Meeting of December 8, 2022

Join us at 7:15 PM on Thursday, December 8, in Camden County College’s William G. Rohrer Center, 1889 Marlton Pike East, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003. The program will also be simulcast on Zoom for the benefit of those members and friends who are unable to attend; please email oldbaldycwrt@verizon.net at least 24 hours prior to request Zoom access. This month’s topic is

Old Baldy Election Night & Social

Join us at our regular December meeting to celebrate the end of the year and take a break from the holiday frenzy. Round Table members, family and friends are all invited to our General Membership Meeting. We will have our biennial election of officers, consider a constitutional amendment, join in some special presentations, and enjoy a social evening with friends. Members who are active (paid) or emeritus are allowed to vote. Friends, guests, honorary or inactive members who might be present are not eligible to vote. As we have members who will never be local, “physically present” includes those members participating on-line at the time of the vote.

Marty Wilensky — Member Profile

Marty Wilensky was born in Philadelphia and grew up in the northeast section of the city, attending Northeast High School. At 16 he took a job at Burger Chef, working there the next 5½ years. After graduating high school, he attended Temple University, commuting from home. Marty paid for his tuition and expenses from the money he made at Burger Chef. Besides paying for college, his time at Burger Chef led to another life-changing event – it’s where Marty met his wife, Janice (she worked the counter while he had risen from burger flipper to assistant manager). They dated for several years and got married in 1973. They will celebrate their 50th anniversary next year.

Marty was a history major in college, where he focused on European history. However, senior year, he decided to take some accounting and business classes. After graduation, he continued taking accounting and business classes at Temple, earning enough business credits to take and pass the CPA (Certified Public Accountant) test in 1974.

After college, Marty held a couple of accounting jobs until September 1975, when he answered an ad for a local accounting firm, Blumberg, Seligman, Cupersmith & Company, LLP. The firm hired Marty as a CPA. He did well and was made partner in 1979. Many years later, in 2006, the firm split up, with Marty and Mr. Cupersmith forming Cupersmith, Wilensky, Stempler & Company, LLP. Marty is still a partner there, marking 47 years at the same firm and its successor.

Marty and Janice have three daughters and a son and four grandchildren. Their eldest daughter attended Gettysburg College, which resulted in many family outings to the battlefield at different times of the year while on college visits. She received her Master’s Degree in Micro-Biology from Johns Hopkins and lives with her husband and two children in California.

A second daughter is an engineer currently living in Ohio with her husband and twin boys. A third daughter is an attorney in Chicago, while their son is an attorney with the DC Capital Police. On January 6, 2021, he was monitoring the actions of the police officers during that day’s election protests. At some point, things escalated and he had a difficult time making it back safely to the police station when some protestors became more confrontational.

Marty taught his children the importance of history. In 1998, when the family took a vacation to Hawaii, he took them to Pearl Harbor so they would know what happened there and the sacrifices made by our military. Their visit to the Arizona Memorial was an emotional experience.

Marty enjoys reading about the Civil War. One of the first Civil War books he liked was Bruce Catton’s Grant Takes Command. He also enjoyed Michael Shaara’s The Killer Angels, as well as the various historical novels by Shaara’s son, Jeff.

In addition to history, Marty’s interests include Lionel trains. As a kid growing up, Marty remembers his dad setting up Lionel trains in the basement at Christmas and the fun he and his brothers had playing with them. So, when he and Janice moved into their home, Marty began collecting Lionel trains as well. He, too, set up his trains in the basement where his children could play with them. He still has his train collection, though they don’t see as much action now that his children have grown and moved on.

So how did Marty team up with Old Baldy? Well, a few years ago, one of our members, Harry Jenkins, happened to be driving by Marty’s office in Cherry Hill, NJ. Harry and Marty had been friends in Junior High School but had not seen each other in years. Harry saw Marty’s name on the firm’s sign and wondered whether this was the same Martin Wilensky he knew back in school. And in fact, it was. Marty ended up doing Harry’s taxes and Harry encouraged Marty to join the Old Baldy Civil War Round Table.

We are happy to have Marty as a member of Old Baldy. And all thanks to a fortuitous outing by his old Junior High School friend, Harry Jenkins.

By Jim Heenehan

Joe Fafara — Member Profile

Joseph Fafara was born in Roxborough, Philadelphia, in March of 1969. He grew up in Philadelphia and lived with his parents and brother in Marlboro. As a child, he enjoyed playing baseball, music, and the Civil War. He went to school at La Salle College High School, a private, Catholic, all-boys preparatory school in Philadelphia. After he graduated in 1987, he went to college at Temple University and graduated in 1992. He then went on to become a high school teacher for the School District of Philadelphia where he teaches U.S. history and U.S. government.

