New Blog to the Roll

Civil War Traveler’s news email highlighted a new blog associated with their program – Jeff King’s Civil War Travel Blog.  The purpose of the blog is described briefly:

Jeff King shares notes and pictures from his treks — through mountain war sites in eastern Tennessee and Kentucky and also South Carolina….

At first I intended to burn just a few minutes browsing through and bookmark the site for later.  But the photos and discriptions of his Charleston trip(s) got me distracted for well past the intended time.  Lots of out of the way sites documented on Jeff’s blog, making it a good reference for battlefield stompers, marker hunters, or just those interested to see what is out there.


HMDB Civil War Updates – Week of 27 July

Updates are running late this week do to some technical issues on my end.  Past that now and can report. 

Of the 400 or so marker entries at the Historical Marker Database this week, 59 were related to the Civil War.  Once again a good ratio, representing sites in Connecticut, Georgia, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.  Here are some highlights:

– The New Milford, Connecticut Civil War Memorial lists members of the community who served in the War.

– In Dahlonega, Georgia, the Old Mustering Grounds served as a rally point for volunteers for the Texas War of Independence, campaigns against the Cherokees, the Mexican-American War, and the Civil War.  Men of White, Dawson, and Floyd Counties met there during the war and helped form five companies. 

– Two markers for Sherman’s March to the Sea this week.  One in Wadley, Georgia marks the passage of the Left Wing of Sherman’s Army.  The other notes the passage of the Right Wing near Wrightsville. 

– A memorial in Baxter Springs, Kansas lists the names of soldiers, and some civilians, buried nearby who were casualties from the Battle of Baxter Springs (October 8, 1863) and other nearby engagements.  The units represented on the inscription include several Kansas infantry and cavalry regiments, a Kansas artillery battery, two Wisconsin infantry regiments, and two U.S.C.T. regiments – the 79th and 83rd.

– A marker in Osawatomie, Kansas provides information about the Battle of Osawatomie, an episode in the “Bleeding Kansas” conflict leading up to the Civil War, fought on August 30, 1856.  John Brown led the anti-slavery forces.

– Before  leaving the Trans-Mississippi, let me mention the “trail head” marker for the battle of Westport tour.  More to follow on the markers interpreting the September 1864 battle near Kansas City.  Nearby is McCoy’s Trading Post, a landmark for the Santa Fe, California, and Oregon Trails, which was used by General Samuel Curtiss during the battle as an observation post. 

– In June 1862, General U.S. Grant maintained a headquarters in Corinth, Mississippi, during the slow motion pursuit of the Confederates after the battle of Shiloh. 

– A marker and a memorial in Florida, New York indicate the birth site of William H. Seward, Lincoln’s Secretary of State.

– A state marker in Cashiers, South Carolina notes the summer home of Confederate General and U.S. Senator Wade Hampton.

– Nineteen entries this week complete a set along the Ruggles’ Batteries trail in Shiloh National Battlefield Park. 

– Two entries this week note the locations where Confederate brigades fought at Murphreesboro, Tennessee during the battle on December 31, 1862.  Chalmers’ and Donelson’s Brigades advanced on the Federal Positions near the Round Forest from points near the markers.  The location is one of the “lost” portions of the field, which has not been preserved.

– A new Civil War Trails marker in Fairfax, Virginia interprets the graffiti left by Union soldiers on Blenheim (Willcoxon Farm). 

– Several new entries this week interpret the Civil War activity in Portsmouth, Virginia.  The USS Merrimack was burned at the US Navy Yard near Craney Island at the start of the war.  The ship, as most recall, was rebuilt by the Confederates and became the CSS Virginia.  Other Civil War Trails markers relate details about the Portsmouth Navy Hospital and the Old Towne with respect to the Civil War. 

– Two marker entries this week trace Lee’s journey after Appomattox back to Richmond.  The first near Buckingham, Virginia indicates where the general camped on April 12-13, 1865.  The second near Cartersville, Virginia indicates Lee stopped the following night near Flannagan’s Mill

– A new Prince William County marker notes the location of Stony Lonesome, General Richard Ewell’s boyhood home. 

– Another marker from the recently reopened armory grounds at Harpers Ferry features a moulding simulating artifacts found on site during recent archaeological excavations.  I owe you a trip report on the newly opened exhibitions there.

