The Garden of Death: The Fallen Sparrows of Fort Mahone

April 02, 2015: Barry Cauchon

Angela Smythe has been a friend of mine for several years now and is one of the hidden gems in our research community. I am a strong supporter of her Civil War history work and have previously published her studies on John Wilkes Booth and the Richmond Grays. These articles can all be found on her website http://www.AntebellumRichmond.com.

Today Angela releases her latest work called The Garden of Death: The Fallen Sparrows of Fort Mahone. It is a detailed study of the photographs taken by Thomas C. Roche on April 3, 1865 of the deadly aftermath of the Third Battle of Petersburg (VA), one of the last Civil War battles to be fought. Less than one week later on April 9, Robert E. Lee would surrender his Army of Northern Virginia at the Appomattox Court House in Appomattox, Virginia formally ending the war between the states.

I will let Angela take it from here.

Click on the link below for Angela’s introduction to “The Garden of Death: The Fallen Sparrows of Fort Mahone”. The link at the bottom of that intro will lead you to their website and the complete essay.

Intro to Fallen Sparrows

Congratulations Angela on another wonderful piece of research presented both graphically and poetically.

Best

Barry

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PRESS RELEASE – ALL-ACCESS BATTLEFIELD TOURS

August 03, 2011: Barry Cauchon

I just received this press release from my good friends Michael Aubrecht and Clint Ross. I hope you can take one of their tours and let me know here how it went. Have a great day.

Best

Barry

PRESS RELEASE:

COMING SEPT. 2011: All-Access Battlefield Tours for Wheelchair Travelers

Contact: Michael Aubrecht 540-845-2767, ma@pinstripepress.net www.pinstripepress.net/AABT.html

Nestled on the banks of Virginia’s Rappahannock River is the historic town of Fredericksburg and the storied county of Spotsylvania. Four major Civil War battles took place in this area leaving behind acres of significant sites. Debuting in the fall of 2011, ALL-ACCESS BATTLEFIELD TOURS (LLC) is a new private tour service designed especially for wheelchair travelers who wish to fully explore and experience these hallowed grounds. AABT’s all-accessible individual or group tours take visitors, their families and friends directly to historical hotspots while moving at their own pace. In order to provide a safe and comfortable expedition, visitors have the option of being transferred to customized travel wheelchairs that feature special wheels and canopies. These rugged outdoor chairs, combined with portable ramps, enable visitors to traverse fields, trails and roads that are otherwise inaccessible. Each experience includes complete accessibility assistance and the highest quality tours, featuring a unique staff of experts made up of local historians, authors and preservationists. Founded by local Civil War historian and documentary film producer Michael Aubrecht, AABT is the area’s only tour service specifically catering to wheelchair travelers. Aubrecht explained the genesis of the business. He said, “I have a few friends in wheelchairs who are also history enthusiasts. Until recently, I had no idea how difficult it was for them to enjoy a battlefield-trekking experience. After some consideration, I decided to put together a special service that focused on them. I selected three or four locations at each battlefield that could be managed safely and then developed special tours that still present the whole story.” He added, “For example, our Fredericksburg Battlefield package includes a complete tour of the Sunken Road, Prospect Hill and the Slaughter Pen Farm. That’s a three-hour trek that is safe, comfortable and paced for wheelchair travelers and their families. We tell the whole story, even though we can’t get them to every hiking stop.” Grateful for all of the support that he has received, Aubrecht credits the generosity and help of others in establishing AABT. Mark Jones, a local wheelchair-bound historian, and his wife Christine provided their experience and expertise by testing out battlefield locations, consulting on the accessibly requirements and identifying safety concerns. Mark is also assisting Michael as a guide. Local historian and author John Cummings will be lending his expertise at the Spotsylvania Battlefield and Bill Oberst Jr., a friend of Aubrecht’s and the actor who played General William T. Sherman in the History Channel’s “Sherman’s March,” has accepted an invitation to act as the spokesperson for the organization. Other sponsors include Right Stripe Media LLC, the independent film company that produced the documentary “The Angel of Marye’s Heights,” and The National Civil War Life Foundation. The Fredericksburg/Spotsylvania National Military Park Service approved AABT’s permit to conduct the specialized tours. “The good folks at the local National Park Service have always been a tremendous help to me in all my endeavors, from books – to films – and now this. They are the gold standard for battlefield tours and I am studying very hard to live up to their expectations.” He adds, “I don’t think I’ve researched like this since I wrote my last book. We are using NPS staff historian Frank O’Reilly’s outstanding title The Fredericksburg Campaign as the reference source for our presentations.” Troy Technologies, a travel wheelchair company based out of Los Angeles, generously donated two custom-made Pioneering Spirit Wheelchairs complete with the accessories required to make battlefield trekking on four wheels an enjoyable experience. “None of this could have happened if we didn’t have the proper accessibility gear,” Aubrecht said. “When I was starting to develop the concept, I sent petitions out to twelve wheelchair companies, asking for their support. Nathan Watkins, the president at Troy Technologies Inc. was the first to call me back.” He added, “I was immediately impressed by the durability and quality of their product line, as well as Nathan’s enthusiasm and willingness to help. Troy Technologies really came through for us and I look forward to sharing a long relationship with them. They are also dedicated to expanding the freedom and mobility of wheelchair travelers and we are truly kindred spirits. Many folks will want to use their own wheelchairs, and if they are suitable, they may. However, others may not have the proper equipment for traversing the fields, farms and roads associated with these tours. In that case we have these special chairs available for a very minimal rental fee that are safe and comfortable.” Portable ramps are also available to further enable touring comfort and mobility. All of AABT’s tour stops are fairly level, with minimal grades and are adjacent to parking. For a small fee to cover guides and operating costs, AABT is offering a primary three-hour wheelchair tour to Fredericksburg Battlefield, as well as optional trips to Chancellorsville, The Wilderness and Spotsylvania Battlefields. Stops among these choices include the Spotsylvania Confederate Cemetery, Salem Church and Ellwood. Special site requests may be accommodated if safety permits. AABT guides meet and greet patrons on site, at their location (home or hotel), or at one of the Visitor Centers. Additional AABT plans are to offer special tours to the Wounded Warriors Project and find ways to benefit the Civil War Trust by bringing awareness to the importance of preserving battlefields. Thankful for the opportunity to share the past in the present, Aubrecht summed up the philosophy behind All-Access Battlefield Tours. He said, “Our goal is to make sure that visitors go where they want to go, see what they want to see, and experience what they want to experience.” All-Access Battlefield Tours officially opens for business on September 1, 2011 and will immediately begin booking weekend dates for the month of October. Tours will then run until mid-December, break for the winter season, and start up again in the spring. For more information, please visit http://www.pinstripepress.net/AABT.html, view AABT’s tour package brochure, or call 540-845-2767. For more information on Troy Technologies custom, travel-ready wheelchairs, visit their website at http://www.travelwheelchair.net. CONTACT BIO: Michael Aubrecht has been hiking Civil War battlefields ever since his parents surprised him with a weekend trip to Gettysburg at the age of 6. For the last 18+ years, he has lived here in Spotsylvania. Among Michael’s books are two regional titles: Historic Churches of Fredericksburg, Houses of the Holy and The Civil War in Spotsylvania, Confederate Campfires at the Crossroads. Michael has written dozens of historical articles for the area’s newspaper The Free Lance-Star and most recently, he co-wrote, appeared in, and produced the critically acclaimed documentary The Angel of Mary’s Heights. Michael is the vice-chairman of the locally-based National Civil War Life Foundation, He has provided the voiceovers for local Hometown History Quick-takes on AM1230 radio, lectured at nearby Mary Washington University, and given private tours on and off for the last 5 years.

LOOKING FOR HISTORY – CHECK YOUR GRAND PARENTS’ ATTICS

November 26, 2009: Barry Cauchon

LOOKING FOR CIVIL WAR DIARIES, LETTERS, PHOTOGRAPHS, ARTIFACTS AND KEEPSAKES for possible inclusion in our upcoming book and documentary about the Old Arsenal Penitentiary and the Lincoln Conspirators.

Example: Ed Isaacs family has been living in the northeastern United States for several hundred years. Last year Ed’s cousin Pam gave him the diary of his great-great grandfather George Dixon. George was a Civil War Union soldier who was stationed at the Old Arsenal Penitentiary in Washington DC during the incarceration, trial and eventual punishments of the Lincoln conspirators. Amongst other interesting notations found in the diary, George listed the cells used by the prisoners and the guards who watched over them on the last day or two leading up to the executions of four of the conspirators. Ed Isaacs contacted me awhile ago and shared George’s diary with me. We have become friends and are planning on including information about George Dixon and his diary in our upcoming book and documentary. Ed hopes that it will help celebrate his ancestor’s life and we are thrilled to do so. To read the story of George Dixon and his diary as presented by Ed Isaacs, please click on the following link  https://awesometalks.wordpress.com/an-awesometalk-with-ed-isaacs-owner-of-civil-war-diary-from-soldier-who-guarded-the-lincoln-conspirators/).

APPEAL FOR HIDDEN HISTORY: We are appealing to others out there who might have ancestors who were connected directly or indirectly to the Lincoln conspiracy, the Old Arsenal Penitentiary, Washington DC or other Civil War occurences that related to the events that took place between March and August of 1865 in Washington DC and other surrounding areas. Items such as personal diaries, letters, photographs, artifacts, keepsakes and other Civil War related items in your possession could contain valuable historical information of great significance presently unknown to the research community. We would love to include your finds, if historically relevent, in our book and documentary.

So check your attics, basements, the old shed out back, garages, farm houses, barns and even below the floor boards of your old home. Check with your family members about stories that have been passed down from generation to generation. Those conversations may give you a clue as to where your ancestors may have been during the time of the Civil War and the Lincoln assassination and conspiracy. Even if you do not know whether you have something that is important, you should inform us anyway. A name of a buddy or commander found in a diary could be very important. A location mentioned is a possibility. A comment about contemporary events from the time of the assassination may be the perfect thing we are looking for.  You never know what might be important to our projects and the historical community in general. And if you do find something that doesn’t necessarily fit within our research, we will do our best to help direct you where you can go to get more information about your find.

