Posts from the ‘Gettysburg’ Category

Lightning strike injures 5 Gettysburg reenactors, 3 hospitalized; 3 tents damaged

GETTYSBURG, Pa. — A lightning strike at a camp of Civil War reenactors in Gettysburg, Pa., has sent five people to hospitals.

The Gettysburg Anniversary Committee says in a statement that during a severe thunderstorm at about 2:45 a.m. Sunday, lightning struck a tent pole in the Confederate artillery camp, resulting in moderate injuries to two people and minor injuries to three others.

The five were taken to Gettysburg Hospital. One is in stable condition. Two others in stable condition were treated and transferred to York Hospital. Two others were treated and released.

Reenactment officials say a tent-by-tent search of the site by staff and local fire departments turned up no other injuries. They say three small tents were damaged.

UPDATE: Tim Prudent for Public Opinion Online wrote this story on the injured people from the lightning strike incident. It was originally published on July 6, 2011.

Civil War re-enactors struck by lightning near Gettysburg

GETTYSBURG — The sense of hearing is beginning to return to Marisue Morgan’s right ear and the painful burn on her left arm — where her sweater melted into her skin — is beginning to subside.Morgan said Monday she felt lucky to return home after a lightning strike the day before at the annual Civil War re-enactment in Gettysburg sent five members of her artillery battery to area hospitals.

“The flash was right in front of my face and it was about 10 times the loudness of cannon fire,” said the 45-year-old Morgan, who lives outside Pittsburgh. “The flash was the brightest white light and I felt my arm burning. I ran out of the tent to see if the people next to us were all right because all I could hear was screaming.”

She suffered second-degree burns and her 11-year-old son Ben and 61-year-old husband Randy were also hospitalized after the strike, which occurred during a violent thunderstorm early Sunday morning around 2:45 a.m.

As a result of the strike, Randy has three burns on his hand where it is believed the electricity left his body. Ben was uninjured and taken to the hospital as a precautionary measure, Marisue said.

Erich Griffey and his wife, Lucilia were camped nearby and also burned in the strike. Erich, 28, suffered first-degree burns on an arm and across his chest. Lucilia, who is six months pregnant, was burned on her back.

“I told him we were struck by lightning,” the 30-year-old Lucilia said Monday evening. “All I wanted was ice to cool the burning I felt all over my skin.”

A sonogram and stress test performed by doctors found their baby to be uninjured, said Erich’s mother, Cathy Griffey.

The couple has been re-enacting for the past six to eight years, Lucilia said, and go to events at least once a month.

But lying in the hospital, she said, she kept having nightmares.

“I don’t think I can sleep in a tent again,” she said. “This is the last event until the baby is born.”

Gettysburg Address text

On this date 148 years ago, the final battle, forever known as Pickett’s Charge, occurred at Gettysburg, Pa. Even though the speech was not given until November 1863, it is still important, during this Civil War Sesquicentennial, to take a moment to reflect upon the meaning of these important words:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground.

Bronze statue of Grace Bedell and Abraham Lincoln, Westfield NY.

The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Photo of the Day: 1st Minnesota Monument at Gettysburg

Monument to the 1st Minnesota Infantry at Gettysburg National Battlefield, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Image licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic and 1.0 Generic license.

Fairfield opens local Civil War 150th anniversary events

BEFORE THE BATTLE – Bill Summers, left, of Orrtanna, and John Wright, from Winchester, Tenn., sit by the campfire Friday evening as they clean and check their revolvers in preparation for re-enactment in Fairfield today. Events begin at 10 a.m. with living history demonstrations throughout the town and a Battle of Fairfield re-enactment starting at 2 p.m. at the Landis Farm on North Miller Road. The event marks the start of 150th anniversary observances in Adams County. (Darryl Wheeler/ Gettysburg Times)


Gettysburg Times Staff Writer

It is officially American Civil War Commemoration weekend in Fairfield, with events slated throughout the town today.

The “Battle Hymn of the Republic” played loudly Friday night while re-enactors, local residents and dignitaries alike converged on the Historic Fairfield Inn to begin “Fairfield Civil War Days,” the third in a series of local kickoff events marking the 150th anniversary of the nation’s deadliest war.

