Thursday, November 29, 2018

Civil War Augusta - Next Meeting

The next meeting of the nascent group trying to increase awareness of the Civil War in Augusta, Kentucky will be meeting at 1:00 p.m., December 15th, at the Augusta Irish Pub.  If you want to get involved with a true grassroots cause, this might be the one for you!  All are welcome as we plan a tour day in April and an anniversary event for September, 2019.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Reading List - Cumberland's Iron Brigade

Dayton Daily Journal, August 25, 1862, pg. 2
Over the years I have been naturally drawn to the local Federal regiments from my region, principally the 35th Ohio and 9th Ohio Infantry.  The former was heavily recruited in Butler County, where I grew up, and the latter of course was a fine and fairly known German regiment raised in Cincinnati.  I have regimental histories on both regiments (with a new book on the 9th Ohio in the works by Cincinnatian Andrew Houghtaling).  Of late I have also started to collect titles on the other core regiments of the brigade, notably the 2nd Minnesota and 87th Indiana.  The brigade went through a few transitions, with the Eighteenth U.S. Regulars being a part during the Kentucky Campaign, and the 75th and 101st Indiana and 105th Ohio Regiments (the latter heavily involved at Perryville and Chickamauga) added to the brigade in time for Missionary Ridge.  And during certain periods the brigade had its own battery, the 4th U.S. Light Artillery, Battery I. 

The brigade did not experience battlefield glory as a brigade until Chickamauga, but at various times regiments from the brigade had fought well prior to the fall of 1863, notably the 9th Ohio (carnifex Ferry and Mill Springs) and 2nd Minnesota (Mill Springs).  While present at Perryville, the brigade arrived late in the day on October 8th, and saw little fighting, which resulted in only fourteen casualties for the entire brigade.  The brigade was not present at Stones River, so it is the Tullahoma Campaign and the Battle of Chickamauga that sees the brigade fighting as one distinct unit, heavily engaged numerous times throughout the battle.

Oh, that Iron Brigade moniker?  Take a close look at the reunion picture above, then check out my friend Richard McCormick's blog post about Cumberland's Iron Brigade!

This interesting brigade has several titles available for those wanting to learn more.  I have a few titles in my collection on the "Iron Brigade" as follows:

87th Indiana

A Stupendous Effort: The 87th Indiana in the War of the Rebellion - Jack K. Overmyer, Indiana University Press, 1997.

2nd Minnesota

My Dear Wife and Children: Civil War Letters from a 2nd Minnesota Volunteer - Nick K. Adams, Strategic Books Publishing & Rights Company, 2014.

The Story of a Regiment: Being a Narrative of the Second Regiment Minnesota Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War of 1861 to 1865 - Judson W. Bishop (edited by Newell L. Chester), North Star Press of St. Cloud, 2000.

9th Ohio

We Were the Ninth: A History of the Ninth Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry, April 17th, 1861, to June 7, 1864 - Constantine Grebner (translated and edited by Frederic Trautmann), Kent State University Press, 1987. 

A German Hurrah!: Civil War Letters of Friedrich Bertsch and Wilhelm Stangel, 9th Ohio Infantry - Joseph R. Reinhart, Kent State University Press, 2010.

35th Ohio

Fantastic Shadows Upon the Ground: The Thirty-Fifth Ohio Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War - Greg Fugitt, Little Miami Publishing, 2011

Thirty-fifth Ohio: A Narrative of Service From August, 1861 To 1864 - Frederick W. Keil, Archer, Roush, & Company, 1894.

18th United States

That Body of Brave Men: The U.S. Regular Infantry and the Civil War in the West - Mark W. Johnson, De Capo Press, 2003

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Some Musings....

This entry is just a few thoughts gathered together as 2018 comes to a close and I look forward to what promises to be an exciting 2019, from a Civil War point of view at least.

Last week I was fortunate enough to guide the Southern Kentucky Pastfinders on a tour of sites around the greater Lexington area.  Starting with Henry Clay's home, Ashland, we then toured the Hunt-Morgan House, and then stopped at the Lexington Cemetery to visit Morgan's, Duke's, and Breckenridge's graves.  Day two was the two battles at Cynthiana, and day three concluded with a rainy tour of Richmond Battlefield.  They were a fun group to be with, and I hope this will lead to another tour with them in the future!

I attended a meeting for those interested in being a part of the Cynthiana Battlefields Foundation newsletter, possibly to be named The Home Guard.  It was a productive meeting, even if not attended as well as we hoped, but some good ideas and a fairly defined direction were a result, and I believe if the editor is left to take care of business, it will be an asset to the CBF. 

