MARCH 2020

Okay, it has been a weird couple of months. Mr. Mike McGuinness
was to be our March speaker on Pontiac/Oakland County during the
Civil War. As you remember, Mother Nature had other plans for us in
February. She decided that we needed another 6”-8” of snow. So, I
cancelled that meeting. I rescheduled Mike for our March 25 th
meeting. We were all set – almost.

It seems that the Covid-19 virus has raised its sickening head and
is making lots of changes in our daily lives. Rochester College is closed
to students, with instruction being presented in an online format only.
The facility would still be available to us but I am concerned that if we
meet in the room for over an hour, the virus could be transmitted by
air or from hard surfaces and no one’s welfare is worth a night of
learning our history (no matter how great it is sure to be!)
So, that said, I have cancelled the March meeting. I hope you
understand and I REALLY hope that all this will be behind us for our
April meeting. Be safe, stay home, keep washing those hands and avoid
as much contact as possible. While I would love to see all your smiling
faces, I feel better knowing that you are safe.




We have arrived at the month that, from a history perspective, drives me
up the wall! I know – I rant every year about “President’s Day Sales” with the
sales (mattresses, shoes, boots, tooth brushes and every other item under the
sun) as a company’s way of “honoring” our most famous Presidents. I often
wonder how President Lincoln would feel if he knew that if you just mention his
name, you could get 25% off the price of your new TV set. There, I feel better.
This month we do honor our 16th President who was born on Feb 12, 1809
in Kentucky. Most of us know of the many hardships he faced as a youngster.
There are many stories about old Honest Abe, some are true and some are myths
and legends that have grown over time. But to be able to say he was a good,
honest man who struggled to keep our country united is one of the greatest
honors we can bestow on one of our citizens.

Our January speaker – honestly, there is not much we can say about him
except that he did have some real Civil War oddities that he shared with us.
Seriously, it was my privilege to talk with you about some of the little-known facts
from our Civil War history.

Our February speaker, Mr. Mike McGuinness, is going to discuss the Civil
War with an Oakland County focus to help us gain an overall picture of the war
and how it forever changed the local area. Mike is the Executive Director of the
Oakland County Pioneer Historical Society. He is a Pontiac resident, graduate of
Oakland University and avid collector of Pontiac history. He is a member of the
Pontiac School Board, served as chairman of the Arts Commission and also
Pontiac Charter Revision Commission. Before joining Pine Grove as director, he
worked for the US House of Representatives and the Michigan House of
Some of you know that this year marks the Bicentennial of Oakland County
(200 years – 1820-2020) and Mike will be joining us to talk about the town of
Pontiac, MI. during the Civil War. Michigan sent over 90,000 men to fight in the
war. What was it like when the young Union recruits marched to the train station
to start the long journey to the war front? How many would come back and how
had the city (village?) grown and changed in the few years that the soldiers were
gone? Mike’s knowledge and understanding of this topic will help us to better
realize the impact of the war on our local history – not only from the soldiers and
politician’s perspective but also that of the regular folks back home.

Hearing that someone had secured exemption from the draft because he
had one leg shorter than the other, a Virginia country boy decided that he too
could gain an exemption, and advanced the claim that he had “both legs too

As their gunboat was preparing to go into action, a Union naval officer
asked a sailor why he was on his knees, to which the youthful tar replied,
“Praying, sir, that the enemy’s bullets may be distributed the same way as the
prize money, principally among the officers.”


ROCHESTER COLLEGE 800 West Avon Road, Rochester Hills



Well, I am starting the new year in typical form. I am late in writing
and mailing the newsletter. December was a great, wonderful and rough
month. In my red suit I talked with many kids (and adults) and have many
great stories to tell. There were some very special touching moments that I
will always remember. I must admit that after the holidays, I “hid” at home
in the den for most of January, resting and coming to embrace that “nap”
thing. Bad habit. But now it is time to get back to work and start up the
round table business, I hope everyone enjoyed the holidays and are ready to
get back to Civil War history with a let’s go attitude. Hopefully Santa
brought you a couple of good CW books to read.

Our speaker for January is someone a few of you may remember. He
has given a couple of talks for us in the past. It is my sincere hope that he
has another good talk lined up for us. As Mark Twain would say, “I refer in
these vague general terms to myself.” Yes, I will be the January speaker.
The weather can be so “iffy” that I try to keep the speaker local (no, I did
not say loco). I have been gathering information for a new talk for a while
and this one is entitled, “Civil War Myths and Oddities.” There is so much
information you can get by digging into a footnote as well as many interesting
facts or strange “mini events” that cannot, by themselves, fill a 40 minute
presentation. I think these are very interesting and I hope you will too. This
has become one of my favorite talks. It provides a variety of stories that
most people do not encounter in their reading and hopefully will add a little
more knowledge of your understanding of everyday life in the Civil War era.

We still have a few people who have not paid their dues for the 2019-
2020 year and we do have expenses. Please check with our treasurer, Cheri
Allen, to make sure that you are up to date. In the last few months, we have
made several contributions to the American Battlefield Trust (AKA known as
the Civil War Trust). These were very worthwhile preservation projects
that also had a great match fund ratio. The trust has donors that will match
contributions we make, for instance, we donate a $1.00 and they will match
that donation with a $10.00 donation. This show the donors that we are
involved and ready to do our part to save land or educate teachers on the
battlefield and they are willing to help if we show we are committed.

– 20 generals (12 Union & 8 Confed) were named Smith
– A musket barrel could hold a pint of whiskey (no, I did not try this)
– 67% of the Civil War generals wore beards
– American Bible Society supplied 80,000 Bibles to troops during the CW

I know this is short but wanted to get it out to you.
See you: Wednesday January 29 th at 7:30 PM at
Rochester College 800 West Avon Road, Rochester Hills



I must admit, I had to go digging in the back of the closet for my winter
coat. The rain and wind did not hold back on the Trick-or-Treaters in our area.
Every little kid who showed up at our door got enough candy for a good sugar buzz.
Sorry parents.
Yes, I know it is November and we should expect it but the light jacket was
working just fine – until now. Hope everyone is ready for a long cold winter.

I want to thank our speaker for September, Mr. John Cohassey for the
discussion of his latest book on the 22 nd Michigan Infantry. We sometimes forget
the long journey that the men had to endure to get to the fight and the distance
they had to travel from one battle to the next. Thank you John for a great

Our speaker for the November 20th meeting is one of our own members, Mr.
Bill has been a member for several years and has taken me up on the standing offer
for any member to give a presentation. Mr. Seger is a retired 79-year-old
automotive engineer. Like several of us, Bill’s interest in the Civil War started over
50 years ago. The Battle of Gettysburg has been of interest to him for many
years and he has spent considerable time doing both field and scholarly research.
He has made many trips to explore the different aspects of the battle, especially
what his calls. “the fallacy of Little Round Top” and has been gathering information
that he wants to share with us. We all read many of the same books telling us the
same information. But you should also know that sometimes, info is inserted in a
new book that is from an old source that has not been thoroughly researched. If it
gets printed in enough books, it can become the accepted tale of that event. So it
is with history. You should always be careful as you read and always be open to
different interpretations as new information is found. Just because a “fact” has
been printed in a book (or it says so on the internet) does not make that
information factual. This is going to be one of the talks that is going to make you

We have some information from The Battlefield Trust that I wanted to
share with you. After more than 20 years, Mr. Jim Lightizer, is retiring as CEO of
the group. Jim has built a great and respected organization with one purpose –
preserve and protect the battlefields where Americans fought and died in both
the Civil War and the Revolutionary War. His guidance has helped to save over
52,000 acres of hallowed battlefield ground for future generations to see, explore
and get a sense of the of an event that cannot be found in a textbook. We can
proudly say that we have helped in this effort. I know you join me in wishing Jim
well in his retirement but if he is like most of us, the history “bug” hangs on. While
he can be very proud of his 20 years as the leader of one of the truly great
preservation organizations, I think we will be hearing more from him in the future.
Best wishes, Jim.

ROCHESTER COLLEGE 800 West Avon Road, Rochester Hills




Another year for the Richardson CWRT is ready to begin! What
started in September 2000 has achieved the 20-year mark and it’s all
thanks to the dedication of you, the members.

I have been working on a speaker schedule that will include
several new presenters but I want to remind you that we are a
discussion group and I invite ANYONE who would like to speak on a
Civil War topic to please contact me. (586-752-6013). Most everyone
has a topic that is of particular interest to them that perhaps you
would like to share with the group? If you do not feel that you can talk
the whole 40 minutes, we can split the time with me or another
speaker. Our November speaker, Bill Segar, wanted the opportunity to
share his research into the Battle of Gettysburg’s Little Round Top
and some of the conflicting facts being taught.

We mentioned that it is the start of a new year. That also means
it is time to pay our dues. Remember if you want your newsletter e-
mailed, dues are $15.00. If you require a postal mailed copy, the cost
if $20.00. As you know, this money covers the room rental,
preservation projects (mainly with the Trust), stamps and printing costs. Cheri will have a financial statement for the group available at
the September meeting and you can connect with her then.

Rachael (our Rochester College contact) tells me that our meeting
room has received a little TLC over the summer. Painting and a new set
of dividers is ready to welcome us back. Thank you, Rachael.

Our speaker for this month is a well-known historian, Mr. John
Cohassey. He has written a book on a topic that is close to my heart,
the 22nd Michigan Infantry. This is important to us for several reasons.
Former Governor Moses Wisner was asked in 1862 by the Michigan
Governor to raise a regiment (1,000 men) to satisfy the request of the
Federal Government for additional men to fight the War. This
regiment was men that were farmers, clerks, son and dads from
Oakland, Macomb and surrounding communities who volunteered to
fight for three years. We will learn of the training of the regiment at
the Pontiac fairgrounds and their travels to fight the Southern troops.
John has written books on Hemingway and Sonnie Wilson (award from
Historical Society of Michigan) plus has served as a consultant for a
History Channel documentary. His work with the Pine Grove Historical
Society showed him that history has failed to tell the story of the 22 nd
Mich. Regiment and their part in the Battle of Chickamonga. This will
be a great start to a new season of meetings. Join us for what I can
promise will be an interesting yet sad story of some of our Michigan
ROCHESTER COLLEGE – 800 West Avon Road, Rochester Hills


MAY 2019

We are approaching our last meeting for this season. We have
had some great speakers and heard about some new and different Civil
War topics. I have enjoyed all of them and learned some interesting
facts along the way about the people who lived through this war torn
period. It is almost time to start a new schedule of speakers for 2019-
2020. Several members have talked with me in passing about giving a
presentation but with my memory, would you please send me a note if
you are interested in taking a turn at the podium. We are a true round
table discussion group and I want all of you to feel welcome sharing
your favorite topic or passion of CW history with us. If you don’t think
you want to talk the full 40 minutes, we can divide it, you take 20
minutes and I (or another member) will take the other half.

