The CWPT issued this important press release today:

GOVERNOR TIM KAINE, LAWMAKERS, PROMOTE BATTLEFIELD PROTECTION EFFORTS IN OLD DOMINION

Remarks highlight unprecedented success of state’s Virginia Historic Battlefield Preservation Fund

(Fredericksburg, Va.) – At a news conference this morning, Virginia Governor Tim Kaine praised ongoing efforts to protect some of the Old Dominion’s most unique resources — its Civil War battlefields — and ensure balanced development and land surrounding these key historical landmarks. He reiterated the Commonwealth’s commitment to seeing these sites preserved for future generations to study and enjoy.

“Virginia is truly rich in history,” Kaine said. “Our state saw the majority of the Civil War’s largest and most significant battles. As the stewards of this American history, it has fallen to us, working in partnership with private organizations and the federal government, to protect and safeguard these national treasures. I am proud of the recent strides that have been made in this historic preservation and anticipate that future efforts will only build on our successes.”

In recent years Virginia has become an unprecedented leader in forming public-private partnerships for battlefield preservation through the Virginia Historic Battlefield Preservation Fund. Established during the first year of the Kaine administration, this program provides state-funded matching grants for the permanent protection of these hallowed battlegrounds. Each dollar awarded by the state through the program must be matched 2-to-1 by private donations or other grant sources.

“The Commonwealth of Virginia’s commitment to ensuring the protection of her Civil War battlefields is without precedent,” said James Lighthizer, president of the Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT), the only national nonprofit group dedicated to protecting such historic sites. “The efforts of Governor Kaine and visionary leadership in the state legislature are directly responsible for the protection of hundreds of acres of hallowed ground across the state.”

Recognizing the importance of preserving open space across Virginia and the added benefit of protecting the historic landscapes associated with Civil War battlefields, the state created the Virginia Historic Battlefield Preservation Fund in 2006. In 2008, citing the protection of this hallowed ground land as the most appropriate commemoration of the war’s upcoming 150th anniversary, the state appropriated $5.2 million to the program — the most generous contribution to battlefield preservation ever made by a state government.

Also speaking at the event were Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates Bill Howell and State Senator Edd Houck, whom Lighthizer called “our legislative champions,” and Kathleen Kilpatrick, Virginia Director of Historic Resources.

“In order to achieve the extraordinary success battlefield preservation has enjoyed in Virginia, it takes leadership at every level,” Lighthizer said. “We have been blessed to find staunch allies at every necessary turn: at the very top in Governor Kaine; in the legislature with Speaker Howell and Senator Houck; and at the cabinet level with Secretary of Natural Resources Preston Bryant and Director of Historic Resources Kathleen Kilpatrick. Each person’s role is indispensible — none of our successes would have occurred without all five of these modern Civil War heroes working toward the same goal.”

The site of the press conference, the Slaughter Pen Farm at the Fredericksburg Battlefield, was one of the first sites to benefit from the grant program. Begun in 2006, CWPT’s campaign to preserve the $12 million, 208-acre Slaughter Pen Farm is the most expensive private battlefield preservation effort in American history. Fighting there was among the most intense of the entire war, with more than 5,000 casualties inflicted on the farm on December 13, 1862. Five Congressional Medals of Honor for valor were awarded for actions taken on site that day. It had been the largest unprotected part of the Fredericksburg Battlefield and remains the only place on the battlefield where a visitor can still follow the Union assault on that bloody day from beginning to end.

In November 2008, the state announced the 15 battlefields that will benefit from the latest round of Virginia Historic Battlefield Preservation Fund grants. Recipient battlefields include: Appomattox Court House, Appomattox Station, Brandy Station, Cedar Creek, Chancellorsville, Cold Harbor, Cross Keys, First Deep Bottom, Fishers Hill, Glendale, Malvern Hill, Port Republic, Sailor’s Creek, Second Deep Bottom and Trevilian Station.

