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Volume 23, No. 2 – February 2010


Upcoming Program: Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Before retiring in 2005, Robert Schuldenfrei was an international consultant, specializing in computer-based logistical systems.  For 20 years he owned and ran S. I. Inc.  Over his career, he participated in two successful start-ups – consulting businesses established, developed, then sold.  He h as published numerous articles over the years on the general theme of business logistics.  Robert holds an AB in economics from Syracuse University and an MBA from Amos Tuck School, Dartmouth University.  His topic will be: Manna From Heaven – Northern Supply 1861-62, telling the remarkable story, still largely unreported, of how the Union harnessed its massive productive engine to win the Civil War; how it utilized technology, information and some very competent people to focus its strengths and prevail on the battlefield.  This represents the birth of management science that will play an increasingly important role in both industrial and military operations.

President’s Message


January 13, 2010 Meeting
Election of Officers, Other Business

The President stated: “The system of setting up a Board of Directors is not working. I suggest that the membership simply elect three top officials, President, Treasurer and Secretary.  If and when a good candidate for Vice President surfaces, the members can simply elect one.”  By a show of hands, the members present almost unanimously approved the President’s suggested change in procedure.  Accordingly, upon motion duly made and seconded, the following persons were unanimously re-elected: President – Gerridine LaRovere, Treasurer – Robert Krasner, and Secretary – Stephen L. Seftenberg.  The President noted that we needed people to fill work on recruiting speakers and encouraging donation of food and beverages.  Upon motion duly made and seconded, the President’s commitment of $200 to our April 2010 speaker, Robert Bonekemper, was unanimously approved.

Robert Schenkel Remembered

On a sad note, the President advised the members that a veteran member, Robert Schenkel, has died.  Since no one seems to know the names or address of his kin, this month’s Newsletter will be sent to Robert’s old address in hopes it will be forwarded to his relatives, who will get in touch with the Roundtable.  Also, those who wish to make a contribution to Battlefield Preservation can send a check to Stephen L. Seftenberg, 2765 White Wing Lane, West Palm Beach, FL 33409, or give it to him at the February meeting.

Answers to the December Quiz:

  1. When slavery was abolished in Washington, D. C., in 1862, slave owners were paid $300.00 for each freed slave.
  2. Frederick Douglass’ home in Washington, D. C. (now a National Historic Site) was Cedar Hill.
  3. Jefferson Davis appointed a succession of unsuccessful generals in the West to avoid appointing P. G. T. Beauregard.
  4. Judah P. Benjamin held three Cabinet positions: Secretary of War, Attorney General and Secretary of State.
  5. A famous English relative of Judah P. Benjamin was Benjamin Disraeli, 1st Earl of Beaconsfield, KG, PC, FRS
  6. The Gamble Mansion is located in Ellenton, Florida.

Second Seminole War Battlefield in Jupiter to be Preserved

Leland Smith, who in addition to being one of the earliest members of the Roundtable, is also a leading member of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (successor to the Grand Old Army), brought to our attention an important event, held Saturday, January 16, 2010 in Riverbend Park, Jupiter: a Black Seminole Battlefield Memorial Ceremony presented by the Loxahatchee Battlefield Preservationists and the Florida Black Historical Research Project.  The event commemorated all those who died during the Second Seminole War Battles along the Loxahatchee River, January 15 and 24, 1838.  The principal speaker was be Richard J. Procyk, author of “Guns across the Loxahatchee,” an archaeohistorical investigation of Seminole War sites in Florida, with special focus on the Battle of Loxahatchee, January 24, 1838.  Leland related that the group has obtained a $40,000 grant to be used toward preserving the battlefield.