You know that I am always saying that we must talk Civil War with
our friends and neighbors and there is a reason. I am a member of the
Friends of Gettysburg and today, I received the monthly newsletter
and it confirmed my growing fear that we are educating an entire
generation of students who are totally ignorant of our Nation’s history.
STEM has reached the point that ANY of the humanities such as
history, literature and the arts are considered second class in our K-12
schools. Eric B. Schultz, Gettysburg Foundation Chair of the Board, started the letter with the sentence, “History is in a Bad Way.” He
stated that only 1 in 3 Americans could pass the US Citizenship test,
some kids thought that Ben Franklin invented the light bulb and 17%
thought Dwight Eisenhower led troops in the Civil War. Sad. Sad. We
should be able to do better for our kids. Get involved in your local
schools and push to get back to the old fashion 3-R’s.

Our speaker for this month is here after many requests to “get
her back.” Dr. Rochelle Danquah is Vice Chair of the Michigan Freedom
Trail Commission whose purpose is to tell the story of the Underground
Railroad in Michigan. Her main job is to educate college students about
our history. Rochelle is going to talk to us about some of the people
and homes involved in helping move escaped slaves in their efforts to
get to the Canadian border. This was the only safe haven from the
hired slave catchers sent by the Southern plantation owners to
recapture their “property.” Doctor D, as she prefers to be called, is a
professor at Wayne County Community College and Schoolcraft College.
Her talk will focus on the UGRR activities in Macomb and Oakland
Counties before the start of the War. You may be surprised at the
number of people that helped the slaves in their effort to gain
freedom. I promise you a fast paced, interesting and informative talk
on a subject we need to know more about.

ROCHESTER COLLEGE 800 West Avon Road, Rochester Hills


APRIL 2019

April is a bookend month for those of us who study the timeline
of the Civil War. Most of us know that the war started in April 1861
and ended in April 1865. There were also many “firsts” during the war.
A big one was the battle of the ironclads in March of 1862. It shook
most of the major naval powers in Europe because although each nation
had their own iron ship of some style, the battle between the Monitor
and the Merrimac (Virginia for our Southern friends) changed the pace
of how the European nations started phasing out their big wooden

Last month we learned about that 1860’s rock star, John Wilkes
Booth and his womanizing. Dr. Ernie Abel related the shocking news
that Booth had the pictures of five well known ladies in his wallet at
the time of his death. One photo was that of the daughter of a US
Senator! Dr. Abel delved into the Booth family history in an effort to
help us better understand Booth’s motivations and his desire to be
known and loved both on and off stage. His actions in April 1865 were
the final curtain call on the American Civil War. It hurts to think of
the loss of a great man like President Lincoln and the “what-if” folks still have a field day trying to figure out how the future would have
played out if Booth had failed in his assassination of our 16 th President.

Our speakers have focused on the lives and actions of many
famous people in the War. This month we are going back to Gettysburg
in July 1863 to focus on other “fighters”. Some of us know the names
of a few of the animals that were on the battlefield that day – Robert
E Lee’s horse, Traveller and the 7 th Wisconsin’s eagle mascot, Abe. But
there were many others that we are not aware of.

Our speaker this month, Beatrice (Bee) Friedlander is a retired
attorney who will speak to us on her two main passions – history and
animals. While over 50,000 men were killed or wounded at Gettysburg,
the untold number of horses, mules, livestock and pets that were killed
were also victims of the three day battle. You may be surprised to
learn about some of the actions people took after the battle to save
animals from this type of senseless slaughter again. Ms. Friedlander is
a member of the Michigan Regimental RT and a volunteer at the
Plymouth Historical Museum. She also, oddly enough, is involved various
animal rescues in the area.

Join us for an interesting discussion of this little known aspect of Civil
War History.

7:30 PM AT ROCHESTER COLLEGE, 800 West Avon Road, Rochester Hills



MARCH 2019

Most of our monthly newsletters start out with talk of the
weather and its impact on the troops or some of the problems they
encountered in their travels. This month, I thought we might spend a
little time explaining some of the little known facts that the citizens
and soldiers experienced in their daily lives. I guess we can call this
the “did you know” newsletter.

The national debt is a subject our current politicians talk about a
lot and during the Civil War it took a healthy jump. In 1860, the
national debt was $64,800,000 but by 1865, it had climbed to over
$2,000,000,000. What would the newspaper headlines make of that
kind of increase today?

We all know that more soldiers died from disease than bullets and
the health of the soldiers was not very good. The chances of surviving
a wound were 1 in 7. During the war, 1.7 million soldiers had dysentery
(now you know why armies camped in the fields or woods) and 1.2 million
men in uniform had malaria.

We have all heard that the North was industrial and the South
was agricultural. When the war began, the North had 110,000
manufacturing plants and the South has 18,000. The North produced 97% of the firearms, had 96% of railroads and 81% of the nation’s
banking deposits during the war.

The American Bible Society supplied some 80,000 bibles to the
soldiers during the Civil War.

We as readers of Civil War history become so immersed in the
many details that we sometimes forget the peripheral lives those four
years impacted. Next time you are making family plans, imagine what
they would look like if you were out of the picture – gone off to war.

Well, it took a while but our February (originally our January
speaker) Ms. Judy Lopus, was worth the wait. Judy is such a great
storyteller with a family that was involved in so many events in our
nation’s history. I have always said that history is about people, and
Judy showed us in a BIG way that this is true. Thank you Judy.

Our speaker for March is going to take us to the end of the war
and discuss one of the men who changed the course of history. Doctor
E. Lawrence Abel (he prefers Ernie) is a distinguished emeritus
professor at the Wayne State University School of Medicine. His area
of study is John Wilkes Booth. Now, while this is always an interesting
topic, Ernie will talk about the love life of the actor and some of the
stories of the ladies that fell under his charismatic spell. This is a
topic I’ll bet you never ran into before!

AT ROCHESTER COLLEGE – 800 West Avon Road, Rochester Hills.




Well, we started the New Year on an interesting note – no
January meeting. I felt the need to cancel because of the frigid
temperatures. On the last Wednesday night in January, the
temperature was -19 degrees and with a reading like that, I DID NOT
want to go out and I am sure that many of you felt the same. So, we
will start 2019 in February! Our speaker will be Ms Judy Lopus, our
January speaker. I did a little re-scheduling because I wanted you to
meet and hear Judy. She is a wonderful historical storyteller with
many Civil War connections and local history tales of family and friends
who settled in Macomb County starting in the 1830’s. Please join us.

Hey, we have a birthday to celebrate this month! Our beloved
President Lincoln, born in 1809. We have all read the story of his poor
early years and his steady rise to the Presidency. A true politician and
yet interested in the common man and preserving the Union at all costs.
We honor him with a national holiday once a year. President’s Day
honors both his and Washington’s legacies but not with the gravity that
would seem to be called for. The remembrance is often lost in the
deluge of TV and radio “President’s Day Sale” ads. So, if you have all
the mattresses you need please take a few minutes and reflect on the true measure of the man and remember the sacrifices President
Lincoln made to preserve the Union.

I have been busy marking my new 2019 calendar with important
and must do dates. Well, you can add another “must do date.” April 6,
2019 is the official Park Day. This is the day that volunteers gather at
national parks to help prepare them for the return of visitors and Lord
knows that they will need our help this year. We have the opportunity
to help clean and prepared our own local national park, Fort Wayne
right here in the Metro area. Plus you will be helping Historic Fort
Wayne get ready for Civil War Days which are Friday and Saturday,
June 8-9. Our help is needed to bring this local Civil War treasure to
the level it needs to be to tell the story of our nation’s past. If you
would like to help, we can fill in the details at the meeting.

It is with great sadness that I must tell you of the passing of a
friend of our Round Table, Mrs. Bonnie Priebe, (Mrs. Lincoln). We
enjoyed her company along with President Lincoln on several occasions
and her love of history will be missed.
A badly chafed heel forced Gen James Longstreet to fight the
battle of Antietam wearing a pair of “clumsy carpet slippers.”
By the end of the Civil War, the town of Galena, Illinois with its
15,000 inhabitants had contributed 14 generals and field officers to
the Union cause, including U.S. Grant.

Join us: Wednesday, February 27 th , at Rochester College
800 West Avon Road, Rochester Hills at 7:30 PM



It is January and the cold has returned – kind of. Not like the winters that I remember from years ago when you could build a snow fort during Christmas vacation that would last until March. I’m not complaining about not having to shovel snow but just wish it didn’t seem like a dreary, drawn out end of November. Back in 1861-1865, I’m sure a lack of snow would be a godsend for most soldiers in the North when they were in their winter quarters. They would be enjoying the warmth of their huts, built when the action ceased as winter approached. The little Christmas tree put out in front of their shelter (to remind them of home) was gone, burned in the fire pit to keep them warm. Happily, there was no drilling at this time, guard duty would be one of the few military activities for most of the enlisted men.

We are ready to start the New Year and I can promise you some interesting speakers with some new and different topics. Locally, Macomb County, Oakland County and Pontiac are celebrating their 200th birthdays so we will begin with a local Macomb County historian, Ms. Judy Lopus. She and her family have been a part of local history since her ancestors moved to Romeo in the early 1830s. Judy and I have been friends for many years. She was our kids’ Kindergarten teacher and we have been involved in various history projects over the years.

The latest event was a walk at the Romeo Cemetery. I was stationed at the CW monument talking to a group of visitors and wanted to illustrate what a CW tombstone looked like. About 15 ft from the monument was the marker of Eldridge S. Lyons of the 30th Mich Infantry. As I pointed this out Judy, as part of the group, indicated that she was related to Eldridge and began to fill me in on his history during the war. This personal information helped to make the whole story have more meaning for the group. Judy has many stories about Romeo and some of the people that her family knew during the Civil War. She will give a different slant to how the war affected the home front when not all soldiers who marched off to war went south to fight the enemy. What were some of the concerns the US government had with our Canadian neighbors and why was guarding that border so important?

We cannot start the New Year without a couple of Nofi notes:
Federal gunners fired 32,781 artillery rounds at Gettysburg
Disapproving a musician’s request for leave, Confederate Gen D.H. Hill explained that priority for leave was “shooters, not tooters”

Join us: Wednesday, January 30th at Rochester College, 800 West Avon Road, Rochester Hills, 7:30pm.




How many days this summer did we have temperatures over 90 degrees? It was too uncomfortable to even sit on the side porch (ceiling fan on high) and try to read one of my new Civil War books. I was in shorts, a tee shirt and sandals. But think what those days would have been like wearing a wool uniform, carrying a 40 lb. pack, 40 rounds of ammunition and a Springfield rifle. Oh, did I mention that we would start marching by 6 AM and wouldn’t stop until we reach Gettysburg? Once we got there, we would be rushed immediately into a combat position to stop the invading Confederates. What a day, hot, rushed and scared – maybe the porch wasn’t so bad after all!

