Past Meetings

Date Speaker Topic
December 18, 2012 Bob Hubbs Holly Springs—Grant's Worst Nightmare?
November 20, 2012 Dr. Bob Asnard CSS Shenandoah
October 16, 2012 Jack Mather The Lees
September 18, 2012 Charlie Sweeney Thugee: The Murder Cult
August 21, 2012 Libra Hilde Confederate Politics
June 19, 2012 Hal Jespersen The Seven Days Battles
May 15, 2012 Howard Jones George Washington and the Battle of Yorktown
April 17, 2012 Walter Day The Red River Fiasco
March 20, 2012 Lt. Col. John Stevens The 1st Marine Brigade, The Fire Brigade, in the Pusan Perimeter
February 21, 2012 Charlie Sweeney Some Aspects of Slavery
January 17, 2012 Dana Lombardy Stalingrad: Hitler's Lost Opportunity 1942
December 20, 2011 René Accornero Joshua Chamberlain
November 15, 2011 Bob Asnard April, 1865. The Month that Saved America
October 18, 2011 Jack Mather What Did You Do During the War, Daddy?
September 20, 2011 Stephen Aguirre 5th New York Volunteer Infantry, Duryée's Zouaves
August 16, 2011 Francis Hamit The Queen of Washington
July 19, 2011 Rene Accornero Horses in the Civil War
June 21, 2011 Ray Cosyn The Lincoln Funeral Train
May 24, 2011 Dana Lombardy Secret Turning Points of the American Civil War
April 19, 2011 Bob Hildenbrand From Combat to Slave Labor: The WWII Berga Affair
March 15, 2011 Hal Jespersen William S. Rosecrans
February 15, 2011 Bob Hubbs How Lincoln Won the War Without the Help of His Generals
January 18, 2011 Bob Asnard Andersonvilles of the North
December 21, 2010 Art Buckley Mary Todd Lincoln
November 16, 2010 Walter Day The 8th Alabama Infantry, Wilcox's Brigade
October 19, 2010 Jack Mather Bell Ringers and Fire Eaters — Southern Rhetoric on the Road to War
September 21, 2010 Don Hayden The Amazing MacArthurs
August 17, 2010 Dr. Robert Asnard Sherman's Carolinas Campaign
July 20, 2010 Jeffrey Vaillant Chasing Your Civil War Ancestor
June 15, 2010 Tom Christianson John T. Wilder and the Battle of Chickamauga
May 18, 2010 Helen Trimpi Crimson Confederates: Harvard Men Who Fought for the South
April 20, 2010 Jack Leathers Gen. Ambrose Powell Hill: Fearless Rebel Firebrand
March 16, 2010 John Fitzpatrick "There Is No Fail Here." Why Did President Lincoln Come to Gettysburg on November 18 and 19, 1863?
February 16, 2010 Guy Washington Slavery in California: a New Battleground in the National Conflict
January 19, 2010 Howard Jones The Last Days of Robert E. Lee

Meeting of December 18, 2012

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.

Meeting of November 20, 2012

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.

Meeting of October 16, 2012

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.

Meeting of September 18, 2012

Charlie Sweeney 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.

Meeting of August 21, 2012

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.

Meeting of June 19, 2012


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, and his Civil War travelogues at

Meeting of May 15, 2012

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.

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 of March 20, 2012

Lt. Col. John Stevens on "The 1st Marine Brigade, The Fire Brigade, in the Pusan Perimeter"

Summary provided by Charlie Sweeney: 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.

The US military had been effectively shut down in the summer of 1945. Housekeeping and occupation duties were the only challenges. The summer of 1950s saw a great haste to mobilize all of our forces: Army, Marines, Air Force, Navy, and Coast Guard. Reserves were called up.

Initially, inexperienced and undersupported US forces were also pushed back to the South along with our Korean allies. A corner of the peninsula at the southeast became a bastion around the port of Pusan. This was the historic resistance point and a base for the successful fight back.

