Author Archives: hlj

Meeting of July 13, 2023

Randy Drais on “Women at Gettysburg”

Most, if not all, Battle of Gettysburg buffs have heard of Jennie Wade, the only civilian killed during the Battle of Gettysburg, and women such as Lydia Leister (whose home was used as General Meade’s headquarters), Mary Thompson (whose property was the site of General Lee’s headquarters), and others like Tillie Pierce and Elizabeth Thorn. But what about the many other women who were there during or after the battle?

Join independent historian Randy Drais to learn not only about the more well-known women, but also the more lesser known ones like Marie Tepe (“French Mary”), Cornelia Hancock, Catherine Heagen, Lucinda Horne, Rose Quinn Rooney, and many more. We will also learn about the monument on the battlefield that has not one, but two women mentioned on the plaques of that monument!

Randy Drais

Frank Barletta — Member Profile

In 2015 Frank Barletta went on a road trip to middle Tennessee to retrace the steps of the 101st Ohio Volunteer Infantry and one of its men, then Private George S. Myers, from Stone River to Chickamauga, Georgia, where the regiment fought September 19-20, 1863 in the second bloodiest battle of the Civil War. For his actions on the 19th – he “saved the regimental colors by great personal devotion and bravery” – Sergeant Myers, promoted May 1, 1865, was awarded the Medal of Honor. (Frank wrote a lengthy story about his trip for the November 11, 2015 issue of the Old Baldy newsletter.)

Since the journey South, Frank has been fascinated with the life of Sergeant Myers, so much so “I’m going to write a book. I don’t know if I’ll ever finish.” He is trying to find information about the before and after of the Sergeant’s time in the Civil War (1862-1865) by reading newspapers, diaries of the regiment soldiers, and maps. “I’m a maps guy. I love studying maps. Every step that George made, I followed along.” Given where Frank spent the early part of his life, his book could very well be about the Revolutionary War.

Born in 1943 in Boston Massachusetts, Frank spent 35 years in New England and the rest of his time in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. When he was ten, Frank worked during the summer at his father’s heavy construction company and his job was to fill the kerosine “bombs” or lanterns used to alert drivers of nearby construction work. His mom used to make him wear rain gear because it was a dirty and smelly task. Frank picked up another skill on the job – cleaning lumber or taking the nails out of planks. A kid being a kid, Frank decided to hammer the nails back in instead and he could do it with two or three strikes of the hammer. The neighborhood kids found out how fast he was and would give him twenty-five cents to hit nails at the town carnival and win them a prize. Frank won every time.

Grown-up Frank graduated in 1961 from Catholic Memorial High School, and then went on to St. Anselm College in New Hampshire where he earned a BA in Economics. He worked 37 years for Collier International; head of facilities for 30 years, selling churches for seven.

Away from real estate, Frank has been a seven-year volunteer for the New Jersey Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman. His primary job is to advocate for people living in long-term care facilities by investigating and resolving complaints made by them or by others on their behalf. “The work is critical. Covid showed that some of these places are not great.”

With a love for history, Frank is or has been involved with numerous related organizations and projects. In 1976, Frank, with his American Revolution living historians group, recreated a British Army Grenadier with the 3rd Regiment of Foot to serve as an honor guard for Queen Elizabeth II when she visited the Concord and Lexington Battlefield site for our nation’s Bicentennial. He made his own clothing, even his own bearskin hat.

As a 10-year member of the Old Baldy CWRT, Frank has served as a board member and is currently treasurer, a position he has held for the past five years. In October 2018 Frank spearheaded the Civil War Naval Symposium on board the Battleship New Jersey in her berth at Camden (Delaware River). It featured several well-known experts in the history of the Civil War navies, sixteen exhibitors, and period songs. “I’m very proud of putting that together. It was a grand affair. The first time a Civil War Naval symposium was onboard the ship.”

Frank is on the advisory committee for Homecoming 250 Navy Marine Corps, a charity created to host the main celebrations of the Navy and Marine Corps 250th birthdays in 2025 in Philadelphia and on the Delaware River. (Speaking of history, Frank’s grandfather is a second cousin to Harry S. Truman!)

