Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Jeff King: Loysburg Gap, Pennsylvania

What is the farthest north Gettysburg Campaign site? Lemoyne and Fort Couch, where some rebels reconnoitered? Perhaps the Oyster Point skirmish?

As we all know, the war was about control of railroads and rivers. One of Lee’s goals was destruction of the key railroad bridge at Harrisburg PA. One of the key railroad facilities in Pennsylvania was Altoona. Defenses were set up at Loysburg Gap, which was on the main road to Altoona from the Bedford Valley, to stop the Confederate advance if it went toward Altoona.

In a truly beautiful and remote location, the state marker and well preserved earthworks are on Lower Snake Spring Road between Everett and Loysburg Gap.

Perhaps the best way to see the gap is from the PA Turnpike approaching from the east. As you descend the hill just before the Breezewood Exit, look to the northwest. The solid mountain line just past Breezewood has a pronounced break, which is Loysburg Gap.

I found the best way to approach Loysburg Gap was from the south taking Lower Snake Spring Road north as it began just west of Everitt off the Lincoln Highway (US Route 30). Lower Snake Spring Road becomes Church View Road after the gap as it heads into the community of Loysburg Gap. The marker is at the military crest of Loysburg Gap and stands beside the earthworks.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Jeff King: Wrightsville, Pennsylvania

The last of Jeff's posts from the area around York PA.

A historic river town, Wrightsville was a key stop on the Army of Northern Virginia travels. Had events been different here, the war may have taken a very Southern turn for success.

As is often the case for me, the original monuments from decades ago are the neatest.

A dual cannon stone marker donated by the Federal government at the intersection of Fourth and Hellam streets commemorates the farthest eastern advance of Confederate troops. The Rewalt House and its storyboard are across the street at 247 Hellam St. It is refreshing that the story of Confederate kindness isn’t completely forgotten here.

Few Civil War stops are as enjoyable as the Diorama at 124 Hallam St. Was the first Black casualty of the War for Emancipation here at the Battle of Wrightsville? Why was the Wrightsville Bridge burned? Why did water buckets to fight the fire suddenly appear long after the Rebel request for them? The Diorama answers all these questions and tells the story of an overshadowed battle that just MIGHT have turned into a HUGE problem for Washington. Of course, historians don’t deal in ifs, maybes, and mights- have-been. Note the Diorama’s very limited hours: Sunday 1-4 p.m.

The Burning of the Bridge storyboard is another ridiculous adventure in patience and good luck. I spent half an hour driving up and down Front Street, and I know Wrightsville pretty well. How is an outside visitor supposed to find Commons Park? Ask at the Diorama that is open only three hours a week? 

Here's the place: One block east of Front Street at the intersection of Walnut, right on the bank of the Susquehanna River.

It is a breathtaking river and bridge view. The original footings of the burned bridge are clearly visible from this location, if you can stumble across it without the proper PA Civil War trails signage. It is a shame that such excellent hard work by local Civil War historians and enthusiasts has a chance to be overlooked. With this year's desperate PA state budget cuts, including 85 jobs in state tourism, and closing such sites as Washington Crossing, we can be assured that proper signage is a dead issue.

Jeff King: Hanover, Pennsylvania

Notes on more sites in southern Pennsylvania

Was the Battle of Gettysburg lost on these historic streets?

The Battle of Hanover delayed J.E.B. Stuart’s valuable eyes and ears from aiding the Army of Northern Virginia until late on the second day of the bloodletting in Gettysburg. Some consider Stuart’s tardiness Lee’s greatest issue.

I found Hanover to be a pleasant visit, although the city's center square is always hectic. My first stop was Mt. Olivet Cemetery, 725 Baltimore St. The Soldiers Monument near the northwest corner of the cemetery labeled as "Old Section B” is a tastefully done memorial -- Rolls of Honor to all the local men who served, much like the Honor Rolls at Carlisle and McConnellsburg. There are cannon and a special arched burial area with GAR graves well marked throughout the area.

Next stop is the Women Tending Wounded storyboard at 305 Baltimore St., in front of the Warehime-Myers Mansion (formerly Pleasant Hill Hotel).

Stuart’s state marker, 446 Frederick St., is near the street that bears his name. His famous jump to escape capture is outlined by a city sign at 419½ Frederick St. near the intersection with Stuart Street.

The City of Hanover has placed historical markers at several places including the Winebrenner Tannery, 283 Frederick St. A unique story of prisoner capture, to say the least.

More I saw:
  • The Civil War Trails storyboard of a Mother Losing Two Sons,  257 Frederick St.
  • The Daniel Trone house, 233 Frederick St, tells the story of the trickeration of the local telegraph operator who eventually would send the news of Gettysburg to President Lincoln.
  • The 2nd North Carolina Cavalry charge on the Forney Farms has a city marker near the intersection of Frederick and Forney streets.
Some I missed: For the wayside markers on Frederick and Broadway, you must obtain the historical location map at the Chamber of Commerce during business hours 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays. While those are extraordinarily visitor-friendly hours, it did me no good on my Sunday visit. If only more places would adopt the attitude of Beverly WV, where maps are available 24/7 outside the visitor center so no one need miss Stonewall Jackson’s sister’s home or information on the Battle of Rich Mountain. Why reinvent the wheel? Just use the best practices of the top Civil War sites -- be visitor friendly and make your information more accessible.

I will compliment Hanover Chamber of Commerce on their online map (www.hanoverchamber.com/New revised BOH brochure_web.pdf), but here again lugging around a laptop on a bright sunny day is no substitute for an easy-to-read printed map.

The Destruction of Private Property storyboard tells an accurate story of how both Union and Confederate troops were locusts stripping the communities they passed through. Jefferson’s state marker tells a similar tale. This storyboard is at 407 Carlisle near the Guthrie library where Battle of Hanover maps are also available – again during business hours.

The state marker for Lincoln’s short speech on the way to Gettysburg is at 206 Carlisle Ave.

Hanover Square at the intersection of Carlisle/Baltimore and Frederick/Broadway has several markers, signage, storyboards, artillery, historic Gettysburg Campaign iron placards, and “The Pickett,” a monument to the Battle of Hanover. Be sure and tour the entire Square. The spot where Gen. George Armstrong Custer received his promotion to General Officer is marked in the southeast corner with a star and four horseshoes.

My final stop, for a state marker about Early’s raid, was in front of Snyder’s of Hanover on State Route 116 one-half mile north of the intersection with State Route 216. The address is 1163 York St.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Jeff King: Hanover Junction and Jefferson, Pennsylvania

More from Jeff's notes on the York PA area

This is an extremely significant Civil War location, and many feel it is York County’s most important.  It was raided by the Confederates, used to move supplies to and injured soldiers from Gettysburg, and of course was a changeover spot for Lincoln on his way Gettysburg. There is a tasteful flower garden with a Lincoln statue, a museum, and the very well restored period station building.  It is adjacent to the York County Rail Trail a walking/hiking/cycling/horse trail.  The four 3- inch cannon donated to York by the federal government have been moved from Penn Park in York to this location. The museum is open from 10 am to 5 pm on Saturdays. There are two storyboards and a state marker.  Don’t miss this spot just off State Route 616 between Seven Valleys and Glen Rock!

If I understand correctly, this is where a great deal of JEB Stuart’s Cavalry bivouacked on 30 June 1863 after the Battle of Hanover. A new state marker discussing the price citizens paid for the armies visiting was dedicated on 27 June 2009 on the town square on State Route 516 southwest of Hanover Junction and northeast of Hanover.

Jeff King: York, Pennsylvania

York is the first of several posts from Jeff on this area of southern Pennsylvania.

The Prospect Hill Cemetery at 625 N George is very well worth the drive through. There is a beautiful Iraq War memorial with one American Flag for every person killed in the conflict at the entrance.
Proceed up the eastern edge of the cemetery past the administration building stop immediately at the first grass on your right hand side. There is a ground-level marker for the three deceased unknown Rebels buried here. Look carefully to find it. The first of several Civil War marker boards stands just up the hill to help you locate the marker. Proceed up the hill to its crest. This is the York Civil War Memorial known as Union Circle.

Leaving the circle on the left side, proceed from Civil War marker boards telling stories of many Civil War deceased and the role they played in the war.  About a quarter of a mile up that road on the right is York’s highest ranking general’s final resting spot. Gen. William Buell Franklin had much of the failure at Fredericksburg laid at his feet by the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War. Mark Snell’s book “From First to Last” chronicles his life.

