Join us at 7:15 PM on Thursday, September 8, in Camden County College’s William G. Rohrer Center, 1889 Marlton Pike East, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003. We will meet at Ponzio’s Diner, 7 NJ Route 70, Cherry Hill, NJ 08034 at 5:30 PM before the meeting for dinner and fellowship. The program will also be simulcast on Zoom for the benefit of those members and friends who are unable to attend; please email at least 24 hours prior to request Zoom access. This month’s topic is
Elizabeth D. Leonard on “Benjamin Franklin Butler: A Noisy, Fearless Life”
Benjamin Franklin Butler was one of the most important and controversial military and political leaders of the Civil War and Reconstruction eras. Remembered most often for his uncompromising administration of the Federal occupation of New Orleans during the war, Butler reemerges in this lively narrative as a man whose journey took him from childhood destitution to wealth and profound influence in state and national halls of power.
Prize-winning biographer Elizabeth D. Leonard chronicles Butler’s successful career in law defending the rights of the Lowell Mill girls and other workers, his achievements as one of Lincoln’s premier civilian generals, and his role in developing wartime policy in support of slavery’s fugitives as the nation advanced toward emancipation. Leonard also highlights Butler’s personal and political evolution, revealing how his limited understanding of racism and the horrors of slavery transformed over time, leading him into a postwar role as one of the nation’s foremost advocates for Black freedom and civil rights, and one of its notable opponents of white supremacy and neo-Confederate resurgence.
Elizabeth D. Leonard is the John J. and Cornelia V. Gibson Professor of History Emerita at Colby College in Waterville, Maine. A native of New York City, she earned her Ph.D. in U.S. history from the University of California, Riverside, in 1992. Leonard is the author of several articles and five books on the Civil War-era including: Yankee Women: Gender Battles in the Civil War; All the Daring of the Soldier: Women of the Civil War Armies; and Lincoln’s Forgotten Ally: Judge Advocate General Joseph Holt of Kentucky, which was named co-winner of the Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize in 2012.
She is currently engaged in research for a new project, which weaves together a deeper study of Judge Advocate General Joseph Holt’s transformation from slaveholder to willing advocate and enforcer of Lincoln’s emancipation policies, and the story of the lived experience of enslaved men from the region of Kentucky where Holt was raised—including one of Holt’s own former slaves—as they ran from slavery to fight for freedom in the Union army and then returned to try and claim the promises of Emancipation.
Join us at 7:15 PM on Thursday, October 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
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.
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.
Join us at 7:15 PM on Thursday, November 10, in Camden County College’s William G. Rohrer Center, 1889 Marlton Pike East, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003. We will meet at Ponzio’s Diner, 7 NJ Route 70, Cherry Hill, NJ 08034 at 5:30 PM before the meeting for dinner and fellowship. The program will also be simulcast on Zoom for the benefit of those members and friends who are unable to attend; please email at least 24 hours prior to request Zoom access. This month’s topic is
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.