Meeting of October 8, 2015

Join us at 7:15 PM on Thursday, October 8, at Camden County College in the Connector Building, Room 101. This month’s topic is

Robert Hicks on “‘Straight and swift to my wounded I go’: The Reality of Civil War Medicine”

Bearing the bandages, water and sponge, Straight and swift to my wounded I go… To each and all one after another I draw near, not one do I miss.

– Walt Whitman, “The Wound Dresser”

Robert Hicks tintypeDespite recent commemorations of Civil War battles and leaders, the war’s medical dimension has received comparatively little public attention. America’s “good gray poet,” Walt Whitman, who volunteered in hospitals during the war, observed that “the real war will not get in the books.” For Whitman, the war’s true story was found in the hospital. The war affected every family: on average, one citizen in ten was killed, wounded, or became sick because of the war. The massive casualties made huge demands on medical practice, stimulating the reorganization of professional medicine. Faced with catastrophe, the federal medical establishment re-invented itself and created the modern hospital-centered mode of emergency care that remains the Civil War’s chief legacy to medicine. Focusing on specific wounded soldiers as lenses to understand the larger picture of the medical war, this presentation follows their experiences from the battlefield to distant general hospitals. The presentation previews the permanent exhibition of “the real war” at The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, Broken Bodies, Suffering Spirits: Injury, Death, and Healing in Civil War Philadelphia.

Robert Hicks with leechesRobert D. Hicks, PhD is the director of the Mütter Museum and Historical Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. He also directs the F. C. Wood Institute and holds the William Maul Measey Chair for the History of Medicine. Formerly, he supervised exhibits, collections, and educational outreach at the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia. He has worked with museum-based education and exhibits for over three decades, primarily as a consultant to historic sites and museums. This work led Robert to obtain a doctorate in maritime history from the University of Exeter, United Kingdom. Concurrent with the museum consulting, Robert worked for the Commonwealth of Virginia as a senior program manager in criminal justice, providing managerial assistance throughout the state. Earlier, he performed criminal justice work in Arizona, and obtained B.A. and M.A. degrees in anthropology and archaeology at the University of Arizona. He also served as a naval officer with the U.S. Naval Security Group. His most recent book is Voyage to Jamestown: Practical Navigation in the Age of Discovery (U.S. Naval Institute Press, 2011).

October 2015 Newsletter

Meeting of November 11, 2015

Join us at 7:15 PM on Wednesday, November 11, at Camden County College in the Connector Building, Room 101. (Note the change to Wednesday in November instead of Thursday, to accommodate the college’s schedule.) This month’s topic is

Paula Gidjunis on “A Country Worth Fighting For: The History of the 128th PA”

Paula GidjunisThe 128th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry men came from the counties of Bucks, Berks, and Lehigh. These volunteers enlisted in August 1862 for nine months in response to the fear of invasion of the North by the Confederate Army. Entering the battle of Antietam in Maryland after one month’s service, they had very little military training and paid with heavy casualties. By the battle of Chancellorsville in May 1863 they were fully trained soldiers and possibly were the catalyst in the friendly fire shooting of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson. As they became hardened veterans, their enlistment expired.

Paula Gidjunis is a retired middle school Social Studies teacher and currently works as a bookkeeper for JPG Photography and teaches history at Manor College. She serves on the board of the Delaware Valley CWRT and chairs their Preservation Committee. She also serves on the board of the Historical Society of Montgomery County. She has a B.A. in History/Education, a certificate in Historical Preservation, an M.B.A., and recently earned her M.A. in History from LaSalle University.

Meeting of December 10, 2015

Join us at 7:15 PM on Thursday, December 10, at Camden County College in the Connector Building, Room 101. This month’s topic is

Randy Drais on “Rock Carvings at Gettysburg”

Randy DraisOne of the more unusual facets of the Gettysburg battlefield is the existence of many rock carvings. Made by soldiers during the battle or by veterans upon their return or by civilians or tourists, rock carvings can be found on many areas of the 6,000 or so acres that encompass the Gettysburg National Military Park.

