The Andersonville Trial – Hanging Captain Wirz

Monday, March 19, 7 p.m. – The Center at Camden County College, Blackwood, NJ

The Confederate prison at Andersonville killed more Union prisoners (13,000) than any battle.
The horrific conditions of the prison and the controversial trial of Captain Henry Wirz will be reviewed in detail. Revenge and the wrath of the North targeted Wirz for the enormous loss of life from starvation, exposure, and disease.

Presented by Old Baldy C.W.R.T. member Joseph F. Wilson, whose ancestor survived the war’s deadliest prison.

See attached flyer for more info. Contact: joef21@aol.com

Meeting of March 8, 2018

Robert C. Baumgartner on “The Historiography of the Confederacy”

Mr. Robert C. Baumgartner will present the Historiography of the Confederacy, through the works of Douglas Southall Freeman, T. Harry Williams, and C. Vann Woodward. The connection to modern historiography is from the works of George Rable and James McPherson, who were students of Williams and Woodward, respectively.

Robert C. Baumgartner is an adjunct professor of history at Camden County College teaching primarily with The Center. He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Rowan University, and has received training in historical preservation from Arizona State University. Mr. Baumgartner is also a member of the Faculty Advisory Board of the Declaration Project at Harvard University. He currently is a faculty member at Triton Regional High School and is working on two current research projects: one dealing with the history of Triton High School’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the second is a study on the lack of geographic education in the state of New Jersey. Bob is a member of the Old Baldy Civil War Roundtable, and presented The General in our 2017 Lecture Series on NJ in the Civil War.

March 2018 Newsletter

Meeting of February 8, 2018

Jim Remsen on “Freedom-Seekers Turned Freedom-Fighters”

Local journalist Jim Remsen’s illustrated history talk, “Freedom-Seekers Turned Freedom-Fighters,” chronicles the experiences of a group of fugitive slaves who escaped southern bondage and dared to openly build new lives in the North. Once the Civil War came, these men and their sons left their safe haven in northeastern Pennsylvania and returned south, into the bowels of slavery, to fight for the Union. Their valor under fire helped to change many minds about blacks. Remsen’s new history book, Embattled Freedom, lifts these thirteen remarkable lives out of the shadows, while also shedding light on the racial politics and social codes they and their people endured in the divided North.

The fugitives’ safe haven was little Waverly, Pa., Remsen’s boyhood hometown. Now a Bala Cynwyd resident, and a retired editor and reporter at The Philadelphia Inquirer, he spent several years researching this story as a way to bring some overdue tribute to Waverly’s unsung “colored troops” and the white abolitionists who stood by them. Embattled Freedom (Sunbury Press) has been praised by Lackawanna Historical Society director Mary Ann Moran-Savakinus as “a fascinating history that needs to be shared.” Mark Bowden, New York Times bestselling author of Black Hawk Down, Killing Pablo and his latest, Hue 1968, calls it “a fine example of serious local history, which fleshes out in particulars the larger social issues over a century.” For more, visit embattledfreedom.org.

February 2018 Newsletter

Meeting of January 11, 2018

Matthew H. Bruce on “The Confederate Cruisers: The Confederacy’s Blue-Water Navy”

Even before the war began, the Confederacy-to-be, through its provisional legislature, recognized the need for a brown-water navy to keep ports open and patrol rivers, and a blue water navy to protect the shipping traffic. This led to moves, actually before secession, by the Confederacy’s provisional legislature to establish the basis for a navy, to name a secretary of the navy, and to send letters to any persons in the United States Navy who were deemed to have a Southern leaning to “come home” and join the Confederate Navy. Many took up on the invitation.

Early in the war, one of the “come-home” former Union Naval officers, now a Confederate officer, one Raphael Semmes, approached Navy Secretary Mallory with a proposal regarding how to end the war successfully. To wit, acquire a number of blue-water ships, to be converted to warships with which to assault the Union merchant marine, to an extent which would lead to a winnable suit for peace. Thus could the Confederacy attain a victory that wise heads could see was unlikely on the battlefield; this in spite of the somewhat wild-eyed view of the war-hawks.