Horseshoes, bowling, pickleball, Tai-Chi – they all keep Frank feeling fit and young-er. Oh yeah, and he is a BIG Phillies fan. Frank’s wife, Sandy, bought him in July 2017 a gift certificate to take a yoga class at the ballpark. On the field. With hundreds of other people. A free ticket to the Phillies evening game was the reward. “The best gift my wife ever gave me! It was the coolest thing! Even the Philly Phanatic did yoga!

Frank and his wife, Sandy, share 41 years of marriage. They live in Marlton, New Jersey with their two rescue dogs, Shiloh and Wally.

Profile written by Kim Weaver

Kathy Clark — Member Profile

Kathy Clark often wonders what life was like for women in the American Civil War. The females, white and black, who had a deep devotion to family and community and who stepped forward to risk their lives to do good. One of those selfless women who Kathy admires is Harriet Tubman, the “She-Moses.”

Tubman was enslaved, escaped, and helped others realize freedom on the Underground Railroad. The abolitionist and social justice activist is documented to have rescued at least 70 people during 13 trips to her native Maryland, and instructed dozens of others on how to escape on their own. “Harriet Tubman was an exceptional person with courage. Just to get people out of the south she put her life on the line. She could have been easily caught. She gave up everything for herself to help black men, women and children. She was on a Liberty ship to help liberate enslaved people from plantation homes. And then at the end she cared for black people in her house in Auburn, NY.”

In addition to her interest in women in the Civil War, Kathy is intrigued by the hospitals of the era, and also Walt Whitman and Clara Barton, both self-taught nurses. She is a member of the Society for Women and the Civil War, and has been vice president of Old Baldy CWRT for six years, a member for nine.

Born in 1947 in East Camden, New Jersey, Kathy thought she would work as a secretary when she grew up. “There were not a lot of jobs open to women then.” What she really wanted to do was become an artist, perhaps illustration or fashion design. In her junior year of high school—with her father’s support—she attended weekend classes at Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia and soon came to like acrylic painting (still enjoys it.) But then her father died, and Kathy made the decision to go college and study elementary education. She graduated in 1969 from Temple University. “I did it for him. I thought he would be extremely proud of me graduating from college.”

In 1972 Kathy moved to Mount Laurel, New Jersey with her husband Bill. After seven years teaching second-graders in Maple Shade Township, Kathy decided to leave the classroom. She would work from home helping Bill with his residential and commercial security business. (Sadly, Bill died in 2007. They were married for 38 years.)

Kathy fills her daily life with counted cross-stitch and reading mystery and history books. She writes articles and reviews of Old Baldy meeting presentations for our newsletter. For the 2018 Civil War Navy Symposium on board the Battleship New Jersey, Kathy was responsible for soliciting donations from businesses and organizations for the raffle auction. She takes photos at Old Baldy events, which means we have no photos of her!

Kathy found Old Baldy through continuing education classes at The Center at Camden County College. She was in a Civil War class and picked up information on Old Baldy. Rich Jankowski happened to be there and encouraged her to attend a meeting. She did, and Old Baldy CWRT is all the better for it.

She became interested in the Civil War after taking American History in college. Once the history bug bit, Kathy and Bill visited historic Gettysburg and later went on steamboat trips to Vicksburg and Shiloh. At that time there were Civil War lectures on the trips. She also has followed the escape trail of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassin John Wilkes Booth, starting at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. and ending at the Garrett farm in Bowling Green, Virginia. “Booth is not my favorite person. His southern views were way off.”

With a strong wanderlust, Kathy took to traveling all over the world, including a solo New York to Southampton, England trip in October 2008. The QE2, in tandem with the QM2, was making its final transatlantic voyage before retiring to Dubai. Why go solo? Her traveling companion discovered at the last minute that her passport was somewhere other than her purse.