Looking for rock carvings is an extremely interesting and unusual way to explore the battlefield, but it is also an extremely interesting and unusual way to discover some of the battlefield history that is often overlooked or quickly forgotten, especially of the personal and often tragic stories of soldiers, both Union and Confederate, who left their mark, both figuratively and literally, on this hallowed ground.

Join Randy Drais, amateur Civil War historian and Battle of Gettysburg buff, for a look at many of the rock carvings on the Gettysburg battlefield and the stories behind them.

Born and raised in York, Pennsylvania, Randy Drais developed a keen interest in the Battle of Gettysburg and the Gettysburg Campaign immediately after a 5th grade field trip to that famous Civil War battlefield. A lifelong passion to learn more resulted in his creation in March 2008 of a website,, for individuals who wish to learn and do more than the average visitor to the battlefield. A companion website,, Facebook page, and a quarterly newsletter soon followed.

A graduate of York College of Pennsylvania with a B.A. in International Studies, Randy has worked in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, the Pennsylvania Department of State, and the Pennsylvania Senate. Married with two daughters, Randy recently retired on January 1, 2015, and will be able to devote even more time to his main passion, learning even more about the Battle of Gettysburg and sharing that information with others.

Meeting of January 14, 2016

Join us at 7:15 PM on Thursday, January 14, at Camden County College in the Connector Building, Room 101. This month’s topic is

Roundtable discussion night: “Your Family Military History”

– Do you have a Civil War ancestor?
– Do you have a family member with other service?
– Do you have military experience?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions…

Uncle Sam

… to share your story at our January Roundtable meeting.

Volunteer Now

Plan to use about 10 minutes, and just let Herb, Harry, or Dave know in advance!

Camden C.C. Course: The Campaign and Battle of Gettysburg

Old Baldy’s Herb Kaufman will be teaching a course at Camden County College this fall:

The Campaign and Battle of Gettysburg

Camden County College
Rohrer Center, RT. 70 & Springdale Rd., Cherry Hill, NJ
September 17 through October 15, 2015 (Thursdays, 4:00 – 6:30)

To Register: (856-227-7200, ext. 4333)

Thure de Thulstrup illustration (Wikipedia)

Thure de Thulstrup illustration (Wikipedia)

This is a new course designed to explore the Campaign and Battle of Gettysburg, and the creation of the National Battlefield Park. The course will focus on the correspondence, communication, orders, and memoirs of the citizens, soldiers, and politicians of the era. As well as the three days of the Battle of Gettysburg, learn about the Southern viewpoint of the campaign, the response in the North, the biographies and actions of the officers on both sides, controversies of the battle, critical decisions, and lesser known actions that affected the outcome of the battle, cavalry actions and controversies, and the history of the creation of the National Battlefield Park.

This course explores contemporary accounts as well as recent historic analyses of aspects of the battle.

Meeting of September 10, 2015

John Zinn on “New Jersey Base Ball during the Civil War Era”

John ZinnJohn traced the game’s origins in New Jersey and Philadelphia and pointed out prominent early teams and players. He also touched on the impact of the war on the game’s development in New Jersey and how the state’s soldiers brought the game to the battlefront. There was also a description of how the early game differed from today’s game, especially regarding rules and equipment.

John Zinn is an independent historian with special interest in the history of baseball as well as the Civil War. He is the chairman of the board of the New Jersey Historical Society and was the chair of New Jersey’s Committee on the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War. John is the author of three books including two about the Brooklyn Dodgers as well as numerous essays and articles. He is currently working on a biography of Charles Ebbets, longtime owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers. John also writes a blog on base ball history entitled “A Manly Pastime.” He holds BA and MBA degrees from Rutgers University and is a Vietnam veteran. John is the score keeper for the Flemington Neshanock vintage base ball team. John lives in Verona, N.J. with his wife Carol.