“After 150 years, the voices of the fallen still echo and speak to us as we shape our tomorrow,” said Dr. Brad Hoke, chairman of the Pa. Civil War 150th Anniversary planning committee. “Many have fought and died here to preserve our liberty and many of them are still lying here today.”

Rain moved Friday’s ceremony indoors, where the names of 170 Civil War soldiers from Fairfield and Hamiltonban and Liberty townships were read followed by a bell toll in their honor.

The festivities pick up in earnest on Saturday, rain or shine.

Living history demonstrations and re-enactor encampments will be scattered throughout Fairfield.

At 11 a.m., local historian Tim Smith will discuss Fairfield’s role in the Civil War, specifically the 1862 raid by Confederate  Gen. James Ewell Brown (JEB) Stuart, in Borough Hall, 108 W. Main St.

With 1,800 cavalrymen under his command, Stuart rode through Cashtown to Fairfield and Emmitsburg, taking hundreds of horses from local farmers and kidnapping many Adams Countians including the Fairfield postmaster.

State Rep. Dan Moul, R-91, referenced on Friday another Fairfield event and the focus of Saturday’s re-enactment.

“Gettysburg is so well known but I think it is wonderful that we will have an influx of people coming here this weekend and throughout the 150th celebration that will realize it wasn’t just Gettysburg,” Moul said. “There were so many other areas, like Fairfield, that were affected and played a part in the Civil War. They will see where Robert E. Lee spent some time and learn about Hagerstown Road, which was held open so he could flee back to safety in Virginia.”

The July 3, 1863, event that secured Hagerstown Road for the Confederates, “The Battle of Fairfield,” will be re-enacted on the Landis Farm, North Miller Street, Saturday at 2 p.m.

One hour later, at 3 p.m., a re-enactment of Stuart’s raid and the kidnapping of Fairfield ‘s postmaster is scheduled for 11 W. Main St.

Other events scheduled for Saturday include Civil War Era House Tours (11 a.m. and noon) at 118 W. Main St., a Taste of History (noon) at the Fairfield Inn, Civil War High Tea and Magic (2 to 4 p.m.) at the Fairfield Inn, and closing ceremonies (4 p.m.) at the Fairfield Inn.

This weekend’s events in Fairfield were preceded by kickoff celebrations  in Greencastle and Chambersburg. Gettysburg will wrap up the four-town series on April 29 and 30 with a multitude of events including a skirmish on Baltimore Street at 6 p.m. On April 29, a “Luminary on the Diamond,” will be held on Lincoln Square at 8:30 p.m.

The following day will feature a Gettysburg kickoff ceremony at the Pennsylvania Memorial. Matthew Pinsker, author of “Lincoln’s Sanctuary: Abraham Lincoln and the Soldiers’ Home,” will be the keynote speaker for the 7 p.m. event.

At 7:30 p.m., 150 cannon shots will be fired to pay tribute to the men and women who fought in the American Civil War.

Living history camps will also be located throughout Gettysburg.

Other events include Gettysburg: Red Zone for the Underground Railroad, Candlelight Remembrance Tours, Meet the Generals at the Diamond, Songs and Stories of a Civil War Hospital, a military recruitment and demonstration, as well as an African-American Experience.  There will be historic church walking tours and a musical performance by the 2nd South Carolina String Band.

The weekend activities will culminate with the playing of “Taps” on Lincoln Square Friday and Saturday night at 10 p.m.

“All of these events have really been awesome,” said State Sen. Rich Alloway, R-33, who presented members of the Pa. Civil War 150th Anniversary kickoff committee with a Senate proclamation on Friday.

“The re-enactment of the 1864 Burning of Chambersburg was so phenomenal and lifelike. The events here in Fairfield are also a great way to commemorate what happened here.

It is a big deal for this area.”

In Memoriam Harold Small – LBG #30

Information courtesy of The Association of Licensed Battlefield Guides

Harold J. Small, 83, 45 Redding Lane, Gettysburg, died Friday morning, April 15, 2011 at his home, surrounded by his family.

Harold J. Small

He was born Jan. 7, 1928 in Gettysburg, the son of the late Jacob A. and Marie Redding Small. He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Barbara Hankey Small.

