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

Monday, December 30, 2013

December 30, 2013

We almost missed an amazing sunrise during our last Gettysburg trip, but fate intervened. A decision to start home without waiting to tour the battlefield one last time was vetoed by our love for the tour, and so we drove the field just as the vibrant sunrise colors emerged. The following pictures show how the first day’s battlefield appeared as another day dawned over Gettysburg.

The first photo was taken along McPherson’s Ridge, looking toward the Lutheran Theological Seminary’s “Old Dorm.” This is one of my favorite-ever shots. The second photo is of Iverson’s Pits. Just a few moments later, by the time we reached Oak Ridge, the sunrise colors had faded and were mixed with a generous amount of blue. It was a classic example of being at the right place at the right time.


Co. E, 123RD New York Infantry

Born 1836--- Died July 26, 1863 at age 27

Cpt. Weer’s first brush with fate in the form of a gunshot wound was at Chancellorsville, and, having survived that wound, he may have thought himself protected by good luck. The battle of Gettysburg less than two months later proved such a notion wrong. He was taken to Camp Letterman with a wound in his knee, and after lingering for less than four weeks, he died for his country. Cpt. Weer was later buried at East Hartford Cemetery in Hartford, CT. A photo can be found here.

(c) 2013 Skies of Blue and Gray

Friday, December 27, 2013

December 27, 2013

**Antietam Friday**

I’ve always had a fascination with old houses. Not only did I make it a point to visit as many historic homes as possible while visiting places like Gettysburg and Antietam, but I also snapped photos of those I couldn’t step inside. One of the most famous farms on the Antietam National Battlefield is without a doubt the Joseph Poffenberger farm. When I visited in 2009 and again in 2013, I saw some distinct changes:

Poffenberger farmhouse in 2009
Looking good in 2013

Those timeless, dedicated folks who devote many of their days to the restoration of our nation’s historic treasures had been busy at the farm. They’ve provided today’s visitors with an even clearer view of how the house would have appeared to soldiers in both blue and gray, and to those who lived there during the battle of Antietam (or Sharpsburg, if you’re of the Southern persuasion). Tradition says that Clara Barton cared for wounded men on the property. Whether or not that can ever be proven, it was certainly used as a field hospital, as nearly all structures were at both Antietam and later at Gettysburg.


Co. E, 38TH Virginia Infantry

Born 1832--- Died July (or August 29) 1863 at age 31

When Pvt. Adkins enlisted in the Confederate army in June of 1861, he had three small children, Mary, Nancy, and John Sidney. It is almost certain that thoughts of his wife and little ones gave him great comfort as he lay wounded after the battle of Gettysburg. Soon Mary became fatherless at the age of eleven, while Nancy and John Sidney were nine and three. Pvt. Adkins’ wife’s name was given as “Teanesha”, and I haven’t been able to determine the correct spelling. He was buried at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond.

(c) 2013 Skies of Blue and Gray

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

December 25, 2013

**Merry Christmas!**

Hi all, I'll be taking Christmas off from posting, so my next post will be Friday, December 27. Have a great and memorable day! And just to tease you, here's a photo of Gettysburg in the snow :-).

The Wheatfield on a snowy November morning in 2012

(c) 2013 Skies of Blue and Gray

Monday, December 23, 2013

December 23, 2013

**Merry Christmas!**

Maybe I’m just lucky, but I never see many other tourists when I catch the photo bug at the Eleventh Corps Line. I particularly like this photo because of the combination of visuals: monuments, artillery, the famous Gettysburg rocks, and a Civil War-style wooden fence. The fence surrounds the Old Alms House Cemetery. (See my post of August 12, 2013).

The monuments are, from left to right, the 25TH / 75TH Ohio Infantry; Gen. Francis Barlow’s portrait statue; a marker denoting the actions of Battery G, 4TH United States Artillery, represented here by four Napoleons; and the 17TH Connecticut Infantry.


Co. K, 13TH Vermont Infantry

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

Cpl. Church’s fate came less than nine months after he enlisted in the army. He was described as being 5 feet and 8 inches tall, with light hair and dark eyes, and was later buried at Church Street Cemetery in Swanton, VT. Some believe this photo is of Cpl. Church, while others say there are no known images of him.