Several Civil War marker boards around the southeastern section of the cemetery are a very nice touch and would be fantastic at almost any historical cemetery.  My compliments to Prospect Hill and whomever did the research

Markers in York:
  • The state marker for Jubal Early’s Occupation of York is on West Market Street (State Route 462) about a ¼ mile west of the East Berlin Road (State Route 234) intersection.
  • Mural of William Goodridge, a key black citizen, 380 W Market St. 
  • PA Trails storyboard for Milling and Manufacturing, 220 W Princess, across from the Agricultural & Industrial Museum.
  • Railroad storyboard, 187 W Market, near the Codorus Creek and within site of the Colonial Courthouse.
  • York military hospital, at Penn Park, 131 W College Ave.
  • York’s Soldiers and Sailors’ Monument, also at Penn Park.  
  • Two PA Trails storyboards, York Continental Square, 12 E Market St. 
As advised for Hanover, Chambersburg and Carlisle, be sure to walk all four quadrants of the town square for information on the Underground Railroad and the surrender of the largest Northern city the South captured in the war. The York County Heritage Trust, 250 E Market St, houses a Civil War exhibit on the second floor. The William Goodridge home, 123 E Philadelphia, offers tours of the home of this black railroad owner and stationmaster on the Underground Railroad, available through the York County Heritage Trust.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Jeff King: Ohio Reenactment

My old hometown is getting into the act!  Fort Recovery OH (site of St. Clair's defeat in the Indian wars after the Revolutionary War) is having its first Civil War Days 10-12 September 2010 at Ambassador Park. The plan is to include battle reenactments, artillery night fire, a Civil War Grand Ball, vintage baseball game, military drills, and other demonstrations. It was recently announced in the Celina (OH) Daily Standard Newspaper. The organizers are coordinating efforts from all over Indiana and Ohio. Ambassador Park used to host National Tractor Pulling Events that pulled in big crowds. I believe it is nearly as large as the area where a couple of the Gettysburg Anniversary events have been held. Here is the website.

I'll give you one guess where I plan to be that weekend.
-- Jeff

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Pennsylvania North of Gettysburg Part II: Jeff King

The Burgess George Hummel House, 312 E. Main, is a two-story brick structure with blue shutters. There are no historical markers. This is where Jenkins ordered the lowering of the U.S. flag, which was last seen leaving town under a Rebel saddle. The Occupation of Mechanicsburg is at the intersection of East Main (PA 641) and South Market.

The Railroad Station/Mechanicsburg Museum is about 1.5 blocks north of this intersection. It is open noon to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

Civil War and More, about one block south of this intersection at 10 S. Market, is more than just a book store. Jim and Jack are very knowledgeable and support all sorts of Civil War and even World War II activities. I picked up a couple of older issues of the Blue and Gray magazine on Chickamauga and an Irish Brigade flag.

The Rupp House, which served as Jenkins's headquarters from 28 until 30 June when the order came to withdraw to Gettysburg, is located at 5115 Trindle Road (PA 641) and has a monument to Jenkins’s occupation. The Sporting Hill Skirmish state marker is at the intersection of Sporting Hill Road and Route 11/Carlisle Road. Sporting Hill Road does run between Routes 11 and 641.
Camp Hill
The Oyster Point state marker is at 3025 Market (an extremely busy road) at a USPS mail depository. This was the farthest advance of an organized Rebel body of troops to Harrisburg. For directions of the exact location of the skirmish, ask at Civil War and More.
The earthworks of Camp Couch at Eighth and Ohio are now a small park. There is a state marker at one end and a new three-part monument at the other end with maps of the fortifications. Be sure to take in the entire city block for information on Ft. Couch, General Couch, and Ft. Washington. This area marks the limit of the travel of Rebel Scouts.
New Cumberland
The Brigadier General Marcus Reno state marker is on the southwest corner of Third and Reno streets. He was at Sharpsburg/Antietam, injured at Kelly’s Ford, Cold Harbor, Trevilian Station, and Cedar Creek. He confronted Mosby at the end of the conflict.

The General John W. Geary state marker is at Third and North Bridge streets. Geary was a Mexican War veteran, chased T.J.J. Jackson in the 1862 Shenandoah Valley Campaign, fought at Cedar Mountain and Second Manassas/Bull Run, was under Slocum at Chancellorsville and knocked unconscious, and participated at Culp’s Hill at Gettysburg. After the XII Corps was transferred west, his son died in his arms at the Battle of Wauhatchie GA. He fought at Lookout Mountain in the Atlanta Campaign; the March to the Sea; and finally the Carolinas Campaign. He later served two terms as the governor of Pennsylvania.
The PA Trails for the Crossroads storyboard is at the Amtrak Train station (east end of building) at Fourth and Chestnut streets. The state marker for Underground Railroad activity at old Tanner’s Alley is on the northeast yard of the Statehouse near Fourth and Walnut streets. This was a multi-cultural neighborhood that was taken over for expansion of the statehouse grounds.

The statue honoring Brigadier General John Frederick Hartranft, who was governor and a Medal of Honor winner at First Manassas/Bull Run, is on the southeast corner of the statehouse. The noticeable differences and irony of his equestrian statue and that of Wade Hampton on the South Carolina statehouse grounds are pronounced.

The State Museum at 300 North St. has some information on the Civil War including a Lincoln Room. There will be a new Civil War gallery opening up in the fall of 2009. The state marker for the USCT Grand Review on 14 November 1865 is on the northeast corner of the Soldiers Grove. Soldier’s Grove is the Medal of Honor memorial for all Pennsylvanians located east of the intersection of North and Commonwealth streets.

While I am partial to the Hoosier one in Indianapolis, this is tastefully done. Parking around Soldier’s Grove will be a challenge during normal state government business hours as it is directly north of the statehouse and accompanying office buildings.

The end of the USCT parade route is honored with a PA Trails storyboard a 219 Front St. in front of the Harris/Cameron Mansion. The Soldiers Grove state marker designates the beginning. As the USCTs were snubbed at the Washington DC Grand Review, this was the only Black Troop Review at the end of the conflict. The Harris/Cameron Museum is open weekdays for tours 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The state marker honoring T. Morris Chester at Third and Walnut streets. He was the “starter” of the USCT Grand Review and a key black man in central PA history. He will be portrayed at a presentation at the Dauphin County Historical Society (Harris/Cameron Mansion) on 9 February 2010 at 7 p.m. The society also will be hosting Thaddeus Stevens in May 2010.

The PA Trails storyboard for the activities at Market Square is just south at Second and Market. It is a unique standup two-sided design. The Harrisburg Visitors Center is at Second and Blackberry. The "Threatened Invasion" PA CW Trails storyboard is farther south at the Market Street walking bridge to City Island at the Susquehanna Riverfront just south of the intersection of Front and Market streets.

The National Civil War Museum at One Lincoln Circle was the brain child of Mayor Reed of Harrisburg. It is located on the highest point in Harrisburg at Reservoir Park. The huge American flag is easily visible to those coming north on Interstate-83 crossing the Susquehanna River Bridge.

As I understand the story, Mayor Reed began collecting museum pieces for the War of Northern Aggression, got state funding to build the museum, and had some success. He also made an even stronger effort to attract Gettysburg visitors to Harrisburg by pursuing the Civil War Trails program. Again anything to promote the education and understanding of the Second American Revolutionary War is good.

I was fortunate enough to be involved with bringing the esteemed Frank O’Reilly to Central PA for three Civil War Roundtables a few years ago. He spoke at the White Rose (York), Hershey, and Camp Curtain roundtables, which is held at the National Civil War Museum. Mr. O’Reilly spoke on Pennsylvania Units at the Battle of Fredericksburg (he is a historian there and had just written the definitive book on the campaign). He was informative, funny, entertaining, patient, and most of all engaging. He has been more than kind with the many questions I have asked him. I am beyond fortunate to have him as a bit of a mentor and most of all a kindred spirit. Thanks, Frank! Anyone who walks in the steps of the Irish Brigade with him on the December Fredericksburg Battle Anniversary is truly lucky.

Now for some podcasts!

The PA Trails storyboard for the Woman of Harrisburg is very near the statue of Governor Curtain at Sixth and Woodbine. When you realize the enormous size of the storage at Camp Curtain, Lee’s desired prize of Harrisburg might have been more than enough to warrant the chance he took. Of course, if the dog hadn’t stopped to scratch he would have caught the rabbit, too.

The very large Dauphin County Union Monument is tricky to find due to the trees surrounding it. It is just north of the intersection of Third and Division streets. It is north of the Italian Lake and west of the Zembo Temple. I believe it was moved to this location from downtown after motorcars became prevalent and began crashing into it all too regularly.

The black Lincoln Cemetery is open
only on Saturday and Sunday. Several USCTs and T. Morris Chester are buried there. It is located at 30th and Penbrook Avenue.

The Harrisburg Cemetery houses many union soldiers, abolitionists, and Simon Cameron at 13th and Liberty. The PA Trails storyboard is just inside the entrance gate.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Pennsylvania North of Gettysburg Part I: Jeff King

The Middle Creek United Presbyterian Church location is north of Shippensburg 2.6 miles, just off Route 696. The church is on the right at 130 Middle Springs Road and the monuments are to the west of the church. The church was founded in 1738 and has a Civil War obelisk, a Revolutionary/1812/Mexican War monument, and a French and Indian War monument. The French and Indian War monument dwarfs the others. It was easily the most enjoyable site I visited this day. It is pastoral, scenic, and historic.

There are half a dozen Civil War story boards on King Street near the intersection of Earl Street to the west. Three are located on each side of King. CSA General Jenkins used this corner for his headquarters during the southern visit. The storyboard for the Occupation of Shippensburg is at the southwest corner of King and Earl.

