Tag Archives: Civil War

Where it begins/began…


There is an old Neil Diamond song from my youth called Sweet Caroline that has these lyrics:

Where it began
I can’t begin to knowing…

In spite of what some think, the words were not inspired by the young daughter of JFK (Caroline Kennedy at the time), but by the woman who was Neil Diamond’s wife at the time. Her name wasn’t Caroline, but he needed something with three syllables and that’s the name he chose.

But that’s beside the point..it’s that lyric that I’m after. He may not have known when his love for his wife started (it is rather hard to pin-point such a thing so I don’t hold that against him), but it is clear when the Civil War started in earnest.

Today’s photo was taken at Fort Sumter in the middle of the bay near Charleston, SC. It was taken from inside the fort and the encasement that was facing in the direction from which the Confederates fired the first shots at the Union held fort on April 12, 1861. (The fort actually figured in two Civil War battles).

On Thursday, April 11, 1861, Confederate general Beauregard sent three aides, Colonel James Chesnut, Jr., Captain Stephen D. Lee and Lieutenant A. R. Chisolm to demand the surrender of the fort. Anderson (the Union commander of the fort) declined, and the aides returned to report to Beauregard. After Beauregard had consulted the Confederate Secretary of War, Leroy Walker, he sent the aides back to the fort and authorized Chesnut to decide whether the fort should be taken by force. The aides waited for hours while Anderson considered his alternatives and played for time. At about 3:00 a.m., when Anderson finally announced his conditions, Colonel Chesnut, after conferring with the other aides, decided that they were “manifestly futile and not within the scope of the instructions verbally given to us”. The aides then left the fort and proceeded to the nearby Fort Johnson. There, Chesnut ordered the fort to open fire on Fort Sumter.

On Friday, April 12, 1861, at 4:30 a.m., Confederate batteries opened fire, firing for 34 straight hours, on the fort. The Union batteries in the fort didn’t fire back until 2-1/2 hour later as they didn’t have the right kind of ordinance for such a battle (they only had solid shot, not explosive shells).  During the attack, the Union colors fell. Lt. Norman J. Hall risked life and limb to put them back up, burning off his eyebrows permanently.

Interestingly enough, not a single soldier in the fort died as a result of the hostile exchange of fire. However, when the fort was surrendered on April 13, 1861, a 100-gun salute was ordered to celebrate the end of the violence. It was on the 47th shot of the 100-gun salute that a Union soldier was killed. His name was Daniel Hough and the death came about as the premature discharge of a cannon. It earned him the dubious distinction of being the first person to die in the Civil War.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  in 1864, Union General William T. Sherman began his expedition across Georgia by torching the industrial section of Atlanta and pulling away from his supply lines. For the next six weeks, Sherman’s army destroyed most of the state before capturing the Confederate seaport of Savannah, Georgia.

Sherman captured Atlanta in early September 1864 after a long summer campaign. He recognized his vulnerability in the city, however, as his supply lines stretched all the way from Nashville, Tennessee. Confederate raiders such as Nathan Bedford Forrest threatened to cut his lines, and Sherman had to commit thousands of troops to protect the railroads and rivers that carried provisions for his massive army. Sherman split his army, keeping 60,000 men and sending the rest back to Nashville with General George Thomas to deal with the remnants of Confederate General John Bell Hood’s Army of Tennessee, the force Sherman had defeated to take Atlanta.

After hearing that President Abraham Lincoln had won re-election on November 8, Sherman ordered 2,500 light wagons loaded with supplies. Doctors checked each soldier for illness or injuries, and those who were deemed unfit were sent to Nashville. Sherman wrote to his general in chief, Ulysses S. Grant, that if he could march through Georgia it would be “proof positive that the North can prevail.” He told Grant that he would not send couriers back, but to “trust the Richmond papers to keep you well advised.” Sherman loaded the surplus supplies on trains and shipped them back to Nashville. On November 15, the army began to move, burning the industrial section of Atlanta before leaving. One witness reported “immense and raging fires lighting up whole heavens… huge waves of fire roll up into the sky; presently the skeleton of great warehouses stand out in relief against sheets of roaring, blazing, furious flames.” Sherman’s famous destruction of Georgia had begun.

