Author:

The General

Eric J. Wittenberg is an award-winning Civil War historian. He is also a practicing attorney and is the sole proprietor of Eric J. Wittenberg Co., L.P.A. He is the author of sixteen published books and more than two dozen articles on the Civil War. He serves on the Governor of Ohio's Advisory Commission on the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War, as the vice president of the Buffington Island Battlefield Preservation Foundation, and often consults with the Civil War Preservation Trust on battlefield preservation issues. Eric, his wife Susan, and their two golden retrievers live in Columbus, Ohio.

Website: civilwarcavalry.com

In October 2006, I did an extremely abbreviated Forgotten Cavalrymen profile of Col. William H. Boyd, the commander of the 21st Pennsylvania Cavalry. When I did that post, I lamented how difficult it was to locate usable material on Colonel Boyd. Sadly, things remained that way for seven long years. Finally, though, thanks to Barbara Chaudet, who provided me with much of the information that I needed to flesh out this profile, I can finally put some real meat on those bones.

Here’s a full profile of this heroic, forgotten cavalryman:

William Henry Boyd was born in Montreal, Canada on July 14, 1825. His father was a soldier in the British army. “From early boyhood, he was self-reliant and ready to do for himself. He was traveled in the four quarters of the globe,” recalled a friend. “He has been sent upon missions of importance in early manhood and carried them through with credit. He has held places of trust and been faithful.” At the age of twenty, he settled in New York City, where he went into the business of publishing city directories. His city directory business–called Boyd’s Directories–was similar to a modern telephone book. It provided listings and information about businesses and individuals. “He has followed up a special branch of business, in which he might be called a pioneer, and in which he worked hard enough and long enough to have been counted among the millionaires; but, like so many others with a similar nature, he was confiding, and trusting, and generous, and so others often reaped where he had sown.”

He married Elizabeth S. Watson in 1845, raising a family of five daughters and two sons, including William H. Boyd, Jr., who served with him in the Civil War, and nine grandchildren.

With the coming of war in 1861, he was operating his directory publishing business in Philadelphia. Boyd had the honor of recruiting THE first company of volunteer cavalry raised in the Civil War. He personally recruited and mustered Company C of the First New York (Lincoln) Cavalry in Philadelphia on July 19, 1861. He was elected captain and thus had the honor of being the first volunteer captain of cavalry sworn in. He and his men went to New York to join their regiment, which arrived in Washington, DC on July 22 and was mounted and equipped two days later. These raw horse soldiers were ordered to report for duty without having had any training to speak of, but found themselves on a mounted reconnaissance near Mt. Vernon on August 18, 1861. They encountered Confederate cavalry near Pohick Church, and Boyd ordered the first charge of volunteer cavalry. He was complimented by Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan in front of the troops at a review held on August 22, and again on December 5, in Special Order No. 170.

“He was a brave soldier and faced anything he encountered,” recalled his eulogist. “He never forgot to be a humane man, and he was well known throughout the Shenandoah Valley and other sections, as a kind military man. When he necessarily came in contact with the households of those who favored the other side, or whose men were in that service, he respected their helpless situation and remembered that they were of his own mother-sex and needed this honorable treatment.”

Boyd was appointed provost-marshal on December 1, and his company served as provost guard for Gen. William B. Franklin’s division, serving with Franklin throughout the Peninsula Campaign. He was relieved of that duty on August 4, 1862, and joined his regiment, which had reported to Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside at Falmouth, VA on August 14. The 1st New York Cavalry then reported to Brig. Gen. Alfred Pleasonton’s cavalry division of the Army of the Potomac on September 5, 1862, just in time to participate in the Maryland Campaign, which was already underway. Boyd participated in the Battle of Antietam, and helped to lead a charge of the whole regiment at Williamsport, MD on September 19.

On September 28, Boyd was assigned to western Virginia to chase after guerrillas and bushwhackers. In October, at Capon Bridge near Winchester, he captured several of Brig. Gen. John D. Imboden’s artillery pieces, twenty wagons, eighty mules, 100 horses, a major, a lieutenant, and 30 enlisted men. The 1st New York remained there until December 12, when they were sent to join Maj. Gen. Robert H. Milroy’s command in the Shenandoah Valley, leading to a promotion to major. The Lincoln Cavalry spent most of the spring of 1863 chasing the guerrillas of John Singleton Mosby. That spring, Boyd led an expedition to The Plains, in the Loudoun Valley, in an attempt to capture Mosby in his bed, when an informer told him that Mosby was visiting his wife there. All of Mosby’s clothing but his boots were there when Boyd entered the house (Mosby went out a window and was hiding in a tree), and Boyd interrogated Pauline Mosby about here husband’s whereabouts.