September 2015 Newsletter

Meeting of August 13, 2015

Herb Kaufman on “‘Frankly my dear:’ Hollywood and the Civil War”

Poster_-_Gone_With_the_WindClark Gable, John Wayne, Errol Flynn, Matthew Broderick, Morgan Freeman, Olivia de Havilland, and Sally Field are but a few of the countless notable Hollywood stars who appeared in motion pictures that have the Civil War as their narrative. Some of the films were frivolous (only Hollywood could make a Civil War comedy); others were based on actual experiences and events; many were based on historical novels; and all are designed to entertain.

While no Civil War film captures the breadth and depth of the full experience of the war, there are some notable Civil War films that teach about the war and others are noteworthy for absurdity, and simply for sugar-coating reality.

This program presented many of the notable, interesting and more remarkable films that capture different perspectives about the Civil War. It examined the writers, novels, and the films, many of which have become iconic depictions of this historic era.

August 2015 Newsletter

Meeting of July 9, 2015

John Jorgensen on “The Southern War Against the Confederacy: Unionism in the Seceding States”

John JorgensenThe American Civil War is remembered primarily as a contest between North and South; however, the reality of wartime identity politics was far more complex than this regional narrative admits. As many as one Southern soldier in ten served in the “Northern” army (and this number excludes as many as two hundred thousand ex-slaves who swelled the Federal ranks!). The Union Navy’s highest ranking officer was a Southerner. Four Confederate states (not counting West Virginia) elected pro-Union governors during the conflict, and on the last day of the war, the President of the United States was a man who called a Confederate city home.

John examined the diversity of Southern opinion on the issues that lay at the heart of the war. He took a broad look at some of the many ways in which Unionists in the South contributed to the Federal war effort, politically and militarily. And he began to answer the question, How did the war come to be remembered as North versus South in spite of all this?

The son of a noted Gettysburg scholar, John Jorgensen is a history teacher from Woodbridge, NJ. He holds a BA in Political Science from Fairfield University and a Masters in Social Studies Education from Rutgers University. In one way or another, the American Civil War has been a lifelong passion for him.

July 2015 Newsletter

Upcoming Local Civil War Events, Summer 2015

Saturday and Sunday June 27-28, 10am-5pm

Civil War at Hagley weekend: Bruce Tucker and other re-enactors from the USS Lehigh Crew Naval Reenacting Group will provide living history demonstrations and a variety of activities. Discover what life aboard a Union vessel would have been like. Wilmington, DE
$14.00 adults, $10.00 seniors and students, $5.00 children 6-14

Wednesday July 1, 7pm

Jim Sontagata, secretary, CW Forum of Metropolitan NY, “The Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War”. Robert E. Lee CWRT at Woodbridge Main Public Library at G. Frederick Plaza, Woodbridge.

July 1, 7pm

Randy Drais, “Exploring the Gettysburg Battlefield: Lesser Known Monuments, Markers, and Stories”. Bucks County CWRT, Doylestown Brough Hall, 57 W. Court Street, Doylestown.

Friday July 3, 2pm

Free lawn concert at Washington’s Headquarters, Morristown. Bring lawn chairs and blankets. Music by “The Fife and Drums of the Old Barracks”.

NJ National Guard Museum is open for the summer. The museum tells the history of NJ through the eyes of the military, as well as, an important state and national venue, where governors enjoyed their summers and entertained Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, and Amelia Earhart, among others. The display features the only CW cannon mounted on a carriage in any NJ museum, as well as, photographs, uniforms, weapons, equipment, and other artifacts from the 18th through the 21st centuries illustrating the story of NJ’s citizen soldiers from Colonial days to the present, a special NJ at D-Day exhibit and an exterior collection of armored vehicles and aircraft. Located in the historic National Guard Training Center at Camp Drive, Sea Girt Avenue, Sea Girt, NJ