Category Archives: Meeting archive

Meeting of October 11, 2018

Joseph-James Ahern on “The Philadelphia Navy Yard: Mainstay of the Fleet, 1801–1995”

The Philadelphia Navy Yard was one of five government shipyard established at the start of the nineteenth century to support the infant United States Navy. Originally located in the Southwark section of the city, the Philadelphia Navy Yard conducted ship repair and construction through the Antebellum period. In its first sixty years the Yard would see the fleet transition from sail to steam, and adjust its workforce accordingly. With the coming of the Civil War, the Philadelphia Navy Yard was challenged by the demands of the growing Federal Navy, and the new technologies introduced into naval warfare. The Civil War was also the catalyst for the move of the Yard from its original location to League Island. A move that would establish the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard as one of the nation’s important naval industrial sites during World War II and the Cold War. In his presentation, naval historian and archivist Joseph-James Ahern will explore the history of the Navy Yard, from its establishment in 1801 to its closure in 1995. The talk will explore how the events of the Civil War impacted the Yard, and were the catalyst for the changes that lead to its development as an important twentieth century industrial site.

Joseph-James Ahern is currently a senior archivist at the University Archives and Records Center at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. A resident of Riverside, N.J., Mr. Ahern graduated from Rutgers University – Camden with a Master of Arts in Public History. He has worked for such notable institutions as the Atwater Kent Museum – The History Museum of Philadelphia, and the American Philosophical Society Library. He has also been a consulting historian to the National Archives and Records Administration – Mid-Atlantic Region for their exhibit Mainstay of the Fleet: The Philadelphia Navy Yard 1801–1997, and Pennsylvania Hospital Historic Collections for their exhibit From Wharf to Ward: Pennsylvania Hospital & Maritime Health, 1799–1830. He has focused his scholarly research in U.S. military and naval history, primarily in the areas of military operations and technical development. In November 1997 he published Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, a photographic look at the historic shipyard located on League Island. In addition, Mr. Ahern has published articles in American Neptune, International Journal of Naval History, Encyclopedia of New Jersey, and Encyclopedia of the Atomic Age. In 2003 he published the article “‘We had the hose turned on us!’: Ross Gunn and the Naval Research Laboratory’s Early Research into Nuclear Propulsion, 1939–1946” in Historical Studies in the Physical and Biological Sciences. Mr. Ahern is also a regular reviewer for the Naval Historical Foundation, Army Historical Foundation, Maryland Historical Society, and Civil War Book Reviews. He is also a member of the Civil War Trust, Friends of Gettysburg, Naval Historical Foundation, and Army Historical Foundation.

October 2018 Newsletter

Meeting of September 13, 2018

Melissa Ziobro on “Women in the US Military”

“If you really want to do something, go for it … even if it doesn’t come to fruition, when you’re in that rocking chair on the porch, you’ll be like, ‘I don’t have any regrets. I went after it.’”

–Admiral Michelle Howard

On July 1, 2014, Admiral Michelle Howard became the first female four-star Admiral in the United States Navy’s history. She assumed her new rank at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. With this rank also came assignment as Vice Chief of Naval Operations, making her the number two officer in the naval service. She is not only the first woman to hold the job, but also the first African-American to do so. Why was this day so long in the making? Who are some of the trailblazing military women that helped pave the way for her throughout our nation’s history? And just who is Michelle Howard, the woman who earned this remarkable distinction? While there have been short, popular media articles written about Admiral Howard, and she is mentioned in several compilation volumes on notable military leaders, African Americans, and women, this talk is based on will be the first in-depth, scholarly piece dedicated to her biography and her place in history.

