June, 2013

I’ve agreed to participate in what promises to be a really fun event. More than a dozen Savas-Beatie authors are going to assemble in Gettysburg from July 28-30 for what Ted Savas is calling the “author conclave.” The idea is that we authors will assemble there for an opportunity to interact with–and lead tours for–our readers. It will be a chance for many of us to get together for the first time as a group. Ted will be there, as well the Savas-Beatie marketing director, Sarah Keeney.

Here is the schedule:

Sunday, July 28: Gettysburg
Morning (time TBD): Lance Herdegen Tour – Gettysburg: July 1, 1863: The failure of Archer’s Attack on McPherson’s Ridge
1:30 – 3:00 pm: Lance Herdegen Tour – Gettysburg: In the Bloody Railroad Cut: The Charge of the 6th Wisconsin
3:30 – 5:00 pm: George Newton Tour – Gettysburg: Confederate cannonade and Union artillery on July 3, 1863
7:00 pm: Informal gathering at Reliance Mine Saloon

Monday, July 29: Gettysburg
8:30 – 10:00 am: J. David Petruzzi Tour – Gettysburg: Buford on Day 1
10:30 am – 12:00 pm: Eric Wittenberg Tour – Gettysburg: Farnsworth’s Charge, July 3, 1863
1:30 – 3:00 pm: David Shultz Tour – Gettysburg: Attack and Defense of the Union Center July Second – Pitzer Woods’ Cause and Effect: The “Little Fight” that Changed it All
3:30 – 5:00 pm: Eric Wittenberg and J. David Petruzzi Tour – Gettysburg: East Cavalry Field

Tuesday, July 30: South Mountain, Antietam, and Ball’s Bluff
8:30 – 11:00 am: Tom Clemens Tour – South Mountain: Fox’s Gap, the Struggle for Key Terrain on South Mountain
12:00 – 2:00 pm: Tom Clemens Tour – Antietam: West Woods, Crisis on the Confederate Left
3:30 – 5:00 pm: Jim Morgan Tour – Loudoun County, VA: The Battle of Ball’s Bluff

And the best part of all: IT’S FREE!!!

I will be there Sunday night and on Monday. I won’t be there for the Tuesday tours, as I must get back to work. However, having toured Ball’s Bluff with Jim Morgan and all of the 1862 Maryland Campaign sites with Tom Clemens, I can tell you that you cannot possibly do better than to have either of them lead you on a tour of their respective favorite battlefields. Among the authors expected to be there are J. D. Petruzzi, Dave Shultz, Tom Clemens, Jim Morgan, Lance Herdegen, George Newton, Dave Powell, and others. It’s a great opportunity to meet some of my favorite Civil War authors, to get your books signed, and to hang out with us.

To sign up, click here.

Scridb filter

Continue reading

18 Jun 2013, by

Headless no more!

Violet-20130618-00070Some of you may recall that in May 2010, I found a headless statue of William T. Sherman in nearby Pickerington, Ohio, and set about trying to solve the mystery. A few weeks later, I spoke to Headless Billy’s owner, who assured me that a fix was in the works. I am pleased to say that Headless Billy is headless no more! Sadly, though, he remains handless Billy. Hopefully that will also be rectified soon.

Thanks to my friend Mike Peters for the photo of No Longer Headless Billy that graces this post. All’s well that ends well. Click on the image to see a larger version of it.

The following article appeared in last Friday’s edition of Columbus Dispatch:

Sherman statue headed for completion

By Ken Gordon

The Columbus Dispatch Friday June 7, 2013 6:43 AM

William T. Sherman has waited 45 years to get a good head on his shoulders — so what’s a few more days?

Rain yesterday kept sculptor Oro Ray King from securing a 60-pound sandstone head to the statue of the Civil War general, which was decapitated by vandals in 1968.

King and a friend, Mike Ancona, positioned the head to check the fit, but the rain kept King from applying the epoxy that will lock it in place.

He plans to finish the job on Tuesday.

King was hired by Columbus real-estate developer Walter Reiner, who purchased the vandalized statue at a 2008 auction in Muskingum County and moved it to a vacant grassy lot in a Pickerington shopping center that he owns.