We are looking for genuine historical articles from the time of President Lincoln’s assassination, funeral, conspiracy trial and prisons located in Washington DC (Old Arsenal Penitentiary, District Penitentiary, Washington Penitentiary, Old Capitol Prison, Carrol Annex and Carrol Branch Prison). Items related to the Navy Yards and the ironclad monitors USS Saugus and USS Montauk could all be important clues to help tell the story better. And don’t forget the potential connection to the Confederate Secret Service primarily run out of Montreal, Canada or Lafayette Baker who was the head of the Secret Service for the Union. All great possibilities where hidden history may lie.

WHAT THIS IS NOT

Regretably we are not offering to purchase your family relics or assign a price to them. That is not our specialty and we cannot offer expert advice on an artifact’s value short of its historical significance to the story. As mentioned before, we will do our best to help direct you towards those who might be able to assist you. But no guarantees of course.

If you have an item that you think might be of interest to us, please do not use the comment area below. Instead, write me directly at outreach@awesometalks.com and I will get back to you as soon as I can. Please describe the item (and include a picture if possible). If relevent, please explain why you think this may relate to our research.

As you can see from previous postings on this blog over the past 18 months, we have had a few really cool finds that I’ve been able to share with you. The George Dixon diary, Mr. P’s original fake ‘Lincoln in Death’ photo used in many Lincoln books published over the years and some genuinely great stories from family members from their ancestor’s past.

Give it a try. Everyone has treasures in their family. Share them.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Best

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com

“An Awesometalk With” CHARLENE HENDERSON: The 17th Regiment CVI Gravesite Location Project

UPDATE: March 02, 2010: Barry Cauchon

The format of this An Awesometalk With is more of a traditional article rather than interview. However I feel that Charlene’s story contains the same wonderful content that my live interviews offer. Therefore, I’ve designated this as “An Awesometalk With” feature article. Enjoy.

November 02, 2009: Barry Cauchon

Paynton, W. Wallace grave

The gravestone of W. Wallace Paynton of the 17th Regiment Connecticut Volunteer Infantry.

My good friend Ed Isaacs recently told me about a woman who has made it her personal project to find the Civil War gravesites of the men of the 17th Regiment Connecticut Volunteer Infantry. I remember saying “Wow, what a great project. I’d like to talk to this person”. And so I did. I wrote to Mrs. Charlene Henderson and she graciously responded.

Charlene’s project certainly interested me from the start. But the story about how it all started, along with some of the eerie things that occurred during her search for these men’s final resting places, is to say the least…COOL! She describes these unexplainable occurrences as coming “directly from the twilight zone”. After you read her story you may agree with this assessment. As I have been witness to similarly strange ‘occurrences’ over the years, I believe that she may have been assisted in her search for the graves by, perhaps, the spirits of some of the very men whom she has been seeking out. One never knows.

If you are a believer in paranormal phenomena, this story will certainly add to your reading enjoyment. If not, it will at least serve to expose you to some of the things that Charlene has experience while searching for the graves of the 17th regiment Connecticut Volunteer Infantry.

Charlene’s project has been quite the undertaking. To date it has resulted in her locating, or getting leads to, over 71% of the graves of the 17th. An incredible feat!

Enjoy her story.

Barry

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CHARLENE HENDERSON AND HOW IT ALL BEGAN

Charlene Henderson

Charlene Henderson

Charlene Henderson currently lives in New Milford, Connecticut. In 1988, Charlene found a letter written by a Civil War soldier from the 17th regiment CVI. Now, almost twenty-two years later, she has tracked down more 71% of the gravesites of the men of the 17th, and will be writing a book containing their bios and gravesite information. 

In Charlene’s own words, this is how the story began.

“My ex-husband and a friend had a part-time business in 1988 preparing homes for resale or rent. This would include painting, carpet cleaning, windows, etc. They took a contract from a local realtor: a condo that was trashed by a tenant who had been evicted…and I do mean trashed! Visualize a car driving through a single story building  then put back the entrance and exit walls. That is what the interior of the place looked like. 

After a few days of removing debris, I made headway to a bedroom closet. A small handmade wooden blue box was on the floor. I don’t know why but I opened it, instead of throwing it out with all the other junk. A small green piece of felt lined the bottom of the box and a letter was the only object inside. I removed the letter from the envelope. It was dated Feb. ’65 and the author, James Hurlbutt, wrote about being with three other men, Hoyt, Paynton and Hagar. They were stationed in Florida. I was pretty tired and the date seemed odd. I couldn’t understand what was going on in FL. in 1965. Then the light bulb went on. They made “a chimney”, a fire. It wasn’t 1965. It was 1865 and this letter is from a civil war soldier!

I did a little research in 1988 and found that they were soldiers from the 17th CVI. Years went by, I divorced, remarried, changed jobs. I became interested in genealogy. My maiden name is Hager fro Dutchess Co., N.Y. One day, I came across a document held by the Latter Day Saints. The document listed all of my great-grandfathers’ brothers and sisters. One name kept going through my mind. Abijah. Why do I know this name?

Again, the light bulb…Abijah HAGER. Could this be the same Abijah HAGAR, the civil war soldier that was named in the letter? I sent for Abijah Hagar’s pension information and they were one in the same. He was my great-grandfather’s brother.

Again years go by, it’s 2004 and I’ve become bored with family genealogy. My husband suggests doing some research on the other soldiers in Hurlbutt’s letter. W. Wallace Paynton lived at Fitch’s Soldiers Home in Darien, CT. for twenty years and wrote his memoirs which are in Bridgeport Library in Bridgeport, CT. One story is about returning to New Haven, CT after being mustered out in Hilton Head, S.C. The paymaster wasn’t there and the soldiers would have to return to New Haven next week to receive their pay. For those who didn’t return to New Haven, those men filed an application for back pay. Not long after reading this story I was on eBay. I found Abijah Hagar’s application for back pay.

Warren, William H. military (2)

The gravestone of Wm. H. Warren.

Finally, they got my undivided attention (Note: Charlene uses the word ‘they’ referring to her soldier friends whom she is searching for). Bridgeport Library has a collection known as the Warren Collection. William H. Warren was a private from Co. C. He spent most of his post-war life corresponding with his comrades relating to the war stories. I transcribed the stories relating to Chancellorsville. I had nothing more than a high school education about the Civil War. I didn’t even know what state Chancellorsville was in. I educated myself about the battle. The 17th, being only one regiment, was out of context, with relationship to the rest of the 11 Corps and Stonewall Jackson’s flack attack. I learned of a book written by Hamlin, the 11th Corps historian. Again, eBay, I found the book and bought it. The first blank page, in pencil, which someone had tried to erase, “Wm. H. Warren -43 Beers St – no town – 1896. This book was once owned by the private from Co. C., who lived at 43 Beers St., New Haven, CT.

This is why I say, THEY FOUND ME. They sparked an interest with Abijah, twice. Finally, after eighteen years from the onset, I felt that Warren was saying to me, ‘These are not coincidences. Wake up! Do the math! The odds of winning the lottery are better!’. 

That’s how I started looking for the final resting places of ‘my soldier friends’.”

THE PROJECT

To find the gravesites of the 1153 or 1158 men (final numbers vary) who were members of the 17th regiment, Connecticut Volunteer Infantry during the American Civil War.

THE 17th REGIMENT CONNECTICUT VOLUNTEER INFANTRY

The regiment assembled and was accepted into Federal service on August 28, 1862. 1006 or 1008 men mustered into service that day with an additional 150 or so joining later during recruiting drives throughout the war.

THE BEGINNING – HOW CHARLENE GATHERED HER RESEARCH

The first thing that Charlene did was to get the roster from the 17th regiment. She picks up the story about her process from here:

“The roster is listed by company, the town where the person enlisted from and military history. I took the roster and arranged the soldiers by town where they enlisted; so I could use the Hale Cemetery Inscription Collection.

The Hale Collection was compiled by the WPA in 1934. Every gravestone in every cemetery was recorded by town and published with an index. Also, notations were made if the person had a flag, G.A.R. flag holder, and the company and regiment they served. The entire collection is at Connecticut State Library. One page at a time, for each town in Fairfield Co., I wrote the names of everyone who had a flag or G.A.R. marker and compared those names against the roster. Then, using the index, looked up anyone buried in a town whose name matched the soldier name (verifying the I.D. later). Any gravestone with the 17th CVI was self-evident. A typical example of a listing (without military notation) might read as follows: John Doe 1840 – 1906 flag Civil War.

Now the fun begins. The Hale Collection has a map for each town with a dot for each cemetery, the name of the street or its location referenced from another cemetery. The map doesn’t have all street names, only long streets and watercourses. Trying to find some of these cemeteries is an adventure in itself. The vast majority of these cemeteries have no office or section markers. It’s park and let the walking begin. Doing this town by town, I got smarter and wrote down the page number from the Hale Collection. If someone was listed on page 20 and someone on page 22, they would be about 80 graves from each other.  A clue was military gravestones. If the information read: John Doe, Co. A, 17th Conn. Vols., died Jan. 1, 1900, age 68, it’s a good chance the stone was military. Find him and it’s a starting point for finding the rest. So many times I would drive into a cemetery and someone’s gravesite would be right in front of me.

Story: A twisty country road, perched on a hillside, accessible to mountain goats only by traversing several unstable stone stairs, open the iron gate, one little cemetery where very few stones remain. In the back corner, the gravestone I was searching is there, completely legible.

I’ve found 575 gravesites in CT. and N.Y. 36 are buried in National Cemeteries. 38 are missing headstones or I haven’t found them yet. 21 I still have to go find. 36 are buried out-of-state. For a total of 706.

Out of state leads 77. Most likely buried in CT. 40 (burial info may be found at CT Health Dept). New info 2. For a total of 119.

Combined total 825 out of 1153 or 1158.”

stratton, charles before

BEFORE: This is how the gravestone of Charles Stratton was found.

