Meeting of November 16, 2010

Walter Day on “The 8th Alabama Infantry, Wilcox’s Brigade”

man doing a presentation

Walter Day

Meeting description provided by Charlie Sweeny:

The regiment was organized in Richmond on June 11, 1861. A rabid secessionist, Col. John Winston (twice governor of Alabama) was the commander all the way to the Battle of the Wilderness. The 18th fought in almost every battle in the East room the Peninsula to Appomattox. They were among the most faithful of the Army of Northern Virginia. They fought against McClellan, Hooker, Burnside, and ultimately Grant. They were part of the steady, sturdy backbone of Bobby Lee’s Army.

It is amazing to think of the plodding dedication shown year after dangerous year: Yorktown, Malvern Hill, Second Manassas, Harpers Ferry, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Wilderness, and Defense of Petersburg. Our speaker’s kin, Grandpa Day, left the Confederate Army after Appomattox. It took two months and a lot of walking to get home to Alabama. As with many of the veterans, his health was ruined. He died in September 1865 leaving a wife and seven children. The men of the 18th Alabama did not turn in their regimental battle flag. It was cut into pieces and shared.

Meeting of October 19, 2010

Jack Mather on “Bell Ringers and Fire Eaters: Southern Rhetoric on the Road to War”

man reading a speech

Jack Mather

Jack presented colorful overviews of some of the Southern secessionist extremists in the late 1850s, including Edmund Ruffin, Louis Wigfall, William Yancey, and Preston Brooks. The following description was provided by Charlie Sweeny:

The time from the 1840s on became more and more intermittently inflamed over slavery. Power brokers of the North and the South warily and wearily watched each other and jealously pursued each slight, grievance or assault with noisy vigor. Typical of the era was Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts. He loudly reviled some Southern-tilting senators: Sen. Butler (S.C.)—Don Quixote, whose Dulcinea was “the harlot slavery”; and Sen. Stephen A. Douglas as Sancho Panza “the squire of slavery ready to do its humiliating offices.” Continue reading

Meeting of September 21, 2010

Don Hayden on “The Amazing MacArthurs”

man in a 19th-century general's uniform

Major General Arthur MacArthur

(Meeting description provided by Charlie Sweeny.) Few nations have had the likes of the brave père et fils MacArthur. Both were awarded the Medal of Honor for battlefield leadership and bravery.

The father, Lieutenant General Arthur MacArthur, was born in Massachusetts. He served throughout the Civil War in the 24th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry. At age 20 he was made lieutenant colonel. He was wounded three times and was brevetted (meritorious promotion in rank) four times. He was Sheridan’s “Boy Colonel of the West.” He was cited for “Gallant and Meritorious Service” in battles at Perryville, Stones River, Missionary Ridge, Resaca, Dalton, Kennesaw Mountain, Atlanta, Jonesboro, and Franklin. He fought in the Indian Wars as a regular army officer (1866-1886). Continue reading

Meeting of August 17, 2010

Dr. Robert Asnard on “Sherman’s Carolinas Campaign”

man at podium reading a speech

Dr. Robert Asnard

Our CWRT president, Bob Asnard, presented an overview of William T. Sherman’s campaign in the Carolinas, February–April 1865. He gave some background about Sherman’s March to the Sea, which captured the city of Savannah, Georgia, in December 1864, and then started off into the Carolinas with a “visit” to Columbia. Bob talked about the logistical challenges that Sherman faced in the heavy rains of that winter and also briefly about the battles of Averasborough and Bentonville. He concluded with a description of the surrender negotiations between Sherman and Joseph E. Johnston at Bennett Place.

Meeting of July 20, 2010

Jeffrey Vaillant on “Chasing Your Civil War Ancestor”

Jeffrey, who is a professional genealogist, gave a presentation about how to do research on your Civil War ancestor, including information about the U.S. Census, the National Park Service online “Soldiers and Sailors System,” and finding military and pension records at the National Archives. Jeffrey has provided two papers (both Microsoft Word documents) with a number of interesting online links:

His talk provided real-world examples using one of his own ancestors, a soldier with the 10th Iowa.

Meeting of June 15, 2010

Tom Christianson on “John T. Wilder and the Battle of Chickamauga”

portrait of Civil War officer

John T. Wilder

Tom, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, gave a spirited presentation on Col. John T. Wilder, who led the Lightning Brigade in the Tullahoma Campaign and the battle of Chickamauga. He talked about Wilder’s brigade evaluating repeating rifles and procuring their own horses and mules. He discussed the battle action of the brigade, culminating in the embarrassing incident in which Assistant Secretary Of War Charles A. Dana insisted that Wilder provide him escort to Chattanooga.