Mr. Small was a member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Fairfield. Harold was a 1945 graduate of Gettysburg High School.  Following high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served during World War II, earning the World War II Victory Medal and the American Theatre Medal.  During the Korean Conflict, Harold served another tour of duty aboard the USS Saipan.

Harold was a rural mail carrier for 27 years, retiring in 1983. He was also a Licensed Battlefield Guide at the Gettysburg National Military Park for 40 years. He was a member of the Gettysburg Fire Company and the veteran fireman’s Smoke Eaters Club; a 65-year member of the Albert J. Lentz American Legion Post 202 of Gettysburg; a member of the World War II Last Man’s Club; and a member of the Gettysburg Eagles. He was a former member of the Gettysburg Elks and the Gettysburg Moose. Harold enjoyed ringing the bell as a Salvation Army Volunteer. He also enjoyed golf and fancied himself as an avid duffer.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by four children, Robert “B.J.” Small and his fiancée, Needy Beigh of Enola; Cindy L. Small of Gettysburg; Nancy B. Notarangelo and her husband Mark of Harrisburg; Joyce A. Small of Biglerville; a granddaughter, Abby Dehoff of Harrisburg; a sister, Elizabeth Foltz of Carlisle; and a brother-in-law, Glenn Hankey of Gettysburg. He was predeceased by a granddaughter, Brandi Joy Small; a son-in-law, Gregory Coco; a brother, Wilbur Small; and a sister, Catherine Rudisill.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Monday, April 18 at 10:30 a.m. from St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Fairfield, with Father Michael Massero celebrant. Interment will be in Evergreen Cemetery, Gettysburg.  There will be a viewing Sunday evening, April 17 at Monahan Funeral Home in Gettysburg, from 6 to 8 p.m. and on Monday at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Fairfield, from 9:30 a.m. until the time of the Mass. Memorials can be made to Children’s Miracle Network, 611 St. Joseph Ave., Marshfield, WI 54449.

In Memory of …

April 15, 2011 Harold Small Badge #30
February 16, 2011 Samuel R. McHenry, Jr. Badge #79
February 6, 2011 Perry O. Pherson Badge #29
January 5, 2011 George E. Shealer Badge #121
January 23, 2010 Robert C. Mullen Badge #7
August 2, 2009 John Anthony “Tony” Brogan Badge #129
May 15, 2009 Suzanne Harbach Badge #6
January 1, 2009 Harmon Furney Badge #51
November 1, 2008 Eugene McVicker Badge #22
September 2007 Jack Wise Badge #133
August 6, 2007 John O’Brien Badge #109
April 21, 2007 Betty Weaver Badge #1
April 2, 2007 Maxine Hartlaub Badge #40
January 11, 2007 Louis Fischer Badge #49
February 7, 2007 Becky Lyons Assistant Guide Supervisor
December 15, 2006 Alan Crawford Badge #108
September 4, 2006 Paul Burkholder Badge #39
February 6, 2006 Druid Deitch Badge #94
July 5, 2005 Donna Migdalski Badge #60
April 24, 2005 Russell Cunningham Badge #2
February 14, 2005 Richard L. Fox Badge #19

Taking “The Gettysburg Test”

By John Hildebrandt
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable

Article originally published in 2009

If, as William Faulkner postulated, at least once in the life of every Southern boy, it is 3 p.m. on a warm July afternoon in the shallow valley that separates Seminary Ridge from Cemetery Ridge, it is also so for every student of the Civil War. However, in the student’s imagination he is a Licensed Battlefield Guide, leading a group of spellbound battlefield visitors on the short walk from Seminary Ridge to the fields that witnessed the glory, and the horror, of Pickett’s Charge.

Like most Civil War students, I pride myself on a more than passing acquaintance with the Battle of Gettysburg. Over the course of a lifetime—quickly approaching sixty years—I have been to the battlefield at least eight times and have read many books and dozens and dozens of magazine articles. I had often wondered how my knowledge measured up against what I considered the gold standard: a Licensed Battlefield Guide.

In March, 2008, I decided to find out. I did some quick research about the process of becoming an Official Licensed Battlefield Guide. It is not an easy thing. No surprise here, and I would have been disappointed if it had been otherwise. Applicants must score in the top 20% of a written test administered usually every two years, then get through a series of interviews and training. Then the final test: giving a personalized battlefield tour to two current guides.