I do have a couple of more events on the horizon, both speaking engagements, both talking about the Second Battle of Cynthiana.  The first is on November 10th at the Scott County Library in Georgetown, and the second is speaking to a Civil War Round Table in Madison, Indiana, on November 13th.  Add to that the second meeting of the Civil War Augusta initiative on November 4th, and again on December 15th, and the end of 2018 still has a lot going on.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Potential "Stuff" for Augusta

This Sunday I am meeting with the Augusta tourism person and other interested locals to discuss increasing tourism and awareness for the town's Civil War history.  From that I hope the following might occur:

Thick black numbers represent current and proposed tour stops
  1. Expanded tour to include three additional stops - The current tour is a nine stop affair, easy to walk, with good information on the Battle of Augusta website, but it is missing not only stop by stop directions, but also three additional locations that are part of the story.  These three additional stops would be by vehicle.  They would be the Baker-Bird Winery (with limited visitation hours), the Cemetery on the Hill (or Hilltop Cemetery), which offers a nice view of the town, is where the Confederates initially setup their artillery, and has the impressive monument for Dr. J.T. Bradford, who commanded the Home Guard.  The last stop would be the Confederate monument at the Payne Cemetery, along Kentucky Highway 8.  The last three stops could be visited when folks are making their way back out of town.
  2. Create a group that would work on providing events such as scheduled tours and talks.  This could be a group that is organized through the city itself, or a separate non-profit organization, but obtaining the latter has become a far more expensive process in recent years, costing several hundred dollars.  For such a group there is a community center in Augusta that could be used for meetings and talks, and it is within the city's purview so cost to rent should be minimal.
  3. Preservation - Realistically this would be a fairly minor concern, as the fighting took place in town and there is no land to preserve per se.  There should be a city ordinance to preserve any building present at the time of the battle, but beyond that, not a lot needs to be considered here.
  4. Create a brochure for the tour that visitors could download from a website, and that is available in the caboose which serves as the visitor center.  When I was in town a few weeks ago I did not see anything for the Civil War tour at the visitor's center.
  5. Denote the route of the walking tour with some sort of marker to encourage more visitors to take the tour and to create curiosity for those who see the markers.
  6. Establish partnerships with city businesses that would benefit from increased tourism, such as shops and restaurants.
  7. Apply for a grant to have a Civil War study completed.  This would give additional ideas and direction for increasing tourism.
  8. Develop interpretive panels for various stops and apply for a grant to pay for their cost.
I am hopeful that Augusta will embrace some of these ideas.  More to follow!

Friday, September 28, 2018

The McGraw Story, or Monuments Are Not Always Factual

Incorrect flag in Flagg Springs Cemetery
On a drive to Augusta I decided to stop at Flagg Springs Cemetery, which is on Kentucky Highway 10 in Campbell County, a stone's throw from the AA Highway.  In doing research on the Augusta engagement I came across a story about two men, William F. Corbin and T. Jefferson McGraw, who had been executed for recruiting for the Confederacy in northern Kentucky.

In May, 1863, Stephen Gano Burbridge was in Grant's army near Vicksburg
This story focuses on McGraw, although Corbin is buried not too many miles away along Old Washington Trace.  During Edmund K. Smith's invasion of Kentucky in the summer of 1862, McGraw and other Campbell County men, joined the Confederate Army on September 25th, joining the Fourth Kentucky Cavalry, upon which McGraw, a part of one of the oldest and most respected families in the area, was made lieutenant.  After spending time with the 4th Kentucky, McGraw (and Corbin, who had been made captain) were sent to recruit more men in northern Kentucky.  On the night of April 8th, 1863, they were to meet a a local home, and march from there to Paris with their new recruits.  McGraw was late arriving, so Corbin sent his new men on their way while he waited for McGraw.  Unfortunately for both men, shortly after McGraw arrived, a group of Federal soldiers appeared, causing Corbin and McGraw to flee into a nearby woods.  When the Federals threatened to burn the home, the two men surrendered to save the house.  In Cincinnati on April 21st the men were tried, convicted, and upon President Lincoln's approval of the sentence, were sent to Johnson's Island on Lake Erie to be shot on May 15th.  Although appeals were made to Burnside and Lincoln by Corbin and McGraw family members, Lincoln
Needing a little TLC before it topples over
would not overturn the decision to execute these men who had been recruiting within Federal lines.  On that fateful May morning, the two men were bound with their arms behind them, blindfolded, and sat on their coffins, and were summarily executed.  A sad fate indeed.

After locating the cemetery and then finding the monument behind the old church, I immediately noticed that our Cynthiana friend Stephen Gano Burbridge is infamously listed, inferring that McGraw was executed under his order. But that did not make sense to me as Ambrose Burnside was in command in Cincinnati, and it was his General Order Number 38 under which McGraw was most likely found guilty and thus shot.  An excerpt from that order stated "That hereafter all persons found within our lines who commit acts for the benefit of the enemies of our country, will be tried as spies or traitors, and, if convicted, will suffer death."  

Also, at the time of the execution Burbridge was leading the 1st Brigade, Tenth Division, XIII Corps during the Vicksburg campaign and was hundreds of miles away from northern Kentucky  Was Burbridge hated so much in Kentucky after the war that consciously or sub-consciously he is the commander mistakenly listed as issuing the general order that would lead McGraw's death?  Or was this naming of Butcher Burbridge intentional, either by the ladies of the Mrs. Basil Duke Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy or the monument maker?  Upon seeing the completed stone before installation, the ladies of the chapter had to notice the error, and surely would have asked for a corrected replacement.  Or perhaps it was indeed intentional.  Burbridge's own brother was murdered in western Kentucky after the war for simply being the Butcher's kin.  Regardless, the incorrectness of the stone's text is a good indication of how Kentuckians felt after the war.  