Melissa Ziobro is currently the Specialist Professor of Public History at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, NJ, teaching courses to include Introduction to Public History, Oral History, and Museums and Archives Management. Her service to the University includes coordinating the Monmouth Memories Oral History Program and her Department’s social media and newsletter. Melissa serves on the Executive Board of Oral History in the Mid-Atlantic Region; as a Trustee of the Parker Homestead in Little Silver, NJ; and as the editor for New Jersey Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, a joint venture of the NJ Historical Commission, Rutgers University Libraries, and Monmouth University. She has worked with public history organizations such as the Monmouth County Park System, InfoAge Science History Learning Center and Museum, Monmouth County Park System, Monmouth County Historical Association, Monmouth County Historical Commission, Middlesex County Office of Culture and Heritage, National Guard Militia Museum of NJ, and more. She served as a command historian at the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command, Fort Monmouth, NJ from 2004 to 2011.

September 2018 Newsletter

Meeting of August 9, 2018

Chuck Veit on “How the US Navy Won the Civil War”

“How the US Navy Won the Civil War” presents, via Skype, period evidence of the far more critical role played by the Navy in the course of that war, arguing that the fall of New Orleans, rather than the Battle of Gettysburg, was the true turning point. Straddling that event in the Spring and Summer of 1862, the battles of Shiloh and Malvern Hill, denied the South the European recognition it relied upon. The real effects of the blockade as well as the Navy’s largely unstudied contribution in maintaining Union control in re-conquered territories are also examined.

Chuck Veit is president of the Navy & Marine Living History Association, a non-profit corporation dedicated to promoting public awareness of American naval history, and is the proprietor of 31BY5 Publishing Services, a venture dedicated to providing quality book design, layout, and illustrations to self-publishing authors.

He has worked in the field of graphic design since 1976 and, for the past fifteen years, has pursued and succeeded in dual careers: corporate graphic design, and the research, writing, and presentation of U.S. Naval History. He is the author of six self-published books, and numerous articles on naval topics, and is the Layout Editor for the Journal of the Company of Military Historians.

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.

August 2018 Newsletter

Meeting of July 12, 2018

Bob Russo on “Independence: An Ideal, a National Park, and a World Heritage Site”

Only a few miles from where many of our members live, sits what is known as the most historic square mile in the United States of America. Independence National Historical Park, located in Old City Philadelphia, encompasses approximately 55 acres, and includes numerous original historic structures that tell the story of our Nation’s founding and our Founders. Independence Hall, Congress Hall, and Old City Hall where the United States Supreme Court met from 1791 to 1800, will be discussed in this presentation. Additional buildings, such as Benjamin’s Franklin’s Print Shop, the First and Second Banks of the United States, and some important players in our Nation’s founding will be discussed. Also discussed will be the famed Liberty Bell, a symbol of freedom and liberty for people all over the world and an inspiration for oppressed people everywhere.

Stories of Independence Hall will include the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Room, the Assembly Room where great events happened and the Long Gallery on the second floor, which is often overlooked but has great importance in both the Revolutionary Era and just previous to the Civil War Era. The presentation occurs just a week after our July Fourth celebration.

In 1948, the National Park Service took over operations of the park and they continue to maintain the structures and grounds throughout the park. Previous to the Bicentennial of Independence in 1976 vast improvements were made throughout the park in advance of that celebration. We now look forward to the Nation’s 250 birthday in 2026 with improvements already taking place.

Bob’s expectation is that you’ll learn a few things about Independence National Historical Park and the momentous events that occurred in and around the hallowed buildings of the Park. Bob’s hope is that after experiencing the presentation you’ll want to visit the park at some point in the future.

Bob Russo is a current member and former Vice President of Old Baldy Civil War Round Table. He can also be found many Saturday mornings volunteering for the National Park Service at Independence National Historical Park. While there he conducts tours of Independence Hall and Congress Hall and offers interpretation at the Liberty Bell and other sites within the park. Bob has a vast interest in American history that dates back to his teen years. He has been a member of numerous historical organizations over the years that include the Gettysburg Foundation, Surratt Society, Ford’s Theater Society, Civil War Trust, National Constitution Center, the Museum of the American Revolution, and others. Bob recently became a Share Holder of the Library Company of Philadelphia. In 2014 Bob also received the Certificate of Completion from the Civil War Institute at Manor College in Pennsylvania. In his employment Bob works as the Senior Vice President of a local structural steel and miscellaneous iron fabricator and erector. Bob has been a resident of Cherry Hill for over twenty-five years and also served a full term on the Cherry Hill Board of Education from 2006 to 2009. He served one year as that Board’s Vice President.

