27 July 2008 by Published in: Battlefield stomping 19 comments

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

Comments

  1. Don Gallagher
    Mon 28th Jul 2008 at 1:28 am

    I believe that Balls Bluff has the smallest National Cemetary.

  2. Sean Dail
    Mon 28th Jul 2008 at 1:54 am

    41 dead at Battleground, 54 dead at Ball’s Bluff. Though the 54 at Ball’s Bluff are in 25 graves, so that must be their argument…

  3. Dennis Madison
    Mon 28th Jul 2008 at 6:50 am

    Sounds like a great seminar. Which titles of books grabbed you that you had to bring back with you.

  4. tomrod
    Mon 28th Jul 2008 at 8:45 am

    Eric,

    I’m curious on what books you got too! Also I saw 2 copies of “One Continuous Fight” at the Barnes and Noble in Easton (Columbus) over the weekend. I think it’s the first time I have seen one of your books there.

    Tom

  5. Larry Freiheit
    Mon 28th Jul 2008 at 12:10 pm

    Eric,

    I was on your tour Thursday and you and JD did a terrific job. I just wish I had read your book before the tour–it is next on my list.

    I appreciated you pointing out the incorrect rifle on the statue–carbine vice rifle–for Custer’s troopers. Kent Brown said in his book that Custer’s men had both. When I asked him about that, pointing out that other authors have said they had only rifles at GB, Kent said that he had a letter and picture verifying that Spencer carbines were there. Bilby says otherwise as does Marcot’sbook about Spencer’s repeaters. If Kent sends me info about carbines, I’ll pass it on as I know you believe as I do that only rifles were there.

    Larry Freiheit

  6. Paul Taylor
    Mon 28th Jul 2008 at 12:58 pm

    Eric,

    Speaking of books and One Continuous Fight, are you guys doing the signed, numbered edition similar to Plenty of Blame?

    Paul

  7. Mon 28th Jul 2008 at 12:58 pm

    Hey Eric:

    I stuck around for about a half hour after Kent’s tour ended hoping to link up with you for dinner and get a signature or two on a One Continuous Fight but the only ones Jim still had on sale were already signed. I also needed to get back to Northern Virginia that night while also finding time to go over to Gettysburg and see the new VC. I won’t say I was unimpressed by it, but that it was nothing more or less than I expected it would be. (Definitely better than the hotel. Phew!) They defintely need to improve their bookstore’s offerings in the McClellan and Meade titles, though! (Ahem.) And if you have not done so, the next time you are in the area I absolutely recommend you check out the Marine Corps Museum down at Quantico.

    Still, it was great to finally meet you.

  8. Mon 28th Jul 2008 at 4:44 pm

    Hi Eric,
    I can’t wait to take one of your tours. I live on the West Coast so will take a bit of planning, do you pre-publish the tour dates. Also Ted Savas mentioned I should pass along my blog to you, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
    http://www.tipstorian.blogspot.com
    Thanks

  9. Mon 28th Jul 2008 at 5:10 pm

    Larry,

    Glad you enjoyed it. We had a great time leading the tour. We hope your perspectives on events changed as a result.

    The Spencer carbine did not go into mass production until September 1863. While there were plenty of Spencer rifles around, the only carbines would have been a few prototypes. I can’t imagine there were any. But, if there’s proof, I would love to see it.

    Eric

  10. Mon 28th Jul 2008 at 5:12 pm

    Paul,

    Yep. Go to http://www.gettysburgretreat.com if you’re interested.

    Eric

  11. Mon 28th Jul 2008 at 5:13 pm

    Dennis and Tom,

    The vast majority of the books that I bought are things pertinent to my forthcoming Brice’s Crossroads/Tupelo book project, although there are a few other miscellaneous things mixed in.

    Eric

  12. Rae-Ann McDoanld
    Mon 28th Jul 2008 at 8:27 pm

    Hi Eric,
    I just wanted to say again how I enjoyed your tour of the Farnsworth Charge /Merrit’s attack . A big thank you to yourself and to JD for all your insights. You made my trip!
    Rae-Ann McDonald

  13. Tue 29th Jul 2008 at 9:31 am

    Larry,

    You’re correct. If Kent said he had some sort of proof that ANY cavalryman in the Army of the Potomac was armed with a Spencer carbine in July 1863, he’s wrong. I have both the ordnance returns dated June 30, 1863 for all the regiments, plus the documentation on the Spencer armaments for the period.

    Here’s the facts: All of the 5th Michigan and 4 companies of the 6th Michigan were armed with the Spencer repeating RIFLES. As for Spencer carbines, only about 3 prototypes existed in July. They weren’t mass produced until early September. It is impossible, therefore, for any to have been in the hands of any of the troopers.

    Regarding the carbine on the Hanover monument – perhaps I missed something – it is indeed a Sharps carbine on there. Not a Spencer. The monument that is incorrect is that of the 17th PA Cavalry monument on the Gettysburg battlefield, which mistakenly depicts a Spencer carbine (they were certainly issued them, but AFTER Gettysburg of course). Perhaps folks are thinking of that monument. But The Picket monument at Hanover depicts the correct Sharps carbine.

    J.D.

  14. Tue 29th Jul 2008 at 9:33 am

    Rae-Ann,

    Terrific meeting you! Eric did a terrific job with the Farnsworth tour so I’m sure you were all ears :-)

    J.D.

  15. Wed 30th Jul 2008 at 9:03 am

    I was visiting the Hunterstown battlefield on Thursday last also. Must have just missed the caravan passing through! I plan to amend the “East Cavalry Battlefield” marker set on HMDB to include both the Custer monument and the war department tablet at Hunterstown. Otherwise the two are a lonely grouping. The tour instructions in yours and JD’s book were spot on!

  16. Wed 30th Jul 2008 at 9:04 am

    Excellent, Craig – we’re glad the tour helped!

    J.D.

  17. jgilot
    Wed 30th Jul 2008 at 1:13 pm

    Eric,

    I have a nice, unpublished letter describing the interior ot Fort DeRussey that I’ll forward to you. The letter was written by an Ohio 90-days soldier just prior to the attack on Ft. Stevens. You might be able to find some useful information.

    J. Gilot

  18. Wed 30th Jul 2008 at 10:21 pm

    J. Gilot,

    Please do send that along – we’ll certainly be able to use it in our upcoming book on Jube’s raid.

    Thanks!
    J.D.

  19. Larry Freiheit
    Fri 01st Aug 2008 at 8:51 am

    Eric and JD,

    Thank you for the info re Spencer v. Sharps carbine. I misunderstood that the Hanover statue showed the correct Sharps carbine not the incorrect Spencer.

    And JD, I would like to learn about any info you have about the arms the cav carried during the Maryland Campaign 2-20 Sept. as I am looking at the cav on both sides during that time period. Is your info from “Civil War Arms Purchases and Deliveries” book-Exec Doc 99? I have Todd’s book on “American Military Equipage.”

    Thank you,
    Larry

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