Next Year - 2019 Events

March 6th-10th - Annual pilgrimage to Chattanooga for the Chickamauga study group.  Going to get some time on Missionary Ridge with David Powell and the gang along with the normal bus tour (McClemore's Cove) and on field day.  Also going to work on cleaning up the area at Weidrich's Battery on Smith Hill, one of the least visited of monuments in probably any national park.

March 23rd - Northern Kentucky History Day - A talk on the First Battle of Cynthiana.

April 13th - Tour at Augusta.

May 1st-5th - The gang from Chickamauga is doing an intense three full days at Shiloh.  Lots of walking on this one, a place I have not been to.

May 29th - June 2nd - Leading a tour for the American Battlefields Trust, location TBD, but likely to be Perryville, Wild Cat, or Cynthiana.

Fall - Trip to West Viriginia battlefields, such as Philippi, Rich Mountain, Corrick's Ford, Cheat Mountain, Greenbriar, Droop Mountain, Carnifex Ferry, and a few others

A few other things that might be in the works, such as a talk for a Sons of Confederate Veterans group, and perhaps tours for the Civil War Weekend in Cynthiana.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Augusta?!?!

View from Hilltop Cemetery
On September 27th, 1862, a small but vicious fight occurred in Augusta, Kentucky, as a portion of the Second Kentucky Cavalry, under Basil W. Duke, attacked the Bracken County Home Guards, some of whom had served at Cynthiana two months prior.  Duke was planning on crossing the Ohio River and raiding towards Cincinnati.  The home guards were successful in keeping the Confederates from crossing, but the town suffered the same fate as Cynthiana in 1864 as twenty buildings were burned by Duke's command, resulting in the loss of $100,000 of property value ($2.4M in today's currency).

Tour stop sign
I was working on a tour of Augusta, Kentucky for the Cincinnati Civil War Round Table, but as I have moved on from that organization (something about progressing forward vs. living in the past) I have decided to contact some folks in Augusta and see about developing a Civil War organization there, one that would encompass the elements of a round table, preservation group, and events (tours), all rolled into one.  Believe it or not, there is a decent bit of Civil War history in town, and some connections to other interesting periods in American history as well.*  There could be a quarterly speaker program (besides the several Civil War folks I know who would do talks, the Kentucky Humanities organization also has several speakers that cover Civil War topics.  Augusta has a community center that looks to be suitable for these types of events, and could also be a place to hold organizational meetings.  There is already a small walking tour in place, which could be enhanced/expanded by adding more details and human interest stories, and adding a couple of stops that would cover the initial Confederate artillery position on the heights above town, the Confederate monument, and the Baker-Bird Winery as a place of refuge for some of the town's citizens.  Augusta also offers a couple of lodging options, as well as some tasty restaurants in the heart of town.  Alas, no brewery, but if I ever win the lottery....

Confederate monument in Payne Cemetery along KY 8
The Official Records has three reports, two that cover the fighting at Augusta, one the covers the action at Brooksville the next day, and two pieces of correspondence, that vaguely refer to Augusta.  Not much to go on there, but Duke himself devotes several pages in his history of Morgan's cavalry, and there are some other available snippets that include some of the details of the fighting and human interest pieces.  Might be enough to put together a small booklet/tour guide.  

*For example, Alexander W. Doniphan, who fought in the Mormon and Mexican-American Wars, leading expeditions against the Navajo and Mexicans in the latter conflict.  Doniphan graduated from Augusta College in 1824.  

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Part III - East Cavalry Battlefield as a Model for Keller's Bridge

In this post we'll talk about some of the potential pitfalls to developing the Keller's Bridge area like East Cavalry Battlefield.

Of course, with any grandiose plan, there might be potential issues.  Here are a few to consider.

Notice the inadequate mowing
Mowing.  Take a look at the picture and you can see that even at Gettysburg things like grass cutting has become a half-assed proposition.  How do we ensure that not only the walking path (if not paved) but also the roadside and the battlefield area is kept in such a state that doesn't look like the area is not receiving the attention it deserves.  Appearance is everything.  If the area looks messy (overgrown, parking lots with weeds growing through cracks, etc.) then it is not inviting for visitors.  

Monuments.  Cost is very prohibitive.  It might be years before organizations could raise enough money to have a monument created and installed.  And oversight in terms of design would have to be worked out between the Foundation and the group raising the funds...in no way would we want to create a monument that would encourage vandalism.  And as the years go by, how are the monuments maintained?

A. Keller Road.  There is a large and active farm at the end of A. Keller Road.  Development of a battlefield area must take into consideration access for farm vehicles along the road.  We would need to work with the county and state to widen the road where it can be widened.  This will allow for better access as move vehicles visit the area and less chance of accidents or damage to signs along the road.

Whatever direction is taken at Keller's Bridge, we have to consider several factors.  Increasing tourism by modeling a national park will be expensive.  Keeping the area in such a state as to invite visitors will take a lot of labor each week.  Working with local land owners to ensure that increased visitation will not be a hindrance is a concern.  By my, oh my, think about how the area could look, and how this would bring numerous tourists to Cynthiana!

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Part II - East Cavalry Battlefield as a Model for Keller's Bridge

In this post I will talk about some of the ways that Keller's Bridge could be interpreted in a similar manner to East Cavalry Battlefield at Gettysburg.