Reiner wanted the statue of Sherman, a Lancaster native, to stand in Fairfield County.

The 7-foot statue, carved in 1918, originally stood among dozens of other statues of prominent historical figures on the Frazeysburg property of sculptor Daniel Brice Baughman.

Reiner bought it for $2,800 and paid $5,000 to move the 8½-ton rock to the shopping center.

He then began a long search for a sculptor.

A November story in The Dispatch about the headless statue, Reiner said, “brought people out of the woodwork.”

He settled on King, a Buckeye Lake resident who has been sculpting for 45 years and has done a lot of work for museums and historical sites.

Reiner would not disclose how much he paid King, except to say that it was more than the $4,000 he had originally hoped to spend but less than a $20,000 estimate he received.

King, 75, said he first made a clay bust after looking at various photos of Sherman, then obtained a 400-pound block of sandstone from Dresden, Ohio.

In April, he started carving the sandstone to the final, 16-inch-tall head.

“It feels pretty good to get it over with,” King said. “I have arthritis pretty bad, and sometimes I have to stop and let my hands rest a little bit.”

After fitting the head yesterday, King and Ancona removed it for safekeeping until King finishes the job.

“I think it looks better than the original,” Reiner said. “This will honor Gen. Sherman properly.

“I certainly meant no disrespect; it just took a little while to do the job right.”


Well done, Mr. Reiner. And well done Mr. King.

Scridb filter

Continue reading

I’m proud and pleased to welcome two new sponsors to this blog.

First, I’d like to welcome the fine magazine The Civil War Monitor aboard as a sponsor. My old friend Terry Johnston, who is the editor and publisher, is doing a fine job of it, and I’m proud to have Terry and his excellent publication aboard.

The other new sponsor is a favorite organization of mine, the Chambersburg Civil War Seminars, as a sponsor. My pal Ted Alexander, the chief historian of the Antietam National Battlefield, runs these programs for the Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce, and Ted does a great job of it. These are some of my favorite programs each year, and I hope you will check them out.

Welcome aboard, and thanks for sponsoring this blog!

Scridb filter

Continue reading

In: Blogging | Tags:

For Clint Schemmer’s excellent article on the Brandy Station Sesquicentennial tour that appeared in today’s edition of the Fredericksburg Free Lance Star newspaper, please click here. Clint has some excellent photographs in his article, which is why I’m not just repeating it here. It’s definitely worth a read.

Nice job, Clint!

And here’s Scott Manning’s take on the tour. Thanks for the kind words, Scott!

Scridb filter

Continue reading

I made the banzai run to Culpeper, Virginia for the sesquicentennial tour of the Battle of Brandy Station on Friday, which is a 7+ hour drive. This was a once-in-a-lifetime tour of the battlefield that featured several stops on private property. I’ve been to the battlefield literally dozens of times, including any number of times with Bud Hall, but we visited some sites that I had never seen before. Bud also announced that this would be his final tour of the battlefield, so the moment represented a passing of the torch.

More than 200 people attended. I had some very serious misgivings about the logistics of moving so many people from place to place without the benefits of buses, but the folks from the Loudoun County Civil War Roundtable, ably led by the CWRT president, Cecil Jones, did an absolutely superb job of managing the logistics. Cecil and Craig Swain deserve the bulk of the credit for putting together this event and for managing logistics that otherwise could have gotten out of control very quickly and very easily.

Bud1Our rallying point was at the artillery park for Maj. Robert F. Beckham’s horse artillery on the Civil War Trust’s property, where everyone gathered, and Bud gave an overview of the run-up to the battle. The first photo is of Bud giving that overview.

me1From there, we went to Buford’s Knoll and Bud laid out much of the morning’s action. I gave a biographical sketch of John Buford’s life, and we got a spectacular vista of the Union position. In the second photo, I’m giving the overview of Buford’s life. Seated in the chair on the right side of the photograph is our distinguished guest for the day, Col. (Retired) J.E.B. Stuart, IV, the great-great grandson of the great Confederate cavalry chieftain. From there, we went on to the site of the Richard Hoopes Cunningham house (long ago demolished) to examine a Union artillery position. From there, we moved onto private property to get a look at Beverly Ford, where Buford’s command crossed the Rappahannock River. This was also a position held by Rooney Lee’s Confederate cavalry in the early phases of the battle.