– A Civil War Trails marker in Fairmont, West Virginia notes a battle there during the Jones-Imboden Raid of April 1863.  The B&O Railroad Bridge was destroyed by the raiders, but repaired shortly afterwards. 

– And saving a gem for last, eleven markers interpret the Civil War Preservation Trust’s Slaughter Pen Farm section of the Fredericksburg Battlefield.  The trail there is roughly 1 3/4 mile, and offers views of the Federal side of the battle we just didn’t get a good appreciation for, in my opinion, due to the park boundaries.  At the Slaughter Pen, one can see ground contested during the critical phases of the battle, and where five Medals of Honor were earned for heroism.  I’ll post a trip report on this trail shortly.

Bristoe Station Trip Report

Like many Civil War battlefields in Northern Virginia, Bristoe Station is under ever increasing pressure as the Capital Beltway expands.  The heart of this battlefield is now preserved within the Bristoe Station Battlefield Heritage Park, through the efforts of the Civil War Preservation Trust, working with local real estate developers and Prince William County.

Also like many battlefields in Northern Virginia, there are actually multiple Civil War events which occurred on the ground.  The area was a Confederate winter encampment in 1861-62.  Later the following summer on August 27, 1862 as Federal columns in pursuit of Confederate Gen. “Stonewall” Jackson’s force approached Manassas Junction, a rear guard force under Confederate General Richard S. Ewell held a defensive line along nearby Kettle Run.   While the park includes extended walking trails to areas related to those events, the interpretation offered highlights the October 14, 1863 battle fought at the site.

The National Park Service offers a self guided tour to the location, but I’ve found that somewhat dated due to changes in the road infrastructure.  The tour was written before the current park was established, and opened to the public, and as such focuses on sites accessible at that time.   If one is visiting the Manassas Battlefield, the best way to Bristoe Station is by way of Virginia Highway 28, which passes through the town of Manassas.  To the west of the interchange with Virginia Highway 234 is Broad Run, one of the sites mentioned on the NPS self guided tour.  But the state marker mentioned in the tour was relocated during road improvements.  Roughly 2/3 mile past the bridge make a left at a traffic light onto Bristow Road (CR 619).  In about half a mile turn left onto Iron Brigade Unit Avenue.  Follow that drive up to Tenth Alabama Way and enter the parking area for the Heritage Park.

The Battle of Bristoe Station was part of a larger campaign in the fall of 1863, in which Confederate General Robert E. Lee attempted to regain some of the momentum lost in the Gettysburg Campaign earlier in the summer.  In a scenario somewhat similar to the early stages of the 2nd Manassas Campaign the previous year, the Army of Northern Virginia advanced north out of Culpeper in an attempt to get behind the Army of the Potomac.  As the armies maneuvered toward the familiar terrain around Centreville, a series of small and confusing actions occurred around Auburn to the northwest of Bristoe.

Continuing toward Manassas Junction as the lead of the Confederate army, on October 14, 1863 General A.P. Hill’s Corps  encountered what he thought were the trail elements of the Federal army at Broad Run.  After driving off some rear guard forces of the Federal V Corps around 1:30 p.m., Hill’s men, with General Henry Heth’s Division in the lead, came into contact with parts of the Federal II Corps, under General Gouverneur K. Warren, posted along the Orange & Alexandria Railroad at Bristoe Station.  Hill’s hasty deployment of Heth’s Division soon turned into a disaster as Confederate troops were bloodily repulsed.  The repulse bought enough time for the Federal column to resume their march unmolested to Centreville.

The “A.P. Hill’s Folly” Trail (guides available on site or from the County web site – page 1 and page 2)  starts at the parking lot and covers the ground fought over on the afternoon of October 14. The trail is 1.3 miles long and has seven stops including the parking lot kiosk. Stop 2 on the trail is a rise of ground offering a view of the terrain where the opening stages of the battle unfolded.

Looking North from the Battlefield
Looking North from the Battlefield

The forward elements of Heth’s Division deployed in fields that is today the wooded area to the distant right of the houses in the view above, on the other side of Bristow Road, and south of Va. 28.  The North Carolina brigades of Gens. John Cooke and W.W. Kirkland in particular wheeled from that area to the south when Warren’s II Corps was first sighted along the railroad.

