Chambersburg Civil War Seminars & Tours: Iron Brigade

19 05 2015

This past weekend I attended the Chambersburg Civil War Seminars & Tours event, On the Trail of Those Damn Black Hats: Weekend with Lance Herdegen & The Iron Brigade. I did so as the guest of friend and facilitator Ted Alexander, in return for coverage of the event on my Twitter and Facebook accounts. Hopefully you are all followers and were kept up to date of all the happenings – if not, just subscribe using the links over to the right. But I’ll give a recap here.

Friday featured presentations at seminar HQ the Hampton Inn by Lance Herdegen (see an interview with him here) on The Iron Brigade at Gainesville; Tom Clemens (see an interview with him here) on the Black Hats’ Memories of Antietam; and Dan Welch (with the Gettysburg Foundation) on Beyond the Sobriquet: The Men of the Iron Brigade. After a break for dinner, the evening concluded with Lance and “Forward! Forward! Charge! Align on the Colors!”: The Unfinished Railroad Cut at Gettysburg.

Bright and early Saturday the 40 or so attendees boarded a bus bound for South Mountain (where we stopped on the National Road at Mt. Tabor and Bolivar Roads where Lance described the brigade’s move on Turner’s Gap.) Then it was on to Antietam, and discussions at the Visitor’s Center and the Miller Farm. Finally we arrived at Gettysburg, and after lunch at the Dobbin House Lance held court near the Reynolds Wounding marker and covered the brigade’s actions in Herbst Woods and the Railroad Cut. Of course, time in the bus was spent talking about the brigade’s actions on other parts of the field, and Lance unleashed a small portion of his vast knowledge of the men and events of the Iron Brigade as well.

I decided to stay over Saturday night for a slate of talks on Sunday morning, and I’m glad I did. Lance kicked off with a more complete history of the Iron Brigade (by the way, Lance is one of the most upbeat, happy guys I’ve ever seen on tour, and it wasn’t just this time – a hail fellow well met); fellow Save Historic Antietam Foundation board member and founder of the National Civil War Medical Museum Dr. Gordon Dammann gave a delightful presentation on Civil War Medicine Hollywood Style: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly; and Gettysburg Association of Licensed Battlefield Guides President Joseph Mieczkowski concluded the formal talks with a really interesting talk on Rufus Dawes & the 6th Wisconsin at Gettysburg and Beyond. Joe is apparently a “thread puller” like me and shared some fascinating tidbits.

The seminar and tour were well-organized. Raffles and auctions held Friday and Sunday raised about $500 for battlefield preservation, which will go toward purchasing available land at Antietam (see Civil War Trust info here.) And to top it off, I got to spend some time with a couple of fellows whom I had not seen in ten years, friends from prior battlefield stomps.

Next up for Civil War Seminars & Tours is The End of the War: Richmond, Petersburg, & Appomattox, July 22-26 (see brochure here.) Speakers feature Ed Bearss (see interview here) and friend and blogger Jimmy Price (see interview here), among others (like Bud Robertson, Richard Sommers, R. E. L. Krick, John Coski, Chris Calkins, the list goes on.) Sounds like a great event – register soon if you agree!





Blogging (and Tweeting and Facebooking) From the Field

11 05 2015

This coming Friday and Saturday I will be attending a Weekend with Lance Herdegen & the Iron Brigade, as a guest of Ted Alexander and the Chambersburg Civil War Seminars & Tours. I’ll be covering the event on Twitter and Facebook. I’m not too handy with the mobile WordPress app, so I’ll lug along my computer and make one or two posts on Friday or Saturday. To keep up live, subscribe to my Twitter feed or follow Bull Runnings on Facebook. Both links are over to the right. Should be fun!

For an interview with Lance Herdegen, see here.