On June 13, 1863, during the Second Battle of Winchester, Boyd engaged in hand-to-hand combat with Brig. Gen. Albert G. Jenkins’ troopers, and then led his command out of the trap laid for it at Winchester by the Army of Northern Virginia when he was ordered to carry important messages to Martinsburg. From Martinsburg, he escorted Milroy’s wagon train to Harrisburg, PA, arriving on June 17. Boyd and his troopers then rode to Greencastle, PA, where they engaged Jenkins’ cavalry on June 22 (Cpl. William Rihl of Philadelphia was killed in this skirmishing with Jenkins, making Rihl the first Union soldier killed north of the Mason-Dixon Line during what we now know as the Gettysburg Campaign). Boyd and his little band dogged Jenkins’ command all the way to the banks of the Susquehanna River and then back in the direction of Gettysburg, seldom escaping from the saddle for more than a few minutes. They were in the saddle almost constantly from June 12-July 12 and remained in constant contact with the enemy the entire time.

As a reward for this remarkable service, Boyd was commissioned colonel of the newly-formed 21st Pennsylvania Cavalry in August 1863. After the new regiment mustered in, it received orders to report to the Shenandoah Valley, where it remained for the winter of 1863-1864. In May 1864, his regiment was ordered to report to Washington, DC. He was then ordered to dismount his men, whom were then armed with infantry weapons. After some time to drill, Boyd and his regiment (which, although still designated as a cavalry regiment, was now serving as infantry), arrived at the front on June 1, 1864. On July 3, they participated in Grant’s great assault at Cold Harbor, where Boyd and his men came under heavy infantry and artillery fire. Colonel Boyd received a severe wound to the neck that left him disabled and unable to resume the field for the balance of the war. The ball Confederate ball pierced his neck and lodged in one of the vertebrae, where it remained for five months and was only extracted after three unsuccessful attempts, leading to a medical discharge for disability in November 1864 as a result.

When he left the service, he took up residence in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. In recognition of his kindness to the people of the Shenandoah Valley, when Brig. Gen. John McCausland’s cavalrymen burned Chambersburg in July 1864, McCausland posted guards around Boyd’s residence to protect it, demonstrating the respect in which the enemy held him.

Notwithstanding his military service, Colonel Boyd continued publishing his city directories, and with the assistance of his sons and sons-in-law, published the directory in Washington, D.C. throughout the war, missing only one year. He settled in Washington after the war, and resided there for the rest of his life. In 1868, he was appointed an agent of the Treasury Department, and held that position for some years. Boyd’s “life was a busy and eventful one, and he was highly respected by the entire community,” recalled one observer. He was a member of Calvary Baptist Church.

“Colonel Boyd was a great pedestrian,” observed a biographer, “and it is said that in 1854, he made a mile in six minutes and forty-two seconds, which it is claimed has never been beaten.”

In 1869, Boyd and John S. Mosby met, and after an ugly exchange of words, Mosby challenged Boyd to a duel. Boyd was apparently serving as sheriff of Fauquier County, Virginia after having been appointed to the post, and the possibility of a duel proved to be tantalizing to the public, given Mosby’s fame as a guerrilla. The duel never occurred, but the two men engaged in a lengthy war of words in the local newspapers. For those interested in learning more about this interesting episode, click here, where the complete interviews with both Boyd and Mosby can be found. It is not known precisely how long Boyd served as sheriff of Fauquier County.

Boyd died on October 7, 1887, and was buried in Glenwood Cemetery, in Washington, DC. “He had suffered intensely the last three weeks and was unconscious when he died,” noted one obituary. His entire family was with him when he died. A number of his old comrades in arms attended the funeral.

William H. Boyd is a particular favorite of mine, both for raising the first company of volunteer cavalry in the Civil War, and also for his heroic service during the Gettysburg Campaign. He suffered a severe wound while doing his duty, and was an honorable man. Here’s to this forgotten cavalryman.

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Eight years ago today, I made my first post on this blog. It hardly seems possible that eight years, 1327 posts, and 9.244 comments have gone under the bridge, but they have indeed. When I began this little venture of mine, I never imagined that it would still be around and still going strong eight years later, but here it is still going strong.

I’ve had my ups and downs, but I’m still here, and will be for the foreseeable future. One of the primary reasons why is because I so value the interactions with my readers. Those interactions have become an important part of my routine and when life interferes and prevents me from posting as often as I might otherwise like, I miss those interactions a great deal.

Thank you for your support and for eight great years. We will continue this journey together.

