes August 2020

Meeting of July 28, 2020

This meeting was not held because of COVID-19 concerns. Watch this website for potential rescheduling.

Tom Roza on “The Presidential Election of 1864”

South Bay Civil War Roundtable Secretary Tom Roza provides an intriguing and detailed examination of the critically important and impactful presidential election of 1864.

Throughout its history as a democracy, the electing of a President has become one of the most important decisions Americans make as citizens. We not only select a political leader to guide our country through its legislative process, but also a person who is the Commander in Chief of our military and who in partnership with Congress, is responsible for the security of our nation.

Over the 230 years as a country, some presidential elections have become more significant than others. In his nearly 60 years of being a student of the American Civil War and the history of our country, Tom has concluded that the presidential election of 1864 has become the most critically important one. A civil war continued to rage and the destiny and future of our country was at stake as at no other time before or since.

Given that 2020 is a Presidential election year, this presentation on another very important election is particularly appropriate and timely.

Tom Roza has been a student of history for over 60 years. His interest in history in general and the Civil War in particular began with his elementary education in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and has evolved ever since. As an officer and the Secretary of the South Bay Civil War Roundtable, Tom has made numerous presentations on the topic of the Civil War to both his Roundtable organization and other historical organizations in the Bay Area. Tom is also a published author of the book entitled Windows to the Past: A Virginian’s Experience in the Civil War that has been accepted by the Library of Congress into its Catalog; Tom is currently working on a sequel entitled Lost Cause – Justice Found.

Meeting of June 30, 2020

This meeting was not held because of COVID-19 concerns. Watch this website for potential rescheduling.

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

 

Meeting of January 28, 2020

Robert Burch on “The U.S. Navy in California”

A post-war photo of the USS Lancaster, commissioned in 1859, and served in the Pacific during the Civil War

The U.S. Navy’s history in the Pacific began with the formation of the U.S. Navy Pacific Squadron in 1821. The squadron consisted of only six warships and an auxiliary vessel under Commodore John B. Montgomery in April 1861. This small force was reinforced by another three warship, two auxiliaries and a shore-based U.S. Marine detachment over the next four years. On the opposing side, the Confederates were represented by only two privateers from the Atlantic Ocean and another three privateer plots originating in the Pacific late in the war that caused widespread fear in California coastal communities. In the end, no traditional ship-to-ship naval engagement or coastal raid occurred. Additionally, the critical monthly gold ships out of San Francisco that financed the Union war effort were never interrupted. This presentation will examine the ships, bases, and operations of these two small naval force as well as the U.S.S. Sacramento, named after the state capital, and the Russian Pacific Squadron’s much publicized and extended visit to San Francisco in 1863-64. This naval action is another forgotten aspect of California’s participation in the American Civil War.

Bob Burch is a native Californian from Santa Clara County, a retired U.S. Army colonel and graduate of San Jose State University where he read U.S. military history. He is also a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and the U.S. Navy War College. A lifetime student of the American Civil War, he read his first Civil War book in the fifth grade. As a young boy he was mesmerized when watching John Ford’s The Horse Soldiers (1959) starring John Wayne on the television rerun channels. He has visited all of the principle and most secondary Civil War sites during his 30-year military career, including multiple week-long visits to Gettysburg, his favorite battlefield site. Like most CWRT members across the county, he desires to understand his home state’s role in the war. He collected material for this presentation for over ten years followed by several years of analysis. This series documents his research in great detail. Time allows only key points 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.