car snake1The next stop was a place where no tour group had ever been, Rooney Lee’s main line of battle on a knoll on Beauregard Farm. Beauregard Farm is a massive, 6000 acre farm that abuts and includes a significant portion of the battlefield. Fortunately, the owners are friends of our preservation efforts, and this position has been forever protected from development via a preservation easement. This was the first time that Bud ever took a tour group there. The third photograph is of the very long line of automobiles making their way to Rooney’s Knoll, as Bud calls it. The sight of the cars snaking along was very reminiscent of the final scene of the movie Field of Dreams, which was the first thought I had upon seeing it. I’ve never been there before, and it was a spectacular spot.

kern and company1From there, we went to St. James Church, where we had lunch and an excellent demonstration by Trooper Todd Kern and his living history group, the Valley Light Horse. That’s Todd on the left side of the photograph. Afterward, I led a discussion of the charge of five companies of the 6th Pennsylvania Cavalry into the teeth of Confederate artillery, taking flanking fire the whole way.

david and me1From there, we addressed the fighting at Fleetwood Hill. We did so on the north side of the hill, where we had a spectacular view of the McMansion atop Fleetwood Hill that will soon be coming down. Bud led a lively discussion there, and we enjoyed a spot that does not see much visitation.

Sadly, there were torrential rains in the area on Thursday and early Friday from a tropical storm, and the road to Farley, at the northern end of Fleetwood Hill, was too badly damaged by the rains to permit the passage of so many vehicles. That, unfortunately, meant that that portion of the tour had to be canceled, which is too bad. Few groups ever get up there, and few groups get to see Farley, which is private property.

The final stop was at Rose Hill Game Preserve, a historic plantation house in Stevensburg that was the starting point of the Kilpatrick-Dahlgren Raid. We discussed the Stevensburg portion of the battle there and did a wrap-up of the battle and tour, heard the history of the property, and then some lovely refreshments were enjoyed by all. Thanks to Dr. John Covington for his hospitality there.

Bud and Eric1All in all, it was a spectacular tour that covered some ground never before seen by a tour group of any size. It also marked a passing of the torch from Bud Hall to the rest of us of the BSF Board in Exile. It’s a challenge that we have gratefully accepted. This photo–the final one–is of the teacher and his student, atop Buford’s Knoll. The student does not know if he’s ready to take the passage of that torch, but he will do his level best to carry on the legacy.

It was a pleasure to be a part of this wonderful program. It was an honor to be asked to do so, and it was a privilege to stand there and help Bud Hall to present this material to a large tour group for the last time. Thanks also to everyone who attended, and to everyone who made things run so smoothly.

Thank you to Debra Naylor for the photo of Bud Hall and me, and thank you to David Kinsella for the photo of him and me. I appreciate your allowing me to use your images here. To see larger versions of any of these images, simply click on them.

The only thing marring the tour was the ridiculous, immature and grossly unprofessional conduct of the Brandy Station Foundation. Our original plan was to interpret the fighting at Fleetwood Hill from the BSF property to the north of Fleetwood Hill. When Cecil Jones gave the BSF the courtesy of telling them that, Useless Joe McKinney demanded that he be entitled to speak to our group and that we not use the BSF porta-potties there as a condition of our taking the tour group onto the BSF property (which, I might add, Bud Hall helped to pay for). The issue with the porta-potties was simply being chintzy. However, the demand that he be permitted to address our group was an astoundingly nervy thing for him to do, given that he and his board of appeasers have stood in the way of our efforts to preserve that ground. There was NO way that that was going to happen, now, or ever. We decided to move to the north side of Fleetwood Hill instead.