After meeting her at a wedding, Joseph married his wife Cathy in 1999. They had three daughters together named Jasmine, Abrielle, and Jordan. They now have two grandchildren, Alex and Alea, who live nearby and visit once a week. Joseph’s hobbies are similar to his hobbies as a child, as he watches baseball, listens to live music, and is still interested in the Civil War. He also enjoys playing the game Wordle and drinking craft beer. He and Cathy go on walks together on the Valley Green and Forbidden Drive trails in Philadelphia. They plan on retiring and moving to Nashville in two years.

He became interested in the Civil War when he read the Time-Life Civil War book series when he was in grade school. This series highlights the many battles and campaigns that took place during the war with each book focusing on a Civil War different topic. A childhood trip to the Gettysburg battlefield also piqued his interest. These things jump started a lifetime hobby and a career surrounding history. As well as the Civil War, Joseph is interested in history about U.S. presidents, the American Revolution, and Americans exploring the West.

Joseph joined the Old Baldy Civil War Round Table after he learned about the group in his time at Temple University. He is a member of many other history-related groups as well. The Surratt Society is a group dedicated to learning about the Lincoln assassination and the Surratt House. This group has monthly newsletters and plans tours to share information about the assassination and the events caused by it. The Blue and Gray Education Society raises money for the preservation of Civil War settings and plans tours surrounding early American history. The Association of Licensed Battlefield Guides of Gettysburg has events in Gettysburg for its members as well as a newsletter. The National Civil War Museum gives members access to free admission, tours with the curator, and a quarterly newsletter. The Adams County Historical Society houses artifacts and records pertaining to Gettysburg and raises funds for a new museum called Beyond the Battle.

Bill Sia — Member Profile

When you first meet William (Bill) Sia, you quickly notice his sense of humor. Chat with him for a good while and you come away knowing more than you ever thought possible about American history and the workings of his country’s government. “I’m the only guy I know who walks around with a copy of the Constitution in his back pocket.”

Born in 1945 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania Bill, one of six children, had an idyllic childhood. He idolized his Dad, a veteran of the second World War, who labored in a coal mine (the only job available) for five years before moving his family 120 miles down the road to Levittown to work in a steel mill. Ten-year-old Bill thought he had moved to suburban heaven. “We bought a house, schools went up, I could ride my bike anywhere, my Mom and Dad filled the house with books – it was great growing up there.”

After graduating in 1963 from Woodrow Wilson High School, Bill set out to become a teacher. In 1967 he earned a B.A. at King’s College and then went on to teach American Government and History to seniors at Pennsauken High School (NJ) for 35 years. He earned a M.A. at Trenton State College in 1982. Bill, a member of the New Jersey Education Association, credits his parents and teachers with his career success. “They steered me to entrench myself in the activities of reading and studying. Even my professors. They all set a good example.”

While working at Pennsauken H.S. Bill met Ed Komczyk, then a math teacher and friend of Old Baldy Civil War Round Table. Ed would mention a group meeting to Bill, Bill would say yeah, let’s go, and together they would take a train to the Civil War Museum on Pine Street in Philly. They enjoyed those early days of discussions and camaraderie, through the group’s move to the Union League and now – with the help of Bill Hughes and others – at Camden County College. “This is where I met a very bright and talented group.”

Fast forward 25 years and Bill and Ed remain great friends and loyal Round Table members. Although Bill continues to harbor an interest in the Civil War, he is drawn primarily to the areas of pre-war influences and Reconstruction, a topic he has presented at the Round Table. Bill is extremely proud of the Old Baldy crew. “I can’t get over how smart people are in the group. They are so knowledgeable.”

Fellow Old Baldy members may be surprised at how knowledgeable Bill is at something totally unrelated to the U.S. Civil War and that is building race cars. With the help of their tech- savvy Dad, Bill and his brother built a 1963 Triumph that they took to the car hill climb competitions in Wilkes-Barre in the 70s. They painted the car red, white, and blue – with stars. The car is long gone (two rich guys bought it; Bill has regrets) but Bill’s brother has the frame of a MGB sitting in his garage waiting for a body. Constructing another racer is certainly on Bill’s bucket list. Right now, though, he is having too much fun traveling to NASCAR races with his brother.

Bill lives in Marlton, NJ with his wife and college sweetheart, Anna. She is a retired nurse. They have been married for 50 years and have one son, Brian, a computer engineer working at McGuire AFB in NJ.