Foreigners in the Civil War: Why They Came and Why They Fought

Census Population Immigrants Foreign Born Percentage
1790 3,918,000 60,000
1800 5,236,000 60,000
1810 7,036,000 60,000
1820 10,086,000 60,000
1830 12,785,000 143,000 200,000 1.60%
1840 17,018,000 599,000 800,000 4.70%
1850 23,054,000 1,713,000 2,244,000 9.70%
1860 27,490,000 3,954,000 4,136,173 15.10%
The “Immigrants” figures for 1790-1820 and  the
“Foreign Born” figures for 1830-1840 are estimates

Dr. Marsha Sonnenblick first warned us that in 1860 the term “Native American” did not mean “American Indian” but “American Born.”  The adjacent table  shows  the  mounting  wave of immigration, beginning in 1830s. Immigration was met by mounting opposition, led and fed by the “Know Nothing Party,” which was primarily aimed at Roman Catholic immigrants. It was not only Catholics:  Maryland, in 1830, was the first state to permit Jews to hold public office! The table below shows the proportion of the total population consisting of “foreign born” persons from various countries.  Of some historical interest is the paucity of immigration from Italy and Poland, which came after 1900.

The Irish Wave

Origins of Free Population 1860 census
Country Total  
British America 249,970  
China 35,565  
England 431,692  
German States 1,301,136  
Holland 26,281  
Ireland 1,611,304  
Italy 10,513  
Poland 7,298  
Scotland 106,518  
Switzerland 53,327  
Wales 43,763  
Total 4,136,173  

Following the 1848 Potato Famine in Ireland, “coffin ship” after coffin ship arrived in New York. Mortality on the trips exceeded 25%.  Advertisements for jobs routinely stated, “No Irish Need Apply.”  The Irish settled in the “Five Points” neighborhood, the backdrop for the movie “Gangs of New York,” which quickly became a squalid slum.  The Church by default became the “binding force” for the Irish, and with it involvement in local politics.  As a group, the Irish were pro slavery and anti abolitionist (freed slaves would compete for jobs), but they were also pro Union, at least until the Emancipation Proclamation and the Draft Riots in New York.  The Irish did volunteer, especially when offered a $300 bonus to sign up (equivalent to a year’s wages!).

Dr. Sonnenblick than compared the stories of three Irish “heroes,” Thomas Francis Meagher, Michael Corcoran and Patrick Ronayne Cleburne .

MeagherThomas Francis Meagher (1823-1867), pronounced “Marh”, favored Irish independence and gained fame as “Meagher of the Sword” for a speech urging war.  In 1848, he was convicted of sedition.  His death sentence was commuted to penal transportation to Tasmania.  In 1852, he escaped to the United States, studied law, worked as a journalist,  lectured on the Irish cause and became a captain in the Irish Militia.  When the Civil War broke out, even though he was sympathetic to the South, he opposed slavery and  recruited a full company of infantrymen (Company K) to be attached to the 69th Infantry Regiment, New York State Volunteers, which under Col. Michael Corcoran fought bravely at First Bull Run.  Meagher then raised the Irish Brigade and was named its leader, thus becoming another of Lincoln’s “political generals” noted more for their political power than their ability as a general.  His troops did fight fiercely at the Battle of Fair Oaks (June 1, 1862) and he became famous because of a Currier and Ives print depicting him leading his brigade in a bayonet charge (which may or may not have happened).  At the Battle of Antietam (September 17, 1862), he was injured because he was allegedly drunk and fell off his horse.  He was supposedly wounded at Fredericksburg and left his troops leaderless. His brigade suffered over 90% casualties in these battles.  He resigned his commission in May 1863 because the Army refused to let him return to New York to raise reinforcements.  In December 1863, his resignation was rescinded and he was assigned to the Western Theater.  After the war, Meager was rewarded by appointment as Acting Governor of the Territory of Montana.  He died July 1, 1867 when he fell overboard from a steamer on the Missouri River under somewhat mysterious circumstances.  His legend has grown and a monument was erected in his honor at Antietam battlefield, a statute was erected on the Capitol grounds in Helena, Montana, and in 2004 a statute of Meagher on horseback, with sword raised, was erected in his home city, Waterford, Ireland.

