Meeting of August 14, 2014

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

Round Table Members’ Favorite Book(s) Night

Was there a particular book related to the Civil War that first grabbed your attention and led you to a lifelong interest in this history? What Civil War book or books stand out in your memory and why? Are you reading something right now that you have found riveting and would recommend?

Come join the Old Baldy Civil War Round Table at our next meeting on Thursday, August 14, when we will informally discuss books that have impacted us as avid Civil War enthusiasts. You are encouraged to bring a copy of any book that you wish to discuss so that we may hand them around for folks to read the book jacket or sample a few pages. It will be a fun and informative evening!

Meeting of September 11, 2014

Join us at 7:15 PM on Thursday, September 11, at Camden County College in the Connector Building, Room 101. This month’s topic is

Steve Wright on “The Custer Myth”

The first full-length biography of George Armstrong Custer appeared within months after his death – just about the same time that a dramatic portrayal of his killing was created for Buffalo Bill Cody’s traveling Wild West Show. Since that day in June 1876 when George Armstrong Custer lost his life on the rolling hills above the Little Big Horn River, his life and death have been steeped in mystery and legend. People who have never read a word about Custer have strong opinions about what kind of person he was and how he lived his life. With “The Custer Myth” Steven Wright will explore how the legend came to be and how Custer’s life differed from and was similar to the legend.

Steven J. Wright first developed an interest in the Lincoln assassination and Civil War by perusing his father’s personal library as a young boy. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree from St. John’s University (Collegeville, MN) and a Master of Arts degree in American History and American Indian Studies from the University of Minnesota-Duluth. In addition, he holds a Master of Library and Information Science degree from Drexel University. The former Curator of Collections of the late Civil War Library and Museum, he has written two books, including a small volume on the Irish Brigade, contributed to seven other volumes, and published more than 300 articles or book reviews in such publications as Blue and Gray, America’s Civil War, Civil War News, Civil War Times, The Courier, The Surratt Courier, the Lincoln Herald, and the Wild West History Association Journal. He is a member of the faculty of the Civil War Institute of Manor College, in Jenkintown, PA. In addition he is a member of a number of historical societies and Civil War Round Tables, including being Past President of Old Baldy Civil War Round Table and is a Life Member of the Surratt Society. Wright currently works as a Librarian with the Free Library of Philadelphia. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife, Irene, who is a Children’s Librarian with the Free Library of Philadelphia.

Meeting of October 9, 2014

Join us at 7:15 PM on Thursday, October 9, at Camden County College in the Connector Building, Room 101. This month’s topic is

Joseph G. Bilby on “Freedom to All: New Jersey’s African-American Civil War Soldiers”

Freedom_cover Joseph G. Bilby will discuss the findings of his new book, which details the story of the state’s black soldiers in the Civil War, and also addresses African-American military service in New Jersey before and after the conflict, from Revolutionary War militiamen to the state’s segregated First Separate Militia Battalion of the 1930s and the post-World War II New Jersey National Guard, which, in 1948, led the nation in integrating its military force

Most Civil War African-American New Jersey soldiers served in the regiments of the United States Colored Troops organized at Camp William Penn outside Philadelphia. Perhaps the most famous of these regiments was the 22nd United States Colored Infantry, a unit that broke the Confederate line at Petersburg in June, 1864, fought through the siege of Petersburg, was one of the first Union units to enter Richmond, marched in President Lincoln’s funeral parade in Washington, participated in the hunt for John Wilkes Booth and served on occupation and border guard duty in Texas before returning home for discharge in the fall of 1865. Bilby will relate the histories of the Camp William Penn regiments with large numbers of Jerseymen in their ranks, as well as the stories of individual members of those units.

JoeBilbyJoseph G. Bilby received his BA and MA degrees in history from Seton Hall University and served as a lieutenant in the First Infantry Division in Vietnam in 1966-1967. Mr. Bilby is Assistant Curator of the New Jersey National Guard and Militia Museum in Sea Girt, a member of and publications editor for the New Jersey Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee, a columnist for The Civil War News and a free lance writer, historian and historical consultant. He is the author, editor or co-author of over 400 articles and nineteen books on New Jersey, the Civil War, and firearms history, including Freedom To All, the story of New Jersey’s African American Civil War Soldiers, the award winning New Jersey Goes to War and most recently, as co-author of 350 Years of New Jersey History: From Stuyvesant to Sandy and Hidden History of New Jersey at War (The History Press, 2014). Mr. Bilby has received the Jane Clayton award for contributions to Monmouth County (NJ) history, an award of merit from the New Jersey Historical Commission for his contributions to the state’s military history and the New Jersey Meritorious Service Medal from the state’s Division of Military and Veterans Affairs.

