Category Archives: Meeting archive

Meeting of July 16, 2019

Howard Jones on “Marines Fighting Marines – The Battle of Drewry’s Bluff”

The Battle of Drewry’s Bluff took place on May 15, 1862. It was a small but significant part of General George B. McClellan’s Peninsula Campaign that began on March 17, 1862. It might have been the difference in the battle if it had been successful. Essentially, McClellan’s advance towards Richmond had stalled on the outskirts of the Confederate capital. Plans were then made to send a flotilla of ships up the James River and break the deadlock by shelling Richmond.

The only obstacle to this plan was Drewry’s Bluff, located just 7 miles downstream from Richmond. Here the river made a sharp turn and a massive bluff rose 110 feet above the river. The bluff was heavily defended by the Confederate States Marines Corps. A flotilla of 5 ships, including the indestructible Monitor, was sent upstream to blast its way through the defenses and capture Richmond.

The Battle of Drewry’s Bluff is unique because it is the only battle in the history of the United States Marine Corps where U.S. Marines and former Marines, (now the Confederate States Marine Corps), met in direct combat. Many of these men would have known each other from before the war.

Howard Jones is the President of the Peninsula Civil War round table and an amateur historian.

Meeting of June 18, 2019

Monika Trobits on “San Francisco in the Mid-19th Century”

San Francisco in the mid-19th century, an instant city, geographically isolated in the West, yet fated to be the gateway for a worldwide migration in search of golden dreams. Hundreds of thousands made the arduous journey to the fledgling city, including Argonauts who rushed west from the Northern and Southern states. They had seemingly left behind the political, economic and other slavery-related tensions of the period only to find that it had all traveled west with them. Monika’s presentation will explore the remnants of the antebellum and Civil War eras as they played out in old San Francisco, a boom town fraught with daily dramas, political rivalries and heated battles over pending statehood.

Monika Trobits has lived in San Francisco for 37 years. A New York City native, she has been studying local history since the mid-1980s. She established her tour company in 2011: www.sanfranciscojourneys.com and developed a walking tour in conjunction with her first book: Antebellum and Civil War San Francisco: A Western Theater for Northern & Southern Politics (published 2014). Nowadays, she also teaches walking history classes for OLLI, based at SF State. Her other nonfiction works include, “Dashiell Hammett’s San Francisco in the 1920s” an article that was published in the winter 2011 edition of the Argonaut and her second book, Bay Area Coffee: A Stimulating History, published in February 2019. Monika earned a B.A. in political science/history from SF State and lives down the road from the site of the 1859 Broderick-Terry duel.

Meeting of May 21, 2019

Bernie Quinn on “Three Men Who Could Have Ended the Civil War in 1862”

Over 750,000 Americans did not have to die in the Civil War! Three men who could have commanded the Army of the Potomac and crushed Robert E. Lee at Antietam, never got the chance. Because they were removed from the chessboard so early, you probably don’t even know their names.

Bernie Quinn is a member of the Elk Grove CWRT.

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.

Meeting of May 15, 2018

Abby Eller on “The Destruction of Slavery During the Civil War”

At the outbreak of the Civil War, as Southern white men went off to fight, everyone knew they could count on the labor and loyalty of their slaves back home. Or could they?

Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation has been criticized for only freeing the slaves in the rebel states but not in the loyal slave states. It is said that it did not really free any slaves at all. Or did it?

Would it surprise you to know that tens of thousands of slaves were already emancipated before the Emancipation Proclamation?

Come join us to hear the fascinating story of the demise of slavery during the Civil War, and how decisive this was to the war’s outcome.

