Priscilla Gabosch — Member Profile

By just about any standard Priscilla Gabosch has had a full and interesting life.

Born in the Midwest outside of Chicago, she also attended college in a rural area and subsequently has lived on both coasts. We are fortunate that her husband’s job led to a relocation to the Delaware Valley and that she likes the East Coast best.

Priscilla went to Blackburn College where she received her B.A. degree with a major in English and a minor in languages.

In addition to her formal education Priscilla has taken advantage of the Center for Learning and Responsibility—including several courses on the Civil War. She is currently engaged in an Opera Appreciation class as well.

After college, Priscilla went to work for the Pennsylvania Railroad and having aptitude for technology, she was chosen to participate in the company’s program for training in computer programming, which has put her in good stead for her further work in the insurance and banking areas. At retirement, she was working as a Business Systems Analyst in IT at a bank involved in Mutual Fund management.

Priscilla and her husband have been breeding and showing Rhodesian Ridgebacks since 1983. From this, she has become involved in the AKC as a licensed judge and has been involved with several dog clubs, serving in a number of positions, including Chairman of one, AKC delegate, Treasurer, Past President, Recording Secretary and Chief Steward.

Priscilla is also an avid reader with, as she puts it, eclectic tastes.

Her interest in the Civil War was sparked after taking several courses at CCLR about generalship and battles of the Civil War. She particularly enjoys strategy, not only of the Civil War, but other conflicts as well—she lists “Zulu” as one of her favorite movies and was impressed by how a small group of soldiers could hold off a large attacking force. The subject of slavery and the WWII genocide has also moved her to learn more about these topics.

While she has many and varied interests and accomplishments, Priscilla feels particularly proud of her being chosen to judge the National Specialty of the Rhodesian Ridgeback Club of the United States in 2005—selected by her peers. She has also been awarded the AKC’s Good Sportsmanship Medallion not once, but twice. In addition, she has been Gloucester County Kennel Club’s Show Chairman for 20 years.

All in all, a very accomplished life that most of us can aspire to.

Meeting of March 11, 2021

Join us at 7:15 PM on Thursday, March 11, for an online web conference (no physical meeting). Members will receive ZOOM dial-in instructions via email. This month’s topic is

Christopher Klein on “When The Irish Invaded Canada: The Incredible True Story of the Civil War Veterans Who Fought for Ireland’s Freedom”

The outlandish, untold story of the Irish American revolutionaries who tried to free Ireland by invading Canada.

Just over a year after Robert E. Lee relinquished his sword, a band of Union and Confederate veterans dusted off their guns. But these former foes had no intention of reigniting the Civil War. Instead, they fought side by side to undertake one of the most fantastical missions in military history: to seize the British province of Canada and to hold it hostage until the independence of Ireland was secured.

By the time that these invasions—known collectively as the Fenian raids—began in 1866, Ireland had been Britain’s unwilling colony for seven hundred years. Thousands of Civil War veterans who had fled to the United States rather than perish in the wake of the Great Hunger still considered themselves Irishmen first, Americans second. With the tacit support of the U.S. government and inspired by a previous generation of successful American revolutionaries, the group that carried out a series of five attacks on Canada between 1866 and 1871—the Fenian Brotherhood—established a state in exile, planned prison breaks, weathered infighting, stockpiled weapons, and assassinated enemies. Defiantly, this motley group, including a one-armed war hero, an English spy infiltrating rebel forces, and a radical who staged his own funeral, managed to seize a piece of Canada—if only for three days.

Chris Klein is the author of four books, including When the Irish Invaded Canada and Strong Boy: The Life and Times of John L. Sullivan, America’s First Sports Hero. A frequent contributor to History.com, the website of the History Channel, he has also written for The Boston Globe, The New York Times, National Geographic Traveler, Harvard Magazine, Smithsonian.com, and AmericanHeritage.com. He graduated summa cum laude and with honors from Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, in 1994, and is a member of the Authors Guild, Biographers International Organization, Boston Authors Club, and Irish American Writers & Artists.

Meeting of March 25, 2021

Join us at 7:15 PM on Thursday, March 25, for an online web conference (no physical meeting). Members will receive ZOOM dial-in instructions via email. This month’s topic is

Paul Prentiss on “Life in the Army Camps”: A Roundtable Discussion Night

Old Baldy members are invited to participate in an all-hands round table meeting to discuss Life in the Army Camps on Thursday, March 25th. This is an extremely broad topic with so many aspects that everyone should find something interesting to look up and share.