Interestingly enough, Fort Sumter was finally recaptured from the Confederates as a result of Sherman’s March to the Sea.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: McDonald’s Corporation is the largest owner of retail property in the world. The company earns most of its profits not from selling food, but by collecting rent. McDonald’s Happy Meals have been served since 1979. In the mid-1970s, a Guatemalan woman name Yolanda Fernández de Cofiño invented the happy meal (which she called the “Menu Ronald”) to make it easier for mothers to feed their children. The concept was later co-opted by Bob Bernstein, CEO of an advertising agency, who ultimately named the small meal the “happy meal” and was given credit for the idea.

A Soldier’s Sentiment


As horrible as the great American Civil War was (it was by far the deadliest war in which Americans have ever fought), the combatants took their part in it very seriously.  People had convictions then – convictions that they held deeply.  They were more than willing to die for them if need be.

It makes me wonder somewhat about the level of conviction that we have today.  What sorts of things are we willing to bleed and die for?

This photo was taken at the Atlanta History Center in the Civil War section.  You can hear and practically feel the pride in this man’s words as he declares his conviction…and his pride, for having taken a stand based on his convictions and having lived with integrity.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1869, convinced they had a better chance of surviving the desert than the raging rapids that lay ahead, three men left John Wesley Powell’s expedition through the Grand Canyon and scaled the cliffs to the plateau above.

Though it turned out the men had made a serious mistake, they could hardly be faulted for believing that Powell’s plan to float the brutal rapids was suicidal. Powell, a one-armedCivil War veteran and self-trained naturalist, had embarked on his daring descent of the mighty Colorado River three months earlier. Accompanied by 11 men in four wooden boats, he led the expedition through the Grand Canyon and over punishing rapids that many would hesitate to run even with modern rafts.

The worst was yet to come. Near the lower end of the canyon, the party heard the roar of giant rapids. Moving to shore, they explored on foot and saw, in the words of one man, “the worst rapids yet.” Powell agreed, writing that, “The billows are huge and I fear our boats could not ride them…There is discontent in the camp tonight and I fear some of the party will take to the mountains but hope not.”

The next day, three of Powell’s men did leave. Convinced that the rapids were impassable, they decided to take their chances crossing the harsh desert lands above the canyon rims.  Seneca Howland, O.G. Howland, and William H. Dunn said goodbye to Powell and the other men and began the long climb up out of the Grand Canyon. The remaining members of the party steeled themselves, climbed into boats, and pushed off into the wild rapids.

Amazingly, all of them survived and the expedition emerged from the canyon the next day. When he reached the nearest settlement, Powell learned that the three men who left had been less fortunate–they encountered a war party of Shivwit Indians and were killed. Ironically, the three murders were initially seen as more newsworthy than Powell’s feat and the expedition gained valuable publicity. When Powell embarked on his second trip through the Grand Canyon in 1871, the publicity from the first trip had insured that the second voyage was far better financed than the first.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  A transplanted heart beats about 100-110 beats per minute (70 beats is about normal). A transplanted heart also doesn’t increase its rate as quickly in response to exercise.

Civil War: A Time for Grieving


The Civil War was a brutal, brutal time in our nation’s history.  There was no understanding of bacteria as a cause of infection – and sanitary conditions were terrible.  That was perhaps never more true than in the case of the hospitals that treated the wounded.  Due to the damage caused by minie balls (the rounds fired from muskets, often over .50 caliber), arms and legs were often amputated – and quickly.  The longer an injured limb remained on the body, the greater the risk of infection.  So surgeons became experts at amputations.  While it could take up to 15 minutes to amputate a limb, I remember reading that some docs were able to whack off a limb in just a couple of minutes!

Word of fatalities was hard to come by.  Many times, a family member might learn of the death of a father, husband or son by reading their name on the front page of the newspaper along with hundreds (if not thousands) of others slain in a single battle.

Life was not easy for the widow, either.  Today’s photo was taken at the Atlanta Historical Center and is a figure of a Civil War widow.  Widows were expected to wear black mourning dress for a minimum of 2.5 years after the death of her husband.  Many had no means of support.