The conditions under which the war was fought were very bad. The weather was of extreme cold in the winter and extreme heat in the summer. Disease, especially malaria, was quite bad.

Colonel Stevens was there and helped lead the victorious way back. He was awarded two Bronze Stars with V for Valor.

John Stevens was born in April 1921 in Butte, Montana. He enlisted in the Marine Corp in 1939 and had a 23-year career, serving in WW2 and the Korean War, (all told a total of 6 campaigns). He obtained a BS degree at the University of Maryland.

After boot camp and field-telephone training, he was assigned to the 1st Defense Battalion which was sent to Pearl Harbor in February 1941. From there, Sgt Stevens was sent to Midway, and then back to Pearl Harbor, where he was on December 7, 1941 when it was bombed. (John is a Pearl Harbor Survivor.) Master Technical Sgt Stevens was field commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in August 1942 on Palmyra and then sent back to Midway.

After returning to the U.S. in July 1943 for additional training, in 1944 he was assigned to the 1st Marine Division as XO of the 1st Signal Company, on Pavuvu Island. He participated in the Battle of Okinawa, including the assault and subsequent occupation. He later served as the Regimental Communications officer of the 7th Marines in North China, returning to the U.S. in June 1946.

After a tour as the base Communications officer at the Recruit Depot in San Diego and various schools, Capt Stevens joined the 1st Marine Division. As the CO of A Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines in 1949, he took that unit to Korea in July 1950. While in Korea, Capt Stevens participated in the Pusan Perimeter campaign; the Inchon landing and capture of Seoul; the Wonsan Landing; and the Chosin Reservoir Campaign.

Returning to the United States in November 1950, LtCol Stevens was assigned to various tours, including CO of the Marine Barracks Naval Supply Center in Oakland; assistant G3 of Parris Island Recruit Training Depot; Sr Instructor at the Weapons Training Group, Basic School in Quantico; student at the Amphibious Warfare School; CO of Headquarters Battalion, Basic School, and a 2-year cross-training tour with the 2nd Marine Air Wing.

His final duty station was at Kaneohe, Hawaii. In July 1959, he was the ground G-3 of the 1st Marine Brigade, and later served as XO of the 4th Marine Regiment. From July 1961 until retirement in 1962, John was the Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion 4th Marine Regiment. His combat awards include 2 Bronze Stars with Combat Vs and 2 Presidential Unit Citations, among many others.

In 1962, he joined IBM where he served in various systems engineering, marketing, and management positions. He left IBM in 1969 to become an entrepreneur. First he founded a software consulting company specializing in the insurance industry, American Information Development (or A.I.D). He then formed a joint venture, called Insurnet, with A.I.D, Quotron Systems, and the Continental Insurance Corporation to market turnkey computer systems to the independent insurance agencies.

In 1983, He left the active management of Insurnet to co-found a new telecommunications management company, called Centex Telemanagement. In 1985, John Stevens turned the active management of the company over to a talented man, who took the company to a successful IPO in 1987. This company was used as a case study both at Harvard and Stanford business Schools.

In 1986, he founded Stellar Net, Inc., where he served as the Chairman until 2001. This pioneering company provided an electronic data interface, using the Internet, between medical service providers and Worker's Compensation insurance claims payors. He was a co-recipient of a U.S. patent for the business system developed for this business.

John has found the time to contribute as an officer or board member for many community and business organizations, including:

John is married to Joanne (Jody) Stevens, and he has four children, 7 grand children and 10 great grand children.

And finally, last but not least, John is a 13-year colon cancer survivor.

Meeting of February 21, 2012

Charlie Sweeney on "Some Aspects of Slavery"

Charlie covered slavery in ancient history, slavery in recent history, and slavery today.

Meeting of January 17, 2012


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.

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 November 15, 2011

Bob Asnard on "April, 1865. The Month that Saved America"

Description to be provided.

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 Sweeney.

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.