Stop 3 of the Trail
Trail Stop 3 - Brave men of North Carolina

The view above looks directly toward the railroad (far distant tree line) where Warren’s men were posted.  Shortly after 2 p.m.  Cooke’s men advanced across this ground toward the Federal position, with Kirkland’s Brigade on the east side of Brentsville Road (modern Bristow Road).  Both brigades suffered heavily.  The tour guide cites the 27th North Carolina in particular losing 290 casualties of 416 engaged, including 33 of 36 officers.  Both Cooke and Kirkland were wounded in the action.

Robertson Cemetery
Robertson Cemetery

Astride Cooke’s line of march is Robertson Cemetery, which was not on the battlefield at the time.  It dates to 1884, and from what I can tell does not include any veterans’ graves.

Tour Stop 4
Trail Stop 4 - Fall of Col. Mallon

Cooke’s and Kirkland’s attack gained only a temporary purchase on the Federal line astride the railroad.  A brigade led by Col. James Mallon held the line directly south (left out of frame of the photo) in this sector.  Mallon counterattacked and pushed back the Confederate infantry, however he was killed near this spot rallying his men.

Orange & Alexandria Railroad
Orange & Alexandria Railroad

The Federal Divisions of Gens. Alexander Webb and Alexander Hays defended along the railroad line, seen here from a point along the trail southwest of stop 4.  Federal artillery posted on the high ground south of the railroad had clear fields of fire to assist the defenders.

Tour Stop 5 - Confederate Reinforcements
Trail Stop 5 - Confederate Reinforcements

Looking north along the trail toward the Confederate lines.  The Brigade of Gen. E.A. Perry advanced toward the camera in this view to cover the right flank of Cooke’s assault.   To the left of frame the Brigade of Gen. Carnot Posy also advanced, only to be checked by the Federals of Hays Division.  Posey was mortally wounded while leading his command.

Looking Toward Stop 6 - Confederate Artillery
Looking Toward Stop 6 - Confederate Artillery

The trail turns back northeast toward the high ground to complete the loop.  This view looks up the slope of the hill overlooking Bristoe Station.  Major David McIntosh placed seven guns on this high ground to counter the Federal artillery on the south side of the railroad.  With the repulse of Cooke’s infantry, Federal forces advanced in pursuit.  In addition to capturing many Confederates, two battle flags, and five of McIntosh’s guns.   The trail stop is at the top of this rise, next to the trees in the distant left center.

Trail Stop 7 - Aftermath and View of the Battlefield
Trail Stop 7 - Aftermath and View of the Battlefield

Looking southeast from the top of the hill.  This view allows the visitor to take in the important points of the field.  The railroad runs across this view in the distant tree line, behind the rusty barn in the far left.  Federal batteries were posted on the high ground beyond the railroad.  Cooke’s Confederates were repulsed after attacking across the ground below this point.  That repulse also turned any options Lee had to bring his adversary into a general engagement.  Once beyond Broad Run, the Federals had secured their links to Washington, D.C.   There would be no 3rd Manassas in 1863.  Was it from this vantage point that Lee censured Hill by saying, “… bury these poor men and let us say no more about it…”?

Soon to Be Visitor Center
Soon to Be Visitor Center

This recent trip in June was my third trip to Bristoe Station.  The trail and trail guides have evolved somewhat since the first visit in 2007.  And more improvements are planned, to include opening the 20th century building atop the hill as a visitor center (as indicated by a sign in the window).  I’ve found the Hill’s Folly trail generally an easy walk with only one or two inclines to worry about.  The trail is part paved, with gravel on the rest.  My “aide-de-camp” was able to use his “push bike” around the loop.  The other two trails – Tragedy in Camp and Kettle Run Expansion – are mostly dirt paths, but do not have the terrain elevations to worry about.  However after any heavy rain, those trails are very muddy.

Battlefield Preservation Threats
Battlefield Preservation Threats

One last note on Bristoe Station.  As seen from the view above from the Kettle Run Expansion trail, developers are busy on their side of the divide.  Certainly many areas related to the Civil War in the nearby area remain unprotected, and I’m just not happy trying to visualize “what was” around three story housing units. While making the most of the preservation that was done, we should acknowledge what additional work remains to protect the culturally and historically significant sites around Bristoe Station.