Stratton, Charles S. military

AFTER: The completely exposed gravestone of Charles S. Stratton.

 ONE OF THE ‘EERIE’ STORIES

As mentioned earlier, Charlene has had some interesting occurrences take place while doing her project. Unexplainable by scientific methods, but real nonetheless. Here is one such event that I’d like to share with you.

“I was in a cemetery looking for ‘the guys’, having spent about three hours. One was left on my list and I just couldn’t find him.  I apologized to him, called his name, asked collectively of the 17th buried in the cemetery, to help me. A rabbit came out of a bush. I walked over, pushed the branches back, and there was his gravestone”.

CURRENTLY

Currently, Charlene is continuing to work on her project to locate the remaining graves of the men of the 17th. Recently, she enlisted the assistance of Ed Isaacs (of Dixon diary fame). Ed says this is a perfect project for him to keep busy while in his retirement.

Charlene, thank you for sharing your story with us (and keeping Ed busy). With the help of Ed and ‘your friends’, I’m sure the discovery of the remaining grave stones are not too far in the distant future.

Continued success with your project.

If anyone would like to contact Charlene, please email me and I’ll be happy to pass along your comments to her.

Best

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com

INSTANT REPLAY – THE FAME OF MAJOR GENERAL LEW WALLACE

June 5, 2009: Barry Cauchon

Instant Replay is a feature which posts previously run articles for those who may not have read them in the past. Please enjoy this Instant Replay of The Fame of Major General Lew Wallace originally posted on September 1, 2008. It was one of my favorites.

Best. Barry

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THE FAME OF MAJOR GENERAL LEW WALLACE

Civil War Union army officer, Major General Lewis “Lew’ Wallace is well known to historians for his involvement in many high profile events. But the one that he is most famous for will come as a surprise to you.

Brigadier General Lew Wallace

For much of the Civil War, Wallace acted as division commander under Ulysses S. Grant. He commanded troops in several battles, the most high profile being the Battle of Shiloh. Regrettably, due to a communication mix up between Grant and Wallace, he led his troops away from the fighting and did not get back until the battle was almost over. Grant blamed Wallace for the mix up. For the rest of his life, Wallace would try to clear his name with the Union military commanders (including Grant) but with little success. 

UPDATE: February 11, 2009: I received a comment from Bernie O’Bryan who professionally portrays General Wallace at events and he advises me that Wallace and his troops only missed part of the battle rather than when it was almost over. Bernie stated the following, “Well, actually almost over for the first day, but the Battle of Shiloh was a two day battle, Wallace’s troops arrived in the later part of the first day, but opened the battle the next day and saw more than their share of fighting on that day”. Thank you Bernie for the clarification. I really appreciate it.

But by the end of the war, Lew Wallace began to become a visible public figure in other arenas.

Event #1: In 1865, after President Lincoln had been assassinated, eight conspirators were arrested and put on trial in a military court. Wallace was chosen as one of twelve men to sit on the military commission responsible for trying the one female and seven male defendants.

After a two month trial, they would find all eight conspirators guilty of various offenses. Four would be sentenced to hang, three would be given life sentences and one would receive a 6-year sentence.

 

Four conspirators in the Lincoln assassination are prepared for hanging on July 7, 1865.

Four conspirators in the Lincoln assassination are prepared for hanging on July 7, 1865.

 

Event #2:Then in late July, 1865, Wallace would again sit on another military commission. This one for the war crimes trial and court-martial of Confederate Henry Wirz, the commandant of the notorious Andersonville Prison Camp.

With over 12,000 prisoners dying while under his watch in 1864, Wirz was held responsible for the deaths and put on trial for war crimes. Although Wirz’s culpability was highly controversial, he was still found guilty and sentenced to hang in Washington DC on November 10, 1865.

 

Wallace resigned from the army on November 30, 1865 and entered politics, holding several positions over the next 20 years.

Event #3:From 1878 to 1881, Wallace served as governor of the New Mexico Territories. On March 17, 1879, Governor Wallace met with, and attempted to offer amnesty to, the notorious outlaw, Henry McCarty a.k.a. William H. Bonney a.k.a. Billy the Kid for his involvement in the Lincoln County War. Unfortunately, Billy the Kid did not follow through with his part of the deal, and Wallace withdrew his offer. Billy the Kid would be shot and killed on July 14, 1881 by Sheriff Pat Garrett. 

Event #4: In contrast to his military and political careers, Lew Wallace was also a gifted writer. He would write and publish three novels during his lifetime. However, it was his second novel that would bring him untold fame. On November 12, 1880, Wallace released Ben-Hur, A Tale of the Christ”.

The novel became a tremendous best-seller. It soon out sold Harriet Beecher-Stowe’s 1852 novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin as the best selling American novel. It would remain the top selling American novel for over fifty years until 1936 when it was finally overtaken by Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind.

One stage play and two films were made of Ben-Hur. The most memorable film being the academy award winning movie from 1959 starring Charlton Heston.

Many believe that much of Ben-Hur was a semi-autobiographical account of Lew Wallace’s life.

Lew Wallace died February 15, 1905 at age 77.

END

Best

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com

“An Awesometalk With” Ed Isaacs, Owner of Civil War Diary from Soldier Who Guarded the Lincoln Conspirators

April 10, 2009: Barry Cauchon

Ed Isaacs holds the diary of his great great grandfather George E. Dixon.

Life has a way of blessing you when you least expect it. Call it karma, good luck or maybe even a genuine intervention by a higher power. I personally believe that things happen for a reason and so when this story began about two weeks ago, I can say that I was blessed again. A kind and humble gentleman by the name of Ed Isaacs, a retired fire fighter from Norwalk, Connecticut wrote to me saying that he had just come into possession of the diary of his great great grandfather, George E. Dixon. George was a Civil War sergeant in Company C of the 14th Regiment Veterans Corp; the regiment that was assigned to guard, and eventually take part in the executions of several of the Lincoln assassination conspirators in 1865. This was extremely exciting news for me as this is the focus of my current research.

Once Ed shared some of the contents of the diary with me, I knew I was seeing something that was never before on the public record.

The diary is the first known document found to list the names of the guards and their duties guarding the prisoners. It also adds another perspective to the story. It’s a first hand account, documented in the handwriting of the man who was actually there and participated in this famous historic event.

From a researcher’s point of view, George E. Dixon’s diary is a great find. And as you’ll read, Ed Isaacs’ efforts to share this as well as honor the members in his family tree are genuinely uplifting. I am happy and honored to share this story with you on his behalf. Enjoy.

Barry 

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B.Hey Ed. How are you? 

 

E. I’m good and ready to go! 

 

B.(laughing) Alright then, let me start by asking you where you live and what did you do for a living before you were retired?

E. The answer to that is I live in Norwalk, Connecticut. I just recently retired on Saint Patrick’s Day, March 17th of this year from the Norwalk Fire Department with nearly 32 years on the job.

B.Wow. 

E. Yup. It was a good career. I took good care of my family with that.

B. Let me ask you about two associations that you are affiliated with. You are a member of The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War and a member and past president of The Sons of the American Revolution.

E. Yes I am.

B.What are those organizations and how do they serve their members?

E. These are hereditary societies whose missions are to preserve the ideals our forefathers fought for during the Civil War and the American Revolution. I was the past president of The Roger Sherman Branch, Connecticut Society Sons of the American Revolution. I had three ancestors that were in the Revolutionary War and they were Amos Dixon, John Saunders and Samuel Brown Isaacs. And then I became a member of The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War and my ancestors there of course were George E. Dixon and Edwin Lorenzo Tuttle who fought in the 5th Regiment Connecticut Volunteers and then he reenlisted into the 17th.

B.And the reason we are talking here today is because of your great great grandfather, George E. Dixon.  

 

Sergeant George E. Dixon.

Sergeant George E. Dixon wearing his medals which can be seen later in this article.

 

You contacted me by email back on March 23 and I’d like to read a portion of that note now.

“I recently acquired a diary that was my great-great grandfather’s. His name was George E. Dixon from Poundridge, NY. During the Civil War he was stationed in Washington, D.C. This is what his diary says,  

May 16, 1865: On guard at the old penitentiary over the Booth party conspirators.
I was in the court room during the day while the witness’s were being examined. I saw the bullet that killed the President, also the pistol and two carbines. Booth’s photograph and the boot that was cut open to take it from his broken leg by Dr. Mudd.

 July 7, 1865: On guard at the penitentiary. The execution of Surratt, Payne, Atzerodt + Herold.

 I hope you find this interesting”.

Well Ed (laughing) the first thing that I thought to myself was ‘DAH! Of course I’d find this interesting”. For me, this is great stuff. This is sort of what I specialize in and so I was dying to talk to you and I’m glad that we now have a rapport and are talking more and more about this.

E. And for me it was very interesting because I wasn’t really aware of any of that history. Maybe I mentioned that I have his obituary, “Civil War Veteran Claimed by Death”. Commenting on the execution, of which he was an eyewitness, he says in his diary,

 “The first two, having fainted, were carried to the gallows by the guards: the latter two walked calmly up and put their heads in the nooses.”

So of course, when I eventually got the diary this is what I expected to see. I’ve never seen this line in here yet! So, it could have been hearsay from his wife or a child. But the information I did find was pretty fantastic.

B.So that quote is actually not in the diary from what you can find so far! 

E. I have not found that quote. Nope. 

B.George lived to be quite old. And two things I’ll ask you to explain to everyone are ‘Who was George Dixon’ and ‘what was his history’?

E. George E. Dixon was 90 years old when he passed away. He was a Civil War Veteran who resided in Pound Ridge, New York. He was well known to the people of Stamford. He was the driver for an old mail and passenger stagecoach line for many years. He was born in Pound Ridge on December 2, 1834.

 

George E. Dixon's business card.

George E. Dixon's business card.

He attended the schools of that district. And on April 4, 1859, he married Sarah E. Birdsall, a native of Pound Ridge. After the Civil War broke out, he volunteered for the service of his country, joining the 6th Regiment New York Heavy Artillery. He was mustered in at Yonkers, and went to a training camp for three months. 

