Author Archives: hlj

Meeting of December 12, 2013

Don Ernsberger on “Meade’s Breakthrough at Fredericksburg”

Ernsberger book Don ErnsbergerToday when we hear or read of the Battle of Fredericksburg, December 13, 1862, attention is usually focused on the countless infantry charges up Marye’s Height´s into the artillery and rifles of the Confederate Army. Yet some historians have argued for many years that the key to the entire battle on December 13 was the action downstream where Meade´s Pennsylvania Reserves broke, for a short time, the Confederate lines in an attempt to carry out what many believe to have been Major General Ambrose E. Burnside’s true objective that day. Mindful that this critical part of the battle had been often overlooked, Civil War historian Don Ernsberger researched and wrote Meade’s Breakthroughat Fredericksburg, which was published in 2012. Don presened on this topic to our round table on December 12th, 2013, the eve of the 101st anniversary of the battle.

Don Ernsberger

Don Ernsberger

Don Ernsberger has had a lifelong interest in history, particularly that of the American Civil War era. He taught history and philosophy for many years at Council Rock High School (PA) and Gwynedd-Mercy College before retiring in 2001 to work for eight years as a deputy chief of staff for the United States Congress. To date he has written six well-received books on Civil War military history.  He also has been an avid Civil War reenactor with the 69th PA.

December 2013 Newsletter

Meeting of November 14, 2013

Paula Gidjunis on “Civilians in the Civil War: Homefront to the Battlefield”

Paula Gidjunis

Paula Gidjunis

Paula Gidjunis gave us an in-depth presentation on civilians who answered the call to support the men who did the fighting on the Battlefields. She used a PowerPoint presentation to display the photographs of many of these these famous civilians. She also had excerpts from period diaries and letters. She discuss the impact of the Civil War on civilians and how they coped with the destruction of war. Many of the subjects were the women who became nurses in home town hospitals and those who went and served the wounded in battlefield hospitals. She also discussed the aid and comfort given to the underground railroad system, the civilian spy networks that supported the Army on both sides. A very interesting and educational presentation.

Paula Gidjunis is a retired middle school Social Studies teacher and a current instructor at the Civil War Institute at Manor College.  She also works as a bookkeeper part-time.  Continue reading

General Hancock Fundraiser

Winfield Scott Hancock (Wikipedia)

We’re writing to ask your support in a critical local historical preservation effort. The Old Baldy Civil War Round Table is supporting the Historical Society of Montgomery County in their effort to preserve the General Winfield Scott Hancock Mausoleum at the Montgomery Cemetery in West Norriton, Pennsylvania. The mausoleum is in dire need of granite roof repairs. The Historical Society has budgeted $34,000 for the repairs but contractor quotes require an additional $7,000 to complete the project. We are seeking monetary donations to raise the needed funds and have asked our Vice President, Bob Russo to oversee this endeavor. Please click the Gen Hancock Fundraiser link below for additional details and a donation form. If you have questions about the project you can contact the Historical Society directly at 610-272-0297 or Bob Russo at 856-424-2155.

Gen Hancock Fundraiser

Meeting of October 10, 2013

Valerie Josephson on “Stirring Times, The Lives of New Jersey’s First Civil War Surgeons”

Alvin Satterthwait

Alvin Satterthwait

Even before President Lincoln called for 75,000 militia volunteers, four New Jersey regiments were forming for a three month tour. One surgeon and one surgeon’s mate were commissioned to each unit. They were not your average doctors. In a time when it was still possible to become a doctor by apprenticeship, two did and six attended prestigious medical schools. Six had gone to the American frontiers before the war. One was a graduate of the London School of Pharmacy who came to America to seek his fortune. When the three-month enlistment was up, only two did not apply for further service. Four entered the Volunteer Medical Corps, two served with four New Jersey regiments, and one was commissioned in the U.S. Navy.

Valerie described the four regiments, their mission in Virginia and the actions of the medical staff during this period. She provided a brief profile of each physician, but focused on the 4th New Jersey Militia, which was drawn from the Trenton-Camden area and their two medical men, Dr. Alvin Satterthwait and Dr. Elias B. Woolston.