If you’ve never been to the Civil War portion of the Atlanta Historical Center, I’d encourage you to go.  It’s worth the visit!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  in 1957, the Soviet Union announced that it had successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of being fired “into any part of the world.” The announcement caused great concern in the US, and started a national debate over the “missile gap” between America and Russia.

For years after World War II, both the US and the Soviet Union had been trying to perfect a long-range missile capable of carrying nuclear warheads. Building on the successes of Nazi Germany in developing the V-1 and V-2 rockets that pummeled Great Britain during the last months of World War II, both American and Russian scientists raced to improve the range and accuracy of such missiles. (Both nations relied heavily on captured German scientists in their efforts.) In July 1957, the United States seemed to win the race when the Atlas, an ICBM with a speed of up to 20,000 miles an hour and an effective range of 5,000 miles, was ready for testing. The test, however, was a disaster. The missile rose only about 5,000 feet into the air, tumbled, and plunged to earth. Just a month later, the Soviets claimed success by announcing that their own ICBM had been tested, had “covered a huge distance in a brief time,” and “landed in the target area.” No details were given in the Russian announcement and some commentators in the United States doubted that the ICBM test had been as successful as claimed. Nevertheless, the Soviet possession of this “ultimate weapon,” coupled with recent successful test by the Russians of atomic and hydrogen bombs, raised concerns in America. If the Soviets did indeed perfect their ICBM, no part of the United States would be completely safe from possible atomic attack.

Less than two months later, the Soviets sent the satellite Sputnik into space. Concern quickly turned to fear in the United States, as it appeared that the Russians were gaining the upper hand in the arms and space races. The American government accelerated its own missile and space programs. The Soviet successes–and American failures–became an issue in the 1960 presidential campaign. Democratic challengerJohn F. Kennedy charged that the outgoing Eisenhower administration had allowed a dangerous “missile gap” to develop between the United States and the Soviet Union. Following his victory in 1960, Kennedy made missile development and the space program priorities for his presidency.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  Psychologists at the University of Pennsylvania studied data from over 10,000 speed daters and found that most people make a decision regarding a person’s attraction within three seconds of meeting.

Here’s Lookin’ at You, Kid

_MG_900234Chickamauga was the site of a large Civil War battle fought in September 1863. In fact, it was the second bloodiest of all Civil War battles after the battle of Gettysburg which was fought in July, 1863. General Rosecrans led the Union Army of 70,000 men against Braxton Bragg’s Confederate troops numbering a bit under 50,000. There were over 16,000 Union casualties and 18,000 Confederate killed and wounded.

I was on my way back from a speaking engagement this past Saturday near Chattanooga, TN, and stopped at the battlefield briefly on the drive home.  The visitor center has numerous big guns that greet visitors and I made sure to get some pictures.

It was an overcast day, but the sun was breaking through in places, so I thought it might be good to treat this as an HDR photo opportunity and today’s photo is the result.  As I looked down the barrel of this 6-pounder gun that was manufactured in 1841, 23 years before the battle took place. It featured an effective range of 1,520 yards at a 5 degree elevation and weighted 881 pounds.

The end of the barrel has been dented, which would be a pretty good trick, though the gun was made of bronze.

As I looked down the barrel and thought of how the Civil War soldiers would charge straight into the face of such batteries of guns, I couldn’t help but think of the line from the Maltese Falcon: “Here’s looking at you, kid.”

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: on this day in 1915, Lorne Greene, the actor who played Ben Cartwright on the immensely popular television Western Bonanza, was born in Ontario, Canada. An only child, Greene later said he based his portrayal of Ben Cartwright on his own father, Daniel Greene.

Greene’s rise to national stardom in Bonanza came late in his career. He began acting as a student at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, abandoning his major in chemical engineering to follow the exciting lure of the stage. For several years he worked in the theater but he won his first major position in 1939 as an announcer for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. His deep, warm voice soon earned Greene the title, “The Voice of Canada.” During  WW2 he served as a flying officer in the Royal Canadian Air Force. When he returned to Canada, Greene began to win more acting roles in the fledgling Canadian television industry. In 1954, he made his big screen debut as the Apostle Peter in The Silver Chalice.

