Mike Cavanaugh is a founding member of the Old Baldy Civil War Round Table, serving over the years as treasurer, program chairman, and twice president. His interest in the Civil War began in the early 1970s, when he found he had several ancestors in the war. Mike’s great grandfather, on his father’s side, Pvt. Thomas Holleran, was a member of the 96th PVI (raised in Schuylkill County) and on his mother’s side, Cpl. James Lindsey of the 1st New York Mounted Rifles (raised in New York City). Mike has authored and coauthored five books on the war and also founded the Civil War Book Exchange (now Civil War News). For more than thirty-five years, he has had an avid interest in the Battle of the Crater fought on July 30, 1864, in Petersburg, VA. This led to a book in 1989—coauthored with Bill Marvel—entitled The Horrid Pit, The Battle of the Crater. Continue reading
The late Blake A. Magner was born and raised in the great commonwealth of Massachusetts. After a four year tour of duty in the U. S. Navy, which included time spent in the Brown Water Navy in South Vietnam, he moved to New Jersey after meeting his life mate at a USO dance in 1971. Blake and his wife have now been married for thirty-six years and are proud parents and grandparents. Blake has a Master’s Degree from Rutgers University in Biology and worked through the 1980s as a chemist. Continually hearing the call of History, Blake left his Science profession and became an independent historian in 1990. His area of interest includes just about everything from the War of Jenkins’s Ear through the late 18th century, the 19th century and ending with the death of Theodore Roosevelt. He also has a working knowledge of the Normandy landings and the Vietnam War. His studies include military history (specifically the Civil War and Revolutionary War), literature, personalities, the Founding Fathers and politics. Continue reading
Jane Peters Estes on “A Christmas Past”
Jane Peters Estes has been a living historian and active member of various Delaware Valley region historical organizations for almost 30 years. She shared some of her expertise with members of OBCWRT on December 8th when she presented “Christmas Past,” a delightful overview of the origins of many of our Christmas traditions, ranging from the hanging of stockings to trimming the tree. Jane’s presentation particularly highlighted Christmas customs of the Civil War era and offered many insights, some of them surprising. The program was an early yuletide gift to all who attended. Continue reading
Herb Kaufman on “Creating the Gettysburg Address”
Herb Kaufman addressed the myth of Lincoln writing the Gettysburg Address on a small piece of paper on a train from Washington to Gettysburg. Herb pointed out the 272 words of Lincoln’s Address that had their foundation in the Declaration of Independence. He explained looking into Lincoln’s mind and examining his prior speeches and comments and determining how they impacted his thoughts for November 19, 1863. Herb further pointed out that Abraham Lincoln was one of our nation’s most thoughtful and measured presidents. That he rarely made comments that didn’t have a specific point, nor did he write a speech without giving it the most deliberate thought. The ideas and concepts that stand behind what has become his most famous and quoted speech could hardly have been attributed to a two hour ride on a train.
Phil Lechak on “Camp Letterman, Gettysburg: 80 Acres for 121 Days”
When the Army of the Potomac and the Army of Northern Virginia left the Gettysburg environs on July 4, they left behind almost 21,000 wounded soldiers. These men were distributed over the countryside in roughly 160 locations. Casualties of this magnitude overtaxed the available resources immediately. Camp Letterman—the first of its kind, a large General Tent Hospital—was constructed. It occupied 80 acres on the site of the George Wolf Farm, on a hillside just one mile out of town on the York Pike, and existed for a period of 121 days. Continue reading
Craig Schoeller on “Battle of the Bulge—Imprisonment”
Due to an emergency cancellation by the scheduled speaker, Tom Moran, this month Craig Schoeller, OBCWRT member, presented the rest of his story on surviving the “Battle of the Bulge” during World War II. Craig’s story had previously gone from his enlistment to a replacement in the 35th Division of the Third Army in the area of Bastogne, Belgium, when the German Army made its final push to break through the American Lines. The second part of his story was about his capture and imprisonment in a German Stalag.
Old Baldy Members present “Show and Tell”
Old Baldy Members and Guests presented a “Show and Tell” of their Civil War interests, artifacts, projects, books, photos, battlefield trips, seminars, ancestors, etc.
Mike Wunsch on “Abraham Lincoln & the Great Central Sanitary Fair”
Local speaker-historian Michael Wunsch portrayed Executive Chairman John Welsh of the Great Central Sanitary Fair, and presented Abraham Lincoln & the Great Central Sanitary Fair, Philadelphia, June 1864.
The talk featured a brief overview and history of the United States Sanitary Commission, the growth of the local Aid Society and Sanitary Fair movements, as well as the Great Central Sanitary Fair itself, a huge commission fund-raising event held on the grounds of Logan Square from June 7 to June 29, 1864. It concluded with one of the true highlights of Philadelphia’s immense and important home-front activities, President Abraham Lincoln’s visit to the “great fair,” and our city at-large on June 16, 1864. Continue reading
Craig Schoeller on “Battle of the Bulge”
Craig Schoeller gave a great talk on his life and the time he spent in the Battle of the Bulge in World War II. Craig’s story went from his enlistment to being in action as an infantry replacement in the 35th Division of the Third Army. His story was about his combat, his wounding, his friends, and his capture. As we heard of his experiences, we received a better appreciation of what young men and women went through to protect our freedoms. Craig corrected us on the term used in the previous newsletter—that he was an American Hero. In fact, he said the heroes were among the ones who didn’t come home to continue their lives but had given up those lives for America. Craig volunteered to come back and give us a talk on his captivity in a German prison camp. It was great to have Craig back from his recent injury. We are very lucky to have a gentleman like Craig as a member of Old Baldy.