Meeting of August 16, 2011

Francis Hamit on "The Queen of Washington"

Francis is the author of the novel The Shenandoah Spy and talked about his follow-on work about renowned Confederate spy Rose Greenhow, The Queen of Washington. The following description was provided by Francis:

I am not a pure historian, but rather a creator of historical fiction focused on the Confederate Secret Service and Navy (and they were parts of a whole). My first book, published in 2008, was The Shenandoah Spy. It was about the first year of Confederate Army spy and scout Belle Boyd's career. Belle used a lot of classic intelligence techniques in her espionage, including seduction of enemy officers. The second book in the series is The Queen of Washington and is about Washington society grande dame Rose Greenhow, who also used her "feminine wiles" to gather critical intelligence for the Confederate government.

The new book starts in 1853 in Mexico City and San Francisco with the Limantour Claims. The thesis is that Rose and her husband were already working as secret agents for the French and British governments at a time when those governments were actively trying to split the United States and re-establish dominion over the North American continent. Robert Greenhow had been the number three man in the State Department and the author of well-regarded history of Oregon and California, but had been eclipsed by more colorful actors such as John C. Fremont and Nicholas Trist. He and Rose were proteges of politicos such as John Calhoun and James Buchanan but fell into disfavor for reasons that have never been explained. I think to understand the Civil War we have to look at what happened leading up to it. So I have been doing a lot of reading about the Ante-Bellum period.

I am working on this right now and hope to have it done by then. Not sure if we will have actual books on hand at that point, but certainly we'll be taking pre-orders (at a discount of course). Also showing up in the story line is a young attorney and political operative from New Orleans named Judah P. Benjamin, who was, indeed, employed by the same Lands Commission as Robert Greenhow. All of this is highly speculative but supported by known facts.

Who am I and how did I come to write these books? I was in Military Intelligence during the Vietnam War, serving there and in Germany and afterwards attended the Iowa Writers Workshop where I received a MFA in Fiction. After that I was employed by the Encyclopaedia Britannica during the revisions to the 15th Edition and wrote a number of articles about intelligence topics—including the short biography of Belle Boyd. I always thought that Belle's story was a terrific one that should be told and that led me to consider the other women who were also secret agents for the South. Of course espionage is both a political act and a crime, so you also have to examine the social context of these events and look beyond the easy stories such as the big battles. The research is ongoing because there will be at least five books in this series. I keep finding surprising bits of narrative that have not been much explored.

Meeting of July 19, 2011


Rene Accornero, DVM, on "Horses in the Civil War"

Rene's discussion on horses in the Civil War included man's relationship to the horse and why over a million horses and mules died in the war. The ancestral horse was discussed as well as purchasing horses, care and diseases of horses, and horses in battles such as in the Peach Orchard and the Bliss farm in the Battle of Gettysburg. Pictured on the right are some of the eighty-eight horses of Capt. Bigelow's battery killed at the Trostle farm. Famous horses of generals were mentioned and the fact that Gen. Grant permitted the Confederates to keep their horses after the surrender at Appomattox.

Meeting of June 21, 2011

Ray Cosyn on the "The Lincoln Funeral Train"

In April 1865 two major events occurred in the United States that continue to resonate with us today. One was the ending of the Civil War, the other the assassination of our president, Abraham Lincoln. Within one week of Lee's surrender to Grant, our president was gunned down in Washington, setting off an event that reached millions of Americans in that time of great stress. That event was the Lincoln Funeral Train. The train was intended to allow Lincoln's casket to be seen by as many as possible in the time available. The train followed a route that brought it to the major population centers of the East. It allowed thousand of the townspeople, who waited through the night in the rain, to catch a glance at the moving funeral train. Ray Cosyn, a local historian, gave us insight into the event and the impact that it had on the populace.

Charlie Sweeney provided the following description of Ray's talk:

As we know, Lincoln was murdered almost immediately after Lee's surrender at Appomattox. Almost immediately Lincoln became a sainted martyr. The many loud voices of criticism and vitriol were silenced instanter.

