Day Tripping - DC Metro
U.S. Civil War Destinations
Contact Us  |  Home  | U.S. Civil War   |  District of Columbia   | Maryland  |  Virginia  |  African Americans

Site Links
Reenactors Photographs Below Courtesy Charleston Photographer
Ben Williams

Photos Taken at
Fort Moultrie and Patriots Point

Appeared in
Garden & Gun Magazine
April 12, 2011 Issue
First Six Photographs Below Courtesy of "For Love of Liberty" Web Site
Civil War Destinations
Items of Interest:
Battlefields, Museums, Historic Homes
(Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania)
For the History of
African Americans in the Civil War

"What is Past is Prologue" "Study the Past"
Above 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.

Civil War Sesquicentennial
150 Years After Fort Sumter

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, 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 attained."

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."

This grim determination to fight on to victory despite the cost characterized Lincoln's leadership in the war.

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 flames."

Text by James McPherson, Professor Emeritus, Princeton University
For More, Click Here

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 soldiers.

Some of these sites include the Battle of Balls Bluff (Leesburg, VA), Battle of the Monocacy (near Frederick, MD), Brandy Station (near Culpeper, VA), and the Battles of Aldie/Middleburg/Upperville (VA) - a series of skirmishes leading to Gettysburg.

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 soldiers.

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 War.

Mary Surratt's 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 furnishings.

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 family.

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 our visit.

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 site.

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 here.

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.

Blenheim contains 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.)

The inscriptions 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 soldiers.

Here one finds signatures, drawings, jokes, and even games on the walls.

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 farm.

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 Fairfax.

Ms. Carney has a wealth of information about the place, its preservation, and its mysteries.

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 Corbin

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 Fairfax.

Blenheim Images Slide Show
Click Here

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 slaves.

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 Burton.

Seventeen people 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 inevitable.

Twenty-one men 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.

Click Here for information on Brown's raiders.

Great Novel on John Brown
The Good Lord Bird
By James McBride
Web Site

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

The Good Lord Bird wins 2013 National Book Award

Click Here for Details
(Posted November 25, 2013)

Webmaster's Comments

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 ivory-billed woodpecker recently went from near total obscurity to superstardom when birders reported a sighting of the believed-to-be-extinct species.

"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

HarpersFerry Images Slide Show
Click Here

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 would mean.

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 Shenandoah Valley.

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 battle.

Text from the National Park Service's Web Site on Manassas
For More, Click Here

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.

Their violent 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 II.

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

Antietam Battlefield Images Slide Show
Click Here

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 soldiers.

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 Marye's Heights.

The Union army's main assault against Stonewall Jackson produced initial success and held the promise of destroying the Confederate right.

Lack of reinforcements and Jackson's powerful counterattack stymied the effort.

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 Center)

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 nearby.

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.

The legendary "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 first time.

The blissful family repaired to a nearby house and passed the next nine days enjoying the only domestic contentment they would ever share.

In less than three weeks, at a small frame building near Guinea, Jackson would be dead.

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 Virginia.

First, Hooker would detach his cavalry, 10,000 strong, on a flying raid toward Richmond to sever Lee's communications with the Confederate capital.

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 flank.

The rest of "Fighting Joe's" army would cross the river at Fredericksburg and menace the Confederate front as the second blade of a great pincers.

"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."

Text from the National Park Service's Web Site on Chancellorsville
For More, Click Here

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.

Your First Stop

The National Park Service Museum 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 Gettysburg.

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 aftermath.

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 Charge".

Gettysburg Cyclorama

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.

The Gettysburg 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 circle.

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 restored.

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 painting.

The Battle

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 balance.

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 movements.

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 days.

Unfortunately, Lee counted on Stuart to provide vital information on the Union's movements.

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 lines.

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.

Despite initial 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 independence.

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 soldiers.

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.

Union surgeons 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 tents.

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 Camp Letterman.

