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

Monday, March 31, 2014

March 31, 2014

Click for larger size - find those elusive monuments!

This photo of the Virginians’ July 3RD step-off point has a lot going for it. First of all, it shows one of my favorite places and one of the battlefield “haunts” that touches me most: the fields where the men of the ill-fated Pickett-Pettigrew-Trimble Charge fought and fell. Also, it has an array of fences, a frost of snow, and a nice contrast of colors. Above and to the right of the first monument, Gen. Lee stands tall and proud atop Traveler at the Virginia State Memorial. Spangler’s Woods can be seen from left to right.

One thing I noticed about the photo was that it showed three monuments rarely seen: The 12TH New Jersey Infantry to the right of the leftmost tree, while two other markers, to the 14TH Connecticut Infantry, can be seen to the right of the fourth tree. In 1863 the Bliss farm stood in this area, but sadly it was damaged during the battle and the family never recovered from the financial loss.  


Co. F, 40TH New York Infantry

Born November 28, 1837 --- Died July 02, 1863 at age 25

Pvt. Royal was born in England and later joined the Union Army in defense of his adopted country. In civilian life he had the interesting occupation of “goldbeater.” Pvt. Royal was killed at Gettysburg, probably in or near the marshes along Crawford Avenue near Little Round Top and the Valley of Death where his regimental monument now stands.

(c) 2013-2014 Skies of Blue and Gray

Friday, March 28, 2014

March 28, 2014

**Antietam Friday**

Antietam National Battlefield definitely has some interesting tour roads, kind of like taking an amusement park ride . . . up, down, up, down. This photo was taken from “up”, from the heights bordered by a stone wall, and not only shows how the roads can dip but also how many different monuments and markers can be scattered at one place. The fellow on the left memorializes the 45TH Pennsylvania. His comrade to the right represents the 100TH Pennsylvania.

The modern bridge marks the beginning of Rodman Avenue, while the road running underneath is Old Burnside Bridge Road. To the left, out of the photo, the battlefield tour continues along Branch Avenue. Five small markers can be seen in the center right of the photo: On the left side of the road is a marker detailing the exploits of Jenkins’ Brigade of Jones’ Division (CSA). On the right side of the road, left to right (except for the topmost marker which I can’t identify) are markers for the Ninth Corps (USA), Rodman Avenue, and (large brown sign) the Sherrick farm, which is off to the right. Note the nice wooden fences at top center.


Co. K, 42ND Virginia Infantry

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

(Side note: I learned from Mr. Garry Adelman of the Civil War Trust that this surname is actually pronounced “Tolivar”) Lt. Taliaferro had worked as a lawyer before the war and at his young age had lost both of his parents; his mother in 1842 and his father in 1856. He was married to a lady named Frances. Though I couldn’t find much information on the man himself, I did discover that the 42ND VA fought at Culp’s Hill and has a marker along East Confederate Avenue. 

(c) 2013-2014 Skies of Blue and Gray

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

March 26, 2014

Believe it or not, though I’ve been trekking the Gettysburg battlefield for over two decades, there are still some battle sites I haven’t photographed. One of these was Excelsior Field near the Peach Orchard, which I fortunately remedied on a recent excursion. I was able to make a panorama out of two photos and to identify most of the places and monuments shown. 

(1)  The Abraham Trostle farm, virtually unchanged since the time of the battle, and its witness tree (though it’s nearly impossible to see in this photo . . . look for the dark branches between the barn and farmhouse)

(2)  Little Round Top

(3)  Back of the 9TH Massachusetts Battery monument (Bigelow’s battery), barely visible

(4)  7TH New Jersey Infantry (one of my favorite Gettysburg monuments), especially stunning in the fog or when sunrise or sunset colors reflect on its surface)

(5)  Big Round Top

(6)  A grouping of what appears to be two monuments, barely visible; I think the cross-shaped one is the 139TH Pennsylvania Infantry, but I can’t identify the other


Co. F, 20TH Maine Infantry

Born 1840 --- Died July 11, 1863 at age 23

Pvt. Curtis, a farmer, is one of those rare soldiers for whom I have a physical description gleaned from military records. He stood at 5’ 7” and had blue eyes, though there’s no record of his hair color (at least not that I’ve found). He was wounded in the arm during the famous Little Round Top right and was later taken to a field hospital where he died nine days later. He is buried at Gettysburg National Cemetery.

