Posts tagged ‘Bull Run’

On this date in Civil War history: August 1, 1861

Thursday August 1, 1861

General Robert E. Lee, C.S.A.

General Robert E. Lee, C.S.A. Army, and adviser to President Davis, arrived in western Virginia on an uncertain mission to coordinate an inspect the various Confederate force there. However, the mission soon developed into his taking command, replacing W. W. Loring, who had succeeded slain Gen. Garnett.

Way to the southwest in New Mexico Territory, John R. Baylor, with his “buffalo hunters” who were really Confederate soldiers, proclaimed in the name of the Confederacy the possession of all New Mexico and Arizona south of the 34th parallel. Pro-unionists of New Mexico, however, considered it more of a “Texas invasion.” There was a slight skirmish at Endina, Mo. Brazil recognized the Confederate States of America as a belligerent.

President Davis wrote from Richmond to Gen. Joseph E. Johnston at Manassas on military matters and said, “We must be prompt to avail ourselves of the weakness resulting” from the moral effect produced by the Bull Run defeat of the Federals. The U.S. Senate debated a bill to suppress insurrection and sedition. The Onandaga County, N.Y. , Cavalry, eighty strong, left for war with a young bride, Mrs. Cook, accompanying her husband as “daughter of the regiment.” President Lincoln appointed Gustavus Vasa Fox Assistant Secretary of the Navy. Fox had been chief clerk of the department and already had a prominent role in the administration of thing naval.

[Source: Long, E.B. with Barbara Long, The Civil War Day by Day: An Almanac 1861-1865]

Advertisements

Civil War comes back to life on Virginia battlefield

By Fabienne Faur (AFP)

Reenactors gather to reenact the 1st Bull Run/1st Manassas Battle in Virginia on July 23, 2011(AFP, Karen Bleier)

MANASSAS, Virginia — The cannons boomed and the guns flared as the mists of times parted, and north and south squared off again on a Virginia field in a living reminder of the first major battle of the Civil War.

“We know the war is over,” said Ron Miller, proudly attired in the uniform of the southern Confederacy, which went on to win this battle 150 years ago, though not ultimately the war.

But he said “it’s important that our country remembers its heritage and its history. I do this to teach our history to our children.”

This weekend, under baking hot temperatures, thousands of spectators were gathering to watch a re-enactment of the Battle of First Manassas/Bull Run, fought on July 21, 1861 at Manassas, in the southern state of Virginia.

Miller, whose great-grandfather and great-great grandfather fought in the four-year Civil War, is one of hundreds of history fans who at weekends don the uniforms of their forefathers and reenact battles from the war that forged modern-day America.

With their red wool shirts and black trousers, 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry reenactors prepare to do battle at the 150th anniversary of 1st Bull Run on July 23, 2011(AFP, Karen Bleier)

“Look how they load the cannon,” Miller, 60, told children watching him intently as more than 8,700 reenactors as well as some 375 cavalry horses from the US, Canada and Europe were Saturday and Sunday recreating history here.

The re-enactment of the battle is just one of hundreds of events being held around the United States to mark the 150th anniversary of the start of the 1861-1865 war.

“I’ve always been fond of history,” Miller told AFP, saying he was inspired by the tales handed down by his relatives. His great grandfather had even enlisted at 14 and fought in every major engagement.

Across the vast site outside Manassas, white tents were erected to serve as bivouacs and give historical insights into life in this corner of the South, 150 years ago.

A man dressed in the style of a French Zouave soldier was taking a nap, as lone violinists played softly nearby.

Despite the baking sun, Kevin Zepp, 60, stood tall in his simple gray wool trousers marked with the colors of his Alabama regiment.

“If you were a farmer or a worker in a factory, you had these trousers. It’s like the modern jeans, you put the military stripes on it,” he explained.

Sheltering under a tree, Karen Quanbeck, 52, explained that she was playing the role of Catherine Barbara Broune, a peasant woman who had worked with her brother, a priest, to transport the wounded and find medicines.

