Author Archives: hlj

Meeting of March 14, 2019

Dave Prentiss on “Saving Democracy: Lincoln’s Political Religion and the American Pursuit of Justice”

Mr. Prentiss examines the connection between Lincoln’s early speech, On the Perpetuation of our Political Institutions, and the Gettysburg Address, and how together they reveal the fundamental principles of democracy and justice that guided Lincoln during his presidency.

David Prentiss is a member of the political science department at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth. He teaches courses in constitutional law, American government, political philosophy, leadership studies, urban politics, and public opinion dynamics. His research interests include the American founding, Progressivism, democratic leadership, political philosophy, Jane Austen, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Professor Prentiss is a frequent speaker on democracy, leadership, and liberal education, with a special focus on Alexander Hamilton, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, Frances Perkins, and Harry Truman.

He is the former board chair of the Alma del Mar Charter School in New Bedford, MA and currently serves on the school’s Advisory Council. He is also the President of the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra. Professor Prentiss received a B.A. in Philosophy at Assumption College, a J.D. from New England School of Law and a M.A. in Political Science at Boston College.

Meeting of February 14, 2019

Bennett Carlton on “Have We Taken the Mountain? – The Civil War Battles of General Charles G. Harker”

Bennett Carlton is the author of Have We Taken the Mountain?: The Civil War Battles of General Charles G. Harker. The book chronicles the military exploits of a local New Jersey soldier, a West Point graduate, who rose in rank to brigadier general in the Army of the Cumberland before being mortally wounded at the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain. Prior to Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign, Harker fought in all the major battles in the western theater: Shiloh, Perryville, Stones River, Chickamauga, and Missionary Ridge. Harker was regarded as one of the rising young stars of the army, prompting General William T. Sherman to write, “Regret beyond measure,” the loss of General Harker.

The author is senior library assistant at the Logan Township Public Library. He was formerly an editor and proofreader for a major pharmaceutical company, and is a former tour guide for Centipede Tours of Philadelphia. He is a long-time Civil War reenactor and is currently writing a second book, a history of the American Revolution in Swedesboro and Woolwich Twp., New Jersey, where he resides.

Meeting of January 10, 2019

Hal Jespersen on “Civil War Cartography”

Readers say that one of the most important features of a modern book about the Civil War is a good collection of understandable, accurate maps. Hal’s presentation, offered via Skype from California, will reveal some of the details behind the process for creating such maps. Hal Jespersen’s cartography business has produced over 2,900 maps for Wikipedia and numerous books, magazines, and battlefield displays. Hal will discuss the state of mapmaking during the war, review the work of some famous cartographers, and describe tools and processes he uses to create maps. Some of the technical concepts included were projection, elevation rendering, evaluating the accuracy of the Official Records Atlas, and plotting the courses of 19th century rivers, roads, and railroads.

Hal Jespersen is a retired computer industry executive—formerly of Sun Microsystems—who has a strong interest in studying the Civil War. Hal was a U.S. Army Signal Corps officer in the 1970s, including Viet Nam, and then held a variety of computer software jobs in Silicon Valley until his retirement in 2010. Although he studied some military history and visited some battlefields as an ROTC cadet, Hal’s overriding interest in the war was triggered recently by a specific event—reading Michael Shaara’s The Killer Angels in 2003. That led to a period of voracious reading about the Battle of Gettysburg and to the first of a number of trips to that hallowed ground.

In 2004, Hal began to make significant contributions to the Civil War articles on Wikipedia, and is the principal author of about 130 battle and campaign articles as well as an equal number of biographical articles about Civil War generals. In addition to the text of the articles, Hal has produced over 2,900 Civil War battle maps, which are appearing in a number of online sites and numerous books. Hal focuses his interests primarily east of the Mississippi, and although he loves the Army of the Potomac, believes that the war was substantially won in the Western Theater.

Hal’s mapping website, www.CWMaps.com, includes about 200 freely available maps of the war, as well as information about his custom cartography business. His personal website, www.posix.com/CW/, contains links to his important Wikipedia articles and a large number of travelogue articles, recording his visits to Civil War battlefields and seminars over the years. Hal is the webmaster for three Civil War Round Tables, including Old Baldy.

Hal’s slides: 26MB PDF

Meeting of December 13, 2018

Dr. Cheryl Renée Gooch on “Hinsonville’s Heroes: Black Civil War Soldiers of Chester County, Pennsylvania”

Dr. Cheryl Renée Gooch is the author of the newly published book Hinsonville’s Heroes: Black Civil War Soldiers of Chester County, Pennsylvania (The History Press, February 2018). Dr. Gooch will discuss her book, which traces the stories of residents of Hinsonville, a free black community, who fought for the Union. Named for Emory Hinson, a black man who purchased acres straddling Lower and Upper Oxford townships in Chester County, PA, the former 19th century village of Hinsonville attracted both free and determined to be free people who championed religious freedom, higher education, land ownership and equal rights. Residents organized a black Protestant church, supported the founding of Ashmun Institute (later Lincoln University), vigilantly opposed slavery and, in some cases, emigrated to Liberia as a part of the colonization movement. The community’s tradition of self-determination compelled 18 of its men to enlist to advance the freedom cause, 11 of whom trained at the former Camp William near Philadelphia.

