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 www.historicfortwaynecoalition.com 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
MEETING LOCATION CHANGE: FOR THIS MONTH ONLY, WE WILL BE MEETING IN ROOM #HL115 IN THE HAM LIBRARY BUILDING
LET’S FINALLY GET STARTED
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?
NUNS UNDER THE GUNS
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.
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!
YOU RESEARCHED THIS HOW?
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…….
EACH ONE BRING ONE
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.
WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE DONE?
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?
TOOLS OF WAR
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.
MOM SAYS NO
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!
YOUR TOOL IS NOT MY TOOL
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.
PITCH IN FOR HISTORY
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 email@example.com 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.
THEY ALSO SERVED
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.
HOW DO I LOVE THEE
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.
FOR THOSE WHO LOST THEIR VALENTINE
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.
FOLLOWING THE CLUES
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.
IF NOT US, THEN WHO
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.
WHY I AM LIKE I AM
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.
ALL STORIES MATTER
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.
ALSO ON DECK
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 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.
DO ASK – DO TELL
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.
THOUGHTS ON COMING HOME
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.
THE REAL DEAL – HANDS ON HISTORY
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.
LET’S MAKE THIS RIGHT!
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.
GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN
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 TALKED AND TALKED….
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.
THANK YOU FOR THINKING OF US
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.
SOMETHING ABOUT ILLINOIS
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.
ALSO ON TAP
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.
SHE KNOWS WHERE YOU MEET!
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.
AND SO IT ENDS
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.
TAKE A MOMENT
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.
SOLDIERS OF THE SOUL
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.
THIS IS YOUR CHANCE TO ESCAPE
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.
THE BEGINNING OF THE END
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.
WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN
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.
IN GOD’S HANDS
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.
WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN
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.
WHO WERE THOSE TALKATIVE PEOPLE?!
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!
COULD THIS BE MORE “NEWSIE”
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 (historicfortwaynecoalition.com) 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.
FOR GENERATIONS TO COME
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.
WHO WAS THAT AGAIN?
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.
LET’S KEEP THAT “TALKY” BALL ROLLING
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.
THE BEGINNING OF THE END
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.
DEAD AND BURIED
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