The James Kelso home at 110 E. King St. was looted by Confederates when they learned a Union soldier lived there. Impassioned speeches were made from this porch for recruiting Company D of the 130th PA. A marker at 20 W. King St. honors Brigadier General Samuel Sturgis, who was one of the heroes of Burnside Bridge at Sharpsburg/Antietam and lost the Battle of Brice’s Crossroads to Nathan Bedford Forrest. The location is Sturgis's boyhood home.

There are two merchant stories about ingenious way that inventory was hidden from Confederates at the McLean Tannery at 49 W. King St. The Pague and Fegan Hardware Store nearby is the oldest business in the county.

Spring Hill Cemetery does not have a separate Civil War section, and the graves are not marked with flags. James Kelso is buried here.

The black cemetery in Shippensburg is at the corner of Queen Street and Britton Road. Parking is limited for Locust Grove Cemetery where 26 USCTs are buried.

The Dykeman Springs area, where the Confederates bivouacked, is a public park and has the Dykeman House Bed and Breakfast for those of you who are interested in sleeping where the Rebels slept. This area is south of the intersection of South Penn and Dykeman Road. There is some rich irony that this American Legion Post had “southern foreigners” sleeping at their location.
Boiling Springs
The state marker for Daniel Kauffman and his Underground Railroad activities is at 301 Front St. in this beautiful town. He was actually fined $4,000.00 for supporting escapees.
Mount Holly Springs
The storyboard for the First Casualty of Cumberland County is in front of the Holly Inn at 31 S. Baltimore/PA 34. William Luther Beetem’s sad story is an interesting one.
Several state markers and storyboards about Carlisle occupy the square at South Hanover and West High streets. You can see damage from the shelling to the 1846 courthouse to the windowsill brick and the pillar. The Union marker lists all the volunteers of Cumberland County.

Just across the street is the CW Trails storyboard with a personal story of the shelling of Carlisle during JEB Stuart’s visit. There is a marker on the McClintock Slave Catcher Riot across the street to the east of the 1846 Courthouse.

The Dickinson College storyboard is about one half block west of the intersection of (358 West) High and College avenues. The old City Cemetery at 177 S. Bedford intersecting with East South Street has several Union graves all currently marked with flags. The Molly Pitcher state is striking. There are well-marked Revolutionary War grave sites. The Cumberland County Historical Society is located at 21 N. Pitt St.

I’m not sure what I expected from the Army Heritage Center at 950 Soldiers Drive, but it wasn’t as exciting as I had hoped. The outdoor trail is a nice walk with remarkable Civil War winter cabins. I’ve not seen any this complete anywhere else. The ones at Pamplin Park in Petersburg VA are nice, but these cover quarters for officers as well as enlisted soldiers. The Antietam Artillery section is informative, but doesn’t offer any information not readily available from many sources. Inside the Heritage Center are an incredible library, several research computers, and some busts of the prominent Union generals, but little else. For those so interested, there are are WWI and WWII displays in the museum upstairs.

There is a state historical marker across from the front gate of the Carlisle Barracks at 3939 Harrisburg Pike/US 11. The JEB Stuart state marker is on Route 74 just north of Interstate-81. The Joseph Miller state marker for the farthest north Rebel penetration is north of the Route 34 bridge construction, and I did not visit it. The Ewell state marker is at 497 Walnut Bottom Road just north of the Interstate-81 exit ramp.
Coming soon: Mechanicsburg, Camp Hill, New Cumberland and Harrisburg

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Pennsylvania: Jeff King

I have been spending time on the roads of PA. Actually stumbled across a CW site or two. (Okay, 83, but who's counting besides me?)

PA sites mostly west of I-81

The Fairfield St. John Lutheran Church is the site of two historical markers. The large old cast iron plaque style Gettysburg Campaign markers describes Union troop movements in the area on 6 July 1863. A marker noting the church as a hospital site for all injured parties North and South in the fight of the 6th Virginia and 6th U.S. Cavalries. The church is at 13 E Main St (Route 116).
Blue Ridge Summit
Name the second largest battle in Pennsylvania.
Wrightsville and its burning of the bridge? No.
Hanover and JEB Stuart’s delay at the hands of Killcavalry, oops Kilpatrick, Custer, et al? Nope.

If you said the Battle of Monterey Pass, you are correct. Ten thousand fought here in the rain and lightning. The Confederates suffered significant losses (1,360 or more POWs) partially due to the help of a little girl. Sort of sounds like Bedford Forrest’s story of Emma Sansom during the Streight Mule Raid in Northern Alabama, doesn’t it?

This a well interpreted sight in a nice forested setting. However, there is no mention of CSA General Jenkin’s earlier skirmish on 22 June. There is not sufficient signage to lead the Civil War Traveler to the site. (Go west of Blue Ridge Summit about 1.5 miles (14223 Buchanan Trail East) and find Charmaine Road. The markers are a half mile north of Route 16, on the west side of Charmaine Road.)

Are there any directional signage/arrows on Route 30 to indicate where the CW Trails story stop is located? No. I am thrilled for any additional interpretation of the War Between the States. My problem here is that it seems no one from the Keystone Commonwealth bothered to tour other states and see how a true trails marker system is run properly. There is virtually no signage at the locations of the sites, and forget directional arrows to help a curious visitor find those off the main roads, like this one.

What is wrong with putting actual street addresses on the website (www.pacivilwartrails.com) for GPS users? Yes, there are GPS coordinates in one of the brochures and on one page of the website, but virtually every GPS box takes street addresses. How many take longitude/latitude? Groan, chortle, snort…. Use the website www.boulter.com/gps for help in converting to street addresses.

I would love for more visitors to come to Pennsylvania, but if they feel the same frustration I felt they’ll be headed south to well marked trails quickly. Luckily the local fire fighters were hanging out on a Saturday and could lead me to the location. Thanks to the Blue Ridge Summit fire personnel for their invaluable assistance. I only wish I could say this was the only spot requiring additional signage.
There is a state historical marker for the city’s occupation on 23 June 1863 by Jubal Early before he advanced through Gettysburg to York and back. The marker is located on the south side of Route 16/764 Buchanon Trail East/Main Street.
Mont Alto
As I found out later at the John Brown/Mary Ritner Boarding House site in Chambersburg, John Brown spent time in Mont Alto reading the Bible to black children and helping educate them. The Emmanuel Chapel sits just inside the entrance to the Penn State University Extension Campus and within sight of the state historical marker. Local lore has it that John Brown taught black children Sunday School in this church.

The state historical marker at 631 Park St. deals with one of his conspirators, Capt. John Cooke, who was given the same final necktie made of a strong rope as John Brown after being captured here.

Finally, slave catching was a lucrative business. 0.3 miles west of PA 233 on Slabtown Road is a brick house that was the home of Daniel Logan, who was the slave catcher that captured Capt. John Cooke.
The Caledonia Iron Works was destroyed by Jubal Early on his march east to York on 26 June 1863. The storyboard at the intersection of Routes 30 and 233 describes it as personal property being destroyed for political vengeance in violation of Lee’s order. The stone pyramid was rebuilt after the war, used for a few years, and remains today.

The story is similar to the one told at the Moratock Iron Works North Carolina Civil War Trails stop in Danbury. Moratock was destroyed by Stoneman. Wonder if Stoneman’s Raid was political vengeance?

There is information on signs about the employees and the process of iron making. There is also Lincoln Highway historical information. Across the walking bridge to the west over the road is the Thaddeus Stevens Blacksmith Shop in very good condition with a historical marker.

For the more adventurous swimmers, the public pool north of the iron works is spring fed and not heated according to my local sources. Sounds brisk, Baby. This is known locally as apple country and there are numerous orchards and roadside stands.

A.P. Hill’s Headquarters on 29 June 1863 is about one quarter of a mile north of Main Street, just off Woodstock Road on Font Hill. It is private property.

Gettysburg may get more than 1 million visitors a year, but Chambersburg has the attitude I seldom see north of the Potomac. There are several inviting sites here. My favorite is Mary Ritner’s Boarding House where John Brown stayed and you can visit his room, but all in due time.

The state marker for the spot Lee passed on 28 June on his way to Cashtown is on the east end of Chambersburg, east of Interstate-81, on the south side of the Route 30/Lincoln Highway near the Willowbrook Road intersection. There is supposed to be a state marker for Lee’s Headquarters a mile or so west of this marker to designate Messersmith’s Woods just east of the Hospital at the Coldbrook Avenue intersection, but I was unable to find anything in that area except the Lincoln Cemetery, which has many black veterans of the 21st-century wars.

Brochures on the Civil War and Black History are available at the Chambersburg Heritage Center, 100 Lincoln Highway East, to aid in your understanding and finding locations in Chambersburg and all over Franklin County.

Cedar Grove Cemetery (off North Franklin Street about two blocks north of Route 30 West) is the main local Union veteran cemetery. There is a small memorial in the northwest corner of the graveyard to local Union veterans. Proceed along the western perimeter road of the cemetery and about 100 yards from the bottom of the slight hill just to the east of the road, you can find the obelisk grave with GAR marker of Lt. Col. Peter Housom, who was killed at Murfreesboro/Stones River. The local GAR post was named for him.

Another must-see spot is about 150 yards northeast from the southwest entry gate. This is the area where those who died in local hospitals after Sharpsburg/Antietam and Gettysburg are buried. Almost all are known and the graves were well decorated when I visited. The soldiers rest just north of the south perimeter road.