Despite other recommendations, Mary Lincoln insisted upon burial in Springfield, Illinois. The defacto U.S. leader, Secretary Stanton, organized a complex series of train trips to take the president, as well as his son Willie, who died a couple of years earlier, and the First Family to Illinois. There were many stops where the bier was taken to public viewing in cities along the way.

Several railroads had to be scheduled and their equipment readied. Local dignitaries got on the train as each state line was crossed. The objective was to permit as many Americans to see the president as possible. The route included Baltimore, Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Jersey City, New York, Albany, Buffalo, Cleveland, Columbus (OH), Indianapolis, Chicago, and Springfield. The trains all traveled slowly, at night, and even in the rain, the trackside was crowded by respectful people.

Frederick Douglass, Lincoln's loyal friend, was on the trip—all the way.

Meeting of May 24, 2011

Dana Lombardy

Dana Lombardy on "Secret Turning Points of the American Civil War"

Dana Lombardy, designer and editor of the battlefield guidebook The First Battle of Bull Run: Campaign of First Manassas, presented one his popular series of "secret" turning points lectures with a look at the decisions (and non-decisions) that have been overlooked or downplayed in most books written about America's Civil War. What nearly happened in 1862 that could have crippled or stopped President Lincoln's war plans? What act of disobedience enabled the Union army to stay and fight at Gettysburg after its initial defeat on July 1? And how did the organization of the Confederate vs. Union artillery affect the outcome of the Battle of Gettysburg?

Dana Lombardy was an Associate Online Editor for Weider History Group web sites (WHG publishes Civil War Times and America's Civil War magazines). Dana is best known for his nearly twenty television appearances, including multiple episodes of The History Channel's "Tales of the Gun" series. He has contributed as an editor, cartographer, graphic artist and designer on many books, games and magazines, and was Publisher of Napoleon Journal magazine from 1996-2000.

Meeting of April 19, 2011

Bob Hildenbrand on "From Combat to Slave Labor: The WWII Berga Affair"

Charlie Sweeney provided the following description of Bob's talk:

The Germans selected American POWs who were Jewish and sent a group of them to a construction site. These U.S. 100th Infantry Division soldiers were to dig pits in the cliffs to enable synthetic fuel facilities to be built. Berga is in eastern Germany south of Leipzig. The men were subjected to very hard labor and very short rations. Bob lost half his weight.

There were already Jewish prisoners at the site when the POWs arrived. The 350 GIs were to dig holes and dump the dirt into the nearby river. The project was closed down in March of 1945. The POWs were then marched 100 miles west until they were liberated on 23 April by the U.S. 11th Armored Division.

Of the 350 Battle of the Bulge POWs, 75 died before the war's end. One half just gave up, stopped socializing and died. Marasmus.

Bob survived the war, went on to earn a PhD in Physical Chemistry at the University of California Berkeley. He put his experiences behind him until he got a telephone call from a researcher. He was asked, "What did he think of the German treatment of Jewish POWs?" Bob did not realize if there were Jews or not among the soldiers.

Two years later Bob received a check for $23,000 payment from the German Government for forced labor. A book, "Soldiers and Slaves" by Roger Cohen, details the story.

After the war, on the GI Bill, Bob attended Johns Hopkins University and then the University of California at Berkeley, culminating in a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry. For the last 40 years, Bob has been with the Physical Sciences Division of SRI in Menlo Park.

Meeting of March 15, 2011


Hal Jespersen on "William S. Rosecrans"

Hal Jespersen presented the life of one of his favorite Civil War generals, William S. Rosecrans, and asked the question: "How did a man of so many accomplishments fall from the heights of strategic success into relative obscurity?" Hal's answer: an acerbic tongue that made enemies of at least two powerful men—Ulysses S. Grant and Edwin M. Stanton—and one poorly worded order at the battle of Chickamauga. Hal covered Old Rosy's entire life, but concentrated on his Civil War campaigns, including Iuka/Corinth, Stones River, Tullahoma, and Chickamauga.

Hal's slides are available for downloading in PowerPoint (29MB) or Acrobat/PDF (11MB) format.

