Category Archives: Meeting archive

Meeting of April 13, 2017

Herb Kaufman on “Duels, Fools, and Scoundrels”

Strange but true—this axiom was never more relevant than describing many of the unusual and extraordinary occurrences during the four years of the Civil War. While much of our history is dominated by the major battles such as Gettysburg and biographies of the key commanders such as Grant and Lee, the four years of the Civil War also included a significant number of strange and highly unusual personalities and incidents that have generally escaped modern discussion.

This presentation focused on these unusual and often controversial incidents and events. Topics include soldier murderers, plot to bomb the White House, the strange case of Ulric Dahlgren and the plot to kill the Confederate President, the spy who was hung twice and buried in three places, dueling generals, the ill-fated life & death of General A. P. Hill, the adventures of Dan Sickles, and other unusual personalities and events.

Herb Kaufman has been a teacher, lecturer and living historian of the Civil War for more than 20 years. He is a founding member of the faculty of the Civil War Institute at Manor College and an Adjunct Instructor of Civil War history at Camden County College. He is a well-known speaker on a variety of topics relating to the era of the Civil War having presented programs to civic and community groups, and educational and historical associations throughout the Philadelphia area.

Herb has also been a Civil War reenactor, and was an Educational Associate at the former MOLLUS Civil War Museum & Library in Philadelphia. He has received numerous awards for his continuing work in education and support of the history of the Civil War. Mr. Kaufman is a member of the Board of Directors and Curator of the GAR Civil War Museum of Philadelphia. He is currently the treasurer of the Delaware Valley Civil War Roundtable, and has been a member of the Old Baldy CWRT for more than 20 years. He is also a member of numerous historical and community organizations. Herb possesses a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Education from Temple University.

April 2017 Newsletter

Meeting of March 9, 2017

David T. Dixon on “The Lost Gettysburg Address”

Two famous orators shared the stage with Lincoln at the Gettysburg dedication. The day’s concluding speech remained lost until an anthropologist stumbled upon it in a cardboard box at a remote ranch in Wyoming. Forgotten too was the incredible true story of its author, Charles Anderson, a slave owner who risked everything to save the Union. The New York Times called Anderson’s story, “among the most moving and romantic episodes of the war.”

David DixonDavid Dixon likes nothing better than spending hours dumpster-diving in archives and throughout cyberspace. Dixon earned his M.A. in history from the University of Massachusetts in 2003. He has published numerous articles in scholarly journals and magazines. Most focus on black history and on Union sympathizers in the Civil War South. His short biography of U.S. and Confederate congressman Augustus R. Wright appeared in The Georgia Historical Quarterly in 2010. He remains intrigued by the problem of defining “loyalty” in the context of civil war. David Dixon hosts “B-List History,” a website celebrating obscure characters and their amazing stories.

March 2017 Newsletter

Meeting of January 12, 2017

Roundtable Discussion: “On the Trail with Old Baldy”

Old Baldy, in a photo taken after the war (Library of Congress)

Old Baldy, in a photo taken after the war (Library of Congress)

For our next Roundtable Discussion Night, we invite members to present an interesting Historical Site that you’ve visited. Plan to show the history, pictures, learnings, etc. Share your interests and enlighten us with your experience!

To ensure the best use of everyone’s time, participation in this month’s program will be limited to 3 topics of about 15 minutes each. The participation schedule will be confirmed no later than our December 8th Roundtable meeting.

If you would like to share your historical travel experience, please contact Dave ddsghh@comcast.net or Harry hj3bama@verizon.net.

Some of the topics this month are:

Member Kathy Clark:
On my 2015 Mississippi Gulf Coast bus tour, I visited Biloxi and the home of Jefferson Davis called Beauvoir. It survived hurricane Katrina with damage that took over ten years to repair. It now looks very much like the home as it was before the storm. The complex includes the Jefferson Davis Library and Museum, cemetery, Tomb of the Unknown Confederate Soldier, nature trails, gardens as well as a beautiful view of the Mississippi Sound from the front of the home. I want to talk about the history of the house, damage sustained as a result of Katrina and property today. If I have a few minutes would also like to talk about the Confederate Memorial Civil War museum in New Orleans. It is a small museum but has many portraits, flags and Civil War artifacts. This site too was part of my Mississippi Gulf Coast tour.

Member Jim Heenehan:
Jim will do a short presentation on the Appomattox Sesquicentennial ceremonies that took place April 8-12, 2015, commemorating Lee’s surrender to Grant, effectively ending the Civil War. Mr. Heenehan will cover the highlights of the Sesquicentennial, including Grant and Lee at the McLean House and the Chamberlain-Gordon “salute” preceding the Confederate laying down of arms on April 12.