There is a state marker for the conference between John Brown and Frederick Douglas at the Little Conococheague Creek Bridge on Lincoln Highway East just east of the Franklin Street intersection. In the discussion at the old stone quarry, Douglas was against the Harpers Ferry Raid. Brown did recruit Douglas’s companion, Shields Green, to participate.

Mt. Lebanon Cemetery is about 1 mile west of the “Diamond,” just south of Route 30 across the street from the Food Lion. This black cemetery houses Civil War USCT veterans including at least one 54th Massachusetts member; several USCT (3rd, 4th and 41st) soldiers from various brigades; locals Joseph R. Winters and Henry Watson, who aided John Brown and the Underground Railroad; and at least one headstone that says, “Born into Bondage, died Free in 1908.” This older section is in the lowest eastern area nearest to town.

Confederate Gen. John McCausland’s headquarters on 30 July 1964 is the Greenawalt House at the northeast corner intersection of Route 30 West and Warm Springs Road/Route 995. It is private property. Here is where the decision was made and ordered to torch Chambersburg in retaliation for Hunter’s actions in Lexington VA and the Shenandoah Valley.

If you ever get a chance, read The Burning by John L. Heatwole; it may be one of the saddest books ever written. It is one of my five favorite books. It isn’t sad on purpose. It is loyal to Shenandoah Valley historical facts of the fall of 1864. It is the action for methodically destroying private property that is sad whether it occurred north or south of the Mason Dixon Line.

Mary Ritner was the daughter in law of Pennsylvania Gov. Ritner and did very well until her husband, a conductor on the Cumberland Valley Railroad and the Underground Railroad, died. She decided that her location near the railroad station worked fine for her to take in boarders to support her children. One border hid under the name Isaac Smith and was a cold-blooded killer named John Brown. Of course, in this area Osawatomie Brown was more of a heroic revolutionary than the man hated and wanted for murder in Kansas.

One of the best parts about studying this War for Abolition is that even today you can begin to feel how compromise failed as the passionate people of the 1860s were willing to sacrifice anything for their beliefs. Here at 225 E King St in Chambersburg you are presented with the picture of John Brown, Hero, not Traitor ("Terrorist or Savior" is the title of the available brochure).

Tours of the Ritner house have been offered since May, Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. I whole heartedly recommend spending the $4 to support historic preservation here. My guide was in period dress and did as wonderful, passionate, and informative job as any guide I’ve tagged along with.

It is as politically polar opposite of my tour of the Bleak House in Knoxville TN as possible, and that alone makes it revealing and valuable. So many sites in the North have lost passion for the war in favor of attracting tourists or being politically correct.

The attitude and passion of the abolition fervor shows through here. Thank goodness. You begin to feel the uniqueness of this stop with the 10-minute video to begin the tour. Enjoy every room and story, including John Brown’s personal room. There is period furniture and accoutrements throughout the home. For more information on the Sesquicentennial of the John Brown Raid, go to www.johnbrownraid.org.

From here I went to the old Franklin County Jail. It is partially a Civil War site, and likely not for everyone focused on the first half of the 1860s. Still, the original jail cells that held the captured John Brown conspirators are available for “visiting.” There is one hallway dedicated to Civil War pictures and information. The three-story “add-on” area of the prison has an iron stove made in the Thaddeus Stevens Caledonia Iron Works, and there is a souvenir from the company where Lt. Col. Housom of local GAR and Stones River fame worked before he sacrificed his life for the cause. The tour of the dungeon is absolutely chilling. As a fundraiser, ghost tours are offered in October; you may choose to pay extra to stay overnight in the jail and eat like the prisoners of that period. There is an amazingly complete Genealogy Library with information from all 243 graveyards in Franklin County.

From here the “Diamond” is only a couple of blocks. This is the town center at the intersection of Route 30 West and Route 11 and has state markers for the Underground Railroad, Lee and A. P. Hill’s conference there, a fountain placed there as a memorial for all men that served for the Union, and a Bronze Union Soldier facing south forever guarding Chambersburg from Southern invasion again. This guy should hook up with John A. Parker from Parker’s Crossroads fame. Mr. Parker was purposely buried with his feet pointing north so that when the Angel Gabriel came he could arise and kick all the Yankees back north. There is a plaque showing Franklin County’s recruits/regiments. On the southwest corner of “The Diamond”, there is a large memorial stone maker to the Burning of Chambersburg in 1864 detailing value of destruction. The storyboard for the Burning of Chambersburg touches on the fact that this action caused the Yankee war effort to be more aggressive throughout the rest of the war. This struck me as another attitude declaration. There were dozens of southern cities destroyed (Jackson, MS was called Chimneyville as only four buildings remained after Sherman’s two visits) before this action, but now the north had “Remember Chambersburg” as a battle cry. Good to see some attitude coming through!

There is a state marker at the southwest corner of Main and Washington streets that discusses the Susserott House and the end line of the destruction during the Burning of Chambersburg stopped here. The Masonic temple was protected from the destruction by Confederate Masons. The temple is located at 74 S. Second St.

There are veterans from all the wars in the Norland Cemetery at far north end of Chambersburg on Route 11 (2295 Philadelphia Avenue) with a nice display of all wars markers at the entry gate including the familiar GAR Star. The GAR stars and American flags are easily identified throughout the cemetery.
Lee’s 17-mile-long train of wounded passed through Greencastle on Route 11/Carlisle Street after Gettysburg. There is a historical marker on the southeast corner of the town square, which is the intersection of Baltimore and Carlisle streets, honoring Ulric Dahlgren for a surprise attack on 2 July 1863 that captured important papers for Gen. Lee. Dahlgren staged another attack here on 4 July.

The large brick building on the southwest corner of the Town Square was the Union hotel. John Brown stayed here several times going from the Kennedy Farm in Maryland to the Ritner Boarding House in Chambersburg. From the intersection of Routes 16 and 11. go north to the Rihl Monument on the west side of the road on private property about 0.5 miles north of Walter Avenue. There is a state marker across the road. William Rihl was the first Union casualty on Pennsylvania soil during the Gettysburg Campaign. CSA cavalry Gen. Albert Jenkins used this house as temporary headquarters at the time.
There is a state marker near the state line on Route 75 (15053 Fort London Road) to JEB Stuart’s “Second Ride around McClellan” on 10 October 1862. I was able to download a very helpful map from the Mercersburg Chamber of Commerce. Stuart’s headquarters was at 120 N. Main and has a state marker in front of the Steiger house.

There is a storyboard about the ambush by two Union stragglers on three Confederate horsemen on 4 July 1863 at 17 Seminary St at the intersection with Main on the Square. One of those men, J.W. Alban, died and is buried at the Fairview Cemetery at the intersection of Routes 16 and 75. Enter the Fairview Cemetery then go to the right of the horseshoe-shape war memorial and stay on the western perimeter road and go to the first Y in the road. J.W. Alban and two captured Confederates from Lee’s wagon train are buried together. Three churches (101 First United Methodist and 129 East Seminary United Church of Christ, and the one across from Buchanan’s cabin Reform Seminary on Mercersburg Academy) served as temporary hospitals for those Confederates captured from Lee’s wagon train of wounded.

The Mansion House on the southwest corner of the Square was a place where James Buchanon made a speech in 1852. His statue is just south of the town square on the west side. There is a storyboard just up from the northwest corner of the town square about McCausland fighting a skirmish and taking civilians on 29 July 1864.

There is a state marker at 17 N. Main for the Buchanon Hotel, where the future president lived as a child. The president’s niece, Harriet Lane, served as his first lady/matron of the White House, because Buchanan was a bachelor -- our only bachelor president. She had a home at 14 N. Main with a state historical marker out front.

The Zion Cemetery at 13 Bennet Ave. is the eternal resting place of at least 36 of the 88 Mercersburg’s USCTs including another member of the 54th Massachusetts. The cemetery is at the end of Bennett Avenue accessible from Route 75 by going west on Fairview Street. Bennett is narrow and you may be forced to drive in reverse the entire length to leave, as I did.

The boyhood cabin of Buchanan, our 15th president who was from the mountains of Cove Gap at Stony Battery, now rests on the Mercersburg Academy Campus just south of the athletic fields on the east end of Mercersburg. Go east on Seminary Street until it ends; jog north to the next street, McFarland Road, and go east again until you see the athletic fields and turn south/right. The Reform Seminary will be on your left just before you get to the horseshoe drive for Buchanan’s cabin.
Cove Gap
Buchanan’s Birthplace State Park is on PA Route 16 West, 3.2 miles from Mercersburg on the north side of Buchanan Trail West at Stony Battery Road between Mercersburg and McConnellsburg. This was the western edge of civilization in 1791, and Cove Gap was the main route of travel for anyone trying to go over the Allegheny Mountains or in particular the Tuscarora Mountain.

Buchanan’s father operated a business with cabins, stables, storehouses, an orchard, and a store. This became the first state park in Pennsylvania, thanks to the efforts and generosity of his niece, Harriet Lane. It is small -- 18.5 acres -- but beautiful forested with a short walkway to the pyramid monument to President Buchanan.

