Meeting of January 9, 2025

Meeting of January 9, 2025, 7:15pm

James Pula on Union General Daniel Butterfield: A Civil War Biography

This book explores the complex legacy of Union General Daniel Butterfield, from his battlefield heroics and Medal of Honor to controversies and innovations that shaped the Civil War. James S. Pula unravels this enigmatic figure’s life in this meticulously researched and long-awaited biography.
Dan Butterfield played a pivotal role during the Civil War. He led troops in the field at the brigade, division, and corps level, wrote an 1862 Army field manual, was awarded a Medal of Honor, composed “Taps,” and served as the chief-of-staff for Joe Hooker in the Army of the Potomac. He introduced a custom that remains in the U.S. Army today: the use of a distinctive hat or shoulder patch to denote the soldier’s unit. Butterfield was also controversial, not well-liked by some, and tainted by politics. Award-winning author James S. Pula unspools fact from fiction to offer the first detailed and long overdue treatment of the man and the officer in Union General Daniel Butterfield: A Civil War Biography.

James S. Pula is a professor of History Emeritus at Purdue University Northwest and the former editor-in-chief of Gettysburg Magazine. Dr. Pula is the author or editor of more than two dozen books including Under the Crescent Moon with the Eleventh Corps in the Civil War (winner of the U. S. Army Historical Foundation Distinguished Writing Award); The Civil War from Its Origins to Reconstruction; The 117th New York Infantry in the Civil War: A History and Roster; For Liberty and Justice: A Biography of Brig. Gen. Włodzimierz B. Krzyżanowski; and The Sigel Regiment: A History of the 26th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, 1862-1865 (winner of the Gambrinus Prize in History from the Milwaukee County Historical Society). 

Meeting of March 14, 2024

John Reeves on “Soldier of Destiny: Slavery, Secession, and the Redemption of Ulysses S. Grant”

Soldier of Destiny is about the rise of Ulysses S. Grant. Captain Ulysses S. Grant, an obscure army officer who was expelled for alcohol abuse in 1854, rose to become general-in-chief of the United States Army in 1864. What accounts for this astonishing turn-around during this extraordinary decade? Was it destiny? Or was he just an ordinary man, opportunistically benefiting from the turmoil of the Civil War to advance to the highest military rank?

Soldier of Destiny reveals that Grant always possessed the latent abilities of a skilled commander—and he was able to develop these skills out West without the overwhelming pressure faced by more senior commanders in the Eastern theater at the beginning of the Civil War. Grant was a true Westerner himself and it was his experience in the West—before and during the Civil War—that was central to his rise.

John Reeves is the author of A Fire in the Wilderness and The Lost Indictment of Robert E. Lee. He has taught European and American history at Lehman College, Bronx Community College, and Southbank University in London. John received an MA in European History from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. You can learn more about him at He lives near Washington, DC.

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

Arlene Schnaare — Member Profile

Before joining the Old Baldy Civil War Round Table nine years ago, Arlene Schnaare believed everything she was told about the American Civil War. Case in point: the old legend that coded messages were embedded in quilts hung on a fence or clothesline along the Underground Railroad to direct runaway slaves to safe houses and routes to freedom. It is an exciting tale, one that is easy to believe as it has been told and written as truth for generations. But the story that quilts contained secret codes before and during the Civil War has been entirely dismissed by history scholars and quilt historians. A bear paw design sewn into a quilt did not mean a slave should follow an animal trail into the woods to find water and food, or that a quilt with a monkey wrench block signaled slaves to start gathering tools for a planned escape North. There is simply no evidence of truth, which came as a surprise to the quilt-making Arlene Schnaare. “Before Old Baldy, I believed all the stories I knew about the Civil War. The quilts? It is a feel-good story but it’s not true. There are lots of fallacies in Civil War history. I’m learning to separate truth from fiction.”

Arlene was not interested in the Civil War, or quilts, when she was living in St. Louis, Missouri, her birthplace. After graduating from Mercy High School, Arlene enrolled in a three-year registered nurse program at St. John’s School of Nursing and worked at its affiliate, St. John’s Hospital. Across the street was the St. Louis College of Pharmacy where she met a student named Roger Schnaare. They married in 1960.

