Mike Wunsch on “Abraham Lincoln & the Great Central Sanitary Fair”
Local speaker-historian Michael Wunsch portrayed Executive Chairman John Welsh of the Great Central Sanitary Fair, and presented Abraham Lincoln & the Great Central Sanitary Fair, Philadelphia, June 1864.
The talk featured a brief overview and history of the United States Sanitary Commission, the growth of the local Aid Society and Sanitary Fair movements, as well as the Great Central Sanitary Fair itself, a huge commission fund-raising event held on the grounds of Logan Square from June 7 to June 29, 1864. It concluded with one of the true highlights of Philadelphia’s immense and important home-front activities, President Abraham Lincoln’s visit to the “great fair,” and our city at-large on June 16, 1864. Continue reading
Craig Schoeller on “Battle of the Bulge”
Craig Schoeller in WWII
Craig Schoeller gave a great talk on his life and the time he spent in the Battle of the Bulge in World War II. Craig’s story went from his enlistment to being in action as an infantry replacement in the 35th Division of the Third Army. His story was about his combat, his wounding, his friends, and his capture. As we heard of his experiences, we received a better appreciation of what young men and women went through to protect our freedoms. Craig corrected us on the term used in the previous newsletter—that he was an American Hero. In fact, he said the heroes were among the ones who didn’t come home to continue their lives but had given up those lives for America. Craig volunteered to come back and give us a talk on his captivity in a German prison camp. It was great to have Craig back from his recent injury. We are very lucky to have a gentleman like Craig as a member of Old Baldy.
June 2011 Newsletter
Jack Lieberman on “Life and Civil War Achievements of Capt. Percival Drayton”
Capt. Perceval Drayton
Jack Lieberman gave a great presentation on little-known Captain Percival Drayton, USN, and his brother Brigadier General Thomas Fenwick Drayton, CSA. This family situation became “brother against brother.” Percival had enlisted in the Navy in 1827 and served up to and into the Civil War. His career reflected the history of the Navy through its early years. He was stationed at the Philadelphia Navy Yard when the Civil War started. He was given command of the USS Pocahontas and took part in the Port Royal action in November 1861. During this battle he actually fired on troops of his brother who was in command at the time. He was promoted to Captain and assigned to Admiral Farragut’s Squadron and took command of his flagship USS Hartford. He was in command as the fleet attacked Mobile Bay. When the war ended he lived in Philadelphia and died of a twisted bowel obstruction and buried in Philadelphia. A great presentation and a great turnout. Jack will always be welcomed back. Continue reading
Bill Hughes on “US General Hospital at Beverly, NJ”
William Hughes, a member of Old Baldy, spoke on the history of the U.S. General Hospital at Beverly, New Jersey, during the war. The hospital, which was located at the site of a former civil war rendezvous camp, was in operation 1864-1865. Through much research, Hughes put together an interesting description of what it took to organize and operate this type of military hospital. His book traces the hospital’s roots and the people who shaped it including: the dedicated surgeons and nurses, the brave yet gravely injured and sick soldiers, the employees who took advantage, and the community that rallied around both staff and patients. It also touches on the origins of the Beverly National Cemetery, which holds over 40,000 military burials beginning during the Civil War. We heard from actual soldiers’ letters written home from the hospital. Both the hospital and cemetery have connections to similar sites in the Philadelphia area. Continue reading
Dick Simpson on “Wilson’s Creek, August 10, 1861”
Battle of Wilson’s Creek (Wikipedia)
Historian Dick Simpson presented a program on “The Battle of Wilson’s Creek”, the first major battle west of the Mississippi. In early August 1861, Confederate Brigadier General Benjamin McCulloch’s army was camped at Wilson’s Creek, Missouri, while Union Brigadier General Nathaniel Lyon’s men were camped 12 miles away in Springfield, Missouri.
On the night of August 9, both sides had developed plans of attack on the opposing camp, but rain forced the Confederates to forgo the assault. At dawn the next day, Lyon led his army into battle. The attack caught McCulloch off guard, driving his army back. For more than five hours the battle raged on “Bloody Hill”. At about 9:30 a.m., Lyon, who had been wounded twice already, was killed while positioning his troops. Command fell to Major Samuel Sturgis, who ordered a withdrawal to Springfield at about 11 a.m., his ammunition nearly exhausted.
March 2011 Newsletter
Stephen Wright and Hugh Boyle on “Abraham Lincoln Program”
What a great night! This year in honor of Lincoln’s birthday, Hugh presenting a short program entitled: “Congressman Lincoln: 1847 to 1849” and Steve explored Lincoln’s formative years in New Salem. What a great evening with two Lincoln scholars. We were given insight into a period of influence on young Mr. Lincoln at New Salem and the ambition of Lincoln in Illinois as the shrewd politician. We always enjoy Hugh and Steve, but the two together made for one of our outstanding programs.
