New Civil War Times Department: “In Harm’s Way”

29 03 2010

The June, 2010 issue of Civil War Times magazine ushers in the first installment of a new department I’ll be writing called In Harm’s Way.  These columns will feature homes on or in the vicinity of battlefields.  While the structures or the grounds they occupy will typically have played some role in a battle, the focus will be on the occupants and their stories before, during, and after the action.  This is an idea I pitched to editor Dana Shoaf, who saw something in it and gave me the go-ahead for the first article on Gettysburg’s Lydia Leister house, site of Union General George G. Meade’s headquarters on July 2 & 3, 1863.  

I made arrangements with Ranger Scott Hartwig at the park and at the end of January spent a couple of days there, first in the library where Ranger John Heiser gave me access to the park files on the house, and the next day at the house where Ranger Troy Harman unlocked the door and allowed me to photograph practically every square inch of the tiny log cabin.  Not many interior photos made the article, so let me share a few here (click the thumbs for a larger image):







I’m looking forward to this new project, which is scheduled for 6 issues.  It presents some interesting creative challenges, and will also require me to make new contacts since I won’t be able to travel to all the sites.  The subject of the next article has been chosen, inquiries have been sent, materials have been received, and writing has commenced.  Let me know what you think of the articles, and if you really like them, let the magazine know!

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14 responses

29 03 2010
Susan Sweet

Harry, What a fun idea. I am looking forward to reading them. Are you going to do the Shirley House at Vicksburg?
Keep up the good work.

29 03 2010
Robert Moore

Cool new project, Harry. Sounds like a lot of great out and about time!

29 03 2010
Steve Basic


Fine idea and am glad they took a flier on this one. Now only if you could have a six pack while checking these places then that would be a perfect world. :) Look forward to the first installment.

Hope all is well.


30 03 2010
Chris Evans

This is a great idea. Looking forward to the results.

30 03 2010
Terry Johnston


If you’re still taking ideas, how about the Sherrick and/or Otto farms at Antietam?

30 03 2010
Harry Smeltzer

The selection process will be influenced by how interesting the stories of the occupants are. At this point. only the next issue’s subject has been decided.

30 03 2010
Terry Johnston

Makes sense.

For something off the beaten path, you might consider Prairie Grove, Ark. I recall reading the account of a young woman whose home was on or right near the field of battle. Not sure if it’s still there, but a query to the NPS staff would reveal more.

30 03 2010
Chris Evans

I meant to mention it in my first post that it’s really something they were able to fit all of those corps commanders and their egos into the Leister house for the famous Council of War. From the great photos you took it looks like it could be cramped when a bunch of people crowded in.

6 04 2010
Jim Schmidt

Harry – I saw the article this weekend. It’s terrific and I look forward to more! I’m so glad that it will give you some more room to tell great stories and the photographs were terrific.

If I could offer some ideas, based on my own travels, it would be:

1) The Ray House – Wilson’s Creek (MO) (one of my FAVORITE spots)
2) Balfour House – Vicksburg (MS)

Keep up the great work!


6 04 2010
Rene Tyree

Neat idea Harry. This has the makings of a book!


8 04 2010
Larry Freiheit

Just read your Leister article in the latest CWT; well-done and informative. Thanks.


8 04 2010
Harry Smeltzer

Thanks to everyone who read and enjoyed the article. Be sure to let the folks at CWT know what you think!

27 07 2011
Doors Are Closing and Opening All the Time « Bull Runnings

[…] was a good run, starting with a piece on Gettysburg’s Widow Leister house in the June, 2010 issue, when the column (or department) was called In Harm’s Way – a […]

1 04 2013
Tanya Anderson

There is a great piece in my new book TILLIE PIERCE: TEEN EYEWITNESS AT THE BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG about the Leister House and a photo of the place right after the battle.

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