Selected News Briefs from
Recent Issues of Civil War News
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Fort Ward Opens A New Exhibit
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — In recognition of the 50th anniversary of its opening, the Fort Ward Museum & Historic Park recently opened a new exhibit that will continue through this year.
“Fifty Years of Collecting: An Anniversary Exhibit of Objects from the Fort Ward Collection” highlights a variety of objects that reflect the scope and quality of the museum’s collection.
Fort Ward is the best preserved of the extensive network of Union forts and batteries known as the Civil War Defenses of Washington. Originally intended as a visitor center, the Fort Ward Museum began receiving donations of Civil War objects from the time it opened in 1964.
The long-term loan of collector and author Dr. Francis A. Lord’s collection transformed the visitors center into a museum. Lord wrote the two-volume Civil War Collector’s Encyclopedia and other reference books.
In 1972 the City of Alexandria purchased nearly 600 objects from the Lord collection, which is the core of the museum’s permanent collection of more than 4,000 Civil War period objects.
The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 to 5 and Sundays from 12 to 5 p.m. For information, call 703-746-4848 or visit www.fortward.org.
New Market Park Shows Body Armor Given In ‘62
NEW MARKET, Va. – A rare piece of Civil War body armor is on permanent display at the Virginia Museum of the Civil War at the New Market Battlefield State Historical Park.
The park is owned and operated by Virginia Military Institute (VMI). The steel armor, which protected only the wearer’s torso, has been in the VMI Museum’s possession since 1862, making it one of the oldest items in the collection.
It had not been shown for decades. The armor was never displayed at New Market until it was added to the exhibits there in April. It was donated to VMI by Capt. Joseph Carpenter, Class of 1856, who cut it off the body of a dead Union soldier at the Battle of Port Republic, near Harrisonburg, on June 9, 1862.
The Virginia Museum of the Civil War at New Market Battlefield State Historical Park tells the story of the war through exhibits, artifacts and dioramas, with a special emphasis on the war in Virginia. A recent addition is the Emmy Award-winning film, “Field of Lost Shoes,” an account of the VMI cadets who fought at the May 15, 1864, Battle of New Market.
Park visitors can also see the 19th-century farmhouse and outbuildings of the Bushong family who owned the land in 1864.
For information call or visit (866) 515-1864, www.vmi.edu/vmcw
GBPA Opens HQ On York Street
GETTYSBURG, Pa. — The country’s oldest Civil War preservation group — the Gettysburg Battlefield Preservation Association (GBPA) founded in 1959 — received kudos at the July 3 ceremony opening its 33 York St. headquarters.
Less than a block from the borough square and the Wills House, the storefront headquarters includes a mini-museum, GBPA souvenirs and retail items from borough merchants. The Licensed Town Historians of Gettysburg also use the headquarters as their base for tours of the borough.
Speakers included Gettysburg National Military Park Supt. Ed W. Clark who said, “The Gettysburg Battlefield Preservation Association has provided a greater appreciation for what happened at Gettysburg and in the battle’s aftermath.”
The GBPA also owns the restored Daniel Lady Farm on Hanover Road, site of a Confederate field hospital, where weekend tours and special events are held with assistance from the American Living History Education Society.
National Park Visitors Are Good For Local Economies
WASHINGTON – An economists’ report commissioned by the National Park Service shows $14.6 billion spent by 273.6 million park visitors within 60 miles of a national park.
This spending supported more than 237,000 jobs nationally and had a cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy of $26.5 billion. Restaurants/bars and lodging benefited the most. Other spending categories were food and beverages, gas and oil, admissions and fees, and souvenirs and other expenses.
The most popular national sites — visited by an average of more than 4 million people over five years — include Blue Ridge Parkway (PKWY), Cape Cod National Seashore, Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historic Park, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (NRA), Golden Gate NRA, Great Smoky Mountains NP and the Lincoln Memorial.
Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park is not in the report. The attendance statistics for other federal Civil War sites, listed for 2013 and five-year average, are:
Andersonville NHS: 98,711; 117,654
Antietam NB: 370,832; 407,933
Appomattox Court House NHP: 317,660; 259,782
Chickamauga & Chattanooga NMP: 905,984; 991,975
Fort Donelson NB: 247,734; 239,110
Fort Pulaski NM: 374,408; 404,043
Fort Sumter NM: 815,007; 819,647
Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania NMP: 880,251; 915,504
Gettysburg NMP: 1,213,349; 1,101,828
Harpers Ferry NHP: 255,714; 263,607
Kennesaw Mountain NBP: 1,924,076; 1,698,568
Manassas NBP: 538,888; 597,971
Monocacy NB: 37,647; 37,887
Pea Ridge NMP: 95,251; 105,053
Petersburg NB: 190,086; 186,010
Richmond NBP: 151,24; 142,523
Shiloh NMP: 536,206; 446,564
Stones River NB: 258,242; 216,700
Vicksburg NMP: 573,838; 621,740
Wilson’s Creek NB: 157,309; 171,762
The report is at www.nature.nps.gov/socialscience/economics.cfm
SUV And DUV Donate To Wilson’s Creek Park
REPUBLIC, Mo. — Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield recently received donations of Missouri Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) items and funds to purchase prints for the park’s Trans-Mississippi collection.
The donors were Phelps Camp 66, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, and Mary Whitney Phelps Tent 22, Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War 1861-1865, of Springfield.
Four Union veteran ribbons from southwest Missouri, three Missouri GAR documents, and a poster advertising a trip on the “Frisco” line from Springfield, Mo., to the 1895 G.A.R. reunion in Louisville, Ky., were included in Phelps Camp’s donation.
22nd Conference On CW Medicine Set For Oct. 3-5
MARIETTA, Ga. — The 22nd annual Conference on Civil War Medicine, “Civil War Medicine … It’s Not What You Think,” will be held Oct. 3-5.
The National Museum of Civil War Medicine of Frederick, Md., will host the event at the DoubleTree by Hilton, Atlanta-Marietta. Historians, authors and medical professionals will speak on a wide variety of topics related to Civil War medicine.
The schedule includes seven lectures on Friday and Sunday, a daylong Saturday bus tour to Marietta hospital sites and Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield, Friday dinner and Saturday happy hour.
Discounted registration for the full program and lectures alone is offered until Sept. 15.
For information and registration go to www.civilwarmed.org.
Civil War Trust To Help Schools Take Field Trips
WASHINGTON — To help make student site visits possible in an era of shrinking budgets, the Civil War Trust created the Field Trip Fund, which assists teachers in planning and paying for visits to historic sites.
By filling out a form at www.civilwar.org/fieldtripfund, teachers apply for a grant that can be applied to the cost of transportation, meals, site admission and/or guide fees.
Trust staff review applications and create a proposal to provide full or partial funding, up to $1,500.
In exchange, applicants agree to maintain “enthusiasm equity,” such as taking photographs, writing a short article about the trip or participating with their students in the Trust’s annual Park Day.
The Field Trip Fund uses contributions specifically designated for educational activities. Lighthizer said no donations for land acquisition efforts are used.
Trust Adds 2 Battle Apps, Real Time 1864 Twitter
WASHINGTON — The Civil War Trust marked two 150th anniversary events by releasing two apps. The Atlanta Campaign Battle App and Overland Campaign Battle App guides, optimized for iOS and Android devices, are available for free download.
Additionally, a new Twitter feed, @Summerof1864, allows followers to read about the events of summer 1864 as they unfold chronologically.
Visit www.civilwar.org for information about all of the Battle Apps, the historic events and the @Summerof1864 Twitter feed.
General Robert E. Lee (Al Stone) Will Retire In 2015
HINTON, Va. — Al Stone has made it official. After saying for the past few years that he wants to reduce his involvement in the field, where he has been for almost 20 years, he will do it.
After next April’s 150th commemoration of the Army of Northern Virginia surrender at Appomattox, “I’ll lend my time towards what ‘The General’ did during the final years of his life,” Stone says.
