Friday, August 24, 2012

It Was a Battle!

We went to Kennesaw Mt. National Battlefield just outside Atlanta the other day. Actually, getting there was like a battlefield with the traffic. Fortunately, the only wreck we saw was on the opposite side but it tied up traffic for miles.

This National Battlefield Park was like none other we have been to so far.  Sherman’s 100,00 man Union Army tried to oust Johnston’s 60,000 man Confederate army along an 8 mile line which was part of the Atlanta Campaign. We drove up the mountain and then climbed .5 mile to the summit. On the way up from the parking lot to the summit, there were four original cannons. I made a comment about how hard it must have been for the horses to pull the cannons up the mountain…there were no paved roads or paths. Lo and behold, here’s the sign we saw. I never would have believed the men had to do that too.

You can see the steep climb in the picture below, the view from the top and one of the cannons which posed with us!

There were so many interesting facts in the museum from music, food and communications to the lives of individual men.  

Music…something I can’t live without! The Confederates and the Federals each had particular songs near and dear to them. The Rebels had “The Bonnie Blue Flag” and the Union had “Battle Cry of Freedom.” Each rallied around their flags. I wish people in our country had that amount of respect for our flag. Probably most do but there are a few…I digress!

Food…one of my favorite subjects. However, in Civil War days it would not have been. This is what the each soldier got daily if they were lucky. Union:  l lb. of hardtack (think saltine crackers minus the salt); or 22 oz. of bread or flour;  ¾ lb. of salt pork or 1 ¼ lb. of fresh beef; dried beans, sugar, coffee and salt. Rebels: 1 lb. of beef of ½ lb. of pork or bacon; cornmeal was substituted for hardtack or flour; they rarely received sugar or coffee. That’s where chicory came into play and oh, how I hate the taste of that kind of “coffee”.  Of course, sometimes they would forage plantations. With the lack of fruits and vegetables, no wonder they suffered from scurvy. In 1861 bacon was 13 cents/lb. In 1864 it was $3.50. Not much inflation since 1864! However, eggs in 1861 were 15 cents/doz.  and $4/doz. In 1864. What are they now? How can the government allow deflation??

Communications were via colored flags by day or torches by night using codes, couriers on foot or horseback  and telegraphing. Sherman had skilled men following him who could lay their own telegraph wires rather than rely on existing wires in GA.

Speaking of Sherman…he was born in Ohio, graduated from West Point and had been familiar with the land around Marietta, GA.  He resigned from the army in 1853 and tried his hand at banking and also tried being a lawyer. Those jobs were unsuccessful but he did become the first president of what is now LSU. He bid his students goodbye when LA seceded from the Union and he joined the Union Army.  He had never done battle before but he prepared for the Atlanta campaign by studying the census returns for GA and the populations of every county in GA. He apparently was a redhead, smoked cigars and people thought him rather eccentric and perhaps slightly insane!

Sherman’s opposition was General Johnston. For various reasons, Johnston felt he should be the highest ranking officer in the Confederate army. His boss, Jefferson Davis, did not agree with Johnston. They were both quick to take offense and slow to forgive. Davis wanted  Johnston to invade Tennessee promptly and quickly but Johnston said he didn’t have enough men, horses, artillery or wagons to do that. NEVER ARGUE WITH YOUR BOSS! Johnston’s failure to stop the Union caused him to be replaced by General Hood (who also did not fare well). The man in the background is Hood.

Sometimes during skirmishes, both sides would call a cease fire, meet between the lines to talk, trade newspapers, or swap Union coffee for Confederate tobacco. At one point in time, a fire broke out and there were dead , disgusting soldiers laying in the field. Compassion won out and they ceased fire. They put out the fire and buried the dead, then began fighting again. That seems a little insane to me. In the words of a Union soldier, “It seems too bad that we have to fight men that we like.”

Does the name Landis ring a bell? The first commissioner of baseball was the son of a surgeon in the Civil War. How about General MacArthur? He was the son of a Major who commanded a regiment at the age of 19 and won the Medal of Honor. Like father, like son…General MacArthur won the Medal of Honor for WWII.

So, at the end of this battle the Confederates lost approximately 35,000 men to death, wounds or MIA and the Union lost approximately 38,000. No matter where the battle is fought, too much blood is shed.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Pamplin Historical Park

Thursday, August 16, 2012, we visited Pamplin Historical Park near Petersburg, VA. It is located on the site of the April 2, 1865, Breakthrough battle, which led to the Confederates evacuating RichmondAt the entrance, there are engravings on the marble to show how many men served from each state and how many died. There was also a beautiful bronze sculpture with the inscription “My thoughts and heart are with you at home but my duty lies here with cause and comrades."