We are preparing to start another season of our Round Table meetings. When the four of us gathered for that first meeting in September, 2000, I could only hope that we could grow a little. Imagine my great pride when I think that we are still going 18 years later. It is through the efforts and support of all of you that we are still active. BUT, with the new year comes our annual request for DUES. The money is necessary to help maintain our part in CW preservation projects through the American Battlefield Trust (new name for CW Trust). We also must pay for our meeting room at Rochester College, and cover our mailing and printing cost each month. So we need your help. If you receive a newsletter via e-mail, dues are $15.00 and if you rely on Uncle Sam to deliver your newsletter, the cost is $20.00. We have the best price going of all the Round Tables, so this is a real bargain.

We have some new speakers scheduled for this year and also several speakers from the past that you asked to come back. But something that I want to stress every year is if you want to speak, the floor is yours. As a true roundtable, we all have ownership of the content and direction of the group. I want everyone to feel comfortable getting up and talking about a Civil War topic that is of
interest to them. We are going to start this season with one of our own, Ms Joan Kotcher. She has been working on a talk on women in the Civil War. She was disappointed when I gave a talk on the same topic last year. I assured her that she as a woman would bring a whole new perspective that I could not understand. I have seen her presentation and I was right, she brings a much greater understanding to presenting the women’s role. I know that we all look forward to a great start to this season.

At the college this year, we have a room conflict for Sept 26th and Oct 31st so we will be meeting in the Ham Library, Room 112. That is the building close to Avon Rd where we met a few times last year. In November we will return to our regular room.

Join us Wednesday, September 26th at 7:30pm, Rochester College, 800 West Avon Road, Rochester Hills.


MARCH 2018

By 1864, citizens in the North were tiring of the Civil War (or as the Southerners called it, the War of Northern Aggression). In almost every town, city or village, families mourned the loss of a husband, father, son or brother. April 1864 would mean the start of another year of fighting with no end in sight. Citizens in the Midwest (Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota) were questioning the need to keep fighting to force the South to remain in the Union. On Monday, March 28, 1864, in Charleston, Illinois, almost 100 Copperheads (anti-war protesters) attacked a group of Federal soldiers on furlough. Reinforcements had to be called in to put down the attack. Five men died and twenty were wounded before the violence ended. This was one of the more severe antiwar outbreaks in the North.

We must give a very special thank you to Larry Hathcock for helping us sort out the conflicting claims of the “last” CW veteran to pass while discovering that Mr. Crump, one of Larry’s relatives, seems to be able to claim that title. Even though Larry was under the weather, he soldiered on and was able to tell us an interesting story and unravel the conflicting facts.

Our speaker for March is an experienced researcher and educator. Ms. Carol Bacak-Egbo is a special lecturer at Oakland University, staff historian for Oakland County Parks, a specialist in history education. She is trained in history, archaeology and anthropology. She intertwines these disciplines in exploring and celebrating local history. She was in charge of a project at the Wisner House a few years back that has been helpful in telling the history of Moses Wisner, 12 th Governor of Michigan and his family. Her topic will emphasize the need to continue to verify history. The
title of her presentation: “The Search for Pvt Martin Payne: The Challenge of Trying to Unravel History”, will question whether Martin Payne really died in Andersonville prison? If so, where was he buried? What happened to his wife and children after the War? How does a historian use primary sources to answer questions like these? And what happens when these sources present the historian with a tangle of twists and turns? I can guarantee that this lady will be able to answer all of these question and many more. Carol is an experienced educator who will teach and entertain you.

Join us: Wednesday, March 28th at 7:30PM, Rochester College, 800 West Avon Road, Rochester Hills

Andersonville Prison (also known as Camp Sumter) Facts –
Built in Feb 1864 captured Aug 1864
Total 45,000 prisoners – 13,000 died
Total of 16½ acres


February 2018

OK, I’ll say it – I am tired of the snow and the cold! But after making that statement, I also think about how fortunate I am to have a warm house to go to after braving the cold on even the shortest trip. Think of the Union and Confederate soldiers spending months in tents and huts and having to endure the cold and snow without some of our “necessities”. No warm house or hot meal ready for them at the end of the day. No down-filled coat or insulated boots to help ward off the cold and keep their feet “toasty”. Those thin army blankets and worn out boots were not much help to any soldier, North or South. It is one thing to read a few words in a book or journal about the cold but quite another to imagine yourself in that situation day after day.

Our January meeting featured the return, to our roundtable, of Mr. Jack Mason, author of the biography on General Israel B. Richardson. His new power point presentation gave us an even greater insight into the life of the General and we discovered that our namesake was not enamored with the trappings of his rank. Several stories illustrated to us that he viewed himself to be “just another soldier.” Jack featured several mentors in Richardson’s life who taught him what was really important when you were a leader of men. Thank you Jack for an enjoyable evening.

Larry Hathcock will be our February presenter and he will explore some of the stories surrounding several of the men claiming to be the “last Civil War veteran.” There has been “proof” given for several of these stories but how accurate is this information? If Mr. Walter Williams, one of the most documented contenders, was not the last veteran, then who was? Larry will attempt to unravel these competing claims and find the most likely last CW veteran. Our speaker is a retired elementary school teacher from the Holly Area Schools. He is active in several round tables and is past president of both the Michigan Regimental RT of Farmington Hills and the GW Lee of Howell. He has also been a member of our roundtable for many years and has made several presentations for us. Rest assured, we will have an enjoyable and interesting evening.

NOFI NOTE – Skilled Soldiers
One of Sherman’s regiments was so good at foraging that it was said to be able to catch, scrap and skin a hog without a soldier leaving the ranks.

A frightened Confederate soldier was up a tree stealing fruit when Maj Gen Benjamin Cheatham rode by. Knowing that he was in trouble, he was relieved when the General said, “Young man, drop me down a few of those fine apples.”

Join us Wednesday, February 28th, at 7:30 p.m. at Rochester College, 800 West Avon Road, Rochester Hills.



January 2018

It’s quiet around the house now. The holidays are a very pleasant memory and all the kids and grandkids are back at their own homes. Max, our faithful dog, has again taken control of the daily activities. His morning trip outside, meals and petting needs pretty much structure our day. I have been using the extreme cold as a good excuse for staying in to explore some of the new books Santa brought me. (and you thought I would be on the list to get a lump of coal, HA!) I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and a safe New Year. But now, it’s time get back into the meeting routine.

But before we talk about what’s new, I first want to thank all of those who participated in our November program. Because we are a roundtable, each year I try to have one program that is a group discussion and I was very pleased that everyone felt free to engage in the discussion, “The Current Debate over Civil War Monuments.” Several points of view were presented but the prevailing idea was that to view the monuments by today’s standards is out of context. They should be used as tools for the discussion of the wrongs of slavery rather than be removed so that we can act as if that period of history did not exist. Again, thank you, all of you, for your participation.

We are going to start the new year with some great programs. I hope everyone will enjoy the list of speakers we have scheduled for the first half of 2018.

January will see the return of Mr. Jack Mason, author of the biography of our namesake, General Israel B. Richardson. Jack will be bringing us new stories about the life of the general and his time with the Army of the Potomac up until his wounding at Antietam. He will also be bringing special news about a new project that he is involved in that concerns the life of Richardson. I am sure you will be entertained by Jack and his wonderful stories about this colorful resident of Pontiac, MI.

Our meeting night date, January 31 st , was also a very special and important date for President Lincoln. On January 31, 1865, the US House of Representatives passed by 2/3 vote the 13 th amendment to the US Constitution, abolishing slavery. It had already passed the Senate and would then go to the individual states for ratification. It would be December, 1865 before 2/3 of the states would ratify the amendment. Unfortunately, Lincoln did not have the opportunity to witness this historic event.

Join us Wednesday, January 31st, at 7:30 p.m.for a fun and entertaining evening at Rochester College, 800 West Avon Road, Rochester Hills.



Well the weather is starting to turn crisp and the leaves are starting to fall. No wait, that was yesterday, today will be a high of 78 and humid. Wow, one day you’re chilly even in sweats and the next day people are raking leaves in shorts and flip-flops. Even though we are officially into Fall (they say) and Halloween is fast approaching, the Christmas displays are going up in many stores (Nooo, not yet). But to put a historic spin on this, did you know that on October 20, 1864, President Lincoln formally established Thanksgiving as a national holiday? I wonder if he had any idea how many pumpkin pies would overwhelm the nation in the next 150 years.

September, the first meeting for our new season and the beginning of another great year, gave us a presentation by Mr. James Epperson. Starting his talk with the longest title for ANY presentation on record, Jim took us on a long, entertaining journey with a company of Union soldiers, which ended by explaining that one of his ancestors was a part of this adventure. Thank you Jim for a fun, humorous and educating history lesson. Many of us have relatives who fought in the Civil War. Your just have to dig to learn about your family history. That can be a HUGE undertaking. But, is it really that hard a job?

Our speaker for October will be just the one to do that. Miss Stacie Guzzo will join us Wednesday, October 25th to show us some of the “secrets” of researching. Her presentation is entitled, “Finding Your Civil War Ancestors.” Stacie is the manager at the Kezar branch of the Romeo District Library. She received her MLIS and Archives Administration Certificate from Wayne State University in 2003. She was the archivist at Temple Beth El in Bloomfield Hills. She was also the manager of the Local History and Genealogy Collection at Hoyt Library in Saginaw. At Kezar, Stacie has organized the Romeo Community Archives and is the lead archivist. With this experience and background Stacie will discuss where to find military records as well as the other resources available to help you find out more about your family’s role in our nation’s history. I know that I had relatives that fought for both the North AND the South (We were determined to be on the winning side!) This program will focus on enhancing you genealogical search for your ancestors.

Have you seen Cheri to pay your dues for this season yet? This income helps us to make donations for battlefield preservation (and you really don’t want this woman coming after you!)

Remember: October 25th 7:30 pm Rochester College,  800 W. Avon Rd. Rochester Hills.

It seems like just last week I wrote the May newsletter. Where did our summer go? I should have realized, when on July 1 st I got my first Santa request for December, that the summer was half over. I hope the past few months have been enjoyable for all of you. My main activity, the Wisner Ice Cream Social, was a huge success. We had a great, hardworking team, headed by our own Roger Zeller, to thank for the success of the event. I gave several talks in the Metro area and even snuck into Kalamazoo for a quick presentation (yes I will go anywhere to talk Civil War). Researching and gathering information for two new talks occupied a lot of my free time and I plan to spring one on you during this year. I hope we can take a few minutes and find out about some of your history activities this summer.

September will start our 18th season and I have been lining up some new (and a few old) speakers for this year. But before we get into that, there are some housekeeping chores to address. First, it is time for all of you to stop and spend a few minutes with Cheri Allen, our treasurer. It is DUES PAYING TIME. If you want to receive the newsletter by e-mail, it costs $15.00 per season. Now, if you want to get Uncle Sam involved and receive a mailed newsletter, the cost is $20.00. Remember, we do have some expenses to cover – mainly room rental, postage and printing. But our most important cash outlay is supporting Civil War preservation and teaching. Our group has been an active member of the Civil War Trust for over 10 Years. By contributing to help preserve battlefields and donating to programs at battlefields to teach everyone about our history, we can be proud of carrying on this important work.