And while this weekend’s events hold a special historical significance, there are hundreds of volunteers who dress up in costumes throughout the year to bring the Civil War back to life across the country.

“We meet once a month,” said retired teacher Nancy Anwyll, from Springfield, Virginia. “I’ve had an ancestor in the Civil War on both sides. I’m trying to learn more what they had to endure, I have to learn what they went through.”

War broke out in April 1861 soon after 11 southern states formed the Confederate States of America. While the exact causes of the war are still hotly debated, there is no doubt that an over-riding issue was slavery.

The agricultural South relied heavily on slaves to work their rich cotton plantations and feared the new US president, Abraham Lincoln, would eventually set them free.

Federal cavalrymen prepare to clash at the 150th Anniversary of 1st Bull Run Reenactment on July 23, 2011(AFP, Karen Bleier)

While Lincoln declared an end to slavery in 1863, race relations remain one of the nation’s most divisive issues.

“A lot of differences we had during the civil war do exist today — the state rights, the race relations — there’s a lot of things we can still work out today,” said Dennis Rabida, 46, from New Jersey.

Retired soldier Dan Byers said he had come to “honor his ancestors,” recalling that the northerners had “invaded our country,” the South.

The clashes in Manassas were ferocious, pitting a northern Union army of some 30,000 against a slightly smaller Confederate force.

In the end, the Confederates won the battle, although they were to go on to lose the war. About 5,000 troops on both sides died on the Manassas battlefield that day, but by the end of the war, the toll was 600,000 lives lost.

On this date in history: July 21, 1861 – Battle of 1st Bull Run/1st Manassas

Manassas Junction, Virginia, was the magnet that attracted the armies of North and South to the banks of Bull Run in July 1861. There two railroads, the Manassas Gap and the Orange & Alexandria, connected thirty miles southwest of Washington, D.C. The Orange & Alexandria was a natural line of advance for a Union army marching southward from Washington, while the Manassas Gap was important because Confederate forces in northern Virginia were divided. Eleven thousand men under Joseph E. Johnston guarded the Shenandoah Valley, while Pierre G.T. Beauregard had 22,000 men at Manassas, Centreville, and Fairfax Court House. The Manassas Gap linked these two armies and made it possible for the South to concentrate its forces wherever the threat was greatest.

The commanding general of the Union army, Winfield Scott, opposed an offensive into Virginia. Such a move, Scott feared, would only exacerbate sectional tensions. He also had little faith in the ninety-day volunteers that had been gathering around Washington since April. President Abraham Lincoln, however, believed a quick offensive against Manassas was worth a try and ordered Union general Irvin McDowell to organize a 35,000-man army for an operation against Manassas. McDowell shared Scott’s apprehensions over the reliability of his untrained army, but received little sympathy from Lincoln, who admonished, “You are green it is true, but they are green also.”

General Irvin McDowell

On 16 July, McDowell’s army began its march out of Washington, but did not reach Fairfax Court House until the evening of the seventeenth, giving the Rebels time to evacuate their advanced outpost there. McDowell’s lead division, under Daniel Tyler, reached Centreville the following day and found Beauregard had already evacuated the town to concentrate behind Bull Run. Tyler then pushed on toward the Bull Run crossings, provoking a sharp skirmish at Blackburn’s Ford, in which the Confederates thrashed Tyler’s force and forced it to withdraw back to Centreville.

Beauregard’s army was now positioned in an eight-mile line that was strong on the right, where the Orange & Alexandria Railroad crossed Bull Run and a series of fords – Mitchell’s, Blackburn’s, and McLean’s – provided convenient crossing points. Alone at the far left was Nathan G. Evan’s brigade overlooking a stone bridge where the Warrenton Turnpike crossed Bull Run.

