The annual West Coast conference will be held in Tulare, California, November 13–15, 2015. Information about the schedule and hotel, and a registration form, are available at sjvcwrt.com/conference.html
Chris Palmer on “Bleeding Kansas: A Brief look at the Struggle for Kansas Statehood and the First(?) Battles of the Civil War”
1855 Free-State poster in Kansas Territory, calling for action against slavery supporters and slavery-supporting laws (Wikipedia)
The Kansas–Nebraska Act was passed in 1854 and settlers started to move into the new territory. Neighboring Missouri was a slave state since 1820 and realized a “threat” to their possible slave expansion west. A part of the Kansas–Nebraska Act was popular sovereignty where residents could vote for or against slavery. Missouri did not want a neighboring free state and flooded Kansas to get political control of the territorial legislature. “North and South Rights” are debated for free men to vote their fate while property rights slave holders see their liberty intruded upon. If Kansas is admitted slave, slavery may expand throughout the US rendering the Missouri Compromise of 1820 moot. Things escalated as political forces built on Free-State and Border Ruffian sides with voting problems, intimidation, beatings, theft, and general mayhem. As a shooting conflict starts in 1856, will Kansas enter as a free or slave state?
David Moore on “William S. Rosecrans and the Union Victory”
David described how General Rosecrans fought in our theaters of the war: West Virginia 1861, Northeast Mississippi 1862, Tennessee 1863, and Missouri 1864. He explained why relatively few people today know much about him and about the political machinations that caused him to be removed from command four times. He raised the question of whether Rosecrans deserves to be more remembered today and what should be done to achieve that. David also touched on the general’s personality. He has been called the only general of genius on the Union side and his interests ranged from engineering to theology.
David Moore has been a history guide on the east coast with a particular concentration in his native Washington DC/mid-Atlantic region for more than 35 years. He accidentally came upon the story of General Rosecrans while looking for the grave of Mary Surratt, and has spent more than 20 years researching and writing his book.
Howard Jones on “How the United Daughters of the Confederacy Saved Lee Chapel”
The story begins with Robert E. Lee’s surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House and moves to Lee’s time as President of Washington College in Lexington, Virginia. One of Lee’s first acts as President was to plan for and construct a chapel on the campus. The chapel would be used for both daily worship and school assemblies. The chapel was completed in 1868 – just two years before the death of Robert E. Lee. The name of the college was changed to Washington & Lee immediately upon Lee’s death.
On January 24, 1912, Dr. Henry Louis Smith became the President of Washington & Lee. He soon began a campaign to raze Lee Chapel and replace it with a larger and more suitable structure. Initially he received support for this project from all quarters. But a small chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy in Lexington did not share Smith’s vision. In fact, the ladies would begin a letter writing campaign that would transform the issue into a nationwide debate. The story of their valiant efforts to save Lee Chapel is the topic for this presentation.
Walter Day hosts “Civil War Journal: The Commanders”, part 2
Walter hosted a video presentation, Civil War Journal from the History Channel. This episode was titled “Sherman and the March to the Sea.” This video is part of an acclaimed series from The History Channel that chronicles the American Civil War. The series uses archival photographs, diaries, articles, re-enactments, and scholarly commentary to tell the story of the War Between the States. This episode chronicles General William Tecumseh Sherman’s march to the sea. Leaving Atlanta in flames and ashes, Sherman’s troops waged a scorched earth campaign from there to the coast, disheartening the Confederacy. Hosted by Danny Glover and produced by The History Channel.
Chris Palmer on “Invasion of the Chesapeake – War of 1812 Bicentennial Defense of Washington and Baltimore”
Bombardment of Fort Henry, 1814 (Wikipedia)
Chris presented an overview of the British raiding of the Chesapeake in 1813 and 1814 and the Battles of Bladensburg at Washington and North Point, Hampstead Hill, and Fort McHenry at Baltimore. Most of the land War of 1812 had been fought along the Canadian border, around Niagara and Great Lakes, with some naval actions on the Lakes. The British were trying to end the American war and to harass and to divert US forces from the real British objective of attacking Plattsburgh, New York. The British hoped that having finally defeated Napoleon, they could end the American war and perhaps take back portions of New England and secure the Canadian border by the two-prong simultaneous action in the Chesapeake and taking Plattsburgh and defeat the American army at the same time. The Chesapeake raiding forces’ goals were to harass and panic the Americans, bottle up US Navy ships, and prevent privateers from escaping Baltimore to raid British shipping. Privateers were a real irritant and the British commanders wanted to make the “den of pirates” in Baltimore pay by taking McHenry and then Baltimore.
Chris Palmer is a practicing geologist and hydrogeologist consultant working mostly on applied groundwater contaminant problems, and some engineering geology. Most of his work is in the Bay Region and at times he has worked in other states over the last 34 years. He is a life-long amateur historian, mostly American history as well as world history and history of science.
Walter Day hosts “Civil War Journal: The Commanders”
Walter hosted a video presentation, Civil War Journal from the History Channel. The episode was titled “West Point Classmates: Civil War Enemies.” West Point was influential in both sides of the American Civil War, as graduates from the prestigious academy would become combatants in the fight between North and South, but the conflict could not destroy the bonds that originated in school. Hosted by Danny Glover and produced by The History Channel.