Text from the National Park Service's Web Site on Gettysburg
For More, Click Here

There's More to Gettysburg than the Battlefield
Gettysburg Web Site

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 highway.

Most visitors come to Gettysburg for the battlefield experience - which is exactly why we find ourselves here fairly frequently.

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 tourist information stops.

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 history.

Confederates in the Attic AND More
Author Tony Horwitz' Web Site

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 Confederates."

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 - Midnight Rising

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 our own.


"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 culture."

-David Blight, author of Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory

(Text on Midnight Rising and Images Above used with Permission of Author)

Tony Talks about A Voyage Long and Strange
His Book on the Voyage to pre-Mayflower America

Gallery 30

Gallery 30

Now, back to the theme at hand - our discovery of primo art in Gettysburg.

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 artists represented.

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 beings.

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 appreciate.

Union Soldier

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 finds.

We spent a lot of time in the gallery that day, carefully inspecting all of the wide variety of art subjects.

Confederate Soldier

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 artists).

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 Gettysburg.

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.

John Slyder Farm

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, 2011.

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 photographs. WRONG!!!

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 artists

"Gallery 30 Plus" Entrepreneurs

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 Lincoln Square".

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 American Craft.

The Inn at Lincoln Square

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.

Gettysburg Dining

On our recent visits to Gettysburg, we have tried four different restaurants - ranging from an historic hotel's outdoor café to a "legendary" diner. All have been serviceable at best.

Our dining 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. ( 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 rating.

Gettysburg Eddies

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.

The David Wills House

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 visit.

He gathered and warehoused supplies for the wounded and fought for compensation for the farmers who suffered losses during the battle.

Pennsylvania 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 was advanced.

Governor Curtin approved and gave Wills the authority to oversee its construction.

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

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 catalog.

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 collection.

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 undefended.

Seizing this 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 capital.

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 soil.

Because of General Wallace's valiant delaying action, the Battle of Monocacy became known as "The Battle that Saved Washington, D.C."

Text from the National Park Service's Web Site on Monocacy
For More, Click Here

Monocacy Images Slide Show
Click Here

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, Richmond, Virginia.

Robert E. Lee's Sword Returning to Appomattox

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.

Visit the New Museum of the Confederacy
Appomattox, Virginia

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 Appomattox River.

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 McKee Dunn.

McLean House 1865
Photo Courtesy Appomattox Court House
National Historical Park

Marshall and Johns rode ahead of Lee in order to find a place for the generals to confer.

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 offer.

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 found.

Text from the National Park Service's Web Site on Appomattox
For More, Click Here

For Information on Key Commanders and Civilians at Appomattox

The Lee and Grant Surrender Tables - Where are they Now?

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. Custer's death.

Lee Surrender Table
(Photo by Ron Patterson)
Grant Surrender Table
(Photo by Ron Patterson)

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 their countrymen.

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.

Video Courtesy Virginia Historical Society

Text from Virginia Historical Society
For More, Click Here

Appomattox Images Slide Show
Click Here

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 the adage.

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 - 1902

He was responsible for creating the popular American icons of the Republican Elephant, the Democratic Donkey, Uncle Sam, Santa Claus, and Columbia.

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 be.

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 men.

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 Hall.

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 opinion.

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.

His artwork 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 Site

Text from "Works of Thomas Nast" - Son of the South Web Site
Click Here for More

Click Here for Nast Civil War Prints and Here for Nast Slavery Pictures

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 (2001-2005).

The (2006-2010) 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 California

The re-enactments 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 would have.

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 history.

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 believed.

Members attempt to educate the public and each other on this most pivotal era through battle reenactments, recreations of authentic camps and school programs.

Text from the American Civil War Association Web Site
For More, Click Here

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.

These images were included in a feature entitled "The Civil War Remembered: Scenes from Charleston in the days leading up to the 150th anniversary of the Civil War."

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 Island).

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 love."