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092413_conf_600This article appeared in today’s edition of The Philadelphia Daily News. It raises lots of interesting questions about why the Confederate battle flag seems to be more prominently displayed all of a sudden:

Rebels’ proliferate up north, but what’s their cause?

WILLIAM BENDER, Daily News Staff Writer benderw@phillynews.com, 215-854-5255
Posted: Tuesday, September 24, 2013, 12:16 AM

IT’S BEEN SPOTTED on license plates in Atlantic City and Collingdale, draped across a truck in a Kohl’s parking lot and flying on poles outside homes in Montgomery and Chester counties.

You can see it on the side of a building off Aramingo Avenue in Port Richmond, hanging inside an apartment near Capitolo Playground in South Philly and painted on the “Dukes of Hazzard” replica Dodge Charger cruising around Delaware County.

In Camden, it’s practically the official emblem for country-rock tailgate parties outside the Susquehanna Bank Center, where a concertgoer was charged this summer with bias intimidation for allegedly waving it at city residents and spewing racial slurs.

Even a Philly cop was photographed last year wearing it under his bike helmet while on duty.

Nearly 150 years after the Civil War ended, the Confederate battle flag – a complicated and incendiary symbol of rebellion, slavery, Southern pride and white supremacy – is seemingly becoming a more frequent sight north of the Mason-Dixon Line.

“I remember taking a second look and going, ‘Really?’ It was shocking,” said Bryl Villanueva, 35, of Lafayette Hill, who recently saw a rebel flag flying in Conshohocken while on the way to a friend’s house. “Maybe they’re from Alabama.”

What’s behind the popularity of the flag in the North? Is it the dark underbelly of the rapidly growing country-music scene? Disapproval of the president? An innocent revival of the rebel spirit among Yankees who don’t know – or care – what it means to the rest of society? Or something more sinister?

“Me, I fly the stars and stripes,” said Dereck Banks, a self-described history buff from Clifton Heights, Delaware County.

But Banks, 55, who is black, can’t miss the Dixie flag plastered across the back window of his neighbor’s pickup truck parked at the curb. It’s also on the front license plate, with the word “Daddy.”

“It offends a lot of people. White folks, too,” Banks said. “Slavery is over. This is the new millennium. The South lost. The states are united.”

Public schools have long been desegregated, too, but some Philadelphia-area residents are flying the same flag that the Ku Klux Klan and others adopted during the civil-rights movement to oppose desegregation.

In June, when country-rock star Toby Keith played the Susquehanna Bank Center, police said Darren Walp, 33, of Ridley Park, climbed a fence into a housing complex, waving the flag and shouting racial slurs. The flags were out again the next weekend at a concert headlined by Brad Paisley, and tailgaters were outraged because security was forcing them to be taken down.

Last month, Walp was arrested a second time in Camden while on his way to a Blake Shelton concert. Cops say he hopped out of his pickup truck to get a beer from the back, ranting at a black driver and challenging him to a fight.

“We never want to see this individual in the city of Camden again,” Camden County Police Chief J. Scott Thomson said at the time, in a news release.

Some defenders of the Confederate flag say it is not inherently racist and should be flown to honor Confederate soldiers. Others, like Doug Copeland, a medical tech who said he was born in Chattanooga, Tenn., use it to show their fondness for the South.

“I’m not prejudiced at all. My granddaughter is half-black,” said Copeland, who flies a flag from his home on busy Route 724 near Phoenixville. “I just love the South. If I could live there, I would.”

But Copeland also knows that some people find it offensive. He thinks they are the ones who removed his prior flags.

“That’s why I think they stole it. They came to the bus stop and stole the flag. It’s my third one,” he said. “It’s bolted in now, but the one time they snapped it right out of the bolt.”

Copeland, however, doesn’t seem overly concerned with political correctness, as evidenced by the sign on his door that reads, in part: “Unless you are blind or cannot read this sign, you can bet your ass I am going to stomp the s— out of you if you bother me!”

Some groups, including the Virginia Flaggers – which has leased land along Interstate 95 south of Richmond and plans to erect a 12-by-15-foot Confederate flag on a 50-foot pole Saturday – have denounced the KKK and others that have used the flag for their own purposes.

“If somebody broke into your house and robbed you, and they were wearing New York Giants attire, you wouldn’t assume that there was something evil in the Giants association,” said Gene Hogan, chief of heritage operations for the Sons of Confederate Veterans. “You would say, ‘No, that was an evil person that co-opted those garments.’ Same way with the battle flag.”