July 2018 Newsletter

Meeting of June 14, 2018

John Fitzpatrick on “‘There is No Fail here.’ President Lincoln’s Leadership at Gettysburg”

Why did President Lincoln, a concerned, caring, conflicted, and careworn president, come to Gettysburg for only 25 hours on November 18 and 19, 1863? The governors of the 18 Union states that provided soldiers to the Union Army of the Potomac, who had fought and died there, not the Federal government, organized and managed the cemetery dedication ceremony. The President was not invited as the keynote speaker—indeed, he was asked to make only “a few appropriate remarks.” Yet he accepted that “secondary” role in the midst of the American Civil War with no end in sight—Why? Gain a greater appreciation of the immortal Gettysburg Address in light of the real back story, the enormous personal, political, and policy pressures impacting the president, and a fractured country, how this leader overcame them, his purposes [gratitude, equality, Union] and how the president achieved those objectives in his short, masterful presentation. Each of those pressures are particularly described in John’s presentation.

John Fitzpatrick is a Licensed Battlefield Guide Emeritus at Gettysburg having guided there for the past 14 years. John was a Senior Corporate Counsel in the Chevron Corporation Law Department for 32 years [including serving for 10 years as a facilitator in Chevron’s internal “Chevron Leadership and Management Forum”], retiring in 2006. Prior to entering Law School, John served on Active Duty as a United States Marine Corps Officer—Pilot, Tank Platoon Commander, including a Vietnam tour of duty where he flew 140 combat missions. Captain Fitzpatrick was Honorably Discharged from Active Duty in 1971. Contemporaneously with his civilian law and Arbitration career [admitted to practice in CA, PA and DC], he transferred to and served as an Active Reservist Pilot with the PA Air National Guard, then Legislative Liaison and finally as a JAG expert in Arbitration and Mediation in the United States Air Force Reserve, OGC, in the Pentagon. Colonel Fitzpatrick transferred to the Retired Reserve in 1997. John, an Honors Graduate of Villanova University and the University of Georgia School of Law where he co-authored and published a Law Journal Note on the legal issues involved with the U.S. recognition of China, now divides his time amongst Guiding at Gettysburg, volunteer Veterans’ Activities and his national and international Commercial, Construction, Securities and Securities Employment Arbitration practice.

June 2018 Newsletter

Meeting of May 10, 2018

Harry Jenkins on “With Cadence and Clarion Call: Bugle, Fife, and Drum: Military Music of Camp and Field”

The beginnings of American military music essentially started when William Diamond, the drummer of the Lexington Militia, beat the call to arms that gathered the men who fired “the shot heard ’round the world,” launching the colonists into a long struggle for our independence. The British troops brought with them their splendid military bands. In contrast, the Continental troops were as meagerly equipped musically as they were militarily. Despite a shortage of fighting gear and supplies, the Continental Army and its leaders were able to launch an effective fighting force. And the musicians as well always seemed to be able to muster a few drums and a fife or two to stir the hearts of Washington’s men. These fifers, drummers―and later buglers―held important places from the American Revolution, on through the Civil War, continuing and further evolving in today’s modern military.