Profile written by Kim Weaver

Bob Russo — Member Profile

An eighth grade Catholic nun in South Philly walked into a classroom wearing a full Union uniform when she introduced the Civil War to her students. A history-loving father handed his 16-year-old hospitalized son Bruce Catton’s Gettysburg: The Final Fury and a second book on the history of the Confederacy. These two impactful experiences true to then teenager Bob Russo were the beginning of his lifelong appreciation of the Civil War. “Those books, on top of my eighth grade experience and a visit to Gettysburg a couple years later, left me hooked for a lifetime.”

Bob was first interested in battles and troop movements, even visiting battlefields (Antietam is a favorite) to better understand the carnage, and in the process recognized that every person on or near the battles, both military and citizen, had an experience. “The strength, courage, and perseverance exhibited by people is truly impossible to imagine.” Later, he became interested in Civil War medicine and was surprised to learn — despite Hollywood’s depictions to the contrary — that anesthesia was used in operations and that medical care was state of the art for the times. As a trusted historian, Bob needs to know all sides of the past — the good, the bad, the sad, the ugly.

Dedicated to pursuing his passions, Bob shares his knowledge of the nation’s history with Saturday morning visitors to Independence National Historical Park. Since 2015, he has been conducting tours of Independence Hall, Congress Hall, and giving talks at the Liberty Bell and other sites within the Park. “The most special thing for me is to stand on the delegates’ side of the railing in the Assembly Room of Independence Hall to talk about those momentous events.” Bob would like to have a sit down with John Dickinson, the man he believes to be the most misunderstood Founding Father because he did not vote for independence. “That is true but extremely misleading.”

Bob is a member of numerous historical organizations including the Gettysburg Foundation, Surratt Society, the National Constitution Center and others. He also received the Certificate of Completion from the Civil War Institute at Manor College, where he once attended an Antietam class run by the Delaware Valley CWRT and Jerry Carrier. Impressed by the class, Bob went to the group’s meeting in Trevose, Pennsylvania and ”Rich Jankowski, the eternal recruiter for Old Baldy CWRT, was in the audience. Rich didn’t even wait for the end of the meeting; he turned from a few rows in front of me and shouted, “I have a group that meets much closer to you! We will talk! That’s the thing about OB, DV, and every historical organization I belong to. Great people, great camaraderie, and great experiences.” He is a nine-year member of Old Baldy and past vice president.

Born in 1958, Bob is a true believer in the old adage, “those who forget their history are bound to repeat it.” With that in mind he has written and presented “The Wounded Knee Massacre” and “Arlington National Cemetery ‒ Garden of Stone.” After two years studying the December 29, 1890 Native American tragedy (hundreds of Lakota dead at the hands of the U.S. Army), Bob and his wife, Carol, visited the site on the Lakota Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. “During that entire study, I found myself often deeply saddened by what was done to all native American tribes, which in my opinion is the attempted annihilation of a people and a culture by the United States government. The entire story is incredibly sad.”

After 20 or so visits to the military cemetery that contains the remains of approximately 400,000 people, “ I still feel humbled just thinking about it. The biggest thing that people do not realize about Arlington is, beyond the immense service of those in eternal rest below those headstones, and the dignity and importance of the Tomb of the Unknowns, Arlington through a couple hundred memorials and monuments offers a history of the United States.”

A graduate of the Pennsylvania Institute of Technology, Bob is the senior vice president of Central Metals, Inc., and Roma Steel Erection, Inc. He and Carol live in Cherry Hill and have been married 35 years. Between them they have three children and four grandchildren. Bob recently introduced his grandsons to model railroading. “They are mesmerized and seeing them that way is a great joy for me. I look forward to introducing them to fishing in a nearby lake in a couple years.”

Profile written by Kim Weaver

Bill Hughes — Member Profile

Bill Hughes is a Vineland, New Jersey boy, raised up around a father and grandfather whose work ethics and positive role model lives made a deep impact on him.

