Thursday, October 29, 2009

The 48th PA at Fort Mahone. . .

My good friend and Schuylkill County Civil War Historian Stu Richards has posted an excellent account of the 48th's last battle at Fort Mahone, Petersburg, on April 2, 1865.

Click here.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Day Trip To Hollywood Cemetery

Took a road trip yesterday with my friend and fellow ranger Mannie Gentile. Over the past four years, we have taken several Civil War-focused day trips (to Manassas, South Mountain, Gettysburg, Washington and so on), and yesterday decided that our next will be down to Lexington, Virginia, with a stop at the New Market Battlefield on the way back. But that's in the future; now, back to yesterday. The trip began early, really early. Rolling out of bed at 4:00 a.m., I picked up Mannie at 5:40 and we hit the road, ultimately covering more than 450 miles. It's funny how so much time in a car makes one exhausted. Traveling down 270 to 95 South, we got off at the Falmouth Exit, passed through the Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Wilderness Battlefields to our first stop. . .Todd's Tavern. Phil Sheridan's failure to open the road to Spotsylvania on the night of May 7-8, 1864, meant that Lee's Army of Northern Virginia arrived at the Courthouse first, winning the foot race, with Richard Anderson's First Corps setting up a line of defense on Laurel Hill. The opposing armies would remain locked in a fierce struggle at Spotsylvania for the next two weeks. Meanwhile, Sheridan earned the wrath of General George Meade who, following Grant's instruction, detached Sheridan with 10,000 troopers in an effort to destroy Jeb Stuart's vaunted Confederate cavalry. Mannie and I followed in the hoof prints of Sheridan's troopers, for the most part, as they headed south toward Richmond.
Driving down the Jefferson Davis Highway (Route 1), our next stop was at Massapanox Baptist Church, site of the Grant/Meade council of war captured in the famous photographs of Timothy O'Sullivan.
The Massapanox Baptist Church
Historical Marker at the church. . .
This was the first time Mannie and I were here, so we were sure to follow O'Sullivan's example and snap a number of photographs.
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We continued south on Route 1 all the way to Richmond. After a frustrating search, complete with many turn-arounds and numerous inquiries as to its location (all to no avail), we finally located the site of the battle of Yellow Tavern. On May 11, 1864, a trooper from Michigan made good on Sheridan's promise when he shot Jeb Stuart, mortally wounding the famed Confederate cavalier. Stuart died the next day in Richmond, as Sheridan's men turned eastward, luring the Confederate horsemen to more destruction.
Not much remains of the battlefield at Yellow Tavern. . .
Monument on the site where General Stuart fell mortally wounded.
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After dodging all the traffic around the Yellow Tavern battlefield, Mannie and I next headed into Richmond to spend the late morning and early afternoon hours tramping around the incredible Hollywood Cemetery. My parents took me to Richmond when I was a kid, so this was my second visit to the famed cemetery. It is truly a remarkable place, which I am sure I will visit again.
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The Hollywood Cemetery is the final resting place for many Confederate notables, including the first and only President of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis, and his wife, First Lady Varina Howell Davis .


Jeff & Varina Davis lie buried beneath this bronze statue of President Davis
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A veritable Who's Who of the Confederacy are buried within the walls of the Hollywood Cemetery; many well known, many more not so well known, including Robert H. Chilton, Adjutant General of the Army of Northern Virginia. On September 9, 1862, in Frederick, Maryland, Chilton penned the copies of Special Orders No. 191. . .one too many copies, as it turned out.
The grave of Robert H. Chilton is in the background, his gravestone in the shape of a cross. The cross in the foreground marks the final resting place of Chilton's son-in-law, Confederate General Peyton Wise.
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Not far from the grave of Robert Chilton is the Confederate Officer's Section, marked with this stone arch. . .
Within this rather small section lie three better-known generals:
Edward "Allegheny" Johnson, who commanded a division in Ewell's Second Corps and who, at the Mule Shoe at Spotsylvania used his cane to help stave off Union troops before falling into enemy hands;
David Rumph Jones
Jones served on P.G.T. Beauregard's staff at Fort Sumter, then commanded a brigade and later a division (which would one day be led by George Pickett) under Longstreet. Jones died of a heart attack at age 37 in January 1863.
And John Caldwell Calhoun Sanders, killed in action at Petersburg on August 21, 1864.
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Jeb Stuart's grave in the Hollywood is no doubt among the most visited. Stuart died on May 12, 1864, on day after falling mortally wounded at Yellow Tavern. His beloved wife, Flora Cooke, was later buried by his side.
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Hundreds of Confederate dead surround this impressive stone monument, mostly those killed during the battles around Richmond. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Major General George Pickett is another Confederate notable buried at Hollywood. . .his grave overlooks those who fell during his futile attack at Gettysburg on July 3, 1863.
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Row after row. . .most of the graves pictured here are for those who fell during Pickett's Charge. Among the remains are those of Brigadier General Richard B. Garnett, whose remains were never identified.  Colonel Lewis B. Williams, commander of the 1st Virginia Infantry, was among the list of fatalities in Pickett's Division at Gettysburg.
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Major General Fitzhugh Lee, Robert E. Lee's nephew, cavalry commander and governor of Virginia, lies buried near President Jefferson Davis. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Major General Henry Heth, whose Third Corps Division initiated the battle of Gettysburg, was interred in the Hollywood Cemetery.
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Major General Raleigh E. Colston, division commander under Jackson. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The last general in Lee's Army of Northern Virginia to die in battle was John Pegram, who fell just a short time before the surrender at Appomattox.
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Brigadier General Eppa Hunton lies buried near Fitz Lee and Jeff Davis.
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Brigadier General William E. Starke was the first of six general officers to be killed or mortally wounded at Antietam. He was shot down while leading his Lousianans in a counterattack against Abner Doubleday's advancing Union troops. Starke's remains were buried next to those of his son, Lt. Edwin Starke, who was mortally wounded two months before his father's death, during the Seven Days' Battles.
The graves of Edwin Starke (left) and his dad, General William Starke.
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Colonel Chatham Roberdeau Wheat, Mexican War Veteran and commander of the famed Louisiana Tigers, was killed at the battle of Gaines's Mill on June 27, 1862, and buried in the Hollywood Cemetery
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Colonel Henry C. Pate, 5th Virginia Cavalry, was killed at Yellow Tavern.
David G. McIntosh was one of Lee's finest artillery commanders, as was. . .
. . .W.E. Cutshaw. The two artillery officers lie buried near one another.
Hundred of "Unknown" Confederate dead also call Hollywood Cemetery their final resting place.
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For all the history that lies buried within the gates of Hollywood Cemetery, it is also a remarkable place to see some incredible and haunting statuary decorating the gravesites.
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Perhaps the most famous "residents" of Hollywood Cemetery are not the military and political leaders of the Confederacy, but two Presidents of the United States. . .
JAMES MONROE
5th President of the United States
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And, Tyler, too!
JOHN TYLER
10th President of the United States

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