Thursday, September 20, 2007

Manassas Visit. . .

The Jackson Monument at Manassas

Ranger Mannie and I shared our mutual day off from work on Wednesday with a visit to the Manassas Battlefield. We planned this little soiree several weeks back, figuring that we would need a little get-away after the busyness of Antietam’s Anniversary Weekend. Last year we journeyed to Fort Washington & Fort Foote, south of D.C., and stopped by Monocacy on our way home. This past spring, Mannie met me here in Gettysburg, and together we hiked Longstreet’s July 2, 1863, assault on the southern part of the field. So this was our third little Civil War excursion. . .
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We met in Frederick early in the morning, and by 9:45 A.M. had arrived at the Manassas Visitor Center. Paying the $3.00 entrance fee, we next enjoyed a fiber-optic map demonstration which briefly, but very clearly, explained the First Battle of Bull Run. The adjacent museum was top-notch.

Heading out to the battlefield. . .Our first stop was the Superman Statue—uhh, I mean Jackson Statue behind the visitor center. Keith Snyder, our colleague at Antietam, told us a few days back all about the statue being struck by lightning when he worked at Manassas. We were initially skeptical, but, wouldn’t you know it. . .
Check out Mannie’s blog (link at the bottom of this page) for photographic proof.
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It was a gloriously beautiful day, so, armed with our cameras and good pairs of hiking shoes, we set out on what proved to be a six, maybe seven, mile-long hike that took us from the Visitor Center to Jackson’s Line, to the Warrenton Turnpike, back to Jackson’s Line, over Young’s Branch, back across the Warrenton Turnpike, and then east we journeyed, finally arriving at the famous Stone Bridge over Bull Run.

The modern bridge just a few yards away detracted a bit from the historical ambiance of this battlefield landmark. . .but it was still pretty cool to be there.

Here's Mannie in the Bull Run, giving the old thumbs-up. . .

I think Mannie was standing exactly where this soldier allowed his horse to grab a much-needed drink.
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We followed the creek north to the ford where Sherman’s men crossed, then through the woods to the Carter Cemetery, and to Matthews Hill beyond, where the major action began on that Sunday, July 21, 1861. We learned of Burnside’s advance and of Evans’s noble stand. . .and we were impressed with tree-clearing activities that opened a large vista from Matthews Hill, south toward the Visitor Center on Henry House Hill.

Cannon on Matthews Hill

Mannie points to the high ground of Henry House Hill beyond

Wartime sketch of Ambrose Burnside leading his brigade on Matthews Hill

Here we see Mannie taking a close-up shot of one of these cannon. . .

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Making our way down the southern slope of Matthews Hill and toward the Warrenton Turnpike once again, we both snapped several shots of the famous Stone House, which, as a wayside panel informed us, was seen by tens of thousands of Union and Confederate soldiers and which survived not one but two major battles.

Wartime Photograph of the famous Stone House. . .

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Now feeling the effects of the many-miles’ long journey, we slowly tramped our way back up Henry House Hill, and saw the Judith Henry home, which did not fare as well as the Stone House during the battle.

The Henry House. . .home to the 85-year-old Judith Henry who became one of the war's first civilian casualties.

This monuments was dedicated in June 1865, just months after the guns fell silent, and even before most of the volunteers were mustered out of service. . .

The Monument's Dedication
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More photographs were taken here, followed by a brief pit stop at the Visitor Center. We had a notion when the day began to focus on the Second Battle of Bull Run, but we focused, instead, on the war’s first major land battle. Never had the battle made more sense; everything just fell into place.
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My ’94 Oldsmobile led us toward the scene of much of the Second Battle. Along the way, I showed Mannie, ad neauseum, where Nagle’s Brigade and the men of the 48th attacked Jackson’s line. . .

We made a brief stop at the Confederate Cemetery at Groveton, then checked out the new Stuart’s Hill interpretative center. . .It was pretty cool, and we both agreed we would have to come back to hike the Second Battle’s trails. . .

266 Confederate soldiers were buried here; only 2 are identified. . .

A view from Stuart's Hill. . .if you squint, you can see the Brawner Farm in the distance

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Before heading out for the day, we swung by the Unfinished Railroad Cut. Now, earlier in the day, when we first arrived, we were told about tree-removing going on at the Deep Cut, and boy, they weren’t kidding. Again, check out Mannie’s post for photos of this and for more particulars about their efforts.

