Walt Lafty on “The Real War Will Never Get in The Books – The Civil War’s Poet Patriot Walt Whitman”
This presentation will focus on how the Civil War impacted the life and writings of Walt Whitman. While many people know him as a poet and author, it will be his love of country and his contributions to the war effort during the Civil War which will be highlighted.
Walt Lafty has been active in various Civil War groups for almost twenty years. Currently those include the Delaware Valley CWRT where he is a board member as well as a member of the preservation committee; and he is also an active member of the Old Baldy CWRT.
In addition, Walt is a volunteer and research administrator at the G.A.R. Museum in Philadelphia. He is also a member of Baker-Fisher Camp 101 Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War in Hatboro PA, where he serves as the camp secretary, and he is also a member of the General Meade Society.
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.
Richard Marine is fascinated by the Civil War. Whether it is restoring his 1855 wood frame house in Woodbury, New Jersey, remembering and honoring the black soldiers and sailors in blue, or collecting original anti-slavery newspapers and old books, Rick is a serious student-story teller of the era. “I love it and I live it. I have a passion for it.”
Born in Woodbury, Rick was in college when he joined the Navy. He spent six years on active duty (aviation), two additional years in the reserves (aviation), then returned to college to finish his degree. He then became employed with the U.S. Postal Service, where he eventually retired after 23 years.
Always interested in history, Rick bought in April 1978 the empty pre-Civil War house. With the exception of a kitchen added in the 30s or 40s, the 19th century treasure boasted its original design and hardware. Rick has painstakingly preserved the house for 44 years and has furnished it in period pieces. “There is something spiritual about my house. It is very comforting.”
Oddly enough, Rick’s house was marked for demolition – several other pre-Civil War houses all in a row nearby had been bulldozed by a car dealership – but he stood defiant. The business offered to buy the house; they even offered to move it. “I couldn’t sell it. To me, it’s a historic site. Camp Stockton was across the street. But that’s gone now too.”
Rick found out about the location of Camp Stockton after he found out that First Sergeant William S. Garwood was the first owner of his house. Garwood had enlisted in the 12th NJ Company A, which mustered into service at the Federal training camp in September 1862. Rick takes care of Garwood’s gravesite (some 4-5 miles away), and he has done the same for five other 12th NJ boys interred in the same cemetery.
A reenactor since 1979, Rick was surprised to discover that he belongs to the same regiment as Garwood. As a member of 12th NJ Company K and various other units, Rick educates and entertains the public to share his deep respect for American Civil War history. He has participated in the 125th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg with the 4th Texas Company B and the 125th anniversary of the Battle of Shiloh in southwestern Tennessee. One of Rick’s passions is doing living history events. “I’m just a soldier, a private. When I speak to the public, I cover some uncommon subjects that I have researched and, in some cases, personally experienced.” The subjects include the Pioneer Corps in both the Union and Confederate Armies; dogs and other animals that served as pets and regimental mascots; the grand assortment of tents and shelters of the War; and the role of the newspaper to expose the uncomfortable reality of slavery and give voice to the growing group of abolitionists.
Among the many places Rick presents is the Camp William Penn Museum in Cheltenham, PA. It sits on the grounds of what was Pennsylvania’s only training camp (established in 1863) for African American soldiers and the largest of 18 in the nation. Rick is determined that we honor the sacrifice of The United States Colored Troops. “I don’t understand why slavery was not denounced in America until the Civil War. You ask people if they know blacks fought and how many and they don’t know. Black soldiers should be acknowledged. They, like all American military veterans, must not be forgotten.”
Rick was invited to the museum’s La Mott Day commemoration last year to show his collection of original Civil War era anti-slavery newspapers – Garrison’s “The Liberator” and “Gazette of the United States” dated October 23, 1794, the first paper he ever bought, are among the many. “I wanted to know what Americans knew about what was destroying the country, if anything. I was looking for coverage of the important issues of the day that referenced slavery, like the Dred Scott trial, the Fugitive Slave Act, the House of Representative’s Gag Rule of 1836, etc.”
Inside Rick’s house, whose purchase in 1978 set all his historical discoveries into action, is a bookcase he made that holds his collection of old books. Some were written by soldiers coming out of the Civil War. One, the oldest, was published by George Washington in 1795.
*Rick, an Old Baldy member for 10 years, wishes to thank fellow member Don Wiles for his contribution long ago to Rick’s interest in dogs of the Civil War, when he acquired for Rick an image of Sallie, the mascot of the 11th Pennsylvania Infantry.
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.