Saturday, July 27, 2013

Battle of Gettysburg-- Part 10: A "What If" and One Who Died and One Who Didn't

"What if Lee, so confident in an army that rarely had failed him, had listened to subordinates and decided against the suicidal Pickett's Charge, saving his army to fight another day on a more favorable northern field?"

A new book "The Civil War in 50 Objects" by Harold Holzer includes the accounts of two officers at Gettysburg-- one who died and one who survived.

Confederate Brigadier General Paul Semmes (wonder if he was related to Confederate Admiral Raphael Semmes, commander of the CSS Alabama), a Georgian, was mortally wounded on the second day at Gettysburg in a charge against Little Round Top.  Semmes lingered for eight days before his death and wrote his wife a letter in which he said, "My brigade suffered severely and behaved well."

Lt. Colonel William H. Paine of the 4th Wisconsin was a mapmaker who witnessed Pickett's Charge into point-blank artillery grape shot and rifle fire.

Essentially, the High Tide of a Nation.  --Old Secesh

Confederate Soldiers Make Front Page

From the July 18-24, 2013, Lake County (Ill.) Journal "Civil War: Reenactment brings history to life."

This was essentially a photo essay of one page, but, there on the front page, Confederate soldiers, ranks formed, facing the enemy and those overwhelming odds.  And, I didn't hear that the group that must not be offended was offended.

On page 13, the headline "Lessons from the Civil War."  A photo essay of six pictures by Candace H. Johnson.

The front page and photo essay were taken at the recent Civil War Days Re-enactment at Lakewood Forest Preserve near Wauconda, Illinois.  This year, the Battle of Champion Hill was re-enacted.

Photos were of Mike Lipe of Moline, Illinois, portraying a Confederate soldier in the 4th Texas Infantry, giving aid to the wounded.  Then, there were two young children receiving first-hand information about rifles from Mike Flaig, a member of the 10th Louisiana, Austin's Battalion Sharpshooters.

Dr. Emmett Miller was doing magic tricks.  Andrew Livesay, 11, of Wauconda was portraying a Union flag bearer with the 8th Illinois Cavalry. 

Larry Werline of Springfield portrayed Union General Ulysses S. Grant.  John Luna of Tinley Park portrayed Confederate General Stonewall Jackson.  Both these men did an admirable job portraying the generals.

Always good to have the kids getting interested in the Civil War or any aspect of history for that matter.

Forward the Colors.  --Old secesh



Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Battle of Gettysburg-- Part 9: A lot of "Ifs"

Driving back home to Addison, Vermont, the Clarks talked about how the young Myron Clark must have felt during his last hours alive and how "a whole other branch of the family would have been in our town had he not been killed."

"That is the essence of Gettysburg, a place remembered not only in the movements of armies, but in what-if moments, big and small.

What if Lee had not added 'if practicable' to his orders to Confederate Gen. Richard Ewell on July 1, and Ewell had pushed his tired men to take barely defended high ground that could have turned the battle for the Confederates on the first day?

What if Joshua Chamberlain of the 7th Maine had not convinced 116 men under arrest for desertion to join his defense of Little Round Top and them, out of ammunition, persuade his men to fix bayonets and charge down the hill to save the Union's left flank?"

What If?  --Old Secesh



The 14th Vermont Volunteer Infantry Regiment-- Part 3

Of the 960 men who originally mustered into the 14th Vermont" Killed in Action 18, Died of Wounds 9, Died of Disease 39, Died in Confederate Prison 1, Murdered 1.  That "Murdered" one would be an interesting story.

From Gettysburg Stone Sentinels Site:

The 14th had 647 men at Gettysburg and were commanded by Col. William T. Nicholls in Stannard's Brigade.  Thety fought valiantly despite being near the end of their 9-month enlistment.

They have a substantial monument on the battlefield near Pickett's Charge.  During the battle, they lost 19 killed, either 67 or 76 wounded and 21 missing.

The monument was dedicated on June 2, 1899 and stands 14.6 feet high.