Hogan said the SCV, an organization for male descendants of Confederate soldiers, encourages people to display the flag in remembrance of those who fought in the Civil War – or the Second American Revolution, as the group refers to the war on its website.

“It stands for brave men who defended their homeland against an unconstitutional invasion and represents all the good things in America,” Hogan said.

That’s not how Drexel University sociologist Mary Ebeling sees it. The Falls Church, Va., native questioned whether it’s possible to express regional pride, oppose the expansion of the federal government or just yearn for simpler times, while ignoring the flag’s role as a hate symbol in America’s history.

“The re-emergence of it is concerning,” Ebeling said. “It’s a brand, a symbol of oppression, violence, and, I would argue, white supremacy.”

Even though she is white, Ebeling said, she “took it as a threat” when someone taped a small flag to a lamppost in her predominantly black neighborhood in West Philly a couple of years ago.

“Once these kinds of meanings are attached to those symbols, the meanings endure,” she said.

Mark Potok, senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala., agreed. People may have conflicting interpretations of what the flag means now, he said, but that doesn’t change how it was used in the past, including during the civil-rights movement.

“The flags were raised in a patently racist show of standing by white supremacy and full-out resistance to desegregation,” Potok said.

Fifty years later, Potok said, “I think it’s a little like the O.J. Simpson trial. People have very different reactions to it based on their life experience.”

A flag shop in Broomall

Charlie Hauber, owner of the Flag & Sign Place in Broomall, Delaware County, said he keeps Confederate flags in stock because of their historical relevance. Other flag stores refuse to sell them.

“I’ve had truckers come to me and say, ‘I can’t buy these things anywhere,’ ” Hauber said. “Places just stopped selling them.”

Hauber said that he doesn’t support slavery, but that the Civil War was also about states’ rights.

“I’m inclined to agree with the states. They have certain rights that should be separate from the federal government,” he said. “But I’m not going to fly a Confederate flag.”

People might feel intimidated or threatened by the flag – whether that’s the intention or not – but flying it is protected by the First Amendment.

“In some circumstances, it clearly is insensitive and offensive, but not all the time,” said Mary Catherine Roper, senior staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania. “It doesn’t matter whether it’s offensive. It doesn’t matter whether it is racial. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a white-power statement. You could not outlaw flying the Confederate flag.”

Last year, the ACLU of Delaware assisted a state Department of Transportation worker who was disciplined for displaying a Confederate-flag license plate on his car parked at work. The department later agreed with the ACLU that he was entitled to display the plate.

Banks, the Clifton Heights man whose neighbor has Confederate flags on his truck, said the neighbor is a friend, so he doesn’t take offense in that instance.

“I think it’s stupid, but being in America, you’re free to do whatever you like,” he said. “People are people. If you turned us inside out, you couldn’t tell what color we are.”

The owner of the truck wouldn’t talk with the Daily News, but his next-door neighbor, Michael Blythe, said the flags are not intended as a hate symbol.

“It’s not racist at all,” said Blythe, 35, a carpenter. “Everybody loves each other on this block.”

Jim Matusko, 66, an accountant who flies an American flag year-round at his home around the corner, said self-styled rebels need to grow up and find a new symbol.

“They got their asses whooped 148 years ago,” he said. “Let it go, already, for God’s sake.”

Matusko said the apparent popularity of the flag today could be a symptom of a highly polarized country under a black, liberal president. But he doesn’t think its connection to slavery can be severed, either.

“With the issue of slavery, waving a flag in someone’s face is almost like trying to pick a fight. I don’t think this country needs that kind of s—,” he said. “I don’t like the guy in the White House, either, but the South isn’t going to rise again.”

- Staff writers Jason Nark and Stephanie Farr contributed to this report.

There are clearly times when displaying it are entirely appropriate, such as on Confederate memorials, or the graves of Confederate veterans. There are many other times, though, when it is completely tone deaf, completely inappropriate, and downright offensive, and when it’s involuntarily rammed into people’s faces such as what the so-called Virginia Flaggers want to do along I-95 near Richmond, it’s akin to flipping the rest of the world that infamous obscene gesture that involves raising one’s middle finger. For many blacks, the Confederate battle flag is every bit as offensive a symbol as a swastika flag would be to a Jewish person. Brooks Simpson has done a superb job of documenting this particular travesty on his blog, Crossroads, and if the whole travesty of the Virginia Flaggers interests you, I commend Brooks’ blog to you. He deconstructs each and every argument of theirs and demonstrates the hypocrisy of their positions.

