"What is Past is Prologue" "Study the
Quotes on Robert I. Aitken-Designed Statues on the National
Archives Two statues grace the Pennsylvania Avenue side
of the National Archives. One features an old man holding a
scroll and a closed book. The book holds the knowledge of past
generations. The second depicts a young woman with an open
book in her lap. She is looking upward, into the distance,
to the future.
Sesquicentennial 150 Years After Fort
Was the Civil War About Slavery? The Head of the Department of History at the United States Military Academy at West Point Says YES!!! Watch Video Below
NOTE TO VISITORS: While agreeing with the message of the video and finding it to be an exceptional and valid educational tool, DaytrippingMetro.com in no way concurs in the views expressed by the organization that originally produced and posted the video on the Internet.
The issues at the
heart of the Civil War remain relevant today: equality for all
Americans, the appropriate reach of the federal government,
and the effort to reconcile differing cultural values under a
single national flag.
On June 16, 1864,
President Abraham Lincoln made one of his rare wartime
departures from Washington. He spoke in Philadelphia at a
fund-raising fair for the United States Sanitary Commission, a
national soldiers' aid society.
The preceding six
weeks had seen the bloodiest fighting in the Civil War so far,
at the carnage-strewn Virginia battlefields of The Wilderness,
Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, and Petersburg. "War, at the best,
is terrible," Lincoln told the crowd, "and this war of ours,
in its magnitude and duration, is one of the most terrible. .
. . It has destroyed property, and ruined homes. . . . It has
carried mourning to almost every home, until it can almost be
said that 'the heavens are hung in black.'"
When would this
cruel war be over? many were asking.
"We accepted this
war for an object," said the president, "a worthy object of
restoring the national authority over the whole national
domain." The war would end only "when that object is
During the battle of
Spotsylvania, Union General Ulysses S. Grant had said that he
intended to fight it out on that line if it took all summer.
Lincoln added: "I say we are going through on this line if it
takes three years more."
determination to fight on to victory despite the cost
characterized Lincoln's leadership in the
Confederate President Jefferson Davis was no less determined. "We
are fighting for INDEPENDENCE and that, or extermination, we will
have," he told a Northern journalist in July 1864. "You may
'emancipate' every negro in the Confederacy, but we will be free. We
will govern ourselves . . . if we have to see every Southern
plantation sacked, and every Southern city in
One needs to drive only an
hour or two from the Metropolitan Washington area to find some of
the major battlefields of the Civil War - First and Second Battles
of Bull Run (Manassas), Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, Petersburg and
the battles around Richmond to name a few.
Due to the area's location
near the two capitals - Washington, DC and Richmond, VA - there were
also numerous skirmishes and "minor" battles fought in this area
throughout the war.
The more "local",
lesser publicized and visited battles/ historical sites are
well worth scouting out.
They give a flavor
of the more personal nature of the war and its impact on local
citizens not actually engaged in the war as
We should also mention Chatham
Manor (Fredericksburg, VA). Between 1862 and 1864, it
became, in turn, an army headquarters, a communications center, a
hospital, a campsite, and a refuge from the cold for Union
Four major Civil War
battles were fought in the countryside surrounding Chatham. Wartime
figures, famous and ordinary, passed through the house, some who
would move on to greatness, some cast adrift by the upheaval of
military occupation, and some far from homes they would never see
again. In the wake of passing armies, Chatham, like the war-torn
town visible from its front door, emerged standing, but forever
changed by the turmoil of civil war.
Fredericksburg was a
disastrous Union defeat. Burnside suffered 12,600 casualties in the
battle, many of whom were brought back to Chatham for care. For
several days army surgeons operated tirelessly on hundreds of
soldiers inside the house. Assisting them were volunteers, including
poet Walt Whitman and Clara
Barton who later founded the American chapter of the
International Red Cross.
Historical sites, such as
the Mary Surratt
House in Clinton, MD, the Dr. Mudd
House (Beantown, MD), and Blenheim House in Fairfax City,
VA add a more personal note to the history of the Civil
house/tavern has received recent publicity as a result of
Robert Redford's film "The Conspirator" about Ms. Surratt's
part in Lincoln's assassination.
The site offers the
original house and some original furnishings but is more
important as a part of the escape route of John Wilkes Booth
than as a museum house with original
A docent-led tour
highlights the history, life, and role played by the Surratt
family in the aftermath of the Union victory and the
subsequent assassination of Lincoln. The house is complimented
by a small visitor's center where one may follow
electronically the escape and capture of Booth and find
artifacts relating to the Surratt
We visited the Surratt
House on April 14, the anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's
assassination and were intrigued by the intricate plot, part of
which directly played out at this site. A well delivered and
documented narrative by our docent added a "you are there" flavor to
Another house worth
visiting is the recently opened Historic Blenheim, located southwest
of Fairfax Circle in the City of Fairfax, near the old town area of
Fairfax. Long owned by the same Willcoxon family, it was recently
"rescued" (1999) and opened to the public as a Civil War
Used partly as a hospital
during the war, as well as a way station for moving armiesk, the
house is in an unfurnished state but contains the signatures,
drawings, and sayings of many of the Union soldiers treated
The original 367 acre-land
and farm house was used by Union troops during 3 distinct periods
(only 1 hospital period):
Spring 1862 - The majority of signatures came from soldiers
who camped on the Willcoxon land near Fairfax Court House for
several days under General George Mcclellan just prior to the
Peninsula Campaign. There are a total of 116 identified soldiers
among the signatures.