But first things first: the written test. It is usually administered the first Saturday in December, every two years, in a location in or around Gettysburg. It involves about two hundred questions and takes three hours. The test is administered by the Association of Licensed Battlefield Guides (ALBG).

In March, I made the personal commitment to take the test, and I began my preparation. I had two motives, basically. Although my wife and I live in Sandusky, Ohio, and I am still a few years shy of retirement, the idea of moving to the Gettysburg area in retirement and becoming a LBG has considerable appeal. In my career I have worked with the public on a regular basis and have actually given many extensive tours (in my case of Cedar Point Amusement Park). The other motivation was simply to test my knowledge of Gettysburg. I wanted some objective validation that I was a Gettysburg “expert.”

I decided to start by re-reading what I consider the three major comprehensive studies of the battle: The Gettysburg Campaign: A Study in Command by Edward Coddington; Gettysburg by Stephen Sears; and Gettysburg: A Testing of Courage, by Noah Trudeau. I had read all three books previously, Coddington’s perhaps ten years ago. I decided to re-read them simultaneously. I read the prelude to the battle in each book, then the First Day in each book, then the Second Day, then the Third Day. It is an interesting exercise. I recommend it. At the same time, I re-read as many magazine articles on Gettysburg as I could. The supply is virtually endless, as any Civil War enthusiast knows. Over the years, I had kept most issues of Blue and GrayAmerica’s Civil WarCivil War Times Illustrated, andNorth and South that included Gettysburg articles. I also made a commitment to physically get to the battlefield at least once before the test in December.

I work full time as general manager of Cedar Point, a large amusement park and resort facility in Sandusky, Ohio, on the shore of Lake Erie. The park draws more than three million visitors annually and is actually located less than a mile from Johnson’s Island, site of a Civil War prison for Confederate officers. My busy season is April through October, including every weekend. My study would have to take place at home, and mostly after 8 p.m. I knew the earliest I could get to the battlefield would be October.

In my previous reading of Coddington, et al, I was reading purely for pleasure. Now, they were textbooks. I underlined passages. I made notes in the margins. I noted inconsistencies, biases, and what I considered significant insights. I also read High Tide at Gettysburg: The Campaign in Pennsylvania by Glenn Tucker (a Southern perspective, in my opinion, but his sidebar stories are quite good). I re-read the Gettysburg section, “Stars in Their Courses” in Shelby Foote’sThe Civil War: A Narrative, and the Gettysburg chapter in David Eicher’s The Longest Night: A Military History of the Civil War. I also read extensively—though, I admit selectively—in Harry W. Pfanz’s masterful series: Gettysburg–The First DayGettysburg–Culp’s Hill and Cemetery Hill; andGettysburg–The Second Day. I also dipped into a number of other books on Gettysburg, from Jeffrey D. Wert’s, Gettysburg, Day Three toThe U.S. Army War College Guide to the Battle of Gettysburg, from 35 Days to Gettysburg: The Campaign Diaries of Two American Enemies by Mark Nesbitt to James McPherson’s Hallowed Ground: A Walk at Gettysburg.

According to the ALBG website, the written test measures specific knowledge of the battle as well as general knowledge of the Civil War and Reconstruction, including the political, diplomatic, and social history of the period. In this area, I trusted a lifetime of reading and museum-visiting and battlefield visiting. I did no specific preparation. The website also recommended not going overboard studying tactical minutiae. The purpose of the test was to measure your overall understanding of the battle, the ebb and flow, the big picture. I took its advice.

From March through November, my nightstand was piled with Gettysburg books. The same with the desk in my home office. My wife, who has endured my Civil War fascination for nearly thirty-four years (we visited Antietam on our honeymoon), was very supportive, though she would occasionally roll her eyes when I started comparing Coddington and Sears and their differing perspectives on this or that general. Going into my preparation, I thought my strengths would be my understanding and knowledge of the war in general, and the quality and quantity of my reading. I thought my major weakness would be my lack of intimate knowledge of the field itself, including monuments, geography, etc.