As a student, performer, and instructor of this brand of music, Harry Jenkins has done numerous presentations on the topic. With his earlier focus on “Drums & Drummer Boys,” his new presentation takes a broader view that includes the fife and the bugle, as well as the drum, and their history and use primarily as “Field Music.” He describes the musicians’ role and duties―in camp, on the march, and on the battlefield. Using audio and visual recordings, along with authentic replica instruments, Mr. Jenkins describes and demonstrates some of the music they played. Weaving this together with military reports and historical records, letters-home and post-war memoirs, this presentation will paint a picture of these musicians―most of whom were youngsters―told through stories and vignettes―some sad and poignant, some receiving high praise, some heart-warming, and others often humorous. The presentation will conclude with an inspiring DVD presentation of various military music ensembles recorded in live performances, showing the rich history of the traditional music, as well as its evolution in today’s military pageantry.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Harry started on the bugle, and later on drum, at the age of ten in a Boy Scout Drum & Bugle Corps. After a few years he moved on to the arena of Drum Corps competition, and was a member of several State and National Champions, including the Blue Rock Drum & Bugle Corps of Wilmington, DE, the Golden Knights Senior Corps of Union, NJ, the great Yankee Rebels Corps from Baltimore, MD, and also with Philadelphia’s own world renown “Reilly Raiders” Drum & Bugle Corps. He also spent many years as a Drum Corps instructor, and served as a judge in Drum & Bugle Corps and Band competitions. Having spent 20 years in Civil War reenacting as a drummer, soldier, and officer, he is a member of the internationally recognized “Company of Fifers & Drummers,” and is an active performing member of the “United States Association of Rudimental Drummers.”

Harry is a 30-year member of the Old Baldy Civil War Round Table of Philadelphia, serving as Program Chair and on the Board of Directors. He is also a member and supporter of The Friends of Gettysburg Foundation, Gettysburg Battlefield Preservation Association, National Trust for Historic Preservation, and a long-time member of the Civil War Trust.

Educated in Architecture at Temple University and Arizona State, his career has included working as a Project Manager with architecture firms, construction companies, and government agencies, responsible for the design and construction of varied building projects that include government facilities, schools and colleges, and extensively with hospitals and other health care facilities. He now resides in Newark, Delaware, with wife Bobbie. Son Clayton, a graduate of George Washington University and a Certified Master Brewer, is also a drummer.

May 2018 Newsletter

Meeting of April 12, 2018

Randy Drais on “William H. Tipton: The Man Behind the Camera”

Most Battle of Gettysburg buffs have heard about Gettysburg photographer William H. Tipton. Tipton studied photography as the apprentice of Charles and Isaac Tyson, who were among the earliest Gettysburg photographers, and he later went into business for himself, taking thousands of photographs of visitors to the Gettysburg battlefield, where he also established Tipton Park and was a major force behind the establishment of the Gettysburg Electric Railway’s trolley line on the battlefield.

By 1888, Tipton had produced approximately 5,000 views of the Gettysburg battlefield (the vast majority of the collection was acquired by the Gettysburg National Military Park from C. Tyson Tipton in 1935) and more than 100,000 portraits. Join amateur historian Randy Drais as we learn not only about William H. Tipton’s many influences on Gettysburg, the battlefield, and the Gettysburg National Military Park, but also his family and their involvement as well, and view many of Tipton’s rarely seen battlefield photographs.

Born and raised in York, Pennsylvania, Randy Drais developed a keen interest in the Battle of Gettysburg and the Gettysburg Campaign immediately after a 5th grade field trip to that famous Civil War battlefield. A lifelong passion to learn more resulted in his creation in March of 2008 of a website, battleofgettysburgbuff.com, for individuals who wish to learn and do more than the average visitor to the battlefield. A “companion” website, battleofgettysburgbuff.net, Facebook page, and a quarterly newsletter soon followed.

A graduate of York College of Pennsylvania with a B.A. in International Studies, Randy has worked in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, the Pennsylvania Senate, and the Pennsylvania Department of State. Married with two daughters, Randy retired on January 1, 2015 and now devotes even more time to his main passion, learning even more about the Battle of Gettysburg and sharing that information with others. He has also co-authored “Texans at Gettysburg: Blood and Glory with Hood’s Texas Brigade” and is currently working on a second volume.

April 2018 Newsletter

Meeting of March 8, 2018

Robert C. Baumgartner on “The Historiography of the Confederacy”

Mr. Robert C. Baumgartner will present the Historiography of the Confederacy, through the works of Douglas Southall Freeman, T. Harry Williams, and C. Vann Woodward. The connection to modern historiography is from the works of George Rable and James McPherson, who were students of Williams and Woodward, respectively.