Our first speaker for the year will be Mr. James Epperson. I believe that Jim is in competition for the talk with the longest title. His presentation is entitled – “Two Regiments, the Laws of War, a Raid and Skirmish: A Small Thread of the War and How it Fits into the Whole Cloth and It’s Several Connections.” To quote Jim’s e-mail, “a long title, but it is an interesting talk that mentions very few big names. It is the story of two Illinois regiments that I am willing to bet no one has ever heard of, and how they ended up in a skirmish. I am equally sure no one has ever beard of the town that no longer exists and how it all connects to a lot of things we have all heard of (and some we haven’t). I hope after reading the title, we have time for the talk. Jim Epperson is a “child of the 60’s” who makes his living as the editor of the American Mathematical Society Journal in Ann Arbor (Yes, math). He is a member of the Ann Arbor Civil War Round Table. When not out on the CW speaking circuit, he maintains a home with his wife and arthritic border collie. If his dog is like mine, he runs the household. Jim also attends his daughter’s roller derby bouts. His spare time is spent casing banks to find one to rob to finish paying for his son’s college education. Jim is just your typical Dad, a great speaker and has promised a great talk.

If you are looking for a new books to read, check out “American Ulysses: A Life of Ulysses S. Grant”, by Ronald C. White. Mr. White is a thoughtful author who has written four books on Lincoln and is one of my favorites. Another good one is called “Crucible of Command: Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee – The War They Fought, the Peace They Forged”, by William “Jack” Davis. This
is a comparison of the lives and command styles of the two men.

Join us: Wednesday, September 27th at 7:30pm at Rochester College, 800 West Avon Rd, Rochester Hills, MI.

MAY 2017

The month of May was always a busy one for President Lincoln. If we look at May, 1863, in the west, General Grant is attempting to capture Vicksburg on the Mississippi River. With the capture of this city, the “Ole Miss” would be under Union control and the Confederacy split in half. It would take Grant until July of that year but he did it and that became one of the greatest victories for the Union in the west. General Hooker was positioned at Chancellorsville ready to attack Lee and the Army of Virginia. Unfortunately things did not go so well for Hooker and the Army of the Potomac in the east. While General Hooker could talk a good story, he would be defeated by Lee in the Wilderness. With the retreat of the Union forces back to Washington, Lincoln decided that Hooker had to go.

If we move ahead to May, 1864, Lincoln has re-organized his army’s command structure. After his string of victories in the west, Grant is brought east and put in command of ALL the Union armies. Lincoln revived the rank of Lieutenant General and bestowed it on this, his most victorious general. His first action is to have all three Union armies moving against the Southern troops at once. General Sherman and the Army of Tennessee attacked into Georgia and then north toward Richmond. General Butler and the Army of the James goes down toward Richmond but will become bottled on the James River (ironically) by the Confederates. Grant and Meade with the Army of the Potomac are back at the Wilderness ready to attack Lee. This strategy uses the North’s advantage of manpower against the South’s advantage of moving troops on interior lines quickly. The South did not have the manpower to fight on all three fronts and maintain forces in defense of other areas.

Now, I say all that to ask the question – How in such a busy month as May can we be blessed with a visit by President Lincoln? We are fortunate that this president allows time to visit his troops. Our regiment has been honored with a visit by the Chief Executive every year since our muster into the service for the Union. I have asked the President to join us and just talk with us about life in Washington City and his family. Perhaps we can call this a social visit and hopefully some of the humor and stories that he is noted for will entertain us on Wednesday, May 31st.

This will be last meeting for this season and we will resume again in September. I have already started lining up speakers for the 2017-18 season. Remember if you are interested in giving a presentation to the group, the floor is always open to you. We are a round table and everyone is invited to participate.

We must also take a moment to thank out April speaker, Mr. Alex Konieczny of the Troy Historic Village. His presentation gave us the opportunity to learn about some of the wonderful things they are doing to help educate students about our nation’s history in a fun and exciting way that deserves our support. Again, thank you Alex for a wonderful presentation. I hope each of you will take the time to explore this treasure that we have right in our back yard.

As I said, this is the last program for this season. Have a safe summer and bring back stories of historical adventures to share. For example – you could come the Pine Grove – The Wisner Home on Saturday, July 29th for the Annual Ice Cream Social! (shameless plug for a nice event!)

REMEMBER: Join us Wednesday, May 31st at 7:30pm for President Lincoln, Rochester College, 800 West Avon Rd., Rochester Hills.


APRIL 2017

April 1865 was a watershed time for both sides in the war. The Confederacy was rocked with one defeat or setback after another. Food was scarce in the South and there were food riots in Richmond, VA and in North Carolina. The wives and families of southern fighting men were without food and not even President Davis could control the angry women. The army storage warehouses were attacked by the ladies and grains and flour were taken to make bread. It was a dark time for the Union as well. President Lincoln had been assassinated at Ford’s Theatre on Good Friday. He had been aware of Lee’s surrender, and the Confederate government and cabinet running just ahead of Union forces in Georgia. Citizens began to wonder if the war was really almost over? It had been four long years of fighting with thousands of dead and wounded on both sides. There were many questions that faced the Nation and events were moving faster than solutions could be found.

We must thank our March speaker, Mr. Stephan Satkiewicz, for his presentation on the attitudes of other nations toward the United States during this challenge to our Democracy. It was evident that Stephan’s studies of world politics during this period gave us an insight into the reasons for their positions. Their hopes for the success or failure of the Union in maintaining the democracy depended on the needs or hopes within their own country. Again, thank you Stephen for a fine job.

We will go down a different road for our April program. We have a wonderful teaching venue right in our back yard that is helping students of all ages learn American history first hand. I am referring to the Troy Historic Village (celebrating 50 yrs). This is a unique destination where children and adults can learn some practical US history. Mr. Alex Konieczny works at Troy Village and is in charge of the Civil War Days for high school students in May. Alex not only helps coordinate this event, he is also a CW re-enactor. As I said, in May he will assemble soldiers, shopkeepers, printers, housewives and children to help portray Civil War life for students for a day. This is a great learning experience to help gain a better understanding of our history by hands on experiences. Please join us April 26th at 7:30 PM for a wonderful and informative power point presentation of a great example of the mechanics of how living history is brought to life as a way to study American history.

REMEMBER: Join us Wednesday, April 26th at 7:30 PM, Rochester College, 800 West Avon Rd, Rochester Hills.



MARCH 2017

March is the start of the outdoor “busy season” for us as it was for many of the soldiers of the Civil War era. When we complain about no power for a few hours or having to clean up blown down branches or moving the clocks ahead an hour, we need to remember what was facing those left on the home front during the war years. This time of year meant that to guarantee survival, women, children, the elderly and infirm on farms across the country had the arduous task of tilling the fields, repairing all the damage to outbuildings caused by winter weather, tending to livestock, including newborns and replenishing tapped out food stores. A simple trip into town on muddy, rutted, frost heaved roads had the potential to destroy both the wagon and the horse and yet they persevered. Our modern “hardships” really pale in comparison to those faced by the hundreds of thousands of unsung civilians that held the fabric of civilization together while their loved ones were fighting.

We must extend a big thank you to our speaker for February, Mr. Jerry Zaetta. His presentation on the aftermath of the Lincoln assassination in April 1865 illustrated the rather loose police procedures (or lack thereof) and the problems this posed for us as historians. Jerry’s sharing of known information of the events around April 1865 and some of the inconsistencies that are still being presented as solid information illustrates our need to depend on reliable sources. Thank you Jerry.

We delve so deeply into the study of the American Civil War that we sometimes forget that the rest of the world continued with their daily business during those four years. But how did they view our little conflict? Our war was closely watched by world leaders for various reasons. Our speaker this month, Mr. Stephen Satkiewicz, will explore the international perceptions of the Civil War and its impact on the politics of their country. Stephen is definitely qualified to speak on this issue. He is a student at Oakland University with a concentration in world history and has been a part of our group almost since the start in 2000. Stephen is a member of the International Society for Comparative Study of Civilizations and was just appointed editor of their newsletter (nice picture of him on the website) as well as being a member of the International Big History Association. Stephen will be able to bring a different perspective on interpreting the Civil War and its impact on the world stage. Many Republican-Democratic style groups were watching to see how a democracy survives the challenge of a civil war and what impact it could have on their country’s struggle for more freedom from kings and czars.

Join us Wednesday, MARCH 29 TH AT 7:30 PM, Rochester College, 800 West Avon Rd, Rochester Hills




It is important to recognize someone on their birthday or anniversary and take a moment to say “Happy Birthday” or “Happy Anniversary” as an acknowledgement of their importance. Well, one of our good friends, Civil War Trust, is celebrating their 30 th anniversary! Now while 30 years is not that long a period (I probably have socks that old), what CWT has done in those 30 years is remarkable! Since 1987, they have helped to preserve over 45,000 acres of land that will be maintained and interpreted for generations to come. I am proud to say that our Roundtable has been a partner since we started in 2000.

There was a phrase in the CWT newsletter that really struck home. “This land is protected forever” to allow students to learn of our history. With the current education system so focused on STEM, our nation’s history is taking a back seat to science and math. While stressing the need to stay competitive in world markets is important, we cannot NOT teach students our nation’s history. We learn from the past or we are doomed to make the same mistakes again. Remember the newspapers of the 1850’s complaining of Congressional grid lock? Remember reading those same complaints in OUR newspapers when Congress cannot act on almost any issue? Sorry, I do go on, please allow me to step down off the soap box. But I guess you can see that the lack of teaching our nation’s history is very disturbing to me.

Our January speaker, what can I say about him? Man, he talks, almost too long. I took a turn at the lecturn in January to see if I could handle a prolonged speaking time frame. My topic was one of my favorites the Monitor and the Merrimack Battle. I want to thank everyone for indulging me the opportunity to tell this wonderful and exciting story. And also thank you to my wife, Peggy, for setting in the back, tapping her watch to remind me that my time was up.

We will go in a different direction with our February speaker, Mr. Jerry Zaetta who has given several talks for our group. His topic is “Weapons of the Assassins.” He will discuss some of the men who have killed our leaders, their weapons, where that weapon is located now AND if in fact that was the actual weapon used. Jerry will bring considerable knowledge concerning the Lincoln assassination. He is a long time member of the Surratt Society and has given several talks on the escape route of John W. Booth. Jerry is retired from the Michigan Dept. of Corrections and aside from his history research spends many summer days at several of the local golf courses.





January 2017

I tried to keep it a secret but someone spilled the beans. We will have our first roundtable meeting for the new year on January 25 th. I will be the speaker. I am still a little slow on my recovery and a little concerned about standing for a prolongued period. But I get such energy from all of you, I definitely will be anxious to see if I can stand and speak for 45 minutes. Peg can definitely confirm that I can TALK Civil War for an even longer period, but can I STAND for the allotted time?

