Category Archives: Meeting archive

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

Meeting of March 12, 2015

Herb Kaufman on “The Medical Treatment of Our Assassinated Presidents”

man at a podium

Herb Kaufman

Over the years, many, many questions concerning the treatment of our assassinated Presidents have been raised. Beginning with the shooting of President Lincoln in 1865, this presentation examined the medical methods and treatment of our four assassinated presidents: Would President Lincoln have lived with modern medical treatment? Did the doctors really kill President Garfield? Why was President McKinley not taken to a hospital? How did the medical team approach the treatment of President Kennedy? These and other questions were answered in this presentation, “The Medical Treatment of Our Assassinated Presidents.”

We followed the circumstances of their shooting, explore the medical practices of that era, and analyze the medical advances or lack thereof, over the decades that intervened between the assassinations.

Herb Kaufman has been a life-long student of the Civil War era. He is a founding member of the faculty of the Civil War Institute at Manor College, and has taught life long learning courses on a wide variety of Civil War topics at a number of local universities and community groups. 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. Continue reading

Meeting of February 12, 2015

Hugh Boyle on “Presidential Assassins”

presidential assassinsFour men have taken the lives of American presidents. Their murderous acts have changed the course of American politics. Who were these murderers? Why did they do it? What did they hope to gain? What brought them to commit these crimes? This is their stories and what brought them to these tragic conclusions.

Hugh Boyle is a founding member and president of the Delaware Valley Civil War Round Table and the April 1865 Society. He serves on the faculty of the Civil War Institute at Manor College in Jenkintown, PA, where he teaches courses on Abraham Lincoln’s life and assassination as well as other Civil War topics. He also serves as Executive Director of the GAR Library and Museum. He is on the board of directors of the annual Bensalem Reenactment. He is a member of the Surratt Society and the General Meade Society and the Abraham Lincoln Association. He is a member of the Lincoln Forum and a book reviewer for Lincoln Herald magazine. He is the former publisher and book review editor of the “Civil war Brigadier” newspaper. He has given lectures to Civil War Round Tables, Museums, Historical Societies and civic groups. He has spoken at seminars and symposiums on Abraham Lincoln, his life his presidency and death. He is now retired from his position as National Sales Manager of Roadpro 12 volt electronics and lives with his wife Rose in Bensalem, PA.

February 2015 Newsletter

Meeting of January 8, 2015

Round Table Discussion: “Grant vs Lee: Did Grant Win … or did Lee Lose?”

Print“To be a good soldier, you must love the army. To be a good commander, you must be willing to order the death of the thing you love.” Robert E. Lee

“In every battle there comes a time when both sides consider themselves beaten, then he who continues the attack wins.” Ulysses S. Grant

While both Generals Grant and Lee had West Point educations, their respective views of warfare differed greatly. Grant believed in swift action, striking the enemy with vigor and force; Lee was a master tactician, evaluating his enemy’s strengths and weaknesses.

At our January meeting, all members of our round table had the opportunity to consider their own feelings and beliefs of Generals Grant and Lee. Once Grant took command of the Union armies in 1864, how did the North’s perspective of the war change? How did Lee respond to Grant’s tactics? Was Grant truly a “butcher” in his use of the army? Did Lee fail to use his resources in the most effective manner? What could either of them have done differently?

January 2015 Newsletter

Meeting of December 11, 2014

William Sia on “Reconstruction”

Railsplitter cartoonWith the goal of stimulating thought and discussion, Old Baldy Civil War Round Table member William (Bill) Sia reviewed the positions taken by Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson while serving as Chief Executive, the specific actions taken by members of Congress to assert their leadership, that is through legislation and Constitutional amendments, during these administrations, and key decisions handed down by the Supreme Court during this era.

After earning a B.A. at King’s College and an M.A. at Trenton State College, Bill Sia taught American Government to seniors at Pennsauken High School for thirty-five years. He would like to think, as all teachers do, that he contributed to their growth both as students and citizens.

December 2014 Newsletter

Meeting of November 13, 2014

Joe Wilson on “Civil War Artifacts: The Story Behind the Relics”

Joe WilsonOld Baldy C.W.R.T. member Joe Wilson discussed some of his most interesting relics that have a solid history and are often identified to a soldier. An identified relic opens the door and sheds light on the path of the relic through its storied history. Included in the presentation will be the personal Bible of Joe’s great-great-grandfather, Corporal George Garman of the 36th PA Volunteers, which came into Joe’s possession by a series of strange coincidences after a visit to Greenwood Cemetery in Northeast Philadelphia. Glued to the back cover of the Bible, Joe found a photo of Corporal Garman taken upon his release from Andersonville Prison. This image lent a face to an ancestor he had been researching for many years.