The Story of a Regiment.  --Old Secesh

The 14th Vermont Volunteer Infantry Regiment-- Part 2

After mustering into service Oct. 21, 1862, they mainly did duty around Washington, D.C.'s defenses.On June 25, 1863, the Vermont Brigade was assigned to I Corps and ordered to form the rear guard as the Army of the Potomac pursued Confederates under Robert E. Lee into Maryland and southern Pennsylvania.

On the morning of July 1st, the regiment left Westminister, Maryland and after a forced march, arrived at Gettysburg after dark.  On the afternoon of the 2nd, they did a double-quick ma5ch to rescue an artillery battery under attack of A.P. Hill. 

The next day, Private Myron A. Clark was killed in the morning at Culp's Hill and the regiment evidently was pulled from the Army of the Potomac's right flank to bolster the forces at teh center in what eventually became Pickett;s Charge.

According to Wikipedia, they played a pivotal role in the repulse of Pickett's Charge.

More to Come.  --Old Secesh


Monday, July 22, 2013

The 14th Vermont Volunteer Infantry Regiment-- Part 1

From Wikipedia.

Myron A. Clark belonged to this regiment so I did some research on it.

The 14th was a nine-month infantry unit that was recruited as a result of President Lincon's August 4, 1862, call for an additional 300,000 men after the heavy losses suffered by the Union Army at the Peninsular Campaign earlier in the year.  The nine months means they had only enlisted for that length of time.

The unit mustered into Union service October 21, 1862, so it was approaching the end of its enlistment at the time of the Battle of Gettysburg.

They spent most of their time in the Wshington, DC, defenses as part of the 2nd Vermont Brigade.

The 14th was composed primarily of volunteers from Addison, Rutland and Bennington counties.  Clark's Company I came from Vergennes.

More to Come.  --Old Secesh

"Battle of Gettysburg-- Part 8: Death of a "Good Boy"

Private Myron A. Clark of Company I, 14th Vermont's death means a lingering grief for his descendants who came to the Gettysburg Battlefield to commemorate his life.

"They feel they know their Myron through the richly detailed diary he left, which Janet Clark transcribed and is viewable online.  His last detailed entry was on July 1 when he told about changing into a fresh shirt, throwing away the old one to lighten his load, and joining the march to Gettysburg with only a pup tent and extra pair of socks to carry.

The final words in the diary came from an unnamed captain (probably his company commander), who scribbled that a 12-pound cannonball took off the back of Myron's head near dawn on July 3 (at Culp's Hill on the Army of the Potomac's right flank), ten hours before Pickett's Charge would reap horrible carnage on another part of the battlefield and turn Gettysburg into a victory for the Union Army."

Myron was the company clerk, "a good boy and good soldier," the captain wrote.  "The whole Co. (company) mourn his loss & Especially his Capt.  Such are the fortunes of war.  And they are deplorable."

Just a Man, Just a Soldier.  --Old Secesh

As We Commemorate the Last Day of the Battle of Gettysburg-- Part 7

Here is where the story of Gettysburg gets very interesting and real to me.  Sure, historians and authors can talk about regiments moving here or there and doing this or that.  Or, this or that general doing something.

I generally keep away from that in this blog.  I am more interested in the regular soldier, more obscure happenings and especially the war,  its aftermath and things going on related to it today.

The article went into the story of one Myron A. Clark of Company I, of the 14th Vermont Volunteer Infantry.

Next Entry.  --Old Secesh

OK, So I Know It's Horribly P.I., But...

It sure did my heart good.  And, as you know, P.I. refers to politically incorrect.

This past Saturday, while walking along Il-120 in McHenry, Illinois, going from the Fiesta Day festivities on Water Street by the Fox River to see what was going on along Green Street, I espied with my little eyes something I didn't expect to see, especially in these days of political correctness and whatever you do, do NOT offend two groups or risk all sorts of censure.

There was a pick up truck heading east with a Confederate Naval Jack, the Confederate Battle Flag as most people perceive it, waving from the bed of it.  Sure did me good.  I know I wouldn't have had the courage to do it. 

There were very few blacks at Fiesta Days, so they wouln't be offended.  It wasn't an in-your-face statement which, unfortunately is all too often case and one of the reasons they hate the flag so much..