Member John Galie:
A brief overview of the retreat of the Army of the Northern Virginia, Gen. Robert E. Lee Commanding, during the Pennsylvania Campaign of 1863 and the pursuit by the Army of the Potomac, MG George Gordon Mead Commanding will be presented. The logistic of the retreat as well as the overwhelming challenges faced by Gen. Lee will be detailed. The focus will be on the Battle of Monterey Pass, July 4-5, 1863 in the South Mountains of Pennsylvania in which over 10,00 soldiers were engaged; making it the second largest battle in Pennsylvania during the Civil War. Recent photographs of the my visit will be included.

January 2017 Newsletter

Meeting of December 8, 2016

Ed Bonekemper on the “Myth of the Lost Cause: False Remembrance of the Civil War”

Myth of the Lost CauseThe Southern-created Myth of the Lost Cause has long dominated Americans’ remembrance of the Civil War, the country’s watershed event. In many ways, that Myth has been America’s most successful propaganda campaign.

Historian Ed Bonekemper examines the accuracy of the Myth and how it has affected our perception of slavery, states’ rights, the nature of the Civil War, and the military performance of Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant, and James Longstreet. He begins by discussing the nature of slavery in 1860, including whether it was a benign and dying institution.

The heart of his analysis is whether slavery was the primary cause of secession and the Confederacy’s creation. He does this by examining Federal protection of slavery, slavery demographics, seceding states’ conventions and declarations, their outreach to other slave states, Confederate leaders’ statements, and the Confederacy’s foreign policy, POW policy and rejection of black soldiers.

Drawing on decades of research, Bonekemper then discusses other controversial Myth issues, such as whether the South could have won the Civil War, whether Lee was a great general, whether Grant was a mere “butcher” who won by brute force, whether Longstreet lost Gettysburg for Lee, and whether the North won by waging “total war.”

Ed Bonekemper 2016 head shotEd Bonekemper earned a B.A., cum laude, in American history from Muhlenberg College, an M.A. in American history from Old Dominion University, and a J.D. from Yale Law School. He is the author of six Civil War books. Ed was the Book Review Editor of Civil War News from 2010 until mid-2016 and was an adjunct lecturer in military history at Muhlenberg College from 2003 to 2010. He served as a Federal Government attorney for 34 years and is a retired Commander, U.S. Coast Guard Reserve.

December 2016 Newsletter

Meeting of November 10, 2016

Paul Kahan on “Amiable Scoundrel: Simon Cameron, Lincoln’s Scandalous Secretary of War”

Simon CameronFrom abject poverty to undisputed political boss of Pennsylvania, Lincoln’s secretary of war, senator, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and a founder of the Republican Party, Simon Cameron (1799–1889) was one of the nineteenth century’s most prominent political figures. In his wake, however, he left a series of questionable political and business dealings and, at the age of eighty, even a sex scandal.

Amiable Scoundrel puts Cameron’s actions into a larger historical context by demonstrating that many politicians of the time, including Abraham Lincoln, used similar tactics to win elections and advance their careers. This study is the fascinating story of Cameron’s life and an illuminating portrait of his times.

Paul KahanPaul Kahan is a lecturer at Ohlone College in Fremont, California. He is the author of “Eastern State Penitentiary: A History”, “Seminary of Virtue: The Ideology and Practice of Inmate Reform at Eastern State Penitentiary, 1829-1971”, “The Bank War: Andrew Jackson, Nicholas Biddle, and the Fight for American Finance”, “The Homestead Strike: Labor, Violence, and American Industry”, and “Amiable Scoundrel – Simon Cameron, Lincoln’s Scandalous Secretary of War”.

Dr. Kahan earned a Ph.D. in U.S. history from Temple University where he worked with William W. Cutler, III. Prior to that, Dr. Kahan earned his M.A. in Modern American History & Literature from Drew University and B.A.s in history and English (with minors in medieval/Renaissance studies and music) from Alfred University.

November 2016 Newsletter

Meeting of October 13, 2016

Jack Lieberman presents “Captain Percival Drayton, United States Navy”

Percival DraytonPercival Drayton was the son of South Carolina Congressman William Drayton. He entered the US Navy as a midshipman in 1827, and served continuously up to the Civil War, being posted to stations that included the Mediterranean, the Pacific off the coast of Brazil, Paraguay, and at the Naval Observatory, Washington, DC. His older brother, Thomas Fenwick Drayton, was a West Point graduate and a US Army officer who remained loyal to the South and became a Confederate brigadier general. When the Civil War began Percival was stationed at the Philadelphia Naval Yard, but was soon given command of the warship USS Pocahontas. He commanded the vessel in the successful Union Naval assault on Port Royal, South Carolina in November 1861. In that action, he fired upon troops and positions commanded by his brother Thomas who was commanding Confederate troops on shore in a literal, classic instance of the “brother against brother” phrase often used to describe the American Civil War.