The Civil War Preservation Trust is a 60,000-member nonprofit battlefield preservation organization. Its mission is to preserve our nation’s endangered Civil War sites and promote appreciation of these hallowed grounds. Since 1987, CWPT has permanently protected more than 25,000 acres of hallowed ground across the country, including 12,600 acres in Virginia. CWPT’s website is located at www.civilwar.org.

Unlike the State of Ohio, the Commonwealth of Virginia gets it. Kudos to Governor Kaine and the legislators that funded the pool of money being used to pay for these land acquisitions. Keep up the good works, folks. Those of us out here in the hinterlands appreciate it a great deal.

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I am deeply grateful to Chris Dixon, of Bridlington, East Yorkshire, England. Chris owns and operates a business selling old military medals. Chris has Dave Day’s Medal of Honor for sale. He was kind enough to forward the photos of the medal that appear here, as well as some more really useful material about Dave Day. Thank you, Chris.

Medal of HonorMedal of Honor

I now know that Dave was married March 10, 1870 to Victoria Sophia Falck, the 13th child of a wealthy Southern plantation owner and slaveholder. “Her engagement to Northerner Day caused consternation not only to her family but also the three other young men to whom she was simultaneously engaged. Gallant to the core, all her former beaux sat in the front pews at the church wedding, later serenaded the happy couple and refreshed themselves with five gallons of wine.” The Days had five children: Stanley, Roderick Seely, Gerald Letcher, George Vest, and Vic “Nona” Lenore, all of whom were born in Missouri, and another two, born in Colorado, who died in infancy. Mrs. Day lived until 1940.

Dave Day used to refer to himself as the Philosopher. What a hoot.

Day’s own legend was that he ran away from home at an early age to escape a cruel stepmother who wanted to force him to go to school, so he enlisted in the Union army at 15. Supposedly, he was illiterate at the time and unable to write his own name. Day claimed that, as a result of his valor, a commanding general had him tutored in reading and writing.

The following appeared in a 1971 tribute to his newspaper, The Solid Muldoon: “His post-war career in Missouri as a grocer ended in bankruptcy when he co-signed a note for a friend. Married and the father of five, he struck out for Colorado with a friend, Jerrold Letcher, who helped him set up the newspaper in Ouray, then took up the practice of law. The one and only Solid Muldoon flourished in Ouray from 1879 to 1892 when, with a $25,000 inducement, the paper was moved to Durango. Historians have some interesting speculations as to the source of the money. Day’s career in Durango was highlighted on May 18, 1903 when he and a rival editor exchanged 13 shots at a distance of eight to fifteen feet. Day was unscathed, the rival receiving a slight flesh wound. In 1893, Day founded the Durango Weekly Democrat and was appointed by President Cleveland as Indian agent for the Southern Utes. His son-in-law, Thomas Tulley, was publisher of the Democrat from 1900 to 1912, when it reverted to Day and a son, Roderick S.” (emphasis added)

Evidently, son Rod had a real precedent for his fatal showdown with the rival editor mentioned in my last post on Day. Thanks to Teej Smith for digging and finding out that Rod was acquitted of murder.

Sadly, Dave Day lay in an unmarked grave for decades, although I’m not sure how that happened. When the tribute to the Solid Muldoon was published in 1971, it stated, “His grave is still unmarked, which troubles many of his admirers, but is hardly likely to bother a man who wrote of death as ‘ascending the golden clothes pole.’” Fortunately, this has been corrected. According to his listing on Find-a-Grave, his resting place is marked by a simple veteran’s stone designating his status as a holder of the Medal of Honor.

Day’s grandson, Tom Tully, was an Academy Award-nominated actor. Tully, who had a very long career as an actor, received an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Commander DeVriess in the movie version of The Caine Mutiny, which starred the great Humphrey Bogart. Tully himself has an interesting story. He started out in the family business as a reporter in Denver, then served in the Navy. He took up acting because he thought it paid better than journalism or the Navy. From his profile on IMDB: “While in Vietnam entertaining troops with Bob Hope and others with the USO, Thomas Tully protracted a filarial worm, similar to the worm that causes elephantiasis. After returning to the U.S. his condition was diagnosed after a blood clot in a major vein in his leg cut off circulation and his leg was amputated very close to the hip. This was circa 1971. The amputation was performed in Laguna Beach, California close to his home in San Juan Capistrano. Complications to this surgery caused pleuritis, deafness and serious debilitation. His death was due, in great part, to these serious medical conditions. He should be remembered as a patriot who sacrificed his life to entertain our troops in Vietnam.” Tom Tully spent the rest of his life gathering information on his interesting grandparents in the hope of writing a biography, but he died in 1982 before he could complete the project.