Thank You, Mr. Heritage.  --Old Secesh

Saturday, July 20, 2013

As We Commeorate the Last Day of the Battle of Gettysburg-- Part 7: The Christian Commission and Aftermath

Ten years ago, John Wega quit his job to move his family to Gettysburg to open a museum and ministry devoted to the story of the Christian Commission.  This organization enlisted men and women to follow armies to minister tospiritual and physical needs.  After Gettysburg, dozens of the members stayed to attend the wounded, bury the dead and feed doctors, nurses and burial details.

"We are dedicated to not telling just the story of the fighting, which is an incredibly compelling story, and there are so many what-ifs," says Catherine Lawhon, the NPS spokeswoman at Gettysburg.  "But there is an important story of the aftermath and the recovery and what happens when the armies leave Gettysburg, and that kind of culminates with the Gettysburg Address."

Some families returned to destroyed homes and farms, and 'some of them never recover.'"

Old Secesh

As We Commemorate the Last Day of the Battle of Gettysburg-- Part 5

Gettysburg;s Mayor, William Troxell, 86, was there as a child to greet returning soldiers at the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg in 1938.  At first they kept the old men of blue and gray apart, but by the end of the commemoration the two former foes met each other and shook hands across the stone wall on Cemetery Ridge where Pickett's Charge ended.

Mayor Troxell has a picture of himself at age 11 with a Confederate veteran and wants people to rememeber that while historians like to concentrate on the battle itself, there was a whole other story in its aftermath.  Some 20,000 wounded men were in and around the town in the days and months after the battle..  "Houses became hospitals, and the stench of dead men and horses lingered...."

According to Troxell, "The people that lived (in Gettysburg) at that time paid a greater sacrifice for the nation than any other small town has been asked to do."

How Would You Like To Have That Fought in Your Yard.  --Old Secesh

Thursday, July 18, 2013

As We Commemorate the Last Day of Battle of Gettysburg-- Part 4: A Lincoln Highway Connection

With all the hoopla surrounding the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, its sesquicentennial, it's also noteworthy that this year we commemorate the centennial of the road named for the Union's president at the time, Abraham Lincoln.  I am talking about the Lincoln Highway.

The man responsible for the Lincoln Highway's creation, Carl Fisher of Indianapolis, made sure the his stone road went through Gettysburg on its way from New York City to San Francisco.  After all, Gettysburg was where Abraham Lincoln gave one of the greatest speeches of all time right there several months after the battle.

To Honor a Great One.  --Old Secesh

As Commemorate the Last Day At Gettysburg-- Part 3

The population of Gettysburg is almost three times bigger than it was in July 1863 when 2,400 lived there and some 100,000 Union troops under the new Army of Potomac commander, General George Meade met the 70,000 of well-respected Confederate General Robert E. Lee who was on quite a winning streak before this battle.

Today, you will find stores selling all sorts of Gettysburg souvenirs along with more than 1,300 monuments and markers in the Gettysburg National Military Park and more than 5,000 buried in the nearby Soldiers National Cemetery (the one where Lincoln spoke).

This year's anniversary commemoration will include re-enactments, guided tours and programs.  Gettsburg stands above all other commemorations "not only for the neverending debate over whether it alone was the turning point of the war (I'm sure it wasn't the only turning point) but also because of the scale of the armies, the varied landscape on which they clashed, the leaders who inspired or failed, and the aftermath that turned a bustling county seat into a collage of death, anguish and mercy."

Quite the Battle.  --Old Secesh




Wednesday, July 17, 2013

As We Commemorate the Last Day of Gettysburg-- Part 2

Continued from July 3rd.  A good article about the battle in the USA Today from June 18th.

"Four months after the battle, in an address schoolchildren around the world (around the world?  I can understand them learning it in the United States, but, the world?) still study, Abraham Lincoln said 'a new birth of freedom' had consecrated by 'the last full measure of devotion' of the roughly 8,000 Americans (including Confederates) who died here.