He was promoted to Captain, US Navy in July 1862, and was assigned to Admiral David Farragut’s West Gulf Squadron, and commanded Farragut’s flagship USS Hartford in the celebrated Naval assault and capture of Mobile Bay, Alabama, in August 1864. Percival died August 4, 1865, and was buried in St. John’s Church in Washington, DC, however his remains were exhumed three months later and he was re-buried at Laurel Hill Cemetery next to his father, William Drayton.

Jack LiebermanJack P. Lieberman, a native of Cheltenham Township, PA, obtained a B.S. in Economics in 1965 from Villanova University. Following graduation, he was commissioned an Ensign in the U.S. Navy and served as Gunnery Officer/Nuclear Weapons Officer aboard USS San Marcos (LSD-25). Subsequently, he served in Aviation and Surface Units and on the Readiness Commander (REDCOM FOUR) Inspector General’s Staff. Upon attaining the rank of Captain, he was appointed Commanding Officer of several Military Sealift Command units and Chief of Staff Officer during Exercise Rainbow Reef at Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, a convoy training exercise, preceding Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm in 1991.

Jack retired from the Naval Reserve, after having served twenty-eight years. His military decorations include National Defense Service Medal with Gold Star, Armed Forces Reserve Medal with Hour Glass Device, Expert Rifle Medal and Expert Pistol Medals, Navy and Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon and the Navy Recruiting Service Ribbon. Jack is a Life Member of the Naval Reserve Association, Reserve Officers Association, U.S. Navy League, Military Order of the World Wars (MOWW), U.S Naval Institute, Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), Naval War College Foundation and the American Legion.

His community, professional activities and organizations include U.S Navy Memorial Foundation, Jewish War Veterans, Sons of Union Veterans, Chestnut Hill Historical Society, Springfield Township Historical Society, General Meade Society, Delaware Valley Civil War Round Table, Confederation of Union Generals and Congregation Keneseth Israel, and the Union League of Philadelphia. He is married to the former Carol Cooper of Wyndmoor, PA. They have one son, David, who is a graduate student at West Chester University.

October 2016 Newsletter

Meeting of September 8, 2016

Bill Vosseler on “They Called Him Father”

Bill presented the life and military career of Major General George H. Thomas, USA, Commanding, Department and Army of the Cumberland, the greatest general in the line of Virginians from George Washington through Winfield Scott.

Born in Virginia, George Henry Thomas (July 31, 1816–March 28, 1870) was a West Point graduate, a career U.S. Army officer, and one of the principal commanders in the Western Theater. Undefeated in battle, he was appointed by Lincoln a Major General in the Regular Army, one of only five authorized by Congress. “…it is doubtful whether his heroism and skill … has ever been surpassed in this world.” Abraham Lincoln commenting on General Thomas at Chickamauga.

Bill VosselerA native of Elizabeth, NJ, William S. (Bill) Vosseler holds a BS in Business from Rutgers University. Retired from the Prudential Insurance Co. of America, in 2007 he founded Civil War Recreations, a company specializing in the recreation and worldwide sale of historic Civil War medals, ribbons and uniform related items.

Bill serves as Executive Director of the American Civil War Charitable Trust (ACWCT), a non-profit organization that raises money to promote Civil War study and to help American Civil War related organizations, nationwide, in their historic preservation, veterans’ grave restoration, and educational efforts. In 2000, he founded the Union Library Civil War Round Table in Hatboro, PA, which met monthly until 2015.

Bill is also founder and past Camp Commander of the Baker/Fisher Camp 101, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW), Department of Pennsylvania, and a Legacy Life Member of the 12th Armored Division (WWII) Association. Having served in the 4th Infantry Division in Vietnam, he is a combat disabled Veteran and a Life Member of the Disabled American Veterans.

Bill and his wife Peggy reside in Garnet Valley, PA.

September 2016 Newsletter

Meeting of August 11, 2016

Your Family Military History II

VeteransBack by popular demand, this month featured an encore Round Table presentation by Old Baldy members on their family military heritage—no matter what particular time of our country’s history, from the French and Indian War to the servicemen and women of today.

 

August 2016 Newsletter

Meeting of July 14, 2016

Jim Heenehan on “The Court-Martial and Acquittal of Col. Ira Grover, 7th Indiana Infantry”

On July 1, 1863, while his 7th Indiana regiment guarded supplies at Emmitsburg, MD, Col. Ira Grover heard that fierce fighting had erupted at Gettysburg. Disregarding orders, he marched his men to the sound of the guns, ultimately saving Culp’s Hill from a Confederate night attack. His reward? A court-martial two weeks later – at least according to historians.