The topic for our talk will be the naval battle at Hampton Roads or, the Battle of the First Ironclads. This is one of my favorite subjects. There are so many interesting characters involved that just talking about them could be a discussion on its own without the confrontation of the iron ships on March 9, 1862.

Way, way back in November, we signed up our newest member of the Richardson CWRT, Mr. Tom Berlucchi who also happened to be our speaker for that month. Tom gave an interesting presentation on the history of Fort Wayne and some of the struggles in keeping it afloat financially. After a discussion with the officers, the Round Table made a $100.00 donation to Fort Wayne to be used where required. Thank you Tom for a wonderful presentation and welcome to the IBRCWRT!

We have heard from Liz Stringer of the Lincoln CWRT and the announcement of the Spring Trip. Now don’t start packing yet, the trip is April 21-24. Mr. Scott Patchan will be the tour guide through the Shenandoah Valley campaign. If you have not received any notice yet and are interested, you may contact Liz directly at

We have quite a few members who have not paid their dues yet for this year. Our treasurer, Cheri Allen and her hit squad are going to be heading out soon to start collecting. You can do it the hard way and wait for Cheri and the hit squad or you can mail your check to the IBRCWRT at 159 Sisson, Romeo, MI 48065. Remember it is $15.00 for an e-mail newsletter and $20.00 for a mailed hard copy newsletter.

Among the 27 ships which the U.S. Navy lost to Confederate submarine mines (torpedoes) during the war, were four monitors and three were ironclad gun boats.

When Lincoln’s body was returned to Springfield, Illinois in 1865, it was accompanied by General David Hunter who as a Major in 1861 had accompanied Lincoln on his journey from Springfield to Washington.

Abraham Lincoln served as President of the United States for 1,503 days





It’s November but it took a while for Mother Nature to remember where the temperatures should be for this time of year as I have even heard the TV weatherman mention the “S” word in his reports. Everyone has started to end conversations with “have a wonderful Thanksgiving.” It is important that we do stop for a moment and give thanks to the lady who is responsible for Thanksgiving being a national holiday. Yes, I did say the LADY responsible. Ms. Sarah Joseph Hale, a 74 year old magazine editor wrote a letter to President Lincoln on Sept. 28, 1863 urging him “to have the day of our annual Thanksgiving made a national and fixed Union festival.” In past years, states had declared various dates to observe Thanksgiving Day. Ms. Hale’s letter came at a time when Lincoln had some military successes and making a national date would help to unify the States at a much needed time in our history. President Lincoln was the first chief executive to act on the editor’s request even though she had asked for more than 15 years for this. We should all take a few moments and give thanks for the many blessings we enjoy. But please bear in mind, these blessing come with a cost. Many citizens in 1863 would view this occasion as a time to remember loved ones lost in the fight to preserve the Union. As you take a moment to give thanks for your many blessing, remember our veterans and the price they paid for our freedoms.

My good friend Tom Nanzig of the Ann Arbor CWRT joined us in October to tell the story of the “Nuns Under the Guns.” The Catholic Sisters who toiled in the hospitals and on the battlefields to care for the wounded and dying soldiers. Their faith gave them the courage to help our country in its time of need. Thanks to Tom for the opportunity to learn about a little known area of our Civil War history.

We seem to be setting a pattern for speakers for this year. Our speaker for November is also a Tom. Mr. Tom Berlucchi is the founder and chairman of the Historic Fort Wayne Coalition and also a member of the History Partners. This is a group that was formed to assist in the celebration of the 150 th anniversary of the Civil War. While working full time for the US Postal Service (since 1985) Tom is also a Civil War re-enactor, living historian and active in the struggle to keep historic Fort Wayne relevant and in the public eye. I am hoping he can spend a little time talking about Fort Wayne, its history and the importance of maintaining a tangible historic site necessary to the telling our nation’s story. There is considerable info on line if you go to but please plan to join us on Nov 30th to learn about Fort Wayne and its importance to our nation’s history.


Remember: November 30th at 7:30 pm. Rochester College, 800 West Avon Rd. Rochester Hills, MI



We are fast approaching meeting #2 for this year. I am sorry that we had to cancel our start-up meeting, but as I stated in last month’s letter, things were piling up. I guess an update on my condition is in order. After surgery on September 14, I spent a week in the hospital with some complications after surgery. It was determined that I was not strong enough to go home from the hospital and had to go to a rehab facility in Romeo. They are working to improve my strength. I never knew it could be so hard to get in and out of bed, get in a wheel chair, and do all the morning activities without assistance. I have been told that they plan on throwing me out of rehab by October 20th. So I am planning to be at the October meeting, assuming Peg will drive me there. But wait, who will be the speaker?

Mr. Tom Nanzig of the Ann Arbor Civil War Round Table will join us. Tom has an interesting list of topics for talks and one caught my eye. After a month of so many wonderful people helping to make my life less painful and less stressful, the work of the Civil War nuns, both in the hospitals and on the battlefields, is a topic that can help with our knowledge of the Civil War. There are so many aspects of the war that we can explore; it is not all generals, battles, and strategies. People’s daily lives, the help they received all contribute to our history. The sacrifices made by these angels of mercy cannot be assigned a value. There is a monument in Washington D.C. dedicated to the 11 orders of religious women who administered to the wounded and dying soldiers both North and South. The inscription on the monument says it better than I could:

“They comforted the dying, nursed the wounded, carried hope to the imprisoned, gave in his name a drink of water to the thirsty – To the memory and in honor of the various orders of Sisters who gave their services as nurses on battlefield and in hospitals during the Civil War.”

I promise you a great evening with Tom Nanzig. Tom is a historian, writer, and vice-president of the Ann Arbor Civil War Round Table and his talk is entitled “Nuns Under the Guns”. He will explore the story of the Catholic Sister nurses who brought comfort and aid to the sick and wounded during the war.

Join us Wednesday, October 26th, at 7:30 p.m. at Rochester College, 800 W. Avon Road, Rochester Hills, for a GREAT educational evening. I look forward to seeing everyone!


P.S. Just read a note in Civil War Trust “Hallowed Ground” that I wanted to pass along. The Trust has succeeded in saving 43,000 acres at 123 sites in 24 states and counting. I am proud to say that our Roundtable has been a partner of that success for over 10 years.


Well, this an unexpected start to our new year of roundtable meetings. I am sorry to say that I am going to have to cancel our September 2016 meeting. I must go into the hospital for back surgery on September 14 th . I thought we had things under control with Bob and Cherie agreeing to conduct the meeting but when our scheduled speaker had to cancel and then our back up speaker had to cancel also because of a sudden medical procedure, it was more than my drug addled mind could take (yes, I am heavily medicated – Peg writes a good newsletter). So, we will start our new season in October. I am sorry to have to do this because since 2000 we have only missed one meeting (due to weather). I always enjoy and look forward to our monthly meetings and will miss getting together with all of you very much.

We were going to have Diane Clark (the Mourning Lady) join us in October, but her husband passed away unexpectedly and she has cancelled all of her engagements for the rest of the year. I have my good friends the Allen’s working on speakers so if you know of any that might be of interest to the group please give them a call.

We appreciate your understanding in this matter.



MAY 2016

Excuse me, I seem to have misplaced my Civil War season for this year. Where did it go? It was September and we had our speakers lined up and all of a sudden it is May and the last speaker for this year is ready to entertain us. We have had some great programs this season and I hope you enjoyed them. I met the “Mourning Lady” this week (we had to cancel her performance because of the February snow storm – you remember snow don’t you?) and she has agreed to be with us in September or October. So we are already thinking ahead to our next season. If you have a speaker you would like to bring to the group, please let me know. If you have a speaker you would like to come back for another talk, let me know. Better yet, if you would like a turn at giving a presentation, let me know. We are here to support all our members. This is OUR roundtable and we are in it together.

What can I say about our April speaker, Tom Nanzig? He warned us to wear our thinking caps and we ended up with a real roundtable – group participation meeting. Tom’s knowledge and years of experience made for a delightfully educational evening, with everyone joining in the fun. The images projected on the screen were parts of an interesting story but Tom provided the twist that made each one unique. Thank you Tom!

We are going to end the season with Mr. Tobin Buhk, an author who will be making his first appearance with our roundtable. He is going to talk about the “The Uncivil War.” and about the characters who took the “civil” out of the War. His PowerPoint presentation will give us an overview of crimes and punishment during the war, presenting two or three specific stories. Mr. Buhk is an educator by day and a freelance author/researcher by night with some interesting topics in his portfolio. He has published 8 non-fiction books about the sinister side of history and has an interesting method for researching his works. To show how important realistic writing is to Tobin, he volunteered in the Kent County Morgue to gain some first-hand knowledge for his writing. He will have 5 of his books for sale at the meeting at $15.00 each. The titles include: “True Crimes in the Civil War”, “Murder and Mayhem in Grand Rapids”, “Poisoning the Pecks of Grand Rapids” and “The Shocking Case of Helmuth Schmidt.” So crack open your piggy banks and plan on buying a couple of books. Do not worry, Mr. Tobin will not be bringing any samples from his time at the Kent County Morgue, unless…….

We have had a wonderful season this year and I hope everyone has enjoyed our monthly gatherings to discuss the Civil War from many different aspects and angles. I am very proud that we have supported the Civil War Trust with many of their preservation projects this year and they are providing us with a great vehicle to save our history for future generations. One thing that I would like to emphasize is the need for new members. It is nice to have a comfortable place to go for a couple of hours and enjoy the friendship of fellow CW historians. But we should always be working to bring new faces into the group to help us continue to grow. I started the group with 10 people in 2000 with the hope that we could all learn more about our history and develop friendships with some like-minded people. I am very proud of the relationships I have made with the people who have helped our group to grow. You can help by offering to bring a friend or someone from work. Or here is a thought, convince your wife that is could be a fun evening, maybe a little dinner, an educational program and some quality time together. To keep our group alive and well, we must all do our part to help recruit new members.  You are helping to do good works that keep our history alive, remembered and vital to others. (Could someone help me down from my soap box?)

Remember: Join us Wednesday, May 25th at 7:30pm, Rochester College, 800 West Avon Rd, Rochester Hills, MI.


APRIL 2016

One of the main reasons I like to read first-hand accounts of Civil War history is to gain a better understanding of what it was like for Americans in the 1860’s. Try to place yourself in mid-Michigan as a young farmer reading your local newspaper or standing outside your local telegraph office to learn the latest news. America was a young nation, an experiment in democracy. But one big issue was dividing us – slavery. The right to own other human beings or as some politicans referred to it, state’s rights, was the issue that was dividing our nation. For years, compromises had been the temporary solutions for this “peculiar institution”, so essential to the Southern way of life. As that young farmer with a family, working to make a go of his farm, what is most important to you? How far are you willing to go to help people you don’t know for a cause that doesn’t affect you directly, to help maintain the unity of the nation? It is one thing to talk about being against slavery on moral grounds but what are you willing to lose to honor those convictions. Profound choices both large and small were made by almost everyone during those years and the consequences were far reaching. When their whole world seemed to be coming apart, what did it take to drop everything in their lives and go to war? How would you have responded?

