Jack Mather on “The Nation’s Toughest City (James McPherson)”
Jack presented a series of vignettes about San Francisco in the 1850s and 1860s.
The streets of San Francisco: a mass of Hounds, Ducks, Republicans, Chinese, Chivs, Know Nothings, Peruvians, Irish Politicians,
The population was young, primarily male, with ready access to weapons. A city governed by corrupt officials and living in a situation of semi-anarchy.
Bob Hubbs on “Was Grant surprised at Shiloh?”
Battle of Shiloh by Thure de Thulstrup (Wikipedia)
Bob answered some provocative questions:
- Shiloh – the horrible experience during which Grant became a general, and Lincoln is elevated to Commander-in–Chief – How so?
- Grant and his trial by fire – What happened to him?
- Shiloh, the never expected, the least understood, and the most painful experience of the American Civil War – Why?
- Shiloh – the battle with more myths and less facts than any major killing of American soldiers – How can this be? Continue reading
Dr. John Edmonds on “The Union Cemetery”
Meeting notes provided by Charlie Sweeny: Dr. Edmonds described not only the history of the cemetery and its connections to Civil War veterans, but also recounted the many contributions made by California Civil War volunteer soldiers.
John retired from 40 years in the Sheriff’s Office. He also retired from working as a psychologist and is presently writing books, including one on the topic of his talk. John has been very involved in the restoration of Redwood City’s Union Cemetery.
Charles Sweeny on “The Short of the Long Division: A Capsule Version of North-South Enmity”
Charles is the Secretary of the PCWRT and a long-time student of the Civil War. He provided the following meeting summary.
In short, the South in 1860 was polarized with great consuming fear of the murderous black revolts on the order of Haiti and other instances of blacks slaughtering whites. The North was taken by the religio-political maelstrom fomented by the abolition movement. Such a climate of fear colliding with roaring righteousness from New England created such clamor that reason could not be heard. The division began in the 18th century and went on and on.
Walter Day on “Camp John C. Fremont, Menlo Park, California”
Walter covered the history of this interesting military post, established to train men for fighting in the trenches of World War I, but eventually sending them to Siberia!
Walter Day is a microwave engineer who has worked in the Bay Area for 45 years. He has served as President of the PCWRT and is presently the Program Chairman. He has studied the Civil War since he was a teen and has researched his Great-Grandfather’s service with the Army of Northern Virginia. Having served as an officer in the U.S.Navy he has a more than passing interest in Naval actions of the Civil War.
Meeting summary provided by Charlie Sweeny: Continue reading
Major Arthur Henrick on “How I learned to Stop Worrying about Paying for the War and Love the Greenback”
Arthur W. Henrick, a Civil War, Roman, and World War II reenactor, displayed and talked about Hard and Soft Money used in the American Civil War. He passed around coins and currency from the “Great Unpleasantness.”
He explained the economic situation and the coins issued in the 1850s as the US Economy exploded in rapid growth.
He explained how the Federal Government, after using every trick in the book to keep on a Gold Standard, had to resort to Fiat (faith) paper money in early 1862.
Since 1967 when the last Silver Certificates were no longer convertible to silver coin 1:1, the current currency we use today is exactly like Civil War “Greenbacks” and not payable in gold or silver.
Arthur Henrick of Sunnyvale works currently as an Quality Engineer at Cutera, a Medical Laser company.
Charlie Sweeny provided the following summary of the meeting: Continue reading
Dana Lombardy on “The Long Arm of Mr. Lincoln’s Army”
Dana presented diagrams and data to show how the artillery evolved in the Union Army of the Potomac during the American Civil War, and compares its effectiveness to the guns used by their primary opponent, Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. Gun types, numbers and organization, plus a look back at Napoleon’s artillery at Waterloo were also covered. Continue reading
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.
Walter Day on “The Red River Fiasco”
In March of 1864, Adm. David Dixon Porter started up the Red River with an overpowering naval force. Two months later, the Union Admiral was lucky to emerge with any of his most prized warships.
On April 27, 1864, the combat core of Porter’s powerful Mississippi Squadron idled helplessly on the wrong side of shallow water near Alexandria, Louisiana. The army he counted on for mutual support was defeated, in retreat and verging on panic. Confederate forces, once so easily cowed, now swarmed the riverbanks eager for payback. A river that should have been rising was instead falling. Porter faced one of two impossible choices: surrender his fleet or destroy it.
Hanging in the balance was Federal control of the Mississippi River and the career of one of the Navy’s most storied admirals.