Robert C. Baumgartner is an adjunct professor of history at Camden County College teaching primarily with The Center. He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Rowan University, and has received training in historical preservation from Arizona State University. Mr. Baumgartner is also a member of the Faculty Advisory Board of the Declaration Project at Harvard University. He currently is a faculty member at Triton Regional High School and is working on two current research projects: one dealing with the history of Triton High School’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the second is a study on the lack of geographic education in the state of New Jersey. Bob is a member of the Old Baldy Civil War Roundtable, and presented The General in our 2017 Lecture Series on NJ in the Civil War.

March 2018 Newsletter

Meeting of February 8, 2018

Jim Remsen on “Freedom-Seekers Turned Freedom-Fighters”

Local journalist Jim Remsen’s illustrated history talk, “Freedom-Seekers Turned Freedom-Fighters,” chronicles the experiences of a group of fugitive slaves who escaped southern bondage and dared to openly build new lives in the North. Once the Civil War came, these men and their sons left their safe haven in northeastern Pennsylvania and returned south, into the bowels of slavery, to fight for the Union. Their valor under fire helped to change many minds about blacks. Remsen’s new history book, Embattled Freedom, lifts these thirteen remarkable lives out of the shadows, while also shedding light on the racial politics and social codes they and their people endured in the divided North.

The fugitives’ safe haven was little Waverly, Pa., Remsen’s boyhood hometown. Now a Bala Cynwyd resident, and a retired editor and reporter at The Philadelphia Inquirer, he spent several years researching this story as a way to bring some overdue tribute to Waverly’s unsung “colored troops” and the white abolitionists who stood by them. Embattled Freedom (Sunbury Press) has been praised by Lackawanna Historical Society director Mary Ann Moran-Savakinus as “a fascinating history that needs to be shared.” Mark Bowden, New York Times bestselling author of Black Hawk Down, Killing Pablo and his latest, Hue 1968, calls it “a fine example of serious local history, which fleshes out in particulars the larger social issues over a century.” For more, visit embattledfreedom.org.

February 2018 Newsletter

Meeting of January 11, 2018

Matthew H. Bruce on “The Confederate Cruisers: The Confederacy’s Blue-Water Navy”

Even before the war began, the Confederacy-to-be, through its provisional legislature, recognized the need for a brown-water navy to keep ports open and patrol rivers, and a blue water navy to protect the shipping traffic. This led to moves, actually before secession, by the Confederacy’s provisional legislature to establish the basis for a navy, to name a secretary of the navy, and to send letters to any persons in the United States Navy who were deemed to have a Southern leaning to “come home” and join the Confederate Navy. Many took up on the invitation.

Early in the war, one of the “come-home” former Union Naval officers, now a Confederate officer, one Raphael Semmes, approached Navy Secretary Mallory with a proposal regarding how to end the war successfully. To wit, acquire a number of blue-water ships, to be converted to warships with which to assault the Union merchant marine, to an extent which would lead to a winnable suit for peace. Thus could the Confederacy attain a victory that wise heads could see was unlikely on the battlefield; this in spite of the somewhat wild-eyed view of the war-hawks.

Matthew H. Bruce is a retired teacher (forty-five years) at the high school and college/university levels, in the areas of mathematics and physics. Following finishing his baccalaureate degree, he completed military service in the Korean War, and then returned to pursue graduate work. He holds the Ph.D. degree from the Pennsylvania State University. He is retired from Temple University, where he taught statistics and research design, and physical science, and worked with intending science teachers.

Matt’s interest in the American Civil War goes back over fifty years, and he has been a long-time member of the Delaware Valley Civil War Round Table, and until recently a member of the Round Table’s Board. He teaches in the Round Table’s Civil War Institute, and looks forward to the expansion of the institute to include other U.S. military involvements such as WWI and WWII. He has done much writing on Civil War and other topics, and is currently involved in the preparation of a book on Civil War navies.

January 2018 Newsletter