B.[NOTE: At this point in the interview I interrupted Ed with another question and we never got back to George E. Dixon’s history, so here is the rest of it before we pick up the interview again].

His military service states:

 He enlisted as a Private in the 172nd Infantry Regiment New York on September 6, 1862, at the age of 27. He was transferred into Company M, 6th Regiment New York Heavy Artillery on December 4, 1862. He was transferred on January 26, 1864 from Company M to Company A. He was wounded on June 20, 1864 at Petersburg, Virginia. He was transferred to Company M, 6th Regiment New York Heavy Artillery on January 19, 1865 and then transferred to Company C, 14th Regiment Veterans Reserve Corps January 19, 1865. On July 7, 1865, he was appointed Sergeant in Company C of the 14th Regiment of Veteran Reserve Corps to rank as such from the 1st day of July 1865. During the war, he was twice wounded in action and fought in the following battles: Manassas Gap, Mire Run, Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Harris House, North Anna River, Totopopomoy, Cold Harbor, and Bethesda Church. In this last battle, he was wounded when the handle of a musket was shot off and later, at Petersburg, he was shot in the right arm. He was honorably discharge July 31, 1865. Just prior to his discharge, he was present to witness first hand, a chronicle of American History. During his final service in Washington, DC, he served as sergeant of the guard at the penitentiary in Washington where the persons implicated in the death of President Abraham Lincoln were kept and later was in charge of the guards at the execution of Mary Surratt, Lewis Payne, George Atzerodt, and David Herold, who were involved in the assassination plot.

 Following the war, he returned to Pound Ridge where in 1868, he was given a contract of carrying mail between Stamford and Pound Ridge; a position which he held for 22 years. At first, he only carried the mail three times a week but, later, the number of trips was increased to six. When the rural routes were instituted, he continued carrying freight and passengers until 1916.

Ninety-year old George E. Dixon died on March 16, 1925; just 19 days shy of his 66th wedding anniversary (April 4, 1925). He was one of the oldest members of the Charles A. Hobbie Post #23 of the Grand Army of the Republic located in Stamford. At the time of his death, he was survived by four children – Charles L. of New York City, Mrs. Ada Isaacs of New Canaan, Myron A. of Stamford, and Wilbur of New Canaan: his wife, Sarah E., and 14 grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren.

——————————————– 

George and Sarah Birdsall Dixon on their 65th wedding anniversary.

George and Sarah Birdsall Dixon on their 65th wedding anniversary.

B. You sent me two pictures of George, one of him and his wife and the other being a family portrait. I guess these are both from their 65th wedding anniversary on April 4, 1924. Is that correct?

[Note: Just last Saturday, April 4, 2009 would have marked George and Sarah’s 150th wedding anniversary].

E. That’s correct. At their home which we referred to as “Charter Oak Place”. 

B.In the family photo, is there somebody there that you are directly related too? 

George and Sarah and their family on their 65th wedding anniversary

George and Sarah and their family on their 65th wedding anniversary

E. The young couple right behind Sarah and George were my grandparents. The young gentleman is Clarence Isaacs and his wife Muriel. It is very sad how things go because that picture was taken in April, 1924 and my father had just been born in February of that year. My grandmother, Muriel  died the following year at only 21 years old. My grandfather Clarence died at 30 years old in 1927. So they didn’t have a great long life, yet Clarence’s mother Ada, who’s standing right next to him, lived to 96 years old. That’s Ada Dixon Isaacs, my great grandmother.  

Muriel Isaacs, Clarence Isaacs and Ada Dixon

Muriel Isaacs, Clarence Isaacs and Ada Dixon

 

B.Well…I’d love to say that …

E. …you don’t know what tree you’re going to be in. Right!

B.Exactly (laughing).

E. Yup.

B.When did you first get interested in your great great grandfather? I know you have some items of his as well as his diary.

E. Well first, the items that I have, I didn’t have to worry about collecting, outside of the diary, because the items were already here. My father was a great collector. In my family, we save everything. I’vegot a bible from Samuel Brown Isaacs who was in the Revolutionary War and I’ve got a powder horn from Amos Dixon.

But the question is always asked “When did I get interested in it”? Like a lot of people would say “When your parent dies”. My dad was very interested in our family history. And of course when I lost him in 1990, I’d always remember as a young kid when I was 10, 12, 14 years old, the many weekends we would spend going to a cemetery, a library, a town hall or somewhere always looking for facts on family. And that’s what we did. And of course as I came up on sixteen years old, I’m looking at my watch saying “Dad, I got a date. I gotta get out of here”. I didn’t show as much interest then. But when I lost him it became one of the most important things in my life. Honoring my ancestors is honoring my father, Howard R. Isaacs.

 My family has a lot of history in this area.  Ralph Isaacs and Mary Rumsey Isaacs settled in Norwalk in 1725.  My family has not moved more than 20 miles in 284 years.

B.What are some of the items that you obtained from your father?

E. I have George E. Dixon’s certificate promoting him to Sergeant. I’ve got his pension paper. I’ve got original news articles about George and Sarah’s 65th wedding anniversary and of course the article on his death. I’ve got many photos including George with family members in front of his home “Charter Oak Place”. I’ve got a medal given to him for serving in the 6th Regt. New York Heavy Artillery, Army of the Potomac and his GAR [Grand Army of the Republic] medal. And now I have his diary!

 

 

George Dixon's Army of the Potomac and GAR medals

George Dixon's New York Volunteers Heavy Artillery Army of the Potomac and GAR medals

 

B.Well, let’s talk about the diary then (laughing)!

When you contacted me on March 23 you had only just received it a few days before on March 18, so you haven’t had it that long.

E. When it arrived at my house in the envelope I did not open it. I needed to relax in anticipation of what I would discover. I just put it downstairs in a safe place until Sunday the 22nd and that was the first time I opened it. I was just so relieved.

B.How long have you known of its existence?

E. I didn’t know if it still existed. All I had was just a copy of his obituary that said “…in his diary” and that one quote that I haven’t been able to find. But I didn’t know where that diary could be. So really, the story of how I got it is very interesting.

B.I’m sure. Can you tell us?

E. Before I retired, I was looking at family members’ histories and went on Ancestory.com. I started loading the names of different family members that I had, on it. I looked at photographs of George and Sarah and the extended family. One of my parents had put the names of the different family members on the back of the photos. So I just started looking at the different names and I found one, that was Floyd E. Dixon. I put Floyd E. Dixon into my family tree just looking to see who else would be searching for this particular Dixon and I found one that matched exactly. And then of course, I made a phone call to Maine to Pamila Dixon Tift and said, “Hi, I’m your cousin”. I started sending her a lot of information about our great great grandfather.  When I sent her a copy of George’s obituary talking about his diary, she called me back and said she had that diary.

B.(laughing).

E. Needless to say, I nearly fell out of my chair here. But I had to keep my wits about me. Through many emails and conversations over the next week or so I let her know that since I had everything else of his, and I’m only minutes from Pound Ridge where he lived; and I visited the home where he lived many times… that the diary needed to be here. I was very fortunate that she agreed with me.  

If anything else was interesting, she told me that she put it in the mail on March 16th and just by coincidence, I looked at his obituary again that night and noticed that March 16, 1925 was when he died. So everything has a meaning.

 

 

The Dixon gravestone.

The resting place of George E. Dixon, Sarah Dixon and Ada Isaacs.

B.Yeah for sure! What an amazing story. It sounds like coincidence but perhaps it’s not. It goes deeper than that and was meant to be in your hands.

E. That’s exactly right.

B.When you first opened the diary did you focus on any one page after you looked through it?

E. The main one for me was of course the page we just talked about where he was an eyewitness in the courtroom when the witnesses were being examined. That one, and the other page that’s seems to be the one getting us all really excited, page 27, with the names of the guards and executioners. I didn’t have a clue what anything on this page meant, so I contacted you.

 

 

Page 27 from the Dixon diary.

Page 27 from the Dixon diary.

  

B.At first, when you sent me a photo of the page, we were debating whether the list of names was of guards or prisoners. Well it turned out that it was a list of guards from the 14th Regiment Veterans Corp.

 

A list of men from the 14th Regiment and the schedule of cells they were assigned to guard.

A list of men from the 14th Regiment and the schedule of cells they were assigned to guard.

 

But the names that really jumped out at me were the four at the bottom of the page [#15, 16, 17 & 18]. And those were the names of the four guards that stood under the scaffold and who were responsible for knocking the props out, or springing the traps.

 

Although spelt incorrectly, the names of the four soldiers who sprung the traps at the conspirator executions are

Although some of the names are spelt incorrectly, the names of the four soldiers who sprung the traps at the conspirator executions are in Dixon's list: William Coxshall, Joseph Haslett, George F. Taylor and Daniel F. Shoupe (Shoup).

[Ed later pointed out that on this same page George notes this very fact when he writes “The last four numbers were executioners. Sergt. G. E. Dixon, Co. C, 14th Reg”.]

  

 

The note that George penned indentifying the four men that sprung the traps at the execution.

The note that George penned indentifying the four men that sprung the traps at the execution.

I guess as we’ve talked a little bit further it sounded like George, at the time being a Sergeant, perhaps was in charge of scheduling some of his men to guard the prisoners, hence his list of guards names.

 

 

 

 

 

 

E. These names didn’t mean anything to me because even though I have my family here that I honor very much, I didn’t follow the history as much as I should. But now I’ve started looking into it more. As you know I’ve bought the book “American Brutus” by Michael Kauffman and I have just bought “The Trial” by Ed Steers Jr. That’s just about twice as many books as I’ve probably ever read in my life.

B.(laughing) Well the two authors you mentioned are both excellent in this field. The field of the assassination.

E. Oh yes. It’s very exciting.

B.On your behalf, I did approach some of these gentlemen who I correspond with and respect highly. And right off the bat we had a really good response from Michael Kauffman. I think his first response to me, before I passed it on to you, was “WOW”! So it really meant something to him as it related to his own research. I know that he is now working with you to further discover what other information is to be found in that list as well as in the other pages of the diary.

