My Reference Shelf

29 09 2009

Library

I have one shelf of books that sits right over my desk on which I put what I refer to as my “reference books.”  I like to have them there because my library is in some disarray, and I want to be able to find most of these quickly.  I’m going to share these with you now, for no particular reason.  I’ll move left to right, and provide links to where you can find the books for purchase and/or descriptions.  The ORs aren’t on this shelf, obviously, though I do keep a few volumes on the next shelf up and have the DVD in my laptop all the time (I’ve rearranged things since the above photo was taken, and almost all of my ORs are in storage now, waiting for a good home).  Also further up are volumes of the Army Register and The Rebellion Record and The Union Army and The Military Historical Society of Massachusetts papers and Lincoln’s Collected Works and Lincoln Day-by-Day.  But this shelf is for the most used books.

I have other reference works, encyclopedias, desk references and such, but I don’t use them nearly as much as I use these.

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Potomac Crossing 9/19/2009

26 09 2009

On Saturday, Sept. 19, 2009, I joined about 25 somewhat adventurous souls and followed in the footsteps of men of the 5th Corps of the Army of the Potomac who crossed the Potomac River 147 years to the day earlier in pursuit of Robert E. Lee’s defeated but dangerous Army of Northern Virginia after the Battle of Antietam.  (That’s right, Union Major General George McClellan did in fact execute a pursuit after the battle – you can look it up).  The occasion was a fundraising event of the Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association.  Twenty-five bucks got us a guided tour of the battlefield including the crossing, followed by a reception at the Association president’s home in Shepherdstown hard-by the battlefield.  The inaugural event last year drew 10-15 participants.  This year, there were two groups of 25.  I was in the 2:30 group led by SBPA board member Tom Clemens.  Another group started off at 3:30 and was led by Tom McGrath, author of Shepherdstown: Last Clash of the Antietam Campaign.  What follows here is a simple photo-essay.  See also Jim Rosebrock’s fine post on his blog.

Dr. Clemens first gave us an overview of the battle along the C&O Canal towpath on the Maryland side of the river (click thumbnails for larger images).

1

Then we waded into and across the clear and fairly calm Potomac in the vicinity of Boteler’s or Packhorse or Shepherdstown Ford.

2 3 4

Here are shots up and down river, from about the middle.

5 6

Once on the (West) Virginia side, Tom re-oriented us at the intersection of the River and Trough Roads.  Then we hiked to the ruins of the cement mill.  Who knew the Rebels were Deadheads?

7 8 9

We moved further up to the cement mill kilns.  About where Tom is standing, you can see a change in the color of the stone in a vertical line between the 3rd and 4th kilns.  The three kilns to the right are wartime, the three to the left were added later.  In these three kilns, Union soldiers took shelter from their own artillery fire coming from Maryland.  At least one soldier was killed by a direct hit in these kilns.

11 12 13

The remains of the mill-dam are visible from the (West) Virginia side.

10

These bluffs played a critical and tragic role in the retreat of the Federal forces.  An officer of one of the units,  the 118th PA Corn Exchange regiment, was also present with the 71st PA at Ball’s Bluff, where he was captured.  Talk about deja vue.  You can read his accounts in this book.

14

Hikers head up a ravine and then towards the Osbourne farm, scene of the furthest Union advance.  The Osbourne house shows evidence of the battle, and its fields were the scene of the repulse of the Federals.

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All in all, a fine tour on a beautiful day.  The SBPA is planning on a repeat next year, so mark your calendars.

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Books and More Books

25 09 2009

41YejDu4b9L__SL500_AA240_Today’s mail brought seven, count ‘em, seven new books for review.  One is for a full review in Civil War Times; five are for my regular Six-Pack column in America’s Civil War (in a departure, I’ll review five new books and only one older, but that one is among my all time favorite biographies); and one for this blog, fellow blogger John Hoptak’s own Our Boys Did Nobly, pictured at left.  As the subtitle says, this 345 page paperback is the story of Schuylkill County, PA Soldiers at the battles of South Mountain and Antietam.  I just flipped through it, and see that Mannie Gentile has put art back into maps!  I’m gonna move John’s book up to second on my list, right after Suzy Barile’s Undaunted Hearts.  Thanks for the nice inscription, John!

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Numbers & Losses Per Livermore

24 09 2009

 

Source: Thomas Livermore, Numbers & Losses in the Civil War in America 1861-1865, p. 77





New Battle Blog on Petersburg

22 09 2009

Petersburg

Brett Schulte has announced his new project on the Petersburg Campaign, Beyond the Crater.  I’ve had it on my blogroll for a while, but was holding off an announcement until Brett was ready to go live.  Read his description as he can certainly do a better job on it than I.  I think it’s “I”.  Or is it “me”?  No, I think it’s “I” as in “I can”.  Anyway, check it out.

Map courtesy of NPS.





Back

21 09 2009

DSCN0110I’m back from my jaunt to Maryland, West Virginia and South Central PA.  I had a fine time – thanks to the Clemens Clan of Keedysville for putting me up, and putting up with me.  I toured Antietam’s Bloody Lane trail on Friday, and on Saturday SHAF had a productive board meeting in the morning.  Afterwards I met up with fellow bloggers at the blogger’s canon at Antietam National Battlefield (see Mannie’s blog for a photo), and then enjoyed a dip in the Potomac at Boteler’s/Packhorse/Shepherdstown ford (see photo above and Jim’s blog post).  See also Brian’s and Craig’s posts.  Hopefully I’ll get around to posting photo essays soon.

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Housekeeping

17 09 2009

Just a few items to get on the record before I head to Sharpsburg for a couple of days.  I’m driving down tomorrow and bumming around the field a bit, and staying at a friend’s home Friday night.  I have a Save Historic Antietam Foundation (SHAF) board meeting on Saturday morning, and the Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association (SBPA) river crossing and picnic in the afternoon.  Then it’s north to Gettysburg Saturday night and a little time on the field on Sunday before heading home.  Hopefully I’ll have some photos to post next week, but I’m notoriously slow about that stuff.

My e-quaintance from across the pond, Johnathan Soffe of First Bull Run.com, has a new feature he’s working on – listing sources to verify the presence of various Confederate companies and organizations on the field at Bull Run.  This could lead to a more accurate accounting of Confederate troops.  Check out his first attempt on the 1st VA Cavalry here: scroll down to “download pdf” at the bottom of the right hand column.

I’ve been contacted by a descendant of a member of the 5th Alabama who has sent me an interesting letter by him describing the battlefield of First Bull Run shortly after the battle.  The letter is in his family’s possession and has never been published.  It so happens that his ancestor was a member of the Greensboro Guards, designated Company D of the 5th.  A very nice collection of Company D diaries published as Voices from Company D, edited by G. Ward Hubbs, has some Bull Run material and the letter writer’s descendant is working on putting together some biographical information on his ancestor, so I think I’ll make a series of posts out of these.

With that of Montgomery Meigs I’ve finished posting the Bull Run testimony before the Joint Congressional Committee on the Conduct of the War.  I hope you’ve been reading on order, because that way you can see how the committee are building their cases and singling out their scapegoats – very interesting stuff.  I’ve separated the testimonies in the index by Patterson’s and McDowell’s commands, but think I’ll go back and number them sequentially so future readers can peruse them in order if they choose.

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