Although Grover violated orders, a court-martial seemed overly harsh for the man who saved Culp’s Hill, so Jim sent to the National Archives for a transcript of the Grover court-martial. To his surprise, the court-martial had nothing to do with Grover’s July 1st Gettysburg march, but was for two unrelated incidents. Jim’s talk will explore three questions: 1) How did historians confuse Grover’s court-martial with his July 1st march to Gettysburg?; 2) Who was Col. Grover?; and 3) What was the court-martial really about?

Jim HennehanJim Heenehan has been a member of the Old Baldy Civil War Round Table since the 1990s. He has written several Civil War articles, including one on the Col. Grover court-martial, which was published in The Gettysburg Magazine. Jim is an attorney who retired last year from the Environmental Protection Agency, after 37 years of service. His interest in the Civil War dates back to 1961, when he and his brother received the Marx Civil War playset for Christmas. And in 1991, on a sunny November day, Jim married his wife, Carolyn Guss, in the G.A.R. Hall in Gettysburg, PA.

July 2016 Newsletter

Meeting of June 9, 2016

Paul Quigley on “Mapping the Fourth of July in the Civil War Era”

How did Americans celebrate the anniversary of their nation’s birth when the nation was falling apart? In this lecture, Professor Paul Quigley explored Civil War Americans’ varied attitudes to the Fourth of the July. Northerners used the holiday to rejoice in Union victories. African Americans seized the opportunity to prove their American identity. And white southerners wondered whether they should celebrate Independence Day at all. These fascinating stories are hidden in thousands of newspaper articles, speeches, letters, and diaries from the Civil War years. Quigley demonstrated a new website, “Mapping the Fourth of July in the Civil War Era,” which allows anyone interested in Civil War history to transcribe, tag, and discuss these documents online.

Paul Quigley is Director of the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies and the James I. Robertson, Jr., Associate Professor of Civil War History in the History Department at Virginia Tech. A native of Manchester, England, he holds degrees from Lancaster University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Quigley is the author of Shifting Grounds: Nationalism and the American South, 1848-65, which won the British Association for American Studies Book Prize and the Jefferson Davis Award from the Museum of the Confederacy.

June 2016 Newsletter

Meeting of May 12, 2016

Bob Russo on “Arlington National Cemetery—Garden of Stone”

Bob RussoOver many years Bob Russo made numerous trips to Arlington National Cemetery to better understand the history and sites of this National treasure, hallowed ground and final resting place of over 400,000 veterans and their family members. Bob’s presentation, Arlington National Cemetery—Garden of Stone, was the result of much of that work.

To stand at Arlington National Cemetery today it’s easy to look at the rows of tombstones, set in perfect alignment, and view the rolling hills as a Garden of Stone. What you see today involves years of evolution that started long before the Civil War. In fact the narrative of the ground at Arlington goes back to the time of the American Revolution when George Washington’s adopted son purchased the ground where the National Cemetery sits today. Years later Robert E. Lee resided here. The guards at today’s Tomb of the Unknowns tie directly to George Washington and his Continental Army. That connection can be seen at Valley Forge National Historical Park. These associations to the past convey an interesting story that spans over 235 years.

Many stones symbolize the story of an American hero, someone who served our Nation either in the military or some other capacity. Beyond the graves are numerous monuments that tell a tale of American courage, some from America’s most heart wrenching and iconic moments. Three of the Marines who raised the flag at Iwo Jima are buried here, President Kennedy, his brothers, two Apollo 1 astronauts, Joe Louis, Audie Murphy, and many other well known Americans. Memorials to the Shuttle Challenger Astronauts, the Confederate Monument, the Memorial Amphitheatre, the Nurses Memorial, war memorials and the great dignity of the Tomb of the Unknowns, along with others, will be discussed in this presentation.

Bob Russo is the Vice President of Old Baldy Civil War Round Table and can also be found most Saturday mornings volunteering for the National Park Service at Independence National Historical Park. While there he conducts tours of Independence Hall, Congress Hall and offers interpretation at the Liberty Bell and other sites within the Park. Bob has a vast interest in American history that dates back to his teen years. Bob has been a member of numerous historical organizations over the years that include the Gettysburg Foundation, Surratt Society, Ford’s Theater Society, Civil War Trust, National Constitution Center and others. Bob also received the Certificate of Completion from the Civil War Institute at Manor College in Pennsylvania. In his employment Bob works as the Senior Vice President of a local structural steel and miscellaneous iron fabricator and erector.

