I’m back home after Mother of All Gettysburg Seminars. It was a jam-packed few days. Here’s a run-down on the event.
WEDNESDAY: I put half a day at the office and hit the road at little after noon. It took me 5.5 hours to get to Chambersburg. JD beat me there–his trip is shorter than mine–so he was waiting for me. We had dinner together, and then there was an opening session. After it was over, we went to visit the traveling bookshop set up by old friend Jim McLean of Butternut and Blue. I spent WAY too much money on books this trip. It was good to see folks such as Ed Bearss, Jeff Wert, Tom Clemens, Blake Magner, Sean Dail, David Martin, Andy Waskie, Patrick Falci, and others. I also finally got to meet fellow blogger Ethan Rafuse. I did some client work and got to bed at a reasonable hour.
THURSDAY: JD and I had a full-day bus tour of a portion of Stuart’s Ride. It’s basically the tour at the end of our book Plenty of Blame to Go Around: Jeb Stuart’s Controversial Ride to Gettysburg. We had about 20 people, and while we’ve got this tour down to a science at this point, it makes for a LONG day. I got to see the new Custer monument at Hunterstown, which is pretty nifty. We left at 7:00 and got back to the hotel in Chambersburg at 5:30. There was a dinner and then a bunch of additional sessions, including a panel discussion on George Gordon Meade that included Jeff Wert, Kent Masterson Brown, Ethan Rafuse, Rick Sauers, and me. That was lots of fun.
FRIDAY: Friday was a full day of lectures. Neither JD nor I could bear the thought of sitting through them on a nice day, so we went and did our own thing. We left early and headed to the Monocacy National Battlefield, as we were going to follow Jubal Early’s route to Washington. We stopped into the new visitor’s center there, and, having forgotten that my pocket had a big hole in it, lost my digital camera. Fortunately, the ranger found it and kept it for me, but it meant I didn’t have a camera that day, which made me mad.
We followed the Georgetown Pike into DC, and then went to Rock Creek Park. Ranger Ron Harvey gave us some useful information there, and we then went and found the nearby and well-preserved Fort DeRussy, which was one of the circle forts around Washington, and which is remarkably well preserved. It saw action during the attack on Fort Stevens.
From there, we went and found what’s left of Fort Stevens. There’s not much there, but it was nevertheless cool to see the spot where Lincoln stood (which is not where the marker is, but rather where the dumpster is–not very dignified). From there, we went to nearby Battleground National Cemetery, which holds the remains of 41 men killed during the fighting for Fort Stevens, as well as four handsome regimental monuments. It’s the smallest national cemetery, but a cool site nevertheless.
After lunch, we went to Abraham Lincoln’s cottage on the grounds of the Soldier’s Home. We visited the nearby national cemetery, and visited the graves of Generals Henry J. Hunt, John A. Logan, and David S. Stanley, and then we had our tour of Lincoln’s cottage. It was a wonderful tour, and, quite coincidentally, guided by an alum of my alma mater, Dickinson College.
From there, it was back to Monocacy to retrieve my camera, and then back to Chambersburg for the annual auction to raise money for battlefield preservation. I donated a tour for four of Brandy Station, Kelly’s Ford, and Trevilian Station. It raised the largest amount of money of the night, which I felt good about.
SATURDAY: On Saturday morning, JD and I had the morning free, so we bummed around Gettysburg for a while. After a lap around the battlefield, we went to the bookstore at the Farnsworth House, where I once again spent too much money. We also went to the Antique Center downtown, and spent even more money on books.
After lunch, with JD’s help, I led a tour of Merritt’s attack on South Cavalry Field, Farnsworth’s Charge, and Fairfield for a group of 7. The group included a woman named Rae Anne McDonald, who is related to Elon J. Farnsworth, which was very cool. It was very hot and somewhat sticky, and I was drenched with sweat by the time we finished the tour. Climbing the hills was a real challenge with my ongoing Achilles tendonitis problem, but I forced myself to do it.
After the tour, we left the group–none of us could bear the thought of yet another tour of the new visitor center at Gettysburg (which I’m not really terribly impressed by anyway), so JD, Jeff Wert, and I traveled to Fairfield to meet Dean and Judy Shultz and our friends Dave and Carol Moore for a fabulous dinner at Dave and Jane’s Crab House. We had several dozen Maryland blue crabs and an amazing meal, and we were all blown away by JD’s session of truly prodigious eating (if I ate the way he does, I would weigh 600 pounds). We got back late, but in time for the final session.
The problem was that there was a bad combination at the hotel: a hillbilly wedding with lots of drunken rednecks and a large batch of mostly unsupervised teenage boys run amok. It made for quite an evening. The hotel, by the way, was a dump. The toilet in my room–probably the second most important thing in a hotel room after the bed–was broken and had to be flushed by taking the lid off the tank and pulling up the flap until it was finally fixed yesterday. Ted got lots of complaints about the hotel, so hopefully, this was the last time it’s going to be used.
SUNDAY: After a leisurely breakfast, we caught the last couple of sessions, followed by a final panel on Stuart in the Gettysburg Campaign featuring J.D., Jeff Wert, and me. It was a good wrap-up to the weekend, and then I hit the road.
I’m glad to be home–if not excited about going back to work tomorrow–and also glad that I’m pretty much done with my conferences for the year–I have only one left, and it’s in November. I’m pretty burned out on them, and I’m definitely burned out on the travel, and just ready to enjoy being home for a while.
Tomorrow, it’s back to normal.Scridb filter