The American Civil War was not a continuous battle. Instead, the majority of time was spent with long monotonous residency in camps punctuated by short periods of the terror and chaos of combat. Due to the nature of campaign goals, Armies could be in the field for several months, or up to a year. One thing Soldiers could always count on was a long outdoor stay in all types of weather.

What interests you about a soldier’s life in camp? Was it the food/diet, medical care, general living conditions, entertainment, camp furniture, animal companions, good order and discipline, recreational activities, spies, illness/disease, ordinary activities, sanitary conditions, visitors, spiritual needs, camp followers, gambling, physical security, available vices, military training, logistics, camp locations or home-front support? Above is a short list of things that may interest you to bring to the round table discussion.

Hop on the internet, grab that book off the shelf, watch that movie again or find that magazine article. Refresh your memory on your favorite camp interest and share with us in March.

A simple search of Civil War Camp Life brings up a host of items:

Meeting of April 8, 2021

Join us at 7:15 PM on Thursday, April 8, for an online web conference (no physical meeting). Members will receive ZOOM dial-in instructions via email. This month’s topic is

Walt Lafty on “9th New Jersey Infantry and The Bermuda Hundred Campaign”

A campaign that was an integral part of Grant’s spring offensive plan of 1864, the fighting in Bermuda Hundred in May of that year is mostly forgotten. Overshadowed by the other battles in Grant’s push to Richmond, the Bermuda Hundred Campaign suffered thousands of casualties. With engagements that started at Port Walthall Junction on May 6, the campaign concluded at the second battle of Drewry’s Bluff on May 16 with over 6,000 casualties in that final battle alone.

It ended with the famous quote on the resulting situation for Union Commanding General Benjamin Butler, that he “was in a bottle . . .the enemy had corked the bottle”. It was also a campaign in which the 9th New Jersey Volunteer Infantry Regiment would suffer its greatest losses of the war. The 9th was the only New Jersey Infantry Regiment in the entire Army of the James. There were also two artillery batteries representing the state of New Jersey.

Walt Lafty is a member of the Old Baldy CWRT and the Delaware Valley CWRT where he is a Board member as well as a member of the Preservation Committee. He also serves as Secretary for the Baker-Fisher Camp #101 Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, located in Hatboro, PA. In addition, Walt is the Research Administrator for the G.A.R. Museum and Library in Philadelphia.

Meeting of April 22, 2021

Join us at 7:15 PM on Thursday, April 22, for an online web conference (no physical meeting). Members will receive ZOOM dial-in instructions via email. This meeting’s topic is:

Member Sharing Night

Dr. Ray Klein: Flat Old Baldy Travels Cambodia—One Thousand Years of War, Massive Construction and Destruction, Five Years of Civil War … What Next??

Dave Gilson: A Walking Tour of Civil War London

Meeting of May 13, 2021

Join us at 7:15 PM on Thursday, May 13, for an online web conference (no physical meeting). Members will receive ZOOM dial-in instructions via email. This month’s topic is

David Dixon on “Radical Warrior: August Willich’s Journey from German Revolutionary to Union General”

An estimated 200,000 men of German birth enlisted in the Union Army during the Civil War, far more than any other contemporary foreign-born population. One of these, Prussian Army officer Johann August Ernst von Willich, led a remarkable life of integrity, commitment to a cause, and interaction with leading lights of the nineteenth century. After resigning from the Prussian Army due to his republican beliefs, Willich led armed insurrections during the revolutions of 1848–49, with Friedrich Engels as his aide-de-camp. Ever committed to the goal of universal human rights, he once dueled a disciple of Karl Marx—whom he thought too conservative. Willich emigrated to the United States in 1853, eventually making his way to Cincinnati, where he served as editor of the daily labor newspaper the Cincinnati Republican.

With exhaustive research in both English and German language sources, author David T. Dixon chronicles the life of this ingenious military leader—a man who could also be stubborn, impulsive, and even foolhardy—risking his life unnecessarily in the face of overwhelming odds.

David Dixon earned his M.A. in history from the University of Massachusetts. His articles appear in numerous scholarly journals and magazines. David Dixon hosts “B-List History,” a website celebrating obscure characters and their amazing stories. www.davidtdixon.com.

Meeting of February 11, 2021

Dr. Lorien Foote on “The Yankee Plague: Escaped Union Prisoners and the Collapse of the Confederacy”

During the winter of 1864, more than 3,000 Federal prisoners of war escaped from Confederate prison camps into South Carolina and North Carolina, often with the aid of local slaves. Their flight created, in the words of contemporary observers, a “Yankee plague,” heralding a grim end to the Confederate cause. In this fascinating look at Union soldiers’ flight for freedom in the last months of the Civil War, Lorien Foote reveals new connections between the collapse of the Confederate prison system, the large-scale escape of Union soldiers, and the full unraveling of the Confederate States of America.