(c) 2013-2014 Skies of Blue and Gray

Monday, March 24, 2014

March 24, 2014

On my recent vacation I had the opportunity to check out a new battlefield, and though it’s a vastly different space than Gettysburg, the experience was interesting enough that I wanted to share a few of my favorite photos. The battlefield in question: Bentonville, North Carolina. It’s not one of the biggest or one of the better-known . . . but in a way, every battle is vastly important even if only to remember those who died there. In a nutshell, Bentonville was a duel between the South’s Gen. Joseph Johnston and the much-maligned Gen. Sherman. The last duel, in fact.

While I didn’t get to see the battlefield (it was an early sojourn, and nothing was open yet) I spent some time at the John and Amy Harper house, a Civil War-era structure used as both a Union and a Confederate field hospital after the battle. I wished I could have gone inside but was still thrilled with the opportunity to enjoy it from afar. The first image is a sign at the visitor center. The second shows the Harper house, a beautiful 1850s farmhouse with a gruesome history, while the third photo showcases one of two slave cabins.


Co. D, 4TH Virginia Infantry

Born March 20, 1841/42 --- Died July 03, 1863 at age 21/22

Sgt. Sexton enlisted in April 1861 with no knowledge of the tragedy that would befall his family or the wound that would take his own life. In August 1862, his brother Benjamin would die at 2ND Manassas/Bull Run. Less than ten months later, Sgt. Sexton himself was killed at Gettysburg. Sister Hannah passed away at the age of nine in October 1863 and brother Albert died in a prison camp at Elmira, New York in 1864.

(c) 2013-2014 Skies of Blue and Gray

Friday, March 21, 2014

March 21, 2014

**Antietam Friday**

Sadly I haven’t been able to identify this artillery piece (and I’ve certainly tried) but the photo was worth a look. The only clue I have as to its location is that on the original un-cropped photo, the right side of a park service sign is visible: first line ends with “nal”, second line “tery”, and last line “ng.” So I looked for cannon near the National Cemetery parking lot and still couldn’t identify it definitively. The view is nice for four reasons: old stone, which I love; cannon (an instant fave in my book); a typical “Civil War” fence; and the sweeping scenery which makes Antietam such a beautiful place.


Co. K, 107TH Ohio Infantry

Born 1825 --- Died July 06, 1863 at age 38

Pvt. Aeigle enlisted in August 1862 and survived nearly two years until the second of July 1863, when he was shot in the side and sent to the George Spangler property. His wound proved mortal and he was buried at the Spangler farm (some say the Bushman farm). Pvt. Aeigle was later re-interred at Gettysburg’s National Cemetery. 

(c) 2013-2014 Skies of Blue and Gray

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

March 19, 2014

One of the regiments in which I’ve always been interested is the 1ST Maryland Battalion CSA (later known as the 2ND Maryland). I knew they had a flank marker near Pardee Field at Culp's Hill but had never seen it . . . I figured it was in some out-of-the-way place, hidden in the woods. In fact, recently, as I took some new photos of Pardee Field, I thought of that flank marker and resigned myself to the fact that it was very unlikely I’d discover it.

Fortunately, some earlier visitor had unwittingly left me a clue. We were driving along and I looked to the right, and lo and behold there was a big Maryland flag next to a flank marker. I thought, ‘there’s a Maryland flag and a Confederate flag, and the only Confederate Maryland regiment was the 1ST Battalion who fought right here’, so I got out and sure enough, it was the one I was looking for. Were it not for that Maryland flag, I would have passed it by as any other flank marker and not even bothered to look. I crunched through the snow, took some photos, and looked at the panorama in the distance, Pardee Field and the Union line sitting as if frozen in time.

The view at first glance . . . thanks, flags!
The flank marker is located to the left of this Pardee Field photo

Maybe the Maryland boys spoke to me that day.


Co. C, 28TH North Carolina Infantry

Born September 09, 1829 --- Died July 06, 1863 at age 33

Pvt. Sipe’s eldest child Frances was only seven when he enlisted in August 1861, while his other children were five (Candace), three (Harriet), and Deborah (two). Less than two years later they would be fatherless. Pvt. Sipe’s death date is listed variously as July 3 and July 6. His place of burial is unknown.

(c) 2013-2014 Skies of Blue and Gray