Nearby Cowan’s Gap State Park offers camping and family cabins along with many other activities. We never will know if Buchanan’s pleas for a Constitutional Convention over slavery could have prevented the war. We do know he preserved the peace, and that Lincoln followed essentially the same policies until Fort Sumter. One was considered the greatest president ever, one the worst in many circles.

There is a beautiful view of the Bedford Valley at the top of the Tuscarora Mountain on Route 16 West of Cove Gap. Pull over to the south side gravel wayside view.
Okay, Quiz Kid, what town has the most Confederate monuments in Pennsylvania, besides Gettysburg?
  • Wrightsville, for the battle there that may have produced the first black casualty?
    Nope. There is only one grave marker.
  • Hanover, for the cavalry battle there?
    Nope. No markers found to date.
  • If you guessed McConnellsburg, with two, you would be right.
There is a state marker and a Daughters of the Confederacy marker where two confederates were killed and buried by locals on 29 June 1863 at about 575 Buchanan Trail/Route 16 southeast of town. There is also a state marker and monument to the Last Confederate Bivouac on Federal soil where Gen. Bradley T. Johnson camped on his way back to Virginia after burning Chambersburg 31 July 1864. It is located about 20387 Great Cove Road/PA 522 at the intersection of Confederate Lane about a mile out of town.

There is a state marker for the Gettysburg Campaign at about 1023 Lincoln Way East/Route 30 discussing all three times Confederates passed through McConnellsburg. The state marker at the courthouse, which is at the intersection of Second (US Route 522) and (115 East) Market, states that the first Confederate casualties of the Gettysburg Campaign occurred here. There is a small Civil War monument there also.

There are large plaques on the south side of the courthouse listing the names of every Fulton County man to serve in Mr. Lincoln’s War. Also, there is a unique monument there for the War on Terrorism or whatever this administration calls it.

I hope to visit the entrenchments at Loysburg Gap built to protect the key rail center in Altoona even farther north and west of McConnellsburg in Bedford County soon.
Fort London
There is a Confederate buried in the Stenger Hill Cemetery about 1 mile east of Fort London (accessible from modern Route 30 or old Route 30/about 12200 Main St) who came to a shocking end. He lies just inside the northwest entrance next to the stone wall. He was straggling after the Burning of Chambersburg because his horse threw a shoe. He asked for the help of the local blacksmith -- who was a Union Veteran. The blacksmith killed the Rebel with his hammer. Talk about chills up and down your spine…. Oh, my.

Monday, August 24, 2009


From Kristie

It may be cliche to say Gettysburg, but I have to. Gettysburg was my introduction to the Civil War. I was 13 and did all the tourist-y stuff -- rode the trolley, went into the Wax Museum, put my finger into the bullet hole on the door of the Jennie Wade House. But somehow, something stuck with me. It made me delve deeper, want to find out what really happened there and why. In turn, that led me to pick up my pen and write about it. I fell in love with all of the nooks and crannies in Gettysburg, all those "off the beaten path" places. I've gone back dozens of times, even moved to the area for a time. Although by now, I've visited many more Civil War sites, and even taught Civil War studies courses, become a published author and historian, and have two blogs of my own, Gettysburg always means home to me.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Favorite Food: Spicy Hot Dogs

From L.M. German, Richmond VA

A couple of great ideas for hot dog addicts visiting Civil War sites:

After checking out Lynchburg VA and heading toward Appomattox, stop at Moore's Country Store on US 460 just a couple miles east of the US 29 Lynchburg bypass. It's on the right at the bottom of a hill. Unpretentious is a superlative -- there is a huge tree growing virtually through the roof -- and the dogs will literally light you up if you choose their wonderful signature slow burn chili. Eat in or take out in delightful individual Styrofoam boxes. Of course, the same stop works headed in the opposite direction. Moore's has been around since 1926.

Another good choice is Bill's Hot Dogs in Washington NC. Very conveniently located at 109 Gladden St., just a couple of blocks east of Route 17 in the middle of the charming downtown. It's dogs, chips and bottled drinks -- period!! Order at the counter and you will have them in less than a minute. Condiment choices include mustard, onions and a zippy chili. Very limited indoor seating. Bill's has been there since 1928 and is well worth the stop.

Favorite Site: Guinea Station

From John Grim, Alexandria VA

I've had many interesting experiences over the years as an historian and reenactor and tour guide. One of my favorite spots always has been the "caretakers building" at Guinea Station just south of Fredericksburg. There Gen. Stonewall Jackson said, "Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees." The bed, blanket and clock on the mantle are supposed to have been there when he died. The main plantation house burned many years ago, but the cottage still exists right beside the train track that would have carried Jackson to Richmond had Union cavalry gotten close.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Favorite Site: Harpers Ferry - Sheer Beauty

From Don Cassidy
Cold Lake, Alberta, Canada

A longtime dream of mine was to travel to Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia and stand on the battlefields where a nation faced its greatest challenge. A friend and I toured July 14-21 in whirlwind fashion.... Some days, 12-13 hours....

The surprise for me was Harpers Ferry. I hadn't read a lot about its significance. Well, aside from the history and connection to George Washington, John Brown and Thomas Jefferson, the sheer beauty of the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers left me in wonderment.

To imagine Stonewall Jackson's men placing cannons in impossible places, and then standing on Bolivar Heights to witness cannon and musket fire demonstrated by reenactors from New Jersey -- what an experience.

I truly appreciate the care and commitment made by Americans to preserve this turbulent time in history. I am glad I was able to share that experience, and I walk away, having a better insight into a nation. I look forward to more travels to Virginia as the Shenandoah river valley beckons. I can't wait.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Favorite Site: Andersonville

From Greg LeHew, Richmond VA

When my youngest son was growing up, I decided to work on some father-son bonding and one of the things we tried was a special thing on his birthday. Each year I would take the day off and take him out of school for the day. The requirement was that whatever we did had to have an educational element. Because we lived around a couple of big cities in those years, we had a lot of different experiences including Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, Franklin Institute, Valley Forge, Fernbank in Atlanta, and the Jimmy Carter Museum.

The most memorable was Andersonville.

My son had watched the Turner Broadcasting production of Andersonville and became interested in and attached to one of the Union prisoners. I had heard of Andersonville but did not know much about it. I envisioned a large building of bricks and mortar with dark cells and dank conditions. I was amazed to learn that the prison was an open field surrounded by a wooden stockade.

We drove to the site and visited the park museum where we watched a video and my son had the opportunity to look up his soldier on a computer. He seemed astonished to find the soldier really existed and his grave number was identified. It was a somber occasion as we walked the graveyard filled with row after row after row of headstones that were just inches apart. Finally we arrived at the one we sought and stood silent as my son paid his respects to a man he had come to know in a film.

We walked to the prison where a portion of the stockade had been rebuilt. We saw the springhouse and stream that had been the only water source and was quickly contaminated by the use of so many prisoners (almost 33,000 at one point). We learned about deplorable conditions with short supplies of food and little or no shelter and how so many had died during their captivity (almost 13,000).

The ride home was mostly quiet with the occasional exclamation about the horrors of war and the will to survive of some and inhumanity of others. An educational day for both my son and me and one neither will forget.

[Andersonville National Historic Site, www.nps.gov/ande]

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

South Carolina: Jeff King, Days 5 and 6

It is very easy to tour Columbia and understand the deep feelings of hatred for Tecumseh Sherman in these parts. When you study the complete conflagration that enveloped Columbia, it is extreme by almost any definition. Still, arguably Jackson MS, which became known as Chimneyville because only four buildings remained after Sherman completed his work, was even more devastated at Sherman’s hands.

Be sure to pick up a Civil War Tour map of Columbia at the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room at 301 Gervais as some sites are difficult to find — such as the Asylum where many people huddled after the great fire destroyed the city, the Hampton/Preston House (Logan’s Headquarters) at 1615 Blanding, the location of the Confederate Printing Plant (with state marker), Congaree Creek battle site (interpreted), and the surrender rock marking the spot where the mayor of Columbia thought he negotiated a surrender with Sherman that would spare the city. You also candownload a pdf file at www.shermansmarch.com.

The South Carolina Relic Room is flat-out one of the best Civil War museums anywhere. A knowledgeable, friendly staff encourages one to spend a full day in the displays, library and museum pieces. Highlights include the Williams Guards Flag, Joe Wheeler Camp of Spanish American War Veterans Flag, Wade Hampton III’s sword, information on the General Railroad caper, an authentic second national CSA flag, portrait of States Rights Gist, a state flag Sherman captured, expanded detail on Sherman’s March, an actual copy of the famous Charleston paper “The Union is Dissolved,” one of the original 200 Secession Lithographs, a red shirt from the reconstruction political era, period picture of New Hope Church Battlefield, Micah Jenkins sword, Maxcy Gregg’s pocket watch, blockade runner miniature, detailed Hunley information including an operating model with mannequins, several Hampton and Fort Sumter mementoes, a SC First National Flag, Edisto Rifles Reunion Flag, Lexington & Brockman Guards flags, and 1st, 5th, 7th, 16th, 24th and 26th SC regimental battle flags. Finally, a really wonderful relic is the 2nd SC USCT Battle Flag. This is a must-see location.