February 2011 Newsletter
Roger Arthur on “The Secession Crisis”
“The Secession Crisis” traced the events that led to the attempt to break up the Union. Why did the Southern states believe they were better off out of the Union? What justification did they have? What did the government do or attempt to do to assuage the sectional crisis? What caused the final rift? Why would they fire on the flag?
January 2011 Newsletter
Stephen Wright on “Battle of Fredericksburg” and Michael A. Cavanaugh on a Defense of Gen. Burnside
Noted as being one of the most one-sided battles of the Civil War, the battle of Fredericksburg is also remarkable in that Union casualties were more than twice those suffered by the Confederates and the armies at Fredericksburg represented the largest number of armed men ever to confront each other for combat during the war. Continue reading
Sid Copel on “Civil War Spies & Guerrillas”
John S. Mosby
Dr. Sidney Copel is a clinical psychologist who is now retired. He received his undergraduate and graduate training at Temple University. He was for many years the Administrator of the Psychological Clinic at the Devereux Foundation where he ran one of the biggest programs of its kind in the country. After leaving Devereux he went into private practice until his retirement in 1995. Continue reading
John Nagy on “Invisible Ink, Spycraft of the American Revolution”
John’s presentation on gathering and transmitting military information during the Revolutionary War was very intriguing. The sophistication of codes designed for use to conceal information in letters is still being used today. They used alphabet matrices, cut out masks placed over written groups of words and words themselves that have different meanings. John showed us how sophisticated intelligence information was transmitted in colonial times. John is greatly welcome to come back even though his presentations are of another time period. Continue reading
Jim Heenehan on “Colonel Ira Grover, 7th Indiana Volunteer Infantry: The True Story of his Court-Martial and Acquittal”
July 1, 1863, Emmitsburg, MD. – The higher the sun rose in the sky that morning, the more impatient Col. Ira Grover became with his regiment’s overdue relief. Finally, at 10 a.m., he ordered his 7th Indiana to move north to rejoin the main army. On the march, Grover heard that fighting had broken out at Gettysburg and quickened the pace. Arriving that evening, his men were posted to Culp’s Hill. Continue reading
Jerry Carrier on “Meet John Hay — A One-Man Historical Presentation”
John Hay (1838–1905) was a unique figure in the history of the United States. No other statesman was so close—both personally and politically—to both Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt.
As a young man, Hay was one of Lincoln’s White House secretaries. He was not only a trusted aide, but their personal relationship was like that of father and son.
Late in his life, Hay was secretary of state under Roosevelt. Again, their relationship was more than professional. The two men had a lifelong friendship, which began when Roosevelt was 12. Roosevelt’s father (also named Theodore) had worked closely with Hay on Army-related matters during the Civil War. Continue reading
Ed Root on “General Butler’s 1862 Tenure in New Orleans”
The “Beast” of New Orleans
Ed Root’s program of General Benjamin Butler explored one of those historic characters who never fails to elicit strong opinion. He was both reviled as a criminal and scalawag and praised as a patriot in his own time. Today, he is most often one of the answers to questions about the Civil War’s most inept officers. Ed’s presentation was very fair and balanced (like Fox News!). Butler was not as bad as historians have made him out to be. There were the usual stories, some of which were quite humorous. Lots of new information. Ed is always welcomed back to Old Baldy. Continue reading
Herb Kaufman on “A People at War: American Jewry and the Civil War”
Our own Herb Kaufman presented us with another of his excellent programs. “A People at War: American Jewry in the Civil War.” He gave us examples of how the War split Jewish families as it did other families in America—Brother fighting brother. How Jewish families in the South supported the Southern cause as did the Jewish families in the North supported to keep the Union together. He spoke on Jewish soldiers (7) winning the Medal of Honor for their bravery in the Union Army. The bravery of Jewish soldiers in the Confederate Army. That there were some Regiments that were made up of almost entirely Jewish soldiers because of the communities were they were organized. Continue reading
Mike Burkhimer on “The Reports of the Lincolns’ Political Partnership Have Been Greatly Exaggerated”
Mike Burkhimer gave us an excellent program on the Political Partnership of the Lincolns. He spoke on Lincoln’s political experiences before the marriage to Mary. That Abe had already established his political knowledge. He discussed how many modern authors have been writing on the abilities of Mary to guide Abe in his politics. He has done a tremendous amount of research and has found no evidence of Mary writing or rewriting Abe’s speeches and helping him make political decisions that effected his government. Lincoln would ask people their opinions on varying subjects, but he would follow his own feelings and ultimately make the decisions. The consensus of the program was that Abe was his own man and Mary was the First Lady of the White House. Mike is an excellent and knowledgeable speaker and will be welcomed back anytime.
April 2010 Newsletter