Fall '62-Winter '63 - hospital period (typhoid fever and other
communicable intestinal complaints)
Spring 1863-mostly the 1st Michigan Cavalry-camped on the
property for 3 months prior to Gettysburg
This site is still
ripe for further exploration and interpretation and
fortunately sits on 12 acres which "protects" it from the
neighboring subdivision sprawl. Its now naturalized landscape
helps visitors realize what it must have been like when this
house was actually in the "country".
The Civil War
Interpretive Center at Historic Blenheim interprets the site's
history and the Civil War in the greater Fairfax area. It
features an exhibition gallery with illustrated timeline of
Civil War events. The Assembly Hall accommodates 90 people and
hosts monthly Civil War Lectures.
the most complete set of Civil War graffiti in Virginia. (The
only other house with similar graffiti is the Graffiti House
near Brandy Station Battlefield.)
from Blenheim's attic have been expertly reconstructed in the
beautiful visitor's center exhibition hall. The well-lighted
and documented display enables the visitor to relive what must
have been the tedium of the convalescing Union
Here one finds
signatures, drawings, jokes, and even games on the
A family cemetery and a
smaller structure compliment the site. The structure is Grandma's
Cottage, which dates to c. 1840. The structure is not original to
the site and was moved here in 2001. It was occupied for much of its
history by Margaret Conn Willcoxon Farr, the daughter of Rezin
Willcoxon, owner of the Willcoxon estate (later named "Blenheim"),
and the sister of Albert Willcoxon, owner of the
We were fortunate to
meet Docent Hildie Carney, one of the "movers and shakers" who
saw the importance of Blenheim and was instrumental in its
resurrection as an historical site by the City of
Ms. Carney has a
wealth of information about the place, its preservation, and
In addition to Ms.
Carney, Andrea Loewenwarter, Historic Resources Specialist,
provides much information and history of the documentation of
the soldiers responsible for the graffiti.
Ms. Hildie Carney and Tom
Both of these
professionals have a wonderful pride in and appreciation of the
importance of this developing site. Their enthusiasm is contagious!
This site is well on its way to becoming a jewel in the history of
On October 16, 17,
and 18, 1859, John Brown and his "Provisional Army of the
United States" took possession of the United States Armory and
Arsenal at Harpers Ferry. Brown had come to arm an uprising of
Instead, the raid
drew militia companies and federal troops from Maryland,
Virginia, and the District of Columbia.
On the morning of
October 18, a storming party of 12 Marines broke down the door
of the Armory's fire enginehouse, taking Brown and the
remaining raiders captive.
Even as John Brown's Raid
was unfolding, Harpers Ferry residents George and Mary Mauzy
described the events of the raid in a series of emotional letters to
their daughter and son-in-law, James and Eugenia
were killed in the raid - two slaves, three townsmen, a
slaveholder, one Marine and ten of Brown's men. John Brown,
Aaron Stevens, Edwin Coppoc, Shields Green and John Copeland
were taken to jail in Charles Town, Virginia, on October 19.
Albert Hazlett and John Cook were subsequently captured and
jailed with the others.
Faced with charges
of murder, conspiring with slaves to rebel and treason against
the state of Virginia, John Brown's trial began October 27 and
lasted just five days. Jurors took only 45 minutes to reach a
decision - guilty of all charges. On November 2 Brown was
sentenced to hang on the gallows.
All six of Brown's
captured men were tried and hanged. Five escaped. Brown was
executed December 2, 1859. Brown's wife, Mary, took his body
home to North Elba, New York for burial.
A contemporary newspaper
account foretold a grim future. "The Harpers Ferry invasion has
advanced the cause of disunion more than any other event that has
happened since the formation of the Government."
Hope of compromise between
the North and South slipped into oblivion. Civil War was
followed John Brown to Harpers Ferry. Twenty-one individuals
with different backgrounds and occupations, rich, poor, black,
white, some born free and others born into bondage; men with
many differences joined in one common goal - to end slavery.
Knowing the risks, they joined Brown's Provisional Army and
sixteen gave their lives with the hope that four million
slaves would one day be free.
NOTE: "You may know the story of John Brown's unsuccessful raid on Harpers Ferry, but author James McBride's retelling of the events leading up to it is so imaginative, you'll race to the finish."—NPR
"A magnificent new novel by the best-selling author James McBride…a brilliant romp of a novel…McBride—with the same flair for historical mining, musicality of voice and outsize characterization that made his memoir, The Color of Water, an instant classic—pulls off his portrait masterfully, like a modern-day Mark Twain: evoking sheer glee with every page." — The New York Times Book Review
We increasingly find it difficult to resist the purchase of a book which presents a unique twist on anything to do with the Civil War. And when we came across McBride's The Good Lord Bird, which was not an historical rehashing of the "facts" surrounding the raid, we grabbed it up.
Having just completed reading the book (November 12, 2013), I (Ron) found it to be one of the most entertaining, amusing, and historically fascinating stories I have read in a very long time. McBride is simply amazing in bringing complex characters to life in a manner to make the reader believe that you are seeing true history evolve before your very eyes. I know, of course, that The Good Lord Bird is a novel. But since I have studied John Brown, toured Harper's Ferry, and included the history of the raid on this site, I could easily separate fact from fiction - and loved every second of the process.
Unless Otherwise Noted, the following includes content liberally quoted from a review of the book on NPR's web site by Bobbi Booker - a Philadelphia-based journalist, radio personality and blogger. You can find her online at By Bobbi Booker.
"I was born a colored man and don't you forget it," announces Henry Shackleford in the opening pages of musician and author McBride's novel.
A manuscript, supposedly discovered after a church fire cleanup, offers the first person account of Henry, a young slave living in the Kansas Territories in 1857, as he becomes involved – reluctantly – with the anti-slavery forces led by John Brown.
