Roundup: April 9, 2014

Almansor Court – 700 S. Almansor, Alhambra, CA.
Social Hour: 5:00 PM
Dinner: 6:00 PM

Speaker: Brian Dervin Dillon, Ph.D.
Subject:  Camanche: California’s Forgotten Ironclad

Click here to view photos from the event.

California gold and Nevada silver financed the Union during the Civil War.  The heavy bullion had to be shipped via Panama in vulnerable, Federal bottoms.  Just one Confederate raider, loose in coastal California, could have severed the Union’s most important financial lifeline to her westernmost states and territories. So, when Californians begged for a U.S. Navy warship, President Lincoln sent the most modern vessel available. This was the USS Camanche, a second-generation, John Ericsson-designed, Passaic class monitor.  Built twice, sunk once, and launched on both the Atlantic and the Pacific coasts, the Camanche had perhaps the most unusual history of any of the 30 Union-built monitors of the Civil War.  In contrast to the prototype USS Monitor, the Camanche never fired her guns in anger.  She also outlived every other Ericsson-designed vessel, yet remains California’s Forgotten Ironclad.

Brian Dervin Dillon is a 5th generation Californian.   An archaeologist, he is the son and the father of historians. All three Dillon generations were educated at the University of California, Berkeley.  Dillon’s Ph.D. in Maya archaeology was at age 25, the youngest in the history of the department.  A Phi Beta Kappa and Fulbright Fellow, for the past 40+ years he has done archaeology all over California, in every part of Guatemala, and in three other Central American countries. Dillon has taught and lectured at many California institutions. He has written nearly a hundred books, monographs and articles on archaeology and history.  His most recent book is Fanning the Sacred Flame (University Press of Colorado, 2012). Dr. Dillon is the 2012 recipient of the Westerner’s International Coke Wood 2nd place award for his two-part study Sergeant Dillon with the Dynamite Squads: 1906 detailing how his grandfather fought fire with explosives in the days following the catastrophic San Francisco earthquake.  His Camanche study will be published in upcoming issues of the California Territorial Quarterly.

Click here to view photos from the event.

Paul McClure           
Deputy Sheriff