“It’s time to retire my impression and enjoy the twilight years with my wife and family,” he says. “I propose to continue teaching the true history of the contest and maybe three to five appearances each year as General Lee, the educator.”
Civil War Trust’s Online Video Series Seeks To Encourage Critical Thinking
WASHINGTON – The Civil War Trust recently premiered the first in its War Department video series, which is designed to go beyond lists of names and dates, encouraging viewers to analyze the broader impact of historical events.
The first full episode, focusing on Pickett’s Charge at the Battle of Gettysburg, went live May 30.
The series’ in-depth episodes will run approximately 10 minutes. Two-minute shorts will also be produced.
A trailer at www.civilwar.org/wardepartment introduces the new concept and offers a look at the techniques and topics to be explored.
SHARPSBURG, Md. — Work is under way to repair the stone facing of Burnside Bridge at Antietam National Battlefield. A section fell off in January. Updates and photos of the project can be seen at www.nps.gov/anti under the History & Culture menu.
After repairs are completed the bridge will be examined to determine if additional work is needed.
B&O Museum Work
BALTIMORE, Md. — Repairs to decorative architectural woodwork elements on the clerestory and lantern of the B&O Railroad Museum’s Roundhouse begin in August. The scaffolding that will be erected will not affect visitation.
The National Historic Landmark building, often called “The Cathedral of American Railroading,” is the centerpiece of the B&O Railroad Museum and its world-class collections, according to museum director Courtney B. Wilson.
Harsh winters with extensive freezing and thawing along with sun, wind and rain significantly deteriorated the wooden architectural elements that rise 125 feet above the ground. A regular inspection of the Roundhouse roof last year showed weather damage to the cornices, pilasters, window sills and painted surfaces.
The museum’s 40-acre historic site includes the 1851 Mt. Clare Station, the 1884 Baldwin Roundhouse, and the first mile of American commercial railroad track. For information call 410-752-2490 or visit www.borail.org.
Lee CWRT Dinner
ISELIN, N.J. — Ed Bearss will be the guest speaker at the Robert E. Lee Civil War Round Table’s 25th anniversary dinner on Sept. 14.
The afternoon event at The Woodbridge Hilton will include door and raffle prizes. Tickets, at $55 each, are available at R.E. Lee CWRT, 1162 St. George Ave., Box #194, Avenel, N.J. 07001. Checks should be payable to the R.E. Lee CWRT. Give choice of chicken or salmon and name, address and contact information.
Colored Troops Video
Voice of America produced a short video about U.S. Colored Troops and the 23rd USCT, which was the first black unit in combat with the Army of Northern Virginia (see July issue page 1).
The video includes interviews, period images and event footage. It can be seen at www.voanews.com/media/video/1950621.html
Park Trail Reopens
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — A portion of the Bluff Trail on the west side of Lookout Mountain Battlefield has reopened. It was closed in February.
Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park in partnership with Wild Trails developed a project to repair a trail washout that formed approximately three-quarters of mile north of Sunset Rock.
Volunteers from Wild Trails provided labor and materials to help repair the trail. The project took longer than expected because of inclement weather.
HATTERAS, N.C. — The new “The War Comes To Hatteras” exhibit at Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum will run through next June.
The exhibit features artifacts and documents from across the country related to Eastern North Carolina activities and actions during 1861-1862.
The exhibit focuses on the Aug. 28-29, 1861, Battle of Fort Hatteras and Fort Clark, the capture of the Fanny and the Chicamacomico Races on Hatteras Island in October 1861 and preparations of the Burnside Expedition.
The museum is open 10-4 Monday to Saturday. For information, call 252-986-2995, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.ncmaritimemuseums.com.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A pair of Abraham Lincoln’s carpet slippers are on display through November at President Lincoln’s Cottage. The slippers are on loan from the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center in Fremont, Ohio.
According to Hayes Center documents the slippers were among personal items that Mary Todd Lincoln gave son Tad’s tutor, Alex Williamson, after Lincoln’s death.