The State Archives Building at 8301 Parklane Road is one of the most complete state Civil War and historical libraries anywhere. The gift shop is very well stocked with flags and other mementoes to tempt your wallet. The First Baptist Church at 1306 Hampton St. housed the original Secession Convention before it was moved to Charleston due to a smallpox outbreak. The Maxcy Gregg House at 1518 Richland Ave. is used as an attorney’s office. Trinity Episcopal Church at 1100 Sumter St. has the burial sites of most of Wade Hampton’s family (father, son and grandson); Henry Timrod (poet); and, most exciting for me, States Rights Gist.

The First Presbyterian Church at Lady and Marion streets has the CSA Monument made from the remains of a pillar of the Statehouse disfigured by Sherman’s visit. John Hugh, a signer of the Secession document, is buried on the “street” side of the church very near the church’s outer wall. There is a plaque listing CSA soldiers who were members of the congregation. President Woodrow Wilson’s parents also are buried here.
Elmwood Cemetery has two separate Confederate sections that involved the politics at the time. I’m not sure why there is a separate DOC section. Unlike some confederate cemeteries (Camp Chase, Columbus OH, for one) this one is well maintained. The flags are new; the flowers, bushes and decorations fresh. The main section is Section E near where General Maxcy Gregg is buried. I recommend the cemetery guide available at the office. Brig. Gen. Milledge Bonham is buried in his family plot with a southern iron cross. It is one of the few places where you can see all the Confederate flags — the Bonnie Blue, Army of Tennessee battle flag, and all three Confederate States of America national flags — flying together with the SC Confederate state flag.

The South Carolina Statehouse at 100 Gervais St. may be the most detailed in connection to the Civil War of any. There are portraits of the battle of Trevilian Station and Rowland Kirkland’s heroics at Marye’s Heights, Fredericksburg VA, and a bust of Gen. Robert E. Lee inside. A UDC tablet discusses the flag bearers killed in the battle of Gaines' Mill. The statue of John C. Calhoun is awe inspiring. Be absolutely sure to view the south side of the building where Sherman’s artillery forever marked the Statehouse. These pock marks are accentuated by stars. Visit the monument to the old Statehouse burned by Sherman’s troops. The beautiful Confederate Monument and accompanying controversial Army of Northern Virginia Battle Flag are on the west side of the grounds near the boulder to the Jefferson Davis Highway. The equestrian statue of Gen./Governor Wade Hampton dominates the east side of the courtyard. There are brass plaques to all his major battles along the base. The Palmetto Mexican War Monument is one of the most unique and attractive you will see anywhere.
Camping and Restaurants Near Columbia
Sesquicentennial State Park at 9564 Two Notch Road was built by the Roosevelt CCC Program during the Great Depression and is a wonderful state park camping experience. It is easily convenient to shopping, restaurants and the expressway to downtown. Two notes of warning: The front gate is locked in evening hours so if you are going to arrive late call ahead to get the combination to the gate. Second, the lights in the bathhouse are on a timer/motion detector so if you are an early riser like me, be prepared to stand in a dark shower temporarily until you can get the sensor to recognize your door or hand swinging!

The restaurants that stand out in my South Carolina travels is the small chain known as Maurice’s BBQ. One is at the entrance to Sesquicentennial State Park; another at I-95 exit 164 near Florence. The food and service are very good. I particularly like the honey-based yellow sauce on the pulled turkey. If you like genuine pork rinds — yes, straight off the hog — this is the place for you. The Civil War traveler will feel at home here because there were Civil War portraits on the walls of both restaurants I have visited. If you visit Maurice's website, you will find that they support reinstatement of the Confederate States government. If I haven’t said it, South Carolina and Vicksburg TN are the most intense areas I’ve visited for Southern sentiment. It can be very refreshing and interesting to have history presented in a different way than your eighth-grade history book summarized.
Gen. Barnard Elliott Bee, killed at First Manassas, famous for giving Gen. Thomas J. Jackson his sobriquet “Stonewall,” is buried at the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on East Queen Street with a state historical marker.
A small but impassioned museum to the 16th South Carolina Infantry exhibits such articles as a Whitworth shell and sharpshooter rifle; a display to Henry Clay Thurston, at 7-foot-7-1/2 the tallest man in the Confederacy; a nice model of Fort Sumter as it was in 1861; a scale model of the CSS Alabama; a Berdan Sharpshooter rifle; and the 2nd SC Infantry Battle Flag. It is known as the South Carolina Confederate Museum at 15 Boyce Ave.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

South Carolina: Jeff King, Day 5

The Confederate Memorial sits in a park near the former State Route intersection. The note on the monument says “moved with permission of the John D. Kennedy Chapter UDC February 25, 1950.” This monument is across the street from the Camden Archives and Museum, 1314 N. Broad, a nice museum with information on General and Mary Chestnut and, most interesting, the Angel of Maryes Heights (Fredericksburg), Richard Kirkland, as this was his hometown. I failed to visit his grave (he was killed at Chickamauga). I did visit the horse trough monument to his memory at Monument Park at the intersection of Laurens and Broad streets. Go to the corner of Chestnut and Lyttleton to visit the gazebo monument in Rectory Park to Camden’s six CSA generals – Kershaw, Chestnut, Deas, Villepique, Sigantey and Kennedy.
The sadness of the Florence National Cemetery is pronounced. It brings back melancholy memories of the unmarked unknown Confederate trenches for the battle dead at Shiloh TN and Iuka MS. Of course, those were battle casualties. These 2,300 Union men passed away in the Florence Prison facility. This National Cemetery is arguably the most active and largest I’ve visited aside from the one on the Oahu Island of Hawaii. Additional land outside the south gate and across the street are being filled quickly with veterans from our recent wars. The location near Army, Air Force, Coast Guard and Marine bases has made Florence an important final resting place.

At least two dozen markers simply show the number of unknown graves in a trench, varying from 11 to 161.

Somewhere in these trenches is Ohioan Alfred Cannon. Cannon’s story is summarized in a plaque at Canal Winchester OH. There was an exchange by lottery and Cannon’s ticket came up. He was a single man and gave his ticket to friend with a family. He died later of typhoid at Florence Prison. Unlike Andersonville GA, Clara Barton and other administrators had no records to use for headstones on these burials.

One must-see grave site is that of Florena Budwin who disguised herself as a man to stay with her husband until he died at Andersonville. She passed away here after her transfer and is the only female Civil War prisoner to be buried at a National Cemetery. This cemetery also has Revolutionary War interments such as Jacob Brawler and his 22 sons.

It may be worth delaying a visit to Florence as there is an effort to do more interpretation at the prison stockade site. When I visited, there were trails, a guard tower, an historical marker and a gazebo just off Stockade Drive at the 16-acre site.

The Florence Museum at the intersection of Graham and Spruce streets has some nice displays including the huge propeller of the CSS Pee Dee, a rare camp commander’s cot, and the 8th SC Battle Flag. Henry Timrod, a Poet Laureate of the Confederacy, is honored with a local park off Cherokee Road near Park Avenue.

My favorite stop on this day was the War Between the States Museum at 107 S. Guerry. Dripping with secessionist attitude with some true gems about local and not-so-local Confederate history. Be sure to check ahead as it is not open every day. I visited on a Wednesday and could have stayed the whole day. A warning for souvenir hunters, they do have abundant unique articles, but they do not accept credit cards nor Yankee Script. I really enjoyed the in-depth displays, portraits such as General Helms during the victory celebration at Chickamauga, CSS Pee Dee information, Hunley information, a unique ambulance cart water keg, and especially the Florence Prison Camp diorama. This is a do-not-miss location! Be sure to pick up some the modern Confederate literature so as to appreciate a perception not often expressed. My copy of “The Uncivil War” has been enlightening.
Few if any Civil War stops are more pleasant than Cheraw. It is a beautiful town and a bit off the beaten path. To show you how friendly they are: If you go to the Chamber of Commerce/Visitor’s Welcome Center, 221 Market St., to see the Lyceum Museum, they hand you the key and ask you to lock up when you are done. We would do that back in Jay County, Indiana, or even in Alta, Iowa, when I lived there, but I’ve seldom seen that sort of hospitality anywhere else. The museum goes into great detail about Sherman’s occupation and the extensive foraging. There are remnants of the fire that Union troops set, which destroyed the business area. There is a pen that signed the SC Ordinance of Secession. There is information on the CSS Pee Dee and its only engagement against Sherman. Be sure to see the first Civil War Monument ever erected (apologies to the church in Liberty, Mississippi) in the St. David’s Episcopal Church yard at First and Church streets. Due to Union occupation at the time it is a very “mellow” monument in comparison to the hundreds that followed.
For music lovers, there is a cool statue of Cheraw’s own Louie Armstrong forever blowing on his horn in front of the Visitor’s Center. Ask for the walking tour brochure of Cheraw at the Visitor’s Center. It is very detailed and full of Civil War information.
Be sure to see the secession rock near the Courthouse on Main Street that commemorates Chesterfield's first official secession meeting on 19 November 1860.

Friday, July 24, 2009

South Carolina: Jeff King, Day 4


I got a tremendous early start on the day by touring the Battery. I found a good parking space and was able to walk to almost all of today’s sites. The Charleston Museum Mile Brochure is very helpful.