Holkum’s Branch – Manassas National Battlefield Park, 11/15/2014

22 11 2014

Last Saturday at Manassas National Battlefield Park I took a little walk to Holkum’s Branch of Bull Run, east of the Henry Hill Visitor’s Center not far from the site of Portici on the M. Lewis farm, which was Joe Johnston’s HQ during the battle. The site is significant for a meeting that occurred there late in the day on July 21, 1861. In this area Brigadier General Thomas J. Jackson encountered CSA President Jefferson Davis and proclaimed (according to surgeon Hunter McGuire who had just tended to Jackson’s wounded finger): “Give me ten thousand men and I shall take Washington City tomorrow.”

Interpretive marker

Interpretive marker

View north to Holkum’s Branch from marker

Follow trail east from behind Jackson's guns on Henry Hill. Where the trail turns left (north) to the Stone Bridge, turn right (south) to Portici.

Follow First Manassas Trail east from behind Jackson’s guns on Henry Hill. Where the trail turns left (north) to the Stone Bridge, turn right (south) to Portici.





Thornberry House

21 11 2014

This past Saturday I paid a visit to Manassas National Battlefield Park. One of the spots we hit was the north end of the park, the area of the Thornberry House and Sudley Church. The Thornberry children were used by photographers Barnard and Gibson in many of their March 1862 photos of the battlefield, and the house was used as a hospital in both battles of Manassas. It was near this house that Sullivan Ballou’s body was buried and subsequently dug up, mutilated, and burned (see here, here, and here.) Laura Thornberry later recorded her recollections of the battle. And here are some images of the house and surroundings I recorded earlier. Below are the images from Saturday, November 15, 2014. Click for much larger images.

Interpretive Marker

Interpretive Marker

House from west

House from west

House from south

House from south

Looking south down Sudley Road trace, west of Thornberry house

Looking south down Sudley Road trace, west of Thornberry house

Thornberry House 1862

Thornberry House 1862





Sudley Springs Ford Now and Then

20 11 2014

From my battlefield visit this past Saturday, here’s a photo of Sudley Springs Ford on Catharpin Run, over which the divisions of Hunter and Heintzelman crossed on the morning of July 21, 1861. Compare it to the Barnard and Gibson photo from March 1862. Notice anything? See the pile of rubble on the other side of the run, left of center (click on the image if you can’t make it out)? They are all that remains of the Sudley Spring house. It appears nice and square in the 1862 photo to the left of the Union cavalrymen, who are facing off against the Thornberry kids on the near side. Look at the trees that frame the left of both photos. Clearly not the same trees, but notice how they are both leaning similarly. What does it mean? OK, nothing. But it’s cool, nonetheless.

10396291_886522461371485_249971227697202730_ncav-at-sudley





That Big Puddle on Henry Hill

19 11 2014

IMG_20141115_142217_942

This past Saturday I visited Manassas National Battlefield Park for a quick tour with my nephew. I snapped this photo of the typically wet area just east of the Visitor’s Center parking lot, the one you usually have to walk around on your trek to Stonewall on Steroids. Why take a picture of a puddle, especially a dry one? Well, in 1862, some theorize – I tend to concur – this feature was photographed at least three times, twice by the team of Whitney & Woodbury, and once by Barnard and Gibson. At the time, the marshy area was surrounded by shallow and supposedly Confederate graves. Think about that next time you’re busy keeping your feet dry.

Whitney & Woodbury

Whitney & Woodbury

Whitney & Woodbury

Whitney & Woodbury

Barnard & Gibson

Barnard & Gibson





Manassas NBP Visit 11/15/2014

17 11 2014

I posted some photos I took on a quick trip to show some of the battlefield to my nephew this past Saturday. You can find them on Facebook here. Eventually I’ll set up a gallery here as well. It was a beautiful day, perfect for photos, even though I only had my phone camera with me. We took a walk out to the site of Portici and saw a (to me) new marker at Holkum’s Branch, the site of the post battle meeting of Jefferson Davis and “Stonewall” Jackson. Also saw a (to me) new marker at the site of Christian Hill (read about its significance here.) I do have concerns about bringing attention to that place. I never have as much time as I’d like on the rare occasions I get to visit, but each time I see something I’ve missed before. Get out there – you can’t understand the battle if you don’t walk the ground.








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