Monthly Archives: November 2021

Meeting of December 9, 2021

Member Social Night

Join us at 7:15 PM on Thursday, December 9. We have resumed in-person meetings at Camden County College in Blackwood, NJ, in the Connector Building Room 101 at 7:15 PM. We will continue to simulcast the programs on Zoom for the benefit of those members and friends who are unable to attend. Health and safety protocol at the college will require that masks be worn in all indoor public spaces regardless of vaccination status. We plan to meet at the Lamp Post Diner at 5:30 before the meeting for dinner and fellowship. This month’s topic is

Our Round Table has weathered the global pandemic well. Old Baldy CWRT exits stronger, expanded and looking forward to 2022. In December, instead of a regular meeting with a presenter or discussion, our Round Table will host a social evening. This will be to mark the upcoming Holidays and to welcome back members and guests we have not seen in eighteen months. The event will be available on Zoom for those not yet ready or unable to attend in person. Plan on joining us to discuss our journey this year, our path forward and share good cheer with the membership.

Besides interaction, conversation and camaraderie, we will also be discussing several issues about moving forward including our revised book raffle. The topics with discussion points will be included in the December newsletter for members to review before the 9th. Come out to let us know your plans for 2022 and where you will be taking Flat Old Baldy for an adventure. Your input is important in planning next year for our Round Table. Tom Scurria will provide an in-depth review of the planning so far on our Western Theater Symposium at the end of April. He seeks your feedback on how to make it a superb event for all attendees.

If you are planning to attend in-person, please let Sean Glisson know (SGlisson@myrepublicbank.com), so we have an accurate count. To prepare, review our newsletters and programs for the year to jot down some comments to pass on the Board. Remember to bring money to purchase a copy of our South Jersey Civil War sites map. They make great holiday gifts for history minded individuals. Look forward to seeing many smiling faces on December 9th.

Meeting of January 13, 2022

Join us at 7:15 PM on Thursday, January 13. We have resumed in-person meetings at Camden County College in Blackwood, NJ, in the Connector Building Room 101 at 7:15 PM. We will continue to simulcast the programs on Zoom for the benefit of those members and friends who are unable to attend. Health and safety protocol at the college will require that masks be worn in all indoor public spaces regardless of vaccination status. We plan to meet at the Lamp Post Diner at 5:30 before the meeting for dinner and fellowship. This month’s topic is

Mike Bunn on “The Assault on Fort Blakeley: The Thunder and Lightning of Battle”

On the afternoon of April 9, 1865, some sixteen thousand Union troops launched a bold, coordinated assault on the three-mile-long line of earthworks known as Fort Blakeley. The charge was one of the grand spectacles of the Civil War, the climax of a weeks-long campaign that resulted in the capture of Mobile—the last major Southern city to remain in Confederate hands. Historian Mike Bunn delves into the chaos of those desperate moments along the waters of the storied Mobile–Tensaw Delta, and also serves as a guided tour of Alabama’s largest Civil War battlefield.

Mike Bunn is an author and historian, and currently serves as Director of Historic Blakeley State Park in Spanish Fort, Alabama. He previously directed the Historic Chattahoochee Commission, a bi-state agency operating in southeastern Alabama and southwestern Georgia, and worked as a curator with the Columbus, Georgia Museum and the Mississippi Department of Archives and History’s Museum of Mississippi. He has also worked with the Birmingham Historical Society and the Tuscaloosa County Preservation Society.

He is author or coauthor of several books, including Fourteenth Colony: The Forgotten Story of the Gulf South during America’s Revolutionary Era; Early Alabama: An Illustrated Guide to the Formative Years, 1798-1826; Alabama From Territory to Statehood: An Alabama Heritage Bicentennial Collection; Well Worth Stopping to See: Antebellum Columbus, Georgia through the Eyes of Travelers; Civil War Eufaula; Battle for the Southern Frontier: The Creek War and the War of 1812; and The Lower Chattahoochee River (Images of America). Mike earned his undergraduate degree at Faulkner University and two master’s degrees at the University of Alabama. He and his wife, Tonya, live in Daphne, Alabama, with their daughter, Zoey. www.mikebunn.net