Too bad. I would love to read a full-length biography of this fascinating and colorful figure. Thanks again, Chris Dixon.

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Here’s the other profile I promised last week, of one of the most colorful cavalrymen of the Confederacy.

Gilbert Jefferson WrightGilbert Jefferson Wright was born in Lawrenceville, Georgia, on February 18, 1825 as the son of Littlebury and Henrietta (Austin) Wright. He was educated in the local schools of the county and grew to be a giant of a man at 6’4” tall. His friends called him “Gib,” a nickname that stuck with him for the rest of his life. “A man of social and convivial tastes, in his youth, he fell into bad habits and, during one of his drinking bouts, was so unfortunate to kill one of his comrades,” recalled a biographer. He was acquitted of murder.

When the Mexican War broke out in 1846, he enlisted as a private in Company A, 1st Georgia Infantry. He fought in several battles and received a severe neck wound. Although he returned to duty with his regiment after a period of recuperation, he suffered from a painful stiff neck for the rest of his life. When the war ended, Wright returned to Georgia, read law, and joined the bar in 1848, quickly building up a large and lucrative practice. “In no sense an orator, he was a laborious lawyer, a man of vigorous intellect and of untiring energy, and was able always to present his views with distinctiveness, clearness and force,” recalled an observer. He married Dorothy Chandler on February 19, 1850 in Carroll County, Georgia.

Wright helped to organize the Albany Hussars, which eventually became Company D of the Cobb Legion Cavalry in 1861 and was appointed a lieutenant. He served in all of the campaigns of the Army of Northern Virginia until 1865, reportedly serving in more than 100 engagements. Wright as promoted to captain in 1862 and to major on June 9, 1863 at the Battle of Brandy Station. He was wounded in battle several times, including during the Battle of South Mountain on September 14, 1862, earning the respect of his brigade commander, Wade Hampton. He was wounded again on August 3, 1863. His obituary in the Atlanta Constitution stated, “He was seriously wounded several times, but before his wounds ever healed he would be again on the field of battle fighting with matchless valor.”

A couple of anecdotes go a long way to demonstrating his nature. At the Battle of Quebec Schoolhouse in September 1862, he received a severe wound to the foot, which bled heavily. He realized that if he stayed mounted, he would bleed to death quickly. Wright dismounted, was laid on his back, and with his foot hoisted about three feet above his prone body, he remained in command of his troops, calling out orders. “Give ‘em hell, boys—give ‘em hell for they shot my foot!” He remained there until the battle ended.

During the Gettysburg Campaign, as the Cobb Legion entered a small town, a scared courier dashed back warning that the Yankees were advancing down the same road. “Tell ‘em I’m traveling this road myself—and if they don’t get out of the way, hell will be to pay,” replied Wright. A few minutes later, he met the Yankees and charged them routing them and capturing a number of prisoners. Such was his command style.

On October 9, 1863, Wright was promoted to colonel of the Cobb Legion Cavalry and assumed command of his brigade when Brig. Gen. Pierce M. B. Young was transferred to command the North Carolina cavalry brigade. Wright was badly wounded again on May 30, 1864. Gib Wright led the brigade—consisting of the Cobb Legion, Phillips Legion, Jeff Davis Legion, and the 7th Georgia Cavalry—at intervals throughout the rest of 1864. His brigade bore much of the brunt of the first day’s fighting at the June 11-12, 1864 Battle of Trevilian Station, where he drew the praise of Wade Hampton.

