Walter Day on “The Battle of Perryville, The Invasion of Kentucky”
Why was Kentucky important in the Civil War?
- Control of strategic rivers (the Ohio in particular)
- Source of manpower for armies
Perryville was a relatively large battle for its time in the Civil War. Federals numbered about 55,000 men (22,000 engaged) under US General Don Carlos Buell. Confederates fielded some 17,000 men under CSA General Braxton Bragg.
We are fortunate to have an excellent video of this re-enacted battle*, with a Bonus Feature of Ed Bearss (pronounced “bars”), former Chief Historian of the National Park Service, describing this battle in great detail. If you’ve never seen Ed, come and enjoy this! He’s 94 now and only recently stopped leading battlefield tours. He’s a one of a kind historian whose passion has been to learn and tell anyone who’s interested incredible details of every battle fought in the US, as well as World War battles in which the US fought. Until very recently, he led many tours every year around those fields, and tour groups often had to jog to keep up with him.
*The video, “Battle of Perryville, the Invasion of Kentucky”, is provided by Wide Awake Films, LLC.
Walter Day is the Peninsula Civil War Roundtable Program Chairman. He has been a student of Civil War history since he was a teenager. He has visited most of the battlefields where his great grandfather’s unit, the Wilcox Brigade, 8th Alabama Infantry, CSA, fought. He is a retired Electrical Engineer and U.S. Naval officer. He has followed Ed Bearss around on tours of at least 8 Civil War battlefields, as well as the WWII Normandy battlefield.
Jack Mather on “Two British Generals and the Struggle for Control of North America”
One died and was successful, one failed and lived: James Wolfe, John Burgoyne, and the birth of the United States of America.
Howard Jones on “John Paul Jones, An American Hero”
Howard’s presentation was about the heroics of John Paul Jones who took the fight for American independence to the British Isles during the Revolutionary War. The epic battle between the American ship, Bonhomme Richard, and the British ship, Serapis, is legendary in naval history. His ultimate victory became the basis for the creation of a United States Naval Academy and a world-power American Navy.
Howard is a Marine Corps Veteran and a graduate of the University of Oregon. He is the immediate Past Commander General of the Military Order of the Stars and Bars. He is a former President of the Silicon Valley Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution. In addition, he served for 12 years as the Public Member of San Mateo County’s Local Agency Formation Committee, (or, LAFCo). Howard frequently gives presentations about American history to elementary grade school children and heritage groups such as the DAR, SAR and the UDC.
Ruthanne Lum McCunn on “Hidden History: Asians and Pacific Islanders in the U.S. Civil War”
In this vividly illustrated talk, Ruthanne Lum McCunn brings to life the amazing stories of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the Confederate and Union Navies and Armies, including that of Thomas Sylvanus (Ah Yee Way), the veteran whose life she reclaimed in Chinese Yankee. Discussing the subsequent battle of Chinese veterans for citizenship, she also explores an important and virtually unknown chapter in America’s rocky yet persistent struggle towards a more perfect Union.
Ruthanne Lum McCunn is a writer of Chinese and Scottish descent whose award-winning work has been translated into eleven languages, published in twenty-two countries, and adapted for the stage and film. She is most recently the author of Chinese Yankee, the true story of Thomas Sylvanus.
David Ainsworth on “SS Jeremiah O’Brien—Then and Now”
David’s talk covered the geopolitical basis for the Merchant Navy Liberty Ship building during WWII, its peculiar origins, its astonishing achievements, and the distinguished deployment of the ship itself in the Normandy invasion and elsewhere. Finally, he will cover its return to Normandy for the 50th anniversary of Operation Overlord in 1994 and the way in which the old ship—still operating—contributes to the community today.
David Ainsworth graduated from the University of Kansas and subsequently served as an infantry and embarkation officer in the U. S. Marine Corps. He attended Golden Gate Law school in San Francisco and practiced maritime law for thirty five years, first for Matson Lines and then American President Lines, where he served as Vice President and General Counsel. He has also been of counsel to a Washington DC law firm and presently consults for a San Francisco based shipping company. He has authored two novels, In Extremis and The Chasm, both political suspense stories (visit www.davidainsworthbooks.com for details) and is a member of the volunteer crew of the SS Jeremiah O’Brien (docent and Chairman of the Speaker’s Bureau.) He resides in the Napa Valley and enjoys making wine each fall for his house label, Admiralty Cellars.