After the setback at Blackburn’s Ford and reconnaisances demonstrated that Beauregard’s right was too strong to be attacked, McDowell learned that Sudley Ford, a few miles upstream from the stone bridge, was weakly defended and offered a convenient route around the Confederate left. So on 20 July he drew up a battle plan that called for Tyler to march his division west along the Warrenton Turnpike from Centreville toward the stone bridge, followed by David Hunter’s and Samuel Heintzelman’s divisions. Tyler would make a demonstration at the bridge to make Beauregard think the main attack would come there, while Heintzelman and Hunter turned north and moved to Sudley Ford. There they would cross the run at 7:00 and then march south along the Manassas-Sudley Road to crush Beauregard’s left and rear.

Rails of the Manassas Gap Railroad Jan 1865 (Andrew Joseph Russell photo)

It was a good plan. However, its success, like McDowell’s entire campaign, depended upon whether Robert Patterson’s army in the Valley could prevent Johnston from reinforcing Beauregard. Unfortunately for McDowell, Patterson failed, and on 19 July units from Johnston’s army began boarding railroad cars bound for Manassas.

To make matters worse for McDowell, his plan began unraveling from the minute he awoke his men at 2:00 A.M. on 21 July. First, it took an hour for Tyler to get on the road toward the stone bridge. His division then marched at a snail’s pace through the pitch black night until it finally reached the stone bridge at 5:30 A.M. Yet the flanking force had only just begun moving north toward Sudley Ford. At 6 A.M. Tyler began his demonstration by firing an artillery shell across Bull Run; Hunter’s lead brigade under Union General Ambrose Burnside was three miles from Sudley Ford. To make matters worse, Burnside found the road leading to their crossing point was little more than a cart path. Not until 9:30 A.M. – over two hours behind schedule – did the 13,000-man Union flanking force begin crossing Bull Run.

By 8 A.M. Evans had begun to suspect that Tyler’s force at the stone bridge was in fact a feint, a suspicion that was confirmed by a warning from a Confederate signal station: “Look out for your left, you are turned.” Leading 200 men to watch Tyler, Evans led 900 men north to Matthews Hill. By midmorning, the Confederate force on Matthews Hill had swelled to 2,800 with the arrival of Francis Bartow’s and Barnard Bee’s brigades. Their goal was simply to slow down the Federal army and buy time for Beauregard and Johnston to shift forces north to save the Confederate flank.

They bought an hour and a half. By 11:30 A.M. McDowell’s flanking force had crushed the Confederate line on Matthews Hill and sent the Rebels fleeing southward. “Victory! Victory!” an ecstatic McDowell shouted to his men on Matthews Hill. “The day is ours.”

This was not how Beauregard had expected the battle to develop. He had massed his forces on the right so he could attack McDowell’s left and rear and won the approval of Johnston, who had arrived at Manassas on 19 July to assume overall command, for the scheme. Yet, the complex and confusing orders Beauregard issued for the operation and the crisis on Matthews Hill compelled the Southern commanders to abandon this plan and begin shifting forces northward.

The Henry House and the Bull Run Monument on the Manassas Battlefield during a Spring storm. (Photo by Rob Shenk)

Henry Hill, approximately a mile and a half south of Matthews Hill and six miles north of Manassas Junction, would be the key to the battle. If McDowell could capture it, his victory would be complete. But instead of immediately pushing his 18,000 men southward to drive the beaten and disorganized remnants of Evans’s, Bartow’s, and Bee’s commands off Henry Hill, McDowell decided to have only James B. Ricketts’s and Charles Griffin’s batteries fire at the hill from Dogan’s Ridge.

Beauregard and Johnston took full advantage of McDowell’s generosity and began moving reinforcements to Henry Hill. The most important to arrive, Thomas J. Jackson’s brigade, reached the hill around noon. Upon his arrival, Jackson ordered his five regiments of infantry to take cover on the reverse slope of Henry Hill and began rounding up artillery pieces. By the time McDowell decided that he would have to fight for Henry Hill, Jackson had thirteen guns in position.

