HMDB Civil War Updates – Week of 1 June

Rather short week for the Civil War category.  But the eighteen new entries span the country, with representatives from Arkansas, California, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana,  Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.

– In hilly northeast Arkansas, in Benton County, Arkansas, stands a marker for War Eagle Mills.  Both armies passed through the intersection after the 1862 battle of Pea Ridge.

– Perhaps this week is “cannon” week.  If so, the lead entry is for the GAR memorial in Modesto, California.  Two 24-pdr Coastal Guns flank the memorial.  Note that the entry is a true “marker” and is part of the E Clampus Vitus series.  The Ancient and Honorable Order of E Clampus Vitus is dedicated to preservation and study the Western Heritage.  Yes, that is Western as in the American West.

– Next in our “markers with cannons” theme, in Athens, Georgia stands an odd artillery piece – a double barrel cannon.  Designed and cast locally, the gun’s concept was to use two projectiles joined by a chain to cut down swaths of enemy troops.  Problem was timing the fire of both barrels.  Some sources say the gun was used in 1864 by the Home Guard with conventional canister projectiles.

– Elsewhere in Georgia, the Rockwell Universalist Church in Winder, Georgia served as a muster and drill point for Georgia troops.

– In early May 1864, Kilpatrick’s Cavalry Division screened the Federal 20th Corps as they passed Nickajack Gap in the opening operations of General Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign.   The movement was the “center” of three main lines of march.

– Eventually Sherman’s campaigns in Georgia reached Savannah on the coast.  A marker there along the Savannah River discusses “Christmas in Savannah” and offers details of Sherman’s visit.

– Perhaps the opposite end of the Western Theater from Savannah is Cairo, Illinois.  There a pavilion plaque and a state marker discuss the base used by General U.S. Grant during the opening moves of the war in the west.  While the site suffers somewhat from flooding, the observation pavilion offers an impressive view of the natural wonder where two great rivers join.  One can look up both rivers, looking at modern day barge traffic, and imagine steamboats, gunboats, and masses of troops along the banks.

– Back to the cannons, Cairo has a stone marker for the “Duncan Cannon” which I refer to as the “most inaccurate marker I’ve ever seen.”  Nick has blogged it before on a trip report.  The example is a 10-inch Rodman gun which was converted to an 8-inch rifle after the war.  Maybe I’ll build up a rant about the marker at some point to further illustrate the gross inaccuracies in the marker’s text.  But until then, I’ve offered a commentary on the entry if you care to get the gist of it.

– And more cannons!  Two 8-inch Rodman Guns support the Owen County, Indiana G.A.R. memorial.  (Since you asked, Harry…) Both guns were cast at Fort Pitt, in Pittsburgh.

– Moving to the Eastern Theater, our “Gettysburg Campaign” representative this week comes from McConnellsburg, Pennsylvania.  The Fulton County marker states the first Confederate casualty of the campaign was incurred there.  (I guess we don’t count Second Winchester?)  Also the last Confederate bivouac in Pennsylvania of the war, in 1864, was nearby.

– At Fort Sumter, South Carolina, a marker points to the site of Morris Island.  Of course readers here are likely familiar with the movie Glory and the closing scenes depicting fighting there.  The site of Battery Wagner was the subject of a recent Civil War Preservation Trust effort.

– Our single Tennessee marker this week discusses Forrest’s July 1862 capture of the Federal garrison at Murfreesboro.  Placing things in perspective, stores lost to the Confederates there were valued at half a million dollars, or so the marker says.

– The lone Virginia entry this week is a Civil War Trails marker in front of the Chesterfield Courthouse.  The town witnessed the one of the Army of Northern Virginia’s columns as it retreated from the Petersburg-Richmond defenses.

– A marker in Lewisburg, West Virginia mentions a small battle fought there in May 1862.  General Henry Heth was repulsed when attacking a Federal garrison there.  Nearby two separate state markers (one) (two) discuss the Greenbrier Military School, which was used as a barracks and hospital during the war.

Not a lot of Civil War entries, but the database saw a lot of entries in other subject areas.

While not directly related to the war, one marker I added this week from New Madrid, Missouri has an interesting connection.  In the middle of that river town stands the Higgerson School, which was relocated from its original site in 1997.  The Higgerson School was named for a family which moved west and settled around New Madrid after the Civil War.

Higgerson School in New Madrid, Missouri
Higgerson School in New Madrid, Missouri

Originally, the Higgersons lived at a place you may recall – the Wilderness of Spotsylvania County, Virginia.   (Many thanks to Joe Rokus for some of the background on these markers!)

Higgerson Farm Ruins at the Wilderness
Higgerson Farm Ruins at the Wilderness

Published by Craig Swain

"Historical marker hunter" and Civil War enthusiast.

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