CorcoranMichael Corcoran  (1827-1863), an entirely different kettle of fish, emigrated to the U. S. in 1849 and worked in a tavern. He became active in Democratic politics and could deliver the Irish vote. He enlisted as a private in the 69th and in 1859 was appointed its colonel.  On October 11, 1861, he refused to march his men in a parade in honor of the 19-year old Prince of Wales.  His courts-martial trial was dropped and he was restored to command of the 69th.  At First Bull Run he was wounded and captured.  The U. S. Navy had captured a Confederate privateer called the “Enchantress” and threatened to execute its crew.  The Confederates responded by threatening to execute U. S. prisoners in retaliation.  No executions ever took place.  Corcoran declined parole (which would have prevented him from rejoining his brigade) and was eventually exchanged in August 1862.  He became the leader of the “Corcoran Legion,” 8 Irish regiments.  He served in several battles but on December 22, 1863, while riding alone, his horse fell on him and he died from a fractured skull.  Corcoran was idolized by his Irish-American troops.  In 2006 a monument to the Fighting 69th was erected in Ballymore, Ireland.

CleburneMany Irish immigrants and Irish-Americans fought for the Confederacy.  Perhaps the best known of them was Patrick Ronayne Cleburne (1828 – 1864).  Born in County Cork, Ireland, Cleburne served in the 41st Regiment of Foot of the British Army after failing to gain entrance into Trinity College of Medicine. He emigrated to Arkansas where he started out as a pharmacist but soon became a skilled lawyer and politician. At the beginning of the Civil War, Cleburne sided with the Southern States, equating the North and England. He never owned a slave. He progressed from being a private soldier in the local militia to a division commander. One of two foreign born officers to attain the rank of major general in the Confederate armed forces, he distinguished himself in many battles, especially the Battle of Stones River and the Battle of Ringgold Gap. His strategic ability gained him the nickname "Stonewall of the West."  He was killed in 1864, in the Battle of Franklin.  After he proposed using freed slaves as Confederate soldiers, President Davis picked other, less able generals to lead the Confederate armies in the West.  Sadly, no statute has ever been erected in his memory.

The German Wave

The Germans came in large numbers, but they were a different demographic than the Irish: intellectuals, Marxists, skilled workers, largely literate, family members.  However, they spoke a “strange” language and faced the same discrimination (especially discriminated against were the 50,000 to 150,000 Jews).  As a result they organized civic, religious organizations, read many German-language newspapers.  In St. Louis alone they set up 25 beer breweries!  They had left Germany because of political oppression and wanted political freedom.  They opposed slavery, in part on moral grounds and in part because they did not feel threatened by competition from freed slaves.

SpiegelMarcus Spiegel fled Germany after the failure of the Revolution of 1848.  His parents had preceded him to Chicago, where he became a peddler.  While visiting the home of a Quaker in Ohio, he met and married his host’s daughter, Caroline Frances Hamlin.  Spiegel set up business in Ohio, became active in the Democratic Party, supported Stephen A. Douglas, “The Little Giant,” in the 1860 election.  Originally apathetic about slavery, he was totally committed to the cause of preserving the Union.  He was one of the few Jews who rose to high command.  He distinguished himself at the Battle of Vicksburg, where a statute of him was later erected. He was killed in a minor skirmish in Louisiana in 1864.  Of note, his brother founded the Spiegel Catalogue.

WillichBrigadier General August Willich (1810-1878) was arguably the best brigadier in the 20th Corps and among the best in the Union army in 1863. A dedicated Communist; the fifty-three year old former Prussian Army Lieutenant had forsaken his first career to pursue political reform, supporting himself through carpentry.  While living in England, his involvement with Karl Marx’s wife led to his challenge to Marx to a duel (Marx evaded this test of his manhood)!  When the war came, his military experience and ardent anti-slavery leanings propelled him back into uniform.  As did so many other German civic leaders, he raised the 32nd Indiana Regiment (an all-German regiment).

