Category Archives: Meeting archive

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.

Meeting of July 8, 2021

Dr. Christian B. Keller on “The Great Partnership: Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and the Fate of the Confederacy”

Why were Generals Lee and Jackson so successful in their partnership in trying to win the war for the South? What was it about their styles, friendship, even their faith, that cemented them together into a fighting machine that consistently won despite often overwhelming odds against them?

The Great Partnership has the power to change how we think about Confederate strategic decision-making and the value of personal relationships among senior leaders responsible for organizational survival. Those relationships in the Confederate high command were particularly critical for victory, especially the one that existed between the two great Army of Northern Virginia generals.

It has been over two decades since any author attempted a joint study of the two generals. At the very least, the book will inspire a very lively debate among the thousands of students of Civil War his- tory. At best, it will significantly revise how we evaluate Confederate strategy during the height the war and our understanding of why, in the end, the South lost.

Dr. Christian B. Keller

Since 2011, Dr. Christian B. Keller has been Professor of History in the Department of National Security and Strategy at the United States Army War College, Carlisle, PA, where he teaches courses for senior leaders on the theory of war and strategy, national security policy and strategy, and the American Civil War. In 2017 he was named the General Dwight D. Eisenhower Chair of National Security.

Previously, he served as Professor of Military History for five and a half years at the Army Command and General Staff College, Ft. Belvoir, VA, and has also taught at numerous civilian institutions, including Shippensburg University, Gettysburg College, Dickinson College, and Washington and Lee University. In 2001-2002, after completing his Ph.D, Dr. Keller was a Fulbright Professor of American History at the University of Jena, Germany.

A native of Carlisle, Dr. Keller lives with his wife, Kelley, in an antebellum house that witnessed the occupation of Carlisle Barracks by Confederate troops at the end of June 1863.

Meeting of June 10, 2021

Jeffery William Hunt on “Meade and Lee at Rappahannock Station: The Army of the Potomac’s First Post-Gettysburg Offensive, From Kelly’s Ford to the Rapidan, October 21 to November 20, 1863”

Contrary to popular belief, the Eastern Theater during the late summer and fall of 1863 was anything but inconsequential. Generals George Meade and Robert E. Lee continued where they had left off, boldly maneuvering the chess pieces of war to gain a decisive strategic and tactical advantage. Cavalry actions and pitched battles made it clear to anyone paying attention that the war in Virginia was a long way from having been decided at Gettysburg. This period of the war was the first and only time Meade exercised control of the Army of the Potomac on his own terms, but historians and students alike have all but ignored it.

Pressured by Washington to fight but denied strategic flexibility, Meade launched a risky offensive to carry Lee’s Rappahannock defenses and bring on a decisive battle. The dramatic fighting included a stunning Federal triumph at Rappahannock Station—which destroyed two entire Confederate brigades—that gave Meade the upper hand and the initiative in his deadly duel with Lee, who retreated south to a new position behind the Rapidan River.

Jeffrey William Hunt

Jeffrey William Hunt is Director of the Texas Military Forces Museum, the official museum of the Texas National Guard in Austin, Texas and an adjunct professor of History at Austin Community College, where he has taught since 1988. He had also served for many years as the Curator of Collections and Director of the Living History Program at the Admiral Nimitz National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, Texas. Jeff holds a Bachelors Degree in Government and a Masters Degree in History, both from the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of several books on the Civil War, including the critically acclaimed and award-winning Meade and Lee After Gettysburg: The Forgotten Final Stage of the Gettysburg Campaign, from Falling Waters to Culpeper Court House, July 14-31, 1863 as well as Meade and Lee at Bristoe Station: The Problems of Command and Strategy after Gettysburg, from Brandy Station to the Buckland Races, August 1 to October 31, 1863.

Meeting of May 13, 2021

David Dixon on “Radical Warrior: August Willich’s Journey from German Revolutionary to Union General”

An estimated 200,000 men of German birth enlisted in the Union Army during the Civil War, far more than any other contemporary foreign-born population. One of these, Prussian Army officer Johann August Ernst von Willich, led a remarkable life of integrity, commitment to a cause, and interaction with leading lights of the nineteenth century. After resigning from the Prussian Army due to his republican beliefs, Willich led armed insurrections during the revolutions of 1848–49, with Friedrich Engels as his aide-de-camp. Ever committed to the goal of universal human rights, he once dueled a disciple of Karl Marx—whom he thought too conservative. Willich emigrated to the United States in 1853, eventually making his way to Cincinnati, where he served as editor of the daily labor newspaper the Cincinnati Republican.

With exhaustive research in both English and German language sources, author David T. Dixon chronicles the life of this ingenious military leader—a man who could also be stubborn, impulsive, and even foolhardy—risking his life unnecessarily in the face of overwhelming odds.