This is an often-somber presentation that coincides with the solemn remembrances of Memorial Day. Bob’s hope is that you learn a few things about Arlington National Cemetery that you didn’t know and that this presentation causes you to want to visit or revisit this historic National Cemetery. He further hopes that you will be touched in some way by some of the stories and photos from, Arlington National Cemetery—Garden of Stone.

May 2016 Newsletter

Meeting of April 14, 2016

Joanne Hulme on “Actor, Assassin, Patriot, Pawn; What You Think You Know About John Wilkes Booth”

Joanne HulmeIf you are sure that recorded history is accurate, come and talk about the myths and mysteries of the Lincoln assassination, the escape and death of the assassin, and what it is about the recorded history that keeps this story alive. A Booth descendant brings family history and knowledge passed down through 3 generations to spark the debate.

Philadelphia resident Joanne Hulme is a third generation descendant of John Wilkes Booth, having the same grandfather as the Booth brothers. Her mother is a cousin to Joseph Adrian Booth, JWB’S youngest brother, as well as a great niece. Hulme is often seen in interviews in print and television, talking about the family connections and stories.

April 2016 Newsletter

Meeting of March 10, 2016

Robert E. Hanrahan, Jr. on “The U.S.S. Kearsarge vs. the C.S.S. Alabama

Sinking of the CSS Alabama

Sinking of the CSS Alabama (by Xanthus Smith, 1922)

On June 19, 1864, one of the most celebrated naval battles of the American Civil War was fought not in Southern waters, but on the other side of the Atlantic. It was a long awaited duel at the end of a long and frustrating chase that came to a climax off the coast of Cherbourg, France. Two ships—the notorious Confederate commerce raider Alabama faced the U.S.S. Kearsarge in a fight to the finish.

Bob’s program was accompanied by maps, period pictures, and illustrations of the two ships, and comparison charts between the ships themselves, their armament, and their respective captains.

Robert E. Hanrahan, Jr. (portraying Major General John Gibbon)

Robert E. Hanrahan, Jr.
(portraying Major General John Gibbon)

Robert E. Hanrahan, Jr. is a founding member of the Confederation of Union Generals, and has a long history in the Philadelphia area civic and business communities. He received his undergraduate degree in marketing from La Salle University, and is currently a retired consultant in the information technology field.

Bob’s late father (Robert E. Hanrahan Sr.) served in the U.S. Navy during World War II as a seaman 1st Class aboard the Battleship U.S.S New York, which engaged in numerous actions including the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Bob is also an active participant and member of the United States Naval Institute, including the Arleigh Burke Society and the Commodore’s Club. During the Civil War, Bob’s Great-Great Grandfather James Murphy, served in the 20th P.V.I. and 6th U.S. Cavalry.

Bob’s other present interests include his involvement with La Salle University as a member of the Presidents Council, Investments Committee Member of The William Penn Foundation; InspiriTec, Board Member; President of G.A.R. Sons of the Union Veterans Camp 299, The Heritage Foundation: Washington, D.C., Presidents Council Member; Gettysburg Battlefield Preservation Association, Board Member; Majority Inspector of Elections: Precinct 249, East Goshen Township, PA. The Longport Historical Society: Longport, NJ, Trustee, and Past President. The Civil War Preservation Trust, Friends of Historic Goshenville, PA, and National Republican Party.

Bob lives in Chester County, Pennsylvania, and has three children, Katherine born in 1985, John born in 1986 and Dorothy born in 1988.

March 2016 Newsletter

Meeting of February 11, 2016

Steven J. Wright and William C. Holdsworth on “Return to Iwo Jima”

Steven Wright (L) and Bill Holdsworth (R) on Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima, flanking their friend and Iwo Jima survivor, Carl DeHaven. Mr. DeHaven (of League City, TX) served with the Fifth Marines on Iwo Jima and Guam.

Steven Wright (L) and Bill Holdsworth (R) on Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima, flanking their friend and Iwo Jima survivor, Carl DeHaven. Mr. DeHaven (of League City, TX) served with the Fifth Marines on Iwo Jima and Guam.

On February 19, 1945, the first of 70,000 U.S. Marines landed on the Pacific island of Iwo Jima, to face over 20,000 determined Imperial Japanese defenders. By the time it was over thirty-six days later, Americans had suffered over 26,000 casualties, of which more than 6,800 were killed. Japanese losses were staggering: of the nearly 21,000 defenders, only 216 were captured alive.

