Pokemon Go… where the markers, monuments, and battlefields are!

Over the last week, Pokemon Go has successfully replaced Trump, Clinton, and even the Kardashians in the news cycle.


The game is the hottest “new thing” in a world that embraces “new things.”  We call it “viral” now days… a word use that would prompt face-palms from the Civil War generation.  The best I can offer as a guide to this crazy game is an article from Vox.  (With some luck, the aide-de-camp has not expressed an interest in the game… yet!)

There are a lot of rocks being thrown at the game and the gamers.  Tales of gamers running off cliffs or getting hit by cars in the obsessive quest for little virtual characters.  And beyond the physical world, there are some virtual security precautions that participants in the game should consider.  Tales of woe that give pause for anyone… anyone above the age of 25 without a YOLO-death-wish outlook on life that is.

But that’s the down side.  And the aspect that gets much play in the news.

There is an upside.  Consider:

The National Park Service could, with justification, make a “No Pokemon Go” stance.  But Director John Jarvis opted to encourage the activity with caution.  And I like the hook in the end to “find” a park along the way.

Yes, there is a risk that in pursuit of Pokemon creatures someone will wade into the World War II Memorial or traipse across a National Cemetery.  But those egregious possibilities aside, is there anything wrong with the pursuit of Pokemon across the battlefield?  I’m inclined to say there is not.  Those fields are set aside for us to walk over and consider.  Some go there to consider the acts of war that took place.  Others go there to consider the wildlife.  And others go there for reasons far removed from the original intent of these parks.  We’ve come to accept those reasons so long as the acts are compatible with the primary goal of the park.

I don’t see anything particularly unsettling with a group of kids running across the battlefield, so long as they are safe.  Certainly less obtrusive than some other uses that come to mind.  And as the director alludes to, such just might open eyes to the greater purpose of the park system.

And that brings me to another aspect… an upside, if I may suggest… to the Pokemon Go craze.  The game actually uses a system of what they call PokeStops, were these creatures – the goal of the game – are located.  Virtually that is.  From the IGN wiki on the game:

These will be located at select places near you, such as historical markers, monuments, and art installations.

In layman’s terms, these physical placemarks serve as an anchor point for the game’s augmented virtual reality.  SciFi folks might call them “portals” into the game.  How ever you want to spin that.  The bottom line is the game pulls in the coordinates of many public exhibits and features to build a virtual game playing space.

… And one of the inputs to that list of coordinates is the Historical Marker Database (HMDB).  Gamers being gamers will always look to out game the game.  So if these virtual creatures seem to live around historical markers, what better to do than go looking for historical markers?  The owner/editor of HMDB tells me use of the website went up three-fold last week.  Pokemon Go players are hitting the site and use the “markers nearby” feature to move among potential PokeStops.

Now, one would hope that some of those visits to PokeStops involve pauses to read the marker, consider the memorial, or appreciate the art.  We know that even without Pokemon creatures about, only one in about fifty of the average visitors will stop to do that anyway.   At least for those in quest of Pokemon, they are consulting a list of what is nearby.  So it is not all bad.

Indeed, an enterprising mind could well see opportunity here.  What if the participant’s chance of catching said virtual creature was enhanced by display of knowledge of the historical site (or other such criteria relative to the physical site)?  What if someone flipped this game format to something other than a quest for Pokemon thingys?  You know, sort of like a scavenger hunt of old?

… my mind wonders back to my youth and days spent hiking Shiloh on the “Cannon Trail” to earn a Boy Scout patch. Mind you, that’s a major reason you have this blog to read….


HMDB Civil War Marker Updates for July

I’m a bit behind with updates on our historical markers, what with vacation and such.  But better late than never.  We had 130 additions and updates in the month of July.  These range from Connecticut to Texas.  Much to take in.  But here’s the highlights:

– A marker in Tampa, Florida notes a battle fought there on October 17, 1863.

– Recently dedicated markers in Dalton, Georgia, as I mentioned last month, are General Cleburne’s Proposal and African-American Soldiers in Combat.

– A marker Stockbridge, Georgia recalls actions by the famed Orphan Brigade to delay the March to the Sea.