Michael is definitely excited about the project. I have had responses from other Lincoln experts. Some are quite busy right now. But eventually these folks will get back to you as their schedules free up.

E. I know for sure that this has to be exciting for some of them just like when you contacted me. If someone is going to give you his cell phone number you know that they are interested. To get the home phone number from Michael Kauffman or to hear from Laurie Verge, I mean that is very exciting and I’m very honored for George E. Dixon. I really am!

B.Laurie Verge is the Director of the Surratt House Museum and Surratt Society. She is quite interested in collecting whatever information she can on George, putting it into their files, so any future researchers have an opportunity to explore him and see how his life relates to perhaps the research that they are doing. It’s an exciting time, Ed!

E. It really is. When I retired on March 17, officially after the 18th, I wondered what I was going to do other than feet hitting the floor in the morning and going to get a cup of coffee. I’m still not that old but I plan on doing something down the road. But to have this happen, there isn’t a day right now where I don’t have something to do. I’m doing a newspaper interview tomorrow in George’s hometown of Pound Ridge at 10:00 o’clock. It’s all about honoring George and it’s a great thing. I’m really enjoying it.

B.Do you have children Ed?

E. I have a 19-1/2 year old daughter Emily and my son will be 18 in June and that is Christopher.

B.Do they find interest in this or are they sort of like how you were back when? They have their own life right now!

E. Just like me! (laughing).

B.(Laughing)

E. My wife is very good with this. She understands that not everyone is into this when you are a teenager. But everything is going to be put away safely and catalogued somehow so they’ll have things to look at and be proud of when they do show interest. My son is also a member of The Sons of the American Revolution. And in December of this past year I got my daughter into The Daughters of the American Revolution. So they are good to go. It is just a matter of what they want to do with their lives and their time. But they are good to go.

B.What’s your hope for yourself now that you are retired?

E. Now that I have the Dixon diary, I can see my first book. I can see myself going on some talking tours. Maybe do some schools. It would be very interesting once I figure out everything. It’s nice to say that you’ve got something but you want to make sure that you know what you are talking about. If I can put something together, I would enjoy it. I really would. It’s a nice thing and so many people are interested in the Civil War and of course the assassination of Lincoln. It’s a lot to go over. It really is a lot. 

B.Well it’s a great part of our history and the Dixon clan has been a part of it for decades, for centuries. And you must carry on the tradition.

E. Exactly. There you go.

B.Well Ed, this has been great. And you and I will obviously be talking well beyond this interview. I think there is a lot more to look into and as we start to pick it apart and figure out which way to go, I’m glad you’re taking me for the ride.

E. I feel I’m honored to have you ask me these questions. I’m very excited. And as I’m sitting here looking at my computer now I see this picture of Harold Holzer, the eminent Lincoln scholar and Civil War expert. And thinking that you’re interviewing me, and you’ve interviewed him and some of these other guests, I’ve got some pretty big shoes to fill.

B.(laughing).

E. I’m floating on a cloud right now.

B.I have to thank Harold because he was my first interview. He actually contacted me when I was searching out some information for another gentleman who had written me. He is a gracious man and always very generous with his time, and I will always be grateful to him for that. 

E. You have a great website. And of course as you already know, the short article that you put on there about me yesterday, I’ve already sent out to many of my friends (laughing).

B.Ah yes…the TEASER!!! (laughing).

E. You’ve got a lot more followers now, I tell you!

B.Thank you. It’s been a pleasure speaking with you Ed.

E. Again, I’m just very excited and very honored.

B.You’re a good man Ed and I’ve enjoyed learning about you, your family and George E. Dixon. Thanks again.

E. Thank you.

END

Best

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com

Civil War Diary Found from Soldier Who Guarded the Lincoln Conspirators

April 9, 2009: Barry Cauchon

Ed Isaacs holding the diary from his great great grandfather George E. Dixon.

Ed Isaacs holding the diary from his great great grandfather George E. Dixon.

Hi all: I wanted to share some exciting news with you today. Two weeks ago, I was contacted by Mr. Ed Isaacs from Norwalk, Connecticut whose great great grandfather was a guard at the Old Arsenal Pentitentiary in Washington D.C. in the spring/summer of 1865. The soldier’s name was Sgt. George E. Dixon. He not only acted as a guard at the pentitentiary but was assigned inside the courtroom during the Lincoln conspirators’ trial. As well he witnessed the executions of Mary Surratt, David Herold, George Atzerodt and Lewis Powell on July 7, 1865. What is particularly thrilling about this is that George E. Dixon wrote a diary and recorded notes and his personal impressions from these events.

On March 18, 2009, the diary was obtained by Ed Isaacs, the great great grandson of Sgt. George E. Dixon. On March 23, Ed graciously shared some of his excitement with me as well as the contents of the diary. I can say that I was overjoyed to see what was on some of its pages and know that a small piece of previously unknown history surrounding the conspirator trial and executions had come to light. Ed asked if I could help him better understand some of the content on the pages. Currently we are in touch with several Lincoln researchers and the information coming back has been very exciting.

I interviewed Ed on April 9 and the story is posted at https://awesometalks.wordpress.com/2009/04/10/an-awesometalk-with-ed-isaacs-owner-of-civil-war-diary-from-soldier-who-guarded-the-lincoln-conspirators/.

Best

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com

TWO ARTICLES WORTH READING AND COMMENTING ON

October 18, 2008: Barry Cauchon

I’d like to recommend two articles that I think you would enjoy reading. At the same time, I’d like your comments and feedback on them. Tell me what you think and let’s get a dialogue started. I look forward to hearing from you shortly.

The first goes by the title of “The Fame of Major General Lew Wallace” and the second is “Hangman Christian Rath: Incompetence, Complicity or Just Common Practice”.

The Fame of Major General Lew Wallace tells the story of a Civil War general who, in historical retrospect, was involved in some of the most memorable events of his time.

Then, as if that was not enough, he wrote three novels, one of which became a classic and is known world wide to this day. Find out which novel Lew Wallace wrote and what events he was prominently involved in by reading “The Fame of Major General Lew Wallace“.

 

  In the article, “Hangman Christian Rath: Incompetence, Complicity or Just Common Practice” the hangman responsible for executing four of the Lincoln conspirators is put on trial for botching some of the hangings. Did Rath mishandle the hangings which resulted in at least two of the conspirators needlessly suffering after the trap door was sprung? Did he purposely and maliciously conspire to inflict as much additional pain as possible on the guilty for their heinous crimes? Or was it just the way hangings were carried out and therefore, resulted in nothing out of the ordinary for that day and age? Find out by reading “Hangman Christian Rath: Incompetence, Complicity or Just Common Practice“.

Please read both articles and let me know what you think of them. I’d love to hear your comments.

Best

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com

—————————————————————–

  

If you are interested in Abraham Lincoln, you should read these interviews by two Lincoln experts:

 

“An Awesometalk With” Harold Holzer, Lincoln Scholar

(posted on November 10, 2008) 

 

  “An Awesometalk With” Dr. Thomas Schwartz, Illinois State Historian 

(posted on December 08, 2008) 

 

—————————————————————–

THE FAME OF MAJOR GENERAL LEW WALLACE

September 1, 2008: Barry Cauchon

Civil War Union army officer, Major General Lewis “Lew’ Wallace is well known to historians for his involvement in many high profile events. But the one that he is most famous for will come as a surprise to you.

Brigadier General Lew Wallace

For much of the Civil War, Wallace acted as division commander under Ulysses S. Grant. He commanded troops in several battles, the most high profile being the Battle of Shiloh. Regrettably, due to a communication mix up between Grant and Wallace, he led his troops away from the fighting and did not get back until the battle was almost over. Grant blamed Wallace for the mix up. For the rest of his life, Wallace would try to clear his name with the Union military commanders (including Grant) but with little success. 

UPDATE: February 11, 2009: I received a comment from Bernie O’Bryan who professionally portrays General Wallace at events and he advises me that Wallace and his troops only missed part of the battle rather than when it was almost over. Bernie stated the following, “Well, actually almost over for the first day, but the Battle of Shiloh was a two day battle, Wallace’s troops arrived in the later part of the first day, but opened the battle the next day and saw more than their share of fighting on that day”. Thank you Bernie for the clarification. I really appreciate it.

But by the end of the war, Lew Wallace began to become a visible public figure in other arenas.

Event #1: In 1865, after President Lincoln had been assassinated, eight conspirators were arrested and put on trial in a military court. Wallace was chosen as one of twelve men to sit on the military commission responsible for trying the one female and seven male defendants.

After a two month trial, they would find all eight conspirators guilty of various offenses. Four would be sentenced to hang, three would be given life sentences and one would receive a 6-year sentence.
Preparing the Lincoln conspirators for hanging
Four conspirators in the Lincoln assassination are prepared for hanging on July 7, 1865

Event #2:Then in late July, 1865, Wallace would again sit on another military commission. This one for the war crimes trial and court-martial of Confederate Henry Wirz, the commandant of the notorious Andersonville Prison Camp.

 
 
With over 12,000 prisoners dying while under his watch in 1864, Wirz was held responsible for the deaths and put on trial for war crimes. Although Wirz’s culpability was highly controversial, he was still found guilty and sentenced to hang in Washington DC on November 10, 1865.

Wallace resigned from the army on November 30, 1865 and entered politics, holding several positions over the next 20 years.

Event #3:From 1878 to 1881, Wallace served as governor of the New Mexico Territories. On March 17, 1879, Governor Wallace met with, and attempted to offer amnesty to, the notorious outlaw, Henry McCarty a.k.a. William H. Bonney a.k.a. Billy the Kid for his involvement in the Lincoln County War. Unfortunately, Billy the Kid did not follow through with his part of the deal, and Wallace withdrew his offer. Billy the Kid would be shot and killed on July 14, 1881 by Sheriff Pat Garrett. 