Brown, who was considered a hero to some and a terrorist to others, led the ill-fated 1859 Harper Ferry raid that kick-started the Civil War. Following a violent confrontation at his master's tavern, Henry rather unwillingly joins Brown's anti-slavery crusade.
The child is deemed a good luck charm by Brown and his followers, who rename him "the Onion." And through Onion, McBride offers a mash-up of history and fiction that is as provocative as its main character is low. Although Onion is a child of 10 when we meet him, as a committed ne'er-do-well he is difficult to embrace.
Onion exploits his petite size for a gender reassignment: already a motherless boy when he first encounters Brown, he's become an orphan girl by the time he is kidnapped hours later. The switch is immediately accepted by all the whites he encounters — and yet black women, in particular, can immediately detect his ruse. Although he is admittedly lazy, he figures out how to skillfully don bonnets and pantaloons, and manages to survive life as a rough riding (and rot-gut drinking) former slave girl.
This is a story that popular culture doesn't often visit, and it takes a daring writer to tackle a decidedly unflattering pre-Civil War story. Yet, in McBride's capable hands, the indelicate matter of a befuddled tween from the mid-19th century provides a new perspective on one of the most decisive periods in the history of this country.
"The Good Lord Bird" is not, in the end, a roast of John Brown. Quite the contrary. As we reach the novel’s final pages, after we are reminded that his crusade was a key trigger for the Civil War, we meet Brown behind bars, fulminating and sermonizing to the bitter end.
And suddenly we realize we’ve fallen hard for the man: a special breed, like the bird in the title — so rare and remarkable that when people laid eyes on it, all they could utter was “Good Lord!” McBride sanctifies by humanizing; a larger-than-life warrior lands — warts, foibles, absurdities and all — right here on earth, where he’s a far more accessible friend."
(Quote Immediately Above By BAZ DREISINGER, New York Times, Published: August 15, 2013)
The last moments of John Brown's life shown in this painting By Thomas Hovenden, painted in 1884
Cheers rang out in the
streets of Washington on July 16, 1861 as Gen. Irvin McDowell's
army, 35,000 strong, marched out to begin the long-awaited campaign
to capture Richmond and end the war. It was an army of green
recruits, few of whom had the faintest idea of the magnitude of the
task facing them. But their swaggering gait showed that none doubted
the outcome. As excitement spread, many citizens and congressman
with wine and picnic baskets followed the army into the field to
watch what all expected would be a colorful show.
These troops were
90-day volunteers summoned by President Abraham Lincoln after the
startling news of Fort Sumter burst over the nation in April 1861.
Called from shops and farms, they had little knowledge of what war
The first day's march covered only five miles, as many straggled
to pick blackberries or fill canteens.McDowell's lumbering columns were
headed for the vital railroad junction at Manassas.Here the Orange and
Alexandria Railroad met the Manassas Gap Railroad, which led west to the
If McDowell could seize
this junction, he would stand astride the best overland approach to
the Confederate capital. On July 18 McDowell's army reached
Centreville. Five miles ahead a small meandering stream named Bull
Run crossed the route of the Union advance, and there guarding the
fords from Union Mills to the Stone Bridge waited 22,000 Southern
troops under the command of Gen. Pierre G.T. Beauregard.
McDowell first attempted
to move toward the Confederate right flank, but his troops were
checked at Blackburn's Ford. He then spent the next two days
scouting the Southern left flank.
In the meantime,
Beauregard asked the Confederate government at Richmond for help.
Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, stationed in the Shenandoah Valley with
10,000 Confederate troops, was ordered to support Beauregard if
possible. Johnston gave an opposing Union army the slip and,
employing the Manassas Gap Railroad, started his brigades toward
Manassas Junction. Most of Johnston's troops arrived at the junction
on July 20 and 21, some marching directly into
IN WESTERN MARYLAND is a
stream called Antietam Creek. Nearby is the quiet town of
Sharpsburg. The scene is pastoral, with rolling hills and farmlands
and patches of woods. Stone monuments and bronze tablets dot the
landscape. They seem strangely out of place. Only some extraordinary
event can explain their presence.
Almost by chance, two
great armies collided here.
Gen. Robert E. Lee's
Army of Northern Virginia was invading the North. Maj. Gen.
George R. McClellan's Army of the Potomac was out to stop him.
On September 17, 1862-the bloodiest day of the Civil War-the
two armies fought the Battle of Antietam to decide the issue.
conflict shattered the quiet of Maryland's countryside. When
the hot September sun finally set upon the devastated
battlefield, 23,000 Americans had fallen-nearly eight times
more than fell on Tarawa's beaches in World War
This single fact, with the
heroism and suffering it implies, gives the monuments and markers
their meaning. No longer do they presume upon the land. Rather,
their mute inadequacy can only hint of the great event that happened
here-and of its even greater consequences.
Text from National Park
Service Historical Handbook Series No. 31
The Battle of
Fredericksburg, fought December 11-15, 1862, was one of the largest
and deadliest of the Civil War. It featured the first major opposed
river crossing in American military history. Union and Confederate
troops fought in the streets of Fredericksburg, the Civil War's
first urban combat. And with nearly 200,000 combatants, no other
Civil War battle featured a larger concentration of
Burnside's plan at
Fredericksburg was to use the nearly 60,000 men in Maj. Gen.
William B. Franklin's Left Grand Division to crush Lee's
southern flank on Prospect Hill while the rest of his army
held Longstreet and the Confederate First Corps in position at
The Union army's
main assault against Stonewall Jackson produced initial
success and held the promise of destroying the Confederate
reinforcements and Jackson's powerful counterattack stymied
Both sides suffered heavy
losses (totaling 9,000 in killed, wounded and missing) with no real
change in the strategic situation. (Click Here for Battlefield Visitor's
In the meantime,
Burnside's "diversion" against veteran Confederate soldiers
behind a stone wall produced a similar number of casualties
but most of these were suffered by the Union troops. Wave
after wave of Federal soldiers marched forth to take the
heights, but each was met with devastating rifle and artillery
fire from the nearly impregnable Confederate positions.
