No Casino Gettysburg Video Presentation from 8/31/2010 Hearing

31 08 2010

I have some disagreement with how the No Casino folks have been presenting their case – in some regards I find it misleading, weak on facts, and poorly argued.  However, I believe the proposed casino is a horrible idea and that it will likely interfere with the interpretation and the experience of the battlefield.  I object to my state government – my employees –  awarding the gaming licenses to a group whose site is in such close proximity to the battlefield.

Hat tip to John Hoptak.





Potomac Crossing Event 2010

16 08 2010

To honor the 148th Anniversary of the Battle of Shepherdstown, the Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association (SBPA) has scheduled a Battlefield Tour including a wading of the Potomac River. The tour is set, rain or shine, for Saturday, September 18, 2010.

Dr. Tom Clemens and Tom McGrath will be the guides. Two tours are scheduled; one to begin at 2:30PM followed by another at 3:30PM. Each tour will last about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

After each tour, the participants will hike to 132 Trough Bend Lane to enjoy a barbecue, beer, wine and soft drinks. We ask for a donation of $30 per person.

TO MAKE A RESERVATION, VISIT THE FOLLOWING LINK:

http://battleofshepherdstown.org/Hats.html

After you make your reservation we will email you precise instructions for the tour.

Reserve as soon as possible as we can only accommodate a limited number of participants.

Thank you for your continued support,

SBPA Board of Directors

See here for a summary of the 2009 crossing event.





Key Harpers Ferry Battlefield Land Threatened

3 08 2010

Most of you are no doubt aware of the impending construction of a Wal-Mart on land near the Chancellorsville Battlefield.  Likewise you probably have heard the hue and cry surrounding the possible development of land outside Gettysburg as a casino complex.  These two parcels of land have something other than their proximity to major NPS parks in common: they’re NOT situated on battlefield land.

On Bolivar Heights-South at Harpers Ferry, development threatens property that IS battlefield land: on the evening of September 14-15, 1862, the right wing of Stonewall Jackson’s three division force under the command of A. P. Hill occupied Bolivar Heights-South as he maneuvered to turn Union General Dixon Miles’s position on Bolivar Heights, a move that effectively compelled the Federal commander to surrender the town.

Now that land, 406 acres known as Old Standard Quarry, is slated for 2.3 MILLION square feet of commercial space.  That’s more than 16 Super Wal-Marts, according to Harpers Ferry NHP Chief Historian Dennis Frye.  Add to that floor space acres of asphalt parking, streets, and lighting.  Last fall, under the guise of a timber harvest, the developers clear-cut the western face of the hillside, which you can see in the picture below, on the far side of the central strip of vegetation,  as viewed from the position of Jackson’s center on School House Ridge.

These are the same developers who in 2006 notoriously and illegally dug up and installed water and sewer lines on the School House Ridge battlefield ground on NPS property!  These lines, which make the development of Old Standard Quarry possible, are still functional thanks in part to our Department of Justice, which for some unknown reason has never taken action against the scofflaws.  The developers have somehow obtained a regulatory exemption through the State of West Virginia that absolves them of adherence to local planning and zoning ordinances – that’s right, these guys are obligated to follow almost no regulations.  What’s up with that?

The National Parks Conservation Association, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Civil War Preservation Trust, the Friends of Harpers Ferry Park, and the Harpers Ferry Conservancy have united to counter the developers.  If you want to know how you can help, follow the links provided.

Steven Mynes beat me to the punch on this here.





SHAF Sponsored Tour of Phase I of the Maryland Campaign of September, 1862

11 06 2010

Dr. Tom Clemens

 On Saturday, July 31, 2010, the Save Historic Antietam Foundation (SHAF) will sponsor a tour of “Phase I” of the Maryland Campaign of September, 1862.  The tour will be led by SHAF board members Dennis Frye, National Park Service Chief Historian at Harper’s Ferry, and Dr. Thomas Clemens, editor of Ezra Carman’s “The Maryland Campaign of September, 1862, Volume I: South Mountain”. 

NPS Historian Dennis Frye

The tour will begin at 8:30 AM at the parking lot of the Monocacy National Battlefield Visitor’s Center in Frederick Maryland, where the guides will cover the action up to the discovery of General Robert E. Lee’s “Lost Order” by Union forces.  Then the tour will proceed to Harper’s Ferry, covering the fighting and siege operations and capture of that place, as well as the escape of Union cavalry. 

Lunch will be served at The Anvil Restaurant in Harper’s Ferry.  Choices of a wrap, cheeseburger, or Reuben sandwich, each with French fries and drink. 

From there, participants will travel to and discuss the importance of the sites of the Battles for South Mountain, including Burkittsville, Gathland, and Crampton’s, Fox’s, and Turner’s Gaps. 

This is a “caravan” tour.  Car pooling is strongly encouraged.  Participation is limited to 30 individuals.  Fees, including lunch, are $30 for SHAF members.  Non-member fee is $50, which will include a one year membership to SHAF.  Members receive a quarterly newsletter and member rates for SHAF sponsored events.  Also, copies of Dr. Clemens’ edition of Ezra Carman’s “The Maryland Campaign of September, 1862, Volume I: South Mountain” will be made available at a $5 discount the day of the tour. 

