Monthly Archives: January 2010

Burrr…..Gettysburg Day Trip Cut Short

My intentions today included a wide ranging trip to sites in and around Gettysburg.  Yes, I’ve visited, photographed, and entered the battlefield markers, monuments, and memorials in the main battle area.  However, a large portion of the wayside type markers in town await documentation.  I’ve held off entering the modern hospital markers (from the Hospital and Healthsystem Association).  And of several of the sites associated with the battle, particularly the smaller actions, have items which I need to post.

All that said, after looking at the weather predictions, last night I trimmed my itinerary to some easily reachable sites.  On the road before dawn, I reached the battlefield as the sun first broke out from the horizon.  Taking my usual route into the battlefield, I stopped near the Eisenhower Inn for some perspective regarding the proposed casino site.

Looking North along Emmitsburg Road

As I said, it was very early in the day!

J.D. Petruzzi and others have related the significance of this ground.  Merritt’s Cavalry Brigade staged here on July 3, as the far left flank of the Federal lines.   I shudder to think, should the casino go in, how quickly the spot in the photo above might become a gas station or fast food joint.

From that site, I drove up to Oak Hill and the Peace Memorial, mostly to photograph recently refurbished tablets at that location.  And I love to “take in” the battlefield in those early morning hours before large numbers of other visitors arrive.

First Day Battlefield from Oak Hill

First Day Battlefield from Oak Hill

From there, I enjoyed breakfast in town with fellow blogger Harry Smeltzer.  Good food and good conversation.   When out in town, I often wonder if the locals grow tired of us “Civil War nuts” in public venues conversing about all those odd topics….

We made a trip over to the visitor center, partly to browse for books, but also for me to show off my knowledge of field artillery!

Wiard 12-pdr Rifle

Harry had to press on homeward at that point.  But I planned to take in as many sites on my checklist before the bad weather arrived. Little did I know the snow was also on an accelerated schedule.    The snow came down furiously as I reached Fairfield.

Snow Arrives at Fairfield

After making my way along the back roads, taking my chances, I routed back to the highway and pointed home.  This storm came up from the south, so the further I got back to the Old Dominion and home, the worse things got.  And of course, being bull-headed on these things, I could not resist making a diversion or two, scouting for other markers.

Snow Covered Road in Maryland

A lesson which unfortunately I am re-acquainted with far too often for my taste…… Marker Hunting is a Fair Weather Sport!

HMDB Civil War Updates – Week of January 25

A crop of thirty-seven new entries to the Civil War category at HMDB this week.  Our coverage spans the states of Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, as well as the District of Columbia.  Here’s this weeks’ entries:

– After service in the Confederate Army, Mortimer H. Jordon opted to study medicine, becoming a doctor of note.  The Jordon home in Birmingham, Alabama is today a restored example of the neo-classical architectural style.

– Nearby, a state marker notes the history of the city of Mountain Brook.  The area thrived in 1863 with increased production at an iron furnace nearby.  Federals destroyed the furnace during the war.  However, iron production continued at the facility after the war.

– A state marker cites the Battle at Picacho in Arizona, on April 15, 1862, as the “westernmost battle of the Civil War.”  A detachment of ten Confederates held off the attacks of thirteen Federals from the 1st California Cavalry.   The Confederate stand held up a brigade sized Federal column then advancing into the territory.

– The Soldier’s Memorial in Bethel, Connecticut lists the names of fourteen members of the community who died in service during the war.

– A new NPS wayside in Washington, D.C. relates details of General U.S. Grant’s life and about the monument standing in front of the U.S. Capitol.

– According to legend related on a state marker in Apalachicola, Florida, at the start of the Civil War, the women met in the Raney House to sew a flag for the local Confederate troops.  At the end of the war, the county’s troops mustered out at the house.