Confederate artillerist Edward Porter Alexander's earlier
claim that "a chicken could not live on that field" proved to
be entirely prophetic this bloody day.
As darkness fell on
a battlefield strewn with dead and wounded, it was abundantly
clear that a signal Confederate victory was at hand. The Army
of the Potomac had suffered nearly 12,600 casualties, nearly
two-thirds of them in front of Mayre's Heights. By comparison,
Lee's army had suffered some 5,300 losses.
Robert E. Lee,
watching the great Confederate victory unfolding from his
hilltop command post exclaimed, "It is well that war is so
terrible, or we should grow too fond of it."(MORE DETAILS)
You will also want to
visit Chatham Manor. The Civil War, which gave Lee
fame, brought only change and destruction to Chatham. Few houses in
America have witnessed as many important events and hosted as many
famous people as Chatham. And the Battle of
Chancellorsville visitor center is
The locomotive ground to a
halt at a little depot amidst a drenching downpour. An eager figure
scanned the cars for two passengers who meant more to him than
anyone else on earth.
"Stonewall" Jackson, renowned as the quintessential grim
warrior, revealed his gentler nature.
On April 20, 1863,
at Guinea Station, 12 miles south of Fredericksburg, he
greeted his beloved wife and saw his infant daughter for the
The blissful family
repaired to a nearby house and passed the next nine days
enjoying the only domestic contentment they would ever
In less than three
weeks, at a small frame building near Guinea, Jackson would be
The new commander crafted
a brilliant plan for the spring that he expected would at least
compel General Robert E. Lee to abandon his Fredericksburg
entrenchments, and, possibly, prove fatal to the Army of Northern
First, Hooker would
detach his cavalry, 10,000 strong, on a flying raid toward
Richmond to sever Lee's communications with the Confederate
Then, he would send
most of his infantry 40 miles upstream to cross the
Rappahannock and Rapidan Rivers beyond the Confederate
defenses, and sweep east against Lee's left
The rest of
"Fighting Joe's" army would cross the river at Fredericksburg
and menace the Confederate front as the second blade of a
"My plans are perfect,"
boasted Hooker "and when I start to carry them out may God have
mercy on General Lee, for I will have none."
The campaign that resulted
in Jackson's demise, paradoxically remembered as "Lee's greatest
victory," emerged from the backwash of the Battle of Fredericksburg.
That Federal debacle and subsequent political intrigue at army
headquarters prompted a change of command in the Army of the
Potomac. Major General Joseph Hooker, a 48-year-old Massachusetts
native endowed with high courage and low morals, replaced Burnside
in January. Within weeks, Hooker's able administrative skills
restored the health and morale of his troops, whom he proudly
proclaimed "the finest army on the planet."
Battle Of Gettysburg | Civil War Documentary One Hour, 25 Minutes in Duration This video documents the struggle of the Battle of Gettysburg, along with personal stories, and what won and lost the battle.
SERVICE MUSEUM AND VISITOR CENTER
The National Park Service
and Visitor Center is the place to begin your visit to
Gettysburg National Military Park. Here visitors will find
information on how to visit the park and what to see around
The Gettysburg Museum of
the Civil War, with 22,000 square feet of exhibit space, features
relics of the Battle of Gettysburg and personalities who served in
the Civil War, inter-active exhibits, and multi-media presentations
that cover the conflict from beginning to end as well as describe
the Battle of Gettysburg and its terrible
The center also hosts the
film, "A New Birth of Freedom", narrated by award winning actor
Morgan Freeman and the restored Gettysburg Cyclorama, which depicts
the final fury of Gettysburg- "Pickett's
You may have seen it
before, but never like it is today. In its nearly 125-year history,
the 16,000-square-foot, four ton, 125 year old Gettysburg cyclorama-
panorama painting has lost about 40% of its canvas. It's moved
around the country half a dozen times. It has been burned. It has
been cut up. It has painted over. It has been stored under roofs
with only three walls.
Cyclorama has been restored to its original 377 feet long and
43 high is being hyperbolic shape and is now on display at the
Gettysburg Military Park's $125 million visitor center,
theatre and museum building.
If you saw it in the
old visitors center, you saw a flat canvas in a
Now, two years and
over $11 millions later, the cyclorama painting has two
surface cleaning, the wax and glue backing removed, the old
patches over tears removed, and the cracks in the paint
It now hangs with a slight
bow in the canvas, a convex curve that brings center line of sight
almost 18 inches closer to the viewer, who does not now stand at the
bottom of the painting and looks up but stands on and elevated
platform and looks directly at the center of the
Fought during the first
three days of July 1863, the Battle of Gettysburg was one of the
most crucial battles of the Civil War having occurred at a time when
the fate of the nation literally hung in the
Often referred to as
the "High Water Mark of the Rebellion", it was the culmination
of the second and most ambitious invasion of the North by
General Robert E. Lee and his "Army of Northern Virginia".
On June 23, J.E.B.
Stuart, whom Lee had been counting on to support his army with
Stuart's cavalry, had been given permission to harass the
Union army and prevent its cavalry from probing Lee's
Stuart, sensing an
opportunity to regain lost honor, left two Brigades to guard
Lee's mountain passes and took the other three Brigades to run
circles around the Union forces for the next eight
counted on Stuart to provide vital information on the Union's
At Salem, VA, Stuart
encountered Hancock's superior-numbered force and decided to
bypass the threat entirely by riding to the east. He then
turned north and rode to Rockville, MD where he captured a
huge Union supply train.