– A state marker in Elkhart, Indiana notes the wartime home of soldier and author Ambrose Bierce.

– A marker in Greensburg, Indiana draws attention to the home of General John T. Wilder, famous for his brigade’s work in the Tullahoma and Chickamauga campaigns.

– Another Indiana general, Ambrose E. Burnside, was born in Liberty, Indiana.

– Known as “Mother George,” Eliza E. George, of Fort Wayne, Indiana, served as a nurse during the war and braved Confederate fire to care for wounded in many western theater battles.  She died in Wilmington, North Carolina at the end of the war, a victim of typhoid fever.

– Four new markers in Hagerstown, Maryland discuss Federal General George Bell, Congressman James Roman, Rose Hill Cemetery, and Washington Confederate Cemetery.

– We’ve added the Camp Jackson memorial in St.Louis, Missouri, which lists the volunteer regiments involved with the capture of the Missouri State Guard camp in May 1861.  Several miles away is a memorial to General Nathaniel Lyon who led the troops and was later mortally wounded in the battle of Wilson’s Creek (August 10, 1861).

– The dockyard at Cool Springs, New York saw much wartime activity associated with the cannons made at West Point Foundry.

– Point Pleasant, Ohio is proud of its native son, U.S. Grant, to the point of having a memorial bridge.  Just two in a series of markers honoring the general and president.

– A marker in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania reminds that a substantial number of the troops in the 54th Massachusetts Infantry came from Pennsylvania.

Saluda Factory near Columbia, South Carolina provided uniforms for the Confederate army before burned by Sherman’s troops in February 1865.

Twenty-four additions to our growing collection of markers at the Chattanooga battlefield.

Camp Breckenridge in modern Breckenridge, Texas was one of the Confederate frontier forts.   The Confederates also occupied Fort Davis, Texas

– A new marker on the field at Manassas, Virginia discusses the actions of the Marine Battalion in the First Manassas.

– A marker in Abingdon, Virgina notes Governor and General John B. Floyd, the villain of Fort Donelson, died there in 1863.

– A Civil War Trails marker outside Wytheville, Virginia interprets the July 1863 battle fought there.

– A marker in Alexandria, Virginia notes the location of Fort Ellsworth.

– A Civil War Trails marker near Riverton, West Virgina notes the last Federal raid into the area in January 1865.

– A G.A.R. memorial in LaCrosse, Wisconsin features an 8-inch siege mortar.  The memorial states the mortar was used at New Orleans, Vicksburg, and Mobile.  But the date of manufacture (1863) causes me to be skeptical of the weapons presence in the first two battles.

HMDB Civil War Updates for June

For the month of June, we processed 151 new and updated marker entries for the Civil War category.  Here’s the highlights:

– A marker in Citronelle, Alabama, north of Mobile, notes the location where Lt. Gen. Richard Taylor surrendered the Department of Alabama, Mississippi and East Louisiana in May 1865.

St. Columncille’s Church in North Columbia, California was formerly the Union Guard Hall, a training site during the Civil War.

– A marker at the southern tip of Haines Point in Washington, DC discusses the engineering work of Peter C. Haines, a Civil War officer of note.

– A new plaque near the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum will honor the first military balloon flights which occurred on June 18, 1861.

– Drivers moved cattle along Florida’s “cracker trail” to supply the Confederacy during the war.

– A marker near Stapleton, Georgia notes cavalry action on November 26-27, 1864 during the March to the Sea.

– Several markers from Columbus, Georgia this month.  The Columbus Iron Works and the Eagle & Phenix textile mills supplied the Confederacy during the war.  Recruiting in the city, Martin J. Crawford raised the 3rd Georgia Cavalry.  But the majority of the city’s volunteers joined the Columbus Guards.

– The 9th and 29th Indiana Volunteer Infantry regiments trained in Camps Colfax and Jackson near LaPorte, Indiana before heading off for war.

– Even with the wartime demand for bullets, a shot tower in Dubuque, Iowa failed to gain enough work to stay profitable.  Darned minie balls!

– A memorial arch in Junction City, Kansas honors the soldiers and sailors of the war.

– A state marker near Perryville, Kentucky orients visitors to the battlefield of October 8, 1862.