Event #4: In contrast to his military and political careers, Lew Wallace was also a gifted writer. He would write and publish three novels during his lifetime. However, it was his second novel that would bring him untold fame. On November 12, 1880, Wallace released Ben-Hur, A Tale of the Christ”.

The novel became a tremendous best-seller. It soon out sold Harriet Beecher-Stowe’s 1852 novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin as the best selling American novel. It would remain the top selling American novel for over fifty years until 1936 when it was finally overtaken by Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind.

One stage play and two films were made of Ben-Hur. The most memorable film being the academy award winning movie from 1959 starring Charlton Heston.

Many believe that much of Ben-Hur was a semi-autobiographical account of Lew Wallace’s life.

Lew Wallace died February 15, 1905 at age 77.

END

Best

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com

—————————————————————–

  

If you are interested in Abraham Lincoln, you should read these interviews by two Lincoln experts:

 

“An Awesometalk With” Harold Holzer, Lincoln Scholar

(posted on November 10, 2008) 

 

  “An Awesometalk With” Dr. Thomas Schwartz, Illinois State Historian 

(posted on December 08, 2008) 

 

—————————————————————–

DID YOU KNOW (Part 3) CIVIL WAR

1. Did you know …that during the Civil War, both the Union and the Confederacy diplomatically attempted to find allies in Europe. For various reasons, the two major powers of England and France would not commit to either one. England however, did build warships for the Confederacy and Napoleon III of France showed definite signs of friendship with the South. However the North practiced a high level of diplomacy which helped keep total support of the South from occurring. Still, in 1863, a very unlikely European ally showed their support for the North. Believe it or not, this country was Czarist Russia!

Russian ship Osliaba arrives in Virginia in 1863. Mrs. Lincoln accompanied by General Dix would later visit the ship.

Russian ship Osliaba arrives in Virginia in 1863. Mrs. Lincoln accompanied by General Dix would later visit the ship.

From the article “Europe and the Civil War” posted at http://www.civilwarhome.com/europeandcivilwar.htm the following explanation is given.

“Singularly enough, the one European country which showed a definite friendship for the Northern government was Czarist Russia. In the fall of 1863 two Russian fleets entered American waters, one in the Atlantic and one in the Pacific. They put into New York and San Francisco harbors and spent the winter there, and the average Northerner expressed both surprise and delight over the visit, assuming the Russian Czar was taking this means of warning England and France that if they made war in support of the South, he would help the North. Since pure altruism is seldom or never visible in any country’s foreign relations, the business was not quite that simple. Russia at the time was in some danger of getting into a war with England and France, for reasons totally unconnected with the Civil War in America; to avoid the risk of having his fleets icebound in Russia ports, the Czar simply had them winter in American harbors. If war should come, they would be admirably placed to raid British and French commerce. For many years most Americans believed that for some inexplicable reason of his own the Czar had sent the fleets simply to show his friendship for America”.

Sidebar: President Lincoln was unaware that the Russian fleet was coming and their arrival caught him totally by surprise.

 

2. Did you know …that on September 3, 1861, one of the top military blunders of the Civil War occurred. The following excerpt is from “The History Buff’s Guide to the Civil War” (pgs. 68-69) by Thomas R. Flagel.

“In a contest over the Mississippi River, an inept Union general almost committed on of the costliest mistakes of the war, then an equally incompetent Confederate general beat him to it.

From the outset of the war, the sprawling state of Kentucky had declared its neutrality. Presidents Lincoln and Davis both vowed to respect the wishes of their mutual birthplace. Although beneficial to both men, neutral bluegrass was as good as gold for Davis. Resting on five hundred miles of the Confederacy’s border, from western Virginia across the length of Tennessee’s vulnerable north boundary, Kentucky stood directly between the Southern heartland and five Union states. The only land avenues left into Dixie were tumultuous Missouri and the stone wall of Virginia.

All this mattered little to self-aggrandizing Union Gen. John C. Fremont and equally shortsighted Confederate Gen. Leonidas Polk. Both eyed Kentucky’s jagged westerly tail as prime, unclaimed real estate for controlling the mighty Mississippi. As it turned out, both generals targeted Columbus, Kentucky, a small, undefended town tucked neatly in a strategically exquisite bend in the river. Consulting neither their presidents nor their War Departments, each man positioned himself for the first strike, Polk in Union City, Tennessee, and Fremont across the waters in Belmont, Missouri.

Polk was the first to move. He crossed the Tennessee-Kentucky border on September 3, 1861, and snuggled into Columbus the following day. Hearing of Polk’s unilateral act of political idiocy, Tennessee Gov. Isham Harris, Confederate Secretary of War Leroy Walker, and Jefferson Davis demanded that Polk withdraw back to Tennessee. An indignant Polk, took the orders under advisement and declined.

Repercussions were swift. Armed with the moral high ground, Union forces took two days to occupy Paduch in the west and Frankfort in the north. In two weeks, the government of Kentucky declared allegiance to the Union. A vast roadblock to the Confederacy had become an open passage”.

Confederate General Leonidas Polk 

Confederate General Leonidas Polk

Despite his huge blunder, Polk continued to command Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. He was involved in the battles at Shiloh, Perryville, Stones River, Chickamauga & Marietta. His overall field record as a commander was poor. However, despite his inability to be a successful military leader, his men adored him. Unfortunately, Polk would not live to see the end of the war as he was killed on June 14, 1864 during the Battle of Marietta.

Gens. Polk, Johnson, Hardee and their staffs had been scouting enemy positions from atop Pine Mountain, near Marietta, Georgia when Federal artillery troops starting shelling their location. Several rounds came close and as the party scattered, Polk was hit by a 3″ Hotchkiss shell and killed instantly.

Hodgekiss shell (2.94" dia. x 6.25" long x 8 lbs)

Hotchkiss shell (2.94" dia. x 6.25" long x 8 lbs)

He was deeply mourned by his men.

Best

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com

—————————————————————–

  

If you are interested in Abraham Lincoln, you should read these interviews by two Lincoln experts:

 

“An Awesometalk With” Harold Holzer, Lincoln Scholar

(posted on November 10, 2008) 

 

  “An Awesometalk With” Dr. Thomas Schwartz, Illinois State Historian 

(posted on December 08, 2008) 

 

—————————————————————–

Published in: on Thursday, July 17, 2008 at '2:06 pm'  Leave a Comment  
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DID YOU KNOW (Part 2) CIVIL WAR

1. Did you know … that in 1861 Samuel L. Clemens, aka Mark Twain, along with some friends, joined a volunteer Confederate militia in Missouri (which was a non-Confederate state) and trained for about two weeks before reconsidering and disbanding the group entirely. Instead, he headed west to Nevada and California for the remainder of the war where he worked as a miner, newspaper reporter and writer.

Mark Twain (photo by A.F. Bradley) Mark Twain (photo by Wm. A.F. Bradley)

2. Did you know … that early in the war there was a process set up by the North and South to exchange prisoners.  Based on a system used during the War of 1812 between the United States and Great Britain, prisoners would be exchanged rather than confining them. Or, failing that arrangement, the captured men could be paroled, meaning that the soldiers would be freed but not allowed to return to their units until they were notified they had been officially ‘exchanged’.

1862 Union camp in the Shenandoah Valley guarding Confederate prisoners  1862 Union Camp in the Shenandoah Valley guarding Confederate prisoners.

During the first two years of the Civil War, this mutual arrangement worked out, for the most part. However it began to fall apart in the fall of 1863 when the Union discovered Conferate parolees, who had not been officially exchanged, fighting at the Battle of Chickamauga. To add to the dilemma, the South refused to treat white and black prisoners equally which resulted in some black soldiers being sent back into slavery or worse, massacred (as did happen at Fort Pillow in 1864).  From September, 1863 to January, 1865 (fifteen months) the prisoner exchange program was suspended leading to severe problems for both sides with overcrowded prison camps which were ill-equipped to handle the volume of the captured soldiers. 

3. Did you know …that prison camps during the Civil War were horrific places with severe overcrowding, little food, rampant disease, terrible sanitation conditions and little or no shelter from the elements. According to “The History Buff’s Guide to the Civil War” by Thomas R. Flagel (2003), “A Civil War soldier marching into battle stood a one-in-thirty chance of dying. If he stepped into one of the 150 stockades, warehouses or forts serving as prison camps during the war, his odds fell to one-in-seven. More than fifty-seven thousand soldiers died in prison during the war, just shy of all the American soldiers lost from all causes in Vietnam”.

Andersonville Prison Camp Andersonville Prison Camp

Here is a list from Flagel of his Top Ten Deadliest Military Prisons

1. Andersonville, Georgia (Confederate). 10,000 – 33,000 prisoners. Deaths – 12,919.

2. Camp Douglas, South Chicago, Illinois (Union). 6,000 – 12,000 prisoners. Deaths – 4,454.

3. Point Lookout, Maryland (Union). 10,000 – 22,000 prisoners. Deaths – 3,584.

4. Salisbury, North Carolina (Confederate). 2,000 – 10,000 prisoners. Deaths – 3,479.

5. Elmira, New York (Union). 5,000 – 9,400 prisoners. Deaths – 2,993.

6. Florence, South Carolina (Confederate). Peak 15,000 prisoners. Deaths – 2,973.

7. Fort Delaware, Pea Patch Island, Delaware (Union). 10,000 – 12,600 prisoners. Deaths – 2,460.

8. Camp Chase, Columbus, Ohio (Union). 4,000 – 9,400 prisoners. Deaths – 2,260.

9. Rock Island, Illinois (Union). Peak 8,600 prisoners. Deaths – 1, 960.

10. Camp Morton, Indianapolis, Indiana (Union). 2,000 – 5,000 prisoners. Deaths – 1,763.

Another source online on Civil War Prison Camps is: http://www.censusdiggins.com/civil_war_prisons.html

Best

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com

—————————————————————–

  

If you are interested in Abraham Lincoln, you should read these interviews by two Lincoln experts:

 

“An Awesometalk With” Harold Holzer, Lincoln Scholar

(posted on November 10, 2008) 

 

  “An Awesometalk With” Dr. Thomas Schwartz, Illinois State Historian 

(posted on December 08, 2008) 

 

—————————————————————–

DID YOU KNOW (Part 1) CIVIL WAR

1. Did you know … that during the years of the Civil War (1861 – 1865) the Atlantic hurricane seasons were very weak. Only a handful of hurricanes and tropical storms were recorded from each year, and from those, very few made landfall. However, in early November, 1861, a hurricane did hit the east coast of the United States that directly affected the Civil War. Known as the “Expedition Hurricane”, the storm began as a tropical storm on November 1, 1861 in the southeast Gulf of Mexico, moved across Florida and up the east coast. It reached hurricane strength (Category 1) on November 2nd, hitting the Outer Banks of North Carolina during the day before weakening to a tropical storm by nightfall.

