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,]

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

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!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Tennessee/Kentucky: Jeff King, Day 7

29 June 2009
Winchester TN to the Battles of Chattanooga
Photos by Jeff King

Winchester TN – The state historical sign at Winchester’s Courthouse discusses Franklin County voting to secede from Tennessee and asking for admittance to Alabama on 24 February 1861. This is very similar to the state historical marker in Mayfield KY when seven of Kentucky’s westernmost counties voted to secede from that Commonwealth. The old Jail Museum nearby has Civil War Trails markers at US 41 Alt and Porter Street. It is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. The Peter Turney (governor/secessionist) state marker to the 1st TN in the Army of Northern Virginia is on 41 Alt about 0.1 mile from Old Mill Avenue.

Cowan TN – The Railroad Museum is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday May-October. This was a key area because of the nearby railroad tunnel.

Sewanee TN – University of the South was partially founded by General Leonidas K. Polk, and the All Saint’s Cathedral is one of the best Civil War sites anyone can visit. The words "breathtaking" and "awesome" are overused in our present society. They should be reserved for places such as this house of worship. Any traveler would enjoy this stop. The stained glass alone is worth an hour of anyone’s time. Be sure and see the stained glass scene of Union Troops blowing up the church’s cornerstone in the Narthex - rear lobby. Be prepared to be in awe of the cathedral’s interior. While on campus, visit the grave of General Kirby Smith at the Sewanee Cemetery two blocks from the Chapel on Georgia Avenue.

Mont Eagle TN – A late breakfast at the Mont Eagle Diner on Route 41 Alt about 0.5 mile west of I-24 exit 124 offered pork tenderloin with grits or gravy, good biscuits but no potatoes. Ambience was mainly old Chevrolet pictures, hubcaps, etc. from the Booby Wiggins collection (pre 1960) with separate room for non-smokers. I am surprised that the majority of folks order soda as a breakfast drink in almost all the places I have stopped in Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee this week. The only fruit juice offered was orange. Service and food worth stopping in for a visit.

Chattanooga TN
Signal Hill on Signal Mountain – A National Park Service site north of the city off Route 127/27 on Signal Mountain. Signal Point is off Mississippi Avenue. I highly recommend beginning your Chattanooga visit here as it lays out the city and its battles in a remarkably scenic way. Restroom facilities, interpretative signs, and a wonderful overlook are at this site.

As you quickly discover, Chattanooga was a series of battles. There is nothing to see of Brown’s Ferry. Most of the Wauhatchie Battlefield is covered by a large high school. Maybe the only easily visible markers of the Wauhatchie battle are the New York Monument off to the side of I-24 South near mile marker 175, and the state marker at 100 Wauhatchie Pike. So the next logical stop is the Battles for Chattanooga Museum, 1150 Brow St., Lookout Mountain. Here you can visit a well stocked gift shop, and see the video/electrical map presentation of all the battles. This private business makes a very good presentation for understanding what otherwise can be a very confusing jumble of events. It is located next door to the National Park Service Visitor Center, which is across the street from the entry gate for the Lookout Mountain site. On-street parking requires pumping in quarters. Go around the corner and park behind the NPS VC, which is free.

Lookout Mountain Point Park NPS site - Pay the $3 at the visitor center for the entry fee, and go across the street through the memorial gate. There were ranger presentations, which were open to all questions about the Battle above the Clouds on Lookout Mountain, other local NPS sites, and the Trail of Tears Memorial, which is centered here in Chattanooga. As always, I had several questions and the ranger was helpful, friendly and informative. As was true at Signal Point, the views of the Chattanooga area from Point Park are spectacular. This is the highlight of the NPS sites in Chattanooga. Once you have toured the Point Park at Lookout Mountain site, the next stop should be the Cravens House, which you most likely will pass on the way up the mountain.

Cravens House NPS site – House is not period, but most of the critical portions of the Battle above the Clouds happened here. Several monuments are at this site, some storyboards. Don’t forget to see the Confederate Rifle Pits (picture attached) on the trail near the parking area.

National Medal of Honor Museum - Near the Sears entrance to Northgate Mall on TN 153 at Hixson Pike. Small but nice display on Andrews Raiders and a reunion picture are highlights.

Chattanooga National Cemetery – Seeing the thousands of unknown graves decorated with American flags was unique and exciting. I did not find the USCT section as I arrived after closing of the Grounds Office. The Andrews Raiders Monument and the graves are tasteful and well marked. There is a Memorial Circle of Honor to many “other wars” near the peak of the cemetery that is unique and enjoyable.

Silverdale Confederate Cemetery – From Bragg’s first visit in 1862 on the way to Kentucky. Located next to a Harley-Davidson dealership, scene of quite the party that night, but just short of loud enough to wake the dead. Just off I-75 exit 7B on route 11/Lee Highway. Gates locked, but well worth the outside view.

Chattanooga Confederate Cemetery – Signage specifically asks for anyone visiting to call what I believe is University of Tennessee - Chattanooga Security, so I didn’t go over the wall. If I had I could've walked the area that has a speaker’s stand, several markers, two UDC plaques, obelisk, flag pole, and an unusual headstone marked "Negro Man CSA" in grass that was not yet mown this year.

Missionary Ridge – The “Reservations” are more than frustrating. The Bragg, Turchin, Ohio and Pennsylvania reservations have no parking and probably never will as all of Crest Road is developed under private homes. Limited parking is available at the Sherman Reservation. Sufficient parking is available at the DeLong Reservation. I was hoping to have some sort of trail up the Ridge and at least walk in the footsteps of the 75th Indiana and other hometown men who conquered this formidable looking position. I’m guessing the only way to truly tour this area is to park at DeLong and walk on the narrow Crest Road, taking your life in your hands. I will say there are many tablets and descriptions along the way to explore. This battle area that helped to break the back of the Confederacy is a definite disappointment.

Orchard Knob – Locked after 5 p.m. Driving gate locked both in the evening and at 9 a.m. the next morning. The monument area at the peak is well mown and interpreted. The rest of the knob is overgrown. Getting a clear view of Missionary Ridge is a challenge due to the trees. Walking entry gate is at the corner of East Fourth Street and Orchard Knob.
Stayed at Raccoon Mountain Campground – Easy access off I-24 exit 174 with good bathhouse and facilities. Go-Kart track and 405 miles of caves for those so inclined.

Tomorrow: The Last Day