Don Ernsberger on “Meade’s Breakthrough at Fredericksburg”
Today when we hear or read of the Battle of Fredericksburg, December 13, 1862, attention is usually focused on the countless infantry charges up Marye’s Height´s into the artillery and rifles of the Confederate Army. Yet some historians have argued for many years that the key to the entire battle on December 13 was the action downstream where Meade´s Pennsylvania Reserves broke, for a short time, the Confederate lines in an attempt to carry out what many believe to have been Major General Ambrose E. Burnside’s true objective that day. Mindful that this critical part of the battle had been often overlooked, Civil War historian Don Ernsberger researched and wrote Meade’s Breakthroughat Fredericksburg, which was published in 2012. Don presened on this topic to our round table on December 12th, 2013, the eve of the 101st anniversary of the battle.
Don Ernsberger has had a lifelong interest in history, particularly that of the American Civil War era. He taught history and philosophy for many years at Council Rock High School (PA) and Gwynedd-Mercy College before retiring in 2001 to work for eight years as a deputy chief of staff for the United States Congress. To date he has written six well-received books on Civil War military history. He also has been an avid Civil War reenactor with the 69th PA.
December 2013 Newsletter
Paula Gidjunis on “Civilians in the Civil War: Homefront to the Battlefield”
Paula Gidjunis gave us an in-depth presentation on civilians who answered the call to support the men who did the fighting on the Battlefields. She used a PowerPoint presentation to display the photographs of many of these these famous civilians. She also had excerpts from period diaries and letters. She discuss the impact of the Civil War on civilians and how they coped with the destruction of war. Many of the subjects were the women who became nurses in home town hospitals and those who went and served the wounded in battlefield hospitals. She also discussed the aid and comfort given to the underground railroad system, the civilian spy networks that supported the Army on both sides. A very interesting and educational presentation.
Paula Gidjunis is a retired middle school Social Studies teacher and a current instructor at the Civil War Institute at Manor College. She also works as a bookkeeper part-time. Continue reading
Valerie Josephson on “Stirring Times, The Lives of New Jersey’s First Civil War Surgeons”
Even before President Lincoln called for 75,000 militia volunteers, four New Jersey regiments were forming for a three month tour. One surgeon and one surgeon’s mate were commissioned to each unit. They were not your average doctors. In a time when it was still possible to become a doctor by apprenticeship, two did and six attended prestigious medical schools. Six had gone to the American frontiers before the war. One was a graduate of the London School of Pharmacy who came to America to seek his fortune. When the three-month enlistment was up, only two did not apply for further service. Four entered the Volunteer Medical Corps, two served with four New Jersey regiments, and one was commissioned in the U.S. Navy.
Valerie described the four regiments, their mission in Virginia and the actions of the medical staff during this period. She provided a brief profile of each physician, but focused on the 4th New Jersey Militia, which was drawn from the Trenton-Camden area and their two medical men, Dr. Alvin Satterthwait and Dr. Elias B. Woolston.
Dr. James Paradis on “Camp William Penn and Its Influence on the Civil War”
Dr. Paradis spoke on the historical background that led to the establishment of Camp William Penn in the summer of 1863 in Chelten Hills, PA, which became the largest site for the training of United States Colored Troops (U.S.C.T.) in the North. He outlined the history of the camp itself, highlighted some of the more dramatic events that occurred there, and further illustrated some of the important actions and impact thereof attributed to U.S.C.T. regiments who trained there between 1863 and 1865. Continue reading
Round Table Discussion of “West versus East: Where Was the Most Important Field of Battle?”
The Civil War was fought over a vast area of the continent and on the sea as well. At the meeting this month we discussed some of the events during the war and how they influenced the war and the Nation. This includes politically, on the populations of the opposing areas, strategically in directing the war and to the soldiers fighting the war. How did rivers and different geographies change plans, actions and results? Points considered: the role of the press in reporting the war, the effect of the home front, the support of States on each side and which events did make a difference in the outcome of the war. It was a lively discussion that went in various directions.
August 2013 Newsletter
Arlene Harris on “Major General John F. Reynolds: Duty – Honor – Sacrifice”
Arlene Harris as Kate Reynolds
Arlene Harris spoke in first-person format as Catherine (“Kate”) Reynolds, the sister that John F. Reynolds was closest to throughout his life. Presenting information based on Reynolds family letters, as well as military records, “Kate” started by reviewing “her brother’s” early life and education, particularly his experiences in the Mexican War. After explaining how what he learned and accomplished shaped the Code of Honor he would live and die by, she showed how truly dedicated and valuable to his country he was, and how General Reynolds contributed to the Union victory at Gettysburg. Her talk emphasized the last weeks of John Reynolds’s life, leading up to his tragic but heroic death on July 1, 1863. Continue reading
Paul Lader, Esq. on “The Civil War: A Sampling of the Strange, the Odd, the Fascinating, the Mundane, and the Outright Fabricated”
Here are a few samples from Paul’s talk:
The Strange: Did you know that the Third Reich’s Hitler Youth Leader had a grandfather who was an officer in the Union Army?
