Antietam’s Bloody Lane Trail

4 10 2009

On September 18, 2009, I found myself at Antietam National Battlefield with time on my hands, and decided to fill it by walking the park’s new Bloody Lane Trail.  The 1.5 mile loop begins and ends at the park visitor center, and covers the attack and defense of the Sunken Road.  It was just about a perfect day, weather-wise, though it wound up being warmer than I at first thought.  So, I stopped into the VC bookstore and bought one of the NPS Bloody Lane Trail pamphlets for $0.99 (you can get a trail pamphlet for free at the front desk, but it’s bare bones).  Setting out about 4:00 PM, I snapped some photos along the way.  Click on the thumbs for larger images.

From the VC, I walked north to the New York monument.  From there I looked southwest towards the Sunken Road (the end of which is plainly marked by the red roof of the observation tower) and northeast toward the Mumma (m-you-ma) Farm.

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Here at the monument the pamphlet gives a quick overview of the battle’s morning phase, and an only slightly less general description of Sumner’s 2nd Corps and what transpired through the end of the fighting in the Sunken Road.

I decided to follow the instructions dutifully; though I had walked the grounds before, the official NPS trail is a little shorter than the tours I had been on.  So I walked from the NY monument generally east to the Mumma Farm lane, and then made a left toward the picturesque farm, stop #1.  The farm buildings were burned during the battle, and only the stone spring house (and spring) are wartime structures.  Right about where the spring house sits on the gravel lane, I followed the trail right (southeast).

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At the head of this path is an NPS wayside marker.  The trail took me towards the even more picturesque Roulette Farm.  Along the way I saw one of the many outcroppings that litter the field, all oriented about 23 degrees east of north – I guess glaciers don’t zig or zag much.

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The trail brought me to the bucolic Roulette Farm’s (stop #2) outbuildings, and inside one was a surprise – a limber (or was it a caisson missing a chest?) in disrepair.  I don’t think this is an original.  Regardless of budget constraints, I can’t imagine the NPS storing a 145-plus-year-old item like that in a shed.  I got a couple of nice shots of the house and a fuzzy one of the barn – it’s a new camera and this is the first time I used it.  It has about a dozen pixies flying around inside, and I think they make the camera shake when they get rambunctious.

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The trail snakes around the barn and continues straight while the Roulette Lane makes a right and continues southwest to the sunken lane.  The Three Farms Trail shoots off to the northeast, and then the ground gets really interesting. 

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As I walked towards the line on which the Irish Brigade (among others) advanced on the Sunken Road, I was confronted with this hill and the sudden disappearance of the top of the observation tower.  It comes back into view at the top of this hill (stop #3).

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The ground still rises from this point, and I made a right turn southwest toward the Sunken Road.  Using the Irish Brigade as an example, they were deployed from left to right across this scene.  The ground leveled off as I approached the #4 tour stop, but still the lane is not visible in front (though it is to the left, toward the tower).  However, unfurled colors and bayonets would have been plainly visible to the men in the lane.

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Continuing  on I descended into the lane (stop #5), where I could view the Confederate positions left (southeast) and right (northwest).

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At this point I took a detour from the tour, which leads northwest toward the Roulette Farm lane, to take a walk up the tower.  Unfortunately I’ve been having knee problems more severe than usual, and only made it up 21 steps.  So deciding discretion was the better part of valor, I descended (not as easy as it sounds) and proceeded back to where the trail joined the lane.  Here you get a good idea of the terrain, not just in front of the lane…

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…but behind it…

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…and in it.  Note that the Sunken Lane descends toward the Roulette Farm Lane, then ascends sharply towards where the trail turns right (north) off the Sunken Lane.

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It was in this area (stop #6), left and right of the Roulette Farm lane, that French’s division – the brigades of Weber, Morris, and Kimball – took their heavy casualties before Richardson’s division and the Irish Brigade even reached the field.  It’s true: you can look it up.

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From there it was a nice walk back up and across the Mumma Lane to Tompkins’s Battery and the visitor center.

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You can check out the experiences of other bloggers with the Bloody Lane trail, from around the same time,  here and here.

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Fredonia’s Cushings & Westfield’s Lincoln-Bedell Statues

22 07 2009

I spent a week-long vacation with my family at Van Buren Point, outside Fredonia, New York, on Lake Erie.  Next door to my in-laws’ cottage is a lot that until a couple of years ago was home to “Cushing Cottage”, once owned by the Fredonia family that included Gettysburg martyr Alonzo and naval hero William B. Cushing.  In fact, we have an old photo of William’s daughters Marie and Katharine frolicking in the surf in their mid-calf length bathing suits right there off my wife’s family’s beach – though somewhat eroded, it is unmistakable.  Click the thumb for a larger image.

cushing

About 15 miles from Van Buren Point and pretty much on our way home is Westfield, home to Welch’s of grape juice and jelly fame – this area of western NY is known for grapes.  Westfield was the home of Grace Bedell, the little girl who encouraged then presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln to grow whiskers.  Lincoln stopped in Westfield on his roundabout journey to his inauguration and met Grace.  The moment has been commemorated by the town.  Here are some photos of the statues, an accompanying plaque, and an interpretive marker.  I used my cell phone, so excuse the quality.  Click on the thumbs for larger images.