John Cark and Company Field Howitzers

As mentioned on the weekly marker updates, I’m currently working on the War Department tablets and monuments found along the Ruggles’ Batteries trail at Shiloh National Military Park.  Shiloh offers one of the most diverse collections of Civil War era artillery found today.  The weapons representing Ruggles’ Batteries is in my opinion the showcase of that collection.  Two of the pieces at Shiloh are 12-pdr Field Howitzers produced by John Clark & Company of New Orleans, Louisiana.

12-pdr John Clark Field Howitzer at Shiloh
12-pdr John Clark Field Howitzer at Shiloh

Before the war, John Clark owned a foundry at the intersection of Race and Tchoupitoulas Streets in what is today the Lower Garden District, close to the Mississippi River.  At the outbreak of war, Clark announced his firm could produce bronze field pieces for interested parties.  From June 1861 to the fall of New Orleans to the Federals in April 1862 the firm produced over 100 cannons.  Most of these were for private contracts.  Many of these went to the artillery batteries from New Orleans.   For the most part, the foundry produced two types – 6-pounder Field Guns and 12-pounder Field Howitzers.  Orders by the Confederate government for Armstrong pattern guns were unfilled when the city fell.

John Clark. // Maker. // N.O.
John Clark. // Maker. // N.O.

Clark’s pattern deviated from that of the standard 12-pdr Field Howitzer (Model of 1841) somewhat.  To the casual observer, the most apparent is a bulbous muzzle swell, instead of the straight muzzles of the regulation weapons.

Clark Howitzer Muzzle Swell and Chase Astragal
Clark Howitzer Muzzle Swell and Chase Astragal

The swell is more pronounced than that of a 12-pdr Napoleon (of the same caliber).  Note also the over sized chase astragal, which replaces the plain chase ring of the regulation howitzer.  The moldings on the muzzle face are also distinctive, not conforming to the Ordnance department designs.  And as seen in the photo below, the knob joins the base of the howitzer with a shallow curve, with barely any fillet.

Knob of Howitzer at Manassas NBP
Knob of Howitzer at Manassas NBP

And the pieces are definitely howitzers, with a chamber, as seen around the debris in this photo:

Bore of a Clark Howitzer at Shiloh
Bore of a Clark Howitzer at Shiloh

All examples have defects, indications of poor casting, and general roughly handled surfaces.  This is likely due to the inexperience with bronze gun casting at the Clark foundry.

In my travels over this last year, I’ve encountered five examples of the Clark howitzers.  Two are at Shiloh.  The first (pictured in the first photo above) is on exhibit next to the 5th Company of the Louisiana Washington Artillery tablet.  The piece is paired with another 12-pdr Howitzer of Confederate origin, this one produced by S. Wolff & Company, also of New Orleans (and a story for another day).

CS Howitzers - Wolff on the left, Clark on the Right
CS Howitzers - Wolff on the left, Clark on the Right

The 5th Company was formed after the first four companies of the Louisiana Washington Artillery departed for Virginia early in the war.  The 5th served the war in the Western Theater.   With both howitzers produced in New Orleans prior to the fall of the city in 1862, there are some good odds that one or both tubes were present at Shiloh during the battle.  And there is the possibility the pieces were actually employed near the spot they now occupy during the battle.

About 300 feet away at the tablet for Stanford’s Mississippi Battery is another Clark howitzer.

Clark Howitzer at Stanford's Battery Position
Clark Howitzer at Stanford's Battery Position

Stanford’s was another long serving battery in the Western Theater, seeing action in all the major battles up to Nashville in 1864.

Moving to Virginia, a single Clark howitzer at Petersburg NBP stands on the remains of Confederate Battery No. 6, just south of the park visitor center.

Clark Howitzer at Petersburg
Clark Howitzer at Petersburg

I am unaware of any specific unit this cannon represents.   Likely it is simply an efficient use of one of the park’s quite diverse set of artillery, to depict a Confederate position.

Lastly, at Manassas NBP two Clark howitzers stand in the line of bronze cannon representing the Confederate artillery in their position opposite the Henry House on the First Manassas battlefield.  The first stands near the “…Like a Stone Wall” wayside on the Henry Hill walking trail.  The closest unit marker is one reciting various batteries assembled at that point in the battle.