Charlie Sweeney provided the following notes about the presentation:

Rosecrans, a convert to Roman Catholicism, converted his brother; the latter became the Bishop of the Columbus (OH) Diocese. The general, a man of humble Ohio origins, got into West Point where he graduated in 1842 as 5th in a class of 55. His quick mind helped him to move up in the Army but he had an acerbic tongue which he used freely, often to his superiors.

Rosecrans resigned from the Army in 1854 and went into business. When war began, he volunteered to serve under McClellan. He became the colonel of the 23rd Ohio, but almost simultaneously a brigade commander as a Brigadier General for service in West Virginia. When McClellan went to Washington, Rosecrans was elevated to command the troops. He operated in the area for some time with much success. He even defeated Robert E. Lee. He was moved to the west early in 1862 as a Major General of Volunteers. After action at Corinth, Rosecrans succeeded Pope as the latter was transferred to Virginia. He was now in command of The Army of the Mississippi with which he fought successful battles at Iuka and Corinth. He soon was the commander of the newly named Army of the Cumberland. From 12 December 1862 to 3 January 1863 he fought Braxton Bragg in a bloody but indecisive campaign at Murfreesboro (the Battle of Stones River). In June Rosecrans attacked skillfully, forcing Bragg into Chattanooga. Rosecrans was then defeated at Chickamauga and was soon besieged in Chattanooga. He was then relieved. He served well in Missouri becoming a Brevet Major General. He left the Army and had a mixed career of diplomatic appointments and several businesses in California (where he died in 1898). Rosecrans, a gifted and enthusiastic leader was undone by his hot tongue and a badly worded order at Chickamauga, a major defeat.

Meeting of February 15, 2011

men in tent

Bob Hubbs on "How Lincoln Won the War Without the Help of His Generals"

Bob's presentation focused on Lincoln's relationship with his generals in high command during the Civil War. Among the major points of Bob's presentation were:

Meeting of January 18, 2011

Bob Asnard on "Andersonvilles of the North"

The Andersonvilles of the North seldom get much attention. The camps were of increasing importance as the war ran on because the North ended prisoner exchanges as part of a policy to weaken the South. Thus, when camps were bad and unhealthy, Rebel prisoners were exposed to steady, unceasing danger.

Meeting of December 21, 2010

Art Mary
Art Buckley Mary Todd Lincoln

Art Buckley on "Mary Todd Lincoln"

Art presented the life of Mary Todd Lincoln, the first woman designated as the First Lady of the United States, and certainly the most controversial. Meeting description provided by Charlie Sweeney:

The story of the upper class lady married to an uncultured country man is worthy of Victorian fiction but it was the truth of our sixteenth chief magistrate's emergence from the boondocks to the top circles in the land.

Mary was born to affluence, a child of a large socially prominent family in Kentucky. She was a high-spirited, well-educated and quick-witted lady of short height and plump cheeks. She moved in with her Springfield (IL) relatives where she met Mr. Lincoln. The Springfield kin, the area's social leaders, did not approve of the bumpkin-lawyer as a suitor. However, by this time the unpolished Lincoln was a highly successful lawyer whose income matched that of the state governor.

The on-again, off-again courtship finally was consummated on November 4, 1842. She was very succesfull in teaching her husband the many social graces that he so badly needed in his upward climb.

They shared a deep love. They had four children, all boys and only the oldest survived into adulthood.

Her husband's absences (both as a lawyer and as president) were very difficult for Mary. The deaths of young children, first Eddie and then Willie, were unhinging. Her excesses included rash, large purchases of expensive clothing. The murder of her beloved right in front of her was a huge catastrophe from which she never recovered.

Her relationship with Robert, the oldest and surviving son, had never been close. Her irrational days in the 1870's led to Robert having her committed to asylum care. After a few years, an activist female lawyer (among the first) had her freed. Mary lived out her lonely days in seclusion.

Meeting of November 16, 2010

Walter Day

Walter Day on "The 8th Alabama Infantry, Wilcox's Brigade"

Meeting description provided by Charlie Sweeney:

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

Jack Mather on "Bell Ringers and Fire Eaters — Southern Rhetoric on the Road to War"

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 Sweeney:

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."