The couple moved to Indiana for Roger’s graduate studies at Purdue University and lived there for four years. They moved back to St. Louis, stayed for three years, and then moved east to Turnersville, New Jersey. They have three children: Tim, Mary and Theresa; five grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. Arlene and Roger currently reside in Haddonfield.

After she retired from nursing, Arlene went to work part-time at a needlepoint store and began an interest in the craft as well as cross stitch. Then she developed an overwhelming love of quilting. “I call it a disease. I’ve made 35 so far. I’m just fascinated by the colors and designs.” Although Arlene is currently working on a copy of an 1820 quilt, Civil War reproduction quilts are her forte. In fact, Arlene already has all the materials she needs to make a reproduction of a quilt that reportedly hung in Abraham Lincoln’s boyhood home at Knob Creek in Kentucky. “I promised Abe I would do it.”

It was through quilting that Arlene developed an interest in the Civil War, an era she says she knew little about. She and Roger have visited the Gettysburg Battlefield and also made a trip to Philadelphia to see the Liberty Bell. She was in awe of the history around her. “I touched the Liberty Bell. At Gettysburg I stood there. I stood there.”

Arlene was taking continuing education classes at The Center at Camden County College when she first bumped into Richard Jankowski and Frank Barletta of Old Baldy. After looking over a brochure Rich handed her, Arlene asked Frank if a test was required to get into the group. He replied no and encouraged her to attend a meeting. It was one of the best decisions she had ever made. “Old Baldy has been good for me. Walking across the campus I feel like I’m 19 again. I like the feeling of being there. Everyone is so smart about the Civil War.” Arlene spoke about her reproduction quilt collection at an OB meeting in 2017.

Soon after she joined Old Baldy, Arlene and member Priscilla Gabosch were recruited to create a membership committee; their first job was to convert the old paper records to a computer-based system. Both women have done a wonderful job with the membership program. Their spreadsheet format is still in use today.

Profile written by Kim Weaver

Gary Salkind — Member Profile

Gary Salkind was born in Wynnefield, Philadelphia on July 30th, 1953. He grew up in the area, living in Wynnewood, Havertown, Overbrook Park, and Drexel Hill. He went to Lower Merion High School in Ardmore and graduated in 1971. Gary continued his education at Saint Joseph’s University and then at Temple University School of Medicine. He was a practicing physician who taught at a residency program; worked at the Philadelphia Nursing Home; and performed house calls for patients until he retired in 2019.

Gary’s family consists of his wife, two children, four grandchildren, and a sister and her family. He and his wife Mindy have been married for 45 years. They met in 1975 at a Messianic Jewish congregation in Philadelphia.

In retirement, Gary has found more time to spend on his hobbies. He enjoys reading about his historical interests and visiting historic sites. He and Mindy are members of the Tapestry Historic Dance Ensemble, a group that performs social dances of different periods of history.

Ever since he was a child, Gary has had a love for history. He and his childhood friends would act out World War II fighting. Some of his main interests include military technology and the experiences of common soldiers. He says it is convenient to love Civil War history because the battlefields are near enough to visit.

Gary became a part of the Old Baldy Civil War Round Table in 2020 after he discovered an old OB pamphlet when he was cleaning out his files. He searched online for more information and found that he could join the meetings virtually. He says membership now has the ability to expand regardless of where the meetings take place.

Gary is a member of the Friends of Gettysburg, a group that helps raise funds to preserve and maintain the battlefield. He is also a member of the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America.

Paul Prentiss — Member Profile

“Since the fifth grade I wanted to join the Navy like my dad and granddad. By the seventh grade, I really liked mechanical things like ships and airplanes and wanted to go into engineering to design and build them.” To make his goals a reality Salem, Massachusetts native Paul Prentiss would need opportunity, intelligence, hard work, and to love two things: an adventurous woman, and shiny things that go “bang.”