We must thank President and Mrs. Lincoln for their visit to our roundtable in March. The President discussed the abundance of inventors who tried to convince him that their new weapon would end the war. Some of his stories showed how difficult it was for the Commander in Chief to navigate this element and eventually win the war. One of the President’s greatest achievements and one that he was most proud of was getting the repeating rifle into the hands of the Union soldiers. Mrs. Lincoln showed us that a number of “spies” (another tool of war) troubled both her and the President in Washington City. We, as always, appreciated the time they spent with us and hope to have them back for another visit.

As I said at the March meeting, our April speaker will be Mr. Tom Nanzig. The title of his presentation is “From the Old Curiosity Shop: Ten True Tales….With A Twist.” Tom has requested that we all bring our thinking caps to this meeting as he will show us three or four photographs of an object or illustration and we will be asked to identify them. Yes, he will give us clues and each clue will add to the story of the object. Tom has been writing a column for the Ann Arbor Roundtable called “Did you Know…?” Some of the stories in his columns have piqued my interest to further explore some little known facts. Tom has pulled ten topics from his 20 years of articles to tease and entertain us.

Join us: Wednesday, April 27th , at 7:30 PM, Rochester College 800 West Avon Rd Rochester Hills, MI.


EXTRA NOTE – The Civil War Trust reported that over 6000 volunteers joined forces on April 2 nd at 130 locations to clean and prepare our national parks for another season. Jobs including everything from fence repair, leaf raking, window washing and even a little painting in some areas were accomplished by the volunteers. We can be proud that people still take pride in their national parks!!

Learning that the war was over, 500 Confederate soldiers at San Antonio confiscated about $80,000 in Confederate silver and divided it among themselves, netting a cool $160 apiece and making them the only Confederate soldiers to receive mustering out pay at the end of the war.

By 1893 Civil War pension costs had risen to $193,000,000 a year.


MARCH 2016

Mother Nature showed us who has the final say in scheduling our speakers. For the first time since we started the Roundtable in 2000, we had to cancel a meeting but I do think that quite a few members breathed a little easier when the call went out. This was also the first test of our emergency notification procedure for a meeting cancellation. I called the web-master at 1:30 PM to e-mail a note to all members. We then called approximately 18 members who receive the newsletter by mail. Unfortunately, three members did not give a phone number so we had no way to contact them. If this was you, please help us out with some form of contact info. Our speaker for February, Ms. Diane Clark, The Mourning Lady, will be re-scheduled to the Fall program line-up. So, if you needed information on how a Victorian lady would dress or conduct herself during a funeral, I’m sorry, you’ll just have to wing it until then!

In March, we look forward to the return of our good friends, President and Mrs. Lincoln. During our initial talks, the President said the title of his presentation would be the “Tools of War.” With this as the title, I started writing a description in the newsletter. Luckily for me, I sent a note and asked if he would be talking about the telegraph, railroads, steam engines and the latest printing presses. The President’s reply came back, “No, I am discussing weaponary, ie, the horde of inventors who deluged the Executive Mansion with some intensely unique inventions.” Oops, delete, delete, delete. I can assure you, that there will be some very interesting stories to be told about the number of people who had ideas to help kill more people. Mrs. Lincoln will also discuss one of the other tools of war, spies. I think I can promise you and interesting and entertaining evening…assuming Mother Nature is in agreement.

I want to take a moment to remind everyone of an important date coming in April. Mark your calendars now for April 2nd , the Civil War Trust National Park Day. It is the one day when volunteers can come to a national park and help prepare the venue for summer visitors. While it would be nice to head to Gettysburg, Vicksburg or Antietam, we have our own Civil War park to maintain right here in Michigan. Don’t forget Fort Wayne! The winter has been rough on our area and I am sure that Tom Berlucchi would be delighted with a few extra set of hands to help spruce up Fort Wayne this year. Call 313-628- 0769 or you can check on line or e-mail at to receive more information. The website said they need help cleaning the grounds, moving picnic tables and benches. They ask you bring gloves, boots and a desire to help. Plus, lunch will be provided. So for a couple of hours work and a nice lunch, you can drive home with a real feeling of accomplishment for a day’s work at one of Michigan’s National Parks.

Speaking of the calendar, we must also acknowledge that March is Women’s History Month. From our talks and studies, we can point to several areas where women helped to support the Civil War. There are many stories and books on the devotion of Clara Barton and all the nurses that helped our sick and wounded soldiers. And we cannot forget those “men” (Sara Wakeman, Sara Edmond, Loreta Velazquez and others) who grabbed the rifle and fought in battle. But for the support of these ladies and all the women at home who shouldered extra work to help their families in a time of need, we must pause and remember their efforts. Hum, maybe a topic for a new talk?

Remember: Join us March 30th at 7:30 PM at Rochester College, 800 W Avon Rd for the President and Mrs. Lincoln.




I often wonder how many things that we take for granted today were impacted by the American Civil War. It goes without saying that everyone was affected but it might surprise you to know the number that took part in the February tradition of Valentine’s Day. While looking into the history of the day, I was surprised to find specific facts about the mailing of Valentine cards in New York. In 1862, some of the darkest days of the Civil War, 21,260 cards were mailed. By 1864, it had dropped to a low of 15,924. But by 1865, the North was feeling better about the war and the number jumped to 66,000. With the troops returning home, the card business hit a high of 86,000 in 1866. Interestingly, during this time, there were editorials in the NY papers that railed against buying “fancy cards with love poems”. But although most New Yorkers may have read the papers, they chose to ignore the advice and not take chances with that loved one far away.

The war affected many aspects of American’s daily actions. The Victorian Era dictated many customs for navigating everyday life. One of the most detailed, addressed how an individual was to act when a husband, wife, son, daughter or other relative passed. But the sheer volume of carnage during the Civil War brought changes in the ideal of the “Good Death” and forced families to adapt with new social protocols. Even finding out where a loved one had fallen and then trying to return the body for a proper burial was an arduous task. Our speaker for February, Ms. Diane Clark, who is also known as “The Mourning Lady,” will try to explain some of the customs, manners and dress of the Victorian Lady. How was a lady in mourning expected to conduct herself in society? There were some very precise rules for what was expected of those who had lost a loved one.

Diane Clark has done many presentations for various groups including Pine Grove, Rochester Avon Historical Society, and Memorial Day services at Mt. Avon Cemetery Walk. She is asked to speak at local libraries, public and holiday events. Join us Wednesday, February 24 th , for a very informative and entertaining evening. Men, bring you wives just to show them we do not always talk about what general did this and what strategy worked. We explore all aspects of the Civil War.

For those of you who could not attend the January meeting, you missed a great one. Ms. Rochelle Danquah gave us a lively discussion on the Under Ground Rail Road in Southeast Michigan. Her fact filled power point not only showed the routes but named people who assisted the runaway slaves as they escaped to Canada and freedom. She went into great detail on the amount of research necessary to prove the UGRR connection to a specific place. Rochelle has already agreed to come back as a speaker next season and I know that her presentation will be one not to be missed. Thank you Rochelle for a very interesting and entertaining evening.

I am always talking about the Civil War Trust and how we must help to save battlefields. With the help of groups like ours they saved 1500 acres of hallowed ground this past year including the Lee Headquarters property at Gettysburg and part of the battlefield that was the epicenter of the battle of Antietam. But a secondary and even more important aspect of their efforts is that in the same year, over 2000 students and teachers learned about this great American conflict through their ongoing educational programs. Schools in their race to teach our young people math and science may be neglecting the valuable lessons that our nation’s history can give students. Pride in and knowledge of our nation’s history seems to be forgotten in this technologically littered age. There are no lack of “man on the street” television clips where people can’t answer even the most simple history or current events question (but are completely up to date on the Kardashians). But even sadder is the fact that they don’t seem the least bit embarrassed by their ignorance. As a nation, this does not speak well of an educational system that has been forced by special interest groups to forget the arts and history in their zeal to make STEM the keystone of our children’s education. In this current educational climate, we need to keep trying to get the information about our nation’s history out there and encourage young people in every way we can. How many of you stopped for a moment on February 12 th to remember our 16 th president, read a little something on him or considered his impact on our history?

Remember: Join us Wednesday, February 24, at Rochester College, 800 West Avon Road, Rochester Hills, MI.



January 2016

When I was a little kid of 6 or 7, many, many, many years ago, Mom would sit me in front of the floor model radio (some of idea of my age), turn on the Harmony House radio program from Royal Oak and play country-western music.  She would go in the kitchen and start dinner.  Now why would my Mom sit a 6 year old kid on the floor in front of the radio?  I had a temporary paralysis of both legs and could not walk.  To this day, I am uncomfortable around country-western music.  Run with that one Doctor Phil.  But one song I do remember from my time in front of the radio, “Back in the Saddle Again.”  I can’t remember many of the lyrics of the song but that phrase has remained with me for years.  It seems appropriate in January, after our long Christmas break, we mount up and get back into the Wednesday night routine for what promises to be a very interesting season.

To kick off our time together, we do have a very special treat scheduled.  Ms. Rochelle Danquah will join us to discuss the Underground Railroad.  Professor Danquah teaches at Wayne County Community and Schoolcraft Colleges (with student ratings of “awesome and great class”) She also was the chairperson of the Michigan Freedom Trail Commission (2013-14) and director of Education at the Charles W. Wright Museum (2003-2006).  I met her at the 2015 Wisner Summer Social where she did a presentation on the UGRR.  After her talk, I heard nothing but good comments from the audience.  To fully understand all aspects of the Civil War, it is important that we learn what impact the war had on all our citizens.  What the war meant to slaves and freed people of color often had a different meaning because of their circumstances.  This lovely lady has the knowledge and wants to share with us.  This will be Rochelle’s first time with us but after you hear her speak, you will want her back.

In February we will host Ms. Diane Clark, the Mourning Lady.  The Victorian Era had very specific rules that “proper people” observed concerning the passing of a friend or loved one.  Diane will discuss some of the customs and dress of the time when even mourning was dictated by proper manners.

March, President Lincoln will join us (topic to be announced at a later date).

April, will bring Mr. Tom Nanzig, founder of the Ann Arbor CWRT, and always ready with an exciting presentation.

We will conclude in May with author Mr. Tobin Buhk.  He has written over 8 books including “True Crimes of the Civil War” and “True Crimes in Michigan.”  Tobin lives in Western Michigan.

So mark your calendars NOW because we have both new speakers and old friends lined up for your listening enjoyment.

We haven’t had any Nofi Notes in a while so let’s get back to the old routine.

  • During the Civil War Robert E. Lee’s hair turned from strong black to completely white.
  • The number of civilian employees of the Federal Government rose during the war from 40,000 to about 105,000, or over 260 percent.
  • At the height of the war the Union’s Washington supply depot provided an average of 25,000 pairs of shoes a month to the armies.  (now, that’s a lot of marching)
  • The last Civil War veteran on active duty was John Lincoln Clem (Johnny Shiloh) who had signed up as a drummer boy in 1861 and retired as a major general in 1916.