Some of the men are buried at Hosanna church cemetery next to the entrance to Lincoln University’s campus. “These men and their families anticipated that history would over look them and their role in transforming America, so they placed headstones, monuments to their lives next to our country’s oldest degree-granting historically black University,” says Dr. Gooch. “By placing their personal monuments there, they placed themselves into historical memory. In the absence of photographs, and virtually no written history about them, I considered how to resurrect them to finish telling their stories. Their pension files and other primary documents helped reconstruct their lives, evoke their voices and narratives of our shared history as Americans.”

Since its release, Hinsonville’s Heroes has maintained active interest among both general and academic audiences and was recently featured on Pennsylvania Cable Network-TV’s PA Books.

Dr. Cheryl Renée Gooch is an academic leader, published scholar and active historical researcher. She served as historian and primary writer for the Delaware History Museum’s permanent exhibition, “Journey to Freedom” which chronicles the Black Delawarean experience from 1629 to the present. An active member of the Toni Morrison Society Bench by the Road Project, Dr. Gooch led the effort to place the memorial bench at Hosanna Church which honors Hinsonville’s Civil War veterans, the church’s role in founding Lincoln University, and its members participation in Liberian colonization and the abolition of slavery. A Life member of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), she serves on the Executive Council, and is a member of the organization’s Carter G. Woodson House Committee which advises the National Park Service on interpretive themes for the historic site.

Dr. Gooch is author of On Africa’s Lands: The Forgotten Stories of Two Lincoln Educated Missionaries in Liberia (published in 2014 by Lincoln University Press) which chronicles the experiences of James Amos and Thomas Amos, former Hinsonville residents. Her newest book, Hinsonville’s Heroes: Black Civil War Soldiers of Chester County, Pennsylvania, interprets the lives of men from this free black community who served in the war to end slavery, and their families’ efforts to ensure that they are remembered for their role in re-unifying this country.

December 2018 Newsletter

Meeting of November 8, 2018

Scott Mingus on “The Second Battle of Winchester: The Confederate Victory That Opened the Door to Gettysburg”

In the summer of 1863, as Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern Virginia began its inexorable push northward toward Pennsylvania, only one significant force stood in the way — Union Maj. Gen. Robert H. Milroy’s division of the Eighth Army Corps in the vicinity of Winchester and Berryville. Milroy, affectionately known to his men as the Old Grey Eagle, would stubbornly defy repeated instructions to withdraw to safety even as the overpowering Rebel force approached. Believing that the enemy was merely a cavalry raid or feint, the veteran Indiana politician-turned-general chose to stand and fight. His controversial decision put his outnumbered and largely inexperienced men on a path to what most observers considered to be a military fiasco when Milroy lost half his force and routed ingloriously from the final battlefield. Many of the Northern soldiers who fought at Second Winchester, however, believed their three-day, ultimately unwinnable resistance delayed the vaunted Rebels from entering Pennsylvania long enough to buy time for the Army of the Potomac to arrive and defeat Lee at Gettysburg.

Today largely forgotten in the plethora of Gettysburg media attention, the Second Battle of Winchester in its time proved to be politically charged for the Union, with President Lincoln and the War Department seeking to save face; Milroy seeking to save his now tainted career; and the beleaguered soldiers seeking redemption. On the Confederate side, Robert E. Lee believed he had found in Lt. Gen. Richard S. Ewell a worthy successor to the late, lamented Stonewall Jackson. Gettysburg would prove that the promise of Second Winchester was only an illusion on many fronts. Lee’s inner circle of senior leaders was lacking a significant cog, and his army was not as invincible as the overwhelming victory over Milroy had suggested.

In this book, multiple award-winning authors Eric J. Wittenberg and Scott L. Mingus, Sr. combine their writing and research talents into what may be the definitive account of Second Winchester. Using more than a hundred fresh sources, they weave together the individual soldier’s stories into a comprehensive, highly readable narrative that takes the reader back to the pivotal battle that opened the door to Gettysburg.

Scott Mingus is a scientist and consultant in the global pulp & paper industry, and holds patents in self-adhesive postage stamps and bar code labels. The Ohio native graduated from the Paper Science & Engineering program at Miami University. While working for Avery Dennison, he was part of the research team that developed the first commercially successful self-adhesive U.S. postage stamps. He has written nineteen Civil War and Underground Railroad books. His biography of Confederate General William “Extra Billy” Smith won multiple awards, including the Dr. James I. Robertson, Jr. Literary Prize for Confederate History. He has also written several articles for Gettysburg Magazine, as well as for various historical journals.

Scott and his wife Debi live in York, Pa., and for more than a decade, he was written a blog on the Civil War history of York County (www.yorkblog.com/cannonball). He received the 2013 Heritage Profile Award from the York County Heritage Trust for his contributions to local Civil War history. He also has written six scenario books for Civil War miniature wargaming. His great-great-grandfather was a 15-year-old drummer and rifleman in the 51st Ohio Infantry under General George “Pap” Thomas, and other family members fought at Antietam and Gettysburg in the 7th West Virginia.