At the end of a four-year Navy ROTC scholarship, Paul graduated from the University of Michigan Physics program, and the Naval War College in Rhode Island. After he was commissioned as an ensign he went west to California, and throughout his service was able to visit many worldwide sites where extraordinary events unfolded including Manilla Bay, Pearl Harbor, Inchon, and his favorite, Yokosuka, Japan. Commodore Perry’s “Black Fleet” arrived very close to the city in 1853. Afterward, to stop the incursion of foreigners, a series of fortifications were started and in use through 1945. “Exploring these historic structures was exhilarating, dangerous, and very rewarding. Sometimes we were able to talk with the locals and get their perspective of WWII and the subsequent occupation.”

In March 2022 U.S. Navy Captain Paul Prentiss retired after spending 43 years supporting the active Navy, Naval Reserve, and working/supporting Lockheed Martin. He was a surface warfare officer specializing in combat systems and then as a civilian continued in the same career. He also recently retired as a chief scientist for a national science and technology company. The history of technology is one subject Paul finds very fascinating. “Most of my reading and study concentrate from the Industrial Revolution (1760s) to the present. I strive to understand why and how technology was created to solve problems.”

As a nine-year member and trustee of the Old Baldy Civil War Roundtable, Paul has helped us find the best solutions for the toughest challenges. Because of his research and writing skills, the Roundtable was selected to receive the 2022 Wallace L. Rueckel Innovation Award by the Civil War Roundtable Congress. The award is given to recognize a Civil War Round Table for its creative, effective, and inventive programs that provide value to its members and community. “This is really a proud moment for Old Baldy. Our group has worked hard to improve membership experience, so we really value and respect this honor.”

Paul found Old Baldy when member Marty Wilensky, pulling a secret recruiting trick, asked Paul to accompany him to a meeting. “I was very excited and did a lot of online work researching the Sultana Disaster of 1865, getting ready for an in-depth discussion. I really enjoyed the presentation (by Don Wiles) and the friendliness of the group. I joined the very next meeting.”

Paul has written several articles for the newsletter, and presented to the Roundtable a very interesting story about a distant cousin and his last assignment on board the USS Monongahela. In “Damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead!” — Admiral David Farragut and the Battle of Mobile Bay August 5, 1864 we learned of Lt. Roderick Prentiss who participated in the Battle of Mobile Bay as executive officer aboard the steam screw sloop, and who was struck by flying splinters caused by cannon fire from Fort Morgan. He subsequently died of his wounds the next day at the age of 24. Paul has learned that some Prentiss family papers were donated to Montana State University. “I was able to get copies of family letters, fellow officer letters of condolence and Navy documents to learn what happened.”

Today, family for Paul includes his wife, Susan, and their son, Sean, who is getting married in November. Paul and Susan have graciously hosted Old Baldy picnics at their home in Marlton, New Jersey. The couple have been married for 39 beautiful years, first by a Navy Chaplain in Alameda, California and then again in Paul’s home parish. “Saying the vows twice really tied the knot tight!”

Paul is a Samaritan Hospice volunteer, STEM mentor, Ben Franklin American Legion Post 405 of Philadelphia finance office volunteer, and an active member of the Coastal Defense Study
Group. If you happen to have an upright bass or a bass guitar laying around you might ask Paul to play a number — he was once a member of the Boston musician’s union and played back-up for Bobby Hebb’s second album. (Remember Hebb’s ‘66 hit, “Sunny?”)

Profile written by Kim Weaver

Susan Kovacs — Member Profile


It was 1970, the year before Allentown–born Susan Kovacs would graduate from Mansfield University with a B.S.Ed. in secondary education–social studies, and the U.S. Peace Corps was holding an informational event on campus. Susan went, was encouraged by what she heard, and applied to the volunteer program in her senior year. When the invitation to serve arrived, Susan found out that she was going to be teaching English as a second language (ESL) for two years overseas. Where overseas? Majuro in the Marshall Islands (Federated States of Micronesia). “I said, ‘Where in the heck is Micronesia?’” Susan’s father, a WWII U.S. Marine veteran, pulled out a map and showed her. He knew, of course, that just after WWII ended the U.S. conducted 67 nuclear tests and detonated the first hydrogen bomb in the Marshall Islands. Still, Susan trained for three months in Hilo, Hawaii, learning a new language and becoming familiar with food options in her host country. One week after training was completed, Susan, now an unofficial U.S. ambassador of goodwill, headed to the Islands. “Having the ability to travel during the summer of 1972 throughout several island groupings of Micronesia, I was able to walk North Field on the island of Tinian. This was the departure point during WWII for the B–29 bombers Enola Gay and Bockscar, which carried the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”