– Similarly a state marker near Nancy, Kentucky orients visitors to the Mill Springs battlefield.  An interpretive marker discusses the long winter march made by Federals to arrive at Logan’s Crossroads.  A memorial marks the location where Confederate General Felix Zollicoffer fell in the battle.

– Almost falling over, a marker in Baton Rouge, Louisiana discusses the battle fought there on August 5, 1862.

– An interpretive marker in Rockville, Maryland discusses the Beall family’s slaves, some of whom were freed during the war and others only after full emancipation.

– Union soldiers blasted the entrance to Abbott Cave outside Neosho, Missouri believing Confederates had stored supplies inside.

Seven Chimneys in Washington, New Jersey was a stop on the Underground Railroad.

– The 124th New York Volunteers trained at Camp Wickham outside Goshen, New York in the summer of 1862.

– Four North Carolina Civil War Trails markers added during this cycle.  Near Weldon, a marker notes the importance of the Wilmington & Weldon Railroad.  Another marker notes wartime activity around Murfreesboro.  Federals burned the town of Winton in retaliation for an ambush.  And a marker near Jackson notes a cavalry action fought there in July 1863.

– Future president William McKinley joined the army on the front porch of the Old Stone Tavern in Poland, Ohio.

– A marker in Youngstown, Ohio follows the life of Oscar D. Boggess, veteran of the 43rd United States Colored Troops who fought with distinction at the battle of the Crater.

– A state marker in Barlow, Pennsylvania follows the Eleventh Corps route to Gettysburg.

– Federals burned facilities in Kingville, South Carolina as they marched through the state in February 1865.

– Additions to the Chattanooga battlefield this month include some from Rossville, Georgia and around Chattanooga on the Tennessee side.

– Lots of activity with our Shiloh markers.  So much that I cannot easily separate the new entries from the updates!

– A marker along the beach in Indianola, Texas notes wartime activity along the coast.

– Entries in Van Horn, Texas note the county was named for Colonel David Culberson.

– A new Civil War Trails marker at Fairfax Courthouse, Virginia notes the wartime activity around that storied location.

– Another new Civil War Trails marker, this one in Manassas, Virginia, tells the story of the Pringle House (or Ben Lomond) which stood witness to the carnage of two major battles.

– Several new interpretive markers for the Gaines Mill battlefield outside Mechanicville, Virginia.

– New markers cover the Payne’s Farm battlefield from the Mine Run campaign outside Locust Grove, Virginia.

– Marion, Virginia witnessed a cavalry actions during Stoneman’s December 1864 raid into southwestern Virginia.

– In May 1864 cavalry under Union General William W. Averell and Confederate General William E. “Grumble” Jones clashed outside Wytheville, Virginia at Crockett’s Cove.

– And Old Abe of Company C, 8th Wisconsin has a memorial in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

HMDB Civil War Updates for the Month of May

A fairly busy month of May in the Civil War category at the Historical Marker Database.  187 entries and updates to discuss. Since this is the last day of the month, and a Tuesday (my usual day for marker updates), I’ll provide the highlights of markers added since the last update on May 5.

Robert Moore posted entries for the First Alabama (US) Cavalry and the Confederate Veterans Plaque located on the Marion County courthouse in Hamilton, Alabama.

– A marker in Arley, Alabama notes unionist sympathies and the proposal for Winston County to secede from the state – the Free State of Winston.

– Markers in Milledgeville, Georgia note the state’s secession convention of 1861 and a memorial to Confederate soldiers who died at Brown Hospital during the war.  Just outside of town a state marker notes the passage of Kilpatrick’s cavalry during the march to the sea in 1864.

– The lone Atlanta, Georgia Civil War marker for this month notes the extension of Confederate lines in the later stages of the Atlanta Campaign, to meet Federal maneuvers against the railroads.

– In Riverdale, Georgia a marker notes the location of Renfroe’s Plantation, a landmark for Federals making those maneuvers toward the railroads outside Atlanta in August 1864.

– Near Hampton, Georgia a marker discusses actions at Lovejoy Station on November 16, 1864 during the early part of the march to the sea.

