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.
The UCLA Center for the Liberal Arts and Free Institutions (CLAFI) has inaugurated a five-year lecture series on the Civil War in connection with the sesquicentennial. They plan to sponsor at least two lectures each year, with the lecturers concentrating on events of the corresponding year of the Civil War. The inaugural lecture was by Daniel Walker Howe, on the secession crisis of 1861. One unusual feature of our series is that each lecturer also participates in a two-hour Saturday morning seminar with up to twenty people, on readings selected by the lecturer. Both the lectures and the seminars are free and open to all, but because of the size capacity, advance registration is required for the seminars. Continue reading
Kevin Starr in Walnut Creek
The Walnut Creek Library has announced a very interesting series of Civil War events in 2013. See their website for a listing.
Webmaster Hal Jespersen attended one of the lectures and posted a summary on his website: http://www.posix.com/CW13/index.html#WalnutCreek