Clark Howitzer at Manassas (one of two)
Clark Howitzer at Manassas (one of two)

The other howitzer stands near the Louisiana Washington Artillery Battalion marker, which means it represents in part the first four companies of the Washington Artillery.

Clark Howitzer at Manassas - Washington Artillery
Clark Howitzer at Manassas - Washington Artillery

As with those tubes at Shiloh, is it possible that this particular piece saw action at Manassas?  Well according to Harry’s Confederate order of battle, the 1st Company of the Washington Artillery brought four 12-pdrs to the battle.  But with nothing in the way of markings on either piece at Manassas, we’d be asking silent guns to speak out loud again.

So five examples of the Clark howitzers – a little something for enthusiasts from both Eastern and Western Theaters!


Sources consulted:

Daniel, Larry J., and Riley W. Gunter.  Confederate Cannon Foundries.  Union City, Tennessee: Pioneer Press, 1977

Daniel, Larry J.  Cannoneers in Gray: The Field Artillery of the Army of Tennessee, 1961-1865. University of Alabama Press, 1984.

Hazlett, James C., Edwin Olmstead, and M. Hume Parks. Field Artillery Weapons of the Civil War, Revised Edition. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2004.

HMDB Civil War Updates – Week of 20 July

Another good summer time batch of Civil War entries this week at Historical Marker Database, with over fifty additions.  These represent Civil War related sites in the District of Columbia, Georgia, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.  Here’s some of the high points:

– Three markers interpret the site of Fort DeRussy (a Park Service “billboard“, a newer wayside, and an older metal plaque)  in the Washington Defenses.

Twelve more markers this week covering the Dallas, New Hope Church, and Pickett’s Mill battles in Paulding County, Georgia.  Shortly I will collect these into a related set for the battlefield by markers displays.

Eight markers to add with those from last week from Hagerstown, Maryland.  Topics on these markers include John Brown’s raid, buildings used as hospitals after the battle of Antietam, the Battle of Hagerstown during the Gettysburg retreat, the ransom of Hagerstown in 1864, and town politics prior to and during the war.  Hagerstown plans to add at least five more markers in this series associated with Civil War sites in the town.

– A marker in Monroe, Michigan complements a memorial to General George A. Custer.    The memorial was dedicated by President Taft in 1910.

– Four Civil War related memorials from Mansfield, Ohio this week.  In addition to the Richland County War Memorial and the Richland County Medal of Honor Memorial, the town boasts memorials to the Sultana disaster.  A memorial on the Public Square lists casualties of the disaster from the county, by unit.  A mile and a half away in Central Park is a memorial to those from the 102nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry who died when the steamboat blew up.

– A marker in Wahlalla, South Carolina details the life of General John A. Wagener.  Wagener organized German immigrants in the state, served a term as mayor of Charleston, and commanded the German Artillery during the war.

– I’ve begun adding some of the markers and tablets from my trip to Shiloh in the spring, starting with those at the Ruggles’ Batteries tour stop.

-Ten markers added this week by Bernie Fisher, our Richmond area contributing-editor, cover the North Anna Battlefield walking trail.  These ten complement the existing set of markers covering the North Anna phase of the Overland Campaign.

– From Mechanicsville, Virginia a marker indicates the site of Rutland, a house used by General J.E.B. Stuart as a headquarters in July 1862.  The house originally stood 800 yards southeast of the present location, but was moved by a developer in 2007 to ensure preservation of the structure.  Also relocated, and now in front of the house, are remains from an unmarked African-American cemetery.  Most of the graves dated to the post-war period.

– A West Virginia state marker indicates the remains of Gauley Bridge, site of a small action in 1861.  The bridge stood at the junction of the New and Gauley Rivers (which then form the Kanawha River).  Piers of the wartime bridge stand near the opposite shore.

– Four markers this week interpret the battle of Carnifex Ferry, in Nicholas County, West Virginia.  The battle, fought on September 10, 1861, helped secure West Virginia for the Union.  The Henry Patterson house is one battlefield landmark intepreted by the markers.

A good sampling of marker entries this week.  Our coverage of the Dallas Line in Georigia is nearly complete.  Hopefully by the end of the summer, we’ll have a respectible collection representing the Shiloh battlefield also.