The men of Nagle's Brigade--including the 48th PA--broke through the Confederate line here, along this unfinished railroad cut. . .We couldn't do much hiking here even if we wanted to, for it was closed due to the tree removal. . .

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A few more stops, including the spot where the 5th &10th New York Zouave regiments met with slaughter, and then to Chinn Ridge, where I cautioned many a deer to be careful on the park’s roads.

The Monument to the 5th New York (Duryee's Zouaves)
The Monument to the 10th New York

I told these guys they had best be careful. . .
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We headed back to Frederick in the afternoon, arriving there by 4:15 P.M. I was back home in Gettysburg an hour later; Mannie, no doubt, making it back to his place much sooner.

In all, it was a great trip, and we learned a great deal. I told Mannie throughout that my impression of Manassas had changed almost from the minute we arrived. I have only been there a half dozen times or so growing up; the last time was maybe six or seven years ago. In my mind, I remembered it as a battlefield surrounded by sprawl and development, but this, to me, no longer seems to be the case. They really got a great place down there, and there is a lot of the battlefield that still remains protected.

Before parting ways, we agreed that our next little excursion would be to tramp the gaps at South Mountain. . .Turner’s, Fox’s, and Crampton’s. We set a tentative date for sometime in October.

Click here to read Mannie’s report on our Manassas Visit:

Monday, September 17, 2007

One Incredible & Truly Memorable Event

The New York State Monument at Antietam
The past four days have been without question some of the greatest and most memorable of my life. Beginning Friday, September 14, and concluding today, the Antietam National Battlefield observed and commemorated the 145th Anniversary of the Battle of Antietam. The weather was clear and beautiful, and the mood at the park reflective. The battlefield was serene. We had programs all weekend, from the battlefield tours, to in-depth hikes, and from special presentations to living history demonstrations, it was truly an incredible four days. In the words of Ranger Keith Snyder, a veteran of the Park Service, it was the best anniversary he had yet experienced at Antietam.
And I felt honored, indeed, still feel honored, to have been a part of it all.

The marquis behind the Visitor Center desk was crowded with all of our events. This was Saturday's schedule, but the anniversary's events kicked off the day before.
Friday, September 14, was my birthday. And what better way to usher in my 29th year than helping to explain the battle of Antietam to visitors during a three-hour long battlefield tour? This photo of me was snapped by blogger and Civil War author Scott Mingus as I interpreted the action that transpired at the Sunken Road. (
I had a large group on Friday, maybe as high as 80-90 people. I checked my watch and turned 29, officially, at 3:15 p.m., as I led the tour past the Benjamin Christ monument, on our way to the Burnside Bridge.

Early Saturday morning, Ranger Gordie Thorpe was leading the interactive Battlefield in a Box program as, just a few feet away. . .

the incomparable Ed Bearrs was beginning a battlefield tour. Ed presented a lecture on General Lee's leadership during the Maryland Campaign on Friday night, and he remained at the battlefield throughout the weekend, leading many a tour.
Dr. Ethan Rafuse, author of the excellent book McClellan's War, spoke Saturday night on General George B. McClellan at Antietam.

On Saturday morning, I accompanied Ranger Mike Gamble on his in-depth hike that followed in the footsteps of General Bull Sumner's Second Corps. He led us first toward the East Woods, and then across the fields to the West Woods, where John Sedgwick's Division met with terrible slaughter.
Here, Ranger Gamble explains the deployment of Sedgwick's men before entering the West Woods. . .We then approached the Sunken Road in the footsteps of first William French's and then Israel Richardson's Division.

I had the battlefield tour Saturday afternoon, so I had to break away early from Mike's excellent hike. I returned to the Visitor Center late that afternoon, but early enough to witness some of the Living History events.

As always, the living history groups presented excellent interpretative programs. They set up camp behind the Dunker Church, and there helped to explain the life of the common soldiers. After marching their way behind the visitor center, they presented infantry maneuvering and firing demonstrations. Above, we see a skirmish line "in action," and Confederate reenactors going through the steps of loading in nine times.

The army was on hand to witness and to take part in the events.

