** Please check out my tribute page to two of my Civil War relatives who never made it home **

Monday, April 29, 2013

April 29, 2013

Those who have spent time on the Gettysburg battlefield in all kinds of weather are probably aware that on rainy days or after dark, the site of the Pickett-Pettigrew-Trimble Charge is particularly eerie. The above photo was taken on just such a day. It’s quite easy to “feel” the sorrow emanating from the battlefield, especially here. The monuments to the right both represent the 72nd Pennsylvania Infantry, the “Philadelphia Fire Zouaves.”

Despite the monuments (and the Virginia State Memorial located just to the left of the closest monument) the site looks much as it would have in 1863; stone walls and wooden fences still crisscross the fields and the trees of McMillan Woods still loom in the distance. I believe the trees to the left are part of the Nicholas Codori farm thicket. I find the line of rocks in the center of the photo very interesting . . . smaller than the famous Gettysburg boulders, but still indicative of the battlefield.


Co. F, 2nd North Carolina Infantry

Born 1839 --- Died July 01, 1863 at age 24

Lt. Col. Andrews’ pre-war residence was likely Randolph County, North Carolina. Gettysburg certainly wasn’t his first brush with fate. In 1862 he found himself a prisoner of war but was later released. He subsequently rose in the ranks until he became Lieutenant Colonel just twenty-five days before his death. He received his mortal wound at Gettysburg at the hands of the Pennsylvania Bucktails while struggling to gain a foothold on McPherson’s Ridge. Though Lt. Col. Andrews was originally buried on the field, he was later laid to rest at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia, where many Confederate dead now lie.

(c) 2013 Skies of Blue and Gray

Friday, April 26, 2013

April 26, 2013

I’ve mentioned in the past that when comparing the historic homes and farms of Gettysburg --- all of which I love --- stone structures win hands-down. There’s just something about those old stone buildings that evokes nostalgia in me. The George George House on Steinwehr Avenue (yes, that was his real name) is no exception. The structure would have been important enough due to having existed on this site during the 1863 battle, but it has another quite ominous claim to fame. On July 1st, General John F. Reynolds was brought here after his death on McPherson’s Ridge.

When I visited the George house in 2001, it was being used as Servant’s Olde Tyme Photos. (I’m not sure what its function is now). I remember feeling rather eerie when I got my picture taken here in Civil War garb. The place had a rustic feel, and I was admittedly on-edge, considering that a dead general had once lain just steps from where I stood. The rumors of supernatural activity were hard to ignore --- especially in Gettysburg, where most will tell you there is definitely “something” you can just feel. It’s no coincidence that this lovely home is located near the old stone Dobbin House Tavern; both structures were utilized by Reverend Alexander Dobbin.


Co. D, 7th Ohio Infantry

Born 1836 --- Died July 03, 1863 at age 27

Before Cpl. Carroll was killed in July 1863, he bore the hard news of his two-year-old son James’ death in Lake County, Ohio. He was then survived by his wife of six years, Martha, and five-year-old son Willard. Even more tragically, Willard followed his father in death just four months after Gettysburg. Cpl. Carroll has a stone at Mentor Avenue Cemetery in Painesville, Ohio but it is believed that he may not actually be buried here.

(c) 2013 Skies of Blue and Gray

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

April 24, 2013

The Virginia State Memorial along Confederate Avenue in McMillan Woods is without a doubt one of the most beautiful state monuments at Gettysburg. It is also one of the largest. This impressive tribute to “Old Virginia” was unveiled in 1917 and has been a visitor favorite ever since. The top of the statue is most compelling, replicating a sight beloved to every Confederate soldier: General Robert Edward Lee on his faithful horse Traveller. But the bottom of the monument is just as interesting. The bronze figures represent men from every walk of life, all banding together to fight for their home state. The base reads “Virginia to Her Sons at Gettysburg.” There were far, far too many of them.

There are other points of interest very near the Virginia State Memorial also. To the left of the monument (if coming down Confederate Avenue) you’ll see the artillery of Ward’s Battery, the Madison Light Artillery. The cannons of Poague’s Battalion keep eternal vigil just across the road. The view from the monument is stunning, as the Virginian view of the Pickett-Pettigrew-Trimble Charge can be seen in its entirety. There is a path that runs parallel to the field and stops abruptly past the wooded area known as the “Point of Woods”, but even that relatively short walk should yield some iconic photos of these bloody fields.