Willich drilled his regiment, in German. It made a favorable impression wherever it served. An innovative officer, he suggested construction of special wagons convertible to pontoon boats by removing of wheels. To speed up troop movement and assure combat condition of troops upon arrival at the battle-field, he recommended wagon transport of troops. His superiors rejected both ideas. Yet, Willich's concern for his men's well-being earned him the nickname "Papa". When possible, he ordered bakery ovens constructed that troops would have fresh bread.  The 32nd saw action at the Battle of Shiloh, during which Col. Willich displayed inspiring bravery. When his troops became unsteady, he stood  before them, his back to the enemy, and conducted the regiment through the manual of arms. He also had the regimental band play 'La Marseillaise', which was the anthem for all republican movements in Europe. Recovering its nerves, the 32nd launched a bayonet attack and he was promoted to Brig. General.  During the Siege of Chattanooga, Willich's Brigade captured Orchard Knob, and assaulted  up Missionary Ridge and were the first to reach the top! Due to the anti-German sentiment in the nation, and the army in particular, veterans of the 32nd did not re-enlist when their three year enlistments expired. Nor did most other all-German regiments. It rankled the German-American soldier that General Joseph Hooker had blamed German troops of the 11th Corps for his defeat at Chancellorsville. The New York Times unfairly labeled the 11th Corps "Dutch Cowards."

SchurzCarl Schurz (1829-1906) became involved in radical politics and the Revolution of 1848.  After fleeing to Switzerland, Schurz reached the United States in1852, ending up in Wisconsin.    His wife founded the first kindergarten in the United States.  He was an active abolitionist and campaigned for Lincoln in 1860.  He was appointed Ambassador to Spain and was effective in keeping Spain from recognizing the Confederacy.  He could be called a “political” general but he proved to be an adept student of war and an effective leader. After fighting in Second Bull Run and Fredericksburg, he was promoted to major general.  He was also involved in the battles of Chancellorsville and Gettysburg.  After the war he became a well-respected journalist and writer.  In 1872, he was elected to the U. S. Senate from Missouri, and in 1877 he was appointed Secretary of the Interior, where he introduced civil service reforms and improved the Bureau of Indian Affairs (which needed it badly).

BaruchSimon Baruch (1840-1921) was born to a Jewish family living in Prussia. After studying medicine, he had a driving ambition to practice medicine, a profession that was closed to him in his native land.  He emigrated to the South Carolina and began a successful practice in the antebellum South with the help of local Jewish physicians. He graduated from the Medical College of Virginia in 1862.  When the Civil War started, Baruch joined the Confederate Army under General Robert E. Lee and was assigned as a surgeon in the field with the rank of Captain. "South Carolina gave me all I have," he said at the time, "I'll go with my state."  In the Battle of Bull Run after the Confederate troops withdrew, Dr. Baruch was left in charge of threescore wounded men and was captured with the wounded men, by the Union troops.  After several months’ imprisonment he was exchanged rejoined the Confederate army. In the Battle of Gettysburg he was again taken prisoner while attending to the wounded. He was sent to Fort McHenry. While in a Federal war prison he wrote a book on gunshot wounds.  After the war he resumed a highly acclaimed practice, first in South Carolina and then in New York City.  He played a leading role in improving military medical services in World War I.  He is quoted as having said: There are no such things as incurable, there are only things for which man has not found a cure.”  One of his four sons was Bernard M. Baruch.

Representing other Nationalities

Welsh miners dug the ill-fated tunnel under the Confederate fortifications at Petersburg in 1864 and were similarly employed on many other fronts.

HegHans Christian Heg (1829-1863) was born in Norway and came to Racine, Wisconsin with his parents.  He was a Major in the 4th Wisconsin Militia, the State Prison Commissioner (the first Norwegian elected to a Wisconsin state-wide office), and an out-spoken anti-slavery activist when he was appointed by Wisconsin Governor Alexander Randall to be the Colonel (commander) of the 15th Wisconsin Regiment. Both men were members of the recently formed Republican party and the ancient order of Freemasons. At that time he was 32 years old, married, and the father of 3 children. Colonel Heg recruiting efforts were very successful, spurring enlistments by Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish immigrants living in the States of Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, and Minnesota. He participated with valor in the capture of Island No. 10, the battle of Franklin (where he was wounded) and the Battle of Stones River. Promoted and put in charge of a Division, Heg was fatally wounded at the Battle of Chickamauga, September 19, 1863.  He was described thus: “His bravery, demonstrated in many engagements, is unquestioned. It is not however, the reckless daring of an unskilled and careless man, but the cool and determined valor of a competent, thoughtful commander. He is prudent, but not timid; deliberate, but not slow in movement.”