In March 2015, as part of the joint American–Japanese 70th anniversary “Reunion of Honor” ceremonies, independent historians Steven J. Wright and William C. Holdsworth visited the island with more than fifty veterans of the battle—including one Japanese survivor, Tsuruji Akikusa—and the last surviving Iwo Jima Medal of Honor recipient Hershel “Woody” Williams. Holdsworth and Wright presented their experience in the program: Return to Iwo Jima.

Steven J. Wright has authored two books and over 300 articles and reviews on the American Civil War. He holds advanced degrees in American History and American Indian Studies, and Library and Information Science. He is a member of the faculty of the Civil War Institute of Manor College, and is a member and past President of the Old Baldy Civil War Round Table of Philadelphia.

William C. Holdsworth attended Montgomery County Community College, and has made a successful career in Sales & Marketing in the record business, working for RCA Records, PolyGram Records, and the Universal Music Group. He and his wife have three sons, one of whom is a U. S. Marine. Bill is a member and former Vice President of the Old Baldy Civil War Round Table of Philadelphia.

February 2016 Newsletter

Meeting of January 14, 2016

Roundtable discussion night: “Your Family Military History”

– Do you have a Civil War ancestor?
– Do you have a family member with other service?
– Do you have military experience?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions…

Uncle Sam

… to share your story at our January Roundtable meeting.

Volunteer Now

Plan to use about 10 minutes, and just let Herb, Harry, or Dave know in advance!

January 2016 Newsletter

Meeting of December 10, 2015

Randy Drais on “Rock Carvings at Gettysburg”

Randy DraisOne of the more unusual facets of the Gettysburg battlefield is the existence of many rock carvings. Made by soldiers during the battle or by veterans upon their return or by civilians or tourists, rock carvings can be found on many areas of the 6,000 or so acres that encompass the Gettysburg National Military Park.

Looking for rock carvings is an extremely interesting and unusual way to explore the battlefield, but it is also an extremely interesting and unusual way to discover some of the battlefield history that is often overlooked or quickly forgotten, especially of the personal and often tragic stories of soldiers, both Union and Confederate, who left their mark, both figuratively and literally, on this hallowed ground.

Randy Drais, amateur Civil War historian and Battle of Gettysburg buff, looked at many of the rock carvings on the Gettysburg battlefield and the stories behind them.

Born and raised in York, Pennsylvania, Randy Drais developed a keen interest in the Battle of Gettysburg and the Gettysburg Campaign immediately after a 5th grade field trip to that famous Civil War battlefield. A lifelong passion to learn more resulted in his creation in March 2008 of a website, http://battleofgettysburgbuff.com/, for individuals who wish to learn and do more than the average visitor to the battlefield. A companion website, http://battleofgettysburgbuff.net, Facebook page, and a quarterly newsletter soon followed.

A graduate of York College of Pennsylvania with a B.A. in International Studies, Randy has worked in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, the Pennsylvania Department of State, and the Pennsylvania Senate. Married with two daughters, Randy recently retired on January 1, 2015, and will be able to devote even more time to his main passion, learning even more about the Battle of Gettysburg and sharing that information with others.

December 2015 Newsletter

Meeting of November 11, 2015

Paula Gidjunis on “A Country Worth Fighting For: The History of the 128th PA”

Paula GidjunisThe 128th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry men came from the counties of Bucks, Berks, and Lehigh. These volunteers enlisted in August 1862 for nine months in response to the fear of invasion of the North by the Confederate Army. Entering the battle of Antietam in Maryland after one month’s service, they had very little military training and paid with heavy casualties. By the battle of Chancellorsville in May 1863 they were fully trained soldiers and possibly were the catalyst in the friendly fire shooting of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson. As they became hardened veterans, their enlistment expired.

Paula Gidjunis is a retired middle school Social Studies teacher and currently works as a bookkeeper for JPG Photography and teaches history at Manor College. She serves on the board of the Delaware Valley CWRT and chairs their Preservation Committee. She also serves on the board of the Historical Society of Montgomery County. She has a B.A. in History/Education, a certificate in Historical Preservation, an M.B.A., and recently earned her M.A. in History from LaSalle University.

November 2015 Newsletter

Meeting of October 8, 2015

Robert Hicks on “‘Straight and swift to my wounded I go’: The Reality of Civil War Medicine”

Bearing the bandages, water and sponge, Straight and swift to my wounded I go… To each and all one after another I draw near, not one do I miss.