Meeting of April 17, 2018

Tom Roza on “Windows to the Past: A Virginian’s Experience in the Civil War”

Tom Roza of the South Bay Round Table has recently completed writing his first book on the Civil War. It was published last summer and is entitled Windows to the Past: A Virginian’s Experience in the Civil War. He will present the story of how he wrote the book and what it took to get it published.  Tom applied his 50+ years as a Civil War historian to write this novel from a Southern perspective. He worked for 8 months with a professional editor from Austin, TX, on story flow and character development. It is available on Amazon.com and KDP eBook sites. Here is a link to the book on Amazon.com: link

Meeting of March 20, 2018

Abby Eller on “Judah Benjamin, The Brains of the Confederacy”

Judah Benjamin is scarcely remembered today. And yet, Jefferson Davis’s wife Varina Howell Davis stated that he would meet with President Davis for hours every day to discuss Confederate government matters. Judah Benjamin was known as “The brains of the Confederacy.” During the Civil War, Judah Benjamin, Jefferson Davis, and Varina Howell Davis formed a close friendship that lasted the rest of their lives. But when Jefferson Davis wrote his memoirs at the end of his life, he only made the briefest mention of this man. Why was this? And Judah Benjamin’s life story after the Civil War was so remarkable, it would be unbelievable if it weren’t actually true.

Abby Eller joined the Redwood City Civil War Round Table in July of this year. She and her husband Dave live in Menlo Park. Abby has been an American history buff ever since high school. In 2013 she joined Historic Union Cemetery Association based here in Redwood City.

Meeting of February 20, 2018

Chimi Miskow on “Japanese-Americans in Japan during World War II, Part 2”

The plight of the Japanese Americans during World War II has been well chronicled in the past, but the lives of Japanese-Americans in Japan during this same era is almost unknown to many people. Perhaps you can peek into that era from Chimi’s family tale. She was born in 1939 to Hideo and Michiko Naganuma in Los Angeles; they were called back to Japan in 1940, intending to return to the United States, but the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 had put everything in the pause mode. The Naganuma family spent the war years as Americans in Japan. Chimi finished her high school education in Japan in 1959, then came back to the States to go to college. After college, she was hired by Pan Am as a stewardess for her language skills in Japanese, Chinese, and English. During her time of employment with Pan Am, Chimi met Ken and they have been here raising their daughter Catherine. This is a continuation of the January meeting topic.

Meeting of January 16, 2018

Chimi Miskow on “Japanese-Americans in Japan during World War II”

The plight of the Japanese Americans during World War II has been well chronicled in the past, but the lives of Japanese-Americans in Japan during this same era is almost unknown to many people. Perhaps you can peek into that era from Chimi’s family tale. She was born in 1939 to Hideo and Michiko Naganuma in Los Angeles; they were called back to Japan in 1940, intending to return to the United States, but the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 had put everything in the pause mode. The Naganuma family spent the war years as Americans in Japan. Chimi finished her high school education in Japan in 1959, then came back to the States to go to college. After college, she was hired by Pan Am as a stewardess for her language skills in Japanese, Chinese, and English. During her time of employment with Pan Am, Chimi met Ken and they have been here raising their daughter Catherine.

Meeting of December 19, 2017

Jim Rhetta on “Attack and Die, Cultural Influences on Combat in the Civil War”

The Civil War was also a war between two cultures, Celtic and English (again) and each had cultural influences on the attitudes toward war and how it was to be conducted. Jim’s presentation highlighted the cultural differences and identify their impacts on conduct of the Civil War.

Meeting of November 21, 2017

Abby Eller on “The History in Historic Union Cemetery”

A quarter century ago, Jean Cloud led a coalition of concerned citizens in our area, who fought hard to save Historic Union Cemetery here in Redwood City, from being lost to demolition and commercial development. Historic Union Cemetery Association has worked ever since, to continue to restore and maintain this national and state historic landmark. What is so important about Historic Union Cemetery?

Abby Eller shared some of the many stories that Historic Union Cemetery has to tell. We found out why Redwood City is called that, and why it was originally called Mezesville. How a man in our area had a town and lake named after him. The Grand Army of the Republic had a burial plot in Union Cemetery. You’ll hear about their importance, and their women’s auxiliary, to Civil War veterans. There were a few other stories as well.

Abby Eller joined the Redwood City Civil War Round Table in July of this year. She and her husband Dave live in Menlo Park. Abby has been an American history buff ever since high school. In 2013 she joined Historic Union Cemetery Association based here in Redwood City.

Meeting of October 17, 2017

Jack Mather on “FDR and Voices in the Night”

man reading a speech

Jack Mather

Jack described Franklin Roosevelt’s interactions with Huey Long, Father Coughlin, the Bonus Army, groups Left and Right, Joseph Kennedy, and Douglas McArthur.

