John Herberich on “The 4th U.S. Cavalry in the Civil War”
Cavalry Orderly, Rappahannock Station, Va., by Edwin Forbes (Wikipedia)
John provided a detailed look at the regiment of his great-grandfather, the 4th U.S. cavalry, covering its history in the Western theater and a look at some of its tactics, primarily the saber.
Howard Jones on “A.S. Johnston”
The life and career of Confederate General Johnston, the Western theater commander who was killed at the Battle of Shiloh.
Albert Sidney Johnston (Wikipedia)
The following meeting summary was provided by Charlie Sweeny. General Johnston was considered the Number Two general at the time of his death in 1862. (Note by Hal Jespersen: Johnston was in fact the second ranking full general in the Confederacy, following the adjutant general, Samuel Cooper. Robert E. Lee was number three, Joseph E. Johnston four, P.G.T. Beauregard five, and Braxton Bragg six. Until his death at Shiloh, Albert Sidney Johnston was considered by Jefferson Davis to be the best general in the Confederate States Army.)
Ray Cosyn on “Flying Tigers”
R.T. Smith photo, 1942. Hell’s Angels, The Flying Tigers – China
In the early days of what was to become WWII in the Pacific, a small group of Americans began training for what was going to become one of the most heroic efforts of the war. The Chinese had been invaded and needed an air force to protect their supply lines and allow them to survive the unceasing onslaught of the Empire of Japan. This presentation covered the formation of the American Volunteer Group, the perils of Flying the Hump, and the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo. This was the American Air War in China that lasted for the time it took to defeat the Japanese. The foundations of the Sino-Japanese War was presented along with the strategy that was put in place to allow the Chinese Nationalist Government to survive the war. Continue reading
Bob Hubbs on “Holly Springs—Grant’s Worst Nightmare?”
Bob’s presentation detailed the Holly Springs Raid, which occurred in the Vicksburg Campaign, December 1862, and review Grant’s greatest challenge. Grant’s strategy, offensive and defensive, for the capture of Vicksburg and the final phase of the Anaconda Plan were introduced. The first campaign for the capture of Vicksburg and the ramifications of that effort were presented. Grant’s reaction to his Army’s incompetent response to the attack by Van Dorn and his cavalry and the capture of Union troops and the destruction of supplies and equipment at Holly Springs, Mississippi. Why the Holly Springs raid and connected events were worse than any of the other events in Grant’s up and down, always changing life.
Dr. Bob Asnard on “CSS Shenandoah”
Bob recounted the story of the C.S.S. Shenandoah from when she was the Sea King, being built in English docks, fitted-out in the Azores, her various escapades, as well as her final battle with the New England Whaling Fleet of the Arctic.
Jack Mather on “The Lees”
Honor in 18th and 19th Century America, an examination of dueling and a study of a family that lost honor and then regained it.
Charlie Sweeny on “Thugee: The Murder Cult”
Our loyal secretary presented a program of how the British Raj eliminated this hereditary tribe. An entire Hindu religious group of murdering thieves was given a 19th-century Final Solution. Charlie notes that the wonderful 1938 movie Gunga Din, was a fictional account of Thugee.
Libra Hilde on “Confederate Politics” (postponed from the July meeting)
Dr. Hilde’s talk considered the initial goals of the Confederacy and how the war undermined these goals. While Southerners intended to preserve the Old South and their way of life, fighting a war of this magnitude led to unanticipated political, economic, and social change. While the focus will be on Confederate politics, there was a brief discussion of economic and social revolution. The Radicals in the South began the war with a vision of states’ rights, but the South became, like the Union, a far more politically centralized nation in an effort to successfully prosecute the war. The second part of the talk focused on Confederate politics and the internal tensions between those who pragmatically recognized a need to centralize power and those who refused to temper their state’s rights stance. In the end, opposition to Davis, particularly from governors, severely compromised Southern unity. Internal political divisions over habeas corpus, control of arms, conscription, and problems created by a one party political system were also addressed.
Hal Jespersen on the “Seven Days Battles”
In the Peninsula Campaign of 1862, Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan landed his Army of the Potomac at Fort Monroe, Virginia, and slowly advanced up the Virginia Peninsula in an attempt to capture the Confederate capital of Richmond. At the indecisive Battle of Seven Pines (Fair Oaks), the Confederate commander, Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, was severely wounded and soon replaced with Gen. Robert E. Lee. In late June, Lee launched a series of attacks against McClellan that have come to be known as the Seven Days Battles, including the battles of Mechanicsville, Gaines’s Mill, Glendale, Malvern Hill, and a few other (comparatively) minor engagements. Some historians describe the Seven Days as a campaign, others as a lengthy battle with daily engagements. If you subscribe to the latter view, the Seven Days ranks behind Gettysburg as the second bloodiest battle of the war, with approximately 36,000 casualties. Hal gave a brief overview of the initial movements and battles in the Peninsula Campaign, and then describe each of the Seven Days in detail. He also discussed the strategic importance of the campaign and gave his opinions on the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of the two opposing commanders.
Hal Jespersen is the webmaster for the Peninsula Civil War Round Table. He is a retired software industry executive and engineer who is currently busy as a freelance cartographer. You can visit his Civil War mapping website at http://www.cwmaps.com, and his Civil War travelogues at http://www.posix.com/CW.
Howard Jones on “George Washington and the Battle of Yorktown”
The Revolutionary War was entering its forth year. Somehow, General George Washington had managed to keep the Continental Army intact against superior British forces. Then in 1778, the Americans won a stunning victory at Saratoga. This victory was the War’s turning point.
The French had waited for such a victory before they would support the American cause. In 1780, some 6,000 French troops were landed at Newport, Rhode Island, under the command of General Rochambeau. These forces would later unite with the Continental Army in New York. Washington had always believed that the War’s deciding battle would be fought in New York.
As the joint forces prepared to attack they received a message from the Marquis de Lafayette who commanded a small detachment of troops near Williamsburg, Virginia. General Lafayette told them that the army of General Charles Lord Cornwallis had gone into winter quarters in Yorktown. Lafayette believed that Cornwallis could be attacked and beaten at Yorktown. A victory at Yorktown might just end the war.
In 1781, Washington decided to attack! Howard’s presentation detailed the story of Washington’s 400 mile march from New York to Yorktown. It described the 20 day siege that ended with Cornwallis’s surrender. And finally, it told the story of the 1783 Treaty of Paris that guaranteed America’s freedom.