My wife and I did get to Gettysburg for two days the first week of October. We spent time in the new Visitor Center and the Cyclorama (worth the trip by itself). We also signed up for a tour by a Licensed Battlefield Guide. I played dumb, not letting on I was on a scouting mission. I asked him to give us a tour of the battlefield from an artillery perspective. He seemed very pleased at my request, and he did a fine job. I saw Benner’s Hill for the first time and a seldom-visited spot where Jubal Early’s artillery raked the Union XI Corps on July 1. I observed our guide closely and peppered him with questions. I asked him if he had given any tours to the rich and famous. He laughed and said no, but one of his colleagues had given a tour to a very nice man and had ended the tour by saying: “And what line of work are you in, Mr. Springsteen?”

I had forgotten how many memorials and monuments there are at Gettysburg. In preparation for a past trip, I had researched the location of all the Ohio monuments on the field. On that trip, I had visited each monument and taken a picture of it. I knew if the test included a question about Ohio monuments, I would be in good shape. (It did not, however). I also visited East Cavalry Field for the first time. I think my wife and I were the only visitors that day. Over Thanksgiving, I began studying the Order of Battle for both the Army of the Potomac and the Army of Northern Virginia. My goal was to memorize the commanders down to at least the brigade level. In retrospect, I started on this way too late. And there are a lot of names.

The test was given at Harrisburg Community College on Saturday, December 6. The College is located on U.S. 15 on the northwest side of the city, the road Jubal Early’s Division marched down in its approach to Gettysburg on July 1. Unfortunately, due to work requirements, I was not able to do any reading or studying the week prior to the test. Marie and I flew into Harrisburg on Friday night, rented a car, and drove down to Gettysburg. We stayed at the Gettysburg Hotel on the Square, which was lit beautifully for Christmas. It was cold and windy, even a bit of snow, definitely a winter weekend.

It costs $50 to take the test. The registration process is simple enough. Call or write the Chief of the LBG Service. There is a lot of information available on theAssociation of Licensed Battlefield Guides website. Return the registration. You are then sent a more detailed application (lots of government-type questions, but it also asks for your experience in guiding tours, any other relevant experience, etc.) and specific instructions for reporting to the test site.

The test started at 9 a.m., but test takers were told to report by 8:15 a.m. I had guessed the size of the group would be around one hundred. I was low. One of the LBG’s told me there were one hundred thirty-five people scheduled to take the test. Thus, there would be less than thirty people who would qualify to go to the next round. The group was overwhelmingly male, easily 90%, but not as old as I had expected. There were a number of people who looked to be in their thirties and forties. Quite a few seemed to know each other. I also got the impression that a number were taking the test for a second or third time.

When I picked up my test packet, the LBG noted I was from Sandusky, Ohio, the location of Johnson’s Island Confederate Prison. The group was divided up into several classrooms. There were two LBGs, one female and one male, assigned to each room. Our male proctor was a bit of a comedian (and, I am sure, a very good guide) and tried to break the pre-test tension in the room. He made fun of the LBG uniforms, the “silly sport coats that make us look like condo salesmen” and the “ridiculous ties.” He claimed to have never worn either.

Per the website, the test consists of a “fill in the blanks” section, a multiple choice section, and a true/false section, then a section that tests your knowledge of monuments, geography, and people (including identifying photographs). The test concludes with four essay questions. You must answer three of four questions. The essay questions are basically used as tiebreakers. Just before 9:00 a.m., the proctor tells you to open your packet. You are provided with three government-issue pencils. You are allowed to have bottled water at your desk. If you must use the restroom during the test period, you are accompanied to and then into the restroom by an LBG.

I admit to considerable nervousness. The test was a culmination of nearly nine months of preparation. I had not taken a test like this since the GMAT to go to graduate school, more than thirty-five years ago. At precisely 9:00 a.m., we got the green light. It is a hard test. Very hard. No, extremely hard.

The first and biggest section is “fill in the blank.” No guesswork here. You pretty much either know the answer or you do not. My strategy was to go through this section and answer only those I knew, and then double back to those I needed to think about. There were a number where I was absolutely clueless. I did best where I thought I would: general Civil War questions. A few were what I would term “easy,” e.g., what other name is used to refer to the Battle of Stones River? (Battle of Murfreesboro). There were a large number where I realized I should know the answer, but just could not remember the name or fact, though I had read it numerous times, e.g., name the four brigade commanders in Lafayette McClaw’s Division? (Semmes, Barksdale, Kershaw, and Wofford). I had three of four, but drew a blank on Brigadier General W.T. Wofford.

