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

Friday, November 29, 2013

November 29, 2013

** Antietam Friday **

A few years ago, I made the trek from the Antietam National Battlefield to Keedysville on a whim. There was supposed to be a historic house that was having some kind of living history event in the barn, and it sounded interesting. Of course, as soon as we arrived, we discovered there was only one vehicle parked at the barn and you couldn’t get inside (I only recently learned that parking for events is on the other side of the barn :-P) So, since we’d driven all the way to the Pry House Museum, we decided to go in. 

It’s a beautiful house, used as Gen. McClellan’s base of operations and as a hospital for Antietam wounded, and you can tour the interior. A small donation is appreciated. No photos allowed, unfortunately. There’s a nice bookshop but selection of other items is rather small. I did enjoy the upper level, where a few rooms were dedicated to various wartime activities such as sewing and Civil War surgery. I liked the fact that the house’s age could be felt, that the steps creaked and the rooms “felt” historic.

Now, for the elusive barn. Except for the vehicle and some small signs at right, this could be a Civil War photograph (in sepia tone, of course). It seemed huge up close and I could definitely see why it would have been used as a field hospital. Two things I remember in particular about this trip were (1) having to climb a steep hill (you can’t enter the Pry House from the front; the museum entrance is at the right side of the house), and (2) the farmland vistas from every direction. Oh, and a bonus #3, nobody else visiting except a man at the desk and a lady dressed in costume. Definitely the way I like it. No need to rush!


Co. I, 13TH Vermont Infantry

Died July 03, 1863

Pvt. Wright was a man who valued friendship. He was remembered for his impressive stature, generosity, and courage, and even after being wounded while repulsing the Pickett-Pettigrew-Trimble Charge, he greeted each comrade who passed him, offering his hand in farewell. He was laid to rest in the Gettysburg National Cemetery. A photo can be found here.

(c) 2013 Skies of Blue and Gray

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving, all!

I’ve probably said before that Gettysburg at sunset is a magical place. Though the feeling of reverence, sorrow, and pride exists during the day, it’s somehow magnified at dusk, and the pent-up emotions seem to overflow during that time. I was lucky enough to catch the Copse at sunset, and despite being more or less chilled to the bone, I really enjoyed it.

At far left is the monument to Cowan’s New York artillery. The bronze sign directly beside the Copse pays homage to the 20TH Massachusetts Infantry, whose unique boulder monument can be found nearby. The cannon is a 3-inch Ordnance Rifle dating from 1862 and was produced at Phoenix Iron Works in Phoenixville, PA. The two cannon on either side of the bronze “High Water Mark” book are part of the memorial. You might notice that the trees have thinned out considerably over the past few decades. To the right is that monument most photographed, especially at sunrise or sunset: the 72ND Pennsylvania Infantry.


2ND Lt. Jasper Newton Beck
Co. E, 3RD Battalion Georgia Sharpshooters

Born May 10, 1832 --- Died July 03, 1863 at age 31

Born into a military family, with a father who held the rank of colonel, Lt. Beck may have been one of those sharpshooters who thought themselves invincible due to their superior skills. Unfortunately, it proved false in his case. He was killed at Gettysburg and buried at an unknown location . . . it’s possible that he still lies on the battlefield. Interestingly, his father, Colonel Samuel Beck, also died on July 03RD, in the year 1876.

(c) 2013 Skies of Blue and Gray

Monday, November 25, 2013

November 25, 2013

The Pennsylvania State Memorial has always been one of my favorite monuments on the field, but I never spent much time up close and personal until my last trip. On that particular visit I made sure to really take in the details, from statues to ceiling reliefs to plaques dedicated to each Pennsylvania regiment that fought at Gettysburg. Yet the thing I enjoyed most was . . . the artillery pieces on the lawn. Which represented Hexamer’s New Jersey Battery. And had nothing to do with the memorial. :-)

The wheel used as a frame helps to carry a historic cannon tube that dates from 1864 and was cast at West Point Foundry. The two Napoleons seen across Hancock Avenue represent Thomas’ Battery C, 4TH U.S. Artillery, and their cannon tubes date from 1862. The marker seen at right is for the Artillery Reserve. Further down the line, another artillery battery sits, representing Daniels’ 9TH Michigan Battery. Two monuments complete the view. To the right of the last visible cannon is the diamond-shaped monument for the 17TH Maine Infantry. Next to it is the New Hampshire Sharpshooters, actually a beautiful, incredibly-detailed monument that can’t be seen properly in this shot.

