We have members who are always willing to visit local school classrooms or employee seminars and give a small talk about the Civil War. Often, the presenters are dressed in period garb and talk about their experiences as a Civil War soldier. This is quite an attention-getter for the younger schoolkids. Contact our "Education" Coordinator Matt George via our "Contact Us" page.
The dedication and unveiling of the new William Seward and Harriet Tubman statue on Saturday, May 17 at the Schenectady County Library was a great success. There were so many people in the McChesney room for the Dedication Program that people were forced to sit on the floor. At the request of Laura Lee, I attended in uniform and promoted the Round Table every chance I had. The pictures of U. S. C. T. troops who had been amputee patients of Dr. Bonticou of Troy were very much of interest. Thanks go to Matt Farina for providing these for me. I met a gentleman named Steve Rockwell whose great, great grandfather William Henry Hershey of the 4th Ohio Volunteers fought at Gettysburg. Steve has a number of letters and other memorabilia. Steve indicated he might be interested in briefly talking about these at our potpourri meeting in January.
On Saturday I drove to Connecticut to attend a meeting of the Connecticut Civil War Round. The speaker was Phil Vitiello whose topic was the “Hunley”. His power point presentation was not only interesting but entertaining. Steve has agreed to be a speaker for in the spring of 2020. Later, at the house of Blair and Mary Pavlik, we had lunch with the speaker (who is also Vice President of the South Central Connecticut Civil War Round table), and other area Civil War Round table representatives. Discussed were ways Round Tables in the northeast geographical areas could cooperate and support each other. Mary Pavlik told me about a possible symposium they might be planning for next October. I told her to send me the details when they are available and we might be able to support this in one way or another.
We now have a speaker confirmed for April 10, 2020. His name is Ralph Siegel and he will be speaking about his newest book: “Peach Orchard: The Battle of Gettysburg Reconsidered”.
On May 28 I’ll be driving to Lexington, Kentucky for the Civil War Trust Conference. I plan to return June 3.
On June 7th I’ll be doing a living history presentation for students of various schools in Peterboro. I’ll be returning in time for our regular meeting featuring A. Wilson Greene.
I’ll be in Gettysburg for the Civil War Institute Summer Conference. This is co-sponsored by our friends at the National Civil Round Table Congress. The Conference runs from June 14th to the 19th. Since we are affiliated with the Civil War Congress I receive a 15% discount.
I’ll be returning to Gettysburg June 28th through July 4th or 5th. On June 29 Round Table members Mark and Janet Allen and I will be attending the popular Seminary Ridge Museum barbecue.
We have been asked by the Clarksville Historical Society to participate again in their Heritage Day Celebration on Saturday, August 3. Usually I attend this event with our tent and a table to raise money. However, there is a possibility I may not be here that weekend so, it would be nice if we could get another volunteer.
In addition to all his stories, Pat Falci will show a number of pictures connected to the filming of Gettysburg. I’ve heard Pat give this talk several times (without the pictures), including at the Gettysburg CDCWRT May 2019 Reenactment. This is an experience you don’t want to miss.
Pat is also a big John Wayne fan. Just ask him about Wayne’s movies (particularly the “The Searchers” and “The Horse Soldiers”); then be prepared to sit and listen for a while.
At the unveiling and dedication of the new Harriet Tubman/William Seward statue, I’ll be representing the Round Table in the uniform of a soldier of the 134th New York. I plan to be there around 11:30 AM. It’s possible we might be able to set up a small information table.
The next day (May 18) I’ll be on the road again to visit our friends at the Connecticut Civil War Round Table in Torrington. At their regular monthly meeting, Phil Vitello will be speaking on the Hunley.
A second meeting will be their first Civil War Round Table networking meeting. This is in response to a suggestion made at the National Civil War Round Table Congress. It was proposed that Round Tables in the same general geographical area share speakers and planning activities (like trips, conferences, etc.) to maximize available funds and to increase attendance. Sharing lists of speakers and making recommendations could also be included.
Finally on May 28th – June 3rd, I hope to attend the C.W.T. Conference in Lexington, Kentucky.
I had a very enjoyable and informative two weeks away, beginning with my second visit to Fort McHenry in Baltimore. I then spent four days in Charlestown. During this time, I went to see Fort Sumter and the Hunley, both for the first time. Both were impressive.
