Category Archives: Meeting archive

Meeting of May 12, 2022

Drew Gruber on “The Battle of Eltham’s Landing and the New Jersey Brigade”

The Battle of Eltham’s Landing, also known as the Battle of Barhamsville, or West Point, took place on May 7, 1862, in New Kent County, Virginia, as part of the Peninsula Campaign of the American Civil War. Brig. Gen. William B. Franklin’s Union division landed at Eltham’s Landing and was attacked by two brigades of Brig. Gen. G. W. Smith’s command, reacting to the threat to the Confederate army’s trains on the Barhamsville Road. Franklin’s movement occurred while the Confederate army was withdrawing from the Williamsburg line, but he was unable to interfere with the Confederate movement.

The Battle at Eltham’s Landing was little more than a heavy skirmish. There were 194 Union casualties and 48 Confederate. Franklin told McClellan, “I congratulate myself that we have maintained our position.” Although the action was tactically inconclusive, Franklin missed an opportunity to intercept the Confederate retreat from Williamsburg, allowing it to pass unmolested.

Drew joined Civil War Trails as the Executive Director in August 2015. He was previously employed with the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and was appointed by both Governor McDonnell and Governor McAuliffe to the Virginia Board of Historic Resources. He credits his grandfather for his interest in history, whose “Victory at Sea” VHS tapes were constant in Drew’s early years. Drew is fascinated by the lives and experiences of the average soldier and citizen who navigated battlefields, towns, and landscapes during the war. He lives in Williamsburg with his wife Kate and their two cats. He enjoys reading, oysters, craft beer (or spirits), and music. Drew holds his M.S. from Virginia Commonwealth University, a B.A. from Mary Washington College and was the Lawrence T. Jones III Research Fellow in Texas Civil War History in 2013.

Meeting of April 14, 2022

Gil Hahn on “Campaign for the Confederate Coast: Blockading, Blockade Running and Related Endeavors During the American Civil War”

The Federal blockade of the Confederate coast during the American Civil War (1861-1865) did not cause the ultimate Federal victory, but it contributed to that victory to a significant degree. The Federal blockade deterred much of the commerce that might have flowed into the Confederacy, but it also created a profit opportunity for those willing to accept the risk of running the blockade. Although blockade running sustained the Confederates’ ability to continue the battle for four years, the effect of this economic warfare substantially weakened the armies upon which the Confederate assertion of independence rested.

Gil Hahn is an attorney and historian who grew up in Washington, DC, near Battery Kemble, one of the ring of forts defending the Federal capital, and also within easy touring range of many Civil War battlefields in Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.

Gil works part time at the Hagley Museum in Wilmington, Delaware, which preserves the original DuPont gunpowder factory, and where he demonstrates and explains the operation of nineteenth century industrial equipment, including the steam engine.

Meeting of March 10, 2022

Meg Groeling on “First Fallen: The Life of Colonel Elmer Ellsworth, the North’s First Civil War Hero”

On May 24, 1861, Col. Elmer Ellsworth became the first Union officer killed in the Civil War. The entire North was aghast. First Fallen is the first modern biography of this national celebrity, Northern icon, and mostly forgotten national hero.

Ellsworth and his entertaining U.S. Zouave Cadets drill team had performed at West Point, in New York City, and for President James Buchanan before returning home to Chicago. He helped his friend and law mentor Abraham Lincoln in his quest for the presidency, and when Lincoln put out the call for troops after Fort Sumter was fired upon, Ellsworth responded. Within days he organized more than 1,000 New York firefighters into a regiment of volunteers.

When he was killed, the Lincolns rushed to the Navy Yard to view the body of the young man they had loved as a son. Mary Lincoln insisted he lie in state in the East Room of the White House. The elite of New York brought flowers to the Astor House and six members of the 11th New York accompanied their commander’s coffin. When a late May afternoon thunderstorm erupted during his funeral service at the Hudson View Cemetery, eyewitnesses referred to it as “tears from God himself.” The death of the young hero was knocked out of the headlines eight weeks later by the battle of First Bull Run. The trickle of blood had now become a torrent that would not stop for four long years.

Meg Groeling is a regular contributor to the blog Emerging Civil War, exploring subjects beyond the battlefield such as personalities, politics, and practices that affected the men who did the fighting. A writer, teacher, and curriculum developer since 1987, she has taught at both the elementary and middle school levels for more than thirty years. She graduated from California State University, Long Beach with a B.A. in liberal studies and has been involved in continuing education for her entire career.

Meg received a master’s degree from American Public University, majoring in military history with a Civil War emphasis. Savas Beatie published her first book, The Aftermath of Battle: The Burial of the Civil War Dead, in the fall of 2015. This is a volume in the Emerging Civil War Series, although it differs from the others in that it takes on a much broader range of subjects. The book has received excellent reviews and has already gone into its second printing. She lives in Hollister, California, in a lovely 1928 bungalow covered with roses outside and books inside.