Continuing northward, the storm made landfall in Massachusetts on November 3rd and eventually lost strength throughout the rest of that day.

    “EXPEDITION HURRICANE” TRACKING (NOV 1-3, 1861)

Date/Time

Latitude

Longitude

Classification

Winds

11/01/1861 6:00AM

25.5° N

82.1° W

Tropical Storm

60

11/01/1861 12:00PM

27.2° N

81.1° W

Tropical Storm

50

11/01/1861 6:00PM

29.2° N

80.1° W

Tropical Storm

60

11/02/1861 12:00AM

31.2° N

78.6° W

Category 1

70

11/02/1861 6:00AM

33.2° N

77.3° W

Category 1

70

11/02/1861 12:00PM

35.2° N

76.3° W

Category 1

70

11/02/1861 6:00PM

37.0° N

75.0° W

Tropical Storm

60

11/03/1861 12:00AM

38.7° N

73.8° W

Tropical Storm

60

11/03/1861 6:00AM

40.3° N

72.8° W

Tropical Storm

60

11/03/1861 12:00PM

42.0° N

71.5° W

Tropical Storm

50

11/03/1861 6:00PM

44.0° N

70.0° W

Tropical Storm

50

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: State Climate Office of North Carolina

http://www.nc-climate.ncsu.edu/climate/details.php?snum=68

The reason the hurricane was known as the “Expedition Hurricane”, was because the Union had launched the largest fleet of warships and transports ever assembled (over 75 ships and 12,000 soldiers) on October 29, 1861. It was known as the Port Royal Expedition and was intended to set up a naval blockade at Port Royal, South Carolina. However, when the expedition encountered the hurricane on November 2nd off the coast of Cape Hatteras, NC, the fleet was scattered and three ships were sunk. Eventually the expedition regrouped and one by one, arrived at Port Royal. On November 7, 1861 a short battle ensued between the fleet and the two forts guarding the port; Fort Beauregard and Fort Walker. The fleet was overpowering and the battle was easily won by the Union.

For more on the Port Royal Expedition, refer to:

http://www.awod.com/gallery/probono/cwchas/portry.html

*******

A letter from Gustavus V. Fox to Abraham Lincoln (Naval Affairs) on Tuesday, November 05, 1861 alludes to the storm that hit the Union naval fleet. This is from the Library of Congress web site. See link below.

TRANSCRIPTION:

Navy Dept.

Nov. 5th 61

Sir,

A telegraph from Balt. this morning to the Dept. announces that the fleet were seen 30 miles north of Charleston Sat. night. One of the transports had ret. suffering slightly from some cause. We have no information that the gale was severe with them on the contrary all seemed right Sat. night.

 

Most sincerely

G. V. Fox

http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/P?mal:5:./temp/~ammem_yTuH::

 

2. Did you know … that horses suffered heavy casualties during the Civil War. The armies used horses to not only act as heroic steeds for the Cavalry, but also to transport men, supplies, artillery and equipment. In the Battle of Gettysburg, it is estimated that over 3000 horses were killed during the three day confrontation!

Gettysburg 1863

Gettysburg 1863

But battle was not only the cause of death for horses. As with soldiers, a high percentage of deaths was attributed to disease, exhaustion and at times, starvation. According to the article “The Horse In the Civil War” written by Deborah Grace, “Despite the thousands of horses killed or wounded in battle, the highest number were lost to disease or exhaustion. The Tenth Massachusetts Battery lost 157 horses between October 18, 1862, and April 9, 1865. Out of these horses, 112 died from disease. Forty-five of these succumbed to glanders. Glanders, a highly contagious disease that affects the skin, nasal passages, and respiratory tracts of a horse, was most widespread. Another forty-five horses from the same battery were lost to fatigue; they simply became too exhausted to work and were put to death”. This short article is fascinating and I recommend it highly. Link to:

http://www.reillysbattery.org/Newsletter/Jul00/deborah_grace.htm

 

3. Did you know … that, according to estimates, there were about 280,000 Federal deserters from the Union military and another 110,000 deserters from the Confederate ranks. All told, about 11% of the entire military forces from both North and South deserted. Although the punishment for desertion could be as severe as death by firing squad (or hanging if the offence involved treason or other henous crime), it was left to the discretion of the court martial to determine. According to Florida Reenactors Online, “Approximately 500 soldiers (north and south combined) were executed for capital crimes. The Union army’s records show that they executed 267 men. This included 147 deserters, 67 murderers, 19 mutineers, 23 rapists and 11 others for various crimes”.

Execution of Deserter by firing squad

Execution of Deserter by firing squad

For more information on Civil War desertion and other offenses and punishments during the Civil War, please read “Crimes and Punishments in the Civil War (Parts 1 and 2) – Crimes and Offenses”, see the two links below.

http://www.floridareenactorsonline.com/crimespunishments1.htm

http://www.floridareenactorsonline.com/crimespunishments2.htm

Best

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com

—————————————————————–

If you are interested in Abraham Lincoln, you should read these interviews by two Lincoln experts:

“An Awesometalk With” Harold Holzer, Lincoln Scholar

(posted on November 10, 2008) 

  “An Awesometalk With” Dr. Thomas Schwartz, Illinois State Historian 

(posted on December 08, 2008) 

—————————————————————–

GETTYSBURG NATIONAL MILITARY PARK and HISTORIC AREA

If you are interested in this country’s history and the Civil War holds a particular interest, then you should consider a road trip running north to south, or visa versa, between New York and Florida. Almost every town along the way was involved in the Civil War conflict in one way or another and each marks their involvement with historical markers, cemeteries, statues, museums and even battlefields.  

 

In a recent road trip from Toronto to North Carolina, I experienced many of these towns and enjoyed discovering their local Civil War stories and flavor. However, the grand daddy of them all had to be Gettysburg, the site of the largest and bloodiest battle to ever be fought on American soil in history.

 

HISTORY

On July 1-3, 1863, the three day battle was fought in Union territory between the defending Federal Union army and the Robert E. Lee’s advancing Confederate troops. Although both sides suffered tremendous losses (over 51,000 dead, wounded or missing), the Confederate army could not sustain the fight and Lee ordered his army to pull back into Virginia. 2008 marks the 145th anniversaries of the battle as well as Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address which he gave at the dedication to the Gettysburg National Cemetery on November 19, 1863.

 

LOCATION

Gettysburg is located in the southern part of Pennsylvania just a few miles north of the Maryland border. The main highway Business US 15 took me right into the center of town.

 

WHAT TO SEE

Although there are many attractions and non-Civil War related things to see and do in the Gettysburg area, I will address the ones that relate the history itself. For more information on attractions and events, go to www.gettysburg.travel .

Gettysburg National Military Park Map

Gettysburg National Military Park Map

 

HISTORY TO SEE

To truly appreciate the Gettysburg experience, you must give yourself no less than one full day. Two days is highly recommended. I will quote information from the Gettysburg National Military Park Pennsylvania brochure put out by the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. It will be in italicized font. Where I add other information will be in regular type face (non-italicized).

 

SEEING THE PARK AND THE BATTLEFIELD

The fighting at Gettysburg is history. Upon these peaceful, till Pennsylvania fields, more men fell than in any other battle fought in North America before or since. Many of the Union soldiers who died here are buried in Soldiers’ National Cemetery where Abraham Lincoln delivered that poignant statement of purpose – the Gettysburg Address.

 

Much has been written and said about this, the greatest battle of the Civil War. There are also many treasured artifacts collected in museums here and across the country. But the most tangible link to those three days in July is the battlefield itself, parts of which look much as they did in 1863. Fences, hill, rocks, cannon and even the monuments provide an opportunity to ponder and try to understand what happened here.

 

You have probably come to Gettysburg by car. By following the Self-guided Auto Tour on the other side of this brochure, you can easily drive around the battlefield in two to three hours. At most of the numbered stops, exhibits and tablets describe significant action during the three days of battle.

 

The Gettysburg National Military Park Visitor Center and Museum contains the film “We are Met on a Great Battlefield,” the “Battle of Gettysburg” cyclorama, and the Gettysburg Museum of the American Civil War, which place the campaign and battle in the larger context of the war.

 

Note: The Visitor Center and Museum are brand new, having just opened in the spring of 2008. Admission is free to the Visitor Center and Museum only. It is broken up into a series of galleries that cover various aspects of pre-war activities, weapons, uniforms, daily life in the field, and the battle and subsequent aftermath. Each gallery is filled with a volume of artifacts, information and a series of really good AV media presentations timed to run about every five minutes or so. I particularly like the way the museum tells the story of the three day battle by running an AV presentation segment for each. As one ends, you leave that gallery to go to then next where the story is picked up again in another presentation. This process is done with the intention of moving the crowds along from ‘station to station’ and keeps the traffic flow going. Although finding your way from gallery to gallery can be confusing once in awhile it’s still a wonderful experience. Again, give yourself adequate time to go through the entire museum (several hours) and the also see the film and cyclorama program (which will be mentioned below). Artifact highlights for me included seeing Robert E. Lee’s field office furniture (such as his sleeping cot, desk, etc); the stretcher which carried the mortally wounded General Stonewall Jackson on, after his own men accidently shot him; and the display on John Brown, the abolitionist who took matters into his own hands at Harper’s Ferry. He killed several people during the event and was arrested, tried and hung. The door from his prison cell is displayed along with a hand written letter from the widow of the husband who Brown killed.