– Walt Whitman, “The Wound Dresser”

Robert Hicks tintypeDespite recent commemorations of Civil War battles and leaders, the war’s medical dimension has received comparatively little public attention. America’s “good gray poet,” Walt Whitman, who volunteered in hospitals during the war, observed that “the real war will not get in the books.” For Whitman, the war’s true story was found in the hospital. The war affected every family: on average, one citizen in ten was killed, wounded, or became sick because of the war. The massive casualties made huge demands on medical practice, stimulating the reorganization of professional medicine. Faced with catastrophe, the federal medical establishment re-invented itself and created the modern hospital-centered mode of emergency care that remains the Civil War’s chief legacy to medicine. Focusing on specific wounded soldiers as lenses to understand the larger picture of the medical war, this presentation follows their experiences from the battlefield to distant general hospitals. The presentation previews the permanent exhibition of “the real war” at The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, Broken Bodies, Suffering Spirits: Injury, Death, and Healing in Civil War Philadelphia.

Robert Hicks with leechesRobert D. Hicks, PhD is the director of the Mütter Museum and Historical Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. He also directs the F. C. Wood Institute and holds the William Maul Measey Chair for the History of Medicine. Formerly, he supervised exhibits, collections, and educational outreach at the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia. He has worked with museum-based education and exhibits for over three decades, primarily as a consultant to historic sites and museums. This work led Robert to obtain a doctorate in maritime history from the University of Exeter, United Kingdom. Concurrent with the museum consulting, Robert worked for the Commonwealth of Virginia as a senior program manager in criminal justice, providing managerial assistance throughout the state. Earlier, he performed criminal justice work in Arizona, and obtained B.A. and M.A. degrees in anthropology and archaeology at the University of Arizona. He also served as a naval officer with the U.S. Naval Security Group. His most recent book is Voyage to Jamestown: Practical Navigation in the Age of Discovery (U.S. Naval Institute Press, 2011).

October 2015 Newsletter

Meeting of September 10, 2015

John Zinn on “New Jersey Base Ball during the Civil War Era”

John ZinnJohn traced the game’s origins in New Jersey and Philadelphia and pointed out prominent early teams and players. He also touched on the impact of the war on the game’s development in New Jersey and how the state’s soldiers brought the game to the battlefront. There was also a description of how the early game differed from today’s game, especially regarding rules and equipment.

John Zinn is an independent historian with special interest in the history of baseball as well as the Civil War. He is the chairman of the board of the New Jersey Historical Society and was the chair of New Jersey’s Committee on the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War. John is the author of three books including two about the Brooklyn Dodgers as well as numerous essays and articles. He is currently working on a biography of Charles Ebbets, longtime owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers. John also writes a blog on base ball history entitled “A Manly Pastime.” He holds BA and MBA degrees from Rutgers University and is a Vietnam veteran. John is the score keeper for the Flemington Neshanock vintage base ball team. John lives in Verona, N.J. with his wife Carol.

September 2015 Newsletter

Meeting of August 13, 2015

Herb Kaufman on “‘Frankly my dear:’ Hollywood and the Civil War”

Poster_-_Gone_With_the_WindClark Gable, John Wayne, Errol Flynn, Matthew Broderick, Morgan Freeman, Olivia de Havilland, and Sally Field are but a few of the countless notable Hollywood stars who appeared in motion pictures that have the Civil War as their narrative. Some of the films were frivolous (only Hollywood could make a Civil War comedy); others were based on actual experiences and events; many were based on historical novels; and all are designed to entertain.

While no Civil War film captures the breadth and depth of the full experience of the war, there are some notable Civil War films that teach about the war and others are noteworthy for absurdity, and simply for sugar-coating reality.

This program presented many of the notable, interesting and more remarkable films that capture different perspectives about the Civil War. It examined the writers, novels, and the films, many of which have become iconic depictions of this historic era.

August 2015 Newsletter

Meeting of July 9, 2015

John Jorgensen on “The Southern War Against the Confederacy: Unionism in the Seceding States”

John JorgensenThe American Civil War is remembered primarily as a contest between North and South; however, the reality of wartime identity politics was far more complex than this regional narrative admits. As many as one Southern soldier in ten served in the “Northern” army (and this number excludes as many as two hundred thousand ex-slaves who swelled the Federal ranks!). The Union Navy’s highest ranking officer was a Southerner. Four Confederate states (not counting West Virginia) elected pro-Union governors during the conflict, and on the last day of the war, the President of the United States was a man who called a Confederate city home.

John examined the diversity of Southern opinion on the issues that lay at the heart of the war. He took a broad look at some of the many ways in which Unionists in the South contributed to the Federal war effort, politically and militarily. And he began to answer the question, How did the war come to be remembered as North versus South in spite of all this?

The son of a noted Gettysburg scholar, John Jorgensen is a history teacher from Woodbridge, NJ. He holds a BA in Political Science from Fairfield University and a Masters in Social Studies Education from Rutgers University. In one way or another, the American Civil War has been a lifelong passion for him.