– Near Fayetteville, Georgia a marker notes a July 30 skirmish fought at the locality of Shakerug.

– On April 11, 1863, a group of Columbus, Georgia women armed with knives and pistols marched into the city’s business district raiding the stores of speculators.

– A memorial in Winamac, Indiana lists those from Pulaski County who served in the Civil War, most in the 46th and 87th Indiana Volunteers.

– Iowa honored its Civil War veterans with a towering memorial in Des Moines.

– A marker in North Oxford, Massachusetts points out the birthplace of Clara Barton.

– In Detroit, Michigan, a marker discusses the formation and service of the 24th Michigan Volunteers.

– Near Richfield, Michigan a marker discusses Civil War activity at Fort Snelling.

– A recently placed memorial in Corinth, Mississippi discusses the actions of Texas troops in the fighting around the town in 1862.

– A state historical society marker in Lamar, Missouri notes the multiple burnings of the town during the war.

– In Higginsville, Missouri, the Lion of Lucerne honors the Confederate dead buried at the former state Confederate Veterans Home.  Among the dead buried in the cemetery are the remains of William Quantrill.

– Students at the Danville Female Academy, in Danville, Missouri, helped save the campus from Confederate raiders in October, 1864.

Hazen, Nevada is named for Union General William B. Hazen.

– A memorial in Jersey City, New Jersey honors the city’s Civil War veterans.

– Two Napoleon Guns guard the G.A.R. memorial in Ocean County, New Jersey.

– Even Staten Island, New York has a Civil War memorial.

– On April 15, 1865, elements of the Army of Tennessee camped on Regulators’ Field in Burlington, North Carolina.  There they received word of the surrender at Appomattox – symbolic as the site is closely associated with an earlier North Carolina rebellion in 1771.

– A marker near Carlisle Springs, Pennsylvania notes the “farthest north” of any Confederate regulars during the Gettysburg campaign.

– A plaque in Columbia, South Carolina notes the location of the Palmetto Arsenal, which made guns for the Confederacy.  Sherman’s men destroyed the arsenal in 1865.

– After leaving Columbia, Sherman’s men fought a brief skirmish with Confederate rear guards at Killian’s Mill on February 18, 1865.

– Leading a relief force to Chattanooga in November 1863, General W.T. Sherman crossed the Elk River near Elkton, Tennessee.

– About 100 entries added in May to our collection of markers and monuments at Shiloh, Tennessee.  All from one of my fellow Missourians.

– A Civil War Trails marker near Red Boiling Springs, Tennessee discusses the importance of Gibbs Crossroads during the war.

– Three markers adding to the coverage of the Franklin, Tennessee battlefield – Attack on the Union Left, Carter House, and Opdycke’s Brigade.

– A marker in Sheldon, Vermont notes the retreat of Confederate raiders from St. Albans on October 19, 1864.

– Several markers from Bedford, Virginia including Avenel, the home of John Goode, and General Hunter’s June 1864 Bivouac site.  Hunter used the road through Peaks of Otter leading from Bedford.

– A marker in Centreville, Virginia provides details about the Confederate military railroad line extended from Manassas during the first fall and winter of the war.

– Loudoun County, Virginia has a “crop” of new markers this spring including those for the Battle of Unison, Harrison Hall, the Ankers’ Shop, and Waterford.

– A new state marker near Quicksburg, Virginia discusses the October 1864 action at Mill Creek during the burning of the Shenandoah.

– A marker near Camp Creek, West Virginia notes the May 1, 1862 battle of Cark’s House.

– The 23rd Ohio Infantry, with three officers who later achieved high station, stayed at Camp Jones, near Flat Top, West Virgina, during 1862.

– Wausau, Wisconsin can boast the Lysander Cutler G.A.R. Post memorial.  And  Baraboo, Wisconsin has the Sauk County Civil War memorial.

HMDB Civil War Updates – Additions Since Mid-March

It has been a while since my last rundown of updates to the Civil War category at the Historical Marker Database.  Instead of weekly postings, I’ve opted to provide a monthly version until traffic picks up.  But of course I’ve skipped more than a month!  So here’s a belated rundown of the notable marker entries since mid-March:

– A marker outside Cedar Bluff, Alabama provides a history of Cornwall Furnace that supplied iron to the Noble Brothers (Rome, Georgia), to make cannons and other supplies.