Manassas Anniversary Weekend

This weekend, the Manassas National Battlefield Park held their annual observance of the anniversary of the First Manassas or Bull Run (if you prefer).  These are always good events for my young aide-de-camp, with  demonstrations and displays to attract the attention of a young little boy.  An added blessing this year, and I cannot recall a summer as this one, are the mild temperatures.   Almost early June weather in the middle of July!  So if a “bad day” walking a Civil War battlefield is better than a “great day” at work, then what would a GREAT DAY on the battlefield be like????

Our first stop of the day was the Stone Bridge.  My aide loves to get a good look at bridges, and of course is fascinated by any body of water.

The Stone Bridge
The Stone Bridge from the East Bank

Like many battlefield “wanderers”, I’m somewhat inspired by William Frassanito, and look for “then and now” comparisons.  The Stone Bridge received some attention over the last few years for the wear and tear due to exposure and weathering.  Of course the current Stone Bridge is itself a “repair” of the bridge destroyed in March 1862.

Ruins of Stone Bridge 1862

This photo taken 1962 included in the Historic American Building Survey shows the south facing side of the bridge:

1962 View of South Face of Bridge
1962 View of South Face of Bridge

The south face today looks very much as it did in during the Centennial years:

South Face of Bridge Today
South Face of Bridge Today

Beyond the bridge, one of our objectives was the recently repaired walkway over the low ground west of the bridge.  The causeway was repaired over the last two seasons by volunteers.  Work was ongoing as recently as this last May when Harry Smeltzer and I stomped around the battlefield.

Repaired Walkway West of the Stone Bridge
Repaired Walkway West of the Stone Bridge

The trail offers many opportunities to examine the flora and fauna of Northern Virginia up close.  And some of the fauna are … well… just as interested in us people as we are of them!

Four Legged Residents of Manassas
Mother and "Bambi" Enjoy Manassas

Our next stop was the Stone House.  For the Anniversary weekend, the upper floor was open for viewing.  Since the rooms upstairs are not furnished, many visitors bypass the climb up.  Personally I consider the Stone House to be the Manassas answer to the observation towers at Antietam or Gettysburg.  From the upstairs windows one can take in Buck Hill and Henry House Hill.

Buck Hill through the Stone House Windows
Buck Hill through the Stone House Windows

The antique style window panes add that “rustic” feel to the view.  But of course, I should have stopped to “do the windows.”  The view to the south is equally impressive, but one must time traffic to avoid a photo cluttered with “modernisms.”

Henry House and Hill from Stone House
Henry House and Hill from Stone House

From the Stone House, we made a short walk up Buck Hill.  Much of the landscape restoration is complete now, with recent additions of wood rail fencing.

Matthews Hill from Buck Hill
Matthews Hill from Buck Hill

And with the living historians in full force at the Henry House, the tentage present offered a “glimpse of the past.”

Stone and Henry Houses from Buck Hill
Stone and Henry Houses from Buck Hill

Our last stop on the 1st Manassas Battlefield was the Visitor Center.  My aide is always interested in the cannon, and insisted on a walk to the Confederate artillery line east of the Henry House.

Confederate Artillery
Confederate Artillery

If you follow my marker entries, you’ll notice I have a fondness for the “gunner’s view” of the battlefield.

Gunner's View of the Henry House
Gunner's View of the Henry House

After chatting with several living historians and park rangers, my aide announced it was time for a picnic.  While many visitors to the battlefield prefer to forage into the sprawl of Manassas, we opted to visit the park’s picnic area off Groveton Road.  This section of the battlefield was “saved” from development in what was called the Third Battle of Manassas.  I find it a rather quiet spot for a break, with several sites nearby related to the 2nd Manassas.

Now to answer my earlier question, “What is a GREAT DAY on the battlefield be like?”  Well on the ride home, my aide announced, “this was the best day trip E-V-E-R!”

Even if it rains every weekend past Labor Day this year, with that note, I’ve got to call this summer campaign season a success.   I think my son has a memory to cherish in later years.

Edwards Ferry – Pennsylvania Reserves and Stannard’s Brigade

Last post I discussed the crossing of the Army Headquarters and Artillery Reserve as some of the moving pieces to consider outside the larger infantry corps that crossed.  The two remaining elements mentioned are both infantry formations detached from the Washington Defenses as reinforcements to the Army of the Potomac – The Pennsylvania Reserves Division and Stannard’s Vermont Brigade.