Greene’s big break came in 1959. The American TV producer David Dortot spotted Greene playing a small role in the Western Wagon Train. Dortot was in the midst of creating a new TV Western based on the adventures of a rancher father and his three sons. He thought Greene would be perfect for the role of “Pa”-Ben Cartwright. Greene agreed to take the role. His three TV sons (each by a different wife) were the thoughtful and mature Adam (Pernell Roberts), the gentle giant Hoss (Dan Blocker), and the hot-blooded young romantic Little Joe (Michael Landon).

Bonanza debuted on NBC in 1959 and remained on the air until 1973, making it one of the longest running TV Westerns ever. Somewhat unique among the many other TV Westerns of the time that emphasized solitary cowboys and gunmen, Bonanza focused on the strong bonds between Ben Cartwright and his sons. Greene created a Ben Cartwright who was an ideal father. Strong, compassionate, and understanding, he shepherded his sons through tough times with a grace and wisdom that won him the affection of millions of viewers. Besides offering appealing characters and interesting story lines, Bonanza was also popular because it was the first network Western to be televised in color.

After Bonanza was canceled in 1973, Greene acted in several other short-lived TV shows, including Battlestar Galactica. He died in 1987 at the age of 72, still best remembered by millions as “Pa” Cartwright.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: An elephant can urinate more than 13 gallons per day. It’s easier to measure this on a male elephant, as female elephants often poop and urinate at the same time.

All’s Not Fair in Love and War

RANT WARNING!!!!!  ALERT!!!!!  ALERT!!!!!  ALERT!!!!!

I have had it up to here (and then some).  I am sick to death of this election cycle.  This has been the most vicious, dirtiest, most lie-filled election season that I can ever remember!  I’ve never seen our country so strongly divided.  The dislike of the Presidential contenders for one another is palpable.

And it’s not just the presidential election that’s got me fed up.  Here in California, there are a number of propositions on the ballot.  There are ads for them on the radio and television.  And you know what?  The two competing sides make statements that are 180 degrees opposed to the other side’s argument.  Now they can’t BOTH be right – logic dictates that.  A number can’t be both 7 and 3 at the same time, and truth can’t be found in two statements that are 180 degrees opposed to one another.

Since when has it become okay to lie to the electorate?  Since when has it been okay to only tell others what you want them to hear?  Why aren’t there election commissions (or something like that) that monitor ads and levy HEAVY fines against any person or organization that is lying about the truth or a proposition or a stand on some subject?  I tell you, I hate it.  I hate it when good people are deceived.  I hate it when someone’s trying to sell me a bill of goods.

We’ve become so radicalized in our positions that we are now enemies instead of countrymen.  I fear that we’ll never be able to be pulled back together as a nation.

Today’s photo is one I shot at a Civil War re-enactment a couple of years ago.  The North versus the South.  Brother against brother, father against son.  Americans against Americans.  It was a deadly war, the deadliest we’ve ever been involved in as a nation.  It was tragic…and this picture seems to me to capture my feelings about the political wars that are raging.  There have been enough verbal “killings”, verbal attacks and smearing of other human beings!  Let’s get this election over with.  Let’s have an armistice and start to practice brotherly love, binding up the nation’s wounds and become one people again!!!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: get this: 500 years ago today Michelangelo’s incredible paintings on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome were revealed to the public for the very first time.  Michelangelo painted the frescoes, considered by many to be some of the finest pictorial images of all time while lying on his back on a scaffold high above the floor.  It took him 4 years to complete what may be the greatest work of art in all history.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: 18 million courses of antibiotics are prescribed each year in the United States for the common cold, which is interesting considering the common cold is caused by a virus and won’t respond to antibiotics.  Over 50 million unnecessary antibiotics are prescribed for viral respiratory illnesses.  Of course, they may prevent bacterial infections that may cause complications, but overall, it is not good to take antibiotics unless absolutely necessary as bacteria develop immunities over time to the antibiotics rendering them useless, and making the remaining bacteria even more resistant to treatment and stronger than before.