At around 2 P.M. McDowell ordered the batteries on Dogan’s Ridge to Henry Hill so they could blast Jackson’s line at short range. Ricketts arrived on the hill shortly thereafter and placed his guns south of Henry House, with three hundred yards of open ground between him and Jackson. Griffin’s battery then arrived on Ricketts’s left and a massive duel commenced between their eleven guns and Jackson’s artillery.

The Confederates got the better of the exchange. The Federals were now within range of Jackson’s smoothbore cannon, which they had not been on Dogan’s Ridge, and began taking significant casualties. At the same time, the Confederate line was now too close for the rifled Federal guns to be effective and most of their shells sailed harmlessly over the heads of the Confederates. To make matters worse, McDowell’s efforts to push up infantry support to Ricketts and Griffin were unsuccessful, while Jackson’s line grew stronger by the minute.

General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson got his nickname at First Bull Run/First Manassas (Library of Congress)

Then, as the guns roared, a legend was born that would fire Southern hearts for years to come. As he rallied his troops behind Jackson’s line, General Barnard Bee beseeched them to “follow me back to where the fighting is.” When they asked there that was, Bee dramatically pointed to his left and shouted, “Yonder stands Jackson like a stone wall; let’s go to his assistance.”

As this was going on, Griffin concluded that a change of tactics was necessary if the Federals were going to break the Confederate line. He then took two guns back to the Sudley Road, turned south, swung around Rickett’s guns, and positioned them on a slight rise to Ricketts’s right. From here, Griffin hoped to hit Jackson’s line with a destructive enfilade fire.

At approximately 3 P.M. Griffin observed an unidentified force moving toward his new position from the right. Although a number of men in this force were wearing blue uniforms, Griffin deduced that it was hostile and ordered his men to load their guns with canister. Just then, McDowell’s chief of artillery, William Barry, told Griffin: “Don’t fire there. Those are your battery support.” Griffin disagreed. “They are Confederates,” he protested, “as certain as the world.” Barry was adamant: “I know they are your battery support.” Griffin reluctantly yielded to the judgment of his superior.

The unidentified force was in fact Confederate William Smith’s battalion of Virginia troops. Seventy yards from Griffin’s position they stopped, lowered their muskets, and fired a devastating volley at the Federal gunners. Smith and Arthur Cummings’s 33d Virginia Infantry Regiment then charged and captured Griffin’s guns. Sensing the tide had turned, Jackson then ordered two of his regiments to charge Ricketts’s battery. Soon Ricketts’s guns were in Rebel hands as well.

Centreville, Virginia after the July 1861 battle. (Library of Congress)

Just then McDowell finally managed to get infantry up to his beleaguered artillerymen and a desperate struggle ensued in which the guns changed hands several times. The Federal effort was fatally compromised, however, by McDowell’s failure to commit fully his superior numbers and the fact that, although McDowell managed to get fifteen regiments into the battle, not once did more than two join the fight together. Finally, at around 4 P.M.  a spirited charge by two regiments from Confederate colonel Phillip St. George Cocke’s brigade pushed the last Union forces off Henry Hill.

As the battle raged on Henry Hill, McDowell ordered Oliver O. Howard’s brigade to Chinn Ridge. If Howard could seize the ridge, he would be on the western flank of Henry Hill and in an ideal position from which to deliver a decisive stroke against the Confederate line. Just then, however, Arnold Elzey’s and Jubal Early’s brigades, the last Confederate reinforcements from the Shenandoah Valley, reached the battlefield. At 4 P.M. they arrived on Chinn Ridge and crushed Howard’s command. Beauregard then ordered his entire line forward. This convinced McDowell that his army had enough for one day, and at 4:30 P.M. the Federal retreat began.

