Monday, February 20, 2017

MALVERN HILL: Route of Confederates' advance up slope


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ANTIETAM: Where 11th Connecticut attacked at Burnside Bridge


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ANTIETAM: Early-morning fog hangs over re-planted North Woods


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GETTYSBURG: Confederates' view of attack on Barlow's Knoll (July 1, 1863)


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WILDERNESS: Where Vermont Brigade fought desperately


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Saturday, February 18, 2017

GETTYSBURG: Benner's Hill, where a 'Boy Major' was mortally wounded


BATTLEFIELD BACKSTORY: View of town from Benner's Hill, where five batteries of Confederate artillery commanded by 19-year-old Major Joseph Latimer were positioned on July 2, 1863. Union counter-battery fire from East Cemetery Hill and Culp's Hill, both at higher elevation than Benner's Hill, decimated this position. Latimer, "The Boy Major," was mortally wounded here. Many more trees are here now than in 1863. (Click on image to enlarge and click here for all posts on this blog.)

CEDAR CREEK: Where 8th Vermont made a valiant stand


BATTLEFIELD BACKSTORY: In brutal, often hand-to-hand, fighting, the 8th Vermont defended a deep ravine and stretch of woods, suffering 110 casualties out of 164 men engaged during the Battle of Cedar Creek on Oct. 19, 1864. The monument in the panorama marks where three of the regiment's color-bearers were killed. According to the 8th Vermont regimental history:
"Men seemed more like demons than human beings, as they struck fiercely at each other with clubbed muskets and bayonets. A rebel of powerful build, but short in stature, attempted to bayonet Corporal [Alfred] Worden of the color-guard. Worden, a tall, sinewy man, who had no bayonet on his musket, parried his enemy's thrusts until some one, I think Sergt. [Henry] Brown, shot the rebel dead. A rebel soldier then levelled his musket and shot Corporal [John] Petre, who held the colors, in the thigh, -- a terrible wound, from which he died that night. He cried out: " Boys, leave me ; take care of yourselves and the flag ! "
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WILDERNESS: Saunders Field, where 140th N.Y. suffered terrible losses


BATTLEFIELD BACKSTORY: To thousands of motorists who zoom past every day on busy Virginia Rt. 20, this scene, a mile or so from McDonald's, a Sheetz gas station, E&M Auto Sales and Divine Nails, may just be another rolling field and patch of woods. Perhaps some don't have time to notice as they drive to their homes nearby in the upscale Fawn Lake subdivision, where streets are named after Civil War generals and signs mark "preserved" trenches and earthworks.But momentous, and tragic, events occurred here in Saunders Field along the historic Orange Turnpike and in the woods nearby on May 5, 1864 -- the first day of the Battle of the Wilderness.

This is where 529 soldiers in the 140th New York, its ranks filled with immigrants from Germany and Ireland, burst from the woods on a wet, foggy morning that soon turned hot, charging an enemy entrenched near a distant woodline. But after about 30 minutes, they were forced to retreat, suffering nearly 50 percent casualties.(Click on image to enlarge and click here for all posts on this blog.)

Friday, February 17, 2017

GETTYSBURG: View from behind General Warren statue on Little Round Top

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COLD HARBOR: 'Pray for me ... am not in fit state of mind'


BATTLEFIELD BACKSTORY: On the night of June 1, 1864, Chaplain Winthrop Phelps of the 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery composed a short letter to his wife describing the "horror and awfulness" of the Battle of Cold Harbor. In its first battle of the war, the regiment suffered more than 300 casualties there. "Pray for me. I cannot write -- am not in a fit state of mind," Phelps wrote. Many of the Union dead and wounded lay in this field. (Click on image to enlarge and click here for all posts on this blog.)

FREDRICKSBURG: Where Union army crossed Rappahannock River


BATTLEFIELD BACKSTORY -- Hours before dawn on Dec. 11, 1862, Union engineers began the laborious and dangerous task of building a pontoon bridge across the 250-yard-wide Rappahannock River to facilitate the crossing for thousands of soldiers in the Army of the Potomac. (Pontoon bridges also were constructed downriver at the Middle Crossing and two miles southeast of Fredericksburg.) A thick fog hovered, temporarily obscuring the bridge-builders, and the temperature dipped into the 20s, Across the Rappahannock in Fredericksburg, Confederate soldiers from Florida and Mississippi kept a watchful eye. (Click on image to enlarge and click here for all posts on this blog.)

GETTYSBURG: Seldom-visited East Cavalry Field


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ANTIETAM: Little-known tragedy on David Reel's farm


BATTLEFIELD BACKSTORY: Of the thousands of tragedies that played out during the Battle of Antietam, one that gets little attention occurred on David Reel's farm on a ridge behind Confederate lines. Federal artillery struck Reel's barn, causing a fire and burning to death some of the wounded there. (Click on image to enlarge and click here for all posts on this blog.)