On the Banks of the Sweetwater

Sweetwater Creek State Park is a peaceful tract of wilderness only minutes from downtown Atlanta. A wooded trail follows the stream to the ruins of the New Manchester Manufacturing Company, a textile mill burned during the Civil War.

On the Georgia Gold Lottery, in 1832, Philip J. Crask won 40-acre Lot 929 in District 18 of the Second Section and paid $18 grand fee. In 1837, Lot 929 was sold at an auction to John Boyle for $12.50 who in 1845 sold it for $500 to Charles J. McDonald of Cobb County, a former governor of Georgia, and Colonel James Rogers of Milledgeville. In 1846, Roger and McDonald started building water-powered mill along Sweetwater Creek and on December 21, 1849, the five-story mill was in operation. McDonald and Rogers incorporated their business as Sweetwater Manufacturing Company, which made cotton, yarn and fabric. In 1858, McDonald renamed the Sweetwater Manufacturing Company as New Manchester Manufacturing Company after the center of the British textile industry in Manchester, England.  By 1860, the factory produced seven hundred pounds of cotton which was transformed it in one hundred twenty bunches of yarn and five hundred yards of osnaburg (a coarse type of textile material that originated in Scotland, and prior to the end of the Civil War was used to make the most common type of clothing for slaves) per day.

In 1861, the American Civil War began. During summer of 1864 General Joseph E. Johnson removed the Confederate Army across the Chattahoochee River and the New Manchester factory was left exposed for the Union Army forces. On July 2, 1864, two divisions of Union cavalry under Colonel Silas Adams (1st Kentucky) and an cavalry under Major Haviland Thompkins (14th Illinois) of General Stoneman’s personnel approached the factory and ordered to shut it down and arrest all the employees. On July 9, 1864, following order of William Tecumseh Sherman to burn mills, Major Thompkins burned the New Manchester mill.  The ruins, as you can see from today’s photo, still stand on the banks fo the Sweetwater Creek where we visited this past Saturday.

Ruins of the New Manchester Manufacturing Company, now protected in Sweetwater Creek State Park, Georgia

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1776, the Continental Congress formed a committee to draft what would become known as the Declaration of Independence.  They got it done – why can’t our government get anything done today?????

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: There was a time when the Vatican owned shares of the Watergate complex in Washington, DC, the Pan American building in Paris, and the Hilton hotel in Rome.

King Cotton

Everyone who has had American history surely must know that during Civil War days, cotton was the greatest crop in the southern states.  You may even know that the phrase, King Cotton, was used by secessionists in their arguments that the cotton crop would allow the south to be financially independent of the industrial north because Great Britain and France needed the southern cotton to drive their textile mills.  Well, that was a bad conclusion.  What the south hadn’t taken into consideration was the possibility that the Union would blockade shipments from southern ports so effectively that 95% of the exports of cotton were brought to a complete stand-still.  Still earlier, in 1861, the south had purposely not shipped cotton to Europe, intentionally holding it back in order to try to create a crisis in demand that would force Great Britain and France to enter the war on the side of the Confederacy just in order to keep their own economies growing.  But, again, the southern states failed to recognize the glut of cotton that was already in the hands of the European nations.

What allowed the boom in the cotton business was Eli Whitney’s invention of the cotton gin in 1793.  By the time that the Civil War started, the south was producing 75% of the world’s supply of cotton.  (There are those who argue that a woman actually invented the cotton gin, but feared that no one would take it seriously if it was invented by a woman, so she let Eli take the credit.)

When we were at Stately Oaks Plantation this past Saturday (I mistakenly called it “Shady Oaks” in my earlier post!), they had a basket of cotton sitting on the back porch and I took a picture of it for those who have never seen the stuff.  Cotton grows well in the south because of the summer heat and water, but it is a bear to harvest and process.  Just looking at it makes me itch!!!

