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

Friday, May 31, 2013

May 31, 2013

Autumn in Gettysburg is definitely an amazing time. The battlefields are aglow with reds and oranges; stately monuments and storied fields burst with color. This photo, taken in 2006, shows Gettysburg in miniature: natural scenery, markers honoring the dead, an iconic wooden fence, and a large monument. The monument represents the 116TH Pennsylvania Infantry and features a dead soldier beside a stone wall. If you’ve noticed the theme of most Gettysburg monuments, you might have noticed that few monuments depict a soldier in death. It is said that the man’s features are those of the 116TH’s Sgt. Charles Gardner.

The three smaller markers beg to be analyzed as well, but unless you’ve visited that spot and know exactly what you’re looking for and how to find them, it’s very difficult to identify them. It is highly likely that at least the two left markers are flank markers for the 140TH Pennsylvania Infantry (just beyond this point) and / or the 116TH Pennsylvania. The larger marker closest to the monument appears to say “Right” on it, though I can’t decipher anything else.


Co. E, 14TH Vermont Infantry

Born 02 Apr 1838 --- Died August 05, 1863 at age 25

Pvt. White received a bullet in the arm while helping to repulse the Pickett-Pettigrew-Trimble Charge. He was taken to a temporary hospital at Gettysburg’s Lutheran Theological Seminary where he died weeks later on August 5th. Pvt. White is buried at the Gettysburg National Cemetery. A photo of him can be found here.

(c) 2013 Skies of Blue and Gray

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

May 29, 2013

1st Maryland Eastern Shore (USA)
It’s been said that many 19th century Cains and Abels dueled to the death on Culp’s Hill, and it was certainly a strange fate that brought Union Maryland units and Confederate Maryland units together in the worst possible way.  

What were the odds that these units, made up of family and friends who had once shared happier times, would both find themselves on this rocky, wooded hill? Maryland was a certified mess during the war as far as loyalties went. Many chose the South. Many chose the North. It was one of the down-sides of being a border state.

1st Maryland Battalion (CSA)

Nowhere is this struggle clearer than at South Culp’s Hill, where the monuments to the 1ST Maryland Battalion / 2ND Maryland Infantry (Confederate) and the 1ST Maryland Eastern Shore (Union) are located. Though there were units in between, the two Maryland regiments did go head-to-head at one point, and for the duration of the battle they must have been cognizant of the other’s closeness. Fighting the enemy was one thing. Fighting boys you’d known since childhood was another.

The Maryland soldiers at Culp’s Hill found themselves in a quandary few other Civil War units suffered at Gettysburg: that sorrowful Cain and Abel syndrome. In fact, Col. Wallace, in command of the Eastern Shore unit, expressed regret that at one stage of the battle the focal point of his soldiers’ musketry had indeed been fellow Marylanders. He explained that the Confederate 1ST Maryland Battalion incurred heavy losses and were then buried by enemies who had once been friends.


Co. A, 5TH Virginia Infantry

Died July 03, 1863 at age 20

Sgt. Prince worked as a shoemaker before the war. He enlisted in April 1861 and survived until July 1863, when he fell at Gettysburg during the Pickett-Pettigrew-Trimble Charge. He is buried at Mount Hebron Cemetery in Winchester, Virginia.

(c) 2013 Skies of Blue and Gray

Monday, May 27, 2013

May 27, 2013

Happy Memorial Day, everyone! What a great day to remember the boys in blue and gray who gave their lives so long ago . . .

At first glance, this is just a view of Little Round Top as seen from South Confederate Avenue / Warfield Ridge. The land and the  stone wall in the foreground belongs to the Philip Snyder farm. Though all the monuments on the hill aren’t visible, the tall white shaft of the 91st Pennsylvania can be seen at the left of the summit, while the “castle” monument to the 12th and 44thNew York is clearly visible. The small white monument to the left of the castle is the 140th New York. Yet there’s actually a lot more on this photo, and some things can’t be seen until you bring up the larger view.

See that patch of road almost in the center of the photo, a big gray “blob”? That’s part of Sickles Road. And the large old tree beside it is the Devil’s Den witness tree. Devil’s Den itself is hidden behind Houck’s Ridge. To the left of the photo is Day’s Hill, though it’s not visible here. If you enlarge the photo you’ll notice two black “somethings” to the left of the road and tree. These are actually two of the cannon of Smith’s 4th New York Independent Battery. And the small stone building to the right of the road, seen between the trees, is the old restroom at Devil’s Den, which has since been dismantled. Isn’t spying fun?


Co. I, 73RD Ohio Infantry

Died July 03, 1863

Little is known of Pvt. Miller’s life, though a photo of him can be found here. He was buried at Gettysburg National Cemetery.

(c) 2013 Skies of Blue and Gray

Friday, May 24, 2013

May 24, 2013

On a blustery February day I decided to walk to the Virginia State Memorial and try some different photo angles. The infamous fields of the Pickett-Pettigrew-Trimble Charge lay serene and crisp under a winter sun. The tour roads were more or less quiet. Then I snapped this photo and appreciated the many different features that came into play, some of which aren’t readily apparent.

