Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Heading out to Where to Where the Civil War Happened

Over the weekend I signed up prolific Civil War author Eric Wittenberg to do two days of guided tours in one of his areas of expertise, the Battle of Brandy Station. We'll do this the weekend after Labor Day, which should be pretty pleasant, weather-wise. I'm really looking forward to this one, as cavalry operations in the Eastern Theater, in particular, remain fuzzy for me, outside of the general outlines and major raids.

To kick-start registrations, I imposed upon Eric to autograph 12 copies of his brand-new book on Brandy Station that I'll ship to the first dozen people to sign up. The itinerary and ordering information his HERE.

It's not too late to sign up for a brilliant, small group tour of largely unknown sites associated with the Appomattox campaign, led by Appomattox Chief Historian Patrick Schroeder. This one is happening in May, so again, we're hitting Virginia at a good time of the year. This is a custom tour devised by Patrick, and will be unlike any that have come before. In addition to the "unseen" parts, there will be plenty of time to spend at Appomattox NHP for those of you visiting for the first time, or for the first time in awhile. Check out a detailed itinerary HERE.

In about two weeks, I'll be getting on a plane to New Orleans for the 14th Civil War Forum Battlefield Tour. We have an interesting itinerary worked out (if I do say so myself). A private visit to the Historic New Orleans collection, tours of Fort Pike, Metairie Cemetery, a couple Mississippi River plantations, and a custom Civil War walking tour in New Orleans led by Dr. Justin Nystrom, assistant professor of history at Loyola University, and City Archivist Greg Osborn.

Says Justin about the afternoon walking tour, "the theme is going to be something along the lines of 'The city where the Civil War began in 1865.' I noticed you had advertised it as a place where there were no battles. They'll discover differently when we go over the 1874 Battle of Liberty Place. The Confederacy may have lost New Orleans early in the war, yet it is where white southerners won the peace. We will definitely start at Lafayette Square across from the old City Hall (Gallier Hall) and end up on Jackson Square. We're working being let into the Custom House. It is the insectarium now, but is worth a peek in the door at the very least."

HERE is the page devoted to New Orleans.
Full list of 2010 tours is HERE, so far.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Who Do You Think You Are?

My wife and I have been watching installments of "Who Do You Think You Are" on NBC on Friday evenings. It's fair to say its much more than an advertisement for, as producer Lisa Kudro has managed to put together some intriguing stories of various celebrities discovering their roots, making connections, and filling in gaps in half-remembered family histories.

After spending the first few minutes of each show disdainfully complaining that rich movie stars don't need to be treated to the exhaustive work of teams of archivists and genealogiststhey can afford to hire people like thatwe settle in for what always turns out to be a suspenseful and touching story.

Of special note to Civil War buffs are the episodes on Emmitt Smithdescended from slaves, and slave ownersand Friday's (yesterday's) episode with Matthew Broderick. Broderick, of course, portrayed Colonel Shaw in what is still one of the best Civil War movies ever made, Glory, but he never knew about his own Civil War ancestor.

I heartily recommend watching the Broderick episode on or through iTunes when you get a chance. It's pretty fascinating. Not only does he discover some amazing facts about his grandfather on the battlefields of WWI, Broderick follows another ancestor, on his mother's side, from Gettysburg to Peachtree Creek. The end of that journey is both surprising, and deeply moving.

I won't spoil it here.

In the photo above, Matthew Broderick with Gordon Jones, director of the Atlanta History Center, who graciously spent a lot of time with The Civil War Forum when we visited Atlanta a couple years ago.

Monday, March 08, 2010

ANSWERS to Google Earth Quiz No. 3. . .

Here are the ANSWERS to the latest Google Earth quiz. If you want to take the quiz FIRST, then click here and start identifying the photographs. Otherwise, this post will spoil it for you.

Congratulations to Luke Lemke and Jim Epperson. Luke, true to form, got all of the answers nearly immediately (Thaddeus Lowe really could have used a guy like him). Jim muddled through in time, in the process correcting me on Image Number 1, the birthplace of Ulysses S. Grant.