In January 1865, when the brigade was transferred to South Carolina, he assumed permanent command of the brigade, leading it in combat at the March 10, 1865 Battle of Monroe’s Crossroads, where his Georgians suffered heavy casualties, and then again at Bentonville nine days later. Wright was apparently promoted to brigadier general during the war’s final months, but he never received the commission.

He had promised his men that they would not be surrendered against their will, but Wright was unable to deliver on the promise. Gen. Joseph E. Johnston surrendered Wright’s brigade at the Bennett Place near Durham, North Carolina, on April 26, 1865.

His commander and mentor, General Young, said “this office has proved his gallantry on many fields.” J.E.B. Stuart called him “a most competent officer.” According to one of his troopers, Wright’s “unique personality…vigorous intellect and…untiring energy made a remarkable impression upon all with whom he came into contact.” Though not a professional soldier, Wright possessed a “bulldog courage” and “stentorian voice” that were conspicuous in battle. A South Carolina horse soldier described him as a “stern old warrior.”

The war over, he returned home to Albany and resumed his practice of law, forming a partnership with a friend. “For some years this firm did the leading law practice of Southwest Georgia, and were retained in most cases of importance, whether civil or criminal, both in the State and Federal Courts,” noted Wright’s biographer. A Democrat and opponent of Reconstruction, he was elected mayor of Albany in 1866, holding office until 1869. While serving as mayor, he and some friends engaged in some game of chance that violated city ordinances. Wright, the city councilmen, and all others involved in the game were arrested. The next day, Wright made each of his partners in crime stand up and accept a fine of $10 for violating an Albany city ordinance. When his own turn came, he called his name three times, stood up, and assessed himself a fine of $20 that he then paid to the court clerk.

From 1875 to 1880, he served as judge of the Albany Circuit, filling “the place with fidelity and with distinction.” His health failing, Wright retired in 1880 and moved to Monroe County, Georgia, where he farmed until his death at Forsyth, Georgia, on June 3, 1895. “The news of Judge Wright’s death will carry the deepest sorrow to the hearts of his friends all over Georgia,” noted his obituary. “He was, a few years ago, regarded as one of the ablest lawyers at the Georgia bar.” He was buried in Oakland Cemetery in Forsyth. He was 70 years old and had led an active and infinitely interesting life.

His biographer summed him up nicely: “Notwithstanding his many peculiarities and conflicting traits of character, General Wright was one of the most influential men in South Georgia and a leader in everything that was calculated to do good to his section of the State. On the Bench he was a man of rigid integrity; enforced the law without regard to persons; and his record while in that position showed that whatever his little defects might have been, he had a just appreciation of the duties of his office. His opinions and his charges delivered while on the Bench established for him a reputation as one of the strongest jurists in the State.”

Here’s to old Gib Wright, one of the most colorful and interesting cavalrymen of the Civil War, forgotten no more.

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From the March 21, 2009 issue of The Gettysburg Times:

National Park Service may buy country club

The National Park Service is interested in purchasing the 60-year-old Gettysburg Country Club’s 120-acre property along the 700 block of Chambersburg Road,.
BY SCOT ANDREW PITZER
Times Staff Writer

The National Park Service is interested in purchasing the 60-year-old Gettysburg Country Club.

According to Gettysburg National Military Park spokeswoman Katie Lawhon, talks are ongoing between the park and the club’s owner, Susquehanna Bank. The club closed in 2008 because of financial difficulties.

“We have been in touch with the new owners,” Lawhon said this week. “We’ve been in negotiations with other owners for years, but could never come to a successful agreement. Now, it’s beginning again with the new owners.”

The 120-acre property along the 700 block of Chambersburg Road is listed as a “high priority” in the park’s land protection plan of 1993. It sits within the boundaries of the 6,000 acre park.

“Essentially, we would buy the rights to subdivide the property,” Lawhon said.

When asked what the park would do with the land, Lawhon replied that the purpose of obtaining the property would be to save it from future development.

“It’s developed, but it’s not like there are 120 houses,” she said.

The Park Service would likely maintain the property as open recreational space. Also, vegetation may be cleared to enhance the area’s historic viewshed. The club sits on the site of the historic Abraham Spangler and Harmon farms, according to the park. Confederate soldiers advanced and retreated over the farmland during the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1, 1863.