I have been thinking of perhaps going to Gettysburg for the sesquicentennial of the speech in November on my way to North Carolina for Thanksgiving, but last year, while at the Antietam Battlefield, a talked with a ranger who said he had been to Gettysburg a week earlier and they were expecting a huge number of people there for the 149th anniversary so might not go.

One of those "measures" took place near Culp's Hill east of Gettysburg and anchoring the Union Army's right flank.  It was there that Bradley Clark's great-great uncle, Private Myron A. Clark of Company I, of the 14th Vermont, met his death.  His diary led the Clarks there.

Bradley Clark said, "He looked so young" referring to Myron's picture found tucked in the diary.  "He looked like an Addison farm boy."  I wonder how the family came to receive this diary if Myron had it with him when he was killed.  That would be a story in itself.

Some 46,000 on both sides were killed wounded or missing after the battle.  Historians still analyze decisions and movements made here.  Then, regular folk like the Clarks (and some 3-4 million expected to visit this sesquicentennial year).  To them, it is to see where history was made and, in some cases, where ancestors fought.

A Real Turning Point.  --Old Secesh



Those Poor Re-enactors At Lakewood This Past Weekend

Our weather here in northeast Illinois has turned from a whole lot of rain  (two floods in the Chain of Lakes) and cool temps to very hot, humid and hardly any breeze.  And, that is not even mentioning the bumper crop of mosquitoes we have from all that spring rain.

I can stand hot and humid as long as there is a good breeze so this is very hard on me.  Any bit of yardwork results in a total sweat soaking.

This past weekend, there was the annual Civil War Days Re-enactment at Lakewood Forest Preserve in Wauconda, Illinois (Lake County).  It is one of the largest in the state.

I didn't go because of the Ribfest festival in Lake in the Hills (featuring CCR and Eagles tribute bands) and our favorite local band, Soda, playing at Captain's Quarters on Fox Lake.

We had hot and humid and very little breeze both days so I had to feel sorry for those poor re-enactors in their wool uniforms.  That had to be absolutely miserable.

Well, at least the skeeters have a hard time biting through the wool in the uniforms.

Not a "Cheatin' Situation."  A "Sweatin' Situation."  --Old Secesh

Glad to Be Posting Again

The last post on this blog was July 6th.  On July 8th, I found that I couldn't skip lines for paragraphs on the four blogs with a different Blogspot site.  I decided to stop making entries on the three blogs at this site as well until I figured out what the problem was.

Nobody likes a TOO LONG paragraph.

Was it some key I accidentally hit or perhaps I was being punished by Blogspot or maybe it was their problem.

Of course, no help from them or explanation.  No little e-mail explaining the situation.

Yesterday, I hit either the compose or HTLM spot across the top on another blog, and my paragraphs were back!!  They are back on all seven blogs.

Anyway, I'm Back.  --Old Secesh

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Must Have Been a Pickett Thing

Last night, we went over to McHenry County's (Illinois) Glacia Park off Il-31, to see a steel drum combo put on the monthly First Friday concert.

Big crowd of the wine and cheese NPR/PBS folk in attendance.

The center was up on a bluff formed by the ancient glaciers that once covered this part of Illinois.  This was overlooking a valley formed by the Nippersing Creek.  Across the creek was another bluff.

I couldn't help but be reminded of the land, other than the creek, separating Seminary Ridge from Cemetery Ridge at that little old battlefield out in Pennsylvania that we just recently commemorated the sesquicentennial of this past week.

This would eb what Pickett's men were looking at when they stepped off for that fatefull charge July 3, 1863.

A Pickett Thing!  --Old Secesh

Thursday, July 4, 2013

A Particularly Bad Two Days for the Confederacy

These last two days, 150 years ago in the year 1863 proved to be especially bad for what was hoped to be a new nation in North America.  For them it was a War for Southern Independence, just as the American colonies had declared a new nation eighty-nine years earlier in 1776.  And, the Confederacy had their reasons, just as the colonies had in 1775.  (See some of them in my Cooter's History Thing Blog.)

The Conferate States of America suffered the setback at the loss of the Battle of Gettysburg on July 3rd.  Then, the following day, the citadel of Vicksburg on the Mississippi River surrendered, effectively cutting the Confederacy apart along that river.