Unable to move the
west (because of the large Union force between him and Lee)
Stuart continued north to link with Ewell's troops at
Carlisle, PA. In the process, he fought several skirmishes
with the Union cavalry and disrupted rail and telegraph
After arriving at Carlisle
on July 1, Stuart found the town held by Union general Smith and
demanded his surrender. After several hours of Confederate shelling,
a courier sent by Lee, notified Stuart of the pressing engagement to
the south at Gettysburg.
Later that night, Stuart
departed for Gettysburg.
The Union "Army of
the Potomac", long the nemesis of Lee's army in Virginia, met
the Confederate invasion at the Pennsylvania crossroads town
of Gettysburg. Under the command of Major General George
Gordon Meade, the Union army fought with a desperation not
always seen before on other battlefields.
Confederate success, the battle turned against Lee on July
3rd, and with few options remaining to him, the general
ordered his army back to Virginia. The Union victory at the
Battle of Gettysburg resulted not only in Lee's retreat to
Virginia but an end to the hopes of the Confederacy for
The battle brought
devastation to the residents of Gettysburg. Every farm field or
garden was a graveyard. Churches, public buildings and even private
homes were hospitals, filled with wounded
The Union medical
staff that remained were strained to treat so many wounded
scattered about the county.
To meet the demand,
Camp Letterman General Hospital was established east of
Gettysburg where all of the wounded were eventually taken to
before transport to permanent hospitals in Philadelphia,
Baltimore and Washington.
worked with members of the U.S Sanitary Commission and
Christian Commission to treat and care for the over 20,000
injured Union and Confederate soldiers that passed through the
hospital's wards, housed under large
By January 1864, the last
patients were gone as were the surgeons, guards, nurses, tents and
cookhouses. Only a temporary cemetery on the hillside remained as a
testament to the courageous battle to save lives that took place at
Gettysburg was founded in
1786 and named after Samuel Gettys, an early settler and tavern
owner. The confluence of six major roads of the period caused it to
be attractive to travelers and settlers alike.
Although known primarily
for its proximity to the battlefield, the Borough of 7620 residents
is also known for its institutions of higher learning. The Lutheran
Theological Seminary was founded in 1826 and Gettysburg College was
established in 1832. Harrisburg Area Community College also has a
campus just outside of Gettysburg.
Take a Video Tour of "The Most Famous
Small Town in America"
Centrally located in
Southern Pennsylvania, Gettysburg is 52 miles from Baltimore,
90 miles from Washington, DC, and 102 miles from Philadelphia.
The main thoroughfare is US Route 30 (The Lincoln Highway)
which was the first trans-continental
Most visitors come
to Gettysburg for the battlefield experience - which is
exactly why we find ourselves here fairly
After our initial
visit a few years ago, subsequent trips found us walking the
streets of the town of Gettysburg where we discovered a
plethora of galleries, restaurants, antique and civil war
memorobilia shops, book stores, historic houses, clothiers and
After browsing a number of
shops along the main street, we found Gallery 30 - a superb art
gallery (which has a lot of other really neat stuff as well) with
wonderful paintings by local and nearby artists. This was in the
summer of 2009 and we were just getting geared up with a growing
interest in the Civil War. We had begun visiting battlegrounds
within a decent driving distance from the DC area and had developed
an emotional attachment to that part of United States
Even though we are
both native Virginians (Tom from nearby Warrenton and Ron from
Pulaski in Southwest Virginia), we do not fit into the
category that some would call "reborn
I will digress here
for a moment to reference a marvelous book we both have read
called Confederates in the Attic - Dispatches from the
Unfinished Civil War, by Pulitzer Prize Winning author
Tony Horwitz. The book chronicles the adventures of the author
who becomes, for a period of time, a Civil War reenactor of
sorts and follows the trail of similarly inclined Americans
across the South.
This book had a powerful
influence on our attitudes (very positive) about reenactors, and, we
must say, the Civil War in general. This book became our Christmas
gift of choice last year to a number of relatives. We recommend the
book enthusiastically to anyone with a sense of humor and an
appreciation of American History and Americans who are dovoted to a
cause. (Read More Here)
Tony's New Book -
The author of
Confederates in the Attic returns to the Civil War era to tell
the gripping drama of a man and a mission that changed the
course of history.
Plotted in secret,
launched in the dark, John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry
ruptured the union between North and South. Yet few Americans
know the true story of the militant idealists who invaded
Virginia before the Civil War.
Now, Midnight Rising
paints Brown's uprising in vivid color, capturing a nation on
the brink of explosive conflict.
In this riveting
book, Tony Horwitz probes the troubled soul of Brown, the
desperate passion of his followers, and the spirit of a
sundered nation. The result is both a taut historical drama
and a telling portrait of a fiery time that still resonates in
"With his customary
blend of rich archival research, on-location color, and lyrical
prose, Tony Horwitz has delivered a John Brown book for our time.
Part biography, part historical narrative, Midnight Rising is a
riveting re-creation of the Harpers Ferry Raid, told with an
unblinking sense of Brown's tragic place in American history.
Writing with enveloping detail and a storyteller's verve, Horwitz
shows why Brown was-and still is-so troubling and important to our
-David Blight, author of
Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American
Midnight Rising and Images Above used with Permission of
Tony Talks about
A Voyage Long and Strange His
Book on the Voyage to pre-Mayflower
Now, back to the
theme at hand - our discovery of primo art in
By our very natures,
we cannot resist entering any and all art galleries -
especially if we see or suspect that there are or may be local
During our visit to
Gettysburg on June 6, 2009, we looked into the window of Gallery 30 and knew we had to go in. Oh,
such a wealth of quality pictures.