Remember to join us:  Wednesday, January 27th at 7:30pm at Rochester College, 800 West Avon Rd, Rochester Hills, MI.

November 2015

November is a special month.  On the 11th day of this month, we pause to remember the men and women who have served in our country’s military.  The Civil War, because of the scale of the event, impacted millions of lives both North and South.  This was the first war in which people began to realize just how brutal war could be because it touched almost every American in one way or another.  After the fighting stopped, communities realized that some of the veterans needed help. It took a few years but the Grand Army of the Republic persuaded the government to take care of the Civil War veterans.  The Federal Government, as a result of their efforts, offered pensions and homes for disabled soldiers.  The GAR became the political voice of the men who had done the fighting.  We carry on that tradition today.  I hope that each of you will take a moment to thank a veteran for their service to our country.  I know, as a Viet Nam vet, I am grateful that someone appreciated my time in the US Army.  And if you are a veteran, I say thank you for your time in service of our country.

Our October meeting can be summed up in one word, WOW!  We had the opportunity to hear Mr. Jack Dempsey and Mr. Brian Egan talk about their new book, “Michigan at Antietam:  The Wolverine State’s Sacrifice on America’s Bloodiest Day.”  Both men are well qualified to address this topic and they want to raise awareness and amend a historical oversight.  With 89 monuments erected at Antietam, not one acknowledges Michigan’s role in this bloody battle.  After researching and writing this history of Michigan’s part at Antietam, they are donating ALL of their proceeds from the sale of the book to erect a monument for our Michigan soldiers.  I am very proud that our Roundtable contributed over $600.00 to the monument project!  I am sure that we can do more as progress is made toward the final goal of approximately $200,000.  Thank you Jack and Brian for showing us one more way that Michigan contributed to the preservation of the Union.  This is a fitting conclusion to our Roundtable sesquicentennial project exploring Michigan’s role in the Civil War.

Brain teaser alert!  The November meeting is going to make you think.  It is time for our yearly true roundtable discussion meeting.  And just to throw an extra curve at you, because of Thanksgiving, this month’s meeting will be Wednesday, November 18th, so mark your calendar!!!  The November meeting is that meeting where you can ask that nagging question you have wanted to ask but just could not find the right time to put it out there.  How many men in a Company or Regiment or Brigade? Why didn’t the Emancipation Proclamation free ALL the slaves and which group of slaves were freed? Why did that commander make that decision and how would things been different if he hadn’t? What if……….? OR, you have discovered an interesting story in your reading that you would like to share with the group Remember, this is your meeting, you are the presenter and the questioner.  I will still be in Gettysburg on the 18th but Bob and Cheri Allen have agreed to conduct the meeting.  Remember to mark your calendar, this month, our meeting is Wednesday NOVEMBER 18th at the regular time of 7:30 PM.  I am counting on you to stump Bob and Cheri.

REMEMBER:  Join us Wednesday, November 18th at 7:30pm, at Rochester College, 800 West Avon Rd, Rochester Hills, MI.
October 2015

A few of us made the bus trip to Gettysburg with the Lincoln CWRT. The wind was brisk and a little cold but with layers of clothing we survived the two days on the battlefield.  It was a great trip and in addition to learning, we had fun. But aside from the weather, there was another cold hard fact following us around the battlefield.  How many men (and perhaps women) were killed or wounded on the ground where we were standing? How many lives in distant homesteads were changed forever? The number (over 50,000) that perished in that battle numb us to the suffering and hardship that family, friends and relatives experienced after the battle.  Joseph Stalin (not a nice guy on his own) said that “one death is a tragedy; a million is a statistic.”  As we read and study the battles of the Civil War, keep in mind that those numbers of dead and wounded impacted many other people, not just the soldier.  When we read of a skirmish between a squad of cavalry units and ONLY two men were killed, such numbers usually do not give us pause to consider the lost to the families of those two men.  But, those numbers represent the ending of a life.  Sometime in reading of the “glory” of the battle we forget the cost of that glory.  This applies to all who have fought in our conflicts, not just the Civil War.

I want to give a very special thank you to our September speaker, Ken Baumann.  His story of the Battle of Mobile Bay in 1864 gave us a better understanding of the impact of this action to the fall of the Confederacy in 1865. But what added even more to the story was Ken’s display of actual recovered artillery shells that he has collected over the years.  Thank you Ken for an excellent presentation.

Did you know that there are 96 monuments honoring the states and individuals who fought at Antietam in 1862?  But did you also know that there is NOT ONE monument honoring Michigan’s contributions to the “Bloodiest Day” in America’s history?  Our speakers for October want to change that!  Mr. Jack M. Dempsey and Mr. Brian J. Egan, both Michigan Historical Commissioners, have completed the research and analysis that illustrates Michigan’s role at Antietam. Their book, “Michigan at Antietam:  The Wolverine State’s Sacrifice on America’s Bloodiest Day” was released at the beginning of this month and we will be the first group that they will be presenting it to. The proceeds from the sale of this book will be used to pay for a first-ever monument dedicated to Michigan’s forgotten soldiers who fought on that day in September.  This battle has special significance for our group because our namesake, Major General Israel B. Richardson was mortally wounded while helping direct cannon fire on the Union line.  The book only costs $30.00 and will help give Michigan’s Civil War veterans the honor due them for their service to preserve the Union.  Join us October 28th at 7:30 PM and help support this long overdue memorial.  The Richardson CWRT has pledged to contribute $100.00 toward this project and I will bring the hat to pass to show our support.  This is important and I am asking for your help.

Join us: Wednesday, October 28th at 7:30pm at Rochester College, 800 West Avon Rd, Rochester Hills, MI.
September 2015

Hey! What happened to summer? It has been a season of fun and work. I was involved with the Wisner House Ice Cream Social, Saturday, July 25th. We had 550 people visit Pine Grove that day. I hope that those of you who attended had fun and came away with a little better understanding of our Michigan history.

I want to extend a very special thank you to the Oakland Twp Historical Society. They invited me to speak at their first meeting for this year and made a $50.00 donation to our Roundtable. Their generous gift will go toward one of our preservation projects.

I am sorry to report that we lost a member over the summer. Barb Fergerson passed away on July 19th. Barb had been a longtime member but because of health issues was unable to attend in the last year. Ms. Rhonda Larkin, a close friend, made a $25.00 donation in Barb’s name. Thank you Rhonda, we will use this in our preservation fund.

Another generous donation came from our good friend, Jeri Traxler, who send a check for $25.00 at the beginning of summer to be used to help the group. Jeri, we appreciate your continued support and we miss you smile at our meetings.

And speaking of meetings, it is time to start a new season. The speaker for our first meeting for the 2015-16 year will be Mr. Ken Baumaun. Ken is the president of the Ann Arbor CWRT and has an eclectic interest in many different aspects of the War. When Ken agreed to speak, he returned my call from Alabama where he is doing some research. (We must be careful, this could be one of those Rebels trying to infiltrate the group) His topic will be “something on Illinois in the War.” This peaked my interest, as I had relatives in two different Illinois regiments. And again, this is a topic that we have not had opportunity to explore. Join us on Wednesday, September 30th at 7:30 PM for an interesting presentation.

We will continue with some new and different programs for this year. On October 28th, Jack Dempsey and Brian Egan will join us to discuss their new book on Antietam. Both Jack and Brian are on the Michigan Sesquicentennial Committee. Their book has an October release date so we will be one of the first groups to see it. Several other historians will be meeting with us throughout the year including (but not limited to) a presentation on the Underground Railroad in Oakland County and visit with the Mourning Lady to show and discuss some of the Victorian burial customs in the 1850-80’s. We have a great season in store, so hang on because we will have some fun and learn some new and interesting things this year.

One last note – As we start the new year, it is time to bring those dues to our delightful treasurer, Cherie Allen. We need funds to pay for the rent on the room at the College, printing and postage and of course, most importantly, to help support preservation of the Civil War battlefields and other projects. Last year we had several members who did not pay which put a burden on the rest of the group. So, please pay your dues. Remember, it is $15.00 if you opt to receive your newsletter by e-mail and $20.00 if we have Uncle Sam mail it to you. This is not much for all the benefits you receive, we are the least expensive of all the roundtables in the area.

Join us:  September 30th at 7:30pm at Rochester College, 800 West Avon Rd, Rochester Hills, MI.
May 2015

As we come to the end of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, I have learned several things.  One, how to finally spell sesquicentennial, which in its self can be considered an accomplishment.  But more importantly, I have learned to appreciate the size and magnitude of the war, how it impacted so many levels of society and most importantly, how people endured and adapted during the four long years of fighting.  During the past four years of our meetings we have had opportunity to learn about Michigan’s role in the Civil War and some of our accomplishments to help preserve the Union.  We have studied the citizens’ reaction to the war in the building of monuments and the men they considered to be heroes.  But most of all, we have talked about the lives of many different people, both civilian and military.  I promise that we will continue to try to study the people and their lives during this great period in our nation’s history.

We are approaching the first holiday of summer, Memorial Day or as some remember it, Decoration Day.  This is not just a day to relax, mow the lawn or plant flowers.  It is a day to gather with friends and neighbors at the local cemetery to pause for a time and honor the members of the Armed Forces who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our way of life and give thanks to those who are currently serving and the very real sacrifices their families make every day. Remember, this holiday is the result of Civil War veterans being remembered and honored by those who survived this bloody war.

It seems fitting that our speaker for April, Mr. Worley Smith, discussed the role of chaplains, both North and South during the Civil War.  We offer a very special thank you to Worley for reminding us that no matter how terrible the fighting, many of the chaplains found ways to comfort their “flock” before, during and after a battle.  These men of God endured all the hardships of the soldiers marching with them, eating the same food (or not having food to eat) and in some cases going into the fight with the soldiers.  The chaplains were part of the story of the men who fought in the war.  Again, thank you Worley for reminding us of the sacrifices these men made to prove how important religion was for the men in uniform, both blue and gray.

Our May meeting will be the last before summer.  We will begin again in September.  Our schedule speaker for May has had to cancel and my “back-up speaker will not be available either (I think you know where this is heading).  With that slight bit of warning, I get to present one of the new talks that I had been preparing for a later meeting.  One of the things that we have always stressed no matter what the subject is to read critically and know your sources. What references does the author use?  Are the sources primary or secondary?  When you are reading a book that uses others writers’ information as a source, you may be reading myths or legends that developed after the Civil War and been passed along.  We will explore some of these stories that have evolved over the years and still appear in books and magazine articles or worse yet, the internet which has re-invented some of these tales and in some cases, “improved” on the story.  I will talk about the Gettysburg Address, Taps, the Bixby letter and several other tall tales that seem to persist in our Civil War literature.  If you have a proven myth that you know about and would like to discuss, come prepared to tell your story. Remember, we are a discussion group.