Co. D, 6th Alabama Infantry

Born March 25, 1843 --- Died July 02, 1863 at age 20

Pvt. Price was born in Long Island, Alabama, sharing this date with twin brother James. Though Find A Grave states his death date as July 2nd, Price family records indicate it was actually July 3rd. He seems to have died at Culp’s Hill and no one is certain where he was buried. Some believe he was reinterred at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia and others believe his final resting place is in Montgomery, Alabama. There is a memorial stone for Pvt. Price at the McDaniel-Moore Cemetery in New Hope, Tennessee.

(c) 2013 Skies of Blue and Gray

Monday, April 22, 2013

April 22, 2013

Little Round Top has always been one of my favorite places on the Gettysburg battlefield. It provides such a different perspective . . . the view is incredible, and the sheer weight of history is overwhelming. This photo was taken from Crawford Avenue near Devil’s Den and shows the hill in its entirety. The men of Hood’s Texas Brigade, along with other determined Southerners, would have seen a similar view on July 2nd. Contemporary photographs show a Little Round Top that looked much like this, explaining why the trees in the distance haven’t been cut down like many trees on other parts of the battlefield.

A quick “monument search” reveals quite a few. At far left center is the monument to Battery L, 1st Ohio Light Artillery (note the cannonballs on top). The tall statue monument toward the left of the photo is the 155th Pennsylvania Infantry, while the shorter monument to its right belongs to the 146th New York Infantry. The next visible monument is the tall shaft in the center of the photo, the 91st Pennsylvania Infantry. The “castle” monument” dedicated to the 12th and 44th New York Infantry can be seen toward the right of the photo, and the 140th New York Infantry / Colonel O’Rorke memorial is just to the left of that. In the center far right of the photo, not visible on the smaller size, is the 16th Michigan Infantry.


Co. G, 118th Pennsylvania Infantry

Born 1825 --- Died July 02, 1863 at age 38

It was difficult to glean much information on Cpt. Davids, but I found a genealogical entry that named a “Richard Wistar Davids” born in 1825 and died in 1863, which, judging from his age on his portrait, I believe to be him. He bore a mortal wound in the stomach at the Wheatfield during the late afternoon of July 2nd and was buried at Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia, leaving behind his wife of thirteen years, Eliza, and a two-year-old son, Richard Wistar Davids Jr. There may have been older children who were not listed in this particular entry. A photo of Cpt. Davids can be found here.

(c) 2013 Skies of Blue and Gray

Friday, April 19, 2013

April 19, 2013

Sachs Bridge, dating from the 1850s, occupied this site during the battle.

  Did you know there’s a beautiful covered bridge just a few miles from the battlefield? Though Sachs Bridge has become a veritable command center for paranormal enthusiasts, it offers more than just creepy vibes. Its appeal is two-fold: beauty and history. As for the beauty, the bridge stretches lazily over Marsh Creek, a great (and quiet) place to picnic, relax, or take a hike . . . literally. So you’ve got a lovely old structure, a peaceful creek, and enough woodland to feel secluded. If you want solitude, make sure to avoid the bridge after dark . . . there are sure to be a goodly number of ghost hunters trekking across the old weathered boards.
Once you cross the bridge, this marker can be found.

A peaceful view of Marsh Creek

Concerning history, there’s a ton. Sachs Bridge was constructed in the 1850s (though the modern bridge is more or less reconstructed, with some original material, after floating downstream during a particularly violent flood). It was used by Southern troops retreating from the battlefield and was supposedly close to a field hospital. I’m not exactly sure where said hospital was located. If you can take away the parking lot and modern signage in your mind’s eye, it’s very easy to imagine how the bridge and its environs would have looked in 1863.


38th Virginia Infantry

Born January 21, 1835 --- Died July 03, 1863 at age 28

Col. Edmonds had a full and busy life before his wounding at Gettysburg, but that didn’t make his death before the age of thirty any easier to bear. He was a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute and later became involved in teaching. In the 1860 census he was listed as residing in the Southern District of Pittsylvania, Virginia. Col Edmonds was killed at the Pickett-Pettigrew-Trimble Charge and is thought to be buried at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond. His passing was mourned by Margaret (Maggie), his wife of five years, and by his three-year-old daughter, Mollie. A photo of him can be found here.

(c) 2013 Skies of Blue and Gray

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

April 17, 2013

One of my favorite monuments on the Gettysburg battlefield is the North Carolina State Memorial, though sadly I haven’t spent much time studying it in detail. Last time I visited, I did take some shots directly in front of the monument, showing the view that those North Carolinians who participated in the Pickett-Pettigrew-Charge would have had. Save for the buildings and the now-demolished Cyclorama building to the left, and the faraway dots of monuments and a tour bus at center, the view has likely changed very little since July 3rd, 1863.