Westfield-Placard Westfield-Plaque Westfield-Statue-1 Westfield-Statue-2





Craig Swain’s Manassas Weekend

21 07 2009

Fellow blogger and battlefield stomper Craig Swain paid a visit to Manassas National Battlefield Park for the anniversary weekend a few days ago, and has posted this nice photo essay.  I particularly like the image below, a view of Henry House Hill from the second floor of the Stone House:

Manassas-Swain





Manassas National Battlefield Park Photos May 2009

19 06 2009

These images were recorded on May 29-30, 2009; for the most part in the company of fellow blogger Craig Swain.  Click on the thumbs for larger images.

 01---Brownell01a---Ricketts

Visitor’s Center (VC) displays of Francis Brownell’s musket and 11th NY uniform worn at the occupation of Alexandria; Capt. James B. Ricketts’s sword and sash worn at First Bull Run.

 03---Bartow02---Bartow04---Bartow05-Bartow

Francis Bartow monument on the Henry Hill Trail; trees marking the site of the base to an earlier monument to Bartow erected in September 1861; two images of the base.

07---Henry-House06---Henry-Grave08---Matthews-Hill-From-Hen

The Henry House; Judith Henry grave; view north to Matthews Hill from the Henry House.

10---Ricketts11---Ramsey-Marker12---7th-GA13---7th-GA14---Ricketts

View south along Ricketts’ line toward VC; site of death of Lt. Ramsey of Ricketts’ Battery; two images of 7th GA marker near Ricketts’ guns; view north along Ricketts’ line toward Matthews Hill.

15---Signal-Hill16---Signal-Hill

Two views of the monument at Signal Hill in Manassas, marking the position of E. P. Alexander’s signal station.  The earthworks to the rear of the monument are off limits.

19---Path-to-Mayfield-Fort20---Mayfield-Fort

Entry to the path leading to Mayfield Fort in Manassas, part of Beauregard’s system of defensive earthworks; Mayfield Fort.

21---Blackburn's-Ford22---Blackburn's-Ford23---Blackburn's-Ford24---Blackburn's-Ford

Parking lot on north side of Blackburn’s Ford; three views from north to south side of ford, panning to west.

25---Cub-Run26---Cub-Run28---Cub-Run27---Cub-Run

View west along Warrenton Pike (Lee Highway) toward Cub Run (new bridge is lighter pavement); view west to run; view east to run; view of run from the west.

29---Reynolds30---Reynolds

View south from Reynolds’ RI Battery on Mattews Hill south to Henry Hill; view east along Reynolds’ line.

31--Stovall32---Stovall33---Stovall

View east along Stone Bridge Trail toward the monument Private George T. Stovall of the 8th GA; two views of the marker.

34---Carter-Cemetery35---Carter-Cemetery

Two views of the Carter Family Cemetery on the Stone Bridge Trail, both looking south.

36---Farm-Ford

Area marked as Farm Ford on Bull Run, where the brigades fo Sherman and Keyes crossed.  NPS Ranger Jim Burgess believes the actual ford lies about 200 yards upstream from here.

37---Imboden38---Imboden-to-Dogan

View north to Matthews Hill from Imboden’s position on Henry Hill, Reynolds’ guns in the distance; view northwest to Dogan’s Ridge from Imboden’s position, Dogan House in the distance.

40---Entry-to-Sudley-Rd-Tra39---Sudley-Rd-Trace41---Sudley-Rd-Trace

Entrance to original Sudley Road trace near the VC, looking south with Sudley Rd to the right; the trace looking north to the VC; the trace looking south.

42---Stone-House46---Stone-House44---Stone-House45---Stone-House

The Stone House at the intersection of the Sudley-Manassas Rd and the Warrenton Pike – view north from the Pike; view southwest from the rear of the house; two interior images.

47---Buck-Hill48---Buck-Hill49---Buck-Hill

Buck Hill to the north of the Stone House – view south to Henry Hill; view north to Matthews Hill; view east toward the Stone Bridge.

52---Chinn-Ridge

Chinn Ridge looking north – the area of the repulse of Col. O. O. Howard’s brigade.

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The Thornberry House near Sudley Springs – Union soldiers took shelter in this house (much changed from the original) after the battle.





This is Just Weird

9 06 2009

Page 30 of Mark Hughes’s The New Civil War Handbook juxtaposes two images of soldiers who died in the war.  The first photo is of North Carolina volunteer Jim Costner:

Jim-Costner

The second photo is John Kinsella of the 7th CT:

John-Kinsella

The reason this is freaky?  This guy:

Ray-Kinsella

That’s Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams.  At the end of the film, Costner’s character plays catch with his father.  Costner’s character’s name is Ray Kinsella.  The father’s?  John.

Check out Mark’s website here.  Thanks for the photos of the soldiers, Mark.