The Battery at the end of Meeting Street is full of Charleston’s history from day one. The park here is manicured and beautiful. I really liked the Still on Patrol Marker for US Navy Submarines Losses. The artillery row here is as impressive as the one at Fort Moultrie. The 7-inch banded Brookes, 11-inch Dahlgren and 13-inch mortars look ready to commit serious destruction. There is a 10-inch Columbiad like the one that woke Confederate defenders for the Battle of Secessionville. Don’t miss the monument to the CSS Hunley, the UDC stone monument, and the Confederate Defenders of Charleston monument.

Hibernian Hall at 105 Meeting St. was Stephen Douglas’s Headquarters during the ill-fated 1860 Democratic Convention. Institute Hall at 134 Meeting St. was where the Ordinance of Secession was signed. The Petigru Law Office at 8 St. Michael’s Alley is tricky to get to. Don’t expect a full-size pick-up truck to maneuver here easily or even go the entire length of the alley for that matter. James Louis Petigru was the lawyer and Union man who noted, “South Carolina was too small to be a republic and too large to be an insane asylum.”

City Hall at Broad and Meeting streets is more than worth a stop for the portraits and mementos — portraits of T.J. Jackson, Wade Hampton, John C. Calhoun and Pierre G.T. Beauregard; busts of James Petigru and John C. Calhoun; and the sword given to P.G.T. Beauregard by the ladies of New Orleans in 1861. Be sure to visit the Washington Park area outside City Hall where statues and monuments to the Confederacy were placed.

Marion Square at the corner of Calhoun and Meeting streets is a nice city park with a huge monument to John C. Calhoun more than worth the time to see. There is also a monument to Hampton’s Legion on the north side of the park. There were a few homeless at the park, but they didn’t disturb me. Compared to the homeless population at the Civil War Monument Parks in Washington DC, the few at Marion Park were minor.

Charleston Museum at 360 Meeting St. is a detailed and complete city museum. The Civil War from the first shot through shortages to the barrenness of the city at war’s end is covered. Highlights:
  • A round from the Swamp Angle, which battered Charleston from the Union position 4 miles away
  • A picture of the ceremony in 1865 for reclaiming Fort Sumter for the Union on the fourth anniversary of its surrender
  • Furniture from the secession convention with a great deal of detail on secession and the convention
  • A printing plate for the lyrics of “The Bonnie Blue Flag”
  • President Davis’s walking cane presented to him by the children of Charleston
  • A copy of the newspaper article declaring Lee’s “victory” at Gettysburg.
  • A neat model of the Hunley with a spar torpedo at the museum entrance (It was ironic that the day I was there they were working on it so electrical cords ran in and out of it.)
  • Jed Hotchkiss’s field glasses
  • The 1st SC battle flag
You can learn a great deal about blockade running. For example, the Syran ran the blockade 93 times. As you can well imagine, there is good detail on all military actions in the Charleston area including torpedo boats and ironclads. There are haunting pictures of the destruction of Charleston that look much like the same shambles Richmond laid in after its abandonment. There is also black history with ballot boxes and detail on the 54th Massachusetts regiment.

Daughters of the Confederacy Museum
188 Meeting St. upstairs at the City Market Building

I’ve said before that the National Prisoner of War complex in Andersonville, Georgia, and the Fredericksburg, Virginia, Luminaries Ceremony are my two favorite Civil War places/events. However, this location takes a back seat to no other. This was the induction location for South Carolina soldiers going off to war. This was where they were debriefed after their service. This is where they held their meetings after the war. This is where they and their relatives brought their most valued possessions from the war. The term "labor of love" was invented for the work that is done here. If you only visit one site in the Carolinas, this is the place to go.

I was fortunate enough to speak with June Wells, former president of the UDC, for nearly 20 minutes on my visit. She was there as a child to meet most of the remaining veterans and then to see their families as they brought in their treasured memories. She was there to pick up the pieces after Hurricane Hugo ripped off the roof. She was there to fight for another long-term lease when the City of Charleston wanted to use the building for something else at the expiration of the 99-year lease originally signed after the war. She says the mayor of Charleston crosses the street to avoid her now. It would be impossible to describe in detail all the articles on display. If you ask, the volunteers here can tell you the soldier they came from and the story behind them.
A Civil War souvenir store on the ground floor in the farmer’s market area, not associated with the UDC Museum, has an interesting inventory.

Magnolia Cemetery at 70 Cunningham Ave. has a Gettysburg section, a monument with names to those who fell on 2 July at Gettysburg, Gen. Micah Jenkins obelisk, a monument to all the SC CSA generals who served in the war, a monument to the Washington Light Artillery & their names, a cavalry obelisk, a SC ironclads monument, a couple of unknown CS naval sections, a SC seaman monument to those killed in the war with names, a section for the second Hunley crew, and the recent burials of the CSS Hunley crew. Finding all these highlights was time consuming as the sections are not connected and I was unable to find an office for a cemetery map.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

South Carolina: Jeff King, Day 3

Because of the mid-week closing of Rivers Bridge Battlefield Park, this Monday became a significant driving day. It included three battle sites and a better appreciation for the Marines.

James Island and the Battle of Secessionville
The historical marker for Battery No. 5 is in the housing development near the intersection of Bur Clare Drive and Secessionville Road. The historical marker is on the east side of the street on Seaside Plantation Drive.

Fort Lamar Heritage Preserve for the Battle of Secessionville (CSA)/James Island (USA) at 1229 Fort Lamar Road is a well interpreted site with trails, earthworks, and a good view of the swamp that was the Confederate flank position. I don’t remember defending troops being awakened by an attacking force with the firing of grapeshot out of a 10-inch Columbiad as were the CSA defenders here at the Battle of Secessionville. Imagine waking up to an earth shaking artillery moment and instant hand-to-hand combat. This is how CSA Col. Thomas G. Lamar, a South Carolinian from Edisto Island, was forced to begin the day 16 June 1862. That has some serious WOW Factor.

The parking area has the Confederate and Union Obelisks, an interesting entry sign, excellent period pictures, a UDC stone monument to the battle, and information on the battle. The earthworks, battle area, no man’s land, and attack routes are all easily accessible from trails. Col. Lamar is quoted that his victory here while being outnumbered six-to-one was “owing entirely to patriotism, love of freedom, and indomitable courage.” That's mostly accurate, but the earthworks, artillery, and a very defendable position certainly contributed to the success.
Because it was under Union control so early in the war, Beaufort escaped the destruction suffered by so many other South Carolina towns. The Antebellum homes are gorgeous and for many probably worth the separate tour available at the Visitor Center, 1106 Carteret St. The Beaufort Arsenal was closed for repairs when I visited, but it was worth the stop anyway. McKees/Small House at 511 Prince Street is private and was for sale when I drove by. It does have a state historical marker to Robert Smalls who captured a Confederate steamer.

"Secession House” (Maxcy/Rhett) at 1113 Cravens St. has a historical marker for Edmund Rhett’s home. The National Cemetery at 1611 Boundary is striking because of the contrast of beauty given by the palm trees that I seldom see. The graves include casualties of both Gulf Wars. The St. Helen’s Episcopal Church at 501 Church St., which served as a hospital during the war, is the grave site of CSA Lt. Gen. Robert Anderson and several other southern soldiers marked by the distinctive southern crosses.
Parris Island
Maybe it is because so many patriotic defenders of the America passed through here, but Parris Island is a special place. You must have personal identification, registration, and insurance card for car inspection at the gate (just like other active military bases at West Point NY and Fort Monroe VA). I really appreciated the guards' grooming tips. Be sure to visit the museum, 111 Panama St. (follow the signs), which has a small display on Marine Civil War uniforms and a display on the Battle of Port Royal Sound. It is fascinating to see how many famous people were Marines — Shelby Foote, Charlie Hough, Bob Keesham, Gene Hackman, George Peppard, Scott Glenn, Glenn Ford, Jonathan Winters, Gene Harwell, Keith Jackson, et al.

A driving tour map is available. Drive out past the golf course on the southern tip of the base to the Battle of Port Royal display off the boardwalk near the monument to the farthest north Spanish Fort in America. The view of Port Royal Sound is breathtaking.
Ehrhardt and Rivers Bridge State Park Battlefield
325 State Park Road (1357 Confederate Highway/Route 641)
The largest engagement in South Carolina during Sherman’s March is well interpreted, clean and very enjoyable. Plan ahead — this state park is closed Tuesday and Wednesday. The interpretive trail really goes into detail about all aspects of the battlefield and the final successful Union Flank attack. The edge of the Salkehatchie River makes it seem impossible for an army to pass through this swamp even with a corduroy road. How in the name of the Pioneer Corps and Engineering did they make this way passable? The Confederate Earthworks are in very good shape. Take a picnic lunch; this remote park is off the beaten path and a beautiful place to enjoy some time outdoors.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

South Carolina: Jeff King, Day 2

Charleston, First Day

Because of the limited schedule of the CSS HL Hunley exhibit, this was a key day on the trip.

My first stop in one of the truly spectacular cities for any Civil War traveler was the Visitor’s Center and boat to Fort Sumter. The Liberty Square Visitor Center at the end of Calhoun Street is informative and spacious. Be sure and see the displays out front of the building. This is the chief point of departure for the boat to Fort Sumter.