Gene Paleno on “The Porter Conspiracy”
Gene has written a well-researched non-fiction historical novel about a relatively unknown Civil War Major General. Although innocent, Fitz John Porter was accused of losing a crucial battle and tried and convicted for cowardice and disobedience. This true story reveals the political false reasons for his court martial.
The tale depicts the Second Battle of Manassas in grim, eye-witness accounts of the fighting and dying during three days in August 1862. President Abraham Lincoln’s unhappy part in the tragedy is woven together with the events of that period like threads in a bloody tapestry to create the changes that shaped and changed America for all time.
Gene Paleno has farmed in Lake County for nearly fifty years and been writing even longer. During most of the good part of a century of life Gene has had more occupations and professions than you can count on both hands. He writes to entertain. Gene has written fifteen full-length novels and several collections of stories on a wide range of subjects, and a weekly newspaper column of the animals and people he’s met while he’s farmed…to novels about the Civil War, Lake County history, and Adult science fiction and fantasy.
Asked, “Why do you write?” his reply was, “Because I must. Writing is like breathing. It is the reason I wake each day glad to be alive.” “Besides,” he adds, “Seeing my stories in print and knowing people enjoy reading them is like having Apple Pie… and I love Apple Pie.”
Join us at Harry’s Hofbrau in Redwood City, 11:30 on Tuesday, January 17. See the MEETING INFO menu item for specific times and directions. This month’s topic is
Jim Rhetta on “Newspapers and Open Source Intelligence in the Civil War”
The Civil War is called the “first modern war” due to the first use of many new and modern technologies. Often overlooked is the fact that it was also the first war that newspapers covered capable of reporting events in less than 12 hours. With the majority of the population literate, this capability produced a new and significant impact on both war efforts that politicians on both sides had not experienced before and were unprepared for. In addition, newspapers frequently printed information of high and timely military value, an action that never occurred before, which enraged generals on both sides. This information is now known as Open Source Intelligence, can be of high value, and is commonly used by all participants in current global conflicts.
Walter Day presents “Civil War Combat, the Battle of Shiloh”
Walter presented a re-enactment of Shiloh, which was the first major battle of what was to be a long and bloody war. The reenactment video was supplied by The History Channel DVD entitled “Civil War Combat,
America’s Bloodiest Battles”.
Howard Jones on “Cumberland Island: the Story of Patriots, Strong Women, and Incredible Wealth”
Cumberland Island is located along the Georgia coast, just North of Jacksonville, Florida. The story begins with Revolutionary War hero Nathanael Green and his plans to harvest Live Oak trees on the island for shipbuilders. His widow, Caty Greene Miller would eventually operate a large plantation on the island for many years. Included in the presentation are bits of history about the Revolutionary War, The War of 1812 and the Civil War. The topic also touches on the lives of Eli Whitney, Light Horse Harry Lee, and his son Robert E. Lee.
After many years the island would be purchased by Thomas Carnegie, the brother of Andrew Carnegie. Thomas Carnegie’s wife, Lucy, would be the central figure during this period. She would live like royalty in the immense Dungeness mansion they had built on the island. But eventually, the money ran out and her heirs fought over the future of the island. Ultimately, her heirs signed an agreement with the National Parks Service that would allow them to sell their property and still live on the island for the rest of their lives.
Howard Jones is a long-time member of the Round Table as well as the immediate past Commander General of the Military Order of the Stars and Bars.
Howard Jones on “George Washington and the Battle of Yorktown”
Yorktown was the decisive battle of the war and it ultimately resulted in our independence.
The Revolutionary War was entering its fourth 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! The presentation will detail the story of Washington’s 400 mile march from New York to Yorktown. It will describe the 20 day siege that ended with Cornwallis’ surrender. And finally, it will tell the story of the 1783 Treaty of Paris that guaranteed America’s freedom and independence.
Howard Jones is the immediate past Commander General of the Military Order of the Stars and Bars. Several years ago he was asked make a presentation to a fifth grade class about the Revolutionary War. He dressed as a Continental Soldier for the presentation and the kids loved it. Since that time he has given the same presentation dozens of times to both elementary school children and adult heritage groups.