Most students of the battle are aware of the story of the Union soldier who was killed in the retreat through Gettysburg on July 1 and was found holding a picture of his three children. A nationwide search took place to identify the soldier and locate his children. I knew the story. I knew the soldier was a German, a member of the XI Corps. I knew it was a long, unpronounceable German name (Amos Humiston). But could I remember it? No. I still cannot. Another was: Name General Buford’s two brigade commanders present for the fight on July 1? I knew one, Colonel Devin, but not the other, Colonel Gamble. However, I think I did fairly well in the true/false and multiple choice questions.

The test is mainly focused on the recall of very specific factual information. Despite what the ALBG website leads you to believe, it does not test your knowledge of the big picture, the ebb and flow of battle, the major strategic and tactical issues, the choices faced by various commanders. I guess that is my one gripe, a bit of false advertising here, in my opinion. In defense of the ALBG, I think it would counter that testing understanding vs. knowledge comes in the next phase of the licensing process. And one must start somewhere. Evaluating understanding vs. knowledge is a much more difficult task. I do not know who is responsible for creating the test, but my working assumption is that a group of LBGs are charged with developing the questions and format. I also assume it changes considerably each time it is offered. 

The monument section was my downfall. You are asked to match approximately a dozen monuments and memorials with specific military units. I am sure I missed most of them. The list of units was multiple choice, so you could guess, and that is what I was reduced to doing. Guessing is never a good thing on a test. In the next section, you are asked to identify about a dozen photographs of Union and Confederate officers. It is fill in the blank, not multiple choice, so much harder to guess. I think I did pretty well here. Some were quite obvious to a Civil War enthusiast, e.g. Winfield Hancock, Jubal Early, and Jeb Stuart. The next section was identifying geographic locations on a map of the Gettysburg field. I thought this was perhaps the easiest section of the test. A careful process of elimination and common sense gets you to the right answers.

The final section of the test was the four essay questions. The first asked the objectives General Robert E. Lee had in mind for his summer 1863 invasion of the North. The second was to present the rationale, from General Richard Ewell’s perspective, why it was “not practical” to assault Culp’s Hill on the late afternoon/early evening of July 1. The third asked you to address why Lincoln was invited to attend and provide “appropriate remarks” at the dedication of the Soldiers Cemetery at Gettysburg in November, 1863. The fourth involved a discussion of the three phases of Reconstruction. I answered the first three questions.

I went into the test thinking three hours seemed a bit long. I ended up using all three hours. So did the vast majority of test takers. When it was done, I was drained.

I received my results on January 2. I did not do very well, scoring in the bottom half of those who took the test. It is embarrassing to admit this, in part because I have always thought I knew a lot about the Battle of Gettysburg. Also, throughout my life, I have always done well on tests. Disappointed? You bet. But I do not regret the time I spent in preparation. I really enjoyed the whole process. And in my heart I know I could give a terrific tour of the Gettysburg Battlefield.

I have great respect for those who qualified for the next round of the licensing process. Here are some tips for anyone contemplating taking the test:

  1. Know the Order of Battle, especially infantry and artillery units, certainly down to the brigade level.
  2. Know the placement of units on the battlefield by day and time of day.
  3. Know the monuments and memorials. There are over a thousand of them, so you cannot know them all. However, try to identify the top twenty or thirty and know something of their history, especially the unit or units they were erected to honor. To do this right, you have to spend time on the field. Know who designed the state memorials.
  4. Be able to identify the regiments of the more famous brigades, e.g. Irish Brigade, Iron Brigade, Texas Brigade. And their commanders.
  5. Know the insignia of all the Union corps.
  6. Be familiar with Reconstruction. Many Civil War enthusiasts have no interest in anything that happened after April, 1865. However, a lot did.
  7. There is a big difference between reading for pleasure and studying. Most of us read Civil War books for pleasure. You must read them as though it is high school or college again and your graduation depends upon how much you can recall.
  8. Know the difference between a Napoleon and a Parrot. Expect questions that test basic knowledge of Civil War weaponry.
  9. Know the geography of the Gettysburg region, the area outside the immediate battlefield but part of it: Taneytown, Carlisle, Cashtown, Mummasburg, et al.
  10. Visit the battlefield as often as you can. There is always something to learn.