Profile written by Kim Weaver

Meeting of January 12, 2023

Join us at 7:15 PM on Thursday, January 12, in Camden County College’s William G. Rohrer Center, 1889 Marlton Pike East, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003 The program will also be simulcast on Zoom for the benefit of those members and friends who are unable to attend; please email oldbaldycwrt@verizon.net at least 24 hours prior to request Zoom access. This month’s topic is

Allison M. Johnson on “The Left-Armed Corps: Writings by Amputee Civil War Veterans”

The Left-Armed Corps collects and annotates a unique and little-known body of Civil War literature: narrative sketches, accounts, and poetry by veterans who lost the use of their right arms due to wounds sustained during the conflict and who later competed in left-handed penmanship contests in 1865 and 1866.

Organized by William Oland Bourne, the contests called on men who lost limbs while fighting for the Union to submit “specimens” of their best left-handed “business” writing in the form of personal statements. Bourne hoped the contests would help veterans reenter the work force and become economically viable citizens. Following Bourne’s aims, the contests commemorated the sacrifices made by veterans and created an archive of individual stories detailing the recently ended conflict. The Left-Armed Corps makes accessible this archive of powerful testimony and creative expression from Americans who fought to preserve the Union and end slavery.

Allison M. Johnson is assistant professor of English at San José State University. A Southern California native, she double majored in English and History at UC Riverside before earning her M.A. and Ph.D. in English at UCLA. She is the author of The Scars We Carve: Bodies and Wounds in Civil War Print Culture and the coeditor of Religion and Its Reformation in America, Beginnings to 1730: An Anthology of Primary Sources.

Meeting of February 9, 2023

Join us at 7:15 PM on Thursday, February 9, in Camden County College’s William G. Rohrer Center, 1889 Marlton Pike East, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003.The program will also be simulcast on Zoom for the benefit of those members and friends who are unable to attend; please email oldbaldycwrt@verizon.net at least 24 hours prior to request Zoom access. This month’s topic is

Timothy D Walker on “Sailing to Freedom: Maritime Dimensions of the Underground Railroad”

In 1858, Mary Millburn successfully made her escape from Norfolk, Virginia, to Philadelphia aboard an express steamship. Millburn’s maritime route to freedom was far from uncommon. By the mid-nineteenth century an increasing number of enslaved people had fled northward along the Atlantic seaboard. While scholarship on the Underground Railroad has focused almost exclusively on overland escape routes from the antebellum South, this groundbreaking volume expands our understanding of how freedom was achieved by sea and what the journey looked like for many African Americans.

With innovative scholarship and thorough research, Sailing to Freedom highlights little-known stories and describes the less-understood maritime side of the Underground Railroad, including the impact of African Americans’ paid and unpaid waterfront labor. These ten essays reconsider and contextualize how escapes were managed along the East Coast, moving from the Carolinas, Virginia, and Maryland to safe harbor in northern cities such as Philadelphia, New York, New Bedford, and Boston.

Dr. Timothy Walker is a professor of history at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, and serves as Fulbright Program Advisor. He is a member of the graduate faculty of the Department of Portuguese and an affiliated faculty member of the Center of Indian Studies and the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies. Walker is also an Affiliated Researcher of the Centro de História de Além-Mar (CHAM) at Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal. In September 2018 he was appointed Guest Investigator at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Dr. Walker’s teaching fields include Early Modern Europe, the Atlantic World, the Portuguese and their empire, maritime history and European global colonial expansion. Current research topics include the adoption of colonial indigenous medicines by Europeans; climate data derived from colonial-era archival documentation; slave trading in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans; as well as commercial and cultural links between the Portuguese overseas colonies in Asia, Africa, and the Americas.

Meeting of March 9, 2023

Join us at 7:15 PM on Thursday, March 9, in Camden County College’s William G. Rohrer Center, 1889 Marlton Pike East, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003The program will also be simulcast on Zoom for the benefit of those members and friends who are unable to attend; please email oldbaldycwrt@verizon.net at least 24 hours prior to request Zoom access. This month’s topic is

Dan Casella on “We are not Soldiers, but Bulldogs: Cedarville Men in the 7th New Jersey”

In early December 1861, a group of newly minted infantrymen walked into a Washington City photographer’s studio dressed in their freshly issued sky blue overcoats and arranged themselves to have their likeness taken. The five men were either directly related to each other or were friends before they answered Abraham Lincoln’s call for volunteers and enlisted about a month earlier. Their overcoats were unstained from the rigors of any campaign and their cloth forage caps were stiff from the warehouse. As they waited for the photographer to lift the cover off his lens, they made last-minute adjustments to those coats and caps, the position of their hands, and the expression on their faces. None of these men had any idea of the trials and tribulations that lay ahead during the course of their three-year enlistment.