Somewhere toward the left was the long-gone William Bliss farm. The two white structures seen at top left, directly to the right of the Cyclorama building, were there at the time of the battle. They are the Abraham Bryan farm. The Copse of Trees is the farthest-right clump of trees in this photo. Just as today, wooden fences provided deadly obstacles to the Confederate soldiers struggling toward the Union line along Cemetery Ridge. I found it a challenge to identify the monuments in this photo. (Most can’t be seen on the smaller view; click for larger). I’ll name only the ones I’m relatively certain about.

The tall monument to the left of the pine tree in the center of the field is the 39th New York Infantry. The monument with the bronze plaque directly to the right of the single tree which marks the Bloody Angle represents Battery A, 4thU.S. Artillery. The bronze statue (visible to the right of the artillery marker) is of Gen. Alexander Webb. The light-colored monument to the left of the large Copse of Trees is the 106th Pennsylvania Infantry. The “pointed” monument to the right is actually a Native American tepee and pays homage to the men of the 42nd New York Infantry. The very tall monument at the far right of the photo is dedicated to the United States Regular Army (though there’s a possibility it’s actually the 1st Minnesota Infantry monument).


Co. D, 27th Connecticut Infantry

Died July 02, 1863

Little is known of Pvt. Dunn, whose pre-war residence was Wallingford, Connecticut. His death has also been listed as July 4th, 1863. He is buried at Gettysburg National Cemetery.

(c) 2013 Skies of Blue and Gray

Monday, April 15, 2013

April 15, 2013

Most visitors to Gettysburg have seen the large bronze book monument at the Copse of Trees, flanked by artillery, but have you ever read it? The left “page” states “High Water Mark of the Rebellion” and goes on to name the Confederate units that participated in the Pickett-Pettigrew-Trimble Charge. The right page names the Union units that held their ground against the Southern onslaught, those who aided in the “Repulse of Longstreet’s Assault.” It’s a beautiful and fitting tribute for both sides.

The background of this photo is interesting as well . . . some of the trees within the black wrought-iron fence at the Copse have been named as witness trees, though I couldn’t say which ones or if any are present in this shot. From the website “Draw the Sword”, absolutely one of the best Gettysburg sites out there, I learned that this monument --- the bronze book, along with the cannonballs behind it and the artillery pieces on either side of it --- was the brainchild of John Bachelder, one of Gettysburg’s best-known superintendents. I also learned that many states banded together to field the cost of this impressive memorial that marks the spot of one of the most important battlefield sites on American soil.


Co. A, 2nd Maryland Infantry (Confederate)

Born April 30, 1839 --- Died July 03, 1863 at age 24

Cpt. Murray was one of many Marylanders who felt that he couldn’t serve with the Union, thus he enlisted in the 2nd Maryland Confederate regiment. He lost his life on the third day of battle while charging Culp’s Hill. Though Cpt. Murray has a stone at Loudon Park Cemetery in Baltimore, he is buried at Christ Episcopal Church Cemetery in West River, Maryland. A picture of him can be found here.

(c) 2013 Skies of Blue and Gray

Friday, April 12, 2013

April 12, 2013

Many Gettysburg enthusiasts are familiar with the story of Jennie Wade, the only civilian to lose her life during the three-day battle, and some of these same people have probably gone to Gettysburg with the purpose of visiting her home. Technically this home was shared between Jennie’s sister Georgia McClellan’s family and the McClain family; Jennie was occupied with baking bread here on July 3rd when she was killed by a stray bullet shot off by a soldier who never knew her identity. The above photo was taken in the parlor of the McClellan / McClain home. Though the d├ęcor is beautiful, it might be more important for Victorian enthusiasts and Civil War buffs to imagine how this room would have looked in Jennie’s time.

I remember being quite disappointed to learn that there actually was no wallpaper in this house during the Civil War. The walls would have been painted, probably white, though the mirrors, portraits, and perhaps artwork would have hung in a similar manner. The upholstered bench was probably too fancy for simple a mid-19th century home, especially if the family wasn’t particularly wealthy, though it’s certainly possible Georgia could have had such a piece. It stands to reason that the fireplace is probably original. I’m no expert on 19th century furnishings, but it certainly appears old, and if it was structurally intact, there’s no reason to assume it would have been replaced. Whether or not the wood floor is original, it’s very likely that such a floor existed in 1863, probably accented with a rug here and there.


Co. B, 11th United States Infantry

Born 1844 --- Died July 03, 1863 at age 19

Cpl. Johnson was a native of Ohio and joined the regular army, unusual in a time when many of the regiments during the Civil War were furnished by various states and named accordingly. He was shot in the chest during the 2nd day of battle and died the following day. Cpl. Johnson was buried at Oak Grove Cemetery in Delaware, Ohio. 