What a great job the Pamplin’s did on the museums and restoring the Boisseau farm where Confederate General McGowan made his headquarters. 

The working kitchen and slave quarters were reconstructed.  
Slave Owner's  Kitchen Building

Slave Quarters (I need to learn to get my finger away from the eye of the camera!)

They had working gardens that represented the garden of the slave owners (big) and the garden of the slaves (little). The owner encouraged slaves to have their own garden (including chickens) so they would be well fed and were stronger to work. Figures!

The park was so large, we did not get to see the restored Banks’ house where Lt. General Grant had his headquarters nor walk the Breakthrough line trails. We did see the fortifications. I think I'd rather come up against barbed wire than these spikes!

Our first treat was a demonstration of how the soldiers had to load their rifles. It was a  nine-step procedure which took a good soldier 20 seconds if he didn’t get too nervous. It has been said archaeologists have found small piles of unused caps on their digs, which indicated a soldier was really nervous. The young man who demonstrated did a great job explaining but he didn’t do it in 20 seconds. The sound was quite loud and there was a lot of smoke just from one gun. We could only imagine what it would be like with more and we had the opportunity later to experience that.

Although the farm and associated buildings were interesting, the National Museum of the Civil War Soldier was the highlight. Using an MP3 player and picking a soldier from the war, we were able to follow parts of his life. Perry’s soldier ended up being killed and mine was taken prisoner. The recreated scenes and dioramas were excellent. Three things that impressed us are pictured here.

Two minie balls fused in mid-air collision

Artillery projectile which penetrated a tree

This New Testament stopped a bullet

In the Battlefield Center Museum, there is a bronze sculpture of Robert Boissau Pamplin, Sr. He died at the age of 97 and was a well-known philanthropist. His son is reported to be the 3rd wealthiest person in the state of Oregon and follows in the footsteps of his father with his generosity. Perhaps he should run for President.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Blog for Linda!

My friend, Linda, was looking for less Civil War related stuff and more vineyards...this one's for her! But, there is a dash of Civil War at the end to keep this true to the war.  

 The bricks were originally made by hand before the Civil War. The exterior siding came from sunken Cypress found in Florida before the Civil War.

The trusses in the production room were awesome.  

We wished we could have our name on a barrel in the members club!

 The floors and ceiling wood came from Utica, NY. 
The 40 foot heart pine beams in the tasting room came from an 1850 era warehouse in CT. 

 Blue bottles keep the evil spirits away!

It was an awesome tour and the wine was great too.

Medical Aspects of the War

On the day we visited the forts in Richmond, we also visited Chimborazo Medical Museum.  This museum building was built in 1909 and served as a Federal weather station. It now houses information on the medical hospitals in and around Richmond as well as facts, equipment and pictures of the Confederate medical service.

The site of the Chimborazo hospital was named for a dormant volcano in Ecuador. There was a lovely painting of the volcano done by Frederic Church, whose paintings are also at Olana.

Below is the diorama of the 40 acre plateau and it had the appearance of a small town. They even had their own bakery and brewery. Also below is an old photo of the actual site.

78,000 sick and wounded Confederate soldiers passed through the hospital in four years. The hospital consisted of 150 wooden structures spaced far enough apart for air to get through, which aided in healing. There were approximately 8,000 Confederate physicians and research has shown that 70% of them graduated from medical school. By the end of the war, over 7,000 of those were appointed to be surgeons or assistant surgeons. The physicians had two sets of equipment…a small set and this larger one.

They would give a man a dose of ether or chloroform, amputate a badly wounded appendage and the patient would be awake within 15 minutes. How times have changed, thank God.

On one of the museum walls was an excerpt from a poem (perhaps a letter) written by Walt Whitman. Walt’s brother, George, served in the 51st NY Infantry Division. Walt discovered his brother had been listed as wounded in Fredericksburg. He went in search of George and in so doing, acted as a nurse and got to know many of the soldiers. The poem really touched me. 

I wish I had liked Walt more in high school and I also wish they had taught history less boringly!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I Feel the Earth Move (Carole King)

Fort Harrison was on top of a hill that had a view to the James River. When we stopped there, we were the only ones visiting! Although the visitor’s center was closed, we were able to walk the grounds and read the markers. We also couldn’t see the river as so many trees had grown during 150 years. The fort consisted of earthworks and was constructed in 1862 and 1863.