– Several entries, mostly memorials, from Michigan this week.  A memorial in Lansing, Michigan commemorates the First Michigan Sharpshooters.  A G.A.R. Memorial stands in the Oak Grove Cemetery in Milford, Michigan.   The Pontiac, Michigan war memorial features a bronze soldier at rest.  The Forest Hill Cemetery in Ann Arbor features a memorial to the county’s war veterans.  The Oak Grove Cemetery war memorial in Chelsea stands between two 30-pdr Parrott Rifles.  But two fake cannon guard the River Rouge war memorial.

– Belle Isle in Detroit, Michigan has memorials to Generals Alpheus Williams and Orlando Poe to complement the G.A.R. Memorial.  In downtown Detroit stands the impressive Soldiers and Sailors Memorial.

– Another entry in the tour of the Battle of Westport, in Kansas City, Missouri this week.  Stop thirteen notes the last stand of Shelby’s famous “Iron Brigade.”

– A memorial in Piqua, Ohio relates the battle honors of the 94th and 110th Ohio Volunteer Infantry.  The regiments mustered in the field near the memorial in 1862 but served in opposite theaters through the war.

– Lt. James Washington Moore, of the Hampton Legion and 2nd South Carolina Cavalry maintained a house in Hampton, South Carolina.  After the war he served in the state legislature, and eventually rose to the rank of Major General in the state militia.

– More entries from Austin, Texas this week.  State markers relate activities of the wartime state legislature and newspapers.  Another of the state’s granite memorials notes the service of General William Steele, a New Yorker who resigned from the U.S. Army to join the 7th Texas Cavalry.  Steele later commanded cavalry in the Red River Campaign.

– A state marker in McKenney, Virginia notes the birthplace of Roger Atkinson Pryor, Confederate congressman and Brigadier General.

– After working through the Winchester National Cemetery memorials, this week I added those from the Stonewall Confederate Cemetery, Winchester, Virginia.

– A wayside marker in Vienna, Virginia notes the location of the first military action involving a train, fought in June 1861, along the Alexandria, Loudoun & Hampshire (later Washington & Old Dominion) Railroad.

Two Years and 346 Posts

Two years ago I opened my blog.  I’m not much into fireworks or patting myself on the back, but 346 posts is a lot of writing!

Some time back, my pal Robert Moore coined the phrase “information compilation blog” to describe those which focused on a particular topic with the aim of consolidating a body of knowledge.  To a large degree, “To the Sound of the Guns” is a compilation of information on historical markers, battlefields, and artillery.

Regarding the later, I do like the moniker “The Marker Hunter” and it’s been a good introduction line when meeting folks.  But I also like those cannons.  And I’ve got piles of notes, from years of field research, to coalesce into some coherent format.  These guns have stories to tell, and time permitting, I’d love to give each one a turn!

However, more and more, analysis techniques from my day job leak into how I approach blogging.  Years ago I wrote on my professional blog (don’t look for it.  When I left that company, it died off) about the emerging “community of interest” (COI) approach to collaboration.  Defined, a COI is “a collaborative group of users that must exchange information in pursuit of its shared goals, interests, missions, or business processes and therefore must have shared vocabulary for the information exchanges.”  A long winded way of saying COI are groups of people who converse about a particular topic.  While there are formal COI, I have long argued that COI are best left informal and ad-hoc to best facilitate information exchange.

In some senses, “To the Sound of the Guns” is part, or element, of a COI.   If you look down the blog rolls to the far right, there is a vast array of Civil War (and some just history) related blogs covering the subject from just about every possible angle.  I read those blogs, mostly thanks to RSS, daily.  And judging from the referrals, many of those reading the other blogs venture this way too.  Beyond the blogs I enjoy a lively dialog by way of online comments and emails with folks I’ve met in this blogging endeavor.  I’ll occasionally venture onto message board forums, but have never really liked that venue to be honest.  We all chat about a common topic – the Civil War.

For me, blogging isn’t about the number of hits your site takes in.  Rather it is about how much information you can exchange with those in the community.   When composing each post, I start by considering how to present the information from my source materials in such a way that promotes input.  And all too often, I get that input.  By my estimates, particularly over the last year, there has been more input than output!

So at my two year mark, let me thank you who visit here, and in particular those who are active within this community of interest.