Meeting of February 10, 2022

Join us at 7:15 PM on Thursday, February 10. We have resumed in-person meetings at Camden County College in Blackwood, NJ, in the Connector Building Room 101 at 7:15 PM. We will continue to simulcast the programs on Zoom for the benefit of those members and friends who are unable to attend. Health and safety protocol at the college will require that masks be worn in all indoor public spaces regardless of vaccination status. We plan to meet at the Lamp Post Diner at 5:30 before the meeting for dinner and fellowship. This month’s topic is

Chris Bagley on “The Horse at Gettysburg: Prepared for the Day of Battle”

Horses are some of the many unsung heroes of the American Civil War. These majestic animals were impressed into service, trained, prepared for battle, and turned into expendable implements of war.
There is more to this story, however. When an army’s means and survival is predicated upon an animal whose instincts are to flee rather than fight, a bond of mutual trust and respect between handler and horse must be forged. Ultimately, the Battle of Gettysburg resulted in thousands of horses killed and wounded. Their story deserves telling, from a time not so far removed.

Chris hails from Canton, Ohio, where he resides with his wife Becky. Chris has been a Registered Nurse for 31 years and currently works as a surgical nurse. He became a Licensed Battlefield Guide at Gettysburg National Military Park in 2016. He always had a love and fascination of horses from childhood which continues to this day.

Chris first visited the fields of Gettysburg at the age of ten, and then returned when he was thirty. This led to a lifelong passion for reading, study, and visitation of the field. On one of his many trips, he took a guided tour of the battlefield on horseback. The experience prompted him to prepare and take the examination to become a Licensed Battlefield Guide, which he completed and passed in August of 2016. The first tour he gave was done so on horseback. For the past three years, Chris has conducted tours over the hallowed grounds of Gettysburg National Military Park, but the memory and privilege of riding over the field on horseback further influenced him to study and learn about these animals. He has always loved horses and now is combining the two. Chris is a lifelong native of Canton, Ohio with his wife, Becky.

Meeting of March 10, 2022

Join us at 7:15 PM on Thursday, March 10. We have resumed in-person meetings at Camden County College in Blackwood, NJ, in the Connector Building Room 101 at 7:15 PM. We will continue to simulcast the programs on Zoom for the benefit of those members and friends who are unable to attend. Health and safety protocol at the college will require that masks be worn in all indoor public spaces regardless of vaccination status. We plan to meet at the Lamp Post Diner at 5:30 before the meeting for dinner and fellowship. This month’s topic is

Jim Remsen and Brad Upp on “Back From Battle: The Forgotten Story of Pennsylvania’s Camp Discharge and the Weary Civil War Soldiers It Served”

In the final year of the American Civil War, a special Union Army post was constructed just outside Philadelphia to handle a jumble of returning citizen-soldiers.

Many soldiers bore bullet wounds, broken bones, and other scars of combat. Some had lost limbs. Some were laid low by illness. Hundreds arrived half-dead as survivors of wretched prison camps. Others were blessedly unscathed—but all grappled with the fresh, ferocious memories of their time at war.

The post, known as Camp Discharge, did its best to move the young Union veterans on to their next assignment or, more often, back to civilian life. During its brief existence, it sat on a bluff overlooking what is today one of the nation’s busiest highways, the Schuylkill Expressway. The post was quickly dismantled, its story forgotten. The authors reclaim that remarkable history and trace the often tumultuous lives of the Pennsylvania volunteer soldiers who passed through Camp Discharge’s gates.

Jim Remsen is a journalist and author of several prior books; The Intermarriage Handbook; Visions of Teaoga; and Embattled Freedom. Since retiring as Religion Editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer, Jim has pursued his keen interest in history, with a focus on underappreciated aspects of our nation’s local histories.

Jim Remsen and Brad Upp

Brad Upp is a board member of the Lower Merion Historical Society and a former educator. His upbringing near Camp Discharge stoked a fascination with history and led him to become a Civil War historian, relic hunter and re-enactor representing the 69th Pennsylvania Infantry. Brad is a skilled collector of artifacts from various periods of history, a passion that has taken him to a myriad of locations throughout the United States.

Lorraine Gancher — Member Profile

Lorraine Gancher grew up in Garfield, NJ (named after the Civil War general and president), an industrial town along the Passaic River not far from New York City. She often took the train or bus into New York City with family or friends for various excursions. She remembers seeing the Rockettes perform at Radio City Music Hall at Christmas time and the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. She also has fond memories of her trips to the Museum of Natural History, the Bronx Zoo, and the Statue of Liberty.