– Hokes Bluff, Alabama boasts a marker for John Henry Wisdom, cited as the “Paul Revere of the Confederacy.”

– Occupied by U.S.C.T. during the war, the site of Fort Henderson in Athens, Alabama, became a school for freed slaves after the war.

– A memorial in Pacific Grove, California honors the area’s last surviving Civil War veteran, J.H. King, who died in 1935.

– More veterans memorials from Connecticut to include those at New Britain, Kent, North Canaan, Salisbury, and Sharon.

– A memorial near Baldwin, Georgia honors the Middle River Volunteers.

– A marker on the Chickamauga Campaign Heritage Trail in Ringgold, Georgia notes the location of the Evans House, used as a hospital.

– Several state markers added to our collection interpreting the Civil War in the Atlanta area, to include the Burning of Atlanta marker mentioned earlier.

– Several additions around Gray and Macon, Georgia discuss the battle of Griswoldville, November 1864, fought during Sherman’s March to the SeaPitts Chapel served as as hospital.

– In Americus, Georgia a marker notes a faithful slave who returned the body of Lt. Lucius Gibson Rees from Virginia in 1864.

– From Gordon, Georgia, we hear the story of J. Rufus Kelly, who “wouldn’t run” when Federals came to town during the March to the Sea.  However, Kelly’s efforts were in vain, as the Confederates evacuated the town.

– A marker in Andersonville, Georgia discusses the wartime prison camp there, along with the efforts of Father Peter Whelan to relieve the misery.

– A marker in Columbus, Georgia notes the “last land battle of the war,” fought on April 16, 1865.

– In Des Moines, Iowa, a tall memorial honors the state’s Civil War veterans.

– A marker near Munfordville, Kentucky notes the September 14-17, 1862 battle fought there.

– Additional markers posted at the Antietam, Maryland battlefield include one along the Hagerstown Pike, another at the Cornfield, and  an overview of the battle near the National Cemetery.

– Near Richfield, Minnesota, a marker discusses Fort Snelling, an active frontier post during the war.

– A marker in Kansas City, Missouri notes a tragic collapse of a women’s prison, causing many injuries and in some ways leading to the bloody raid on Lawrence, Kansas.

– At the George Washington Carver Birthplace, near Diamond, Missouri, a marker discusses Carver’s early life as an infant slave.

– In Neosho, Missouri, a memorial proclaims the town to be the “Confederate Capitol of the Missouri.”

– I always like markers for the cannons, like the one to the Dahlgren Gun at Oakland, New Jersey.  Or the one for 32-pdr banded and rifled naval cannon at Raleigh, North Carolina.

– From New York, New York, we have memorials for Abraham Lincoln, William H. Seward, and David G. Farragut.

– And going back to Raleigh, North Carolina, we have memorials for Zebulon Vance, Samuel A’Court Ashe, and Henry Lawson Wyatt (the first North Carolina soldier to fall, at the Battle of Big Bethel).

– The office of Martin R. Delany, leader in the African-American community and a major in the U.S.C.T., is marked in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

– A memorial to the 97th Pennsylvania stands in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

– A marker in Carlisle, Pennsylvania notes the “furthest north” penetration of organized Confederate forces during the Gettysburg campaign.

– A memorial marks the grave of Admiral John Dahlgren in Philadelphia’s Laurel Hill Cemetery.

– A marker in Abbeville, South Carolina notes meetings held in November 1860 where secessionists responded to Lincoln’s election.  This of course later lead to the state’s ordnance of secession, marked in Charleston.

– Also in Charleston is a memorial to the state’s Irish volunteers.

– Some fifty additions to our collection of markers from the Shiloh Battlefield.

– A Civil War Trails marker in Lafayette, Tennessee notes the divisions in Macon County during the war.

– A state marker and a Civil War Trails marker in Franklin, Tennessee discuss Fort Granger.

– Federal troops burned the Gazette House in Alexandria, Virginia when the loyalties of a local minster were questioned.