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Photo of a Fire Zouave?

20 05 2009

I received the following email early this morning, and reproduce it here very slightly edited with photos in place of links:

Dear Mr. Smeltzer,

I found your page doing some research on photograph that I recently acquired, and I am wondering if you can help me with it.

I believe, though I am by no means sure, that this is a portrait of a Fire Zouave. I will attach links to scans of the image, a sixth plate (2.5 x 3.5 inches) tintype:

1) The tintype, in its case:

firezouavefullcase

2) A larger scan of the full plate, out of its frame, showing the horn:

firezouavenomat

3) A close-up of the fire horn and kepi:

firezouavehorn

4) A reversed scan of the lettering on the horn:

firezouavehornreversed

The evidence that he might be a Fire Zouave is as follows:

A) Dark (blue?) pants, which the 11th wore.

B) Red (tinted on the image) fireman’s shirt, with plastron. Also worn by the 11th.

C) The kepi with an oilcloth cover.

Most intriguing — and maddeningly so — is the lettering on the base of the horn. I can make out two S’s, with what looks like an I between them. After the second S, there looks to be either a T or an apostrophe followed by a letter. The I is possibly a numeral 1, in which case it might be “1st”. In any event, I can’t make out what the whole word would be. Probably either a town name or the name of his engine company.

My hypothesis is that this is a new recruit, displaying his two allegiances: to his firefighting unit and to his military unit.

Any help or hunches you might have would be greatly appreciated! As you can imagine, I am dying to get to the bottom on this image….

Thanks,

Gregory Fried

Professor and Chair, Philosophy Department

Suffolk University

 I’m undecided.  The fireman’s shirt this fellow is wearing is a little different from that of Francis Brownell, on display at MNBP – the belt is different too, but I think each fire company had their own:

Francis Brownell Uniform - Courtesy Manassas NBP

It is true that after a few weeks in the field the 11th NY ditched their blue-gray Zouave togs for Union blue, but they kept the red shirts as part of their ensemble.  However, there were other regiments recruited from fire companies that may also have worn the shirts; it’s also possible this photo depicts a soldier in more casual dress.  The horn could be a fire horn, could belong to the subject, or may simply be a photographer’s prop.

I know there are some readers out there who specialize in zouves, and some in portraits and photography, and some in the 11th NY specifically.  What do you all think?





Wheat Photo

24 11 2008

I received a packet from Mike Musick in the mail on Saturday with all sorts of neat info on the newly discovered photo of an individual who looks a lot like Rob Wheat of the 1st Special Louisiana Battalion (see here and here).  It included quite a few testimonials from big shots in the ACW field as to their opinions on the photo.  I’ll be posting more on this later.





Piedmont Station

23 10 2008

My friend David Langbart recently made a trip to Delaplane, VA, and snapped the below photos (he uses some kind of newfangled camera: the image is transferred to something called film, which is then developed into negatives, from which prints are made, whatever any of that means).  Situated about 25 miles southeast of Winchester, in 1861 Delaplane was known as Piedmont Station.  This is where elements of Joe Johnston’s Army of the Shenandoah boarded train cars bound for Manassas Junction, beginning on July 19th with the brigade of Thomas J. Jackson.

I’m not sure if any of the structures were there in 1861.  Here’s a link to some Piedmont Station/Delaplane markers courtesy of Historical Marker Database.

All views are east toward Manassas.





A “New” Photo of Rob Wheat

15 10 2008

The December issue of Civil War Times is out, which has an article by Mike Musick on his discovery of a previously unpublished ambrotype (above left), the subject of which appears to be Chatham Roberdeau Wheat, commander of the 1st Special Louisiana Battalion at Bull Run (I wrote about him here).  Once the article is put up on the magazine’s website I’ll post a link to it here, but for now you might want to head to your newsstand and get the hard copy.

Above right is a picture that is generally accepted to be Wheat, taken around the time of the outbreak of the Civil War.   Musick’s “new” image is thought to have been taken during Wheat’s earlier filibustering days.  Click the images above for larger images (you’ll get a super large image of the new photo if you click the first larger image a second time).   What do you think?  Same guy?

That shirt sure looks familiar.  Especially the sleeves.

Thanks to CWT for permission to post the new photo of Wheat.

See foloow up post here.





Manassas National Battlefield Park Photos April 2004

7 06 2008

 

I shot these in April 2004 with a very cheap camera - cannons are representative (click on the thumbs for larger image):

One of Ricketts’ Guns – Henry House Hill

One of Ricketts\' Guns

Battle Monument – Henry House Hill

Battle Monument

Jackson’s Artillery Line – Henry House Hill

Jackson\'s Artillery Line

Jackson Monument – Henry House Hill

Jackson Monument I

Jackson Monument II

Jackson Monument II

Griffin’s Guns – Henry House Hill, 2nd Position

Griffin\'s Guns

Original Sudley Road Trace South of Visitor’s Center

Sudley Road Trace

Stone Bridge over Bull Run

Stone Bridge








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