Now, the property includes a nine-hole golf course, tennis courts, a swimming pool, other recreational areas, and a clubhouse.

“All of that could stay, and continue to be used for recreational use,” Lawhon said.

For the first time since 2001, the federal government is allocating funds to GNMP for land acquisition purposes. The park is slated to receive $2.2 million in 2009. Some of those funds could potentially be used to acquire the country club.

“It’s a very long process for the Park Service to acquire the land,” Lawhon noted.

There is no word on the property’s potential selling price, but there are a few signs.

During a sheriff’s sale in January, the “upset” bid for the club was announced at $2.79 million, meaning that the bank would not sell it for less than that amount. No bids were submitted, so the property went back to Susquehanna Bank, the financial agency that foreclosed on the property last year.

“Banks are not generally in the business of running country clubs,” bank attorney Eugene Pepinsky said previously.

Gettysburg Country Club, 730 Chambersburg Road, had been open since 1948 but found itself in dire straits in 2008 when club officials said its financial situation had “never been more serious.”

The club racked up more than $3.6 million in debt over the past several years to various groups.

It owed $2.9 million in mortgage for a new clubhouse and tennis courts, and the club owed money to at least 16 different organizations.

The new building has a 70-seat conference room; a pub that can hold 60 people; and a ballroom with a capacity of 250.

Following a costly development project in 2006-07, the club’s financial problems forced it to close in May 2008.

Club members paid to reopen the pool in June 2008, and the county sheriff seized the land in Sept. 2008.

Let’s hope that there is a way to add this land to the Gettysburg National Military Park, because its addition will restore a significant portion of the first day’s battlefield to public accessibility.

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Several months ago, I posted an article that I had written about an interesting chap named David F. Day, who was awarded a Medal of Honor for participating in Grant’s “forlorn hope” attacks at Vicksburg in May 1863.

A reader named Dan Glasgow sent me an e-mail last night that I thought I would share with you:

I truly enjoyed your narative about David Frakes Day and his Metal of Honor. I knew his sons, Guy and George and how David started calling himseld Col. Day. His son said that his father was kicked by a mule when he was young and it left a scar on his cheek. Soon David started saying that the scar was from a saber cut received during the Civil War and then he promoted the story that he was a promote to col. I’ve read your narative and enjoyed it very much. At one time I thought Day’s story would have made a great movie but today it wouldn’t have enough sex appeal. Thanks for your efforts.

What a great story….and so like David Day. :-)

Day’s son was evidently a chip off the old block. From the April 25, 1922 edition of the New York Times:

Editor Kills Editor on Durango (Col.) Street: Scandal Story After Row Over Dry Law

Durango, Co., April 24.–William L. Wood, city editor of The Durango Herald, was shot dead on the street this afternoon by Rod S. Day, editor of The Durango Democrat, as the result of a squabble that started over prohibition and reached a climax in the printing of a scandal.

Wood some time ago printed an article on prohibition clipped from an outside paper, and asked the attitude of The Democrat on enforcement of the Volstead Act. Day replied that he favored enforcement. Wood then reported that The Democrat should stamp out the bootlegging in Durango. With each article the feeling grew until several days ago when Day printed something about Woods’ life and divorce.

Today the two met in front of a barber shop and after an exchange of words Day struck Wood with a carpenter’s square he held in his hand. Wood dodged the square and landed a blow on Day’s nose, breaking it. Wood then backed off the sidewalk, but Day drew a pistol and shot him twice, one bullet entering the brain.

Wood died in a hospital without gaining consciousness. Day was put under arrest and will be charged with first degree murder. Eyewitnesses say Wood tried to avoid the meeting with Day today, but as they came to a corner of the street, they almost bumped into each other. Day refuses to talk.

Wood was about 35 years old. Day, who is about 47, is a son of David F. Day, a pioneer editor of the State. He became editor of The Democrat in 1914, upon the death of his father.

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. I have been unable to ascertain whether Rod Day was convicted of the crime.