Continue reading

Meeting of September 12, 2013

Dr. James Paradis on “Camp William Penn and Its Influence on the Civil War”

James Paradis

James Paradis

Dr. Paradis spoke on the historical background that led to the establishment of Camp William Penn in the summer of 1863 in Chelten Hills, PA, which became the largest site for the training of United States Colored Troops (U.S.C.T.) in the North. He outlined the history of the camp itself, highlighted some of the more dramatic events that occurred there, and further illustrated some of the important actions and impact thereof attributed to U.S.C.T. regiments who trained there between 1863 and 1865. Continue reading

Meeting of August 15, 2013

Round Table Discussion of “West versus East: Where Was the Most Important Field of Battle?”

The Civil War was fought over a vast area of the continent and on the sea as well. At the meeting this month we discussed some of the events during the war and how they influenced the war and the Nation. This includes politically, on the populations of the opposing areas, strategically in directing the war and to the soldiers fighting the war. How did rivers and different geographies change plans, actions and results? Points considered: the role of the press in reporting the war, the effect of the home front, the support of States on each side and which events did make a difference in the outcome of the war. It was a lively discussion that went in various directions.

August 2013 Newsletter

Meeting of July 17, 2013

Arlene Harris on “Major General John F. Reynolds: Duty – Honor – Sacrifice”

Arlene Harris as Kate Reynolds

Arlene Harris as Kate Reynolds

Arlene Harris spoke in first-person format as Catherine (“Kate”) Reynolds, the sister that John F. Reynolds was closest to throughout his life. Presenting information based on Reynolds family letters, as well as military records, “Kate” started by reviewing “her brother’s” early life and education, particularly his experiences in the Mexican War. After explaining how what he learned and accomplished shaped the Code of Honor he would live and die by, she showed how truly dedicated and valuable to his country he was, and how General Reynolds contributed to the Union victory at Gettysburg. Her talk emphasized the last weeks of John Reynolds’s life, leading up to his tragic but heroic death on July 1, 1863. Continue reading

Meeting of June 19, 2013

Paul Lader, Esq. on “The Civil War: A Sampling of the Strange, the Odd, the Fascinating, the Mundane, and the Outright Fabricated”

Paul Lader

Paul Lader

Here are a few samples from Paul’s talk:

The Strange:  Did you know that the Third Reich’s Hitler Youth Leader had a grandfather who was an officer in the Union Army?

The Odd: Speaking of the Third Reich, there were two Union soldiers with the surname of Hitler.

The Fascinating: The survival or demise of a wounded young junior officer at the Second Battle of Manassas would have profound consequences on the course of history in the mid-20th Century.  (You’ll have to attend to Paul’s talk to find out who that junior officer was!)

The Fabricated: Robert E. Lee’s last words were not “Strike the tent.”  They were something else, and it was not very flattering… Continue reading

Meeting of May 22, 2013

Scott Mingus, Sr. on “Jubal Early in the Advance to Gettysburg”

Scott Mingus, Sr.

Scott Mingus, Sr.

In late June 1863, two powerful columns of Confederates troops approached the Susquehanna River, one marching through Carlisle toward Harrisburg and the other heading through Gettysburg and York towards Wrightsville/Columbia. This talk will cover the latter command, that of Jubal Early, as it conquered Gettysburg and then accepted the surrender of York, the largest Northern town to fall during the entire war. State militia defending the river crossing then burned the world’s longest covered bridge to prevent Rebel passage.

Scott L. Mingus, Sr. is an executive in the paper industry, and holds patents in self-adhesive postage stamps and bar code labels. He was part of the research team that developed the first commercially successful self-adhesive U.S. postage stamps. The York, Pa., resident has seven Civil War books listed on Mingus also has written several articles for The Gettysburg Magazine. He maintains a blog on the Civil War history of York County, Pa. (, and is a tour guide for the York County Heritage Trust. He also has written six scenario books on miniature wargaming.