Walter Day is a retired Microwave Electronics Engineer with 53 years of experience in the field. He is a great-grandson of a Confederate Infantryman. He has been interested in Civil War history for decades and a member of PCWRT for the last decade. Walter has served as President and is currently the Program Chairman.
Lt. Col. John Stevens on “The 1st Marine Brigade, The Fire Brigade, in the Pusan Perimeter”
Summary provided by Charlie Sweeny: This gallant siege was a desperate fight by unprepared UN troops against North Korean invaders.
In June of 1950 the North Korean Army suddenly attacked its southern neighbor. The merciless flood was easily able to defeat the totally surprised South Korean Army. President Truman and the United Nations went to help the South. The U.S. Army and the Marine Corps ordered available troops to the Korean peninsula and sent them into action. Continue reading
Charlie Sweeny on “Some Aspects of Slavery”
Charlie covered slavery in ancient history, slavery in recent history, and slavery today.
Dana Lombardy on “Stalingrad: Hitler’s Lost Opportunity, 1942”
The battle of Stalingrad was one of the greatest turning points of World War II. This presentation offered insights into the strategic options, operational flaws, and tactical developments using charts, photos and diagrams to help explain how the city combat evolved over two months (September to November 1942). Was German defeat inevitable, or could operational brilliance overcome strategic blunders?
Dana Lombardy served as online editor for the Weider History Group, publisher of America’s Civil War, Civil War Times, and nine other historical magazines. He is also known for his nearly twenty television appearances, including multiple episodes of The History Channel’s “Tales of the Gun” series. Dana has contributed as an editor, cartographer, graphic artist and designer on many books, games and magazines, and was Publisher of Napoleon Journal from 1996 to 2000.
René Accornero on “Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain”
René presented a detailed accounting of the life of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, from his birth, to his early academic career, to his service in the American Civil War, and finally his life in politics and as a university president.
Bob Asnard on “April, 1865. The Month that Saved America”
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Jack Mather on “What Did You Do During the War, Daddy?”
Jack gave us a look at both well known and little known Americans who were draft eligible during the Civil War. The following description was provided by Charlie Sweeny.
Jack’s presence contributes greatly to his most thorough approach to the topic. We heard about the 1863 military conscription with the purchase of substitutes (Abe Lincoln paid $500 for his) as well as the New York and Cincinnati draft riots. Noted Union and CSA veterans were cited. Included were Eli Lilly and George Westinghouse. JP Morgan joined the substituters. George Robinson earned a gold medal for protecting Seward from one of Booth’s assassination gang. Henry James was physically unfit. George Roosevelt (FDR’s third cousin) lost a leg at Gettysburg. Paul Revere’s grandsons were: Dr. Edward, KIA at Antietam, and Joseph, KIA at Gettysburg. Jonathan Letterman reorganized battlefield rescues and triage (Antietam was cleared of all battle casualties in 24 hours; in prior times, soldiers lay on the field for up to five days with no help), and so forth. It was an amazing presentation. Thank you, Jack, for another engrossing time.
Stephen Aguirre on the “5th New York Volunteer Infantry, Duryée’s Zouaves”
Stephen covered one of America’s most significant Zouave units, the 5th New York Volunteer Infantry, Duryée’s Zouaves. None attained a more exalted reputation for military bearing, proficiency of drill, and discipline under fire, than Duryée’s Fifth New York. The 5th New York was one of perhaps fifty regiments uniformed in the colorful North African style of the French Zouaves, whose exploits in the Crimean War had gained them world-wide fame. The 1860 tour of a champion militia unit, the U.S. Zouave Cadets, led by young Captain Elmer E. Ellsworth, had firmly established the Zouave style in the American public’s mind. The 5th New York was but one of many units born in the “Zouave Craze.”
Stephen Aguirre is an amateur Civil War historian, reenactor and lecturer. Professionally he is a high technology strategic planner and was previously a licensed Architect. He is an avid reader on Civil War histories with a particular interest in American Zouave units. Stephen has been an active member of the American Civil War Association for twelve years, serving as the Battalion Sergeant Major for the last 4 years. He is a active member of the Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War, Camp 4 Phil Sheridan, San Jose, California, currently serving as Junior Vice Commander. Stephen holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from University of Southern California, Master of Architecture from the University of California, Berkeley, and Master of Electrical Engineering work from San Jose State University. He lives in San Jose, California with his lovely wife Taija and their sagacious Wire Fox Terrier, Aalto.