(c) 2013 Skies of Blue and Gray

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

April 10, 2013

I suppose many Gettysburg battlefield enthusiasts have favorite artillery pieces. I certainly do. I've always been fascinated with Civil War cannons and enjoy seeing every piece on the field, but there are particular cannons that really “resonate” with me. The reason might be simple: I love the featured cannon because of a wonderful photo I managed to capture a few years ago. Naturally I wanted to learn more about what this piece represented.

The above cannon belongs to Bigelow’s 9th Massachusetts Battery. Though this particular spot is located along Wheatfield Road, there are actually two other monuments dedicated to this unit as well: one at the Abraham Trostle farm along United States Avenue and one at Ziegler’s Grove opposite the site of the Pickett-Pettigrew-Trimble Charge. The cannon here at Wheatfield Road is a 12-pound Napoleon. Its accompanying monument dates from the mid-1880s and details the battery’s actions during the Gettysburg campaign.

The 9th Massachusetts Battery was recruited in Readville, Massachusetts in August 1862. It seems as if Gettysburg was their first major action, and the 9th was heavily engaged during the battle. Their first task was to defend the area from Confederate forces under Gen. William Barksdale on the second day of battle. Their second position, at the Trostle farm, was particularly brutal. On the third day they were moved into position at Ziegler’s Grove to guard against Confederate attacks during the Pickett-Pettigrew-Trimble Charge.


Co. C, 9th Georgia Infantry

Born July 13, 1843 --- Died July 02, 1863 at age 19

Pvt. Giles’ childhood was spent in Walton County, Georgia, and in the 1860 census he was living in the town of Monroe. According to the bronze tablet annotating the actions of Anderson’s Brigade at Gettysburg, the 9th Georgia fought near the Wheatfield and advanced multiple times, eventually winning and holding the ground they sought. It was almost certainly during these maneuvers that Pvt. Giles received his mortal wound. He was later buried in the Old Baptist Cemetery in Monroe, Georgia.

(c) 2013 Skies of Blue and Gray

Monday, April 8, 2013

April 08, 2013

In my post of February 27th, I chose a random photograph of Culp’s Hill and decided to identify the monuments in the photo. Since that has been one of my favorite posts to date, I found a similar view of East Cemetery Hill and identified these markers and monuments as well. At far left is the monument to the 134th New York Infantry, capped with a shiny, larger-than-life bullet. I’m uncertain if the cannon to its left belongs to Battery I of the 1st New York Light Artillery, but the cannon to the right of the 134th definitely represents that unit.

The statue is of Gen. Oliver Otis Howard. The monument directly of front of Howard’s memorial represents the 1st New York Light Artillery. The 73rd Pennsylvania Infantry monument sits to the right, more in the foreground. The half moon atop the monument shows it was part of the 11th Corps. (Many Gettysburg monuments include corps or division symbols). The artillery far in the distance, on either side of the 73rd PA, is likely Rickett’s Battery, Battery F and G of the 1st Pennsylvania Light Artillery. The monument for the 1st Pennsylvania Light Artillery, large and flat, can be partially seen at the far right of the photo.


Co. D, 153rd Pennsylvania Infantry

Born 1842 --- Died July 01, 1863 at age 21

Lt. Beaver’s pre-war residence was in East Allen Township, Pennsylvania. He enlisted on October 10, 1862. His record in the "U.S. Registers of Deaths of Volunteers, 1861 – 1865” says he was 2nd Lieutenant in the 155th Pennsylvania, though all other records say it was the 153rd. Lt. Beaver is buried at Gettysburg National Cemetery. A photo of him can be found here.

(c) 2013 Skies of Blue and Gray

Friday, April 5, 2013

April 05, 2013

One of the things I love most about the Gettysburg battlefield is that 21st century men and women care enough, and are passionate enough, about the battle to pay their respects at any given monument. I love to see flowers, wreaths, flags, coins . . . they show that we still feel close enough to the boys in blue and gray that we can earnestly and empathetically honor their sacrifices and perpetuate their memory. In February 2013 I had the pleasure of seeing a beautiful artificial flower in the old stone fence at Triangular Field.

This place has been compared to the Pickett-Pettigrew-Charge though on a smaller scale, and when one looks across that field, which would have been mostly open in 1863, it is easy to see how the Arkansans and Texans might have suffered such horrific casualties from the New York and Pennsylvania infantry and the New York artillery located on the other side of the wall. Men of the 124th New York were killed here as well. I’ve been studying Robertson’s Brigade of Texans in particular, and much of the Texans’ position can be seen in this photo. Far in the distance (just barely visible at larger size) is the Philip Snyder farm, just to the left of the place where the Texans started across the field. To the right is Rose Woods. The Timbers farm, now just a memory, was located near the woods in 1863.