After Susan returned to the states in 1973, she held a number of retail management and banking positions, and in 1985 earned a B.A. in business administration–accounting from DeSales University. Across the street from her banking job in downtown Bethlehem was Pentamation Enterprises (now PowerSchool), a provider of cloud–based software in K-12 education. The company hired Susan away from the bank, where she was training tellers, to train school districts on its software. To prove how much she loved her job, Susan stayed on for 35 years. She retired in 2022.

So, why did Susan Kovacs go into the teaching and education field in the first place? “I wanted to be a history teacher. In 7th grade I had Mr. Richard Kantor for American history who made the subject so exciting and fascinating. And throughout high school and college, I never had a history teacher that could match his skills and passion for the subject and I found that disappointing.”

Susan continues to be a student of history. She came to the Old Baldy CWRT in 2008 through her beloved late husband Michael Cavanaugh, a founding member of OB who served over the years as treasurer, program chairman and twice president. They had been married for 14 years when Michael died January 7, 2020. “What a wonderful opportunity it has been to meet individuals, authors and historians with similar interests.” Susan is also a member of the Civil War Roundtable of Eastern Pennsylvania. She says she is interested in the American Civil War because it was a changing moment in the history of our country. “And it is a war that did not create separate countries, as has happened in other parts of the world, but kept the country intact as one nation.”

Susan’s biggest hobby is reading and that includes various books and biographies related to the Civil War. Her two most favorite books have been Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam by Stephen W. Sears and Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Bethlehem has a very active arts and cultural scene and Susan enjoys being part of it. There are jazz concerts at Lehigh University Zoellner Arts Center as well as classical concerts presented by the Pennsylvania Sinfonia Orchestra and Miller Symphony Hall. “And in the summer you can find me at the Bethlehem Rose Garden listening to Sunday evening local band and jazz groups.”

Profile by Kim Weaver

Meeting of January 11, 2024

Michael Kirschner on “The Second Wisconsin at Gettysburg”

Philo Wright’s original bullet-riddled hat in the collection of the Wisconsin Veterans Museum

In the last minutes of his life on the morning of July 1, 1863, Major General John Reynolds ordered a single regiment, the Second Wisconsin, into Herbst Woods on McPherson Ridge to attack a Confederate brigade that was taking possession of the woods, a key feature of the developing battlefield. Archer’s Brigade shot down 100 of the 300 Wisconsin men before they had a chance to fire a shot. Nonetheless, the remaining 200 continued their advance into the teeth of a superior enemy force, thereby setting the stage for a smashing victory over Archer’s Brigade at Willoughby Run. Where had these men come from? What had the men endured during their two years of service before finding themselves alone at a critical time on a crucial spot of the Gettysburg battlefield? The dogged fighting qualities exhibited by the Second Wisconsin at Gettysburg illustrate why it ended the war suffering the highest percentage of battlefield deaths (killed and died of wounds) of any unit that fought for the Union.

This solo charge of the Second Wisconsin into Herbst Woods is little known and even less appreciated, but it likely prevented the battle of Gettysburg from being lost by the Union in the opening minutes of the infantry versus infantry portion of the battle.

Michael Kirschner is a retired patent attorney who has been researching the Second Wisconsin for over a decade after serendipitously learning that his wife’s great-great grandfather, Philo Wright, was the first flag bearer of the Second Wisconsin at Gettysburg. His research was prompted by the realization that the regiment has not had a regimental history written in the modern era despite its illustrious fighting record.