The folks who run
this gallery must surely have taken "hospitality is foremost"
training at a prestigious institution somewhere in this great
country. If not, they are just honestly friendly human
As we all know, there is a
fine line between obvious salesperson pushiness (accompanied by that
insincere grin), in order to secure a sale at any cost, and genuine
interest in helping customers find something they will want and
cherish. Our experience at Gallery 30 fits into the latter category.
Such enthusiasm we seldom encounter and deeply
We were immediately
drawn to two small paintings - one of a Union Soldier and a
second of a Confederate by artist Charles Thomas Joyce. When we were
informed that these pieces were oil on paper, we were
dumbfounded - not only had we not experienced this art form,
but we were amazed with the result.
Needless to say, we
made the purchases and were pleased as punch at these
We spent a lot of
time in the gallery that day, carefully inspecting all of the
wide variety of art subjects.
As anyone who knows us can
attest, our taste in art is eclectic - ranging from 18th and 19th
century genre and portrait renderings to contemporary sporting works
and African American images (by African American
We were especially taken
by a number of pieces depicting barns, somewhat in the tradition of
Wythe - Andrew not Jamie. However, we had made our purchases for the
day and left the gallery feeling quite good.
That feeling lasted
only a few minutes and we returned to the gallery and
purchased a piece by Harold Kenneth Miller, Jr. which
depicted the John Slyder Farm in
This painting had
Civil War connections which made it even more attractive to
us. Miller specializes in farms, Gettysburg (scenic not
battlefield subject matter), and plein air landscapes. Harold
resides in Indiana, Pennsylvania with his wife Susan and is
represented by Gallery 30.
Even though we are fully
cognizant of the fact that we have practically not a square inch of
available space on the walls (we live in Fairlington, an historic
district in Arlington County) of our small townhouse, we subcumbed
to the temptation of Gallery 30 art once more on June 4,
We had returned to
Gettysburg as part of our survey of the town for this web site
and ended up in the gallery. We discovered stark images of
President Lincoln on the walls and assumed they were
We had stumbled on
some remarkable acrylic paintings by parttime artist Rich Thompson who has
yet to set up his own gallery but now does have a web site. These images
were so lifelike and haunting that we purchased one that had
grabbed our attention and our emotions from the
beginning. Rich is a self taught artist, who’s always been drawn to American history and specifically Abraham Lincoln.
His works are on display, and for sale, at Gallery 30 - see web site above.
Rich’s work was on display and won visitors choice at the Rosenbach Museum in Philadelphia during Lincoln’s 200th birthday celebration. Currently, Rich has pieces in the Lincoln Collection at the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum in Springfield, IL, the Lincoln Museum in Hodgenville, Kentucky, The Lincoln Library and Museum in Harrogate, Tennessee, as well as two pieces hanging at Ford’s Theatre in Washington DC. He’s been published in the Civil War Preservation Trust magazine, Hallowed Ground, as well as had a painting used in the playbill at Ford’s Theatre’s production of “The Rivalry”.
Please CLICK HERE
for more information about the subject matter
of these paintings and the
"Gallery 30 Plus"
In our discussions with
the gallery owners about our purchase on June 4, we found out that
the owners (Peggy and Linda) of Gallery 30 also operate the next
door "Artworks and Gallery of American Craft" and "The Inn at
Linda, who is an
extraordinary entrepreneur, started here in Gettysburg just 6
years ago with an 800 square foot store called Artworks at 42
York Street (the 2011 site of Gallery of American Craft).
Peggy joined her
about one year later and they acquired Gallery 30 in August of
that year (2007). Two years later they moved Artworks next
door to 34 York Street and not long after expanded it into the
neighboring space at 38 York Street.
When they moved out
of 42 York Street, that space was reopened as Gallery of
The Inn at
Last year (2010), Linda
and Peggy had the chance to purchase an extraordinary historic
property directly on Lincoln Square, the most elite address in
Gettysburg. It was the first property to sell there in over 30
years. The Joel B. Danner House is now an upscale inn, The Inn
at Lincoln Square.
Check the Inn's web site
for the rich history of the Danner Guest House (now
The Inn at Lincoln Square).
We need to point out that
Gallery 30 has much more than paintings. You simply must visit this
establishment to enjoy their truly unique collection of local and
regional fine art, contemporay crafts, unusual textiles, elegant
home decor, custom jewelry, and carefully chosen books for readers
of all ages. Below are images illustrating the variety of their
offerings. Visit their web
site for details.
experience at Gettysburg Eddies (217 Steinwehr Ave.) was the
best of the four establishments tried. Named for Gettysburg
baseball hall of famer - Eddie Plank - this restaurant
features excellent burgers and salads.
Their spinach salad
was quite tasty as were their burgers cooked to order. (www.gettysburgeddies.com) Service
was friendly and efficient. We usually provide a detailed
review on this web site of our eating experiences, but do so
only after a second visit. Following our next meal at
Gettysburg Eddies, we will review the food and provide our
It is quite easy to
satisfy one's hunger at the many eating venues in Gettysburg. We
hope to find a "destination" restaurant in our next visits. We will
be certain to describe that dining experience.
David Wills was born
eleven miles from Gettysburg in 1831. He attended Pennsylvania (now
Gettysburg) College and by 1854 was an attorney and superintendent
of Adams County's schools.
In the office on the first
floor, David Wills performed many of the duties of today's Federal
Emergency Management Agency, Centers for Disease Control and an
American Red Cross in the battle's aftermath. David Wills arranged
for the construction and consecration of Soldiers National Cemetery
and President Abraham Lincoln's visit. He gathered and warehoused
supplies for the wounded and fought for compensation for the farmers
who suffered losses during the battle.