Developing a significant tourism destination in Cynthiana is going to take a lot of work, especially in terms of money.  First, battlefield ground would have to be purchased.  The American Battlefields Trust (formally known as the Civil War Trust and the Civil War Preservation Trust) will offer a land owner up to four times the value of a piece of battleground.  Knowing that, we will have to determine what ground we truly want to purchase, and then identify and contact those owners to see if they would consider selling their land.  Okay, let's say this comes to fruition.  What then do we do in the area to enhance interpretation and entice visitation?  Read on!

There are numerous Civil War sites out there, from national to state to local to private organizations.  In a previous post I had mentioned the excellent Tebbs Bend Battlefield as a potential model for Cynthiana.  There is a driving tour and an area to walk, and along both are interpretive signs, with a Confederate cemetery with a monument as one of the driving tour stops.  All in all a really excellent site in terms of interpretation.

But, what if the Cynthiana Battlefields Foundation went BIG and developed Keller's Bridge more like a national battlefield?  

Just what am I thinking?  Imagine this...you turn onto A. Keller Road and it has a fresh layer of blacktop.  After immediately turning onto the road, there is a tour stop on the right.  At this tour stop (which is also paved and large enough for a few cars or a tour bus) is a clear view to the river as well as the first of our interpretive panels that would explain the Confederate approach.  Okay, pretty standard stuff here.  Let's get back into our vehicle and drive on.

Within a few feet on the left is a metal sign, painted black with silver letters, that says "Giltner Avenue."  At Gettysburg the park roads are named after Federal officers or labeled "Confederate Avenue," I think this is an interesting concept that adds to the overall atmosphere.  In this case, we would name the avenue after the Confederate brigade commander in this area.

Driving along another few hundred yards will be another tour stop pull off on the left, this one denoting the first encounter between the forces.  Here would be another interpretive panel.  Again, fairly standard battlefield interpretation. 

Okay, now we get to the railroad crossing, where the current Chamber of Commerce stop is located.  This area needs a lot of cleaning and brush removal, but again we can create a pull off, an interpretive panel that talks about the railroad and Hobson coming to Cynthiana from Cincinnati.  From here as well we could create our first walking trail, a short (one tenth of a mile) walking path to the bridge area.  Here, yet another interpretive panel that would discuss the defenses of the railroad and details about the blockhouses built at the various bridges.  One can currently walk to the bridge on the rail ballast (larger rocks), but if we added something like a layer of mulch, or even better, a paved path, we would make it very easy for any visitor to access the bridge area.

Back in our cars, we now head to what I will call "Hobson Avenue", which at this time is nothing more than a lane that climbs up into a field.  But again, if this area was paved we could create an easy access to either a parking area at the top (for a walking loop) or create a driving loop.  Both ideas hold some merit, but I think a walking loop to be preferred as we can encourage folks to get a bit of exercise.  Hobson Avenue would have another metal sign to indicate its location.  At the parking lot would be another interpretive panel, and the start of the walking loop trail, which is only a half mile of fairly easy walking.  Again, this trail could be paved, but at the worst, be kept mown low while the area on either side could be planted with native grasses and flowers, making this area a nature preserve as well.

Now here comes the BIG idea...monuments.  Let's face it, places like Gettysburg and Chickamauga are cool not only because of the ground and the history made there, but the monuments on these battlefields have also become iconic in their own right.  Most folks take pictures of the monuments - they are what draws the eye.  What if we encouraged Civil War Round Tables, reenactment groups, heritage groups, and anyone else who wanted to raise money and have a monument installed?  We would put some parameters around the design, but we have the chance to create a visual display and have each unit that fought in the area represented.  Now of course monuments are expensive, but the sponsoring organization would be responsible for that.  Imagine walking along and seeing the 10th Kentucky Cavalry Battalion monument, or the 171st Ohio Infantry Regiment monument, or a monument to William McKinley's cousin, who was killed at Keller's Bridge.  What about a Kentucky or Ohio state monument?  There are several possibilities.

Sounds great, yes?  Next post will discuss some of the potential pitfalls of having a battlefield area.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Part I - East Cavalry Battlefield as a Model for Keller's Bridge

Last week I made a trip east to attend the Civil War Round Table Congress, held in Harrisburg at the National Museum of the Civil War.  As Harrisburg is an easy drive from Gettysburg, I decided to head out a couple of days before the congress commenced to enjoy some walking at Gettysburg.  I have traveled to Gettysburg several times in the past, and have covered a decent amount of the battlefield, but I haven't had the chance to do a lot of walking.  On this trip I wanted to walk the XI Corps positions on the first day of the battle, along with some of the areas in the southern portion of the battlefield, visit Neill or "Lost" Avenue, and walk the East Cavalry Battlefield area of the park.  I also was able to visit some other Civil War battle sites on the drive to Gettysburg.

One of the most stylish monuments, yet few get to see it
On Thursday I met a couple of my Civil War buddies from the Chickamauga Study Group, and it was a good thing I was able to connect with them as otherwise I would have not been able to visit Lost Avenue "legally."  My two friends have a connection with a gentleman who owns the property right next to Lost Avenue, so after a quick phone call to confirm, we headed to his farm and was able to walk a short distance to visit this little known and very little visited portion of the park.  After this great little sojourn, we headed to Oak Hill and walked to McLean Farm, then cut across the fields along a fence row that dropped us off on Howard Avenue.  From there we walked to Barlow's Knoll, then back along Howard Avenue to complete the XI Corps line.  Walking across the fields near the McLean farm really brought the terrain into perspective, and it helped determined just what the troops could and could not view.  

After a nice lunch at Gettysburg Eddies, we headed to the tower area along Confederate Avenue.  From here we covered Slyder Lane and Farm, walked in the area of Farnsworth's Charge, moved towards the base of Big Round Top, hit the logging road east of Little Round Top, and mosied back towards the the tower area along Wheatfield Road.  Then two of us headed to Hanover to see the sites for that battle and enjoy some delish beers at Aldus!

Along Confederate Cavalry Avenue
Friday morning was overcast, threatening rain, as I parked my car at the north end of East Cavalry Battlefield.  It had been some years since my last visit to this area, and I wanted to walk the ground so as to obtain a better feel for the terrain.  I had recently re-read Eric Wittenberg's book Protecting the Flank at Gettysburg: The Battles for Brinkerhoff's Ridge and East Cavalry Field, so from the battle perspective I had a fairly good feel for ebb and flow of the action, but was looking to see how the various dips and rises in the ground influenced the fighting.  I covered all of the tour road on foot, including a side trip to one of the least visited of all the Gettysburg tablets, covering a little over five miles.  Along the way, my mind wandered and I often wondered about how this portion of the battlefield is interpreted, with War Department tablets, monuments, and wayside interpretive signs, and thought that the Cynthiana Battlefields Foundation could do something on a smaller scale at Keller's Bridge.  Watch for a future post on some ideas on how we could interpret the area.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Texas (Sort of) Again

Just some additional pictures of the Lone Star Pavilion area in Burnet Woods, close to the University of Cincinnati campus.  I am meeting with the Cincinnati Parks folks next week to talk about volunteering at the site and what work I would plan to do.

At the moment plans would be to rip up the garden area at the base of the flagpoles, turning the dirt over and adding some soil enrichment.  Planting of three types of plants, perennials known to be deer resistant, heat tolerant, and attractive to bees and butterflies, would occur next spring.

I would ask the park to repaint the light poles in the area, and fix the flagpoles themselves to allow flags to be flown.  I would also see if a permanent trash bin could be installed.  The gun tubes need to be sandblasted and repainted, but for now I would be happy with new paint.

Longer term plans would be to add some cherry and dogwood trees in the area to enhance the appeal of the location, hopefully leading to more rentals of the space.  The bush near the sidewalk needs to be either trimmed back, with additional plants on either side, or completely removed and a new garden or grass installed.  And there is an area that needs to have its undergrowth cleaned out to widen the viewshed of the pavilion area.

We'll see what the park will let me do!  Unfortunately the Sons of the Republic of Texas have not replied to two emails.

.


Sunday, July 22, 2018

And Even More Events!

An updated listing as to what events and talks I have have coming up for the rest of the year.

7/25 - Speaking for the Filson Historical Society as part of their Great Raid tour

8/11 - Potential private tour for a group at Perryville

9/8 - Driving tour of Cynthiana

10/18-20 - Lexington and Cynthiana tour for Southern Kentucky Pastfinders

11/10 - Scott County Library - The Last Raid

11/13 - Speaking for the Madison County Civil War Round Table on the Last Raid

I am also attending the Civil War Congress held in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  I hope for some great takeaways to use for both the Cincinnati Civil War Round Table and the Cynthiana Battlefields Foundation.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Remember the Alamo!

Followers and readers of this blog will know that I do go off on tangents every now and again.  This post is one of them.

The messy appearance of the Pavilion
Today my wife and I talk a humid walk around the Clifton area of Cincinnati.  For years I have been wanting to stop at the Lone Star Pavilion at Burnet Woods so we made an effort to include the pavilion on our walk.  The pavilion was dedicated in 1974 by the Sons of the Republic of Texas and has replicas of the Twin Sisters, two artillery pieces that citizens of Cincinnati raised money to send to serve in the Texas Revolution, also known as the Texas War of Independence.  These two guns (iron six-pounders, cast at the foundry of Hawkins and Tatum in Cincinnati) served at the Battle of San Jacinto, where Mexican General Santa Anna's force was routed in just eighteen minutes by Texans and other volunteers commanded by one Sam Houston, thus securing Texas as a separate republic.  As the United States were* "neutral" during the conflict, the guns were called hollow ware by the local citizens.  The location for the Twin Sisters sent to Texas is currently unknown.  Having bounded around Texas for awhile, they were used during the Civil War, and most likely present at the Battle of Palmito Ranch, the last major action of the war.

Replica cannon needing some work
The pavilion in Burnet Woods is in need of some TLC.  It is weedy, the flower bed is a mess, grass cuttings left are on the sidewalks from our highly dedicated and motivated city employees, and no flags fly from the three flagpoles.  A beat up trash container sits along the walk to the street.  I didn't explore all of the area as there was a homeless person sleeping inside.  Burnet Woods as a whole is a pretty messy park, with honeysuckle and tons of poison ivy everywhere.  If only Cincinnati could spend money on parks instead of a streetcar, but I digress.  The cannon themselves need a good cleaning and new coat of paint.  Perhaps a more permanent trash receptacle could be installed.  Some dogwoods and cheery trees could make a nice backdrop, especially in the spring.

Cool five pointed star roof to honor Texas
I am only about a ten or fifteen minute drive from the park.  With a wife who is a master gardener and works in the field of landscaping, along with taking care of another Cincinnati city park, I bet we could come up with a plan to at least salvage that garden area, creating bands of red, white, and blue flowers to signify the Texas flag.  I am wondering too if we could buy three flags and hoist them on the flagpoles - I think having a United States, an Ohio, and a Texas flag would be appropriate, yes?  There is easy street access to Clifton Avenue, so bringing in tools and flowers is a snap.  I do not believe there is water nearby, so whatever plants used would have to be drought resistant.

So, perhaps a new project, one that my wife and I could work on together.  Just don't tell her that I suggested it!  Wonder if there are any Sons of the Republic of Texas in the area who would want to assist?

* using the plural as before the Civil War the country was a collection of states, united.  After the Civil War the term became used in the singular form to indicate one country.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Civil War Talk Radio

Last evening I was fortunate enough to share a bit of time on Civil War Talk Radio with Bill Penn.  Bill was there to discuss his book, Kentucky Rebel Town, and I covered a bit about the Cynthiana Battlefields Foundation and a few battle comments.  It was an enjoyable experience and I hope you will take some time and give a listen:

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Fort Donelson War Department Tablet Project

Well, I have truly decided to put together a guide to the various War Department tablets found at Fort Donelson.  I find their story in telling the Fort Donelson story to be rather interesting.  My trip in May will help detail some of the locations more precisely, both the existing and the half dozen or so missing tablets (such as the 2nd Kentucky Infantry and some of the brigade markers).  Long term it would be grand to work with various organizations (Civil War round tables, reenactment groups, heritage groups, etc.) to raise the funds to have the missing tablets replaced.  I've always been a believer in giving more for folks to study and see on a battlefield.

For the guide I am already at forty pages, with about 50% of the tablets left to cover, and this is before adding pictures and location information for each tablet.  Once completed I am seeing the guide coming in around 80-100 pages.  Then the search for getting it published will begin, most likely going the print on demand method, printing off some to donate to the park.  Proceeds most likely will go to the Civil War Trust for any Fort Donelson land acquisitions.  Apparently the Fort Donelson Civil War Round Table as well as the Friends of Fort Donelson have both gone by the wayside otherwise I would work with these organizations to see how any proceeds might be donated.  Shame about both of these groups; while the area is rural there are enough small cities within thirty miles that should have been able to sustain both entities.  The round table had some excellent speakers in the past.  Wonder if it is the old classic lack of regional advertising and failure to work with partner organizations that doomed them?  A national battlefield should be able to draw enough local support to sustain a friends group at the very least.  Regardless, I digress, and living five hours away would prevent me from even considering getting involved with a revitalization of either organization.

More on the tablet project after the Donelson trip!

Friday, March 30, 2018

Fort Donelson Trip - Initial Plans

So, here is what I am thinking for my May pilgrimage to Fort Donelson.  Folks are welcome to come along for the full plan, and/or do pieces and parts as they see fit.  With some places I want to visit on the way to Fort Donelson, I am leaning away from a backpacking trip from a timing perspective.

Wednesday - Leaving the Cincy airport at 9:30, after dropping off my wife for her own trip, I will be stopping at the Jefferson Davis site between Hopkinsville and Russellville, Kentucky, then hitting the Fort Defiance park and interpretive center in Clarksville, Tennessee.  This makes my arrival time in Dover probably around 4:00 p.m. local time.  Perhaps visit a few of the tablet sites that I have missed in the past during the late afternoon.

Thursday - Walking the trails and tour route at Fort Donelson and in Dover.  This will be a tad under nine miles, will have some good hills to climb, and will be a mix of trail and road walking.  This will help locate and mark the tour route tablet sites.  Lunch in Dover during the hike, which overall, with stops for pictures and marking locations, will take several hours.  Late afternoon will be for checking out the tablet sites outside the park (mostly the Wynn Ferry and Forge Road ones).

Friday - Research at the park office, seeing what the plans are for getting the missing tablets back in place, clarifying any confusion about locations, obtaining any copies of documents that help with the history of the park and interpretation.  In the afternoon perhaps head to Fort Heiman and walk that area, early supper and good beers in Murray.

Saturday - Hike at Fort Henry.  Starting at the backpacking trailhead, hike north to the current Fort Henry interpretive trail, then back, adding a couple of different trails on the return.  Use the afternoon for any other loose ends ends that need to followed up on.  