(c) 2013 Skies of Blue and Gray

Friday, December 20, 2013

December 20, 2013

**Antietam Friday**

A few Septembers ago, I plunged in, so to speak, and made the trek to Burnside Bridge. There are two ways to visit the bridge: Take the path from the parking lot, which is pretty much a continual downhill march, or walk a path from the bottom of the hill. We close the latter. When we first started out, it was cold, and I’m not a person who appreciates cold. But I pressed forward valiantly. (Okay, not too valiantly. We’d already been dropped off and I didn’t feel like walking back up to the car either).

By the time we got close to the bridge, I felt a thrill of excitement. This was history I was going to be walking on. Trekking across Burnside’s Bridge was one of those things you just did if you were a Civil War buff and didn’t live a bajillion miles away. I was hepped up for it now. Just as we reached the edge of the bridge, I was happy to see only one other person in sight. That meant peace, quiet, reflection time, and some great photos. I paused to take in Antietam Creek. Having always loved rivers, streams, creeks, and whatnot, this was one of my favorite parts of the visit. After I’d spent enough time appreciating the creek, I continued over to the other side, still cold, but more taken up with wonder than temperature now.

There was a path on the other side, it turned out. And this path led to a whole lot of monuments, including the 51ST New York Infantry shown here. The two visible markers to the left of the monument detail the actions of the Union 9TH Corps. After enjoying the views, we started back over the bridge and headed back to the car. The breeze was still chilly but somehow it didn’t matter as much. It was an accomplishment I hope to repeat in the near future.


Co. D, 11TH North Carolina Infantry

Born June 26, 1841--- Died August 25, 1863 at age 22

In the space of less than half a year, Pvt. Tate and his family experienced great joy and insurmountable sorrow. He’d married his sweetheart Eliza in February 1863 four months before his 22ND birthday, and less than five months later his regiment reached Gettysburg. His wounded leg was amputated on the third of July. Pvt. Tate was then brought to the general hospital at Camp Letterman, where he died at the end of August. His burial place has never been verified.

(c) 2013 Skies of Blue and Gray

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

December 18, 2013

This past autumn, I realized that I have plenty of pictures of the right side of the Railroad Cut (if going along Reynolds Avenue toward Oak Ridge and the Peace Memorial) but none of the left side. Time to remedy that. I wasn’t brave enough to hike over the bridge past the shouldn’t-be-speeding speeders, so I contented myself with this view through the bars of the bridge, which I think gives an interesting effect. One can easily imagine the energy of that long-ago July battlefield being “captured” “behind bars.”

The fields are the same ones crossed by Gen. Joseph Davis’s North Carolina and Mississippi men as they sought out the railroad cut for shelter. In their eyes, it doubled as a fine sniping position . . . but it turned out to be more advantageous for the boys in blue than for the boys in gray. The McPherson barn is just to the left on the other side of Chambersburg Pike / Route 30. Davis’s 55TH North Carolina was deployed to the area underneath the modern bridge, but the 2ND Mississippi and 42ND Mississippi positions are front-and-center in this photo.The 11TH Mississippi was also part of this brigade.

I believe the left-distant white structure with a gray roof and four dormer windows is the Herr Tavern complex, though I’m not certain. The buildings to the right seem to house school-buses. (Confirmed by a quick and nifty check with Google Earth). And of course, South Mountain stretches gracefully in the background. (Trivia: Many Confederate troops were forced to cross the mountain in order to reach Gettysburg).


Co. K, 151ST Pennsylvania Infantry

Born 1838--- Died July 01, 1863 at age 25

By age 25, Pvt. Geiger, along with his wife Emmaline, had suffered great tragedy in life. A daughter Ellenora had been born in 1859 and a son James in 1861, but both died in 1862. Their deaths were only a month apart. Less than a year after James’ passing, Pvt. Geiger would be dead from his Gettysburg wound. He fell on McPherson’s Ridge while supporting the flank of the Iron Brigade and struggling to beat back Pettigrew’s North Carolinians, and he was later buried at Gettysburg National Cemetery.

(c) 2013 Skies of Blue and Gray