David Dixon earned his M.A. in history from the University of Massachusetts. His articles appear in numerous scholarly journals and magazines. David Dixon hosts “B-List History,” a website celebrating obscure characters and their amazing stories. www.davidtdixon.com.

Meeting of April 22, 2021

Member Sharing Night

Dr. Ray Klein: Flat Old Baldy Travels Cambodia—One Thousand Years of War, Massive Construction and Destruction, Five Years of Civil War … What Next??

Dave Gilson: A Walking Tour of Civil War London

Meeting of April 8, 2021

Walt Lafty on “9th New Jersey Infantry and The Bermuda Hundred Campaign”

A campaign that was an integral part of Grant’s spring offensive plan of 1864, the fighting in Bermuda Hundred in May of that year is mostly forgotten. Overshadowed by the other battles in Grant’s push to Richmond, the Bermuda Hundred Campaign suffered thousands of casualties. With engagements that started at Port Walthall Junction on May 6, the campaign concluded at the second battle of Drewry’s Bluff on May 16 with over 6,000 casualties in that final battle alone.

It ended with the famous quote on the resulting situation for Union Commanding General Benjamin Butler, that he “was in a bottle . . .the enemy had corked the bottle”. It was also a campaign in which the 9th New Jersey Volunteer Infantry Regiment would suffer its greatest losses of the war. The 9th was the only New Jersey Infantry Regiment in the entire Army of the James. There were also two artillery batteries representing the state of New Jersey.

Walt Lafty is a member of the Old Baldy CWRT and the Delaware Valley CWRT where he is a Board member as well as a member of the Preservation Committee. He also serves as Secretary for the Baker-Fisher Camp #101 Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, located in Hatboro, PA. In addition, Walt is the Research Administrator for the G.A.R. Museum and Library in Philadelphia.

Meeting of March 25, 2021

Paul Prentiss on “Life in the Army Camps”: A Roundtable Discussion Night

Old Baldy members are invited to participate in an all-hands round table meeting to discuss Life in the Army Camps on Thursday, March 25th. This is an extremely broad topic with so many aspects that everyone should find something interesting to look up and share.

The American Civil War was not a continuous battle. Instead, the majority of time was spent with long monotonous residency in camps punctuated by short periods of the terror and chaos of combat. Due to the nature of campaign goals, Armies could be in the field for several months, or up to a year. One thing Soldiers could always count on was a long outdoor stay in all types of weather.

What interests you about a soldier’s life in camp? Was it the food/diet, medical care, general living conditions, entertainment, camp furniture, animal companions, good order and discipline, recreational activities, spies, illness/disease, ordinary activities, sanitary conditions, visitors, spiritual needs, camp followers, gambling, physical security, available vices, military training, logistics, camp locations or home-front support? Above is a short list of things that may interest you to bring to the round table discussion.

Hop on the internet, grab that book off the shelf, watch that movie again or find that magazine article. Refresh your memory on your favorite camp interest and share with us in March.

A simple search of Civil War Camp Life brings up a host of items:

Meeting of March 11, 2021

Christopher Klein on “When The Irish Invaded Canada: The Incredible True Story of the Civil War Veterans Who Fought for Ireland’s Freedom”

The outlandish, untold story of the Irish American revolutionaries who tried to free Ireland by invading Canada.

Just over a year after Robert E. Lee relinquished his sword, a band of Union and Confederate veterans dusted off their guns. But these former foes had no intention of reigniting the Civil War. Instead, they fought side by side to undertake one of the most fantastical missions in military history: to seize the British province of Canada and to hold it hostage until the independence of Ireland was secured.

By the time that these invasions—known collectively as the Fenian raids—began in 1866, Ireland had been Britain’s unwilling colony for seven hundred years. Thousands of Civil War veterans who had fled to the United States rather than perish in the wake of the Great Hunger still considered themselves Irishmen first, Americans second. With the tacit support of the U.S. government and inspired by a previous generation of successful American revolutionaries, the group that carried out a series of five attacks on Canada between 1866 and 1871—the Fenian Brotherhood—established a state in exile, planned prison breaks, weathered infighting, stockpiled weapons, and assassinated enemies. Defiantly, this motley group, including a one-armed war hero, an English spy infiltrating rebel forces, and a radical who staged his own funeral, managed to seize a piece of Canada—if only for three days.

Chris Klein is the author of four books, including When the Irish Invaded Canada and Strong Boy: The Life and Times of John L. Sullivan, America’s First Sports Hero. A frequent contributor to History.com, the website of the History Channel, he has also written for The Boston Globe, The New York Times, National Geographic Traveler, Harvard Magazine, Smithsonian.com, and AmericanHeritage.com. He graduated summa cum laude and with honors from Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, in 1994, and is a member of the Authors Guild, Biographers International Organization, Boston Authors Club, and Irish American Writers & Artists.

March 2021 Newsletter