I continue to be fascinated by Dave Day and his interesting family. Thanks for coming forward, Dan.

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Col. J. Fred WaringI’ve decided to profile a couple of my favorite forgotten Confederate cavalrymen this week. Both ended the war as colonels, but both temporarily commanded brigades at times. Today’s profile is of Col. J. Fred Waring of the Jeff Davis Legion Cavalry, long a favorite of mine for the excellent diary of the last fourteen months of the war that he left behind. Thanks to old friend Paul F. Mullen for visiting the Georgia Historical Society in Savannah to get a couple of items on Waring for me. Finding biographical material on Waring is a challenge–he died young during a massive epidemic, so there is no obituary, and not much detail on his life has ever surfaced. What follows is the most detailed biography of him ever assembled or possible given the information that is presently available.

Joseph Frederick Waring was born in Savannah, Georgia on February 13, 1832. He was the son of William R. Waring, M.D. and Ann (Johnston) Waring. He had a brother named James J. Waring. Young Fred enrolled in Yale University, graduating in the class of 1952. He studied law in Philadelphia for a year and a half after graduation and then spent a year traveling around Europe. When he returned to Georgia, he became a successful planter, and also served as a city alderman in Savannah. He was married to Louise (Early) Waring.

He served in an elite militia unit from Savannah called the Georgia Hussars. Organized in 1749, the Georgia Hussars represented Savannah in all wars from colonial times through 1994. Waring became captain of Co. F of the Hussars. He took his company to Virginia a few weeks later, reporting for duty in Richmond upon arrival. Co. F was originally assigned to become part of the 6th Virginia Cavalry when they arrived in Richmond, but this did not last long. Captain Waring was wounded in the face on December 4, 1861 while leading a nighttime raid to try to capture Federal pickets near Annandale. He received “a ugly gash of an inch or an inch and one half to his right cheek from a buckshot. His head grazed by another. The skin taken off the knuckles of his right hand, twelve holes through the cape of his overcoat.”

Three days later, Waring’s company of Georgia Hussars was assigned to become Company F of the Jeff Davis Legion, which was also called “The Little Jeff.” The Jeff Davis Legion was a hodgepodge—its companies included men from Georgia, Mississippi, and Alabama. Waring was promoted to major early in 1862, and then, after participating in the Peninsula and Maryland Campaigns, was promoted to lieutenant colonel of the Jeff Davis Legion Cavalry on December 2, 1862. Waring became the regimental commander that December when Col. William F. Martin, the original commander of the Legion, was promoted to brigadier general and was transferred to the Western Theater. Waring commanded the Little Jeff for the rest of the war.

His unit served in Hampton’s Brigade, under the command of Brig. Gen. Wade Hampton, a gifted South Carolinian who eventually became the highest-ranking officer in the entire Confederate mounted arm. Waring ably led his unit through all of the major cavalry battles of the Eastern Theater, including Brandy Station, Gettysburg (where he was wounded for the second time), and Trevilian Station. In July 1864, he was promoted to colonel of the Legion, and that fall, he temporarily commanded Brig. Gen. Pierce M. B. Young’s brigade (which included the Little Jeff). Waring was a “brave and gallant” officer, but was unpopular with his command. Some of his men remembered him as “the type of a perfect knight, he was as tender of the rights of others as he was jealous of his own spotless honor,” and recalled him as “a leader of rare merit.”

When Hampton was promoted to lieutenant general and sent to South Carolina in February 1865, his division, including the Jeff Davis Legion, went with him. Waring served through Sherman’s Carolinas Campaign, including the March 10, 1865 Battle of Monroe’s Crossroads, and surrendered at Bennett Place with the rest of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston’s command six weeks later.

The war over, Waring returned to Savannah, where he took a job as forwarding agent for the Georgia Central Railway Co. He also became the commanding officer of the Georgia Hussars, a position that he held until his death in 1876. “In peace firm and upright, just and generous, prompt and untiring, he achieved success and deserved it,” recalled a friend.