Then, on Friday night, while at dinner with some friends, former BSF president Bob Luddy–whom I’ve known for 15+ years–and his wife came in and were seated at the next table over from us. He spent the entire meal giving us the stink eye, and then when they got up to leave, I stood up, greeted him, and offered a hand to shake, and he very childishly refused to shake my hand, much like a two-year old child throwing a temper tantrum. He quite rudely and unprofessionally turned on his heel and stomped away. It left all of us shaking our heads, wondering what sort of an adult acts that way.

The final element of this little drama was the most comical. This was a reservations-only event. Only those who registered were welcome. When we got to Rose Hill, a guy nobody recognized showed up who had not been with the tour group over the course of the day. He started prying for information about where we went on the tour and which parcels we visited that were private property. Without any prompting, this uninvited party crasher admitted that he is a volunteer for the BSF, and when pressed about it by Craig Swain, he became very defensive about the whole thing before leaving unceremoniously. It’s bad enough that McKinney and his wife badmouth us to everyone who will listen–yes, we do know what you’re saying–but to act so childishly because you feel threatened? Please. Grow up, already!

Are we really that much of a threat to the BSF that they have to stoop to such childish and unprofessional conduct? Apparently, we are. We’re doing the work that they refuse to do because they’re too busy currying favor with landowners and tending to the Graffiti House. They should change their name to Friends of the Graffiti House and just step aside and let those of us who are serious about saving this battlefield do this important work. Instead, they act like babies. Perhaps that explains the outrageous conduct.

Despite the ridiculous, puerile conduct of the BSF and its people, we nevertheless had a superb day and a truly magnificent event. Thank you again to all who attended and especially to those who handled the logistics of this program. We could not have done so without you.

Finally, the Civil War Trust announced last week that we are 42% of the way to the goal for the purchase of Fleetwood Hill. To donate, please click here. Thank you for your support of our efforts to save the single most-fought over piece of ground of the American Civil War.

Scridb filter

Continue reading

initialtourstop150thanniversary-1Below are the details of the Brandy Station sesquicentennial tour, set for Saturday, June 8, 2013. ONLY THOSE WITH CONFIRMED RESERVATIONS ARE PERMITTED TO ATTEND. RESERVATIONS WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED AFTER THURSDAY, JUNE 5.. For a larger version of the map, please click on it.

A Message from Loudoun County Civil War Roundtable:

Dear Tour Registrant,

Thank you for registering for the Brandy Station 150th Anniversary Tour hosted by the Loudoun County Civil War Roundtable (LCCWRT).

As the date for the event is fast approaching, please make note of the following information:

1. Our first “rally point” on June 8 will be the Civil War Trust’s property on the north end of the Culpeper Airport. Please refer to the directional map shown below for detailed directions from US Rt. 29 to the initial staging area for the tour. For your convenience, the web link below may be used to determine the best route to the designated parking area for the initial staging area for the tour:,-77.858343&hl=en&sll=38.531596,-77.857431&sspn=0.002803,0.005681&t=h&mra=mift&mrsp=1&sz=18&z=18

Tour registrants are instructed to check in at the registration tent upon arrival and pick up an individual tour field packet containing battle maps and other historic information. After picking up the field tour packet, each registrant should proceed to the designated assembly area for an initial tour orientation by the guest historians. Portable toilets will also be available at the initial staging area for the convenience of tour attendees.

2. In order to cover the necessary ground for this special Sesquicentennial event, the tour will begin promptly at the initial staging area tour stop at 8:30 AM sharp on Saturday, June 8. Please make appropriate travel, parking, tour registration and hiking preparation arrangements, accordingly.

3. Although we have planned for adequate parking accommodations at the various tour stops for this event, it is highly recommended that tour participants consolidate vehicles where possible to reduce the number of vehicles on the battlefield roads and at designated parking areas for the individual tour stops. This will also facilitate rapid movement and parking of vehicles at each tour stop and provide more time for enjoying the tour that has been prepared by the guest historians.

As part of this effort, tour participants are requested to consolidate vehicles at the initial staging area parking area at the beginning of the tour if you are driving alone or with only one additional passenger. Return transportation will be provided to personal vehicles left at the initial staging area parking area at the end of the day. Be sure to lock your vehicle before leaving any personal items in the vehicle.