The Hunley is still being “soaked” to remove the final salts. How its crew died remains a mystery. A docent’s personal theory was that the submarine was too close to the Housatonic when the charge went off prematurely. The force of the explosion knocked the crew unconscious and they just peacefully suffocated.
The next day I went to Fort Sumter. New Yorker Abner Doubleday had given the order for the fort to return fire when the Confederates first opened fire. As many of you know, the only Union casualty following hours of bombardment occurred after the fort surrendered. At the flag-lowering ceremony, before CDCWRT April 2019 Union soldiers left the fort, a cannon misfired, killing one man.
Even though only a fraction of the original fort is left, what remains along with the cannons give a pretty good idea of its original appearance. Like so many of our 19th-century forts, additions were made during the Spanish American War and World War II.
While visiting family in Kissimmee, Florida for four days, I attended a Civil War reenactment in Narcoossee, Florida. It was billed as the Battle of Narcoossee Mill. It was implied that this was a very small engagement that occurred when some Confederate cavalry taking cattle to the Confederate armies met some Union soldiers. However, the pamphlet I received says, “Although the Battle of Narcoossee Mills is not an actual battle, it is an authentic representation of how a battle may have taken place in this area 155 years ago.” Nevertheless, it was a surprisingly large reenactment with 100-200 reenactors from all over Florida and several cannons and pyrotechnics. The 54th Massachusetts and the 115th NYVI, both of which fought at Olustee in northern Florida, were represented.
On my way home, I spent a day with Matt Farina in Southern Pines, North Carolina. We visited the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh, which has an absolutely wonderful exhibit on World War I, with many amazing artifacts and interactive displays.
J.J. Jennings and I just recently returned from the Civil War Trust Conference in New Orleans. Other than the usual problems we’ve come to expect flying, the Conference was excellent and personally rewarding for me. We stayed the Monteleone, a big beautiful hotel downtown near the French Quarter. On Saturday, I toured the battlefield at Fort Jackson. Farragut had to bypass this fort, built prior to the Civil War, on his way to capturing New Orleans. A typical star pattern, the fort is now closed because of Hurricane Katrina and the lack of funds to reopen it for visitors. However, it was opened just for our tour group. We were warned, however, to be aware of the possibility of meeting snakes. We didn’t.
On Sunday, I took a half-day tour of the World War II Museum. I can’t express enough what a wonderful, beautiful and expansive museum this is. A number of years ago when it first opened, I became a charter member. I also paid to have my father’s name on some kind of plaque there. Until this trip, I was never able to verify the plaque’s existence.
It turned out better than I expected. I was directly down a hall to a 20’ by 30’ lighted sign. It was touch sensitive (like some computer screens). I typed my father’s name (same as mine) and within seconds, there appeared my dedication to my father for his service in WWII. It was very impressive and personally gratifying. The people at the front desk were also kind enough to make an 8’ x 11’ paper copy for me. The Museum itself it so huge (several buildings) it would take days to properly see everything.
I saw a very moving special film on Bob Hope’s performances for the soldiers during the war. There are beautiful exhibits on every theatre of the war, including the home front. There are hundreds of actual artifacts include a Higgins boat and a B-17 hanging from the ceiling. If you ever get to New Orleans, this is a must place to visit.
I’m always amazed as I travel across the country as to what a small world it is. When I went into the WWII Museum gift shop and bookstore, I struck up a conversation with the man working at the cash register. His name was Bill Humphreys. He noticed my name tag said I was from Schenectady. He said he was originally from New York. I asked him where and he answered Broadalbin. When he observed that I was with the Civil War Trust, he told me he had a an ancestor that served in a Civil War Regiment from New York. It turned out the ancestor was Sergeant Gould in Company K of the 115th NYVI (Montgomery/Fulton counties).
I told Mr. Humphreys that one of our founding members, Mark Silo, had written the most recent regimentaI history of the 115th and said that if I could get a copy I would mail him one. Mark provided me with an autographed paperback edition and I sent it to Bill.
From March 13 to the 26th, I’ll be taking my “southern tour” by train. Although slower than plane, it is not only cheaper but much more enjoyable and relaxing, and far less stressful. Besides I’ll get to read several books while traveling.
I will go to Charleston, South Carolina for four days, where I plan to visit Fort Sumter and see the CSS Hunley. On my return trip, I hope to visit Matt Farina in Southern Pines, North Carolina for a couple of days.