Back in high school, Lorraine had a strong interest in history. While learning about the kings and queens of England, she and her friends adopted the personalities of various royalty and wrote each other spoof letters. For example, as Lady So and So, the Lady in Waiting to Princess Such and Such, she wrote her friend, the Duke, “We just visited your estate and really enjoyed our stay.” Lorraine’s love of letters also prompted her to become pen pals with fellow teenagers in England, South Africa and Australia. Her Aussie correspondence continues to this day, causing Lorraine to reflect, “The mail is my friend. I’d hate to see it leave.”

After high school, Lorraine attended Montclair State College (now University), where she received a Teaching degree in Social Studies for Junior and Senior High School and a Librarian degree for grades K–12. Upon graduation, she moved to South Jersey, becoming a librarian in the Bellmawr school system. She first worked 30 years at the elementary school and then 10 years at the middle school as a school guidance counsellor because she received her Master’s Degree in Student Personnel Services from Glassboro State College (now Rowan University).

In addition to her librarian duties, Lorraine also helped organize PTA fundraising and various after school activities. These included decorating for the school dances, and “Read Aloud Night,” where she got the mayor, members of the police force and others to read various children’s books for the students. Lorraine helped out with all the school activities, like Book Fairs and contests. She also got parents involved and volunteering. On holidays Lorraine dressed up to read to the younger students, performing as a pumpkin, a turkey and even a talking Christmas tree.

The school district appreciated Lorraine’s efforts and had a surprise for her before she retired. A friend of hers suggested they attend an upcoming school board meeting to be held outdoors at the school. As Lorraine always went to these school board meetings, she was happy to go. “They were doing work on the outside of the school,” Lorraine recollected, “and a drape hung over one side of the building. I had no idea something else was going on. At the end of the meeting, I am called up to the podium, a cord is pulled, the drape comes down, and there is my name in stainless steel letters on the side of the library.” The Bellmawr Park Elementary School library is now the Lorraine A. Gancher Library. What an appropriate honor for someone who loves reading and spent her career helping students.

And speaking of kids, Lorraine also raised three stepchildren of her own—James, Kristin and Tammy. They have since moved all over the country but she keeps in touch with letters, phone calls and gifts. Lorraine prefers these more personal interactions to email correspondence.

Lorraine first learned of Old Baldy while taking a course on the Civil War with Dr. Pesda at the Camden County College Civic Center during the Civil War Sesquicentennial. At the course, she met Old Baldy members Joe Wilson and Gerri Hughes, who encouraged Lorraine to join our Round Table, which she did six years ago. Lorraine enjoys reading Civil War letters, has visited Gettysburg, including the Eisenhower farm, and has been to several sites in Virginia. But her love of history transcends the Civil War. She’s been to Jamestown, Roanoke, several historic lighthouses, and various places in the Hudson River Valley. Some favorite Hudson River spots include Hyde Park, Olana (Frederick Church’s home), Sleepy Hollow, West Point and Bear Mountain.

To this day Lorraine loves taking classes on all sorts of subjects, usually at St. Peters College, Glassboro University or Camden County College. As she notes, “I consider myself an eternal learner as I’ve been going to classes since I was 5.” And fortunately for us, she also learned about Old Baldy at a Camden County College class just a few years ago.

Meeting of November 11, 2021

Carol Adams on “Pulling for the Union: The Philadelphia & Reading Railroad in the Civil War”

“Pulling for the Union: The Philadelphia & Reading Railroad in the Civil War” is a presentation based on an exhibit that was displayed at the Reading Railroad Heritage Museum in Reading, Pennsylvania.

The P&R was the predecessor of the Reading Railroad. Chartered in 1833, it was an expanding transportation leader by the time of the War Between the States. Its location, access to coal, and power were important drivers of the North’s industrial superiority. The presentation includes the many ways the P&R supported the war effort with its people and its resources.

Carol Adams is a volunteer who assists the Reading Company Technical and Historical Society with its educational project, the Reading Railroad Heritage Museum. Active with the RCT&HS since 1997, she currently serves as chair of Community Outreach, and enjoys modeling, exhibit preparation, and other museum work.

P&R Hiawatha locomotive