Meeting of July 10, 2014

David Trout on “The 72nd Pennsylvania Volunteers at the Angle”

Dave Trout and Rich Jankowski

Dave Trout and Rich Jankowski

72nd P.V. Monument at gettysburg

72nd P.V. Monument at gettysburg

David Trout presented an extensive and detailed program on the court case of the 72nd Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment on its placement of its monument at the wall (“Angle”) at Gettysburg during Pickett’s Charge. Using the transcripts of the case, Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association v. Seventy-second Pennsylvania Regiment, which was published in 1889 in a very limited form. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court heard the case and decided that he 72nd monument should be placed where it is now. The presentation was done in a very unique form with lots of visuals and a unique voice narration done by computer. A lot of research was done by David to present all the pros and cons of the actual position of the 72nd during the battle. There was also lots of testimony by actual participants that made for a better understanding of the fight at the wall. A great History Lesson.

July 2014 Newsletter

Fall 2014 Lecture Series

Camden County College, Old Baldy Civil War Round Table Fall Lecture Series

Beyond Gettysburg: The Fiery Trial Continues

Despite the Union victory in the Battle of Gettysburg, the Civil War dragged on for nearly two more years. This series of lectures will focus on what came after Gettysburg, how the war-weary nation perceived the meaning of that battle, and the means by which President Lincoln sought to bring an end to the War.

The Economics of War: How Financial Decisions North & South Influenced the War’s Outcome

Tuesday, September 23, 2014, 7:00 pm

An informative presentation by Matthew Borowick, Executive Director of the Civil War Library & Research Center in Woodbridge, NJ, and columnist for Civil War News. It is customarily believed that wars are won and lost by the actions of generals and armies. However, those armies cannot fight unless they are properly trained, equipped and fed, and that takes the effective and efficient management of resources. How the North and the South managed their resources provides a fascinating look into why one side succeeded—and the other side failed.

Andersonville Prison: An American Tragedy

Tuesday, September 30, 2014, 7:00 pm

Presenting is Joseph F. Wilson, a member of the General Meade Society, the Civil War Trust, and the Old Baldy CWRT. Come hear the tragic story of Andersonville Prison, where more than 45,000 Union soldiers were confined between February 1864 and April 1865. In those fourteen months 13,000 soldiers perished from disease, starvation and exposure. Joe’s Great-Great-Grandfather, Corporal George Garman, 36th Pa. Volunteers, survived the horrors of Andersonville.

Gettysburg: History and Hype

Tuesday, October 7, 2014, 7:00 pm

A very interesting take by Dr. Gregory J. W. Urwin, Temple University Professor of History, and President of the Society for Military History, as to how Americans have come to perceive war and victory. Mistakenly, we understand human conflict simply as a succession of clashes with victory gained by the side that wins the most or biggest ones. This lecture compares Gettysburg with other truly decisive Union victories, and considers our distorted view of what the Civil War was really like—then, and still today.

Grant Comes East – 1864

Tuesday, October 14, 2014, 7:00 pm

Jay Jorgenson, author, history professor, attorney and municipal court judge, takes us from the two major victories in the summer of 1863—Gettysburg in the east and Vicksburg in the west—into the pivotal year of 1864. Despite these key victories, President Lincoln found it increasingly difficult to bring the war to a successful conclusion, and brought Ulysses S. Grant east to take command of all Union forces. Grant implemented a plan to keep intense pressure on all of the Confederate armies in the South, with the clear intention of guiding the Union war effort to a successful outcome.

John Bachelder’s Gettysburg: His Influence Then and Now

Tuesday, October 28, 2014, 7:00 pm

Steven J. Wright has served as a Park Ranger at Gettysburg, Curator for the Civil War Library & Museum of Philadelphia, and as Special Collections Librarian for the Free Library of Philadelphia. The question that is often asked is why the battle of Gettysburg has received—and continues to receive—the attention it does? Steve offers that it may be largely due to the role that John Bachelder played in the preservation of the battlefield and ultimately the impact that he had on how the battlefield looks today. Much of the way we have come to see the battlefield, and the way that we still study and even talk about the battle, was influenced by Bachelder, as it was he who coined the phrase “copse of trees”, and created the popular term “High Watermark of the Confederacy”. The fields we walk today, the troop movements we study, and the monuments placed upon those hallowed grounds, are not by mere happenstance, but rather a carefully and precisely conceived plan to tell the story of this grandest of struggles to future generations.