– A Civil War Trails marker in Bedford, Virginia notes the actions associated with Hunter’s Raid in 1864.

– Along with other markers discussing the Confederate Soldiers’ Home in Richmond, Virginia, a new marker notes the Confederate Memorial Chapel.

– New markers near Locust Grove, Virginia discuss the Mine Run Campaign near the site of Payne’s Farm.

– State markers note the site of the battle of Cloyd’s Mountain outside Dublin, Virginia.

– Near Martinsburg, West Virginia, a new Civil War trails marker interprets the the July 2, 1861 Battle of Falling Waters, next to an older UDC plaque.

– Among several new Civil War Trails markers in Charles Town, West Virginia is one for the John Brown Hanging site.

– In Hillsboro, Wisconsin stands a memorial to the community’s war veterans.

HMDB Civil War Updates – Week of March 14

The short work weeks continue for the Civil War category for the Historical Marker Database.  Just ten entries to discuss.  Not that I’m complaining too much, as less markers to edit and publish leaves more time for other things!

– A marker in Elkmont, Alabama discusses wartime activities along the Tennessee, Alabama & Central Railroad.

Barnsley’s plantation home near Adairsville, Georgia served as General James McPherson’s headquarters on May 18, 1864 during the Atlanta campaign.

– In Albany, Georgia, Colonel Nelson Tift ran a meat packing and hardtack business during the war, supplying the Confederates without compensation for his labor.

– Outside Baltimore, Maryland a marker indicates the location of Ravenhurst, home of Confederate Major General Isaac Trimble.

– A memorial on the state capital grounds in Raleigh, North Carolina honors the state’s Confederate dead – from Big Bethel to Appomattox.  Another memorial there honors the women from the state who supported the Confederacy.

– A marker in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania notes the location of the Allegheny Arsenal, which supplied munitions to the Federal army during the war.  No note, however, of the great explosion there in September 1862.

Standing in Charleston, South Carolina’s Bethany Cemetery is the German Confederate Soldier’s Memorial.

– A Civil War trails marker in Wylliesburg, Virginia notes the movements of Federal raiders in the Wilson-Kautz Raid of June 1864.

– A memorial in Lovingston, Virginia honors the Confederate veterans of Nelson County.

The “trend” or slack time is not just limited to the Civil War markers, but across the board entries are down – 281 entries across all categories, down from 770 during the same week last year.  A bad winter certainly has some impact on the entries, as we see fewer and fewer tags indicating recent “marker hunting” visits.  But at the same time, personally I’ve only entered a handful of markers since the start of the year.  This time last year I was entering between fifty and eighty a week – mostly Civil War related of course.  Still if the slack continues, I may switch to a bi-weekly or monthly report to save a daily blog slot for more cannons or trip reports.  We’ll see.

HMDB Civil War Updates – Week of March 7

Short work week again in the Civil War category at HMDB.  Only ten entries to discuss:

– In Sheffield, Alabama a marker indicates that General John B. Hood could have used a railroad bridge there in 1864.  But his army instead placed a pontoon bridge over the Tennessee River at that point, since Confederates had burned the old railroad bridge themselves in 1862.

– A memorial in Mobile, Alabama honors Confederate Rear-Admiral Raphael Semmes, who commanded the CSS Alabama.

– A plaque in southeastern District of Columbia indicates the site of Fort Davis, one of many fortifications that defended Washington during the war.

– The “Battle of Curahee”, fought in October 1864, is the subject of a marker near Baldwin, Georgia.

– A new marker in Savannah, Georgia provides a brief history of emancipation in the coastal area, along with General Orders No. 15 –  often cited for the “forty acres and a mule” grants to former slaves.

Greenfield Church, near Moultrie, Georgia, served as a Confederate hospital and recruiting point.  A marker beside the church notes Confederate burials in the cemetery.

– A memorial in Saratoga Springs, New York honors the community’s 77th New York Infantry regiment.

– A marker near New Albany, Ohio notes Civil War veterans buried in the Wagnor Cemetery.

– And the award to most awkwardly placed marker goes to…… a marker conspicuously close to the now submerged site of Snyder’s Ford, along the Occoquan River in Virginia.