 

 The building also contains a book and museum store, a “Refreshment Saloon” food service area, licensed battlefield guides, current schedules of ranger-conducted programs, and information about visiting Eisenhower National Historic Site.

 

The film “A New Birth of Freedom” and Gettysburg Cyclorama program is a 45-minute ticketed experience designed as a starting point for visitors. The “Battle of Gettysburg” cyclorama is a sound and light show of the spectacular 377-foot painting by Paul Philippoteaux of Pickett’s Charge, completed in 1884. (Note: the Cyclorama is currently undergoing conservation but will be opened again in September, 2008)

For a fee ($55.00 at time of writing), a licensed battlefield guide will conduct a two-hour tour of the battlefield in your auto or bus (Note: I did not get an opportunity to take this tour, but from those who have, I understand that it is well worth it!).

Groups and individuals may make advance reservations for the Theater/Cyclorama experience, a tour with a licensed guide, and a visit to Eisenhower National Historic Site by calling 1-877-874-2478.

 

During summer months, park rangers give walks, talks, and programs at various locations on the battlefield to help you understand the battle and its impact on the soldiers, civilians, and the nation.

 

The best way to sense the land and Gettysburg’s past is to walk the battlefield as thousands of soldiers once did. The Cemetery Ridge Trail, about 1.5-miles long, begins at the visitor center and covers the ground defended by Union soldiers in repulsing Pickett’s Charge.

 

The National Cemetery Trail begins at the National Cemetery parking area and covers the cemetery grounds, where the Union dead from the battle are interred and Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address.

 

For longer hikes, inquire about the 9.5-mile Billy Yank Trail or the 3-mile Johnny Reb Trail. Both trails are used by the Boy Scouts of America as part of their Heritage Trails Program.

 

For information about motel accommodation, restaurants, privately owned campgrounds, museums, and other facilities in the community, check at the visitors’ center with a representative of the Gettysburg Convention & Visitor Bureau. You can also write them at P.O. Box 4117, Gettysburg, PA 17325, or check www.gettysburg.travel.

 

For more information contact: Gettysburg National Military Park, 1195 Baltimore Pike, Gettysburg, PA 17325. Phone: 717-334-1124. Website: www.nps.gov/gett.

 

OTHER WAYS TO EXPERIENCE GETTYSBURG

 

Some of the other ways to experience Gettysburg, including other historical attractions are as follows: This information is taken, in part, from the Official 2008 Gettysburg Convention & Visitors Bureau Attractions and Dining Guide.

 

EVENTS REMAINING IN 2008:

 

July 4-6, 2008

Annual Civil War Battle Reenactment, Gettysburg Anniversary Committee, PO Box 3482, Gettysburg; 717-338-1525, www.gettysburgreenactment.com

 

November 1-2, 2008

Autumn Gettysburg Civil War Show, Thomas Publications, Allstar Events Complex, Gettysburg; 717-642-6600, www.thomaspublications.com

 

November 19, 2008

145th Anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, Soldiers’ National Cemetery, Gettysburg; 717-337-6590.

 

November 22, 2008

Remembrance Day Parade and Ceremonies, Downtown Gettysburg; 717-334-6274.

 

November 24 – December 15, 2008

Candlelight Christmas Tour, Shriver House Museum, 309 Baltimore Street, Gettysburg; 717-337-2800, www.shriverhouse.org.

 

There are many other events listed in the guide. Please go to www.gettysburg.travel for more details.

 

ATTRACTIONS

 

On pages 8 to 23, there are over 50 attractions listed that would take you probably two-weeks to see them all. However, here is a very brief highlight of some of the things you can see and do while in Gettysburg relating to the history of the event.

 

American Civil War Museum

297 Steinwehr Avenue, Gettysburg; 717-334-6245, www.gettysburgmuseum.com. History comes alive! Utilizing life-sized wax figures, the two-part guided tour features 35 dioramas, followed by a digitally enhanced Battle of Gettysburg re-creation. Presentation includes with an animated Abraham Lincoln delivering the immortal Gettysburg Address. Great orientation to the four-year conflict; a must see for all ages.

 

American Stories Historic Walking Tours & Programs. By appointment; 717-624-8154.

 

Association of Licensed Battlefield Guides. Private guides tested and licensed by the National Park Service. Tours provided in the comfort of your own vehicle; 877-874-2478.

 

Battlefield Driving Tours. CD & Cassette self guided tours. Various locations; 717-337-1217.

 

David Wills House. Museum about President Lincoln and the Gettysburg Address. The David Wills House is the home where President Lincoln spent the evening (Nov 18, 1863) the night before he delivered the Gettysburg Address on November 19; 717-334-1124. www.mainstreetgettysburg.org.

 

Fields of Freedom at Gateway Theater. “Through discovered diaries, the 30-minute film immerses you in the lives of two soldiers preparing for the onslaught and unimaginably heroic charge, the ferocity of the battle and the anguish of its aftermath; 717-334-5577. www.gatewaygettysburg.com.

 

General Lee’s Headquarters. Historic Civil War Museum is housed in the Gettysburg headquarters of Confederate General Robert E. Lee where he and his staff planned the Battle of Gettysburg; 717-334-3141. www.civilwarheadquarters.com.

 

Gettysbike Tours. Guided bike tours by a National Park Service Licensed guide or rent a bike for your own touring; 717-752-7752. www.gettysbike.com.

 

Gettysburg Battlefield Bus Tours. Licensed bus tours open year round. 717-334-6296. www.gettysburgbattlefieldtours.com.

 

Gettysburg Diorama at Artillery Ridge Campground. This is a 35-minute narrated program using a 3-D miniature diorama of the entire battlefield. The presentation is uses narration, light and sound effects to tell the story of the three-day battle; 717-334-6408. www.artilleryridge.com

 

Gettysburg Expedition Guide by TravelBrains. The Guide includes a computer CD-ROM, a driving tour (tape or CD) and a 56-page full-color guidebook filled with detailed maps, photographs and trivia. Available online and at the Gettysburg National Military Park Visitor Center. 888-458-6475. www.travelbrains.com.

 

Gettysburg National Military Park Museum & Visitor Center (previously mentioned above). 866-889-1243. www.gettysburgfoundation.org.

 

Gettysburg National Military Park & Ranger Tours. Offers a full range of summer ranger programs, battlefield walks, evening campfire programs, special events, living history groups and band concerts related to the Battle of Gettysburg and President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Available mid-June through mid-August. 717-334-1124. www.nps.gov/gett.

 

Guided Historic Walking Tours. Tours providing quality interpretation and education that gives a better understanding of what life was like for the civilians in a town caught between the battle lines before, during and after the Battle of Gettysburg. 717-339-6161. www.mainstreetgettysburg.org.

 

Historic Battlefield Bus Tours. 717-334-8000.

 

Historic Church Walking Tours. 717-337-0733. www.historicchurchwalkingtours.org.

 

Jennie Wade House Museum. 717-334-4100. www.gettysburgbattlefieldtours.com

 

Lincoln Train Museum. Toy train museum featuring over 1000 trains and dioramas illustrating the railroad’s role during the Civil War. Also features the Presidential Train with President Lincoln as he travels to Gettysburg to dedicate the National Cemetery. 717-334-5678. www.gettysburgbattlefieldtours.com.

 

National Riding Stables at Artillery Ridge Campground. Two-hour guided horseback tours of Gettysburg National Military Park. 866-932-2674. www.artilleryridge.com.

 

The Rupp House. Features exhibits about the Rupp family, who lived in town during the Battle of Gettysburg. 717-334-7292. www.friendsofgettysburg.org. Admission free.

 

Shriver House Museum. Museum highlighting the Confederate occupation of Gettysburg through the story of George and Hettie Shriver who were residents during the Battle of Gettysburg. 717-337-2800. www.shriverhouse.org.

 

Soldier’s National Museum. 717-334-4890. www.gettysburgbattlefieldtours.com.

 

U.S. Christian Commission Museum. Visit the birthplace of Jennie Wade, and hear the story of brave civilians that helped soldiers during the war. 717-339-0339. www.usccgettysburg.org.

 

Underground Railroad Tours of Adams County. By appointment. Tours include a visit to two National Park Service’s Network to Freedom sites, the Yellow Hill Cemetery and the historic Menallen Friends Meetinghouse in Quaker Valley, where free Blacks and Quakers collaborated to help others find freedom. 717-528-8553. http://www.gettysburghistories.com.

 

There are also several ‘ghost and haunted Gettysburg’ tours available in town.

 

NOTE: I have done my best to accurately list correctly the names, phone numbers and website addresses here. If a mistake is found, please let me know and I will fix it ASAP.


Thanks and I hope you get a chance to go to Gettysburg one day soon.

Best

Barry

 

outreach@awesometalks.com

—————————————————————–

  

If you are interested in Abraham Lincoln, you should read these interviews by two Lincoln experts:

 

“An Awesometalk With” Harold Holzer, Lincoln Scholar

(posted on November 10, 2008) 

 

  “An Awesometalk With” Dr. Thomas Schwartz, Illinois State Historian 

(posted on December 08, 2008) 

 

—————————————————————–

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THINGS TO COME … UNIQUE HISTORY

In the coming weeks I will be including entries from a number of historical events including much more on Abraham Lincoln. However, you will also see information on the era of the Great Airships (such as the Hindenburg), the great Ocean Liners (such as the Titanic), the space program of NASA, and even some fascinating unique facts about Jack the Ripper. Please let me know some of the subjects that you would like to know more about.

I usually don’t post the ‘well known historical facts’ as there are vast amounts of this information written in books and found online. However, I do like to bring to you the ‘little known stuff’ from history. Sometimes they are small and seemingly insignificant, but they are all part of the historical record.

So stay tuned. Give me your feedback and let me know what you would like to know more about. 

I look forward to hearing from you.

You can reach me at outreach@awesometalks.com
Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com