Author Archives: hlj

Meeting of March 19, 2019

Joan Larrabee on “The Civil War Veterans Section of the Alta Mesa Cemetery in Palo Alto”

Joan Larrabee grew up in a military family; her great-grandfather served  in the Union Army as a teenager at the end of the Civil War. She earned a BA in History at Stanford University and a Master of Urban Planning at San Jose State. She worked for the City of San Jose in the fields of recreation, community services and transportation.

Meeting of February 19, 2019

Larry Tagg on “The Generals of Shiloh”

Storytellers instinctively know the importance of character. Writers of history too frequently forget this, especially writers of military history, whose work is too often limited to strategy and tactics, weapons and supplies. Battles, particularly, present a chaos so intense that merely describing events and sorting out causes and effects is a difficult task. Historians must devote so much effort to faithfully reconstructing a battle’s events that men’s characters are often too little mentioned.

The biographical approach to Shiloh is also valuable as a snapshot of American culture, fourscore and six years after the country’s birth. The color and diversity of the battle’s generals provide a kaleidoscopic view of the society of the period. The United States in 1860 was an unmilitary nation with a tiny standing army. When war broke out in Charleston Harbor in April 1861, hundreds of new generals had to be minted to command hundreds of thousands of new soldiers. These new warrior-leaders were not professionals, but were elevated overnight from a hodge-podge of street-level occupations. Of the 63 brigade-and-up leaders at Shiloh presented in this book, only 14 were serving as career soldiers when Fort Sumter fell, a year before the battle. Thirteen more were lawyers, prominent in their communities and well-connected. Twelve were politicians, including the previous Vice President of the United States, now a Confederate. There were five businessmen (including an Iowa hatter), four plantation owners, two teachers, a millwright, a sheriff, a blacksmith, a riverboat man, a geologist, a horse breeder, a bishop, a newspaper editor, a farmer, a cotton broker, a stagecoach operator, a bridge engineer, a Navy ordnance officer, and an architect. The most famous of them all, Ulysses S. Grant, was clerking at his father’s dry goods store in Illinois.

A study of the generals of Shiloh also illuminates the entire history of the Western Theater in the first year of the war. Shiloh was the improbable rendezvous of more than a hundred thousand Americans. They were men here who had fought in and brought experience from every battle in the West over the previous twelve months. Mostly, however, Shiloh was a meeting of young men who had never fired a gun in anger. Some of the new recruits had just received the first muskets they had ever held. That they fought so hard and so well in dense, ravine-crossed woods, under amateur officers, is an indication of the intensity of their will to fight.

The consequences of the Battle of Shiloh were profound. Strategically, the Union armies, by defeating the Confederate concentration of the Army of the Mississippi, opened the way to capturing the rail hub of Corinth on May 30 and the city of Memphis on June 6, 1862, two months after the battle. The horrific casualty totals that appeared in the nation’s newspapers, however, produced both the most immediate and the longest-lasting result of the battle: its effect on the nation’s psyche. More than twenty thousand men lay on the field killed or wounded at the battle’s end (and 19 of the 63 leaders on these pages), a number which shocked and dismayed the entire American public. These were unimaginable losses, higher than the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, and Mexican War combined. In the Eastern Theater, news of the holocaust convinced Major General George McClellan, stalled on the Yorktown Peninsula, that his campaign must be won by strategy and maneuver, to avoid the sort of hard fighting that had produced such hideous gore at Shiloh. McClellan’s decision resulted in the Siege of Yorktown, followed by a slow build-up around Richmond that ended, three months later, with the loss of the Peninsula Campaign after a week of hard blows by Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.

What followed was a Civil War that took on the dimensions first glimpsed only after Shiloh. Richmond would not be threatened again for two more years, after hundreds of thousands more casualties, and the war would not end for three more bloody years.

Born in Lincoln, Illinois, Larry Tagg graduated from the University of Texas at Austin. A bass player/singer of world renown, Larry co-founded and enjoyed substantial commercial success with “Bourgeois Tagg” in the mid-1980s. He went on to play bass for Todd Rundgren, Heart, Hall and Oates, and other acts. He recently retired after teaching high school drama, English and Asians and Middle Eastern literature in the prestigious Humanities and International Studies Program in Sacramento, CA. Larry is the author of the bestselling book The Generals of Gettysburg, a selection of the Military Book Club, and The Unpopular Mr. Lincoln.

Meeting of January 15, 2019

Walter Day on “Raising the Hunley”

The H. L. Hunley is a Confederate Submarine that was lost and finally located, after 136 years, in the harbor of Charleston, SC. Walter Day was there when it was raised on August 8, 2000.

Many artifacts were found in the boat. Restoration began immediately and continues to this day.