November 2018 Newsletter

Nancy Bowker – Member Profile

A visit to the Civil War Museum of Philadelphia on Pine Street in the early 1990s and viewing the preserved bust of Old Baldy by a self-described horse and history nut influenced Nancy Bowker to join the OBCWRT to learn more about Old Baldy.

Growing up in Riverton, NJ, Nancy’s artist father took her and her brother and sister to many museums to do research for his paintings of soldiers of the American Revolution. Nancy’s mother was a librarian and it must have had an influence on her literary skills as Nancy is the author of two horse related books and is co-author of a third. She has also had articles published in several trade horse magazines. Nancy’s education includes Palmyra High School, college in Vermont and Burlington County, NJ, a year at The Sterling School in Craftbury Commons, Vermont and a year in Horsemanship School in Chester Springs, PA.

It was research for her second book about horse trainer John S. Rarey that peaked her interest in the Civil War. Rarey was a world famous “horse whisperer” and was an important figure in the rehabilitation of abused and vicious horses during the 1850s. Nancy’s research on Mr. Rarey showed he was present as an observer in Thaddeus Lowe’s balloon during the Battle of Fredericksburg in 1862, even drawing Confederate fire. In order to gain more information on Mr. Rarey Nancy did more research on the battle and as she puts it, “became hooked.”

Nancy lives on a New Jersey farm with her husband Russ, two rescue horses that are smart, funny and noble;m and old mellow Golden Retriever and two cats. Her daughter Jessica is a social worker who also has a horse and is an ardent animal lover. Her background besides writing about horses includes working in horse stables, working at racing stables, a horse and carriage wedding service and volunteering with a therapeutic riding program. She currently works as a book seller at Barnes & Noble.

Overall Nancy is very interested in the cavalry aspects of the war. She enjoys studying the use of horses and mules, she also has interest in the generals Meade, Grant, and Sheridan. She has worked on a children’s book on Meade’s Old Baldy and is working to get it published.

She has traveled to various Civil War sites. It is not surprising that Nancy has visited Brandy Station, along with The Wilderness, Fredricksburg, City Point, Richmond, and Gettysburg. Besides the actual battlefields, she has enjoyed visiting the GAR Museum, The Smith Memorial in Fairmount Park and the stature of General Meade and Old Baldy behind Centennial Hall.

She has read many books on the Civil War. Favorites include The Passing of the Armies by Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, the three book series on the Union Cavalry by Stephen Z. Starr, and books by Bruce Catton, Eric Wittenberg, Ed Longacre, and our own Dr. Andy Waskie. Her favorite Civil War movies are Gettysburg and The Colt. Other favorite movies are The Black Stallion, Field of Dreams, The Patriot, and Funny Farm.

Besides OBCWRT Nancy is a member of The General Meade Society and the Civil War Trust. She is a member of the following; The Author’s Guild, Society of Children Book Writers and Illustrators, and the Hooved Animal Humane Society. Nancy loves music and enjoys attending concerts, the Philadelphia Art Museum, and the Metropolitan Art Museum in New York City. She enjoys going to plays and horse events with her daughter.

Profile text by Steve Peters

Chautauqua Institution, August 2018

A message from John C. Fazio:

Fellow Roundtablers and History Lovers:

This year, as with the last two, I will again be teaching an overview of the Civil War at Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, New York (Causes, Combat, Conclusions and Consequences). The course number is 1420, a description of which you can access on-line by Googling “Chautauqua Institution”, then “2018 Season”, then “Take a Class”, then “Register for Classes”, then “Go to Course Number 1420”. The course consists of three two-hour lectures, complete with hundreds of PowerPoint slides, from 1:00 through 3:00 pm, on August 20, 21 and 22, at the Turner Conference Center. Tuition is quite modest–$85 for the entire course, with a daily rate if one wishes to attend only one or two of the lectures.

Incidentally, it happens, quite by chance and quite fortuitously, that Ken Burns will be speaking on two of the days that I will be lecturing. His program is titled “The Filmmaker as Collaborator: A Conversation With Ken Burns and Friends. His “Friends” are Dayton Duncan, a documentary filmmaker and author, and Geoffrey C. Ward, a scriptwriter and author. Burns’s program will be given on August 20 and 21 at 10:45 am, so one could easily schedule both his program and the Civil War lectures on both days. Burns hardly needs an introduction. He is the creator of numerous made-for-TV historical masterpieces, one of which, of course, is “The Civil War”, which George Will said was the best thing ever to be shown on television.

You can register at three different places on the grounds or, in advance, by using this address: http://chq.org/classes, which will take you to the registration information.

I hope to see some of you there. If you do come, please identify yourself to me.

If you have any questions, you can contact me by email (jcf@neohio.twcbc.com) or by phone at 330-576-6061 (home) or 440-463-2957 (cell).

Thank you.

John C. Fazio