The next test date is tentatively scheduled for the first weekend in December, 2010. I plan to be there.

Civil War Trust Lauds Transfer of Gettysburg Country Club Site to National Park Service

(Gettysburg, Pa., March 25, 2011) – After years spent with its fate hanging in the balance, the Department of the Interior today announced that the 95-acre site of the former Gettysburg Country Club has officially become part of Gettysburg National Military Park.  In celebrating the permanent protection of the second-largest privately held property inside the boundaries of park, Civil War Trust president James Lighthizer issued the following statement:

“This is a day that many in Gettysburg and the larger preservation community have long dreamt of.  Here at the Country Club, we have been presented with the incredible opportunity to set aside some of the most blood-soaked ground still unprotected at Gettysburg, and we owe our partners at The Conservation Fund a debt of gratitude for helping us ensure that this happy conclusion was reached.  In acquiring this land, known historically as the Emanuel Harman Farm, we have largely completed the protection of the first day’s battlefield.

“As we approach the beginning of the period commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, I can imagine no better legacy than setting aside hallowed grounds like the Gettysburg Country Club for future generations.  I am confident that with the commitment of Secretary Salazar and the Department of the Interior, today’s achievement is but the first of the tremendous successes for historic preservation we will celebrate during the Sesquicentennial.

“Even as we celebrate this great success, we must remember that other vital pieces of the Gettysburg story are still vulnerable.  In addition to our participation in this transaction, the Civil War Trust is independently pursuing the purchase of three other pieces of the Gettysburg battlefield.  These properties — two on the Baltimore Pike near the park visitor center, and the historic Josiah Benner House and Farm, used as a field hospital in the wake of the battle — will eventually join the Country Club as the newest parts of Gettysburg National Military Park.”

The former Country Club property, located along the Chambersburg Pike between McPherson Ridge and Herr’s Ridge, was the scene of intense fighting on July 1, 1863.  Eight Confederate brigades totaling more than 15,000 soldiers — more than 20 percent of Lee’s entire army was positioned upon or fought from this land.  Two units involved in the bloody fighting around Willoughby Run, the 26th North Carolina and 24th Michigan, each lost more men than any of the regiments in their respective armies at Gettysburg.

More information on the Trust’s current acquisition efforts, including the three at Gettysburg and others at Perryville, Ky., Bentonville, N.C., Franklin, Tenn., and Second Manassas, Va., is available

The Civil War Trust is the largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization in the United States.  Its mission is to preserve our nation’s endangered Civil War battlefields and to promote appreciation of these hallowed grounds.  To date, the Trust has preserved more than 30,000 acres of battlefield land in 20 states— including 800 at Gettysburg.  Learn more at

Rare Civil War flags unfurled in Lansing

Published: Sunday, April 17, 2011, 2:48 AM

By Kim Schneider; Grand Rapids Press

LANSING — Matt VanAcker dims the lights of the temperature-controlled storage room off a display area of the Michigan Historical Museum in Lansing. We don white gloves and only then slide open one of the dozens of special-made storage drawers to unveil a silk flag that brings the Civil War into focus in a particularly powerful way.

Keith Harrison, National Commander in Chief of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, conducts a tour of the Grand Army of the Republic Post in Sunfield, near Lansing. Harrison or other post members offer tours by prior arrangement of the hall filled with war photos and memorabilia, and still used for meetings of Civil War "sons." Grand Rapids Press photos | Kim Schneider

Nine men, one after another, died or were critically wounded while carrying this particular flag on July 1, 1863 at Gettysburg — determined not to let it fall into enemy hands, said VanAcker, Capitol tour and information service director and a Civil War buff. Abel Peck, the first to die, had written his daughter a few months earlier, saying, “If I fall, you must not mourn, for I think I am doing my duty ….”

This flag was never surrendered. Yet even without the story behind it, the flag makes the war real. Like others in the valuable collection of 230 flags stored in this room, 160 from the Civil War, it is stained with the blood of soldiers who carried it.