I completely understand wanting to honor one’s forebears. What I don’t understand is why it has to be done with such a controversial symbol. Why not use the Confederate first national flag–the Stars and Bars–which does not have the same very negative connotation? You will honor your ancestors, but you do so without offending everyone else. It seems a reasonable compromise. Too bad it’s not, since only a real in-your-face “*^%# you!” seems to be acceptable to them. Like I said, too bad.

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Susan and I spent much of the day on Saturday visiting some of the newer monuments on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. We had not yet seen the Martin Luther King Memorial, the FDR Memorial, or the World War II Memorial. When the opportunity to do so presented itself, we visited those monuments and were struck by their beauty and dignity.

Washington, D. C. is, in many ways, a giant memorial. Most of the prominent Union heroes of the Civil War are honored with prominent monuments in traffic roundabouts, with none more prominently honored than U.S. Grant. In many ways, the whole city is a memorial to the Union veterans of the war.

Stereogram of Statue at the Vietnam War Memorial, Washington, DCThe first large memorial to be dedicated was the Vietnam War Memorial, which has taken on an iconic status. Although its design was initially excoriated, it remains a moving and incredibly respectful memorial to the American soldiers who sacrificed so much in the far-away jungles of Southeast Asia.

Then came the memorial to the forgotten war, the Korean War. This gorgeous memorial depicts cold, wet, tired American soldiers fighting to protect the freedom of the South Korean republic. It is moving and haunting all at the same time. It is an appropriate monument to their sacrifices.korean-war-memorial-1

1294270_10153466379970413_269324027_oThe most recent memorial to be dedicated was the massive monument to the American contribution to the Allied victory in World War II. We visited it on Saturday, and given that my father and his brothers were members of that generation, and I have known many World War II vets, I found it to be an incredibly moving experience. There were dozens of old vets visiting the memorial, brought there by Honor Flights (an incredibly worthy cause that I encourage all of you to support). I thanked many of them for their service and found myself missing my father a great deal.

world-war-I-wwII then realized that, despite the fact that 2,000,000 Americans served in World War I, there is national memorial to them. I found that staggering, and it made me terribly sad. There is a small memorial to Washington, DC’s contributions to World War I, but no national memorial. Until recently, this memorial was largely forgotten–it did not appear on maps of the Mall, it was not maintained, and it was in bad shape. Fortunately, it has been restored, but I never even knew it existed before Saturday, when I saw it for the first time (and I lived in Washington, DC for a year in college and spent a lot of time on the Mall).

bucklesxThe last World War I veteran, Frank Buckles, who died in 2011, made the placement of a national memorial to World War I a priority of his. Mr. Buckles testified before Congress in 2009 and lent his name to the effort to place a proper memorial on the Mall. That’s a photo of Mr. Buckles, seated in his wheelchair in front of the Washington, DC World War I Memorial. Legislation was introduced in Congress, but it failed. Given that the Congress is the most incredibly dysfunctional institution in the United States, that sadly comes as no surprise.

Please consider supporting the placement of a national memorial to the 2,000,000 American soldiers who served in World War I on the National Mall Please consider helping to make Frank Buckles’ last wish come true. For more information, click here.

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sheridanphiliphbioThis announcement was passed along to me today:

The Phil Sheridan Society
Perry County Historical and Cultural Arts Society
Somerset, Ohio

The Perry County Historical and Cultural Arts Society are proud to announce the formation of the Phil Sheridan Society to help promote an understanding of the many aspects of the Civil War. The Phil Sheridan Society is dedicated to not only promote the history of the Civil War but to also promote the legacy of General Phil Sheridan. To accomplish this The Phil Sheridan Society is having a lecture series encompassing all different topics of the Civil War.
The public is cordially invited to attend all of the lectures and any events put on by The Phil Sheridan Society! The lecture series will commence on September 28, 2013, with a discussion by John Dye on Civil War medicine. The group will have a social hour at 6:30 pm at the Somerset Courthouse with the lecture starting at 7:30 pm. There will be a small $ 5.00 fee for the public or they can purchase a lecture series membership which will allow them access to all of the lectures for free. This is done to help offset some of the costs for the speakers so that the public will have access to some of the premier Civil War authorities within the state and the nation. The Phil Sheridan will meet on the last Saturday of the month with the lecture series lasting from September 2013 to May of 2014. Some of the other topics will include Morgan’s Raid in Ohio, Ohio’s Forgotten Civil War Generals, Ohio’s wartime governors, Medal of Honor Winner Milton Holland, Abraham Lincoln, Nellie Sheridan, and of course, Nellie’s famous son Phil Sheridan!
If you wish to get more information on The Phil Sheridan Society feel free to contact Craig Phillips at cphill17@columbus.rr.com with any questions.