Earthworks at Fort Harrison
I never realized a fort could be a fort without wood or brick walls. The Union had to overtake this Confederate fort if they were to push on to Richmond and September 29, one force accomplished that. When the Union captured it, they redesigned it and renamed it Ft. Burnham.  
Fort Harrison November 1864 after captured by the Union

There were other strategies from different points in the area to the south that were successful for the USCT (United States Colored Troops). However, the Union soldiers were unable to take the next steps to conquer four remaining forts: Ft. Gregg, Ft. Hoke, Ft. Johnson and Ft. Gilmer. We were the only visitors at these other forts as well. The Confederates were able to reshape their lines and block the road to Richmond. This resulted in a stalemate for six months. These forts, too, were earthworks…no actual walls. Today, you can see goats grazing at Ft. Johnson!

and within Ft. Gilmer, you can see a white house with black shutters.

If we lived there, it would be impossible to keep our children from wanting to play hide and seek or “war” in and around these mounds of dirt. It still amazes me that the soldiers had the strength to dig dirt, fell trees and fight without proper nourishment. There are signs all over not to walk on the earthworks so we didn't feel the earth move under our feet!  

Monday, August 13, 2012

Gloucester Point and Other Places

Yesterday we had lunch at the Yorktown Pub, which is a fairly decent biker bar. The food was better in 2010 and the atmosphere this year didn't match 2010...there were more bikers then. 

Across the river is Gloucester Point. We heard there was a Civil War marker there. Here's a view from the Yorktown beach across from the Point. 

Our GPS actually took us directly to the marker, which said, "The Confederate army recognized that Gloucester Point was critical to Virginia’s river defense. The Point had been continuously fortified since 1667. In an opening action of the Civil War, the first shots in Virginia were fired on May 3, 1861 when the USS Yankee sailed upriver and fired on Confederates here at Gloucester Point. Above is a photo of the beach at Gloucester Point.

The Richmond Howitzers stationed on the Point returned fire and the Yankee withdrew to the river’s mouth. Within a year, Union forces took control of the Point and maintained control of the county for the rest of the war. 

Of course, what would our trip be without finding a winery? We visited the Williamsburg Winery, which had good wine but pricey. The entrance was beautiful, but it still can't compare to the Finger Lakes and Childress Vineyard in Advance, NC. 
They say the mold on the walls is from angels escaping from the wine kegs...hmmm

Tomorrow we are visiting Ft. Harrison in Henrico, VA. Thursday we plan to visit Pamplin Historical Park in Petersburg. Unfortunately, the campground where we are staying is over an hour drive to these places so we won't get to see everything we had hoped to explore. We are too far south of Fredericksburg so we definitely will do Civil War Trip Part II next year!

Saturday we leave for Advance again. Childress has captured our taste buds!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Finger Lakes Civil War Facts

Once we left Seneca Lake, we traveled a little over an hour to Canandaigua Lake. There was nothing Civil War related to see here but I did find some information connected to our visit to Fort Sumter, SC. Hope you find it as interesting as I did. Here goes...again some of the info was taken from Wiki.
The USS Canandaigua (1862) was built in the Boston Navy Yard. It  was a sloop of war, launched March 28, 1862, acquired by the Union Navy during the second year of the Civil War. She had a speed of 12 mph and had heavy guns. That made her an ideal and successful gunboat in the Union blockade of the Confederacy. After the war, she was renamed Detroit and was broken up in 1884.
Canandaigua reported to the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, Charleston, SC on August 26, 1862, adding to the Union capability to isolate the Confederacy from overseas supplies. She later took the sloop Secesh in May 1863; later she destroyed another blockade runner and aided in the capture of a schooner and a steamer in the same area. In addition to blockading, Canandaigua cooperated with Union army forces taking part in the long series of attacks on positions in Charleston Harbor in 1863-1864.

On February 17, 1864, she rescued 150 members of the crew of the Housatonic  when she fell victim to the historic attack of the Confederate submarine CSS H.L. Hunley. We saw the Hunley info at Ft. Sumter. It was 40 ft. long with a crew of 9 men. The air supply was limited and had to resurface after 30 minutes. The Hunley set out from Sullivan’s Island  

with a torpedo attached on her bow. The Housatonic was anchored four miles offshore.  Union lookouts spied the torpedo approaching and sounded an alarm. 

Before the ship could move away the torpedo hit its target and the Housatonic sank. The Hunley was the first submarine in history to sink an enemy ship. She was MIA and people searched for it for 131 years. May 1995 she was discovered 1,000 ft. seaward of the Housatonic. In August 2000 she was raised and returned home.
There is a site created by Diane Thomas in which she lists approximately 550 soldiers and seamen from Canandaigua who served in the Civil War. The list indicates many were deserters, many were KIA or died soon after they were wounded. Some died at Andersonville Prison which we visited in May.

We have enjoyed our wine touring on Seneca, Cayuga, Keuka and Canandaigua Lakes. The Finger Lakes are so beautiful. Yesterday we were on Conesus Lake with my brother and sister-in-law. Maybe I'll blog some more about that tomorrow.