Monday, December 15, 2014

December President's Message

Hi all RCWRT members and friends,

see details below, but I need RSVP ASAP to order the food, and what you are bringing.
also, if you can't make the dinner, you can arrive by 8 PM for the speaker and program only.

Please let me know.

I have also attached a Map for Pearl River HS,
there are entrances off of E. Central Ave., IMMEDIATELY after the Shoprite entrance,
or, off of Holt Ave., using an unmarked and unnamed access road (That entrance is closer to parking lot and Pirate cove, see map!)

address is 275 East Central Ave, Pearl River NY 10965 for those with GPS

Also can anyone drive David Mack from Monsey to the december 16 meeting in PR?
He cannot drive safely in the dark.  If there are any members in the  Suffern area  I would be pleased if one could pick me up.  My new address is 1206 Fountainview Drive     Monsey  NY 10952,  My phone is 845  352 0253.  I miss the meetings and the people.   David

Hi all,

Instead of our usual "Member Show and tell Christmas/Chanukah/Holiday Extravaganza!",
I have made arrangements for an extra special December meeting this year.

Working with Steve Laird and Joel Craig from the Stamford CT and Ulster County CWRTs, respectively,
we have joined together to bring Appomattox NPS historian Pat Shroeder to our area for 3 consecutive speaking engagements.

Pat will be in Pearl River on Tuesday, December 16, 2014.

I have secured the "Pirate Cove" community room at Pearl River HS from 6 PM- 10 PM on Tuesday, December 16.

The RCWRT will be providing a buffet style hot dinner for all our members and guests.
Salad, and hot trays of food will be catered with plates napkins, utensils etc. provided.

We ask that each member bring a desert, or soft drinks and cups, to share with our group. (no alcoholic beverages allowed).

We will start at 6 PM, with dinner served at 6:30, and the speaker will begin at 8 PM.

All members, friends and family are welcome.

PLEASE RSVP by Tuesday, December 9, so I can plan and order the food.
also let me know what you are bringing, as I may ask you to "swap" if there does not seem to be a balance of extras.

Please let me know if you will be attending and with how many guests.  
This ensures to be a wonderful and special meeting as we enter our 20th Year
as a Round Table!  Bring along friends and family.

More details will follow.
Please don't hesitate to contact me with any questions!

Thank you all very much!

Hope to see EVERYONE There!

Friday, November 7, 2014

November President's Message & Meeting

President’s message:
November 2014

The Rockland Civil War Round Table will meet at the Pearl River Public Library at 7:00 PM on Wednesday, November 12, 2014.  
 The RCWRT will present:
Prof. Cynthia Wachtell " Rhymes and Rhapsodies: An Introduction to Civil War Poetry

Poetry helped the Civil War generation to define the meaning of the war.  It was not simply a cultural indulgence.  Poetry was central to the war endeavor in a way that we  – more than a dozen years into America’s longest war and still without a battle anthem – can little comprehend.   Cynthia Wachtell presents an introduction to Civil War poetry of the Union and Confederacy and explains its key importance in shaping the popular perception of the war.

Cynthia Wachtell is a research associate professor of American Studies and the founding director of the S. Daniel Abraham Honors Program at Yeshiva University in New York City.  She earned her PhD in the History of American Civilization from Harvard University and also holds an AM from Harvard in English and BA and MA degrees in American Studies from Yale University.  She is the author of War No More: The Antiwar Impulse in American Literature, 1861-1914.  Additionally, her essays on the literature of the Civil War have appeared in the Huffington Post, the New York Times, America’s Civil War, and elsewhere.
This will be an outstanding meeting, so bring your friends and family to the Pearl River Public Library on Wednesday, November  12 at 7:00PM.  Please note location and time!  See you there!

God Bless our troops and God Bless America!