Meeting of September 19, 2017

Walter Day on “A Visit to Hitler’s ‘Wolf’s Lair'”

On July 20, 1944, disaffected German Army officers launched one of the most daring undertakings of WWII: An attempt to kill Adolf Hitler at the Wolfsschanze, or “Wolf’s Lair.” This was a difficult task since the Wolfsschanze was designed to protect Hitler.

By July 1944 the plotters were getting desperate. The Allies had landed in France and the end was predictable.

A young wounded officer from the North African Campaign, Oberst Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, flew to the Wolfsschanze to brief Hitler and plant a bomb, provided by the British, to kill Hitler. This is his story!

Meeting of August 15, 2017

Dana Lombardy on “Sex… and Spies, Oh, My!”

Wherever thousands of men have gathered to fight wars throughout history, romance—and prostitution—have followed. “They didn’t want to die virgins” was a major concern of many soldiers and affected morale in nearly every army that fought in the Great War. In addition, exotic dancers and courtesans such as Mata Hari had relationships with high-ranking military officers and politicians—and in her case it led to being tried and executed as a spy. What else will be revealed?

black-and-white headshot

Dana Lombardy

Dana Lombardy is Publisher of World War One Illustrated magazine for the World War One Historical Association. He was an Associate Online Editor for Armchair General magazine and now does research, writing and design through his Lombardy Studios. Dana is recognized 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 1996-2000.

Meeting of July 18, 2017

Walter Day on “The Battle of Perryville, The Invasion of Kentucky”

Why was Kentucky important in the Civil War?

  • Control of strategic rivers (the Ohio in particular)
  • Source of manpower for armies
  • Food

Perryville was a relatively large battle for its time in the Civil War. Federals numbered about 55,000 men (22,000 engaged) under US General Don Carlos Buell. Confederates fielded some 17,000 men under CSA General Braxton Bragg.

We are fortunate to have an excellent video of this re-enacted battle*, with a Bonus Feature of Ed Bearss (pronounced “bars”), former Chief Historian of the National Park Service, describing this battle in great detail. If you’ve never seen Ed, come and enjoy this! He’s 94 now and only recently stopped leading battlefield tours. He’s a one of a kind historian whose passion has been to learn and tell anyone who’s interested incredible details of every battle fought in the US, as well as World War battles in which the US fought. Until very recently, he led many tours every year around those fields, and tour groups often had to jog to keep up with him.

*The video, “Battle of Perryville, the Invasion of Kentucky”, is provided by Wide Awake Films, LLC.

Walter Day is the Peninsula Civil War Roundtable Program Chairman. He has been a student of Civil War history since he was a teenager. He has visited most of the battlefields where his great grandfather’s unit, the Wilcox Brigade, 8th Alabama Infantry, CSA, fought. He is a retired Electrical Engineer and U.S. Naval officer. He has followed Ed Bearss around on tours of at least 8 Civil War battlefields, as well as the WWII Normandy battlefield.

Meeting of June 20, 2017

Jack Mather on “Two British Generals and the Struggle for Control of North America”

man reading a speech

Jack Mather

One died and was successful, one failed and lived: James Wolfe, John Burgoyne, and the birth of the United States of America.

Meeting of May 16, 2017

Howard Jones on “John Paul Jones, An American Hero”

Howard’s presentation was about the heroics of John Paul Jones who took the fight for American independence to the British Isles during the Revolutionary War. The epic battle between the American ship, Bonhomme Richard, and the British ship, Serapis, is legendary in naval history. His ultimate victory became the basis for the creation of a United States Naval Academy and a world-power American Navy.

Howard is a Marine Corps Veteran and a graduate of the University of Oregon. He is the immediate Past Commander General of the Military Order of the Stars and Bars. He is a former President of the Silicon Valley Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution. In addition, he served for 12 years as the Public Member of San Mateo County’s Local Agency Formation Committee, (or, LAFCo). Howard frequently gives presentations about American history to elementary grade school children and heritage groups such as the DAR, SAR and the UDC.