I’m just guessing, mind you, but I’m thinking that they won’t be asking me to come speak to their group any time soon….. :-)

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So, I managed to get myself double-booked for two different events the first weekend in October. One is the annual Middleburg conference, which I described here.

The other is my friend Ted Alexander’s fall event for the Chambersburg Civil War Seminars for October 2013 is titled The Cavalry at Gettysburg, and should be quite good. If I hadn’t gotten myself into the pickle of double-booking myself, I would be there for the whole event.

Here’s the schedule:

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 4

9:00am – 12:30pm – Sessions at the hotel

The Battle of Monterey Pass – John Miller

Cavalryman of the Lost Cause: JEB Stuart’s Ride to Gettysburg – Jeffry Wert

McNeil’s Rangers in the Gettysburg Campaign – Steve French

12:30pm – 1:30pm – Lunch

1:30pm – 6pm – Sessions at the hotel

Prelude to Gettysburg: Aldie, Middleburg and Upperville – Ed Bearss

“If Only I Spoke” – A Gettysburg Witness Tree – film by – Radford Wine

The Stuart Horse Artillery at Gettysburg – Robert Trout

“General Insubordination: Custer vs. Kilpatrick in the Third Cavalry Division” – Bruce Venter

6:30pm – Buffet Dinner at the hotel

7:30pm – George Washington Sandoe and the Militia Cavalry of 1863 – Scott Mingus

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 5

Bus Tour – Lunch included

7:30am – 6pm – “The Cavalry at Gettysburg” – Eric Wittenberg, Ed Bearss and Jeffry Wert. Sites visited include -

East Cavalry field
Buford’s Cavalry positions
South Cavalry Field including Farnsworth’s attack

6pm – Dinner on your own

8pm – The Battle of Brandy Station – Eric Wittenberg

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 6

8:30am – 12:00pm – Sessions

“He’s a Bully General”: Custer and his “Wolverines” – Jeffry Wert

Valor in the Streets: The Battle of Hager- stown – Steve Bockmiller

“Forward the Harris Light!”: The 2nd New York Cavalry in the Gettysburg Campaign” – Bruce Venter

Ted’s programs are always terrific, and he’s got lots of good speakers lined up. To register for this event, click here. I hope to see some of you there.

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1 Sep 2013, by

I’m back!

Those of you who follow this blog regularly know that with the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Campaign, I had an insanely busy spring and summer this year. When you mix in a family wedding in northern Michigan and our annual summer beach vacation, we were gone every weekend but one from early May until the end of July. Every one of those was a driving trip, averaging six hours at a shot. And when I was in town, I still had my professional responsibilities to my clients to fulfill. I also had my Buford at Gettysburg manuscript to complete. In short, all of it just plain wore me out. I’m only just now feeling back to normal again.

That means that I will be posting here with more frequency again. I regret the lack of posts, but there are only so many hours in a day, and only so much energy to go around, and I had reached the limits of what I had left in the tank.

More to come. Stay tuned…..

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I_bales2One of my favorite events is coming up soon and I wanted to spread the word about it a bit.

Each year, the Mosby Area Heritage Association puts on its annual Middleburg Conference on the Art of Command in the Civil War. Childs Burden and the rest of the MHAA folks put on a tremendous program every year, and it’s always my pleasure to attend this event when asked. I actually assisted Childs with assembling the slate of speakers for this year’s program, and the tours are always first-rate. If you’re interested in such things, this event is a first-class program every year, and it benefits a great cause.

This year’s program is titled Prelude to Gettysburg: The Armies Move North. The schedule is below:

Friday, October 4
4:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Registration, Reception and Book Browsing

5:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Speaker: Horace Mewborn “Mosby’s Intelligence to Stuart: June 16 – 24, 1863”

6:15 pm – 7:15 pm
Speaker: Eric Wittenberg
“A Study in Controversy: The Historiography of Jeb Stuart’s Ride to Gettyburg”

Dinner on your own

Saturday, October 5
8:00 am
Registration, Coffee and Snacks

8:30 am – 9:30 am
Speaker: Clark B. Hall
“The Army is Moving – Lee’s March Toward the Potomac – The Gettysburg Campaign Begins!”