Being a self-proclaimed cannon freak, my main focus was the artillery battery located in the center of the photo. These Napoleons (and one Howitzer) represent the Madison Light Artillery of Ward’s Battery, Poague’s Battalion. The battery participated in the cannonade preceding the Pickett-Pettigrew-Trimble Charge and was taken off the field on July 4TH for the sad march to Hagerstown.

As for the rest of the photo, there are more cannon located across West Confederate Avenue. The first can be seen just to the left of the large bronze and granite marker at the left of the photo. The second is located beside the farthest left cannon of Ward’s Battery. The platform and steps seen in the foreground at left and bottom belong to the Virginia State Memorial. This peaceful scene tucked away in Spangler Woods is so much different than it was in July of 1863 . . .


Co. C, 2nd South Carolina Infantry

Died July 02, 1863 at age 22

Lt. Scott understood combat. Having enlisted in May 1861, he’d fought at Fredericksburg and Antietam, among other places. Unfortunately, though he was lucky enough to survive previous engagements, he wouldn’t survive Gettysburg. History tells us that he fell near the Wheatfield or possibly near the George Rose farm on the second day of battle. Lt. Scott’s story holds even more pathos than that of other soldiers who died at Gettysburg: his body was never recovered. He is honored with a stone in Elmwood Memorial Gardens in Columbia, South Carolina. It says, “J. Thornwell Scott. Killed at Gettysburg. His body was not recovered.” Thus, it is highly likely that he still lies on the battlefield.

(c) 2013 Skies of Blue and Gray

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

May 22, 2013

Not all Gettysburg’s beautiful farms are tucked away in the fields far from town. In fact, the Culp farm is located just off Middle Street, giving intrepid trekkers the opportunity to go from quaint little-town life to the rural scene in mere minutes. This farm has been made rather famous by the story of local boy Wesley Culp, who, after having lived and worked in Virginia a number of years, decided to join the Confederate Army. Though he didn’t live here, his relatives owned the land, and during the battle it was used by Confederate troops as a hospital.

The Culp Farm is by far one of the prettiest, with a mixture of colors and features that isn’t often seen at Gettysburg. The top photo shows a lovely brick structure with quite a few windows (this must have been a big family!), a quaint and inviting front porch, large and graceful trees, and the typical “Gettysburg fence.” The barn is a large Pennsylvania bank barn and has a few outbuildings, all of which are original. The house and barn were completed by 1850 and so were fairly new when the battle raged. We learned that this land was still being used for farming when we nearly ran into a cow standing casually alongside the tour road. She didn’t seem to be at all bothered by traffic and simply stood looking at us as if to say, ‘What? You’ve never seen a cow before?’ 


Co. F, 5TH New Hampshire Infantry
Born January 01, 1845 --- Died July 02, 1863 at age 18

Cpl. Warren’s wartime residence was Keene, New Hampshire. He enlisted in October 1861 at age 16 and was probably killed in Gettysburg’s famous “Wheatfield.” Cpl. Warren is buried at Woodland Cemetery in Keene.

(c) 2013 Skies of Blue and Gray

Monday, May 20, 2013

May 20, 2013

Without such a strong artillery presence, the battle of Gettysburg would have undoubtedly turned out differently, though in what ways no one can say for certain. Many Union batteries were involved in the repulse of the Pickett-Pettigrew-Trimble Charge on the afternoon of July 03, 1863 

The men  of Clark’s 2ND New Jersey Battery were lucky . . . they remained as back-up and were able to watch others doing the firing without having to do it themselves. It was a welcome respite. After all, the battery had been heroically engaged the previous day, belching shells toward charging Confederates in the vicinity of farmer Sherfy’s peach orchard.

Though it’s impossible to say if it was present at the battle, this particular 12-pound Parrott Rifle was produced in 1863 by West Point Foundry. It marks Clark’s battery’s position on July 3rd. Though the current road is named Hancock Avenue, in 1863 the area was simply known as Cemetery Ridge.

It’s interesting to note the white shapes at top left. These are structures belonging to the George Weikert farm, located along present-day United States Avenue. This is just one of many farms whose residents may have witnessed the actions of July 3rd. Even if these frightened folks didn’t venture outside their homes or had taken shelter elsewhere, they certainly heard the cannonade.


Co. K, 2nd Mississippi Infantry

Born October 23, 1845 --- Died July 01, 1863 at age 17

Pvt. Akers lived in Tishomingo, Mississippi in 1860 and was posthumously included on the Confederate Roll of Honor. It is unlikely that his parents ever saw his body after he was killed at Gettysburg, as he was buried at the Gettysburg National Cemetery accidentally. If you’re traveling to Gettysburg and want to visit Pvt. Akers’ gravesite, find the graves marked “Pennsylvania” and look for a “John Aker.” This is the soldier in question.

(c) 2013 Skies of Blue and Gray