He returned to his post from a northern vacation just as a yellow fever epidemic reached its height. His job duties required him to be in the City of Savannah, and the disease struck him on September 30. He died of yellow fever at Whitesville, Georgia on October 4, 1876. He was only 44 years old when he died.

The men of the Georgia Hussars eulogized their fallen leader. “He was the pride of our Troop. Upon him centered our hopes, our love, our trust. The record of his life is our precious inheritance,” they declared. “In the prime of manhood, in the full maturity of every excellence, with the apparent promise of years of usefulness, he has been taken. But he has not lived in vain if his life leads us to aim at his high standard. He has not died too young, whose name is already famous.

J. Fred Waring was buried in Savannah’s Laurel Grove Cemetery.

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The following passage, which comes from the quarterly newsletter of the Washington County, Maryland Planning Department, demonstrates the excellent preservation work being done around the Antietam National Battlefield by the local authorities. The folks from Washington County are quietly doing an excellent job:

RURAL LEGACY PROGRAM AWARDED $ 460,700
FOR FISCAL YEAR 2009

Washington County received a Rural Legacy Program award in the amount of $460,700 for Fiscal Year 2009 at an award ceremony by Governor Martin O’Malley on December 3rd. Senator Don Munson was on hand for the award presentation. The funds will help Washington County to continue purchasing easements in the Antietam Battlefield area as we work towards our overall county goal of 50,000 acres under permanent preservation.

Including the FY 2009 award, our 11th since the inception of the Rural Legacy Program, Washington County has now preserved in perpetuity more than 4,000 acres on 30 farms in the Antietam Battlefield area through grant awards exceeding $11 million.

Kudos for a job well done. I wish more states had this sort of program to provide funding and that better use is made of preservation easements.

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Even at the height of this horrific recession, the House of Representatives has passed legislation to provide funding for battlefield preservation:

HOUSE PASSES BILLS TO PROTECT REVOLUTIONARY WAR, WAR OF 1812 AND CIVIL WAR BATTLEFIELDS

On March 3, 2009, the House of Representatives passed two battlefield protection bills that authorize federal grants for the preservation of significant sites associated with the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 and the Civil War. Similar bills passed the House last year, but were not considered by the Senate before it adjourned.

H.R. 146, the “Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Battlefield Protection Act,” amends the “American Battlefield Protection Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-333)” to direct the Secretary of the Interior to establish an acquisition grant program for battlefields and associated sites identified in a Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Historic Preservation Study prepared by the National Park Service (NPS).

The bill would authorize $10 million in grants annually in fiscal 2010-14 from the Land and Water Conservation Fund for the preservation and protection of Revolutionary War and War of 1812 battlefields and related historical sites, as is currently done for Civil War sites. The bill would allow officials at the American Battlefield Protection Program to collaborate with state and local governments and non-profit organizations to preserve and protect the most endangered historical sites and to provide up to 50 percent of the costs of purchasing battlefield land threatened by sprawl and commercial development.

According to a 2007 National Parks Service “Report to Congress on the Historic Preservation of Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Sites in the United States,” 170 of 677 nationally significant sites associated with the two wars are in danger of being destroyed in the next 10 years. . In addition to the 170 sites in danger of being destroyed within the next 10 years, the NPS found that 99 have already been lost forever and 234 are in poor condition. The bill includes $500,000 to update the Report within three years of enactment.

The House also passed H.R. 548, the “Civil War Battlefield Preservation Act of 2009.”

The legislation directs the Secretary of the Interior, acting through the American Battlefield Protection Program, to assist and work in partnership with citizens, federal, state, local, and tribal governments, other public entities, educational institutions, and private nonprofits in the identification, research, evaluation, interpretation, and protection of historic Civil War battlefields and associated sites.

The bill establishes a battlefield acquisition grant program under which the Secretary may provide grants to eligible entities (states and local governments) to pay the federal share of the cost to acquire interests in eligible sites for the preservation and protection of those sites. It permits an eligible entity to acquire an interest in an eligible site using a grant in partnership with a nonprofit and requires the non-federal share to be at least 50 percent. It limits acquisitions of land and interests under the bill to acquisitions of conservation easements and fee-simple purchases of eligible sites from willing sellers only.