By this point in the war, the Confederacy was reeling from prison overpopulation, a crumbling military, violence from internal enemies, and slavery’s breakdown. The fugitive Federals moving across the countryside in mass numbers, Foote argues, accelerated the collapse as slaves and deserters decided the presence of these men presented an opportune moment for escalated resistance.

Blending rich analysis with an engaging narrative, Foote uses these ragged Union escapees as a lens with which to assess the dying Confederate States, providing a new window into the South’s ultimate defeat.

Dr. Lorien Foote is the Patricia & Bookman Peters Professor in History at Texas A&M University, where she teaches classes in the Civil War and Reconstruction, war and society, and 19th-century American reform movements. She is the author of The Gentlemen and the Roughs: Manhood, Honor, and Violence in the Union Army (NYU Press, 2010), which received honorable mention as finalist for the 2011 Lincoln Prize. She is also the author of Seeking the One Great Remedy: Francis George Shaw and Nineteenth-Century Reform (Ohio University Press, 2003). Dr. Foote is the creator and principal investigator of a project with the Center for Virtual History at the University of Georgia that is currently mapping the movement of 3000 Federal prisoners of war who escaped from the Confederacy during the American Civil War.

February 2021 Newsletter

Meeting of January 14, 2021

Alice L Baumgartner on “South to Freedom: Runaway Slaves to Mexico and the Road to the Civil War”

The Underground Railroad to the North promised salvation to many American slaves before the Civil War. But thousands of people in the south-central United States escaped slavery not by heading north but by crossing the southern border into Mexico, where slavery was abolished in 1837.

Based on research in twenty-seven archives in three countries, South to Freedom tells the story of why Mexico abolished slavery and how its increasingly radical antislavery policies fueled the sectional crisis in the United States. As enslaved people escaped across the Rio Grande, and the U.S. government failed to secure their return, slaveholders came to believe that their interests would be best protected outside of the Union. Mexico’s laws also had an impact beyond the borderlands. Southern politicians hoped that annexing Texas and invading Mexico in the 1840s would stop runaways and secure slavery’s future. Instead, the seizure of Alta California and Nuevo México upset the delicate political balance between free and slave states.

As U.S. Congressmen debated the status of slavery in the former Mexican territories, Northern Democrats balked at the prospect of reestablishing slavery where it had been prohibited. Abolition in Mexico thus undermined the norm of admitting slavery in southern territories while prohibiting it in northern ones—a norm that had kept sectionalism at bay since the Missouri Compromise.

Alice L. Baumgartner is assistant professor of history at the University of Southern California. She received an MPhil in history from Oxford, where she was a Rhodes scholar, and a PhD in history from Yale University. She lives in Los Angeles, California.

January 2021 Newsletter

Meeting of December 10, 2020

Bob Russo on “The Wounded Knee Massacre”

The Wounded Knee Massacre, often and inaccurately called the Battle of Wounded Knee, was a massacre of several hundred Lakota Sioux people by soldiers of the United States Army. The massacre took place on December 29, 1890, near Wounded Knee Creek on the Lakota Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

On the tragic morning of the massacre, members of U.S. 7th Cavalry entered the camp to disarm the Lakota. An elderly member of the tribe refused to give up his weapon while others began a tribal dance known as the Ghost Dance. In the struggle a shot was fired and the U.S. army began shooting at the Native Americans with Hotchkiss Guns from a nearby hillside. Lakota warriors fought back, but most had already been disarmed by the Army.

More than 250 Lakota men, women, and children were dead and over 50 others wounded. Other estimates place the number of Lakota dead at over 300. Twenty-five soldiers also died with over 35 wounded. Many Army casualties are thought to be from friendly fire. In a final insult over Twenty soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor. In 2001, the National Congress of American Indians approved two resolutions denouncing the Medal of Honor awards and urged the U.S. government to rescind Medals.

The massacre ended the Indian Wars but it took forty years of treaty violations, battles, false promises and government intrusions and failures to reach the day of the massacre. In September 2019, after spending about two years reading about the history, Bob Russo, an Old Baldy and Delaware Valley CWRT member visited the site of the massacre with his wife, Carol.

Join Bob for the story of this horrific tragedy and the events that led up to it. Ties to Civil War personalities, a 1980 Supreme Court decision on ownership of the Black Hills and the genocidal words of an author of a book, that later became a historic and well-known motion picture, will be discussed.

December 2020 Newsletter