Above and to the left of the last monument, the Nicholas Codori barn can be seen through the trees. Clicking for a larger version of the photo reveals an outbuilding, the barn, and the farmhouse, as well as part of the thicket and white fence. The small white marker in the distance between the Codori buildings marks the spot where Gen. Hancock was wounded.


Co. I, 111TH New York Infantry

Born 1839 --- Died July 02, 1863 at age 24

Pvt. Gray’s son John Henry was only forty-one days old when his father, Pvt. John Gray enlisted in the Union Army. That baby wasn’t yet fourteen months old when Pvt. Gray was killed at Gettysburg, felled by a bullet to the chest. John was later buried at Gettysburg National Cemetery in the “unknown” section.

(c) 2013 Skies of Blue and Gray

Friday, November 22, 2013

November 22, 2013

Does it make me a Gettysburg nerd that I would have known exactly where this marker is located even if I wouldn’t have looked at the accompanying photo? During this last trip I was a cannon freak, taking as many photos as I possibly could and braving the frozen yonder to get that perfect shot. One of my favorites, which not only shows some handsome artillery but also gives a great overview of the surrounding land, is this view from the Eternal Light Peace Memorial.

McPherson’s Ridge spreads beneath Oak Hill just as it’s done for so many historic years, and in the distance the McPherson barn warms itself under a weak November sun. Save for modern roads and a monument here and there, I imagine the scene is much the same as it was in 1863. If you’ve visited the Peace Memorial recently, you’ve likely noticed that the artillery pieces on the right side of Oak Hill are missing. No, ghostly hoards of Confederates haven’t returned to whisk them back to Virginia. They’re being cleaned and repaired. I can’t wait to see the Orange Artillery rifles after they’ve been restored to their former glory!


Co. F, 48TH Georgia Infantry

Born January 28, 1832 --- Died July 02, 1863 at age 31

When Pvt. Foskey enlisted in the Confederate Army in March 1862, he was no doubt showered with affection from his wife Lottie and their four small children. He suffered a wound in Virginia just four months after enlistment. A little less than a year later, daughter Mary age eight, daughter Nancy age seven, son William age six, and son Charles age four were fatherless after Stanley’s death at Gettysburg. Many family sources note that his brother Jonas died in that battle also. At least five Foskey sons fought in the Civil War.

(c) 2013 Skies of Blue and Gray

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

November 20, 2013

On my recent trip to Gettysburg I was impressed with a display that decorated the 88TH Pennsylvania Infantry monument along Oak Ridge. 

I enjoyed taking photos of the wreath and flag lovingly bestowed in tribute. The eagle and the jumble of war-related accouterments that topped the monument were also very photogenic. Sadly, when we returned to this same spot a day or two later, the wreath and flag were gone.

Though it may be difficult to tell due to its excellent condition, this particular monument has stood on the Gettysburg battlefield since 1889. I’ve visited various websites that challenge folks to identify every single symbol on the monument . . . but even though I sat in front of it for a good long while, I still forgot :-) Oooh, I have an excuse to go back!


Co. H, 15TH Massachusetts Infantry

Died July 02, 1863

After surviving a wound at Antietam in September 1862, Pvt. Reed may have thought himself invincible. Unfortunately, that proved not to be the case. The Gettysburg Campaign brought him to that storied Pennsylvania town and put him in position to catch a bullet in the chest, a mortal wound to which he soon succumbed. In civilian life Pvt. Reed had been a shoemaker. He was later buried at Gettysburg National Cemetery.

(c) 2013 Skies of Blue and Gray