The ruins of the Cub Run Bridge after the July 1861 battle. (Library of Congress)

With their army “more disorganized by victory than that of the United States by defeat,” the Confederate high command was unable to organize an effective pursuit. The Federals were thus able to recross Bull Run well enough, but then a Confederate artillery shell capsized a wagon on the Cub Run Bridge, creating a bottleneck on their line of retreat. Whatever order had existed until then evaporated as panic gripped the exhausted Union troops and the civilians who had come out to Centreville to watch the battle. The retreat degenerated into a chaotic flight back to Washington, and what had been a closely fought battle became a decisive Southern victory. Altogether, nearly 900 men had been killed and over 2,700 wounded, numbers that would pale in comparison to later battles, but nonetheless shocked a nation that had naively expected a relatively bloodless war. 

Southerners had anticipated that one victory such as Bull Run would persuade the North to abandon the effort to restore the Union by force. Lincoln, however, made it clear after the battle that he would continue the fight by organizing new armies for the long war to come. Thirteen months later the men in blue and gray would beet again in battle on the plains of Manassas.

Written by Ethan S. Rafus for Encyclopedia of the American Civil War: A Political, Social, and Military History (2000) (pp. 312-316).

For further reading:

Davis, William C. Battle at Bull Run: A History of the First Major Campaign of the Civil War (1977).

Freeman, Douglas Southall. Lee’s Lieutenant’s: A Study in Command, vol. 1 (1942-1944).

Hennessy, John. The First Battle of Manassas: An End to Innocence July 18-21, 1861 (1989).

Johnson, Robert Underwood, and Clarence Clough Buel, eds. Battles and Leaders of the Civil War: Being for the Most Part Contributions by Union and Confederate Officers (1887-1888).

U.S. War Department. War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (1880-1901).

Civil War 150th Anniversary Events at Manassas National Battlefield

Originally posted by Brian at The District.

Stonewall Jackson Memorial – Manassas National Battlefield Park

Thursday, July 21, will be the 150th anniversary of the first Battle of Manassas, one of the fiercest battles in the Civil War. Throughout the week ahead, Manassas and other area landmarks will hold events to commemorate the occasion. Here are some of the highlights:

  • On Saturday, Arlington House, Robert E. Lee’s former home, will host a Union camp reenactment with military drills and other activities. This is a free event and more details can be found here.
  • Manassas National Battlefield Park will host a four-day long series of events including activities, lectures, demonstrations, military drills, and a concert by the Marine Corps Band. View a complete schedule of events.
  • Play ball! Baseball games will be played following the 1860′s rulebook at Jennie Dean Elementary School at 9601 Prince William Street in Manassas on Friday (2 p.m.), Saturday (9 a.m.) and Sunday 9 a.m.).
  • A parade of Civil War reenactors will march down Main Street, Manassas on Friday at 10 a.m.
  • A huge reenactment of the first Battle of Manassas featuring more than 8,000 Union and Confederate troops, will take place on Saturday and Sunday. Shuttle buses will run from Jiffy Lube Live’s parking lot. Tickets are $40 for bleacher seats, and $24 if you prefer to stand. Kids 6-12 are $31 for seats and $15 for standing. More information can be found on the Manassas Battlefield’s website.

It’s certainly going to be a great week for Civil War enthusiasts. If you do plan on attending these events, be sure to plan accordingly since we are supposed to experience some intense heat over the coming days.

Remembering the 1,040-man West Michigan regiment who fought in Civil War 150 years ago

By Garret Ellison | The Grand Rapids Press  

GRAND RAPIDS — In the shadow of the old South High School on Hall Street SE, current home of the Gerald R. Ford Job Corps Center, sits a boulder steeped in history.

A Civil War memorial boulder is re-dedicated during a ceremony commemorating Cantonment Anderson Saturday outside the Gerald R. Ford Job Corps Center. The ceremony included several readings, and a speech from Mayor George Heartwell. (Emily Zoladz | The Grand Rapids Press)

The large rock, inscribed with the words “Cantonment Anderson,” is a tribute to the Third Michigan volunteer infantry regiment soldiers who fought in the American Civil War, and it rests on the site of the regiment’s original muster in May 1861.

The boulder, first dedicated in a reunion of surviving regiment members 100 years ago, was rededicated in a memorial ceremony on Saturday, two days shy of the regiment’s 150-year departure anniversary.