Bearing the flag was particularly dangerous, VanAcker said, because it was a rallying point and also a means of organizing a unit. One beautiful silk flag, engraved with gold lettering for the 8th Michigan Cavalry by the “ladies of Mount Clemens,” was ordered off a battlefield by an officer because it afforded such a visible target for the rebels and unnecessarily risked too many lives.

The flags were presented at war’s end to then-Gov. Henry Crapo. At a dedication ceremony, he pledged they would not be forgotten and would remain not just the state’s proudest possession, but also: “a revered incentive to liberty and patriotism, and a constant rebuke and terror to oppression and treason.”

Matt VanAcker, Michigan's Capitol Tour and Information Services Director, displays one of the many fragile original Michigan Civil War flags in storage at the Michigan Historical Museum currently out in a rare public display.

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. The battle of Bull Run was fought on July 21, 2861 and was considered the first major battle of the four-year war. As just one of many events taking place in Michigan and nationwide this year, the Michigan Historical Society is hosting the current exhibit “Plowshares into Swords,” Running through February 2012, the exhibit features a display of the battle flags, which are being brought out of storage on a rotating basis.

The exhibit shares the story of those who fought in the war and their families. It shares tales of regiments, such as the First Michigan Colored Infantry, which began training in 1963, shortly after the Emancipation Proclamation allowed blacks to serve. The flag of the Fourth Michigan Cavalry Regiment bears 40 battle honors; Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, surrendered to the Fourth under this flag after unsuccessfully trying to flee the country.

Michigan was first

Michigan was the first western state to answer Lincoln’s call for volunteers following the April 12, 1861 attack on Fort Sumter. Lincoln greeted the First Michigan Volunteer Infantry Regiment as it marched into Washington, D.C., and glanced up at the country’s Capitol dome for inspiration.

Michigan’s Capitol was later built with the same dome-style architecture as homage to the role the dome played in inspiring soldiers, launching a trend among many northern Capitols. A tour of the building, offered several times daily, shares this and other Civil War trivia. The fire-proof building also was constructed in part to store treasures such as the flags, now stored in their temperature- and humidity-controlled vault at the Michigan Historical Museum. At any time, private tours can be arranged, with special consideration going to families of those who fought in one of the represented regiments.

Until 1990, the collection of original flags was displayed in the Capitol Rotunda. Concern that the flags were deteriorating led to their replacement with the current replica flags. The battle flags were repaired by a professional textile conservator, Fonda Thomsen, as part of a Save the Flags program that placed flags out for symbolic “adoption.”

Other must-see Civil War sites on Capitol Square include the statue of Austin Blair, one of the nation’s most beloved “war” governors and the monument to the all Native American, Company K.

The Michigan Historical Museum is at 702 W. Kalamazoo St. in Lansing. For museum hours and events, go to or call 517-373-3559. Guided tours of the Capitol are offered 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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Inquirer Editorial: No dice for Gettysburg

Posted on Sat, Apr. 16, 2011

Philadelphia Inquirer

In the same week that Civil War reenactors marked the first shots fired at Fort Sumter 150 years ago, it was a welcome coincidence that Pennsylvania gambling regulators sounded the death knell for a casino near Gettysburg.

The decision Thursday by the state Gaming Control Board to grant a casino license to a Pittsburgh-area resort – rather than one proposed a half-mile from Gettysburg National Military Park – was the second time a Gettysburg-area casino was rejected. It should be the last.

Despite promises of economic benefit, it would be a mistake to place slot machines and blackjack tables so close to a battlefield that’s both hallowed ground and an iconic tourism destination.

Given the different audiences for a casino and the battlefield, it seemed unlikely that the casino would increase visitors to the historic attractions at Gettysburg.

Meanwhile, the business model of casinos is to keep customers at the gaming tables for as long as possible. That didn’t hold out much potential for new trade at area restaurants and the like. As for luring out-of-state gamblers, those customers will have other outlets as gaming spreads.

The license-winning Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, southwest of Pittsburgh, certainly fits the bill as a resort casino, with its championship golf course, airstrip, hotel, and restaurants.

The fact that the gaming board took months to pick among many competitors for this license may have aided preservationists, since the community opposition that built during the long wait made the right ruling on a Gettysburg casino an even easier call.

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