Wills arranged for
the construction and consecration of Soldiers National
Cemetery and President Abraham Lincoln's
He gathered and
warehoused supplies for the wounded and fought for
compensation for the farmers who suffered losses during the
Governor Andrew Curtin visited the battlefield with David
Wills on July 10, 1863 and was shocked by its condition. He
designated Wills as state agent, charged with seeing to the
proper burial of Pennsylvania's dead.
At a meeting of
state agents in Wills' house several days later, the idea of
establishing a permanent national cemetery for all Union dead
approved and gave Wills the authority to oversee its
The David Wills House was
among the largest in town and on the evening of November 18 it
overflowed with dinner guests, 38 in all. Edward Everett, the French
Minister to Washington, D.C., Governor Curtin and other dignitaries
graced this house. Mrs. Wills prepared several bedrooms for
overnight guests and every one was full, including her own - given
to the President.
Abraham Lincoln wrote
portions of the Gettysburg Address before he left Washington, but
finished writing it in that very room.
The Horse Soldier is a
family owned and operated antique store located in Gettysburg,
specializing in Military Antiques with items dating from the
American Revolution to World War II. The strongest emphasis is on
the American Civil War.
The store has been
involved in the trade since 1971 and issued some of the finest
militaria print catalogs through 2003, when the internet
presence was established with an extensive online
The Horse Soldier
carries a full line of items related to Artillery, Books,
Currency, Bottles, Patriotic Covers, Edged Weapons, Firearms,
Gettysburg Items, Identified Items, Soldier Letters,
Documents, Autographs, Prints, Musical Instruments, Military
Accoutrements, Medical Instruments, Insignia, 19th Century
Civilian and Military Photographs and a large supply of
excavated Battlefield Relics!
We seldom miss an
opportunity to peruse the
By the summer of
1864, the Confederate Army was paralyzed at Petersburg,
Virginia. A Union defeat at Lynchburg, however, left the
Shenandoah Valley and the path to Washington, D.C. virtually
opportunity, Confederate General Robert E. Lee devised a plan
to alleviate the pressure by threatening the Union capital. In
mid-June, he dispatched Confederate Lieutenant General Jubal
Early with a corps of roughly 15,000 men north; by July 8 they
had reached the outskirts of Frederick.
Agents of the B&O
Railroad learned of the Confederate movement and alerted John
Garrett, the president of the B&O Railroad. Garrett informed
Union Major General Lew Wallace, in command of the Middle Department
at Baltimore, who hastily organized a force of 6,550 men at Monocacy
Junction in an attempt to delay Early's advance on the
On the morning of July 9,
1864, Confederate and Union forces engaged each other along the
banks of the Monocacy River.
Although the battle
was a military victory for the Confederates and their only
victory in the north, it was also a defeat. The time spent
fighting the battle cost the Confederates a crucial day of
marching and provided the Union time to send reinforcements to
Washington, D.C. General Early's army returned to Virginia and
the remainder of the war was fought on southern
Because of General
Wallace's valiant delaying action, the Battle of Monocacy
became known as "The Battle that Saved Washington, D.C."
On the morning of
April 9, while General Robert E. Lee realized that the retreat
of his beleaguered army had finally been halted, U. S. Grant
was riding toward Appomattox Court House where Union Cavalry,
followed by infantry from the V, XXIV, and XXV Corps had
blocked the Confederate path.
Lee had sent a
letter to Grant requesting a meeting to discuss his army's
surrender and this letter overtook Grant and his party just
before noon about four miles west of Walker's Church
(present-day Hixburg). Grant, who had been suffering from a
severe headache, later remembered that upon reading Lee's
letter the pain in his head had disappeared.
He stopped to
prepare his reply to Lee, writing that he would push to the
front to meet him.
Jean Leon Gerome
Ferris, Let Us Have Peace, 1865 c. 1920, oil on
canvas, 23 x 30 inches Virginia Historical Society,
Robert E. Lee's Sword Returning to
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The Museum of the Confederacy in
downtown Richmond is delivering one of its most-treasured
pieces to Appomattox for a new museum that it's building less
than a mile from where Lee met with Grant to sign the document
of surrender on April 9, 1865.
The location of the
meeting was left to Lee's discretion. Lt. Colonel Orville E .
Babcock and his orderly, Capt. Dunn, took Grant's reply and rode
ahead. Babcock found Lee resting under an apple tree near the
After reading Grant's
letter, Lee, his Aide-de-Camp Lt. Colonel Charles Marshall, and
Private Joshua O. Johns rode toward Appomattox Court House
accompanied by Federal Officers Lt. Col. Babcock and Capt. William
1865 Photo Courtesy Appomattox Court
House National Historical
Marshall and Johns
rode ahead of Lee in order to find a place for the generals to
As Marshall passed
through the village he saw Wilmer McLean in the vicinity of
the courthouse. He asked McLean if he knew of a suitable
location, and McLean took him to an empty structure that was
without furniture. Marshall immediately rejected this
Then McLean offered
his own home. After seeing the comfortable country abode,
Marshall readily accepted and sent Private Johns back to
inform General Lee that a meeting site had been
Information on Key Commanders and Civilians at Appomattox CLICK HERE
The Lee and
Grant Surrender Tables - Where are they
Lee's Table is in
the Chicago Historical Society Museum. It was taken from the
McLean parlor by General Edward O. C. Ord who claimed he
paid $40 for it. It was stored at Fort Monroe until 1887,
after Ord's death.
It was then sold to
C.F. Gunther, Chicago businessman whose relics were later
passed to the Chicago Historical Society.