A new informational tablet also was unveiled that details the history of the spot and the men who left there to fight and die in the war.

“These were real people in a very real time,” said historian David Britten, superintendent of Godfrey-Lee schools and author of the book “Courage without Fear: The Story of the Grand Rapids Guard.”

By horseback, stagecoach and train, scores of men from the surrounding counties arrived in Grand Rapids following the call by President Abraham Lincoln for troops to preserve the union following the April 12, 1861 attack on Fort Sumter by Confederate rebels.

They organized into companies on 40 acres at the Kent County Agricultural Fairgrounds along Kalamazoo Plank Road, or what’s now South Division Avenue. It was not a beautiful spot, said Britten, but rather a swampy area in need of proper barracks.

The name “Cantonment Anderson” is an apparent homage to Major Robert Anderson, former commander of South Carolina’s Fort Sumter, said Bruce Butgereit, executive director of History Remembered Inc.

Excerpts from soldier’s letters describe a race track that was used for camp drill and a semi-circular, two-story hall that lodged 700 men in shared ship-style bunks with a straw beds and blankets. The smell was apparently quite awful.

Meals were mostly beef, bread, butter and potatoes, with an “indescribable” soup for dinner and coffee in the morning. Camp was a rowdy place full of men who “soon found out what it was like to be in the south wearing wool in July,” said Britten.

The 1,040-man regiment left for the front via the rail depot at Leonard and Plainfield, marching through downtown to the waved handkerchiefs and tearful good byes of the city’s residents, said Butgereit.

The Third Michigan saw action in a dozen campaigns before being disbanded mid-war, when the remaining men were rolled into the Fifth Michigan regiment, Britten said.

Men from the “Old Third” fought and died in storied battles like First and Second Bull Run, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, The Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, Petersburg, Appomattox and Gettysburg.

The regiment was originally commanded by Colonel Daniel McConnell, who resigned after six months. Stephen Champlin took over as colonel. He died in 1864 and is buried in Fulton Street Cemetery.

Saturday’s ceremony was presented by the Michigan Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, and the Gen. John A. Logan Camp No. 1, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War.

The Schubert Male Chorus sang the national anthem and “America,” as color guard volunteers in period dress performed rededication rituals preceding the tablet unveiling.

Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell read an account from a book by acclaimed Civil War author Bruce Catton, describing the actions of the Third Michigan in a battle near Sharpsville, Pa., where the greenhorn regiment had a “baptism by fire.”

It’s easy to forget that 150 years ago, battles were fought hand-to-hand, said Heartwell.

More than half of the Third Michigan suffered some kind of casualty, said Britten, whether it be a battle injury, disease or the result of primitive field medical treatments that often did more harm than good.

More than 286 Third Michigan men died in service. Some were captured by the Confederacy. Two men received Congressional Medals of Honor; Benjamin K. Morse, buried in Lowell, and Walter L. Mundell, buried in St. Johns.

“This boulder and tablet ensures that they haven’t been forgotten,” said Butgereit. The original boulder was placed on site by the Sophie deMarsac Campau chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution on June 13, 1911.

Press stories about the dedication in 1911 said about 130 members of the regiment survived at the time and 65 of them attended a banquet to mark the 50th anniversary of their deployment at the Morton House in downtown Grand Rapids.

“As the soldiers gathered the air of patriotism and the ardor for the flag and its meaning was so prevalent it seemed old Cantonment Anderson never would be forgotten,” the Press wrote of the original dedication of the boulder. “It will be remembered long after the passing of the men who immortalized the neighborhood. School children will see the boulder and oft be reminded of the men in whose honor it was placed.”

Britten said the 126th Army National Guard Cavalry Regiment stationed at the Grand Valley Armory in Wyoming traces its roots to the Third Michigan.

