Monthly Archives: June 2019

Karl Pusch – Member Profile

One of the unique aspects of gathering information from members of Old Baldy CWRT and writing about them is the wide diversity of interests the members have. When you walk into a meeting and see the many individuals one could assume the simple fact that they are “Civil War Buffs.” However, how the members became part of OBCWRT is in itself a factor that separates this group from other fraternal organizations. Karl Pusch, in this writer’s opinion, is a person who exhibits a common interest that the membership shares about the Civil War, but as a different perspective on the how and why membership is important.

Karl was born and raised in Phillipsburg, NJ and although he moved to South Jersey in 1973, he will always consider Phillipsburg his home town. After graduating from Phillipsburg High School in 1963, he earned his BA in History from Lafayette College in 1967. Returning home from a three-year enlistment in the Army in 1970 Karl enrolled at Lehigh University working on an MA in history. After finishing his MA in 1973, he took a job at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard and worked in the Training Division, EEO Office, and the Employee Relations Division. When the yard closed in 1995 Karl worked as a salesman for Macy’s and J.C. Penny and retired for good in 2008.

Through marriage to quote Karl he inherited two wonderful daughters who have blessed him with three granddaughters. Unfortunately, daughter Katherine lives in Arizona and daughter Jennifer lives in Oregon. He is a big fan of Lafayette football a Friend of Lafayette Football and holds memberships in the Maroon Club, the Marquis Society and the Fleck Society. Presently, Karl resides in Washington Township with his dog Buddy, who is a registered service dog, who has an official ID badge from Lafayette College and has been officially photographed with the college president. Karl enjoys riding his bike, skiing, and playing softball and enjoys doing home fix-up projects.

Karl’s became interested in the Civil War after seeing “Gone With the Wind” when it was re-released in 1954. About the same time, he read a mini-biography of Robert E. Lee, viewed a classic TV show “You Are There” that dramatized the surrender at Appomattox, and finally read a comic book dealing with Jackson’s role at Chancellorsville. In spite of that interest, Karl’s first love of history was always about Ancient Greece and Rome: his favorite comic book will always be the Classic “Caesar’s Conquest,” the condensed version of Caesar’s “Commentari de Bello Gallico.” He said he read it at least 20 times, to the point where he could recite portions of it. He can recall reading about the Second Punic War in James A. Breasted’s “Ancient Times….” and being the only person in his third and four grade classes who could spell or pronounce Epaminondas

One of Karl’s stated advantages of working at the Shipyard was the generous vacation time granted which has allowed him to visit almost every Civil War Battlefield east of the Mississippi River. A ROTC Summer Camp in 1966 allowed him to check off a trip to Gettysburg, an extended summer trip in 1974 allowed him to visit numerous sites in Kentucky and Tennessee with stops at Ft. Donelson, Perryville, Mill Springs, Shiloh, Nashville, Franklin, and Murfreesboro. Future summer trips allowed him to visit major battlefield and other historical sites in Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas. Karl has also visited more than 25 countries in North America, South America, Europe, the Mideast, and Asia and several at least twice. He has visited an incredible number of historic sites along with major battlefields far too numerous to mention in this snapshot, but it is sufficed to say Karl has check offed major “bucket list” sites.

During his numerous visits to various battlefields he was concerned how American sites were being subjected to urban land development encroachment especially after visiting some battlefields in France and England. Except for modern paved roads, the battlefields at Crecy (where on August 26, 1346 Karl was serving as a Welch archer under the command of the Black Prince, on the right flank, on the downward slope near the windmill), Agincourt, Waterloo, Hastings, Naseby, Bosworth, Field, Flodden and Bannockburn look much the same as they did when these battles were fought. The French and English Governments are aggressively committed to preserving their historic sites. Karl had a hard time understanding why we weren’t doing the same here in the U.S. So, when the Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites was formed in 1987, he immediately joined. As with many organizations, it had its growing pains and trials, but it is now known as the American Battlefield Trust, an organization committed to preserving sites from the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, and the Civil War. It is because of the ABT that Karl is a member of the OBCWRT; Karl met member Ed Komczyk at a Trust conference four years ago, Ed told Karl about Old Baldy; Karl attended a meeting, liked what he experienced and has been with us since then.