The green soldiers were a part of Company H of the 7th New Jersey Infantry, a regiment recruited out of Cumberland and Gloucester Counties in southern New Jersey. Cedarville and Fairton, where these men hail from, are small towns close to Delaware Bay. The area is interlaced by tidal rivers and streams, and many buildings from as far back as the 1750s to the turn of the early 20th century remain. The vacation destination of Cape May is not far away.

Some 160 years after it was taken, that image would send me on a quest to learn all I could about these men. I would quickly find out that Cedarville and Cumberland County have a rich and proud Civil War history.

Dan Casella writes from Cedarville N.J. A chef by training, he spends many weekends interpreting the Civil War to the public as a member of Liberty Rifles living history organization. President of the Lawrence Township Historical Society since 2019, he hopes to compile dozens of accounts in the society’s collections into a book about Cedarville men in the war.

Meeting of April 13, 2023

Join us at 7:15 PM on Thursday, April 13, in Camden County College’s William G. Rohrer Center, 1889 Marlton Pike East, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003. The program will also be simulcast on Zoom for the benefit of those members and friends who are unable to attend; please email oldbaldycwrt@verizon.net at least 24 hours prior to request Zoom access. This month’s topic is

Brad Gottfried on “Lee Invades the North: A Comparison of the Antietam and Gettysburg Campaigns”

The two major battles, Antietam and Gettysburg, that ended Lee’s invasion of the North are among the most studied conflicts in the American Civil War. However, no full treatment comparing the two campaigns has been published. This work attempts to rectify that deficiency.

Dr. Gottfried reviews and compares of all aspects of the two campaigns, including: The military and political environment at the beginning of each campaign; Why Lee undertook the invasions; The armies and their leaders; The condition of the armies; Military intelligence; Getting to the battlefield; Battles along the way; Battlefield terrain; Initial encounters; The three phases of battle in each campaign; The armies and their commanders-in-chiefs; and Post-campaign events and Final thoughts.

After receiving his doctorate in 1976, Brad Gottfried worked in higher education for over 40 years, retiring as the President of the College of Southern Maryland in 2017. He has written 13 books on the Civil War, including Brigades of Gettysburg, Kearny’s Own: The History of the First New Jersey Brigade, Hell Comes to Southern Maryland: The Point Lookout Prisoner of War Camp for Confederates, and the iconic Maps series of battlefields. Brad became an Antietam Battlefield Guide in 2019 and also serves as a Gettysburg Town Guide.

Meeting of November 10, 2022

Chuck Veit on “A Lively Little Battle: New Perspectives on the Battle of Fort Butler, Donaldsonville, LA, 28 June 1863”.

The little-known Civil War engagement at Donaldsonville, Louisiana, is the Battle of Fort Butler, which saw a ragtag collection of 200 Union soldiers (mostly invalids) unaccountably repel the assault of a 1700-man Confederate force in the early morning hours of 28 June 1863. Lively Little Battle, as one contemporary newspaper described the action, includes multiple eyewitness accounts (the majority never before referenced) with every stage of the action diagramed with maps based on a previously undiscovered 1863 plan of the fort found in the National Archives. The story told in this book and the conclusion drawn shine a new and different light on this small and long-misunderstood action.

Chuck Veit is the author of original research books, including A Dog Before a Soldier: Almost-lost Episodes in the Navy’s Civil War; Sea Miner: Major E. B. Hunt’s Rocket Torpedo; Natural Genius: Brutus de Villeroi and the U.S. Navy’s First Submarine; and two books focusing on the salvage exploits of Massachusetts native, John E. Gowen: Raising Missouri and The Yankee Expedition to Sebastopol. Sea Miner claimed the 2016 award for Narrative Non-fiction from the Independent Publishers of New England, and Yankee Expedition won awards in both the Perennial Seller category and Book of the Year in 2017.

As President of the Navy & Marine Living History Association, Chuck has presented naval history at living history events, lectures, and conferences including NOAA’s Maritime Heritage Education Conference, the 2012 Civil War Navy Conference at the Mariners’ Museum, the Naval War College, and the Naval Order of the United States at Jacksonville. As a freelance graphic designer, Chuck has taught Graphic Design at the university level and in a corporate environment. He holds a Bachelor’s in Studio Art and Historical Linguistics, and a Masters in Historical Linguistics from Clark University.

CWRT Congress 2022 Wally Rueckel Innovation Award

Old Baldy Receives the CWRT Congress 2022 Wally Rueckel Innovation Award

The Wallace L. Rueckel Innovation Award celebrates the CWRT that has successfully sought to improve their organization in a variety of ways. The award for 2022 was presented in this video.