King Cotton

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1940, the US government issued the first ever social security check to Ida Fuller of Brattlesboro, Vermont, in the amount of $22.54.  Her check number was 00-000-001.  I figure that’s about how much I’ll get out of Social Security by the time our politicians are done stealing what we hard-working Americans have contributed over the years!

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: any building where silence is enforced, such as a library or school room, is technically called a “silentium”.

When It Got Deadly

This may seem like a strange name for a blog post about war.  War has always been deadly, whether the weapons were sticks, stones, axes, bows, arrows, guns or bombs.  But there was one turning point in war that really caused the death rates to skyrocket.

Today’s picture illustrates that development.  On the surface, it looks innocent enough.  In fact, if you don’t know what you’re looking for, you’ll probably miss it entirely.  If you look closely at the pictures, you’ll notice that the cannon barrel on top (from a Confederate cannon) was smooth bore – the inside of the barrel is, for all intents and purposes, perfectly smooth.

The bottom picture is from a Union cannon, and you’ll notice that instead of being perfectly smooth, there are grooves cut into the inside of the barrel.   This illustrates the difference between a smooth-bore barrel and rifled-bore barrel.  Shotguns are smooth bore weapons – rifles are “rifled” weapons.

So, what’s the big deal?  Smooth bore weapons were far less accurate, and didn’t fire as far, as a rifled barrel weapon.  In fact, it wasn’t until some time in the 1800’s that rifled barrels were invented.

In the Revolutionary War, there were far fewer deaths than in wars after the rifled barrels came into existence.  The grooves in the rifled barrel impart a tight spin to the projectile as it travels down the barrel, resulting in a much straighter, longer flight.  Smooth bore weapons don’t do this.  That’s why so many soldiers in the Revolutionary War could stand in a line and shoot at one another and not be very accurate.  But that all changed by the time of the Civil War, when rifled barrels became common.  The rifled barrel, according to some, is why the Civil War was so much deadlier, coupled with the fact that the tactics being used for part of the war were still Revolutionary War tactics – line up and shoot at each other.  With rifled barrels, that became much more deadly, and by the end of the war, the tactics had changed, much to the delight, I’m sure, of the typical Civil War soldier.

Sadly, it seems that some of mankind’s greatest efforts are expended in trying to create new and better ways of killing one another.

Smooth bore (top) barrel versus rifled bore (bottom) barrel on Civil War cannons

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1861, Florida became the third state to secede from the United States.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: the world’s finest and largest natural green diamond is the 41-carat Dresden Green, which has been owned by the Electors of Saxony since the 1700’s.  It is surrounded by white diamonds in a gold and silver setting.

Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park

Every once in a while it is necessary to just get away for a while – out of the house, away from the stresses and pressures, and do something that brings us joy.  Today was such a day for us.

Laurel and I both really enjoy going to Civil War sites.  I just never realized (silly me!) how much Civil War history took place close to Atlanta.  When we drove into Georgia, we stopped at a Visitor Center alongside the freeway at a rest stop and they loaded Laurel down with all sorts of brochures about places to see and things to do in Georgia.  A massive percentage of them were related to Civil War battlegrounds, museums, etc.  Friday evening we finally found time to sit down and look through the various brochures as we planned how we wanted to spend this Saturday.  We decided to go to Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park in nearby Kennesaw (about 19.2 miles from where we live).

For all intents and purposes, it is said that the battle for Atlanta started at Kennesaw.  General William T. Sherman was tasked by General Grant of depriving the Confederates of the means to wage war and to destroy their army in the south.  Atlanta was crucial because it was the most significant railroad hub in the South, was a huge storage location for war materiel, contained foundries that forged cannons and other weapons.  Sherman put Atlanta in the bulls-eye.  On his approach to Atlanta, 20 miles from Kennesaw, Sherman ran into the forces of General Johnston.  Sherman’s army consisted of 100,000 men, 254 guns and 35,000 horses. Johnston’s army had 63,000 men and 187 guns.   Over 67,000 soldiers were killed, wounded and captured during the Campaign for Atlanta that lasted from May .