The legislation authorizes appropriations to fund grants at a level of $10 million annually through fiscal year 2013. The Act would be repealed on September 30, 2019.

Let’s hope that the Senate not only gets to this legislation, but that it passes it.

Conservation/preservation easements can be an extremely effective means of preserving land without having to incur the cost of acquisition. This technique is being used very effectively in Washington County, Maryland in the areas surrounding the Antietam battlefield, and it’s a great way to leave land in private hands while still ensuring it will remain in its pristine state.

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Susan and I just made a quick overnight trip to Hockeytown, USA, which is also known as Detroit, Michigan. Thanks to fellow blogger Jack Dempsey, we got to watch the Columbus Blue Jackets destroy the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings 8-2 at Joe Lewis Arena last night. Many thanks to Jack for the tickets. It’s very cool seeing those 11 Stanley Cup banners and the retired numbers, and all of the other banners that fill the rafters of the venerable old arena. Considering that this is only our team’s 8th season, and we’ve never even made the playoffs, we don’t have such stuff hanging from our rafters (yet). The monuments to Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay and Sid Abel–the legendary Production Line–are also neat.

Go Blue Jackets!

I have to say that, considering we were both wearing Blue Jackets jerseys in a place where not much but red and white can be found, we were pleasantly surprised that the local folks were extremely friendly. A couple of Red Wings fans congratulated us on our team’s record-setting performance last night, and one fellow looked at me and said, “If your team does this well in the playoffs, it will go a long way” as he headed out after the 7th goal.

Neither of us had ever been to Joe Lewis previously, and it is one of those pilgrimages that every serious hockey fans needs to make.

I had actually hoped to mix a little history into the trip, but the weather defeated that good intention. It rained somewhat heavily yesterday, but it was like a monsoon today, meaning that there was no real reason to stop in Monroe, Michigan on the way home as I had planned. The intent was to visit the handsome equestrian monument to George Custer in his adopted hometown, see the home where his wife Libby grew up, and then spend a bit of time visiting the War of 1812 battlefield there, which was the Battle of the River Raisin. The Custer monument is actually on a portion of the River Raisin battlefield, but I am told that there is interpretation being placed on the battlefield. I’ve never really visited a War of 1812 battlefield (unless you count the Perry Victory Monument on Middle Bass Island in Lake Erie), and I was really looking forward to it. Looks like another trip is going to have to be in the offing to make it happen. I want to go to a Tigers game this summer, so hopefully we will be able to visit Monroe then.

Thanks again to Jack Dempsey for his generosity in giving us the tickets last night. That generosity was made all the more remarkable by the performance our team put on.

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Time for a major rant.

To avoid embarrassing the person, I will not identify him, and I will not identify the blog where it took place, but I just got done drafting a lengthy critique of an essay on the coming of age of the Union cavalry. There was so much that was factually incorrect about what he wrote that I could not resist the temptation to point out how much was wrong. I was not gentle about it, either.

I have devoted most of my adult life to the study of Union cavalry operations in the Civil War. I have published fourteen books and a couple of dozen articles on the subject. I’ve written more than a million words on the subject. Along the way, I have examined more than a thousand–probably closer to two thousand–separate sources on the subject. At this point, I think I know a little bit about the subject. And I’ve had a book published that addresses the coming of age of the Army of the Potomac’s Cavalry Corps.

One lesson I learned very early in my writing career is that it’s very embarrassing to put stuff out there that is factually incorrect, because you’re going to get ripped for it. Since the very beginning, I have had others review my work to make sure it’s factually correct and to make sure I haven’t made any stupid gaffes. I’ve had lots of things pointed out to me as wrong, and I’ve made lots of revisions/corrections because of it.

The author of this piece obviously did nothing of the sort. I would never discourage anyone from researching or writing, but there are few things that irritate me more than people simply propagating and perpetuating things that are just plain wrong because they haven’t bothered to have someone else check their work or do their own primary source research. This particular individual clearly did neither, and it shows.

Boy, does that irritate me….either get it right, or please, don’t do it at all.

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