Join us: Wednesday, May 27th at 7:30pm – last meeting until fall – at Rochester College, 800 West Avon Rd, Rochester Hills, MI.

April 2015

The year 1865 did not begin too favorably for the Confederates. Grant, unlike other commanders of the Army of the Potomac had not retreated back to Washington’s defenses after a defeat. He ordered Gen. Meade to maintain constant contact with the Army of Northern Virginia. The winter of 1864-65 was extremely hard on the Confederate government, their armies and the Southern citizens. The Union Naval blockade as well as the Federal control of the Mississippi River meant few desperately needed supplies would be available to the South. By the beginning of April, 1865, Gen Lee had been forced out of Petersburg and Richmond. He decided to try and join forces with Gen. Johnston and his army in North Carolina. Events did not allow this to happen. Lee surrendered to Grant at Wilmer McLean’s house at Appomattox Court House on Palm Sunday, April 9th. The North celebrated Lee’s surrender but President Lincoln realized there were still Confederates fighting in other areas. The capture of Mobile on April 12th sealed the last Confederate port to blockade runners. What followed two days later was that fateful evening of April 14th at Ford’s Theatre and was one of the most profound events that would change our history forever.

We were privileged and honored to have President and Mrs. Lincoln join us for our March meeting. The President, for the first time, explained some of his plans for Reconstruction. We learned that as early as 1862, he had started to put in place plans that would bring the seceded states back into the Union with minimal conflict. Unfortunately this was not to be. Mrs. Lincoln related many of her feelings and activities at this time. We appreciated the visit and hope they will join us again. Thank you.

April is one of the months of the year when religion often becomes a larger part of our activities. Something that we have not discussed at any of our meetings is how the religious needs of the soldiers, both North and South were fulfilled. Happily we will learn the answers to this question from our April speaker Mr. Worley Smith, an old friend to many of us. He will be speaking on the chaplains and other men of faith who ministered to the soldiers on the field, whose faith was being tested during one of the most stressful times of their life. I had to attend a talk at the Romeo Library to find out that Worley gives presentations. He is a very shy man. (Those of you that know Worley – quit laughing.) He is the treasurer of the Lincoln CWRT and has a wealth of information on the Civil War. He and his wife live in Holly and are very active in their church. Luckily, retirement from GM has allowed him the opportunity to study history and his favorite topic – genealogy. Join us Wednesday, April 29th at 7:30 PM for an informative and entertaining evening.

JOIN US: Wednesday, April 29th at 7:30pm at Rochester College, 800 West Avon Road, Rochester Hills, MI.



March 2015

There are several periods in American History that, in my opinion, are sad. Our leaders shamed us by opting for revenge or their own personal gain. To me, our treatment of the Native Americans is one of our darkest hours. But very close to that sad chapter is the era of Reconstruction after the Civil War. It was the goal of the Radical Republicans to punish the Confederacy for four years of fighting. Everyone, both North and South, wanted the war to end and their lives return to normal. By the end of 1864 Lincoln and the Federal government started to look ahead to the war’s end and began to focus on how to bring the states that had seceded back into the Union quickly. President Lincoln, through his war powers, had started this process.   The radicals in Lincoln’s own party, wanted more restrictive conditions placed on these states. But the newly re-elected President was politically very powerful at this point. He wanted a smoother and more non-confrontational approach to reuniting the states. The March 4, 1865 Inauguration gave President Lincoln the first public opportunity to prepare the country for his ideas for the future. In one of his greatest speeches, he presented the idea of “letting them down easy.” What were some of these plans and ideas that the President wanted to enact for the United States in the next four years. Join us Wednesday, March 25th at 7:30 PM and hear the President discuss some of his plans for healing the wounds.

What a GREAT meeting we held in February. I want to congratulate the speaker, YOU! We had a true roundtable discussion on a variety of topics during the evening. Members brought up questions and we as a group answered them. It was exciting to see everyone participate. A cold dark February night did not stop the thirty hardy members who enjoyed an evening of fun and friendship. Thank You!

We are going to try a new feature in our newsletter, informing you of local Civil War events in our area. We can support other groups and become known to their members as well. If you have something to include, please let me know in advance.

Wisner House in Pontiac – Sunday March 15th – 2 PM “Death and Disease in the Civil War” presented by Annie Hunt.   Disease killed more men in the war than did bullets. Learn about the Sanitary Comm and Clare Barton and efforts to save lives.

National Park Day – Saturday March 28 9 AM at Fort Wayne, 6325 Jefferson, Detroit   This is a the National Park Service event – contact Tom Berluchi via e-mail at ( for more info. Help keep our national parks and historic treasures preserved for future generations.

Now thru April 29 – A bit of a drive to Castle Museum of Saginaw County but the display of “Home from the War: Saginaw’s Civil War Veterans” In 1914 a time capsule was sealed by the survivors of the 29th Mich Inf from East Saginaw has been opened after 100 years. All the articles, memorabilia and artifacts have been put on display to better help us understand the life of the Civil War soldier.

Wisner House in Pontiac Sunday April 12th 2 PM   “The Last Confederate Soldier” presented by Larry Hathcock (president of Michigan Regiment Roundtable) examines the life of Mr. Pleasant Riggs Crump. The 16 year old private of the 10th Alabama Inf. was at Lee’s surrender. Mr. Crump would live to be 104 years old and was said to be the last Confederate veteran in the United Sates.

REMEMBER: Join Us Wednesday, March 25th at 7:30pm at Rochester College, 800 West Avon Road, Rochester Hills, MI.



February 2015

Each month either in the newsletter or at our meeting, we talk about the Civil War Trust usually with regard to how much or if we want to contribute to a preservation project. Sometimes I will slip and use the “old” name, Civil War Preservation Trust instead of Civil War Trust but it is all the same. As Jeff Shaara (a CWT board member) said, “we buy dirt.” That has been the goal since the group was formed in 1987. Since that time through contributions of over 200,000 members (yes, including us), grants and creative finance programs, over 38,500 acres have been preserved and turned over to the National Park Service. They saved 222 acres at Fredericksburg, 406 acres at Champion Hill, Miss, 449 acres at Chancellorsville and many other sites in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland and Tennessee. They do this while maintaining the highest rating for a charity group comparing the use of donations as opposed to administrative costs. Aside from saving the actual battlefields, the Trust is concerned with the areas surrounding the battlefields. The Trust has taken the lead in stopping a casino opening within a mile of the Gettysburg Battlefield, the rezoning of 790 acres into housing at Chancellorsville, opposed and stopped the housing development of Morris Island (Fort Wagner, 54th Mass Inf. and movie Glory) and of course, we all remember their lead in stopping Wal-Mart from building a superstore at the entrance to the Wilderness Battlefield. But aside from all of this work, they have an extensive educational program for both adults and young people. They sponsor a yearly teacher institute, consisting of a two week curriculum for use in the classroom as well as other teacher and student programs. One very special event is Park Day which is the Trust’s annual volunteer clean-up day for all Civil War sites throughout the US, including Fort Wayne in Detroit. I tell you all this because sometimes we need a reminder of all the good things Civil War Trust does to help us keep our history alive and available for future generations.

What can we say about our January speaker? Oh wait, that was me. The evolution of cemeteries and their growth, plus some of the Victorian funeral customs leading up to the Civil War were very interesting to me and I hope you felt the same. Part of the study of Civil War history includes learning how Victorians tried to adapt what they saw as the “Good Death” when their loved one’s passing was far from home and family. Both soldiers and civilians worked to give their fallen comrades as close to this concept as could be allowed in the four years of war and disease. I want to thank everyone for their attention and contributions to this unusual subject.

Our speaker for February is YOU. The concept of a “roundtable” is that all members have an equal voice and every few years we like to have a real roundtable members’ discussion. Everyone has a question they would like answered or a comment they would like to make but were hesitant to vocalize. This is the meeting for that! How many men are in a regiment or company? Is a brigade or division a cavalry term? Why weren’t General Lee or other Confederate officials tried as traitors after the war? Should they have been? Were regular people able to lead typical everyday lives during the war? What were women’s contributions to the war? Be ready to ask a question and help us find the answers to some of the questions asked. We all have information to share.

JOIN US: Wednesday, February 25th at 7:30pm at Rochester College, 800 West Avon Road, Rochester Hills, MI.


January 2015

We are starting the last year of the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War.  But before we commence a study of the 1865, let’s take a moment to reflect on some of the events of late 1864-early 1865.  The Confederacy has seen several reverses.  In January 1865, Fort Fisher was finally captured by a Union joint Army-Navy force.  This would effectively close the last Confederate port to blockade runners.  General John Bell Hood lost a major portion of the Southern Army of Tennessee to Major General George Thomas and a Union army at Nashville.  General Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia are surrounded in the Richmond/Petersburg area, defending the Confederate capital.  Perhaps one of the biggest blows to the Southern cause is the re-election of Abraham Lincoln.  This is the first time since Andrew Jackson that a sitting President is returned to office for a second term.  The Electoral College vote was not even close, 212 for Lincoln and 12 for McClellan.
Shortages were many in the Confederate citizen’s life.  Richmond had the “Bread Riot”, when women stormed several government warehouses to “liberate” flour and meal to make bread for their starving families.  While just a few miles away, the Union bakers at City Point were baking 123,000 loaves of “soft tack” or bread for the Union troops surrounding Richmond.  Desertion in Lee’s army became a major problem because of food shortages for both the men and their families at home.  So as we start to study the last year of the war, this will give you some idea of the problems facing the South.

While it has been awhile since our meeting in November, we owe a BIG thank you to Mr. John Gibney who braved some miserable weather to join us for the evening.  I know it was miserable because I was also driving back from the Lincoln Forum in Gettysburg that day.  John spoke on a subject very close to him, the role of the re-enactor in educating people about our Civil War history.  John, we do appreciate you and all you do to keep us focused on teaching about our past.

After the holidays, it’s time to rejoin all of our “history friends” and get back to learning about our past.  We are going to start 2015 with a little different approach.  During the 1840-1860 periods, there were strict “social” requirements as to how a person would act.  The Victorian Era dictated how you would visit, socialize and even die.  The “Good Death” was an important goal for someone leaving this world.  The family would gather and wait for the last words to be spoken and the desire to meet Creator and loved ones on the other side would be expressed.  But with so many men gone to war, the idea of the Good Death was disrupted and how the soldiers and their families adapted to these changes is interesting. These years became a turning point in how the modern cemetery came to be. From the colonial period, through the rural era to present day this evolution shows how we as a nation have changed.  As Ben Franklin said, “show me your cemeteries and I will tell you what kind of people you have.”  I tell you all this to inform you that I will be the January speaker and hope you will join me on Wednesday, January 28th at 7:30 PM.

REMEMBER: Join us on Wednesday, January 28th at 7:30pm at Rochester College, 800 West Avon Road, Rochester Hills, MI.


Photo: Petersburg, Va. U.S. Military Telegraph battery wagon, Army of the Potomac headquarters. Courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division