The war would go on, but chances of the new nation dwindled the whole time.  It was high tide of the Confederacy before these two days.  Now it was ebbing.

Almost, Though.  --Old Secesh

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

As We Commemorate the Last Day of Gettysburg-- Part 1

From the June 18, 2013, USA Today "War never left Gettysburg" by Chuck Raasch.

As we look back 150 years ago today at that bloody field in southern Gettysburg.  The battle that wasn't supposed to be, but put the first nail in the coffin of what was to be the Confederacy.  The second one came the next day, July 4th at Vicksburg.

"The battlefield is never totally at rest."  Even with the busloads of school children getting out of school for one or more days.

"But 150 years ago this July 1-3, this rocky, gentle roll of Pennsylvania hills went overnight from 'this peaceful place to a terror that is unimaginable.' according to documentary-maker Ken Burns.

Gettysburg began ten days of remembrance June 28th, but the battle will never be at true rest until people like the Clarks of Vermont quit coming.  Erwin Clark, 80, Janet, 75, and their son Bradley, 46, came here to see where an ancestor, a 21-year-old from Addison, Vermont, died July 3, 1863.  He died before daybreak that day, one of the first of the many casualties on the battle's last day.

"The seemingly invinceable Robert E. Lee reached too far and events turned inexorably in favor of preserving a union of North and South."

Lots of Gettsburg in the News These Days.  --Old Secesh

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Gettysburg Offers Lessons On Battlefield Medicine-- Part 2

Jonathan Letterman's medical innovations impressed Prussian and English observers who praised the system and much of it was adapted by their countries.  And, Civil War treatment remains relevant even in today's far-flung wars.  Civil War doctors resolved problems with transportation, training and even corruption.

More than 5,500 military and emergency responders have attended programs run by the Museum of Civil War Medicine.  The article didn't say where this place was.

Letterman didn't just inspect hospitals, but would also sit beside generals when they were planning campaigns and battles and use the information to locate ambulances and doctors.

An interesting and less-known aspect of the war.

Old Secesh



Gettysburg Offers Lessons On Battlefield Medicine-- Part 1

From the June 23, 2013, Northwest (Illinois) Herald by Kevin Begos, AP.

Cannon and rifles caused thousands of casualties at the Battle of Gettysburg (as we commemorate the 150th anniversary of it these next two days).  Military doctors had plenty of work to do and they used a method of treatment still in use for combat medicine today.

Union Army Major Dr. Jonathan Letterman is remembered as the Father of Battlefield Medicine for his Civil War innovations.  Organizing the medical corps was the key to the whole effort.

Before the war, medical supplies were handled by regulat quartermaster wagons.  According to retired Lt. General Ronald Ray Blanck, the Army's former surgeon general, that meant it had tocompete with "beans and bullets."

The huge losses occurring in the early battles completely swamped the initial treatment procedures.  Wounded were left untreated on the field for days and faced treatment by untrained troops and civilians.  In addition, the killing capacity of the weapons being used had never been seen before.

In 1862, Letterman began creating an ambulance corps and three tiers of field hospitals: at the battlefield for simple wound dressing, nearby for emergency surgery and behind the lines for long-term care and recovery.

Something Definitely Had to be Done.  --Old Secesh

Monday, July 1, 2013

Today Marks the 150th Anniversary of the Beginning of the Battle of Gettysburg

One hundred and fifty years ago today, Confederates and Union soldiers clashed at the little town of Gettysburg in southern Pennsylvania in hat was an unplanned battle.  The next three days marked some big-time fighting and huge casualties.

The loss at this battle and the fall of Vicksburg, Mississippi, the next day clearly mark the beginning of the end for the erst-while new nation.  Everything after that was essentially fighting with little or no hope, but fight the lads in gray did.

I sure would like to be there for all the commemrations taking place, but, alas, not.  Maybe I'll make it theer November 19th for the 150th anniversary of the gettysburg Address as that is about the time I usually go south to visit the family in North Carolina.

One Big Battle.  --Old Secesh