E-mail the author of this story: localnews@grpress.com

Civil War buffs to re-enact 1st U.S. spy balloon’s flight

By Dan Vergano, USA TODAY

Prof. Lowe ascending in the Intrepid to observe the Battle of Fair Oaks. Photo by Matthew Brady

Civil War memories take an aerial turn Saturday, with a 150-year-anniversary celebration of the birth of the U.S. Balloon Corps on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

Outside the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air andSpace Museum, curators and actors will re-create the first moments of balloonist Thaddeus Lowe’s storied ascent to 500 feet. From this perch in June of 1861, Lowe telegraphed to President Lincoln a description of the Army camps then surrounding the nation’s capital in the first months of the Civil War.

“He could see for 25 miles in every direction,” says senior aeronautics curator Tom Crouch. “President Lincoln was fascinated and very enthusiastic.”

It turns out Lincoln’s support was critical. Lowe, a private citizen, struggled for weeks to get an appointment with the War Department, finally needing a letter from the president just to get his idea off the ground.

Lowe’s 1861 flight was the start of the U.S. military’s era of aerial reconnaissance, although the wartime record of his civilian balloon corps was decidedly mixed, returning sketchy intelligence from early battlefields. It was disbanded by 1863.

Even so, the ascent proved an apt symbol of the technological times that dominated the Civil War era, experts say, the first mass war dominated by railroads, factories, telegraphs and other industrial age innovations such as submarines and ironclad ships.

“Balloons kind of brought together a lot of the elements — telegraph, photography, logistics — that were emerging in warfare at the time,” says historian Tim McNeese of York (Neb.) College, co-author of Technology and the Civil War.

The most important technology of the war was the Minié ball rifled-musket bullet, which caused about 85% of the war’s roughly 212,000 battle deaths. McNeese said the Civil War was particularly deadly precisely because such technologies being used widely on a battlefield for the first time.

Although some European armies had flirted earlier with ballooons, the use of Civil War aerial observers did have one historical effect, Crouch notes: One of Lowe’s discharged balloonists gave a balloon ride to a wartime observer from Germany that year, Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin.

“Zeppelin always credited that ride with his idea for a moveable balloon,” Crouch says. Fifty years later, the Zeppelin airships he imagined ranged over Europe in World War I.

At the Mall celebration, the recreated 1861 balloon will stay on the ground to comply with U.S. Park Service regulations designed to keep the airspace safe over the capital, but viewers will be able to see televised views of the vista that Lowe sought, as captured from construction site balloons nearby. Re-enactors will bring in a restored coal gas wagon, used to fill wartime ballooons, and the museum will feature related exhibits.

“For an air and space museum, it’s a remarkable anniversary,” Crouch says.

Apps put Civil War historians on your iPhone

Hank Silverberg, wtop.com

The first screen of the Fredericksburg Battle App. (Photo Courtesy of iTunes)

WASHINGTON – Have you toured one of the many civil war battlefield’s in the capitol region and wished that you had an historian at your side? There’s now a 21st century way to do that.

If you tour the battlefield at Fredericksburg, Gettysburg or soon, Bull Run, you can download your own historian in the form of an “Battle App” for $1.99.

“It takes you to familiar sites, as well as obscure sites,” says Jim Campi from the Civil War Preservation trust.

The app for Fredericksburg, where Union and Confederate troops fought a fierce battle in December of 1862, takes you through the downtown area where there was considerable fighting, but most people never check out when they view the current battlefield.

“What we are really trying to do is put an historian in your pocket, give you the flavor of going out there with a guided tour,” says Campi.

The applications are all part of an effort to spark more interest in Civil War sites as the 150th anniversary of the conflict moves ahead.

Apps for Fredericksburg and Gettysburg areavailable now. One for Bull Run is coming in July, as the actual anniversary Battle of First Manassas arrives.

There are plans to add Chancellorsville, Ceder Creek, the Wilderness, Petersburg and Malvern Hill in Virginia and Antietam in Maryland.

The money collected from the apps will be used to create more apps and to upgrade them from time to time.

Follow Hank and WTOP on Twitter.

%d bloggers like this: