Saturday, January 28, 2017

American Civil War Battlefields
Illinois Monument
Orchard Knob
Chattanooga, TN

 Photos and Text courtesy of Charlie Moore, LCWRT Member 
 On Monday afternoon, November 23, 1863, Union troops under the command of Gen. George Thomas formed battle lines in the open valley between the city of Chattanooga and a rocky mound to the east known as Orchard Knob.  Rebel soldiers had previously constructed rifle pits along the crest and around the base in order to assist in besieging the city.  Around 1:30 P.M. Union buglers sounded the command “forward” and approximately 14,000 troops began marching toward the Confederate positions.  Only 634 rebels held the line around Orchard Knob.  They were soon pushed back to the base of Missionary Ridge.  On November 25, Orchard Knob became Gen. Grant’s forward observation post as he watched the successful Union assault of Missionary Ridge.  Although Illinois had no troops take part in the fight for Orchard Knob, the state decided to place a monument atop of it in honor of Gen. Grant whom many Illinoisans considered a native son.  The monument was dedicated on Nov. 23, 1899.

Monday, January 23, 2017

American Civil War Monuments
Ulysses S. Grant Monument 
Vicksburg National Military Park 
Photo courtesy of LCWRT Member Paul Fridell
This fine equestrian statue of Gen. Grant on Grant’s Circle at Vicksburg National Military Park, this statue commemorates one of Grant’s most important victories and is situated in the area of his headquarters.The cast iron tablets around the circle describe the historic battles of Grant's U.S. Army of the Tennessee. At an original cost of $ 34,000, it was sculpted by Frederick C. Hibbard and erected in 1919.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

American Civil War Monuments
Elizabeth Thorn Statue
Evergreen Cemetery
Gettysburg, PA

Photos and Text courtesy of LCWRT Member Charlie Moore
In 1862, Peter Thorn had enlisted in the 138th Pennsylvania and was serving in the Washington D.C. area during the battle near his home town of Gettysburg.  At the time of the three-day Battle of Gettysburg, his wife Elizabeth was caretaker of Evergreen Cemetery, a job normally performed by her husband.  During the battle, Elizabeth, her three sons and her parents moved out of the cemetery gate house to a safer location.  After the battle, Elizabeth and her elderly father buried 91 Union soldiers in Evergreen Cemetery.  Peter survived the war, returned home and took back his position as cemetery caretaker until he stepped down in 1874.  The statue of the six months’ pregnant Elizabeth shows her holding a shovel and wiping her forehead upon completing a burial. The statue was dedicated in 2002 as the Gettysburg Women’s Memorial to honor all of the women who served and suffered during and after the battle.

Friday, January 13, 2017

American Civil War Battlefields
Lookout Mountain, TN
Cravens House

Photo and text courtesy of LCWRT Member Charlie Moore

Today Robert Cravens is best known for the house that bears his name on a small outcrop of level land about half-way up Lookout Mountain, south of Chattanooga.  Cravens was a wealthy iron manufacturer whose business thrived with the coming of the railroad to this area. During the siege of Chattanooga, the Cravens family fled to their property in Georgia. The Confederate Army then used the home as a headquarters and encampment.  Because it was visible from Moccasin Bend across the Tennessee River, Union gunners used the home as a target when they fired at Confederates on the mountain.  On November 23, 1863, much of the fighting in the Battle of Lookout Mountain occurred on the Cravens’ property.  After the battle, Union forces used the home as a headquarters and an encampment for reporters.  It was during this time that the house was largely destroyed.  After the war the Cravens family returned to Lookout Mountain and rebuilt the house in 1866.  The house had a complete renovation in 1956 and is today under the auspices of the National Park Service.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

American Civil War Battlefields
Antietam National Military Park
Burnside Bridge, Antietam Creek
Sept. 17, 1863

 Photos and text courtesy of LCWRT Member Holly Jenkins-Evans

At 10:00 AM the fighting to take the Rohrbach Brige and hit Lee’s right flank  started. First the 11th CT, then Crook’s Brigade. At 11, Nagle’s Brigade tried again.  Finally, Ferrero’s brigade of the 51st NY and 51st PA charged the bridge, and with the support of Rodman’s men crossing downstream, the bridge was carried.

The banks here are steep enough to cause trouble. And indeed, once infantry was to start up the banks, it would have been a muddy, slippery, impossible morass. It was the bridge or nothing.


“More than 500 Union troops had been killed or wounded attempting to carry the crossing, known ever since as Burnside Bridge.

After the battle, the bridge was actively used for traffic until as recently as 1966. To preserve the bridge, a bypass was built to take cars on to a new bridge upstream. Today, visitors can once again quietly stroll across what has become the icon of Antietam Battlefield. The peaceful, bucolic setting belies the terrible struggle that took place nearly 150 years ago”.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

American Civil War Memorials
Lincoln’s Tomb
Oak Ridge Cemetery
Springfield, Illinois

photo and text courtesy of LCWRT Member Charles Moore

Who is buried in Lincoln's Tomb? 
The Lincoln Tomb is the final resting place of the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, his wife Mary Todd Lincoln, and three of their four sons.  It is located in Oak Ridge Cemetery which was founded in 1860.  Robert, the oldest son, is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.  Completed in 1874, the towering granite tomb comprises a tall central tower atop the squat mausoleum building that holds the presidents remains.  Four large bronze statues representing the four military branches of the time - Infantry, Cavalry, Artillery and Navy -  surround the central obelisk. At the base of the tomb is a large bronze replica of Lincoln’s head, cast from the original work sculpted by Gutzon Borglum of Mount Rushmore fame. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Announcing Our 516th Meeting
January 15, 2017
Following in the Footsteps of a Confederate Deserter: The Story of North Carolina’s John Futch

Presented by Peter S. Carmichael

At the January meeting we honor the memory of our founder with the 21st annual Frank Rankin Lecture.  We are honored to have as our guest lecturer Peter Carmichael. He is an outstanding Civil War historian and a great speaker.  Peter S. Carmichael is the Fluhrer Professor of History and the Director of the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College. After completing his doctorate at Penn State University under Dr. Gary W. Gallagher, Professor Carmichael went on to teach at Western Carolina University, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and West Virginia University.  He is the author and editor of four books, including The Last Generation: Young Virginians in 
Peace, War, and Reunion, which was published by the University of North Carolina Press in 2005. Every June Professor Carmichael directs the Civil War Institute’s Summer conference, which draws more than 300 attendees from across the country.  More recently Professor Carmichael has appeared on the PBS Robert E. Lee documentary for The American Experience series and his lectures have been covered by C-Span. He is currently finishing a book entitled The War for the Common Soldier 

 “Following in the Footsteps of a Confederate Deserter” 
On August 20, 1863, just a day before Jefferson Davis called for the Confederacy to renew itself through public fasting and prayer, thirteen veteran soldiers from the 3rd North Carolina decided that God had other intentions. That evening, in the blackness of night, they picked up their rifles, slung on their cartridge belts, and escaped into the woods. From that point on, there was no turning back on a trek of some three hundred perilous miles that would eventually take them to their North Carolina homes. Earlier that day, Lee ordered his corps commanders to organize armed parties to hunt down runaways while calling for the president to back immediate enforcement of the death penalty against deserters. While the Tar Heels could not have possibly known that Lee was cracking down on the army as if it were a wild beast, the impact of the general's orders would be felt with surprising swiftness. "I am all most sick all the time and half crazy" looks at the life of John Futch who was a member of the party that deserted from the 3rd North Carolina. Through the story of Futch we look at different facets of desertion in Lee's army after Gettysburg that include the use of violence in Confederate ranks and the role of fake news in suppressing dissent among Confederate soldiers and civilians. Our conversation will be based on the actual letters of Futch, which we will read and discuss together