I’d love to know who left the flower, when, and why. Did this person (or people) have a relative killed at Triangular Field? Or did they simply feel compelled to honor and remember those who fell? To my surprise and delight, a second Gettysburg visit in late March 2013 revealed that the flower was still there. I won’t forget the sight even after it’s gone. Though the men who fought at Gettysburg have ceased to exist, history, and the reverence of it, will never die.


Co. H, 8th Alabama Infantry

Born April 17, 1831 --- Died July 3, 1863 at age 32

Pvt. Deal was mourned by his wife of eleven years, Nancy, and four children, ten-year-old William, eight-year-old Eliza, six-year-old Uriah, and four-year-old Milly when he gave his life for his cause at Gettysburg. There are conflicting reports as to where he is actually buried: Find A Grave lists Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia, but I’ve also seen Old Center Methodist Church Cemetery in Newville, Alabama as a possibility.

(c) 2013 Skies of Blue and Gray

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

April 03, 2013

If you’ve visited the Gettysburg battlefield in the past few years, you might have noticed the temporary mesh fence surrounding a swath of land near Spangler’s Spring. This fence was probably put up because too many people were having the experience I myself had in April 2006 . . . I’d gotten out near Spangler’s and had seen a small flank marker that “called to me” for some reason. I still don’t know why it seemed so important. I hopped over a little ditch to take a photo, thinking it was only dirt and grass, as you certainly couldn’t see any water.

Or so I thought.

As I stepped into the “ditch”, I was horrified to find myself face-down in a muddy bog, on my stomach, wondering detachedly how in the world I got this way and how it happened so quickly. I’m just lucky I didn’t twist an ankle or suffer another equally unpleasant injury! It turns out that the marker I was so interested in was the Right Flank of the 1st Potomac Home Brigade. I subsequently became very interested in this unit and wondered if they were trying to “tell” me something. The Potomac Home Brigade was raised in Frederick, Maryland in 1861. Though Gettysburg was the regiment’s first major battle, they saw plenty of previous action in the form of guard duty, sieges, and even being paroled as prisoners of war. An official monument is located across the road from Spangler’s Spring.

Sadly, it appears that vandals have targeted the fence surrounding the ditch at Spangler’s Spring and also the enclosure around the spring. When I last visited, both the mesh fence and the posts protecting the spring were partially bent away or trampled in a way that was obviously not intended by Park Service officials.


Co. K, 11th Massachusetts Infantry

Born about 1834 --- Died July 02, 1863 at age 29

Cpl. Davis’ pre-war residence was Wayland, Massachusetts, where he worked as a shoemaker. His final resting place is at Gettysburg National Cemetery. The “U.S. Registers of Deaths of Volunteers” says that Cpl. Davis died as the result of a wound to the abdomen. His “U.S. Civil War Draft Registrations Records” entry says he was drafted in June 1863 at twenty-nine years of age. His marital status is listed as single.

(c) 2013 Skies of Blue and Gray

Monday, April 1, 2013

April 01, 2013

I never gave the Moses McLean farm the attention it deserved. Of the many historic farms scattered across the Gettysburg battlefield, this one, tucked away down over the swell of Oak Ridge, is easily missed. Yet its story is just as tragic and just as interesting as the stories of countless other farms that weathered the battle. Its owner, 59-year-old Moses McLean, was a lawyer and former Pennsylvania state representative. The house had been built in the 1820s and the newer barn dated from the 1850s. (For a little more information concerning this farm, see my post of November 28).

This particular photo is one of my favorites of the area because it was an entirely new perspective. It was taken from the Eleventh Corps Line, from where I only just now realized (after visiting Gettysburg for over twenty years) there was a good view of this little-noticed farm. At top left is the Eternal Light Peace Memorial. Oak Hill and Oak Ridge stretch off to the right. The cannon, barely seen at top left between the Peace Memorial and the roof of the barn, is a Napoleon and represents Carter’s Battery.


52nd North Carolina Infantry

Born 1836 --- Died July 03, 1863 at age 27

Maj. Richardson’s early life took place in Portsmouth, Virginia. His martial career was jumpstarted at the Virginia Military Institute, and it was in the military that he would live and ultimately die. He had the distinction of being one of the Confederate officers to reach the Union-held wall during the Pickett-Pettigrew-Trimble Charge. It is believed that he was reburied at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia several years after his death.

(c) 2013 Skies of Blue and Gray