Sunday - Late start heading home (my wife's flight doesn't come in until 7:30 EST), touring the Battle of Sacramento on the way.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Fort Donelson - The War Tablet Project

Update: A booklet on the FIFTY tablets perhaps?
I won't go into deep details, just that ever since last year when I visited the area in more depth than my first meeting, my curiosity was piqued in regards to the War Department tablets that are spread within the park and around other locations.  At one time I had thought I had secured an old book that would cover the history of the park, which hopefully would have included a bit about the tablets, but the seller didn't truly have the book in stock, and I have not been able to find a copy since.  I did find a pdf of another history of the park (from the 1950s), but it really doesn't cover what I am looking for in terms of the history of interpretation (and in turn, a history of the War Department tablets), but it will still be useful for the overall story.

Updated tablet locations - still need full verification
I was also able to obtain a pdf file with all the tablet text, with some handwritten notes about locations, from the Park Service.  Based on this, I have determined that there should be, sans the trench markers, about fifty tablets.  There are, as indicated by the notes. several missing.  There may be a few as well still in storage that have not been replaced.

The trip I am planning for May will either help clarify, or perhaps confuse and confound, the tablet locations.  

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Fort Donelson - Perhaps Yet Another Visit?

So my wife takes an annual trip to Pensacola with her family each year, and while I would like to go for maybe a day or two (Fort Pickens, anyone?), the idea of four or more days fishing and beach-combing just doesn't do it for me. So, while she is heading to Florida, I am planning a trip for myself.  It will work nicely...I will be able to drop her off at the airport on Wednesday morning and then head from there to wherever I decide.  She doesn't return until Sunday evening, which gives me a few days to do my own thing while still picking her up from the airport.  Where to go, what to do?

A booklet on the over thirty War Department tablets perhaps?
I was thinking about a backpacking trip initially, maybe to Cumberland Gap.  But I am out of shape for tackling the climb to the top of the mountain, and I am not sure if I can arrange a shuttle to take me to the starting point (with its immediate near two thousand foot climb).  And there is that out of shape thing.  Love me some Cumberland Gap, but if I go backpacking, it needs to have some less strenuous climbing.  Ohio has a few decent backpacking loops, but then again, it is Ohio, with a ton of invasive species ruining the under-story, and overcrowded backpacking trails.  But the Gap and Ohio is a much shorter drive than some other places.  Then I thought of Land Between the Lakes.  I took on some of the trails in the Fort Henry system a couple of years ago, and the climbs are mostly steady, not crazy, and not a lot of elevation changes.  Open under-story (from what I remember) and a couple of decent campsites along the way.  No need for a shuttle as I can do a loop there.  Then my mind drifted even more to just doing a trip to Fort Donelson.  I can walk all the trails and the driving tour route, which would give me a nice nine mile day hike.  A couple of huffer puffer hills, but nothing that crazy.  Plus it would also take me closer to documenting all the War Department tablets there, a project I want to complete and heck, maybe even put into a booklet.

Locations of most of the Fort Donelson War Department tablets
So with this last idea in mind I reached out to my Missouri Civil War buddy Andy.  We met a few years back during the Chickamauga annual event and since then have toured a few places together; he even brought his round table out to tour Perryville with me as guide a couple of years ago.  Sure, we toured Fort Donelson just last year, and covered a lot of the ground on foot, but as Fort Donelson is my second closest National Park battlefield (Stones River being the first, but Stones Rivers is meh), and I have this project idea in my head, and I have the time, I sent him an invite.  So, pending his availability, I may backpack Fort Henry two nights, and then stay two nights in Dover to explore Fort Donelson.

I'll make mention of the finalization of these plans so that folks who may be interested in either the backpacking trip (8-10 miles per day) or Fort Donelson exploration can join if they would like.  The trip would happen the first weekend of May.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

The 33rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry

It has been some time since we last visited the Ohio regiments at Perryville posts...time to get that going again....

33rd Regiment Infantry. Organized at Portsmouth, Ohio, August 5 to September 13, 1861. Left State for Kentucky September 13 and Joined Gen. Nelson at Maysville, Ky. Attached to 9th Brigade, Army of the Ohio, October to December, 1861. 9th Brigade, 3rd Division, Army of the Ohio, to September, 1862. 9th Brigade, 3rd Division, 1st Corps, Army of the Ohio, to November, 1862. 1st Brigade, 1st Division, Center 14th Army Corps, Army of the Cumberland, to January, 1863. 1st Brigade, 1st Division, 14th Army Corps, to July, 1865.

Counties/Cities Recruited From: Scioto, Adams, Pike, Ross, Meigs

Some men of the 33rd took part in the Great Locomotive Chase of April, 1862.

Strength - 388 men. 26 killed, 78 wounded, 5 missing. 

Commander - Oscar F. Moore (Colonel).  Moore took a wound in the left leg at Perryville and was captured.  Paroled on the same day, he resigned his commission in 1864 due to his "shattered constitution" and to give attention to personal legal matters.  He was born in Jefferson County, Ohio in 1817, and died in Waverly, Ohio in 1885.  Moore was educated at Washington (PA) College, and attended Cincinnati Law School.  He was employed as a lawyer, and also served in the Ohio House, the Ohio Senate, an the U.S. House, all prior to the war.  He is buried in Greenlawn Cemetery in Portsmouth, Ohio.

Weapons - .69 caliber smoothbore muskets and .577 Enfield rifled muskets (two flank companies carried the latter).

Monday, March 19, 2018

Tebb's Bend Battlefield - Model to Use for Cynthiana?