Meeting of June 12, 2014

Kerry Bryan presents “A Salute to Old Glory: The Story of the American Flag”

Flag 2014b Flag 2014a

Memorial Day, Flag Day, the Fourth of July—This is the season when we Americans fly our flag with special pride and honor those who have served our country is so many ways, from the Founding Fathers to the soldiers of the Civil War, from courageous citizens to our troops today in Iraq and other troubled areas.

In the spirit of this season when we celebrate the Red, White, and Blue, Old Baldy program coordinator Kerry Bryan offered a reprise of her PowerPoint program, “A Salute to Old Glory: The Story of the American Flag,” which some round table members may have seen in 2012 when she presented it at the Union League. The 2014 program included some updates.

June 2014 Newsletter

Sesquicentennial Lecture, June 18, 2014

Sesquicentennial Lecture: David Martin on “1864 As the Turning Point of the Civil War”

David Martin

David Martin

The New Jersey Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee will sponsor a lecture by historian Dr. David Martin at 7:30 p.m., June 18, in the Civic Hall auditorium, Connector Building, at Camden Community College.

Historians have argued for years about when the Civil war reached its turning point. Many say that it was July 1863, when the North won the critical battles of Gettysburg and Vicksburg. Some argue that it was early 1862 (when the South lost its major cities of Nashville, Memphis and New Orleans), while others offer fall 1862 (when Southern invasions were turned back at Antietam and Perryville). One noted historian even argues that every campaign and battle was a turning point.

Dr. David Martin sees 1864 as the turning point of the Civil War because of two critical points: the military tide of the war finally shifted fully in the North’s favor, and President Lincoln succeeded in his reelection bid. Dr. Martin will discuss why he believes 1864 was the real turning point of the war, based on analysis of military, political, economic and geographic considerations. Continue reading

Meeting of May 8, 2014

David O. Stewart on “The Lincoln Deception”

Lincoln Deception David StewartDavid O. Stewart is a lawyer-turned-author who writes historical narratives and lives in Garrett Park, Maryland. His non-fiction works include The Summer of 1787, which examines the creation of the United States Constitution, Impeached: The Trial of President Andrew Johnson and the Fight for Lincoln’s Legacy, and American Emperor: Aaron Burr’s Challenge to Jefferson’s America.

In September 2013, Kensington Books published his first novel, The Lincoln Deception, which explores the secrets of the John Wilkes Booth Conspiracy. Stewart invites readers to “sink into the crepuscular gaslight of Washington in 1900 as our mismatched heroes struggle to scrape away the myths, misunderstandings and lies surrounding the John Wilkes Booth Conspiracy, while dodging the powerful secret forces that need to keep the secrets … secret.”

May 2014 Newsletter

Meeting of April 10, 2014

Betsy Carpenter on “Elias Wright: Teacher, Military Leader, Surveyor Extraordinaire”

Elias Wright

Elias Wright

We met Civil War Brevet Brigadier General Elias Wright (1830-1901), a Captain in Company A, 4th New Jersey Volunteer Infantry Regiment, who fought in the Peninsula Campaign, Second Bull Run, South Mountain, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville, and who went on to serve as Colonel of the 10th United States Colored Troops at the Battle of Fort Fisher. Betsy described his contributions to South Jersey, including his 30-year collaboration with Joseph Wharton that resulted in his comprehensive survey of the initial 96,000 acres that formed the nucleus of today’s Wharton State Forest, the state’s largest forest. Originally a native of Durham, New York, he married Julia Ashley of Port Republic in 1855, lived in Weymouth Furnace, Elwood, Batsto, and finally Atlantic City where he died.

Betsy Carpenter, a long-time resident of New Jersey’s Pinelands National Reserve, has served as Public Programs Coordinator for this State’s Pinelands Commission, and today continues as a historic researcher and freelance writer.

Betsy Carpenter

Betsy Carpenter at Kaaterskill Falls, near General Wright’s birthplace in Durham, Greene County, NY

April 2014 Newsletter