The Pennsylvania Reserves (often annotated the Pennsylvania Reserve Corps in some contemporary correspondence) were posted to the Washington Defenses during the previous winter, pulling them off the line to allow recruiting up to strength. (Note 1)  The regiments were posted around the southwest quadrant of the defensive ring, particularly around Falls Church and Upton’s Hill.  The later was a prominent rise in elevation which commanded the Pimmit Run area and several approaches from the west.  But the Reserves would also serve picket duty at Fairfax Station and have some run ins with the Confederate partisans operating in Northern Virginia. (Note 2)  General Samuel Crawford was in command of the Pennsylvanians.

With Pennsylvania invaded, there was much clamoring in the ranks and up the ranks to reform the formation back into the Army of the Potomac.  On June 25, 1863 the reserves were reallocated from the Washington Defenses back to the Army of the Potomac (but not yet attached or assigned to the V Corps).  The brigades of McCandless and Fisher formed Crawford’s Division.  Orders dispatched at 9:30 a.m. on June 25 stated called for Crawford to “march with your command to-day, via Leesburg turnpike, to Edwards Ferry, and if possible, he wishes you to cross the river at that point, should you reach the Ferry in season.”   (Note 3)   For the elements posted in the vicinity of Upton’s Hill and Falls Church (I believe this to be Fisher’s Brigade), the first steps towards Gettysburg were directly down the Leesburg Turnpike.   For those posted near Fairfax Courthouse (and I believe this to be McCandless’ Brigade), the route was through Vienna.    Indications are the Pennsylvanians started the movement that afternoon.

First Leg of Crawford's Division March
First Leg of Crawford's Division March - June 25th

What I have not depicted on this set of cuts off the McDowell map is where the two columns joined.    One soldier of the 13th Pennsylvania Reserves (McCandless’ Brigade) recounted starting the march at 3:30 p.m. and halting near Vienna in the early morning hours of the 26th, where they joined Fisher’s Brigade.  (Note 4)  Several routes would bring the two brigades together.  I cannot rule out that Fisher’s Brigade used the railroad (called on my my the W&OD but at the time was the Alexandria, Loudoun & Hampshire) for part of their march.  Nor can I state specifically which, of several, routes McCandless’ Brigade took from Vienna to the Leesburg Pike.  But I think it safe to assume the junction was made on the night of June 25-26.

The next day the column was on the move again.  After crossing Difficult Run, Crawford’s men moved through the busy intersection at Dranesville, which of course was somewhat noteworthy in the Reserves’ history.  The Pennsylvanians had first gone into action at the Battle of Dranesville in December 1861.

Second Leg of Crawford's Division March
Second Leg of Crawford's Division March - morning of June 26

Of course a “third leg”  beyond Broad Run to Edwards Ferry, generally that followed the path taken by previously mentioned units.

Dranesville to Edwards Ferry
Dranesville to Edwards Ferry - Afternoon of June 26 Crossing on June 27

Crawford’s Division arrived at Edwards Ferry on June 26.  On a dispatch stamped for 9:25 a.m. that day, Crawford reports, “My command is crossing…. I will join General Meade to-night.  Sedgwick left Dranesville this morning.  Road is encumbered by trains of Third Corps….” (Note 5)   Later that day, General Hancock confirmed Crawford’s crossing in a report to Army Headquarters. (Note 6)

I find two issues of note in Crawford’s report.  First the timing – from Difficult Run (about the furthest west the column reached on the 25th) to Edwards Ferry is a 12 to 14 mile march.  VI Corps the trailing unit at this time, well south of the Pike, but closing on Dranesville.  Crawford’s report of the crossing matches with the Army Itinerary which states the Reserves arrived at Goose Creek on the evening of June 26 then crossed on June 27. (Note 7)  However in spite of the reports forwarded to Headquarters, General Daniel Butterfield inquired to the engineers at Edwards Ferry about Crawford’s crossing at 1 p.m. (Note 8)  Based on the timing of dispatches and reports, it appears Crawford’s command at least cleared the bridges in advance of VI Corps on the morning of June 27.