The tutor sent the slippers to President Hayes in 1878 with a note saying Lincoln wore them until the day of his murder. Hayes was a known collector of historical artifacts. Daniel Day-Lewis wore exact replicas in the movie “Lincoln.”
The Cottage exhibit is part of “originALs,” a series highlighting original objects that relate directly to Lincoln’s time at the Soldiers’ Home.
Meetings at the Cottage were often impromptu and informal, and Lincoln was known to greet his guests in his carpet slippers. An Englishman described the weary president as having ruffled hair, sleepy eyes, and “feet enveloped in carpet slippers.”
The slippers can be seen Monday-Saturday, 9:30 - 4:30, and Sunday, 10:30 - 4:30. For information call 202-829-0436 or go to Lincolncottage.org
STRAFFORD, Vt. — “Statues of Liberty: A Sesquicentennial Exhibit & Celebration” at the Justin Morrill Homestead, commemorates Cong. Justin Morrill’s Act (H.J. Res. 66) that created a National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol.
President Abraham Lincoln signed the bill on July 2, 1864. The exhibit features high-resolution photographs and interpretive descriptions of the sculptures of notable figures from the 50 United States, including life-sized images of the statues of Abraham Lincoln, Vermont’s Ethan Allen and Daniel Webster of New Hampshire.
The exhibit will be open through Oct. 13. It is free with admission to the house. For information, call 802-765-4288, email email@example.com or visit www.morrillhomestead.org
Lincoln & Davis
RICHMOND, Va. — The Museum of the Confederacy -Richmond is hosting “Lincoln and Davis” themed tours of the White House of the Confederacy every Tuesday and Thursday in August from 11:15-12:15.
Both men spent time in the building. The tour will consider them as politicians, leaders, husbands and fathers. Tours are $10 for adults, $8 seniors, and $6 for ages 7-13. For more information call (855) 649-1861 or visit www.moc.org
Thanks to Kickstarter crowdfunding, producers of a documentary about the sinking of the S.S. Sultana raised more than $108,000. They have been working on the project for eight years.
Mike Marshall is producer of the film. Executive producers are Jim Michaels, Matthew Egan and actor Sean Astin, who also narrates. Other actors are Jim Beaver, Thomas Ian Nicholas and Jason Richter.
When the Sultana exploded on the Mississippi River and sank April 27, 1865, more than 1,800 passengers, including soldiers recently freed from Confederate prisons, died.
More information is at www.thesultanadocumentary.com
CHARLESTOWN, Mass. — At the end of September the USS Constitution, launched in 1797 as one of America’s original six frigates, will be closed to tourists for restoration. Until then it is open free daily from 10-6 at the Charlestown Navy Yard.
Old Ironsides is the world’s oldest commissioned ship still afloat. In 1857 work began to refit the Constitution as a training ship. It was recommissioned on Aug. 1, 1860, and moved to the U.S. Naval Academy.
With the start of the war, she was towed to New York in April 1861 and moved to Fort Adams, Rhode Island, where the academy was relocated until August 1865.
HARRISBURG, Pa. — The National Civil War Museum received $5,000 from the Hall Foundation to support educational programming. The foundation is the title sponsor of the new exhibit “In the Hands of the Enemy: The Captivity, Exchange & Parole of Prisoners of War.”
The exhibit, which will be open until June 2015, shows artifacts from the museum’s collection and information panels about conditions of the Union and Confederate camps and daily prisoner life.
For more information go to www.nationalcivilwarmuseum.org
CONCORD, N.H. — Keene State College students have been transcribing 144 letters that Pvt. Willard Templeton, 11th New Hampshire Regiment, wrote home to Hillsborough.
The Associated Press reported that he often wrote about food and was optimistic about the Union’s success. Templeton died at the July 30, 1864, Battle of the Crater at Petersburg.
The letters, which were donated to the New Hampshire State Library in the 1940s, have never been digitized. Students have scanned and transcribed 76 letters will resume transcription in the fall.