Joe Wilson is an avid Civil War relic collector. A retired plumber, in addition to belonging to Old Baldy, he is a member of the General George Meade Society and the Civil War Trust. He is currently working on a book entitled In Line of Battle: The Pennsylvania Reserves.

November 2014 Newsletter

Meeting of October 9, 2014

Joseph G. Bilby on “Freedom to All: New Jersey’s African-American Civil War Soldiers”

Freedom_cover Joseph G. Bilby discussed the findings of his new book, which details the story of the state’s black soldiers in the Civil War, and also addressed African-American military service in New Jersey before and after the conflict, from Revolutionary War militiamen to the state’s segregated First Separate Militia Battalion of the 1930s and the post-World War II New Jersey National Guard, which, in 1948, led the nation in integrating its military force

Most Civil War African-American New Jersey soldiers served in the regiments of the United States Colored Troops organized at Camp William Penn outside Philadelphia. Perhaps the most famous of these regiments was the 22nd United States Colored Infantry, a unit that broke the Confederate line at Petersburg in June, 1864, fought through the siege of Petersburg, was one of the first Union units to enter Richmond, marched in President Lincoln’s funeral parade in Washington, participated in the hunt for John Wilkes Booth and served on occupation and border guard duty in Texas before returning home for discharge in the fall of 1865. Bilby will relate the histories of the Camp William Penn regiments with large numbers of Jerseymen in their ranks, as well as the stories of individual members of those units.

JoeBilbyJoseph G. Bilby received his BA and MA degrees in history from Seton Hall University and served as a lieutenant in the First Infantry Division in Vietnam in 1966-1967. Mr. Bilby is Assistant Curator of the New Jersey National Guard and Militia Museum in Sea Girt, a member of and publications editor for the New Jersey Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee, a columnist for The Civil War News and a free lance writer, historian and historical consultant. He is the author, editor or co-author of over 400 articles and nineteen books on New Jersey, the Civil War, and firearms history, including Freedom To All, the story of New Jersey’s African American Civil War Soldiers, the award winning New Jersey Goes to War and most recently, as co-author of 350 Years of New Jersey History: From Stuyvesant to Sandy and Hidden History of New Jersey at War (The History Press, 2014). Mr. Bilby has received the Jane Clayton award for contributions to Monmouth County (NJ) history, an award of merit from the New Jersey Historical Commission for his contributions to the state’s military history and the New Jersey Meritorious Service Medal from the state’s Division of Military and Veterans Affairs.

October 2014 Newsletter

Meeting of September 11, 2014

Steve Wright on “The Custer Myth”

The first full-length biography of George Armstrong Custer appeared within months after his death – just about the same time that a dramatic portrayal of his killing was created for Buffalo Bill Cody’s traveling Wild West Show. Since that day in June 1876 when George Armstrong Custer lost his life on the rolling hills above the Little Big Horn River, his life and death have been steeped in mystery and legend. People who have never read a word about Custer have strong opinions about what kind of person he was and how he lived his life. With “The Custer Myth” Steven Wright explored how the legend came to be and how Custer’s life differed from and was similar to the legend.

Steve WrightSteven J. Wright first developed an interest in the Lincoln assassination and Civil War by perusing his father’s personal library as a young boy. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree from St. John’s University (Collegeville, MN) and a Master of Arts degree in American History and American Indian Studies from the University of Minnesota-Duluth. In addition, he holds a Master of Library and Information Science degree from Drexel University. The former Curator of Collections of the late Civil War Library and Museum, he has written two books, including a small volume on the Irish Brigade, contributed to seven other volumes, and published more than 300 articles or book reviews in such publications as Blue and Gray, America’s Civil War, Civil War News, Civil War Times, The Courier, The Surratt Courier, the Lincoln Herald, and the Wild West History Association Journal. He is a member of the faculty of the Civil War Institute of Manor College, in Jenkintown, PA. In addition he is a member of a number of historical societies and Civil War Round Tables, including being Past President of Old Baldy Civil War Round Table and is a Life Member of the Surratt Society. Wright currently works as a Librarian with the Free Library of Philadelphia. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife, Irene, who is a Children’s Librarian with the Free Library of Philadelphia.

September 2014 Newsletter

Meeting of August 14, 2014

Round Table Members’ Favorite Book(s) Night

Was there a particular book related to the Civil War that first grabbed your attention and led you to a lifelong interest in this history? What Civil War book or books stand out in your memory and why? Are you reading something right now that you have found riveting and would recommend?

The members informally discussed books that have impacted us as avid Civil War enthusiasts.

August 2014 Newsletter