Meeting of February 10, 2022

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 January 13, 2022

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 December 9, 2021

Member Social Night

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 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

Meeting of October 14, 2021

Dr. Caroline E. Janney on “Ends of War: The Unfinished Fight of Lee’s Army after Appomattox”

The Army of Northern Virginia’s chaotic dispersal began even before Lee and Grant met at Appomattox Court House. As the Confederates had pushed west at a relentless pace for nearly a week, thousands of wounded and exhausted men fell out of the ranks. When word spread that Lee planned to surrender, most remaining troops stacked their arms and accepted paroles allowing them to return home, even as they lamented the loss of their country and cause. But others broke south and west, hoping to continue the fight.

In this dramatic new history of the weeks and months after Appomattox, Caroline E. Janney reveals that Lee’s surrender was less an ending than the start of an interregnum marked by military and political uncertainty, legal and logistical confusion, and continued outbursts of violence. Janney takes readers from the deliberations of government and military authorities to the ground-level experiences of common soldiers. Ultimately, what unfolds is the messy birth narrative of the Lost Cause, laying the groundwork for the defiant resilience of rebellion in the years that followed.

Dr. Janney is the John L. Nau III Professor of the American Civil War and Director of the John L. Nau Center for Civil War History at the University of Virginia. She is the author of Burying the Dead but Not the Past: Ladies’ Memorial Associations and the Lost Cause (2008) and Remembering the Civil War: Reunion and the Limits of Reconciliation (2013). She co-edited with Gary W. Gallagher Cold Harbor to the Crater: The End of the Overland Campaign (2015) and edited Petersburg to Appomattox: The End of the War in Virginia (2018). She serves as a co-editor of the University of North Carolina Press’s Civil War America Series and is the past president of the Society of Civil War Historians.

Meeting of September 9, 2021

Herb Kaufman on “Little Round Top: Another Look—Was it really the key to the Battle of Gettysburg?”

In 1974, with the publication of Michael Shaara’s The Killer Angels, the focus on the Battle of Gettysburg shifted to three actions that were reinforced with the 1993 movie Gettysburg: John Buford’s stand on July 1; the battle for Little Round Top on July 2; and Pickett’s Charge on July 3.

Subsequently Little Round Top has become the focus of the entire battle, leaving the impression that Chamberlain’s defense of the hill saved the Union Army, changed the outcome of the battle and directly lead to the defeat of the Confederate army.

While Chamberlain’s brigade was certainly heroic, was this small hill truly the center point of the battle as so many would have us believe? Was Little Round Top truly the key to this epic three-day battle? You may be surprised by Herb’s answer!

man in a flag tie
Herb Kaufman

Herb Kaufman has been a teacher, lecturer and living historian of the Civil War for more than 20 years. He is a founding member of the faculty of the Civil War Institute at Manor College and an Adjunct Instructor of Civil War history at Camden County College. He is a well-known speaker on a variety of topics relating to the era of the Civil War having presented programs to civic and community groups, and educational and historical associations throughout the Philadelphia area.

Herb has also been a Civil War reenactor, and was an Educational Associate at the former MOLLUS Civil War Museum & Library in Philadelphia. He has received numerous awards for his continuing work in education and support of the history of the Civil War. Mr. Kaufman is a member of the Board of Directors and Curator of the GAR Civil War Museum of Philadelphia. He is currently the treasurer of the Delaware Valley Civil War Roundtable, and has been a member of the Old Baldy CWRT for more than 20 years. He is also a member of numerous historical and community organizations. Herb possesses a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Education from Temple University.

Meeting of August 12, 2021

Neil P. Chatelain on “Defending the Arteries of Rebellion: Confederate Naval Operations in the Mississippi River Valley, 1861-1865”

Most studies of the Mississippi River focus on Union campaigns to open and control it, while overlooking Southern attempts to stop them. Neil Chatelain’s Defending the Arteries of Rebellion: Confederate Naval Operations in the Mississippi River Valley, 1861-1865 is the other side of the story—the first modern full-length treatment of inland naval operations from the Confederate perspective.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis realized the value of the Mississippi River and its entire valley, which he described as the “great artery of the Confederacy.” This was the key internal highway that controlled the fledgling nation’s transportation network. Davis and Stephen Mallory, his secretary of the navy, knew these vital logistical paths had to be held, and offered potential highways of invasion for Union warships and armies to stab their way deep into the heart of the Confederacy.

Neil P. Chatelain is an adjunct professor of history at Lone Star College-North Harris and a social studies instructor at Carl Wunsche Sr. High School in Spring, Texas. The former US Navy Surface Warfare Officer is a graduate of the University of New Orleans, the University of Houston, and the University of Louisiana-Monroe. Neil researches U.S. Naval History with a focus on Confederate naval operations. He is the author of Fought Like Devils: The Confederate Gunboat McRae (2014), and many magazine, journal, and online articles. He lives with his wife Brittany in Humble, Texas.