9:45 am – 10:45 am
Speaker: Scott Patchan “Milroy’s Boys and the Long Shadow of the Second Battle of Winchester”

11:00 am – 12 noon
Speaker: Robert K. Krick “‘The Forlorn Attempt to Find Another Jackson: Reorganizing the Army of Northern Virginia in the Spring of 1863”

12:00 noon – 12:30 pm
Lunch Served

Speaker: Robert O’Neill, Jr. “‘The Michigan Brigade Before Custer: From Michigan to Gettysburg”
12:30-1:30 pm

Speaker: Chris S. Stowe, Ph.D. “The Entente Cordiale is Destroyed Between Us: Joseph Hooker, George Meade, and the Politics of Commanding the Army of the Potomac”
1:45-2:45 pm

Speaker: Scott L. Mingus, Sr. “Flames Beyond Gettysburg: The Confederate Expedition to the Susquehanna River, June 1863″
3:00-4:00 pm

Panel discussion and book signing
4:00-4:45 pm

Cash bar opens upstairs at the Red Fox Inn
6:15 pm

Banquet dinner upstairs at the Red Fox Inn
7:00 pm

Sunday, October 6

8:00 am
Buses depart behind the Middleburg Community Center as we follow Lee’s army north into Pennsylvania (box lunches will be served)

5:00 pm

Buses return to Middleburg

I thoroughly enjoy this event, and will be assisting with leading the tour on Sunday. Unfortunately, I will not be there on Saturday, as I have another event that day that I will discuss in another post.

I hope to see some of you there!

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Clint Schemmer, a great friend of our preservation efforts at Brandy Station and elsewhere, has a really nice piece on the preservation of Fleetwood Hill in today’s edition of the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, which I am pleased to share with you here:

A sweet victory for preservation
BY CLINT SCHEMMER / THE FREE LANCE–STAR

The heart of America’s most storied cavalry battlefield is back in one piece.

Fleetwood Hill, focus of the swirling, sprawling Battle of Brandy Station, has been bought by the Civil War Trust after a fast-paced national fundraising effort to preserve the most iconic spot on the battleground.

It’s as if Gettysburg regained Cemetery Hill after a long absence or Fredericksburg’s Sunken Road, if privately owned, was reunited with Marye’s Heights.

History-minded folks have hoped for this news for decades, and fought hard to hear it.

The 55,000-member trust and its allies now own the south end of Fleetwood Hill where Confederate Gen. J.E.B. Stuart camped before the unexpected fighting of June 9, 1863, that sorely tested his troopers.

“Fleetwood Hill is the crown jewel of the Brandy Station battlefield,” Jim Campi, the trust’s policy director, said Saturday. “Our members knew this property just had to be preserved. They stepped up in a big way, giving generously in the past three months.”

Donations poured in to the trust’s website and Washington headquarters for a $3.6 million campaign to preserve 56 acres of the best-known piece of the battlefield.

The hill’s purchase caps a decadeslong effort to protect the site of the Western Hemisphere’s biggest cavalry battle from piecemeal encroachment and large-scale development.

Since 1984, preservationists have fended off a California developer who planned a huge subdivision, and another who wanted a Formula One racetrack. They were less successful in constraining expansion of the Culpeper County airport or preventing a local resident from building what some call a “McMansion” on the Fleetwood Hill crest that Stuart made his headquarters.

The trust closed about a week ago on purchase of the latter property, owned by Tony Troilo, a philanthropist who supports the Brandy Station Volunteer Fire Department and the county’s Soap Box Derby.

Troilo ran afoul of the Army Corps of Engineers in 2011 when, without a permit, he dammed Flat Run and moved tons of earth for a lake in the stream valley below his house.

After the corps cited him with violating the federal Clean Water Act and activists criticized his actions, Troilo decided to relocate, the Civil War News reported.

Clark B. Hall, the Northern Neck historian at the forefront of the Brandy Station preservation movement, said it is ironic that the lake controversy prompted Troilo to sell to the trust, whose previous offer to buy his land he had rejected.

“The satisfaction one derives from this makes 25 years of preservation work worthwhile,” Hall said. “For us to own this part of Fleetwood Hill is precious in the extreme.”

From 1862 through 1864, more armies passed by, camped or fought upon it than any other spot in the Eastern or Western theaters of the war, he said.

“Fleetwood Hill is, without question, the most fought-over single piece of ground in the American Civil War,” Clark said in an interview. “And for Civil War cavalry actions, it is Mount Olympus, it is ground zero.”

Though Fleetwood Hill figured in many engagements, it is most famed for the 1863 battle that opened the Gettysburg campaign and proved that Union cavalry were nearly the equal of J.E.B. Stuart’s horsemen. A spur of Fleetwood Hill, not part of the Civil War Trust’s purchase, served as headquarters for Union Maj. Gen. George Gordon Meade, the victor of Gettysburg, as he and Ulysses S. Grant planned their Overland Campaign in the winter of 1863–64.

