|The San Francisco Civil War Round Table Meeting
21st February 2013
The well-attended meeting opened with the Pledge of Allegiance and the introduction of guests.
The President reminded members that Debbie Grace and Melani Van Petten will repeat their
award-winning presentation, "Women in the Civil War," in March at Cypress Lawn and again
at Burlingame Public Library. See our Events page for more information.
The featured speaker was John Martini, who gave a spell-binding presentation on "Defending
San Francisco: The Civil War." John drew extensively on his many years with the National
Parks Service at Alcatraz, Fort Point, and the Presidio, to name but a few, and painted a
fascinating account of the efforts to fortify the Bay against possible Confederate incursions. He
showed some excellent photographs from the period, including many that members had not seen
before (hard to believe).
John regaled us with historical facts, many of them new to some. For example, he talked of the
ironclad monitor "Comanche," which was intended to add to the Bay defences. It was built in
Jersey City, disassembled and shipped around the Horn, arriving after the war ended. On arrival,
the ship carrying it, the "Aquila," sank in a storm and the "Comanche" had the dubious distinction of
being the only ironclad sunk by a wooden ship. It also became known as the only ship to sink
before it was launched.
Following a spirited discussion and a well-deserved round of applause for John Martini, the
meeting ended at 9:00pm
|Susan Chandler (L) and Joan Keller
|Richard Hill and his daughter
|Shari Videlock (L) and
He outlined the basic plan for a network of
heavily armed forts at Alcatraz, Fort Point and
Lime point. The latter, across the Golden Gate
from Fort Point, never got built because the
government could not obtain the land from the
owners, Rancho Sausalito. Additional batteries
were installed at Fort Mason and on Angel
Island. The plan was conceived so that an enemy
ship would be subjected to at least forty-five
minutes of heavy fire if it tried to sail through the
Golden Gate, the only entrance to the Bay.