Jane Peters Estes on “A Christmas Past”
Jane Peters Estes has been a living historian and active member of various Delaware Valley region historical organizations for almost 30 years. She shared some of her expertise with members of OBCWRT on December 8th when she presented “Christmas Past,” a delightful overview of the origins of many of our Christmas traditions, ranging from the hanging of stockings to trimming the tree. Jane’s presentation particularly highlighted Christmas customs of the Civil War era and offered many insights, some of them surprising. The program was an early yuletide gift to all who attended. Continue reading
Herb Kaufman on “Creating the Gettysburg Address”
Herb Kaufman addressed the myth of Lincoln writing the Gettysburg Address on a small piece of paper on a train from Washington to Gettysburg. Herb pointed out the 272 words of Lincoln’s Address that had their foundation in the Declaration of Independence. He explained looking into Lincoln’s mind and examining his prior speeches and comments and determining how they impacted his thoughts for November 19, 1863. Herb further pointed out that Abraham Lincoln was one of our nation’s most thoughtful and measured presidents. That he rarely made comments that didn’t have a specific point, nor did he write a speech without giving it the most deliberate thought. The ideas and concepts that stand behind what has become his most famous and quoted speech could hardly have been attributed to a two hour ride on a train.
November 2011 Newsletter
Phil Lechak on “Camp Letterman, Gettysburg: 80 Acres for 121 Days”
When the Army of the Potomac and the Army of Northern Virginia left the Gettysburg environs on July 4, they left behind almost 21,000 wounded soldiers. These men were distributed over the countryside in roughly 160 locations. Casualties of this magnitude overtaxed the available resources immediately. Camp Letterman—the first of its kind, a large General Tent Hospital—was constructed. It occupied 80 acres on the site of the George Wolf Farm, on a hillside just one mile out of town on the York Pike, and existed for a period of 121 days. Continue reading
Craig Schoeller on “Battle of the Bulge—Imprisonment”
Due to an emergency cancellation by the scheduled speaker, Tom Moran, this month Craig Schoeller, OBCWRT member, presented the rest of his story on surviving the “Battle of the Bulge” during World War II. Craig’s story had previously gone from his enlistment to a replacement in the 35th Division of the Third Army in the area of Bastogne, Belgium, when the German Army made its final push to break through the American Lines. The second part of his story was about his capture and imprisonment in a German Stalag.
September 2011 Newsletter
Old Baldy Members present “Show and Tell”
Old Baldy Members and Guests presented a “Show and Tell” of their Civil War interests, artifacts, projects, books, photos, battlefield trips, seminars, ancestors, etc.
Show and Tell
Mike Wunsch on “Abraham Lincoln & the Great Central Sanitary Fair”
Local speaker-historian Michael Wunsch portrayed Executive Chairman John Welsh of the Great Central Sanitary Fair, and presented Abraham Lincoln & the Great Central Sanitary Fair, Philadelphia, June 1864.
The talk featured a brief overview and history of the United States Sanitary Commission, the growth of the local Aid Society and Sanitary Fair movements, as well as the Great Central Sanitary Fair itself, a huge commission fund-raising event held on the grounds of Logan Square from June 7 to June 29, 1864. It concluded with one of the true highlights of Philadelphia’s immense and important home-front activities, President Abraham Lincoln’s visit to the “great fair,” and our city at-large on June 16, 1864. Continue reading
Craig Schoeller on “Battle of the Bulge”
Craig Schoeller in WWII
Craig Schoeller gave a great talk on his life and the time he spent in the Battle of the Bulge in World War II. Craig’s story went from his enlistment to being in action as an infantry replacement in the 35th Division of the Third Army. His story was about his combat, his wounding, his friends, and his capture. As we heard of his experiences, we received a better appreciation of what young men and women went through to protect our freedoms. Craig corrected us on the term used in the previous newsletter—that he was an American Hero. In fact, he said the heroes were among the ones who didn’t come home to continue their lives but had given up those lives for America. Craig volunteered to come back and give us a talk on his captivity in a German prison camp. It was great to have Craig back from his recent injury. We are very lucky to have a gentleman like Craig as a member of Old Baldy.
June 2011 Newsletter
Jack Lieberman on “Life and Civil War Achievements of Capt. Percival Drayton”
Capt. Perceval Drayton
Jack Lieberman gave a great presentation on little-known Captain Percival Drayton, USN, and his brother Brigadier General Thomas Fenwick Drayton, CSA. This family situation became “brother against brother.” Percival had enlisted in the Navy in 1827 and served up to and into the Civil War. His career reflected the history of the Navy through its early years. He was stationed at the Philadelphia Navy Yard when the Civil War started. He was given command of the USS Pocahontas and took part in the Port Royal action in November 1861. During this battle he actually fired on troops of his brother who was in command at the time. He was promoted to Captain and assigned to Admiral Farragut’s Squadron and took command of his flagship USS Hartford. He was in command as the fleet attacked Mobile Bay. When the war ended he lived in Philadelphia and died of a twisted bowel obstruction and buried in Philadelphia. A great presentation and a great turnout. Jack will always be welcomed back. Continue reading
Bill Hughes on “US General Hospital at Beverly, NJ”
William Hughes, a member of Old Baldy, spoke on the history of the U.S. General Hospital at Beverly, New Jersey, during the war. The hospital, which was located at the site of a former civil war rendezvous camp, was in operation 1864-1865. Through much research, Hughes put together an interesting description of what it took to organize and operate this type of military hospital. His book traces the hospital’s roots and the people who shaped it including: the dedicated surgeons and nurses, the brave yet gravely injured and sick soldiers, the employees who took advantage, and the community that rallied around both staff and patients. It also touches on the origins of the Beverly National Cemetery, which holds over 40,000 military burials beginning during the Civil War. We heard from actual soldiers’ letters written home from the hospital. Both the hospital and cemetery have connections to similar sites in the Philadelphia area. Continue reading
Dick Simpson on “Wilson’s Creek, August 10, 1861”
Battle of Wilson’s Creek (Wikipedia)
Historian Dick Simpson presented a program on “The Battle of Wilson’s Creek”, the first major battle west of the Mississippi. In early August 1861, Confederate Brigadier General Benjamin McCulloch’s army was camped at Wilson’s Creek, Missouri, while Union Brigadier General Nathaniel Lyon’s men were camped 12 miles away in Springfield, Missouri.
On the night of August 9, both sides had developed plans of attack on the opposing camp, but rain forced the Confederates to forgo the assault. At dawn the next day, Lyon led his army into battle. The attack caught McCulloch off guard, driving his army back. For more than five hours the battle raged on “Bloody Hill”. At about 9:30 a.m., Lyon, who had been wounded twice already, was killed while positioning his troops. Command fell to Major Samuel Sturgis, who ordered a withdrawal to Springfield at about 11 a.m., his ammunition nearly exhausted.
March 2011 Newsletter