The Confederates held the ridges and peaks of Kennesaw Mountain.  Weeks of continual rain had made the roads largely impassable, preventing Sherman from flanking the Confederates.  Whenever he would try to flank, the Confederates would withdraw and take a position closer to Atlanta.  Sherman grew tired of the game of cat-and-mouse and decided to attack up the mountainsides (which after seeing the ground, seems to me to have been an act of a mad-man!)  The long and short of it is that it was considered the largest defeat Sherman suffered in the Atlanta Campaign.

At one point after some fierce attacks by the Union troops up the side of a mountain, many wounded were laying on the hillside when fire broke out.  Colonel William M. Martin of the 1st Arkansas Regiment raised a white flag and invited the Union troops to do likewise so they could move the dead and wounded out of the way of the fire.  The Union commanders agree, the dead and wounded were moved, and the battle was rejoined.

Today’s photo is of a Confederate cannon placement near the top of Kennesaw Mountain.  The raised earthworks in the front of the cannon are the original earthworks that erected by the Confederates to help protect their firing position.

Confederate Cannon on Kennesaw Mountain, Kennesaw, Georgia

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1894, W.K. Dickson received a patent for the motion picture.  It was a 47-slide movie that lasted about 2 seconds and featured a man sneezing.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: former President Clinton is allergic to dust, mold, pollen, cats, Christmas trees and dairy products.

The Devil’s Den, Indeed

If I could choose one thing to do whenever I need to blow off some steam, it would be go to a Civil War battlefield and take pictures, trying to imagine in my mind what it was like on the day of the battle.  I’ve been to several battlefields (Manassas, Vicksburg, Chickamauga, Antietam and Gettysburg), but the one that most captivates my heart is Gettysburg.  It involved huge troop concentrations.  If the Union had lost at Gettysburg, the pathway was wide open for the Confederate Army to march right into Washington, DC and the war would have been over.  The statistics of the battle are mind-blowing, as it was the deadliest 3-day battle in American history.  Over 52,000 men were slaughtered or wounded (or missing) over the course of 3 days.  Fifty-two thousand.  Let that sink in.  What size town to you live in population-wise?  How many days (or hours) would it have taken for your entire town to be wiped out at that rate?  It remains to this day also the largest artillery battle every fought on American soil.

If you would like to learn more about the battle of Gettysburg, I highly recommend the video that Ted Turner put out, titled appropriately enough, Gettysburg.  It walks you through the 3 days of the battle and you get to know some of the main characters involved.

Part of the deadliest fighting took place on the second day of the battle near the places  known as the Wheatfield, Bloody Run, the Devil’s Den, the Peach Orchard and Little Round Top.  Little Round Top was highlighted in the story from the movie during the second day’s battle.  It marked the the southern end of the Union line, and if that line was turned or if the Confederates had been successful in going around the end of the Union battle line, the entire battle would almost certainly have been lost.

Stationed on top of Little Round Top was, among others, the 20th Maine unit commanded by colonel Joshua (Lawrence) Chamberlain.  They were at the very end of the line and withstood furious assault after furious assault from the Confederates, finally winning the battle when they were out of ammunition and they stormed down the hill with bayonets in place and the weary (from charging uphill) and frightened Confederates surrendered.

Today’s picture isn’t of Little Round Top, but the view from Little Round Top looking down towards the Devil’s Den, a pile of rocks where some of the fiercest fighting of the entire battle took place.  Men were fighting hand to hand, stabbing, shooting, clubbing one another in an attempt to survive.  Dead bodies and wounded filled the places between the rocks you see in today’s picture.  No wonder it was called the Devil’s Den, for surely the Devil’s work was being done there, and those who fought there certainly experienced hell on earth that day.

Tomorrow I’ll show a picture I took from Devil’s Den looking up at Little Round Top.

View of Devil's Den from Little Round Top, Gettysburg Military Battlefield, PA

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1890, the U.S. Cavalry killed over 200 native American men, women and children at Wounded Knee Creek in South Dakota.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Betsy Flanagan is responsible for the term “cocktail.”  The term was coined in Elmsford, NY, in the bar where she worked as a barmaid, which was decorated with the tail feathers of male birds.  One day a patron asked for one of those “cock tails” and she served him a drink with a feather in it.