The Odd: Speaking of the Third Reich, there were two Union soldiers with the surname of Hitler.
The Fascinating: The survival or demise of a wounded young junior officer at the Second Battle of Manassas would have profound consequences on the course of history in the mid-20th Century. (You’ll have to attend to Paul’s talk to find out who that junior officer was!)
The Fabricated: Robert E. Lee’s last words were not “Strike the tent.” They were something else, and it was not very flattering… Continue reading
Scott Mingus, Sr. on “Jubal Early in the Advance to Gettysburg”
Scott Mingus, Sr.
In late June 1863, two powerful columns of Confederates troops approached the Susquehanna River, one marching through Carlisle toward Harrisburg and the other heading through Gettysburg and York towards Wrightsville/Columbia. This talk will cover the latter command, that of Jubal Early, as it conquered Gettysburg and then accepted the surrender of York, the largest Northern town to fall during the entire war. State militia defending the river crossing then burned the world’s longest covered bridge to prevent Rebel passage.
Scott L. Mingus, Sr. is an executive in the paper industry, and holds patents in self-adhesive postage stamps and bar code labels. He was part of the research team that developed the first commercially successful self-adhesive U.S. postage stamps. The York, Pa., resident has seven Civil War books listed on amazon.com. Mingus also has written several articles for The Gettysburg Magazine. He maintains a blog on the Civil War history of York County, Pa. (www.yorkblog.com/cannonball), and is a tour guide for the York County Heritage Trust. He also has written six scenario books on miniature wargaming.
Because of a last-minute speaker cancellation, there was no formal presentation this month and a Civil War DVD was viewed instead.
April 2013 Newsletter
Carol Neumann-Waskie on “An Evening with Clara Barton”
For many years Carol Neumann-Waskie has portrayed Clara Barton in a first-person style, “Living History” performance. An expert on the life of this brave and fearless woman, Carol shared her knowledge as “Clara Barton” at the March 13th meeting of the Old Baldy Civil War Round Table. Continue reading
Roger Arthur on “The Laughing Lincoln: The Wit & Wisdom of Our 16th President”
Roger Arthur with Lincoln
Can history be fun? You bet! The Forum Room at CCC Blackwood resounded with laughter on the evening of February 20th when Old Baldy guest speaker Roger Arthur regaled us with “The Laughing Lincoln: the Wit and Wisdom of Our 16th President.” A Lincoln scholar, Arthur provided historical context while demonstrating his own mastery of comic timing as he delivered Lincoln’s lines. Our thanks again to Roger Arthur for a presentation that was both educational and highly entertaining. Continue reading
“Show and Tell/Get to Know You” Meeting
The meeting was a Show and Tell/Get to Know You for the new members in our new location. This is part of our education function of spreading the knowledge we have with our fellow members and guests. It is also a way of getting to know more about the Old Baldy Round Table, our members, and prospective members.
January 2013 Newsletter
Bill Cannon on “A Sword in the Attic: Searching for Thomas Hall”
Historian Bill Cannon presented a program that focused on his desire and search to find an ancestor’s participation in the Union Army, his Civil War activities, and life as a soldier. How it all started with finding an old sword. We obtained some insights into searching and finding a history of our ancestors. Continue reading
Mike Axelrod on “Flags of the Confederacy”
Mike Axelrod had a great presentation, “The Flags of the Confederacy.” His program focused on the American roots and iconography of Confederate symbolism in its flags. By showing examples of flags from the independent republics (seceded states before they signed the Confederate Constitution), the three national Confederate flags (with variations), and many, and many regimental flags, Mike gave us a great, interesting, and educational presentation on a part of American history. If you were not there, you missed a great program. Continue reading
J. D. Petruzzi on “The New Gettysburg Campaign Handbook”
J. D. discussed how he became interested in the Civil War and the Battle of Gettysburg. How his collection of documents and books led to him becoming an accomplished author of many books and articles on Gettysburg. His latest book, The New Gettysburg Campaign Handbook, takes you from early June to the end of July. His friend Steven Stanley did the layout and all the maps. The book is part of a series of Civil War books published by Savas Beatie. J. D.’s new project is working on a television miniseries to be aired in 2013. J. D. gave us an interesting and educational presentation. Continue reading
Harry Jenkins on “Forever in Our Hearts He Dwells: The Lives and Legends of Drummer Boys in the Civil War”
The Old Baldy Civil War Round Table of Philadelphia held its July 11th meeting at the Camden County College. Harry Jenkins prepared a great presentation on military drummers, “Forever In Our Hearts He Dwells,” about the lives and legends of drummer boys in the Civil War. Harry also included demonstrations of drumming techniques and the music played by Civil War musicians. Continue reading
Kerry Bryan on “A Salute to Old Glory: The Story of the American Flag”
Having needed some 40 years to recover from the effects of a really BAD high school history teacher, Kerry Bryan discovered a love of historical research just a few years ago while taking graduate courses at the University of Pennsylvania. Her Civil War epiphany occurred when she went as a spectator to the 145th Gettysburg Battle reenactment in 2008 because her brother had come up from North Carolina to participate as a Union soldier. She began reading about the Civil War and hasn’t stopped since! Kerry has been a member of the Old Baldy Civil War Round Table since July, 2009, and belongs to numerous other local historical institutions and societies. Continue reading
“Old Baldy Goes to South Jersey”
Dr Jack Pesda
The Old Baldy Civil War Round Table of Philadelphia held its May 10th meeting at Camden County College. The main purpose was to inform the area about the Old Baldy Civil War Roundtable of Philadelphia. The purposes of the Roundtable are to help educate people in the Civil War era and to preserve the battlefields, artifacts, and the history of the area and its citizens who took part in that era. Rich Jankowski and Bill Hughes gave talks on the history and aims of the round table. Dr. Jack Pesda of Camden County College gave a presentation on the college and what they are doing to educate people on the Civil War era and the how the college may work with the round table. The college has offered us use of a meeting room and will help spread the word about our round table, which will help us to attract new members. The July meeting is now scheduled to be held at Camden County College on Wednesday, July 11th at 7:15PM (note change to Wednesday).