We also highly encourage tour registrants who have purchased multiple tickets on the Eventbrite website to carpool with friends as much as possible before arriving at the battlefield. There are several “park and ride” commuter lots with ample parking space on weekends located nearby where tour registrants can meet friends in order to consolidate transportation before arriving at the battlefield.

4. Handicap and Special Transportation: Those tour participants that need special transportation requirements between tour stops should plan to provide their own specially equipped vehicles for their special needs. Every effort will be made to accommodate these special vehicles at each tour stop and those tour participants with special transportation needs.

5. Please follow the designated lead “tour stop” vehicle that will lead the tour car caravan to and from each designated tour stop. Please follow the parking directions and instructions of the tour parking staff/traffic control attendants wearing yellow florescent jackets at the designated parking areas for each tour stop.

6. After leaving the initial staging area parking area, please be alert for directional tour signs posted at key intersections, along the side of the road and open fields identifying the LCCWRT Tour Route and location of the designated tour stops for your information and convenience. These tour signs will have the logo “LCCWRT TOUR” at the top.

7. For your safety and enjoyment of the tour, please obey all traffic signals/signs at intersections and all speed limits while moving from one tour stop to the next. The tour will not start at each tour stop until all tour participants have parked their cars and have arrived at the designated meeting place for the beginning of the tour.

8. For the convenience of tour attendees, adequate portable toilet facilities (both male and female) will be available to tour participants at various tour stops throughout the day. The locations of the portable toilets are identified on the tour stop itinerary map included in the tour field packet for your convenience.

9. The tour will traverse some moderately difficult grassy terrain and old farm roads. Please wear appropriate clothing including comfortable hiking shoes/boots (no open sandals), broad brimmed hats, sunglasses and (preferably) light colored tan khaki long pants (to avoid problems with pesky ticks). Be sure to tuck pant legs into socks and spray with insect/tick repellant. You may wish to bring a change of clothing for the end of the day at the last tour stop located at Rose Hill.

10. This tour will take place rain or shine. Please check local weather in the area prior to arriving at the battlefield and include rain gear if inclement weather is anticipated.

11. General Field Packing list – plenty of bottled water, insect/tick repellant, sunscreen, and packed lunch.

12. LCCWRT has charted an outstanding program which will take tour participants to places that tour groups have never visited before. Our guest historians will share unique vignettes in time that will enthrall the listener and carry you back to a time of plumed hats, bold cavaliers and swift horses. In order to include these important and rarely seen historic locations and share the wonderful stories that are associated with these sites, please be aware that the tour may extend up to ten hours in length. Tour attendees are free to leave the tour at any time during the day if their personal schedule does not permit them to complete the entire tour. But for those who do choose to remain with the tour through the final tour stop at Rose Hill, a special treat will be waiting.

13. If you know of anyone who has not registered for this special Sesquicentennial event, please encourage them to complete the proper registration for this event by clicking on the following web link and follow the instructions shown thereon:

By registering, tour planners will be better able to properly plan for the logistical requirements of the tour.

14. Emergency LCCWRT Contact Phone Numbers:

Cecil Jones (President) (571) 217-9816 (cell)

James Morgan (Vice President) (571) 225-2812 (cell)

15. Disclaimer: Although this is an easy outdoor hiking event without any known physical hazards, participation in this event is at tour registrant’s own personal risk. The Loudoun County Civil War Round Table and its members as well as all associated event historians, guides and support staff provided for this special Sesquicentennial event will not be held accountable or responsible for any personal injuries or damages to personal property incurred by participants while attending this event. All personal property belonging to individual tour registrants is the tour registrant’s sole responsibility. All personal items left in vehicles while participating in this event are the sole responsibility of the individual owners involved. Travel to and from this special event is at tour registrant’s personal risk.

Again, we thank you for registering for this special 150th Anniversary event and we look forward to seeing you on the battlefield on Saturday, June 8.

Loudoun County Civil War Round Table

This will be a once-in-a-lifetime tour. I encourage all interested readers to register. I hope to see some of you there!

Scridb filter

Continue reading

Copyright © Eric Wittenberg 2011, All Rights Reserved
Powered by WordPress