This talk will give some details of the story, and is based on the book Raising the Hunley – The Remarkable History and Recovery of the Lost Confederate Submarine, by Brian Hicks and Schuyler Kropf.

Meeting of December 18, 2018

Howard Jones on “Jean Lafitte and the Battle of New Orleans”

The Battle of New Orleans took place between December 14, 1814, and January 18, 1815. It is widely believed that neither the British nor the Americans knew that the treaty of Ghent had ended the war. But this is patently untrue! Both sides knew very well that the treaty was still subject to ratification in both countries. Britain’s secret plan was to capture New Orleans and take over all of the lands that were once a part of the Louisiana Territory.

A fleet of 60 British ships was about to descend upon New Orleans. It contained over 14,000 soldiers and sailors. All of them were the seasoned veterans of the Napoleonic wars. To meet this threat, Andrew Jackson had assembled a motley crew of 1,100 combatants plus a handful of militias. But Jackson lacked both the gunpowder and the flints to sustain a prolonged defense of the City.

Enter the pirate: Jean Laffite was a famous pirate whose base of operations was in Barataria, 80 miles south of New Orleans. He was revered by the people of New Orleans. He also possessed all of the munitions that the Americans would need to successfully defend the City. Both sides knew that Laffite was the key to victory in the upcoming battle. But in the end, Lafitte would side with the Americans and assure our victory.

Howard will reveal the fascinating details of this battle. It was the last battle that was ever fought between Britain and America.

Howard Jones is an amateur historian and serves as the President of the Peninsula Civil War Round Table. He is a member of the Military Order of the Stars and Bars where he served as Commander General from 2014-2016. He is also a former president of the Silicon Valley Chapter – Sons of the American Revolution. Howard is proud of both his American heritage and his Southern heritage. He is distantly related to Robert E. Lee, JEB Stuart, and Nathan Bedford Forrest.

Meeting of November 20, 2018

Dana Lombardy on “Commemorating the End of World War One, 1918-2018”

This year is the 100th anniversary of the Armistice that ended the Great War, World War One, the “War to End Wars” as science-fiction writer H.G. Wells wrote in 1914. Obviously, it did not end wars and, in fact, was responsible for starting several more, including the War on Terrorism that plaques us today. Why? What happened that was so different, so cataclysmic to cause problems 100 years later? Dana Lombardy, Publisher and Senior Editor for World War One Illustrated magazine will explain through a PowerPoint presentation why World War One is still important today.

2018 West Coast Civil War Roundtable Conference

The Trans-Mississippi Theater: The Not So Glamorous Step-Sister of Civil War Historians

Hosted by the San Joaquin Valley CWRT and the Inland Empire CWRT

November 9–11, 2018: Wyndom Garden Hotel, Fresno, California

REGISTRATION FEE $200. For registration form & info see website: SJVCWRT2.com

Nov. 9 – 11, 2018 CONFERENCE SCHEDULE

FRIDAY
4:00–REGISTRATION BEGINS
5:00-5:45–SOCIAL HOUR
5:45—6:45- DINNER (President’s Welcome, Invocation)
7:00—INTRODUCTION TO THE TRANS-MISSISSIPPI THEATER: Ron Vaughan
7:30 -8:00—TRANS-MISSISSIPPI COMMAND OVERVIEW: THOMAS CUTRER
8:00 –9:00– RED RIVER CAMPAIGN: Parker Hill

SATURDAY
8:00-8:50–: SECESSION CRISIS IN THE TRANS-MISSISSIPPI: Jim Stanberry
9:00-9:50: BATTLE OF WILSON’S CREEK: Richard Hatcher III
10: BREAK
10:15-11:10– SIBLEY’S CAMPAIGN: Thomas Cutrer
11:15-11:45– CALIFORNIA IN THE CW: Ron Vaughan
LUNCH– 11:45—1:00
1:00-1:50– BATTLE OF PEA RIDGE: Richard Hatcher III
2:00-2:50– BATTLE OF PRAIRIE GROVE: Ron Vaughan
3:00 BREAK
DINNER 4:45 – 5:45
5:45—6: JERRY RUSSEL AWARD
6:00-6:50– PRICE’S 1864 RAID: Thomas Cutrer
7:00-7:50— STEEL’S CAMPAIGN: Parker Hills
8:00–RAFFLE

SUNDAY
8:30-9:20– NATIVE AMERICANS IN THE CIVIL WAR : Jim Stanbery
9:30-10:00– MEDICAL CARE IN THE T.M.: Brian Clague
10:00-10:30– BATTLEFIELD ARCHEOLOGY: Parker Hills
10:30-10:45– SJVCWRT DONATIONS TO RAYMOND BATTLEFIELD: Mike Green
10:45-10:50– BREAK
10:50-11:45–