It seems like a minor complaint now, but I really felt rushed while I was at Fort Sumter. After you listen to the ranger presentation, you have less than 45 minutes to cover this facility. That wasn’t enough for me. I probably should have waited for the next boat and not rushed through what seemed like a superb museum.

Keep in mind there are areas of the fort that are similar to the 1860 appearance, but most of the walls have been leveled and there is a huge World War I battery in the middle of the island. Still, most historians feel this is where it all began. (I look at John Brown’s attack on Harpers Ferry as the first organized and well-funded attempt by multiple northern states to capture southern property.) Also understand, Fort Sumter is a major tourist stop, and you will be there with people who aren’t all that knowledgeable about Mr. Lincoln’s War.

I got huge goosebumps standing at a high point near the flagpoles at the back of the facility and looking out upon Fort Moultrie, Castle Pickney, Morris Island and the other points where the shelling began that morning of 12 April 1861.

My next stop was at the exhibit of the epic history-making boat that changed the world forever, the CSS HL Hunley. The work being done at the warehousing complex at 1250 Supply St. in North Charleston for the restoration of the Hunley is very similar to the work on the Monitor, but South Carolinians are fiercely proud of the submarine and put up quite a fight for keeping it here rather than letting it go to the USS Monitor Center at the Mariners' Museum in Virginia or to the Naval Base near Washington DC.

The museum here is quite complete. Thank goodness, because there was a long wait to see the submarine. The detail and relics for the Hunley are remarkable. A nice tribute is paid with a full scale model to the first Confederate submarine, the Pioneer built in New Orleans before the Union occupation. There was a great deal of information about the 1999 TNT movie about the Hunley starring Donald Sutherland as P.G.T. Beaugard (which I still haven't seen).

The model of the ship is quite informative. You can get inside (if you are small enough!) and shuffle around. Keep in mind the actual Hunley was even smaller than this very tight model. The display of the forensic science for rebuilding the actual faces of the Hunley’s crew is absolutely amazing. The display of the CSA Medals of Honor for the Hunley crew is tastefully done. The tank that contains the Hunley is almost exactly like the Monitor’s storage with the painfully slow removal of sea water through light electrical charge. It is a thrill to walk near the ship. Keep in mind there are limited weekend hours here at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center to see this vessel.

The Citadel Museum is a small but well presented history of the institution. I love how they put forward their cadets firing on the Star of the West as the “actual” first shots of the Civil War. Pictures of the cadets involved in the Star of the West incident add a human touch, and the diorama of the firing is very well done. There is detail about the 14 cadet casualties suffered serving under Wade Hampton at Trevilian Station in Virginia. Citadel cadets participated in 15 Civil War engagements including Bentonville NC. Citadel graduates included CSA Brigadier Gens. Johnson Hagood, Micah Jenkins, E.M. Law, and Ellison Capers. The first and second national CSA flags in the staircase are in tremendously good condition. On an outside note, the cadets' Revolutionary War Battle Flag is pretty cool.

Fort Moultrie on Sullivan’s Island was involved in every American War up to Korea. It is very easy to see why US Gen. Anderson made the decision to abandon this location — houses crowd right up to the walls of the fort. The view of Fort Sumter is picturesque. You get a reminder from a historical marker that tens of thousands of African Americans landed here in bondage. You also find out that this was the launching point of the CSS Hunley. The museum here is quite complete, and the Rodman shell circa 1885 is impressive. The picture of post-war desolation is revealing. A diorama of the attack on Battery Wagner is well done. The Powder Bunker/Magazine complete with kegs really puts that building’s function into clear view like nowhere else I’ve visited. The WWII lookout tower is interesting. More important for Civil War travelers is the artillery display, which may be the most complete anywhere short of Trophy Point at West Point NY on the USMA campus. It includes Columbiads, mortars, Parrots, Rodmans, and Brookes.

South Carolina: Jeff King, Day 1

The Drive South

I drove from Central Pennsylvania through North Carolina to just outside of Charleston, South Carolina, in one long day.

This time, summer 2008, I retraced steps because during my 2007 North Carolina trip, I made the mistake of visiting the surrender site at Bennett Place and the Duke Plantation on Good Friday, which is a state holiday in North Carolina (some states rights did survive!), and neither site was open.

Bennett Place is a well-interpreted site and restored very well. The only original structure is the chimney of the house, and that building is rebuilt to the best estimation of the structure where Generals Johnson and Sherman met. (The only original surrender site for an entire army still intact is the Dover Hotel near Fort Donaldson in Tennessee where Simon Bolivar Buckner made "Unconditional Surrender Grant" famous.) The graduate student guide was very good on the facilities tour.

I camped three nights at the KOA Campgrounds at 3157 Highway 17 North, Mount Pleasant SC, and it was luxurious. Pool, two bathhouses, wireless Internet, fishing, and an activities building with ping pong, laundry and kitchen. The lakeside sunset from my campsite near the cabins was spectacular.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Tennessee/Kentucky: Jeff King, Day 8

30 June 2009
Cleveland TN, Chilhowee CSA Monument, Chickamauga

Cleveland TN
Like Knoxville, Cleveland is a city with memorials to both CSA and Union troops. The UDC Monument is at the north end of downtown where Ococee (800 North) Street splits into one way streets (800 North). The Union marker is at the entrance of the Ft. HillCemetery on Worth Street just southwest of Third Street/Route 11.
Cherokee National Forest
There are few more enjoyable drives than Tennessee Route 64 from Cleveland to the Chilhowee CSA Monument. The road is being widened and development of mountain cabins is beginning, but it is beautiful. You pass various white water rafting tours and the site of the 1996 Summer Olympics Whitewater Event Center. The Ococee River is scenic.

Getting to the Chilhowee Confederate Memorial is time consuming, but more than worth it for someone like me who dreads being overrun at Gettysburg’s Little Round Top from the bus/tourist congestion. I’m not sure how many annual visitors get to this remote skirmish site, but I’ll wager it is 1,250,000 fewer than Gettysburg. Thank goodness. The vista views of the Cherokee National Forest are worth the trip alone, but the CSA memorial is unique and quite a gem for the Civil War Traveler. Plan on at least 15 minutes after you leave State Highway 64 on Forest Service Road 77 just past the Ranger Station. It is difficult to believe that Civil War action took place here, but it did!

After returning to Route 64, travel the extra 10 or so miles east to the Boyd’s Gap Overlook to see the Confederate Memorial Forest, and go another 2 miles east for the NPS signage.
Chickamauga National Military Park
This is the last of the NMPs that I have visited east of the Mississippi River, where the idea of preservation began -- the great Confederate victory of the West with its wasted opportunities. It will take several trips to absorb most of what happened here, but there is always that excitement of the 13-year-old deep inside of me when I first enter the gates of hallowed ground such as this.

The Visitor Center parking lot is running over on the busiest day of the year so far according to rangers inside. I estimate two-thirds of the vehicles have bike racks, and the battlefield is swarming with cyclists. The displays inside the visitor center are detailed and different from the other federal facilities. Nice information on reunions, especially the one at Crawfish Springs GA. The introductory film is informative, if a bit corny in its presentation. The bookstore has Travel Brains Tours CDs, which always have been worth the extra expense for introducing me to a battlefield. Ironically, new T-shirts arrived just this morning, and I am told I am the first to buy the latest design. I pick up a couple of battle maps for later study. Then on to where Forrest made contact!

Maybe it is because I was at the Wilderness just a week before, but the fields feel similar. Furious action developed in the farm clearings, and there are heavy woodlots on relatively flat ground. One of Longstreet’s men even said that the Wilderness was like Chickamauga -- except there was no rear to retreat to at the Wilderness. Of course, 60 miles of trails here far dwarf the 14 miles at the Wilderness.

The signage is similar to Shiloh with the cast iron tablets. I once spoke with Stacy D. Allen at Shiloh and he said one of the most difficult tasks is keeping up these tablets without lead based paint. Seems ironic that healthier lifestyles dictate more difficult NPS maintenance. There are also push-button speaker boxes like those at Gettysburg. Another similarity to Gettysburg is the sheer volume of tablets, monuments and markers. I stumbled over the 7th PA Cavalry and 75th Indiana monuments more by luck than by design. If you are looking for specific monuments, definitely buy a monument guide book.

The field is overwhelming for a detailed person such as myself, and five hours simply isn’t enough, but that is for other trips to come. Viniard Field, Poe House, the Brotherton Cabin, Rosecrans Headquarters, Hood’s injury spot marked by a finger sign, and of course Snodgrass Hill -- all are awash in monuments, plaques, tablets, and cannon pyramids. I stopped at each and barely scratched the surface of what happened on this hallowed ground. I hope I can do what I once did at Gettysburg and split the field into quadrants and walk one quadrant per day sometime soon. I guess my simple advise is double the time you plan for your visit here. You’ll need and enjoy it.

This concludes my notes from a trip of 3,400 miles in 10 days. I sincerely hope that this helps someone else enjoy their Civil War travels more richly. A huge thank you to Norma and Don Pierce of the website. Don told me a year ago during my South Carolina trip that I should do a blog, and Norma helped me do so. I can only hope I didn’t disappoint them or you the reader. May you have many enjoyable historical trips!