Sometimes Google Earth's pushpin is off target, even when it's working from a specific address. In the image below, upon further study, I think the actual house is in the red circle. You can see the broad path leading from the road, and the historical marker in the large side yarddown the sidewalk to the left (click to enlarge).

As promised, Luke and Jim will receive a hard-to-find back issue of a now defunct Civil War periodical. Nice work, gentlemen.

ANSWERS (refer to photos in the previous post):

Image Number 1:
Birthplace of Ulysses S. Grant, Point Pleasant, Ohio. Isn't it obvious? There's the mouth of Big Indian Creek, emptying into the Ohio River. According to this web site, the little cottage once "made an extensive tour of the United States on a railroad flatcar." Not many cottages can claim that.

Image Number 2:
The Uncle John and Old Jube clue, and the church setting, could only mean this must be the scene of the Battle of Salem Church, where Early's Confederates, with reinforcements from Lee, turned back Federal troops under John Sedgwick on May 3 and 4, 1863.

Image Number 3: Quite a few of you knew right off the bat that this was Harpers Ferry, due to the confluence of the rivers, and the configuration of bridges and bridge abutments. The fort referred to was "John Brown's fort," the little engine house where he was captured.

Image Number 4:
A star fort, on a big river, labelled "ineffective"several of you got this one as well: Fort Jackson, below New Orleans.

Image Number 5: It was all in the clue, "Unchivalrous terms reluctantly accepted here." This is the Dover Hotel, in Dover, Tennessee, where U.S. Grant accepted the surrender of Simon B. Buckner, who was left holding the bag at Fort Donelson. Buckner called Grant's demand of unconditional surrender "ungenerous and unchivalrous." Grant didn't care.

Image Number 6:
Looking down upon the parade ground at Virginia Military Institute. I thought the grounds, and the distinctive pathways inside the courtyard of the barracks would give it away. But it was not that easy, I agree. Wait! I just now realized that I left the coordinates for that image on the bottom of the photo. The ultimate clue.

Image Number 7:
Most of you could see at a glance that this was Washington D.C., centering on the White House, but if I have my pushpin located correctly, several blocks to the right of the Executive Mansion, you'll find Ford's Theater.

Image Number 8:
A familiar traffic circle to Gettysburg visitors. The pushpin points at the house of David Wills, where Abraham Lincoln stayed on the night before he dedicated the Gettysburg National Cemetery, and where he finalized the Gettysburg Address.

Image Number 9:
Whose house is at the center of the photo? That would be the Lee-Custis mansion, or Arlington House, in Arlington Cemetery. Also known as the Robert E. Lee Memorial.

Image Number 10:
I thought this one would be easy, but it all depends on what you study and where you've visited the most. This is the Kelly Cabin at Chickamauga. When I think of cabins on battlefields, I think first of Chickamauga, which has at least three of them, or more, that are important battlefield landmarks.

Image Number 11: The Cashtown Inn. Okay. Not that easy. When I said "the general is Inn," I thought the geekiest of you might imagine the once-ubiquitous Dale Gallon painting of Lee and A.P. Hill, on the road to Gettysburg.

Image Number 12:
Admittedly obscure, this is the lone remaining building from the Battle of Glorieta Passmore precisely, from the fighting at Pigeon Ranch. I thought the desert terrain, the reference to a sole surviving building, and the way the old road arcs in toward the modern interstate would be dead giveaways. Of course if you've never pictured this area in your head, all bets are off.

Image Number 13: The clue, "once the center of attention, now it is eclipsed," says it all. A small white building now eclipsed by giant construction. This is the White House of the Confederacy in Richmond. Luke Lemke pointed out that I changed the directional orientation of this image, which stumped him for a time. I didn't do that on purpose. I kept spinning it around trying to get my own bearings.

Image Number 14: I got tricky with this one by placing the Dunker Church at Antietamone of the most iconic buildings in all of this nation's Civil War landscapedown in the corner and emphasizing the West Woods. This disoriented people who would instantly have recognized the church in conjunction with other features on the battlefield, or the nearby visitor's center.

Thanks for participating.