July 2015 Newsletter

Meeting of June 11, 2015

Jane Peters Estes on “The Battle of Gettysburg: Where Were the Women?”

Jane Peters EstesFrom the best known to the most obscure, this program discussed the many roles filled by women during the deadliest battle of the Civil War. With information gleaned from diaries, letters, and newspapers of the period, many parts of this program are told in the actual words of the women who lived through the battle.

Jane Peters Estes has been a living historian and active member of Delaware Valley region historical organizations for almost 30 years. Her current affiliations include; Historical Military Impressions, GAR Museum, 26th and 28th PA Volunteers, Mount Holly Historical Society, New Jersey Civil War Heritage Association, General Meade Society, and the Union Patriotic League. She has had articles published in Civil War Lady Magazine, Citizen’s Companion Magazine, Philadelphia Bride Magazine, and People Magazine.

Jane last shared some of her expertise with members of OBCWRT in 2011 when she presented “Christmas Past,” a delightful overview of the origins of many of our Christmas traditions. Her many programs and presentations include: Civil War Nurses, Fashions of the 1860s, Grave Matters (Victorian Mourning Customs), Wedding Customs and Traditions, Women’s Lifestyles of the 1860’s, Vivandieres, Pets of the Past, and The Battle of Gettysburg: Where Were the Women?

June 2015 Newsletter

Meeting of May 14, 2015

The Scheier Brothers on “Civil War Women: Nurses, Leaders, Soldiers, and Spies”

Scheier BrothersThe Scheier Brothers described the contributions of dedicated northern and southern women during the war.

Benjamin and David Scheier, veterans of the Union Army, are composite characters based on actual soldiers’ memoirs, diaries, and other historical records and reflect the experiences and attitudes of soldiers of the era.

The brothers related what everyday life was like, as seen from the perspective of those who served. David told how women served in the Civil War, not always as nurses, but also as women in disguise who fought alongside their husbands. In time, David revealed that “his” name is Sarah, and that “he” is actually Benjamin’s wife, one of the hundreds of married and single women who hid their gender and honorably served as soldiers. Sarah has many tales to tell about women who served as soldiers, nurses, and as spies.

Robert Silverman and Diana Newman, the creators of Benjamin and David Scheier, are Civil War living historians with experience teaching and serving as docents at museums. Robert is a veteran and also serves on the Board of Trustees of the National Guard Militia Museum of New Jersey Foundation. They reside in Long Branch, NJ.

They created the characters of Benjamin and David Scheier for the purpose of presenting history in an easily accessible and historically accurate way. The Scheier Brothers presentations follow several themes, ranging from the everyday lives of soldiers, to the participation of women, and especially New Jersey women, in the Civil War, and also Civil War mascots. The brothers visit in character; punctuated with period photographs, art, and humor. They may even sing a song or two if time permits.

May 2015 Newsletter

Meeting of April 9, 2015

Don Wiles on “Transport to Hell: SS Sultana, An American Tragedy”

SS Sultana (Library of Congress)

SS Sultana (Library of Congress)

The worst maritime disaster in America occurred April 27,1865, north of Memphis on the Mississippi River. A steamship that was being used to transport returning Union prisoners of war from Confederate prisons to their homes in the Midwest area of the country exploded and sunk. There are a lot of mysteries and questions about the SS Sultana tragedy. The new technologies of steamboat engines, the making of repairs, the greed and conspiracies of Army officers and the Sultana officer, the amount of prisoners put on the ship, the operation of the ship on the flooded Mississippi, the government investigations, the trial to fix blame, the rescue and recovery efforts of the Navy and civilians, why was there no outcry from Americans, how could they ignore approximately 1700 dead from this disaster and now the question of sabotage.

A subject of the Civil War that had been forgotten from the time it happened up to the 1960s (one book was written in 1892). Several books and articles have now been researched and written starting in the 1960s. And now the Sultana’s location has been found and the possible excavation of the remains may be in the future. After 150 years a lot of questions are still unanswered.

An ancestor of Don’s was a prisoner in Andersonville and was on the Sultana and survived. Hear his unique story.

Don Wiles is a member of Old Baldy CWRT and is an amateur historian whose main interest is Gettysburg. His interest in the Sultana was generated by his interest in his family’s genealogy. Don is retired from 50 years as an Illustrator for industrial and commercial companies. He worked at the Kennedy Space Center doing illustrations for the Astronauts, NASA and companies during the Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, Soyuz, Shuttle, and various Satellite programs. He also did an illustration of the missile cruiser CG 64 Gettysburg for the commissioning in Philadelphia. Don lives in Mount Laurel, New Jersey.

April 2015 Newsletter