The Swedish engineer, John Ericsson, revolutionized naval history with his invention of the screw propeller.  Ericsson was also the designer of the USS Monitor, the ship that ensured Union naval supremacy during the  Civil War.  His memorial sculpture is located in Washington, D. C.

Wladimir B. Krzyaznowski [Wlodzimierz Bonawentura Krzyzanowski] (1814-1887) a first cousin of Frederick Chopin, took part in the 1846 uprising against Prussia and fled from Poland to avoid arrest. He settled in Virginia, became a railroad builder.  He enlisted in the Union Army, raised a brigade of Polish immigrants, called the “Polish Legion.” In the Battle of Gettysburg his troops helped push back an evening assault by the famed Louisiana Tigers on the Union defenses atop East Cemetery Hill.  After the war, he was appointed as the military governor of Florida, Georgia and Alabama during Reconstruction.

KozlayEugene Arthur Kozlay (1826-1883), born in Hungary, recruited many German immigrants from Brooklyn and New York City to form the 54th Infantry Regiment (NY), which after many battles, took part in the defense of Cemetery Hill at the Battle of Gettysburg. 

Hong Neok Woo (1824-1919) reputedly was the only Chinese to serve in the Civil War.  Born in China, he reached the U. S. in 1855, was sworn in as a U. S. citizen in 1860 (one of the very few) and served as a private in a Pennsylvania regiment 1861-1864.

Emile Frei (1838-1922), was born in Switzerland, came to Illinois, served in the Union Army, was captured in the Battle of Gettysburg and served 18 months in Libby Prison before being exchanged.  After the war, he returned to Switzerland and in 1894 was elected President of the Swiss Confederation!

WirzHenry Wirz (1823-1865) was born in Switzerland, emigrated to Kentucky in 1849 and  established a successful medical practice.  When the Civil War broke out Wirz claimed to have enlisted as a private in Company A, Fourth-Battalion, Louisiana Volunteers and took part in the Battle of Seven Pines in May 1862, during which he was wounded and lost the use of his right arm. Because of his injury, Wirz was assigned to the staff of General John Winder, who was in charge of Confederate prisoner of war camps. In February, 1864, the Confederate government established Camp Sumter, a large military prison near the small railroad depot at Anderson, Georgia, to house Union prisoners of war. In March, Wirz took command of Camp Sumter where he remained for over a year.  Though wooden barracks were originally planned, the Confederates incarcerated the prisoners in a vast, rectangular, open-air stockade originally encompassing sixteen and a half acres, which had been intended as only a temporary prison pending exchanges of prisoners with the North, which the North had stopped doing in order to defeat the South by attrition. The prisoners themselves dubbed the camp Andersonville. The prison suffered an extreme lack of food, tools and medical supplies, severe overcrowding, poor sanitary conditions and a lack of potable water. At its peak in August 1864, the camp held approximately 32,000 Union prisoners, making it the fifth largest city in the Confederacy. The monthly mortality rate from disease and malnutrition reached 3000. Around 45,000 prisoners were incarcerated during the camp's 14-month existence, of whom 13,000 (28%) died.  After the Civil War, the Union tried Wirz for war crimes on account of his alleged cruelties at the Andersonville prison camp.  Wirz's trial was the first war-crimes trial in U.S. history and the only trial for war crimes of a Confederate.  He was convicted in what can only be called a “show” trial and hung.

Dr. Sonnenblick closed her stimulating talk by answering many questions.  A wonderful evening!

Last changed:  08/09/10

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