Second Crawford makes reference to III Corps wagons blocking the road.  Is it possible that III Corps still had trains in the area around the crossing some two days after the main body had passed?  I can only offer some speculations here.  It is what Crawford reported and III Corps was impeading the Army’s movement with its slow moving wagon trains.  However Crawford might not have been familiar with the corps badges standardized in March of that year.  Was perhaps Crawford confused over corps badges?  Maybe thinking the trefoil of II Corps (which had crossed the previous day and was still in the vicinity of Poolesville) was actually for III Corps?  Just speculation.

Once across the Potomac, Crawford’s Division marched to join V Corps near Ballinger’s Creek outside Frederick, Maryland.  There the division was formally assigned to that formation.  Of course at this same time, General George Meade commanding V Corps was assigned to command the Army of the Potomac, and was replaced at corps command by General George Sykes.

The march of Brig. Gen. George Stannard’s Vermont Brigade is, for me at least, surrounded by questions.  The Army itinerary simply states the brigade moved “from the Defenses of Washington, left the mouth of the Occoquan en route to join the Army of the Potomac.”  (Note 9)  Stannard’s official report leaves off discussion of the route taken, stating the brigade moved from the Occoquan on June 25 to arrive at Gettysburg on July 1. (Note 10)  Col. Francis V. Randall of the 13th Vermont stated his regiment was on picket duty near Wolf Run Shoals prior to June 24.  The regiment then marched to Centreville on the 25th and from there to Gettysburg on July 1.  (Note 11)

So where did Stannard’s men cross the Potomac? Certainly if the Brigade consolidated at Centreville, the logical point was Edwards Ferry.  But this places Stannard’s men on the same roads as VI Corps on their first day of march toward Edwards Ferry.   The only hint I can see regarding Stannard’s crossing at Edwards Ferry is the report by General Henry Benham at 8:35 p.m. on June 27, in which he mentions the passing of the “Vermont Brigade” on the upper bridge.  (Note 12)  Personally I would rather attribute that reference to “The Old Vermont” Brigade of Col. Lewis Grant, part of General Albion Howe’s Second Division, VI Corps, which crossed on the 27th.   There are a couple of resources that I do not have access to at this juncture which might clear this mater up.  So I’ll table discussion until such time.

(UPDATE:  I have collected enough information to trace the Second Vermont Brigade’s march to Edwards Ferry)

As much of the sites associated with Crawford’s and Stannard’s commands passing to Edwards Ferry are either in Fairfax County or were already covered by previous posts, AND since this post is already longer than anticipated, I’ll forgo a “route of the march” tour suggestion for now.



  1. History of the Pennsylvania Reserves, by J.R. Sypher.  Elias Barr and Co., Lancaster, Pennsylvania, 1865.  p. 428.
  2. Ibid.  p. 434.
  3. Orders from AAG Seth Williams to General S.W. Crawford, 9:30 a.m., June 25, 1863. OR, Series I, Volume 27, Serial 45, p. 309.
  4. Letter from “Tinicum”, 13th Pennsylvania Reserves, Company F.  July 6, 1863.  Access from the Pennsylvania Reserves Volunteer Corps Historical Society web site.
  5. Dispatch from Crawford to Seth Williams, 9:25 a.m., June 27, 1863.  OR, Series I, Volume 27, Serial 45, p. 353.
  6. Dispatch from Hancock to Seth Williams, June 27, 1863. OR, Series I, Volume 27, Serial 45, p. 354.
  7. Itinerary of the Army of the Potomac and co-operating forces, June 5-July 31, 1863.  OR, Series I, Volume 27, Serial 43, p. 145.
  8. Dispatch from Butterfield to Capt. Turnbull at Edwards Ferry, 1 p.m., June 27, 1863. OR, Series I, Volume 27, Serial 45, p. 353.
  9. Itinerary of the Army of the Potomac and co-operating forces, June 5-July 31, 1863.  OR, Series I, Volume 27, Serial 43, p. 145.
  10. Report of Brig. Gen. George J. Stannard, U.S. Army, commanding Third Brigade.  July 4, 1863.  OR, Series I, Volume 27, Serial 43, p. 348.
  11. Report of Col. Francis V. Randall, Thirteenth Vermont Infantry.  July 10, 1863.  OR. Series I, Volume 27, Serial 43, p. 351.
  12. Dispatch from Benham to Seth Williams, 8:35 p.m., June 27, 1863.  OR, Series I, Volume 27, Serial 45, p. 353.