A firm number of participants is required by July 21, 2010.  Make your reservations by sending an email with the names of those who will attend to tours@shaf.org.  You will receive instructions on where to send payment. 

Don’t miss this rare opportunity to tour the sites of the Maryland Campaign of September, 1862 with recognized experts Dr. Thomas Clemens and Dennis Frye.





Viewshed Meeting Tonight

13 01 2010

I just learned from Facebook friend, author, and Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide Garry Adelman that a meeting will be held tonight at the Manassas National Battlefield Park visitor center on Henry Hill, regarding the Manassas Battlefields Viewsheds Study project.  The following is from Prince William County’s website:

For Release

December 23, 2009

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, VIRGINIA . . . The Prince William County Planning Office and the Manassas National Battlefield Park are jointly managing a grant from the American Battlefield Protection Program to study the Battlefields’ militarily significant views.  This is the third and final public meeting for the Manassas Battlefields Viewsheds Study project.
 
A Public Meeting for the Manassas Battlefields Viewshed Study will be held Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2010 at 7 p.m. at the Henry Hill Visitor Center, Manassas National Battlefield Park at 6511 Sudley Road, Manassas, VA. At the meeting, the Study’s consultant will present the draft Viewshed Preservation Plan and solicit comment from the public. 
 
Copies of the draft Viewshed Preservation Plan (VPP) are available for review at the Henry Hill Visitor Center, at Park Headquarters; in the Prince William County Planning Office; at the Chinn Regional, Bull Run Regional, Central Community, and Gainesville Neighborhood libraries; and on-line at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/. To view the draft online, under Parks select Manassas NBP, select Conduct Study of Critical Historic Viewsheds of Manassas Battlefield, select Open for Public Comment). At this site, comments can be entered, or, for further information or to comment on the Plan, call the Park Headquarters at 703-754-1861, extension 0.  All comments on the VPP are due to the Park no later than Jan. 27, 2010.
 
Accessibility to Persons with Disabilities: This meeting is being held at a public facility believed to be accessible to persons with disabilities.  Any person with questions on the accessibility of the facility should contact the Henry Hill Visitor Center, 6511 Sudley Road, Manassas, Virginia, 20109, or by telephone at 703-361-1339 or TDD 703-361-7075.
 
Directions to the Henry Hill Visitor Center

From Washington D.C. and Points East:  Travel west on I-66 to Exit 47B, Route 234 North (Sudley Road).  Proceed through the first traffic light. The entrance to the Henry Hill Visitor Center is on the right, just past the Northern Virginia Community College.
 
From Points North:  Travel south on I-95 to the Capital Beltway (Route 495).  Travel west towards Silver Springs, MD.  Continue on the Beltway for approximately 10 miles, crossing the Potomac River into Virginia.  Take the exit for I-66 west to Manassas.  Take Exit 47B, Route 234 North (Sudley Road).  Proceed through the first traffic light. The entrance to the Henry Hill Visitor Center is on the right, just past the Northern Virginia Community College.
 
From Points South:  Travel north on I-95 to Exit 152, Route 234 north towards Manassas.  Stay on Business Route 234 (do not take the by-pass) and travel for approximately 20 miles just beyond the city of Manassas.  The entrance to the Henry Hill Visitor Center is located on the right, just past the entrance to the Northern Virginia Community College.
 
From Points West: Travel east on I-66 to Exit 47, Route 234 North (Sudley Road).  Turn left on Route 234 and proceed through the first traffic light.  The entrance to the Henry Hill Visitor Center is on the right, just past the Northern Virginia Community College.

If any of you attend, please let us know what is discussed.

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Manassas News

24 11 2009

Reader Keith Yoder sent these links (here and here) regarding preservation efforts/studies at Manassas National Battlefield Park.  The first summarizes the situation, and the second is a PDF document of the Prince William County study in question.  I think he may have sent me these as a result of some of the comments made to the Dress-Up post.  Check them out.





CWPT Website

17 11 2009

The Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT) has resource pages for various battles, including First Bull Run here.  There’s some pretty cool stuff there, including a link to a video tour by R. E. L. Krick, and also one to Bull Runnings.  Check it out.





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.

15 16 17 18

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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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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Ford the Potomac Like They Did

12 08 2009

FordLast year, the Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association conducted a tour of the battlefield (yes, there was a pursuit of the Army of Northern Virginia after the Battle of Antietam) that commenced with a crossing of the Potomac via Boteler’s/Blackford’s/Pack Horse Ford, the same ford used by Union forces – including the 20th Maine and 118th Pennsylvania – on September 19-20, 1862.  The turnout wasn’t overwhelming (I didn’t make it either, having been in town the preceding weekend), but the reaction to the tour was.  So the SBPA has determined to repeat the tour again, this time on September 19, and this time with two tours scheduled.  One is to be led by SBPA board member Tom Clemens, and another by Tom McGrath, author of Shepherdstown: Last Clash of the Antietam Campaign.  The tour will begin with a crossing of the Potomac by foot at the ford, a tour of the battlefield, and a picnic on the field.  All this for $25.  Go here for information and to make reservations, and to order Mr. McGrath’s book if you wish.  Visit Brian Downey’s Behind Antietam on the Web for a recap of last year’s tour.








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