Throughout the weekend, I had the opportunity to meet with a lot of cool people, including Brian Downey, mastermind of Antietam on the Web ( This photograph was snapped by Harry Smeltzer, the brains behind Bull Runnings. (
Harry recruited me to write an article on the life and forgotten service of General James Nagle for an upcoming issue of the Save Historic Antietam (SHAF) newsletter. I look forward to it greatly. . .

Of course the break room was a bit messy during the very hectic weekend, but an ample supply of provisions was on hand. . .

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Incredible though the weekend was, the highlight for me came today. Today marks the 145th year since the battle of Antietam, and I had the great privilege--the great honor--of leading the battlefield tour. For me, it simply does not get any better; to be out there, leading the tour on the anniversary itself. It was a moving and memorable experience. During this past spring and summer, I have led 54 battlefield tours. But while I always strive to deliver the best tour possible each and every time, today's tour was much more meaningful. I had a group of over 75 visitors, who traveled from all points--north, south, east, and west--to be at the battlefield today. As I talked about the battle at the Cornfield, the Sunken Road, and the Burnside Bridge, I had a difficult time keeping the tears back. I swelled up many times, and I have no shame in admitting to it. It was the best moment I have yet experienced as a ranger at the Antietam Battlefield. At the end, to cap off a perfect weekend, I was approached by a gentleman who was on my tour. He was younger, maybe in his mid twenties, and was very much enthralled to be at Antietam. He shook my hand, and congratulated me on a well-delivered tour. He then told me that he was descended from not one, but two, Civil War Medal of Honor recipients. What made it truly inspiring was that the fact that he was African American, and one of his ancestors was Sergeant William Carney, who saved the flag of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry at the battle of Fort Wagner. This was, to me, remarkable. At Antietam, where America truly experienced its "new birth of freedom," on the 145th Anniversary of the battle, I got to meet and shake hands with a descendant of a true American hero.
It was the perfect ending to an incredible and never-to-be-forgotten weekend.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Soldiers of the 48th: Private Robert Wood, Co. F

Private Robert Wood
Company F

Since I launched this blog last November, I have been contacted by a good number of descendants of soldiers who served in the 48th Pennsylvania, all of them very generous in sharing with me information on their ancestor. A few weeks ago I was contacted by a descendant of Private Robert Wood, who not only shared her information about the soldier but sent along a photograph of him as well.
Robert Wood was born in Pottsville in either 1838 or 1839. He was young when his family moved to Danville, and it was here that Robert would grow to maturity. He found work at the Montour Iron Works, where he was injured by a boiler explosion at the age of 13. When the Civil War broke out in April 1861, Robert, now 22 years old, volunteered his services. He stood 5'4" in height, had a "Light" complexion, "Grey" eyes, and "Sandy" hair. He enlisted as a private in Company F. Private Wood served with the regiment along the coast of North Carolina throughout the winter of 1861 and into the summer of 1862. He fought at 2nd Bull Run and at South Mountain, but by this point, he had fallen seriously ill. Private Wood spent a long time at army hospitals before finally being discharged for "general disability" on February 3, 1863. He returned to Danville and to the Mountour Iron Works for a time. He was suffering from consumption, and he applied for a pension, which was denied. It was decided that Robert's condition was caused by the boiler accident when he was just 13 years old. Robert appealed the decision, and was able to secure an affidavit from his doctor who stated that Robert's illness was caused by his wartime service. During the appeal, Robert's condition got worse. He died in Danville on January 10, 1868. He was not yet thirty years old at the time of his death. Elizabeth Wood, Robert's wife, received a pension following the death of her service, which she received every month until her death in 1926.
{I would like to thank Ms. Anne Lowery for her generosity in sharing this information with me as well as the photograph of her ancestor, Private Robert Wood}

Saturday, September 1, 2007

The 48th Pennsylvania & 2nd Bull Run: Part 6: Casualties

The 48th Pennsylvania suffered 155 casualties at the battle of 2nd Bull Run, including 42 men killed or mortally wounded.
The following is a comprehensive list of the 48th's casualties at 2nd Bull Run:

Killed in Action/Mortally Wounded {42}

1st Sergeant B. G. Otto (Co. A) MW Died October 15, 1862
Corporal John Brobst, (Co. A) MW Died 9/17/1862
Private John Leiser (Co. A) KIA
Private John Springer (Co. A) MW Died October 3, 1862
Private Lewis M. Reece (Co. B) KIA
Private Nicholas Shitehour (Co. B) MW Died January 1863
Sergeant Oliver C. Hatch: (Co. C) KIA
Private John Wiser (Co. C) KIA
Private Barney Gettley (Co. C) KIA
Private James Low (Co. C) MW Died October 30, 1862
Sergeant William Bambrick (Co. D) MW Died September 12, 1862
Corporal George Ramer (Co. D) MW Died September 6, 1862
Private George Hartz (Co. D) MW Died December 20, 1862
Private Charles Miller (Co. D) KIA
Private John Sullivan (Co. D) MW Died October 8, 1862
Sergeant Stafford Johnson (Co. E) MW
Corporal William Mackey (Co. E) KIA
Private John Baker (Co. E) KIA
Private James Farrell (Co. E) MW Died September 25, 1862
Private William Moose (Co. E) MW Died in Pottsville
Private Thomas Major (Co. E) MW Died October 31, 1862
Private Michael Brennan (Co. E) KIA
Private Hugh McFeely (Co. E) KIA
Private Simon (or Samuel) Moyer (Co. E) KIA
Corporal Henry Jenkins (Co. F) KIA
Corporal William Hopkins (Co. F) KIA
Private Thomas J. Thomas (Co. F) MW Died January 1864
Private John J. Morrison (CO. F) MW Died October 23, 1862
Private Peter Quinn (Co. F) KIA
Private Michael Killrain (Co. F) KIA
Private John Haggerty (Co. F) KIA
Private James Muldowney (Co. G) MW
Private William Smith (Co. G) MW Died September 14, 1862
Private John Farne (Co. G) MW Died November 8, 1862
Private William Nagle (Co. H) KIA
Private Paul White (Co. H) KIA
Sergeant Samuel Petit (Co. H) KIA
Sergeant Thomas Kelly (Co. H) KIA
Private Hesgian Link (Co. I) KIA
Private Charles F. Leiser (Co. I) KIA
Captain Henry A.M. Filbert (Co. K)
Sergeant Roland D. Filbert (Co. K) KIA
Corporal Patrick Handley (Co. K) MW Died October 25, 1862

Wounded {56}

Lieutenant John D. Bertolette (Acting Assistant Adjutant General)
Private George Albright (Co. A)
Private William Betz (Co. A)
Private Elias Britton (Co. A)
Private George Miller (Co. A)
Private Andrew Neely (Co. A)
Private Joel Marshall (Co. A)
Sergeant Thomas Johnson (Co. B)
Sergeant Jno. Bassler (Co. B)
Corporal Jacob Freshly (Co. B)
Private John Lucid (Co. B) ?
Thomas Whalen (Co. C) ?
Private Jonas Geiger (Co. C)
Private Solomon Strausser (Co. C)
Private Edward Brennan (Co. C)
Lieutenant Henry P. Owens (Co. D)
Private John W. Derr (Co. D)
Private Frank Dorward (Co. D)
Private Henry Gottschall (Co. D)
Private Philip Kantner (Co. D) ?
Private Peter C. Kreiger (Co. D)
Private David T. Kreiger (Co. D) ?
Sergeant J. H. Fisher (Co. E)
Fifer John Cameron (Co. E)
Private Michael Bohannon (Co. E)
Private James Berger, Sr. (Co. E) ?
Private James Berger, Jr. (Co. E) ?
Private Henry Lord (Co. E)
Private Abraham Kleckner (Co. E) ?
Private Robert Thompson (Co. E)
Corporal John Devine (Co. F)
Corporal George N. Douden (Co. F) ?
Private Stephen Taggart (Co. F)
Private John Powell (Co. F)
Private Thomas Lloyd (Co. F)
Private William Jenkins (Co. F) ?
Corporal Charles Evans (Co. G)
Private M. Berger (Co. G)
Private John Grace (Co. G)
Private Lewis Quinn (Co. G)
Private Joshua Reed (Co. G)
Private John Shaw (Co. G)
Private John Wonders (Co. G)
Private John Willingham (Co. G)
Private William Dreibelbeis (Co. H)
Private J.T. Wildermuth (Co. H)
Private George T. Eisenhuth (Co. H)
Private George W. Christian (Co. H)
Corporal Benjamin F. Kershner (Co. I)
Private Rudolph Rumble (Co. I)
Private Eli Fenstermaker (Co. K)
Private James Day (Co. K)
Private Milton Ludwig (Co. K)
Private James Cavanaugh (Co. K)
Private James Dullard (Co. K) ?
Private Joseph Burgess (Co. K)
Captured/Missing In Action {56}