Paul R. Martin III    President          914-245-8903                        914-980-5267 Cell
Upcoming RCWRT meeting and event dates for 2014: Remember to check our website at for updates.  Please do not hesitate to call me for info on these or any of our Round Table events.  Paul Martin 914-245-8903President’s message: 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Vote on Election Day As The Union Troops Did in 1864


Aug. 29, 2014
On Aug. 31, 1864, the sweltering galleries of Chicago's largest assembly hall, known as the "Wigwam," erupted with wild yells as Gen. George B. McClellan was nominated as the Democratic Party's candidate for president. The delegates had reason to be exuberant. The North was sick of war, support for Abraham Lincoln was plummeting, and they had an attractive candidate. But if McClellan had won, it would have been the last election in United States as a unified nation.
Handsome and self-confident, the 37-year-old McClellan had won several minor victories early in the war and was promoted to command the Union forces. His battlefield record after that was unimpressive. But he remained immensely popular with the troops, even after Lincoln dismissed him for failing to destroy Robert E. Lee's army after the Union victory in Antietam in September 1862.
A McClellan presidency would have momentous consequences. The Democratic platform called for an unconditional cease-fire and a peaceable restoration of the Union. This was a clear signal to abandon the war, and thus also Lincoln's commitment to free the slaves. Lincoln, while not an abolitionist, loathed slavery and had staked his administration on ending it. McClellan opposed any interference with slavery.
Although he expressed a willingness to continue the war if necessary, in practical terms McClellan's victory in the election would likely have led to European recognition of the Confederacy, Southern independence, and the forcible return to slavery of the hundreds of thousands of former slaves who had fled to the Union armies for safety. 

The war was not going well for the Union. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant had lost some 55,000 men during his campaign in Virginia, but Richmond remained in Confederate hands and Southern defiance was undiminished. Elsewhere, Federal armies had also been checkmated, while Confederate privateers wreaked havoc on American shipping. Public horror at the lengthening casualty lists fueled opposition to the war. Draft resistance became epidemic, while desertions from the army climbed to an average of 7,333 a month, a 40% increase over the previous year. 

Republicans were desperate; even party stalwarts considered the president's re-election "an impossibility." Lincoln himself expected to lose. At the end of August he asked members of his cabinet to sign a sealed document whose contents he did not disclose. What it said, it later became known: "This morning, as for some days past, it seems exceedingly likely that this Administration will not be re-elected. Then it will be my duty to so cooperate with the President elect, as to save the Union between the election and the inauguration; as he will have secured his election on such ground that he can not possibly save it afterward." 

Lincoln's choice of a running mate also had far-reaching consequences. With his approval, the party unceremoniously dumped the sitting vice president, Hannibal Hamlin of Maine, a staunch abolitionist, and replaced him with Democrat Andrew Johnson, a former slave owner and a deep-dyed racist. But Johnson was the only Southern senator who had remained with the Union, and more recently the hardfisted governor of Union-controlled Tennessee. For Lincoln, it was pure political calculation: what he most urgently needed was support from wavering war Democrats, and he banked on Johnson delivering enough of their votes to swing the election.
Then came the unexpected: The Union army began to win battles. On the day McClellan was nominated, the Navy under the command of Adm. David Farragut shot its way into Mobile Bay, effectively closing one of the Confederacy's last major ports. His command to the fleet entered history: "Damn the torpedoes—full speed ahead!" 

Three days later, Gen. William T. Sherman captured Atlanta after arduous months of maneuver across northern Georgia. Then Gen. Philip Sheridan recaptured the Shenandoah Valley. Grant was still bogged down in Virginia, but public opinion gradually began to turn.
Still, no one knew what was going to happen on election day. McClellan was optimistic; Lincoln steeled himself for defeat. 

On election night, Nov. 8, he planted himself in the telegraph room at the War Office as a chill rain pelted the capital's streets. He waited stoically as the returns slowly trickled in from around the country. Only in the early hours of the morning did the outcome begin to take shape: Lincoln had won a sweeping victory, carrying all but three states—New Jersey, Delaware and Kentucky—and crushing McClellan by 212 electoral votes to 21. 

Most startling was the military vote: Overall, Lincoln had won 78% of the soldiers' ballots. They wanted the war over but were set on victory, as were the people of the North.
Five months later Lincoln would be dead—and the nation would be haunted by his decision to put Johnson on the ticket. Abolitionist Hannibal Hamlin would have protected former slaves and punished those who defied federal laws. The nation would have experienced a genuine Reconstruction and not have had to wait a century for the Civil Rights Movement. 

Instead, President Johnson pushed forward against the will of Congress the rapid restoration of Southern states toward their prewar status, often with ex-Confederates still in control of the levers of power. He also tolerated horrific reprisals against blacks who attempted to exercise their newly won freedoms. Johnson's defiance of Congress led to his impeachment in 1868, and chaotic violence continued in the former Confederate States.

Nevertheless, the election of 1864 was a triumph for American democracy. Without it, the North's victory, as well as passage of the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments, would have been unlikely. That the election took place at all was one of Lincoln's greatest achievements. If ever there was a time when a state of emergency might have trumped democracy, it was 1864. But even when faced with what he believed was almost certain defeat, Lincoln refused to suspend the election.
On Nov. 10, he told a gathering of joyful "serenaders" who had sought him out at the White House: "We cannot have free government without elections; and if the rebellion could force us to forgo, or postpone a national election, it might fairly claim to have already conquered and ruined us."

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

President's Message October 2014

President’s message:
October 2014

The Rockland Civil War Round Table will meet at the Pearl River Public Library at 7:00 PM on WednesdayOctober 8, 2014.  
 The RCWRT will present:
Prof. Edythe Ann Quinn:  "Why They Fought: Black Civil War Soldiers and Their Hills Community, Westchester County, NY. 

Through wonderfully detailed letters, recruit rosters, and pension records, Edythe Ann Quinn shares the story of thirty-five African American Civil War soldiers and the United States Colored Troop (USCT) regiments with which they served. Associated with The Hills community in Westchester County, New York, the soldiers served in three regiments: the 29th Connecticut Infantry, 14th Rhode Island Heavy Artillery (11th USCT), and the 20th USCT. The thirty-sixth Hills man served in the Navy. Their ties to family, land, church, school, and occupational experiences at home buffered the brutal indifference of boredom and battle, the ravages of illness, the deprivations of unequal pay, and the hostility of some commissioned officers and white troops. At the same time, their service among kith and kin bolstered their determination and pride. They marched together, first as raw recruits, and finally as seasoned veterans, welcomed home by generals, politicians, and above all, their families and friends.

Prof. Edythe Ann Quinn is a Professor of History at Hartwick College. She lives in Oneonta NY and her new book Freedom Journey: Black Civil War Soldiers and The Hills CommunityWestchester County, NY will be released by SUNY-Press/Albany in June of 2015.

This will be an outstanding meeting, so bring your friends and family to the Pearl River Public Library on Wednesday, October 8 at 7:00PM
.  Please note location and time!  See you there!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Bloodiest Day in U.S. History

On September 17th, 1862 occurred the Battle of Antietam ( or Sharpsburg, if you prefer). It is known as the Bloodiest day in American history because for an 8 hour period the Confederate and Union armies clashed by a stream known as Antietam creek. The results were 23,000 men  give or take killed and wounded.. It was a draw tactically but strategically Lincoln used it has an opportunity to publish the Emancipation proclamation a couple months later. It is a beautiful national park, I highly recommend visiting it and Harper's Ferry as well which is fairly close by.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

September President's Message

President’s message:
September 2014

 The Rockland Civil War Round Table will meet at the Pearl River Public Library at 7:00 PM on WednesdaySeptember 10, 2014.  
 The RCWRT will present:
Keith Muchowski: “Near and Far: New York City’s Merchant Class and the Preservation of the Union”
New York sent more men to fight in the Civil War than any state in the Union. Keith Muchowski will discuss the role that Theodore Roosevelt, Sr. and others played in helping the Lincoln Administration execute the war.
Mr. Muchowski is a librarian at New York City College of Technology (CUNY) in Brooklyn, NY. He is also a volunteer with the National Park Service in the Interpretation Division at Governors Island National Monument and at the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site. He blogs at
This will be an outstanding meeting, so bring your friends and family to the Pearl River Public Library on Wednesday, September 10 at 7:00PM.  Please note location and time!  See you there!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Alonzo Cushing Receives Medal of Honor Postumously For Heroism at Gettysburg

Above is the link to an August 28th New York times article of interest to every Civil War Buff. Everyone knows the story of Alonzo Cushing being mortally wounded as he commanded his New York Battery of 125 men and refused to give ground as the Virginians led by General Armistead fought their way through the first line of Union Defense.

Cushing refused to retreat even after being wounded multiple times finally succumbing to his wounds. He did not receive the Medal of Honor because back in the day, the medal was not awarded posthumously. But interested civilians took up the fight and it has finally been approved.