Bill is a graduate of Pfeiffer University in North Carolina, with a Master of Education degree from West Chester University. He taught physical education and drivers’ education at Pennsauken High School for 38 years. He also coached soccer, and refereed soccer and track & field. He was inducted into the Pfeiffer University Athletic Hall of Fame as well as the South Jersey Soccer Hall of Fame. He served on the board of the Sterling Regional School District for 18 yrs.; before joining the board, he spent 25 years as a volunteer fireman.

Over his 81 years, Bill has become quite the writer and publisher as he accomplished with his two books pertaining to the Civil War era. The U.S. General Hospital at Beverly, New Jersey, 1864-1865 traces the hospital’s roots and the people who shaped it.“The hospital was the reason for the beginning of Beverly National Cemetery.” The book was later used as a source for a mail-related story in The Journal of the New Jersey Postal History Society.

The Civil War Papers of Lt. Col. Newton T. Colby, New York Infantry is a compilation of Colby’s personal letters, newspaper articles, and accounts of fighting and daily life from other soldiers. Colby served with two New York regiments, the 23rd and the 107th, until getting typhoid fever after Chancellorsville. He served later in the Veteran Reserve Corps as superintendent of the Old Capitol Prison in Washington, D.C. at the time of Lincoln’s assassination. Colby, recognized as an excellent soldier by his peers and commanding officers, was Bill’s great-great-grandfather. “It started with over 100 of his personal letters home to his father during the war. With about 10 years of research on my part, I found many other documents and side stories about him. I felt it was history that should be preserved.” (Bill had two other Civil War veteran ancestors, his wife had one.)

Bill is nearing completion on a Civil War history of Vineland, a city that did not exist in 1861. “I have identified over 600 veterans that had something to do with Vineland. There are over 300 veterans buried here, and that to me was an amazing number. I wrote a bio for each one.” Two are special: Dr. Charles Brewer, a surgeon general on General Robert E. Lee’s staff in Richmond and brother-in-law to Major General J.E.B. Stuart; and Sergeant William Pittenger, one of the Andrews’ Raiders who went south and stole a locomotive from the Confederates, spent time in a Rebel prison, and then won the Medal of Honor.

It is obvious the substantial amount of time Bill spends on researching Civil War history. He and his wife of 47 years, Marty, have traveled many years in RVs to Civil War sites and have followed J.E.B. Stuart’s trail around the Union Army and Colonel John S. Mosby all over Virginia.

Bill is a member of the American Battlefield Trust, Millville Army Air Field Museum, Vineland Historical and Antiquarian Society, numerous Elks and Masonic lodges, the NRA, and is a trustee of the historic Siloam Cemetery in Vineland.

As for the Old Baldy Civil War Roundtable of Philadelphia, Bill has been a faithful member for 31 years and is a past secretary. To write the history of the group — founded in 1977 — Bill has had the monumental task of tracking down past members, gathering pictures, and rounding up newsletters.

“I have dabbled in many things.” We noticed, Bill. Thank you!

Profile written by Kim Weaver

Meeting of June 8, 2023

Steven Knowlton on “Thirteen Months in Dixie, or, the Adventures of a Federal Prisoner in Texas”

Thirteen Months in Dixie tells a rollicking tale of adventure, captivity, hardship, and heroism during the last year of the Civil War—in the protagonist’s own words. After being hidden away for decades as a family heirloom, the incredible manuscript is finally available, annotated and illustrated, for the first time.

Steven A. Knowlton is Librarian for History and African American Studies at Princeton University. His historical research has been published in many peer-reviewed journals. He is the recipient of the William Driver Award from the North American Vexillological Association and the Marshall Wingfield Award from the West Tennessee Historical Society and has won the Justin Winsor Library History Essay Award twice. This is his first book.

Meeting of May 11, 2023

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.

Walt Lafty

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.

Meeting of April 13, 2023

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.

Rick Marine — Member Profile

Rick Marine standing with his unit’s (Huckstep’s Fluvanna First Virginia Battery) Napoleon along Seminary Ridge at Gettysburg

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.

Profile written by Kim Weaver

Meeting of March 9, 2023

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.