Meeting of April 17, 2012

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.

Meeting on March 20, 2012

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

Meeting of January 17, 2012

Dana Lombardy on “Stalingrad: Hitler’s Lost Opportunity, 1942”

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Dana Lombardy

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.

UCLA Lecture Series

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

Meeting of December 20, 2011

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.

Meeting of October 18, 2011

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.

Meeting of September 20, 2011

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.