Grant's Table is in
the Smithsonian Institute, Armed Forces Division. It was taken
by Lieutenant General Philip H. Sheridan who offered $20 in
gold to McLean who refused the offer.
The table was taken
anyway and money thrown on the floor. The table was sent by
General Sheridan to Union General George Armstrong Custer, who
in turn presented it to Mrs. Elizabeth Clift Bacon Custer by
her husband, and loaned to the Smithsonian in 1912. Title to
the table was transferred in 1936, ten years after Mrs.
In the spring of
1861, as the still youthful nation careened ever closer to
what would become the Civil War, both Robert E. Lee and
Ulysses S. Grant were faced with life-altering decisions. Both
men were governed by personal codes of honor and a steadfast
allegiance to what each viewed as his homeland. In the end,
their choices would be representative of those made by many of
For Lee, his
successful career in the United States Army and his allegiance
to the United States government could be trumped by only one
set of relationships, those to his family and his home state
of Virginia. For Grant, one had to choose between being a
traitor or a patriot.
It was novelist Edward
Bulwer-Lytton who first said, "The Pen is Mightier than the Sword",
but it was artist Thomas Nast who demonstrated the profound truth of
While Thomas Nast is
almost forgotten today, there is perhaps no person of the latter
half of the 1800's who had a larger impact on defining American
culture, and influencing American history.
Thomas Nast 1840
He was responsible
for creating the popular American icons of the Republican
Elephant, the Democratic Donkey, Uncle Sam, Santa Claus, and
Thomas Nast was a
staunch Abraham Lincoln supporter, defender of the Union Cause
in the Civil War, and strong opponent to Slavery. Nast used
his art to show the Nation a picture of how things could
He created artwork
on the topic of Slavery, in the days that Slavery was still a
thriving institution in our land. Thomas Nast's dramatic
illustrations helped our Nation understand the moral outrage
of slavery. The images capture the important events related to
Slavery in the 1860's.
The collection on
the "Son of the South" web page contains all
Slavery Artwork created by Thomas Nast during the Civil War
years. Each leaf is original, and over 135 years old. This
artwork was critical in helping to lead our Nation out of the
Corrupt and Bankrupt Institution of Slavery, and onto a path
of freedom and equality for all
His artwork played an
instrumental role in securing Abraham Lincoln's second election to
the presidency, in the election of Ulysses S. Grant, and in the
downfall of the corrupt political machine of Boss Tweed and Tammany
Nast began to emerge
as an artist, satirist, and political commentator (through his
artwork), in 1862. His art was not only stunning in its visual
impact; it was profound in its political message. The result
of this unique combination of properties resulted in his
artwork having an incredible ability to direct or steer public
His work touched
people, and impacted how they thought about a particular
topic. During the Civil War years his work was staunchly pro
Lincoln, pro Union, and anti Slavery.
portrayed Southerners as the enemy . . . not just the enemy,
but a cruel and barbarous people.
"Southern Chivalry" by Thomas
Nast Courtesy Son of the South Web
Reenacting began during
the 1961-1965 Civil War centennial commemorations. These battles and
events found a receptive audience, but public interest in
reenactments faded by the late 1960's.
Living history reenacting
grew in the 1980's and 1990's, due to the popularity of the 125th
Anniversary Battles series (1986-1990) and the 130th Anniversary
Battles series (1991-1995). Recently many historic battles and
events were re-created during the 140th Anniversary Battles series
145th battles Anniversary series included more realistic
reenactments of major battles such as Antietam and Gettysburg.
The video to the right was produced by the American Civil War
Association of Northern and Central
can often take on a religious sense of a sacrament or memory.
American Civil War reenactments have drawn a fairly sizable
following of enthusiastic participants, aged often between 8
and 64, willing to brave the elements and expend money and
resources in their efforts to duplicate the events down to the
smallest recorded detail.
Participants may even
attend classes put on by event sponsors where they learn how to
dress, cook, eat, and even "die" just as real Civil War soldiers
Most reenactment have
anywhere from 100-1,000 participants, portraying either Union or
Confederate infantry, artillery, or cavalry forces. Some people,
though uncommon can portray Engineers or Marines and some even
choose to don the Veterans uniform, which is like the dress coat,
but instead of dark blue with light blue trim, it is light blue with
dark blue trim.
To date the largest Civil
War reenactment was the 135th Gettysburg (1998), which had over
41,000 reenactors and over 45,000 spectators attending. Many groups
are planning on making the 150th anniversary of the battles and
events the largest to date.
The American Civil
War Association of Northern and Central California recreates
the most trying period in our nation's
For four years the
country ripped itself apart in a great war that was to decide
the many questions left unanswered since the days of its
birth. When it finally ended, the United States was again one
nation but no less than 620,000 men, two percent of the
population, had perished for what they
Members attempt to
educate the public and each other on this most pivotal era
through battle reenactments, recreations of authentic camps
We are honored to
include the Civil War photographs of Charleston-based
photographer Ben Williams. We found his incredible images in
the April 12, 2011 issue of one of our favorite magazines,
Garden & Gun (we are subscribers and ardent
admirers of this quality publication). His photos are those in
the upper left border of this page.
His work has been featured
in Charleston Magazine, Kiawah Island's Legends
Magazine, Garden & Gun magazine, the Charleston
City Paper, The South magazine (based out of Savannah)
and Links magazine (based out of Hilton Head
According to an article in
The Post and Carrier, "With his career beginning in film,
Williams grew tired of the medium and didn't know in which direction
to turn his creative energies. His says his father gave him poignant
advice: "Do whatever you want. If you do it long enough, you'll
become good at it. If you're good enough at it, someone will pay you
for it. And then, you're just getting paid to do what you