This past weekend I was invited to talk to the Southern Kentucky Pastfinders, a group of folks based in Russellville, Kentucky.  My talk was on The Last Raid and the Second Battle of Cynthiana.  It was a great weekend, the weather was mostly grand, and my wife and I enjoyed the hospitality of these fine folks.  We bunked at the Sisters on Sycamore Bed and Breakfast, which in itself was a quiet and comfortable way to spend the night.  

On the way to Russellville we stopped at Tebbs Bend Battlefield.  Having never there before, I was eager to add it to my list of visited battlefield sites, as well as learn a bit more about Morgan and his raids.  The site is quite worthy of a visit.  There is a nature preserve area with about a half dozen miles of intertwined trails, which has both historical and natural interpretation.  The old 1907 bridge that crossed the nearby Green River has been moved and used as the main gateway to the trails system.  There is a covered picnic shelter with restrooms, and there is a small house that serves as an visitor center on the weekends.  Along with the hiking trails, there is a twelve stop three mile driving tour.  The amount of interpretation is amazing.  Several types of signs are used, from simple site signs, to full interpretive panels.  




When I think of Tebbs Bend, I envision a similar use at the Kellers Bridge area.  A driving tour along A. Keller Road, and then interpreted walking trails east of the railroad, would be a good use of the area, if we can secure permission from the local land owner to allow a walking trail to be established along with the installation of interpretive panels.  Along with pushing for an 1862 walking tour in the heart of Cynthiana, the Kellers Bridge area should be another high priority project for the Cynthiana Battlefields Foundation.

Possible Tour Locations at Kellers Bridge

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Two Day Perryville Tour

After being asked by several battlefield trampers last weekend at the annual Chickamauga pilgrimage about the next Perryville hiking tour, I have started working on some plans for a two day event for later this fall (a weekend in late September or late October).

Basic Itinerary
Saturday Morning - 8:30-11:30
Wheeler's Action on October 7th
The Fighting on Peter's Hill

Saturday Afternoon - 1:00-4:30
Cheatham Against Jackson

Sunday Morning - 8:30-11:30
Buckner and Anderson Against Rousseau

Sunday Afternoon - 12:30-4:30
Confederate Artillery Positions
Fighting in Town

Lodging would be in Danville, as would most restaurant choices.  

More details to follow.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

More 2018 Events

And to add to the list of previously mentioned talks and tours I have scheduled in 2018, here are even more!

6/1-6/3/18 - The Big Event in Cynthiana.  I'll be leading tours on at least two days, both will be on the First Battle of Cynthiana.

6/23/18 - Cynthiana tour for the Madison County Civil War Round Table.

7/8/18 - Speaking at the James Ramage Civil War Museum folks...topic?  You guessed it again!

10/11/18 - Cleveland Civil War Round Table - Battle of Perryville

11/13/18 - Speaking for the Madison County Civil War Round Table on the Last Raid.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

CBF -Speaker Series Event a Success!

I will admit, when I pitched the idea of doing a speaker series in Cynthiana to members of the Cynthiana Battlefields Foundation, there seemed to be a fairly lukewarm response.  There was an expressed concern about a lack of locals attending which meant a potentially low turnout, but my belief was that if we had known speakers and/or interesting topics, and promoted the event regionally, folks would drive an hour or two and that would make up for the local disinterest.  Whew, luckily I was correct!  We had exactly fifty attendees for our first Speaker Series event, many of whom drove an hour or more to Cynthiana to hear David Mowery talk about the Great Raid of 1863.  We were also able to add new members to our rolls, sell a few items from our wares table, and garnered some donations as well.  And while local turnout was as expected, feedback was favorable and I believe there will be excitement for our next speaker in May.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Events on the Horizon

Stephen Ritchie, Bud Robertson, Dale Phillips, Dave Mowery, Michael Murphy, myself, Stephen Davis
A few events coming up I am involved with:

2/3/18 - Cynthiana Battlefields Foundation Speakers Series - I'll be doing a bit of an intro talk before David Mowery discusses the 1863 Great Raid.

Second Weekend in March - The annual pilgrimage to Chickamauga with David Powell and Jim Ogden.  The small band I hang out with at this event will also be touring Allatoona with Brad Butkovich.  I am eagerly looking forward to Allatoona along with tramping on Missionary Ridge a bit more.

3/17/18 - I am speaking to the Southern Kentucky Pastfinders on the Second Battle of Cynthiana.

4/7/18 - Civil War Trust Park Day.  Cynthiana Battlefields Foundation will be cleaning up the Keller's Bridge area, seen of fighting on June 11th, 1864.

4/11/18 - William Penn and I will be on Civil War Talk Radio talking about Cynthiana.

4/15/18 - Presentation for the J.W. Sill Round Table in Chillicothe.  The Last Raid and Second Battle of Cynthiana.

5/17/18 - My first presentation for the Cincinnati Civil War Round Table.  Topic?  You guessed it, Cynthiana (The Last Raid and Second Battle of Cynthiana).

5/18 and 5/19/18 - Two day Morgan tour led by Dave Mowery.

I still need to plan a couple of tours at Cynthiana, as well as one at Perryville.  Look for those announcements sometime on the horizon.

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