Karl’s favorite Civil War movies are– Birth of a Nation, Gone with the Wind, Gettysburg, and The Horse Soldiers. His other favorite movies are Lawrence of Arabia (he feels this is the greatest movie ever made), Bridge on the River Kwai, The Sea Hawk, The Third Man, Quo Vadis, The Robe, 300 Spartans, Helen of Troy, and the Desert Fox. His favorite Civil War books are Douglas Southall Freeman’s “Lee’s Lieutenants” and Ed Coddington’s (one of Karl’s instructors at Lafayette) “Gettysburg: A Study in Command”.

Karl still has several “bucket list” things he would like to do; traveling the Trans-Canada Highway from Vancouver to Montreal, visit the Custer Battlefield, Mt. Rushmore, the Devils Tower, and the Mesa Verde. But most important to him is to see a Toledo Mud Hens game at Fifth/Third Bank Field

As you can see Karl has a unique perspective on our common interest.

Member profile written by Steve Peters

Meeting of September 12, 2019

Join us at 7:15 PM on Thursday, September 12, at Camden County College in the Connector Building, Room 101. This month’s topic is

Ron Kirkwood on “Too Much for Human Endurance: The George Spangler Farm Hospitals and the Battle of Gettysburg”

The George Spangler story is the rare Gettysburg tale that has never been told in entirety until now. Amazingly, after thousands of books and many generations gone by, there was still uncharted territory about the Battle of Gettysburg until “Too Much for Human Endurance: The George Spangler Farm Hospitals and the Battle of Gettysburg” by Ron Kirkwood. Ron’s book and presentation discusses Spangler’s experiences and perspectives including;

  • The XI Corps Army of the Potomac hospital on George and Elizabeth Spangler’s farm, which treated up to 2,000 patients.
  • The First Division, II Corps hospital at Granite Schoolhouse on the Spanglers’ land. They had two hospitals on their property totaling probably 3,000 men.
  • The Army of the Potomac Artillery Reserve, which was based at Spangler and included 106 cannons and 2,300 men.
  • How the Army of the Potomac used the location and size of the farm militarily to help win the battle.
  • The Spanglers and their neighbors before the battle, during the battle and what happened to them after the battle.
  • Stories of the heroism and suffering of the patients, surgeons, nurses, Spanglers and Spangler neighbors.

Ron Kirkwood is the author of “Too Much for Human Endurance: The George Spangler Farm Hospitals and the Battle of Gettysburg,” which was published in May 2019. Ron is retired after a 40-year career as an editor and writer in newspapers and magazines including USA TODAY, the Baltimore Sun, the Harrisburg Patriot-News and York Daily Record. Ron edited national magazines for USA TODAY Sports, he was the editor in charge of National Football League coverage for USA TODAY Sports Weekly, and he managed the copy desk in Harrisburg when the newspaper won the Pulitzer Prize in 2012. Ron is a native of Michigan and a graduate of Central Michigan University, where he has returned as guest speaker to journalism classes as part of the school’s Hearst Visiting Professionals series. Ron lives in York, Pennsylvania, and has been a Gettysburg Foundation guide at The George Spangler Farm Field Hospital Site since it opened in 2013.

Meeting of July 11, 2019

Sarah Kay Bierle on “From California to Gettysburg: The Hancock Family”

A special live Skype presentation.

In 1858, Winfield and Almira Hancock and their two children moved to California. As a U.S. Army officer, Winfield S. Hancock’s duties had taken the family to several remote outposts, but their time in California would be some of their most memorable days. The American Civil War began while the Hancocks were in California, and this conflict presented challenging choices. Their decision—made in California—would impact one of the great battles of the war.

Sarah Kay Bierle is the managing editor for Emerging Civil War’s blog and owner and conference coordinator at Gazette665, a California-based business focused on advancing history discussion and education. A graduate from Thomas Edison State University with a B.A. in History, she has spent the last few years researching, writing, and speaking about the American Civil War. Her fourth book, “Call Out The Cadets”—a nonfiction study on the Battle of New Market—released this spring from Savas Beatie.