Matthew H. Bruce is a retired teacher (forty-five years) at the high school and college/university levels, in the areas of mathematics and physics. Following finishing his baccalaureate degree, he completed military service in the Korean War, and then returned to pursue graduate work. He holds the Ph.D. degree from the Pennsylvania State University. He is retired from Temple University, where he taught statistics and research design, and physical science, and worked with intending science teachers.

Matt’s interest in the American Civil War goes back over fifty years, and he has been a long-time member of the Delaware Valley Civil War Round Table, and until recently a member of the Round Table’s Board. He teaches in the Round Table’s Civil War Institute, and looks forward to the expansion of the institute to include other U.S. military involvements such as WWI and WWII. He has done much writing on Civil War and other topics, and is currently involved in the preparation of a book on Civil War navies.

January 2018 Newsletter

Meeting of December 14, 2017

Walt Lafty on “Walt Whitman, the Civil War’s Poet Patriot”

Walt described how the Civil War impacted the writings of Walt Whitman and his contributions to the war effort.

For over 30 years, Walt Lafty Jr. has been an amateur genealogist and has researched three direct ancestors who served in the Civil War. With that information and a lifelong interest in history, he began studying and participating in Civil War history. Since that time, Walt joined various groups dedicated to preserving the memory of those ancestors and civil war history. Those groups include: Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW), Bucks County CWRT, DELVAL CWRT, Old Baldy CWRT, and the G.A.R. Museum and Library.

Walt was born, raised, and currently lives in Philadelphia. After enlisting in the U.S. Army in 1968, he served 13 months in Vietnam with the 45th Military Intelligence Company and with the Combined Intelligence Center Vietnam (CICV). He became a Philadelphia Firefighter in 1975 and retired in 1999 to take a position with the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board’s Bureau of Alcohol Education. In 2016 he retired as a supervisor from the PLCB.

In 1996 he earned a B.A.in Psychology from Holy Family University after eight years of part time courses. Walt is married with three children, one step child (deceased), and ten grandchildren.

December 2017 Newsletter

Meeting of November 9, 2017

James Scythes on “This will make a man of me: The Life and Letters of a Teenage Officer in the Civil War”

thomas-james-howellThis presentation focuses on the life of seventeen-year-old Thomas James Howell, who was a 2nd Lieutenant in the Union Army during the American Civil War. Tom Howell’s experiences give us a rare look at the war through the eyes of a teenage officer. The letters that he wrote home to his family tell the story of a young man coming of age in the army. As a young officer, he faced particular challenges as he sought to earn the respect of both the men he commanded and his superiors. Despite the challenges he faced, Howell believed that it was his duty to serve and by serving he would prove that he was a man. This study represents a valuable addition to Civil War literature by offering a unique perspective of the war as it was seen through the eyes of a teenage officer.

james-scythesJames Scythes earned a B.A. in history at Rowan University and has a Master of Arts in history from Villanova University. He is a tenure track Instructor of History at West Chester University of Pennsylvania. His research interests focus on antebellum America, American Civil War, and 19th century military history. Professor Scythes has published a number of encyclopedia articles, and in July 2016 Lehigh University Press published his first book, “This Will Make a Man of Me”: The Life and Letters of a Teenage Officer in the Civil War. He also serves on the Board of Trustees at the Gloucester County Historical Society, and is a member of the Old Baldy Civil War Round Table of Philadelphia.

November 2017 Newsletter

Lecture Series Announced

2017 Lecture Series at Camden County College — New Jersey in the Civil War

Tuesday evenings at 7 pm. Connector Building, Large Lecture Hall room 105.

September 12: Joanne Hamilton Rajoppi – Northern Women in the Aftermath of the Civil War: The Wives and Daughters of the Brunswick Boys

September 19: Dr. William Carrigan – Traitor State or Jersey Blue? New Jersey and the American Civil War

September 26: Film Screening, presented by Rich Mendoza – Called to Duty: The Civil War Training Camps of New Jersey

October 3: John G. Zinn – The Mutinous Regiment: The 33rd New Jersey in the Civil War

October 10: Gary D. Saretzky – Ere the Shadows Fade: New Jersey’s Civil War Era Photographers

October 17: Film Screening, presented by Robert Baumgartner – The General