The Southern firebrands were ignited to retaliate. Three days later, a representative from South Carolina (and distant cousin of Sen. Butler) attacked Sumner as he sat defensiveless in the Senate. He was badly beaten by the Southern cudgel to the point of great disability for the next three years, much to the acclaim of the Southern press and Northern damnation.

And so it went. A Southern (today we say, "activist") sociopath named Wigfall (TX) entered the stage ... assaulting or threatening Northern adherents. His c.v. included an 1840 duel with Preston Brookes, one fistfight, etc. Representative Keitt (S.C.) provided counsel on dueling; permissible yea or nay.

Each important event of the epoch, Missouri, compromise, the Dred Scott Decision, John Brown's Raid, Kansas-Nebraska Act, all gave rise to further agitation and thoughts of secession. Lincoln's election was the ultimate in fueling Southern fears.

Winston Groom wrote that the Southern press "painted a sensational picture of Lincoln in words and cartoons as an arch-abolitionist—a kind of antichrist who would turn the slaves loose to rape, murder and pillage."

Meeting of September 21, 2010

Don Hayden on "The Amazing MacArthurs"

(Meeting description provided by Charlie Sweeney.) 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).

Arthur MacArthur

In 1898, he became a brigadier general in the Philippine Island part of the Spanish American War. Again he was cited for gallantry and conspicuous service and was advanced to Major General. He led the main effort against the insurgents. He became the corps commander and succeeded to the job of Military Governor. As Governor, he helped lay the foundations of a new, free and independent nation. He introduced the writ of habeas corpus, revisions of Spanish law, and a free public school system.

In 1906 he became the ranking U.S. Army officer as a lieutenant general. He retired in 1909 and died in Milwaukee in 1912.

General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, son of General Arthur MacArthur, was born at Little Rock Barracks, Arkansas, in 1880. He graduated first in his class at West Point in 1903. He went to the Philippines and then Korea, studying the Far East. He took part in the Vera Cruz Expedition of 1914. The First World War service found him as the commanding general in France of the 42nd Rainbow Division, the first of his decorated service. From 1919-1922, he was superintendent of West Point. From 1928 to 1930, he was the C.O. of the Department of the Philippines. He was elevated to Chief of Staff of the Army (1930-1935). In 1935 he went back to the Philippines as military advisor until army retirement in 1937. As field marshal (1936), he led the Commonwealth army.

Douglas MacArthur

World War II events led to the U.S. Army recalling MacArthur on July 26, 1941 to duty as Commander of U.S. and Commonwealth Troops. Japan attacked the Philippines in December. The Japanese defeated the U.S. in April and May. President Roosevelt ordered MacArthur to go to Australia just prior to the surrender of Bataan and to command the Allied war efforts. The slow way back started in late 1942 with an offensive in New Guinea. The war continued with the 1944 return to the liberation of the Philippines. As a five-star general, he received the enemy surrender in 1945 and then became the Supreme Commander of Allied Powers in charge of occupying Japan.

As the Supremo, MacArthur showed his fabulous knowledge of legal systems and constitutional needs in reorganizing Japanese Government. (Your Secretary in 1985, when visiting Japan, was told by the tour guide in Tokyo that General MacArthur had given Japan the best government, the most fair government, that it had ever had.)

The Communist attack on South Korea in June of 1959 found need again for MacArthur. As C.O. of the U.N. troops, he led them from initial defeat to a rout of the North Koreans following the fabulous Inchon Landing. MacArthur pushed north to near China. Chinese invasion immediately followed. President Truman relieved MacArthur in 1951 in an effort to contain the hostilities. MacArthur died in 1964.


Thank you, Dr. Hayden. Your presentation was much appreciated.

Meeting of August 17, 2010

Dr. Robert Asnard

Dr. Robert Asnard on "Sherman's Carolinas Campaign"

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

Union colonel

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

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.