Corporal John Taylor (Co. A)
Private Israel Britton (Co. A)
Private Henry Davis (Co. A)
Private William H. Koch (Co. A)
Private George Livingston (Co. A)
Private Daniel Leiser (Co. A)
Private Morgan Simon (Co. A) ?
Private F.W. Simon (Co. A)
Sergeant Philip Hughes (Co. B)
Private William Bradley (Co. B)
Private Henry Copeland (Co. B) ?
Private John Evans (Co. B)
Private Joseph Rahny (Co. B)
Private Samuel Stanley (Co. B) ?
Corporal John Roarty (Co. C)
Private Murt Brennan (Co. C)
Private John Jones (Co. C) ?
Private William Larkin (Co. C)
Corporal Leonard Shrishorn (Co. D) ?
Corporal Israel T. Vankannon (Co. D) ?
Corporal William Timmons (Co. D)
Private Mattis Bailey (Co. D)
Private Eli Derr (Co. D) ?
Private Isaiah Kline (Co. D)
Private Joseph Kuhns (Co. D)
Private Bodo Otto (Co. D)
Corporal D. McAllister (Co. E)
Private Alfred Barlow (Co. E)
Private Jefferson Canfield (Co. E) ?
Private James Greener (Co. E)
Private Joseph Lord (Co. E)
Private John McSorely (Co. E)
Private John Morrissey (Co. F)
Private Samuel Dunkerly (Co. F)
Private John Devine (Co. F)
Private Richard Littlehales (Co. F)
Private Thomas Lyshon (Co. F)
Lieutenant Henry Clay Jackson (Co. G)
Corporal Joel Betz (Co. G)
Sergeant Samuel Ruch (Co. H)
Corporal Thomas H. Sillyman (Co. H)
Private John Benedict (Co. H)
Private William Huber (Co. H)
Private Daniel Lauer (Co. H)
Private John W. Ray (Co. H)
Private Israel Schmehl (Co. H)
Sergeant Theodore Pletz (Co. I)
Private Christopher Seward (Co. I)
Corporal Thomas Brennan (Co. K) ?
Private David Boyer (Co. K)
Private W.D. Dress (Co. K)
Private Daniel Shaneley (Co. K) ?
Private W. Fenstermaker (Co. K) ?
Private Hiram Spears (Co. K) ?
Private William T. Reed (Co. K) ?
Private William Lavenberger (Co. K) ?

The 48th Pennsylvania & 2nd Bull Run: Part 5

Captain Joseph Hoskings,
Company F
An Incident of Battle

Sergeant William J. Wells, Company F, wrote of an incident of battle he witnessed while retreating through the thick Virginia woods at 2nd Bull Run:
“While running to the rear, I saw Captain Hoskings and a Rebel Major run into each other, both, sword in hand; the rebel’s in his left, he being left-handed, the captain’s in his right hand. Near me, running too, was young Dreibelbeis of Co. H, I think. Both of us stood fixed to the spot, though the woods echoed and re-echoed with the whistle of passing bullets, watching the sword duel then passing between the two officers. With tense earnestness we watched the play of swords, as, with rapid parry and thrust each tried to disarm the other. The contest was short, sharp and determined, and ended by the Captain throwing himself forward upon the rebel officer with such force that his antagonist’s sword flew from his hand over the head of the Captain. The Major immediately reached for and had his revolver in his hand, and it seemed to be all up with the Captain, when my comrade to the right who had evidently been waiting his opportunity, fired, and down went the rebel, his blood spurting in the Captain’s face and breast. This was a lucky shot, as there was great danger of shooting the Captain instead of the rebel.
“By this time, things were getting pretty warm in our neighborhood, and we resumed our running to the edge of the woods where we sought our regiment, feeling only too glad to have escaped capture. The rebel line appeared at that time to be only a strong skirmishing body, otherwise we could not have extricated our column from this death trap. “