Arlene Harris on “John Fulton Reynolds: Duty, Honor, Sacrifice”
Maj. Gen. John F. Reynolds
Arlene D. Harris spoke in the first person as Catherine F. Reynolds, the sister that John F. Reynolds was closest to through-out his life. Starting with his early life and education, this presentation showed how what Reynolds learned and accomplished shaped the Code of Honor he would live and die by and how truly dedicated and valuable to his country he was. Continue reading
Rich Jankowski on “Renovations Needed for the Old Baldy CWRT”
Old Baldy himself
Our March meeting was to discuss the future of the Old Baldy Round Table. Fifteen folks showed up for the discussion. We had received 4 emails and 1 phone message from those unable to be there in person. Bill Hughes gave a brief account of the events in the last several months including the Board Meeting. The email and phone comments were shared with the audience. Herb Kaufman gave an account of our financial situation [which is good without dues collection]. Several members made their comments about their time with the Round Table and the Pine Street Museum. Discussion included Center City, the Union League, the aging of the membership, the need to publicize, and possible alternatives. Continue reading
Hugh Boyle on “The Women in Lincoln’s Life”
Hugh Boyle gave us a look into the women who were in Lincoln’s life and who helped toinfluence and mold who he was, what he thought, his desires, and also his melancholy. How his White House years were filled with the influence of strong, opinionated women. His presentation was superb with all the knowledge that Hugh has on Lincoln. It is always a pleasure to have Hugh visit us at Old Baldy.
February 2012 Newsletter
Don Wiles on “Gettysburg… Hallowed Ground in Bronze and Stone”
On Thursday, January 12th Old Baldy CWRT member Don Wiles demonstrated both his graphic artist’s eye and his historian’s knowledge when he presented “Hallowed Ground in Bronze and Stone,” a slide show/talk featuring samples from his prodigious collection of photographs of Gettysburg Battlefield monuments, accompanied by Don’s exposition. Don’s excellent photographs manage to capture not only the careful details and artistry of the monuments, but also the spirit and ideals that they represent. Equally impressive is Don’s expertise: he has spent many years walking, studying, and photographing the Gettysburg battlefield. His presentation was indeed a taste of a connoisseur’s private collection; it was monumental in every sense of the word.
January 2012 Newsletter
Jane Peters Estes on “A Christmas Past”
Jane Peters Estes has been a living historian and active member of various Delaware Valley region historical organizations for almost 30 years. She shared some of her expertise with members of OBCWRT on December 8th when she presented “Christmas Past,” a delightful overview of the origins of many of our Christmas traditions, ranging from the hanging of stockings to trimming the tree. Jane’s presentation particularly highlighted Christmas customs of the Civil War era and offered many insights, some of them surprising. The program was an early yuletide gift to all who attended. Continue reading
Herb Kaufman on “Creating the Gettysburg Address”
Herb Kaufman addressed the myth of Lincoln writing the Gettysburg Address on a small piece of paper on a train from Washington to Gettysburg. Herb pointed out the 272 words of Lincoln’s Address that had their foundation in the Declaration of Independence. He explained looking into Lincoln’s mind and examining his prior speeches and comments and determining how they impacted his thoughts for November 19, 1863. Herb further pointed out that Abraham Lincoln was one of our nation’s most thoughtful and measured presidents. That he rarely made comments that didn’t have a specific point, nor did he write a speech without giving it the most deliberate thought. The ideas and concepts that stand behind what has become his most famous and quoted speech could hardly have been attributed to a two hour ride on a train.
November 2011 Newsletter
Phil Lechak on “Camp Letterman, Gettysburg: 80 Acres for 121 Days”
When the Army of the Potomac and the Army of Northern Virginia left the Gettysburg environs on July 4, they left behind almost 21,000 wounded soldiers. These men were distributed over the countryside in roughly 160 locations. Casualties of this magnitude overtaxed the available resources immediately. Camp Letterman—the first of its kind, a large General Tent Hospital—was constructed. It occupied 80 acres on the site of the George Wolf Farm, on a hillside just one mile out of town on the York Pike, and existed for a period of 121 days. Continue reading