A final thought….spring is near. High school baseball practice begins statewide in about ten days!
I spent a very rewarding day on Saturday, January 1 at the N.Y.S. Museum’s “Great Places and Spaces” event. Despite the extremely cold weather, it attracted a surprising number of students including many Cub Scouts. I would like to thank J.J. Jennings who came to help. Without his assistance, it would have been much more difficult for me with my new knee. We even made $22.00. I know I’m getting older as far too many Cub Scouts inquired whether I had fought in the Civil War.
There are three changes in the speaker schedule for 2019. Because of changes in Will Greene’s travel schedule he will not be speaking to us in February. However, he will be speaking on June 7 when he will be traveling north to continue his research on volume two of his detailed study of the Battle of Petersburg. Our June speaker Sue McLane will be moving to November. The new speaker for February will be Dave Hochfelder, Professor of History at SUNY Albany. Professor Hochfelder has spoken to us twice in the last five years. He will be revisiting his field of expertise with a discussion of railroads, telegraph, technology and the North during the Civil War.
There are many upcoming Civil War Conferences and events in 2019. A few of these I and some of our members will be attending. Although I cannot attend, Pat Schroeder (our December speaker) will be holding a free Civil War Conference on February 9 at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia. One of the featured speakers will be Ed Bearrs.
On February 8-10, J.J. Jennings, Rosemary Nichols and I will be attending the Civil War Trust Conference in New Orleans. One of the tours will be to Mobile Bay. Although not Civil War related, a second tour will be to the World War II Museum. This will be of personal interest to me because I hope to verify my father’s name on a plaque which I paid for many years ago and have never seen.
The Underground Railroad History Project Conference is March 29-31. Our Round Table supports this event every year and we will again have a display/information table there as well. Paul and Mary Liz Stewart will be at our March meeting with more information. Paul and Mary Liz will also be giving a related talk at the Mabee House on Saturday, January 26 at 2:00 PM.
The Civil War Institute of Gettysburg in partnership with the newly formed Civil War Round Table Congress will be hosting a Civil War Conference at Gettysburg College June 14-19. Because of our Round Table’s affiliation with the CWRT Congress our members would qualify for a 15% discount.
From May 28 through June 2 the Civil War Trust is holding its annual Conference in Lexington, Kentucky.
Of course, our Round Table will be raising money with a postal cancellation in Gettysburg in July.
The 6th Annual Emerging Civil War Symposium will be held at Stevenson Ridge in Spotsylvania County in Virginia August 2-4.
How many of these I will be attending I’m not sure. I’m also serving on a planning Committee for UCALL’s new summer program. One of the trips we are considering this summer is a day trip to Grant Cottage. So there will many opportunities for you to immerse yourself in Civil War History over the next few months.
Unfortunately I was not able to compose my column for last month’s Newsletter as I was in the hospital receiving a new right knee and then spending 6 more days in the Sunny View Rehabilitation facility. I now have a matching set of titanium knees and will soon be moving from a walker to a cane. It was something that had to be done if I intended to walk Civil War battlefields again. However, knee replacements and the subsequent therapy that follows is a long painful process.
I received permission to drive short distances and was thus able to be at the last meeting. In some ways it could have of been a meeting in a Civil War field hospital. I had a wounded knee, J.J. Jennings was recovering from surgery on his arm and our speaker Pat Schroeder had ruptured his back just a few days before speaking to us. In spite of being in obvious discomfort Pat gave an excellent presentation on “Zouaves: America’s Forgotten Soldiers.
On Saturday, January 12 the Round Table will have a display table at the annual New State Museum’s Great Places and Spaces. I will be there with a display table to interact with visitors many of whom are school children. It is a great opportunity to bring our Civil War heritage to students in a different setting than a classroom. The hours are noon to 4:00 PM. I expect to be somewhat recovered in two weeks but not yet 100%. I would appreciate some additional help especially around 11:30 and at 4:00 in bringing in and then packing up taking out our several boxes of materials. If you can lend a hand meet me at front of the museum between 11:30 and noon.
The coming year will bring many Conferences and other Civil War events. As we get closer to these dates I will try to keep any of you who might be interested informed of the details in case you might like to attend. Finally, I would like to wish all a very joyous and happy New Year