“It’s a tremendous accomplishment, and I congratulate all of the parties involved for a successful outcome,” Joe McKinney, president of the Brandy Station Foundation, a local group, said of the Troilo tract’s purchase. “The Civil War Trust and the landowner deserve great credit for pursuing this and making it happen.”

The final sum needed to make the fundraising drive succeed came Thursday when Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell announced $2.25 million in state grants for battlefield preservation. They include $700,000 for acquisition of Fleetwood Hill. The Central Virginia Battlefields Trust, based in Fredericksburg, applied for that grant.

“This is the first time that CVBT has ventured into Culpeper County, and we are quite excited to assist in the preservation of ‘the missing link’ at Brandy Station,” Jerry Brent, the trust’s executive director, said Saturday afternoon.

Nor would the purchase have been possible without matching grants from Virginia and the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program, Campi said.

He credited CVBT, the Journey Through Hallowed Ground and the Brandy Station Foundation for their active involvement in the preservation effort.

“The next step is to fully restore Fleetwood Hill to its wartime appearance and open it up for public visitation,” Campi said. “We are looking forward to transforming the property into a living memorial for the soldiers who struggled there.”

Clint Schemmer: 540/368-5029

cschemmer@freelancestar.com

Clint has been right there with us all along, and he did a great job of helping us to spread the word and to assist us in raising the funds to buy Fleetwood Hill. Thanks for your support, Clint.

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LighthizerThis is a post that I have been waiting to write for a long time to write, and I cannot tell you how pleased I am to do so. I actually have known about this for some time, but it’s been hard keeping such wonderful, exciting news to myself. But now I can share it with all of you….

Today, Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia announced that the Commonwealth had conveyed a $700,000+ grant to the Civil War Trust for assistance in acquiring the 58 acres of Fleetwood Hill represented by the Troilo family’s holdings. These most-recent funds helped put us over the top. meaning that we were able to raise the entire $3.6 million, and that the closing on the property recently occurred!!!

Thanks to all of you, as of last week, the Civil War Trust owns Fleetwood Hill!!! We did it!!! We saved Fleetwood Hill!!!

Mr. Troilo is in the midst of building a new home, and until that new home is completed, he will retain tenant occupancy of the McMansion on the hill. A generous individual has already pledged the funds necessary to demolish the McMansion, meaning that once it has been vacated, the McMansion will be torn down. Expect an announcement regarding those festivities once I know the details.

This great accomplishment is the culmination of Bud Hall’s decades-long efforts to preserve the battlefield at Brandy Station, and this parcel is the crown jewel. None of this would have been possible, but for Bud’s hard work, and Bud can now proudly sit back and proudly enjoy the fruits of his labor. Bud also helped raise a great deal of the money for the acquisition.

Obviously, this also could not have happened but for the hard work of the good folks at Civil War Trust, who found the grants, engineered them, and then made all of this possible. We owe a great debt of gratitude to everyone there, but especially to the hard work done by Jim Lighthizer, Jim Campi, David Duncan, Tom Gilmore, and the others at the Trust who made this deal happen.

The biggest debt of gratitude of all is owed to the good folks who donated their hard-earned money to make this happen. $3.6m is a very large sum of money and raising that much money in a short period of time was a daunting prospect. But, as I knew you all would, people rallied to the flag and gave freely to allow us to not only meet the goal, but to close the transaction on time.

Thank you to Tony Troilo for finally doing the right thing and selling Fleetwood Hill so it could be forever preserved.

And finally, in a perverse way, we owe a debt to Useless Joe McKinney and the Board of Appeasers of the Brandy Station Foundation. But for their egregious abrogation of their duty to preserve and protect the battlefield, Lake Troilo would not have happened. And had Lake Troilo not have happened due to their horrific malfeasance, Bud Hall would not have reported the destruction of that portion of the battlefield to the Army Corps of Engineers. But for the intervention of the Army Corps of Engineers, we would still have Lake Troilo, and Mr. Troilo would not have grown so weary of fighting us that he would not have agreed to sell the property to the Civil War Trust. So, something good came out of the terrible malfeasance of Useless Joe and his Board of Appeasers, but it most assuredly does not excuse their refusal to act and their refusal to do their duty to preserve the battlefield. Shame on all of you. Nobody will soon forget your egregious failures to do your duty.

Let’s not allow BSF malfeasance to spoil this happy, momentous occasion. Instead, let’s celebrate one of the most important preservation victories to date by you and by the Civil War Trust. Well done!

Announcements regarding events to celebrate the acquisition of Fleetwood Hill will be forthcoming soon. Stand by for those.

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