Tag Archives: Monuments

132nd Pennsylvania Volunteers At Antietam

Antietam

Antietam

On September 4, 1862, Confederate General Robert E. Lee was riding high. After a successful campaign against the Federals in Northern Virginia Lee decided that it was time to take the fight to the enemy resupply his army on their lands and demoralize their civilians. With those goals in mind, he would lead his men across the Potomac River and into Maryland.

On the Federal side General McClellan, commander of the Army of the Potomac, searched for Lee’s army and a chance to end the war once and for all. With a stroke of luck, one of his men had come across a copy of Lee’s orders at a former campsite. These orders gave McClellan what he needed. The invasion culminated with the battle of Antietam just outside the town of Sharpsburg Maryland on September 17th in what would be to this point the bloodiest day of the war.

132nd Pennsylvania Volunteers

 

In August 1862 in Harrisburg, PA the 132nd PA Volunteer Regiment was formed under the command of Colonel Richard A. Oakford. A few weeks later they found themselves in Maryland taking part in their first battle. They would attack a Confederate position that would become known as Bloody Lane. By the time the battle was over the 132nd had lost 152 men killed, wounded and missing, including their commander.

The following is a brief excerpt from the regimental history written by Richard Hitchcock and available through Project Gutenberg:

A remarkable fact about our experience during this fight was that we took no note of time. When we were out of ammunition and about to move back I looked at my watch and found it was 12.30 P.M. We had been under fire since eight o’clock. I couldn’t believe my eyes; was sure my watch had gone wrong. I would have sworn that we had not been there more than twenty minutes, when we had actually been in that very hell of fire for four and a half hours.

Just as we were moving back, the Irish brigade came up, under command of General Thomas Francis Meagher. They had been ordered to complete our work by a charge, and right gallantly they did it. Many of our men, not understanding the order, joined in that charge. General Meagher rode a beautiful white horse, but made a show of himself by tumbling off just as he reached our line. The boys said he was drunk, and he certainly looked and acted like a drunken man. He regained his feet and floundered about, swearing like a crazy man. The brigade, however, made a magnificent charge and swept everything before it.

To read more click here.

Monument

The monument in the photo was dedicated to the regiment on September 17, 1904 and was erected by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for their brave men. Besides the units name the single inscription reads simply, Virtue, Liberty, and Independence.

 

The Dominoes of 9/11

The Dominoes of 9/11

The Dominoes of 9/11

 

That is a section of steel I-Beam from the World Trade Center. Or what was left of it on that fateful day not long ago. There is no need to recap that day or the events. For many of us, it is forever seared into our memories as the world we knew was changed forever.

As terrible as that day was, what came after is almost as unbelievable.  Our military entered a struggle that still continues almost seventeen years later. From Afghanistan, to Iraq, to Syria, to Africa and a dozen other places. The men and women of the armed forces have been fighting a war against people who are as determined to kills us today as they were back then. Their fighting spirit has not wavered, and neither has ours.

With the main event that launched into this war so far removed, it is easy for us to lose focus on the struggle ahead. Looking back through the other posts on this blog you can see that as Americans we have always stepped up and done what we have had to do.  Looking at the rusted piece of metal in the picture above should remind us that the struggle is ongoing.

Of course for some that piece of metal above is a reminder that the underlying conflict that brought about the destruction of the towers has been going on for more than a thousand years. The story of civilization is the story of struggle. That picture should remind you what we are currently struggling for.

#neverforget

#letsroll

 

Washington Light Infantry Monument At The Cowpens

Washington Light Infantry Monument At The Cowpens

Washington Light Infantry Monument At The Cowpens

 

The National Battlefield Park at The Cowpens in South Carolina is a kind of serene place. The terrain is not the same as when the battle was fought there back on January 17th, 1781. Still, you can get a good sense of the land. When you are on the battlefield itself there is not much in the way of monuments. A stark difference compared to other battlefields.

The one exception out on the field is the Washington Light Infantry Monument which is pictured above. Fairly simply, not real gaudy, the pole in the center was topped with a brass eagle. Inside the base are several artifacts. A vial of water from Eutaw Springs (location of another battle later in the war). A brick from a house at Eutaw Springs. A handwritten account of the Battle of Cowpens and a roster of the members of the group that dedicated the memorial.

One of the first monuments dedicated to a battle from the American Revolution in the South, it was built in 1856 by the Washington Light Infantry a South Carolina militia regiment formed in 1807 and named for General George Washington though eventually it would become more closely associated with William Washington, the General’s cousin and a very important Continental Army commander in the war, especially the Southern Campaign.

Built at a time when the nation was starting to come apart, the monument was dedicated on the 75th anniversary of the battle, a move that some hoped would serve as a reminder of the common cause that brought the people together during the revolution. Considering what happened in South Carolina just a few years later, it didn’t really have the desired effect.

 

 

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Berlin Wall

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

 

In August 1961 East German forces started work on a barbed wire and concrete barrier separating East and West Berlin. It was built to keep Western “Fascists” from polluting the hearts and minds of East Berlin. It was also built to stop the massive influx of refugees moving from east to west. Eventually, the barbwire became a wall that prevented anyone from crossing. Except at the predetermined checkpoints, which rarely allowed anyone to pass. And so the Cold War had a physical symbol that embodied the separation of east and west.

It would not stand forever.

In 1989 tensions between the US and Soviets were starting to thaw as the buzzwords of Glasnost and Perestroika started charting a new path between the superpowers. On November 9th of that year, the spokesman for East Berlin’s Communist Party let it be known that at midnight that day German citizens would be allowed to cross into West Berlin. The intention was to slowly work towards a reintegration of the two societies. The problem was that once a trickle starts, it easily can become a flood.

By the time midnight came around Berliners from both sides lined up at the gates, beer and champagne flowing freely. Once the checkpoints were open people from both sides crossed the checkpoints and as the party started to reach epic proportions people started to pick pieces off the wall. Before long the small hammers and picks of the partakers became cranes and bulldozers and before long the Wall was down. Pieces of it were sold as souvenirs, big chunks sent to museums all over the world. Including the piece above. As it was being built it was a symbol of oppression. When it came down it became the ultimate expression of freedom.

#coldwar #berlin #fallofthewall

The High Water Mark of the Confederacy

The High Water Mark of the Confederacy
The High Water Mark of the Confederacy

The High Water Mark of the Confederacy

The morning of July 3rd, 1863 at Gettysburg Pennsylvania the Union and Confederate forces were in day three of an epic battle. This was a battle for all the marbles. If the South could win they would have almost free rein in the Pennsylvania countryside. From there they could make a run at anywhere they wanted in the north, including Washington DC.  A war-weary North may even consider bringing the war to an end.

General Lee decided this morning that he was going to play for the win. He ordered the men to make a strong focused attack on the Union center. That should have been the weak point. Break that line and win the war. He gave command of the attack to General Longstreet even though he opposed it. As such he delayed the attack longer than he should have. Eventually, after an artillery duel seemed to prepare the field Longstreet sent General George Pickett and his Virginians to attack.

Armistead

One of the men leading the assault was General Lewis Armistead. A good man and a true soldier. He had been part of the US Army before the war and now served the South.  That day he led the men from the front as the artillery and rifle fire rained down. He kept them moving forward. After what seemed like a week in Hell his men closed in on the stone wall the marked the Federal line. Waving his hat perched on his sword he lead the men over the wall. For a brief shining moment they drove the Yankees back and almost, maybe could see victory.

It was not to be the Union forces rallied and Armistead fell and with him the hopes of the Confederate victory. The spot that he fell, marked in the photo above became known as the High Water Mark of the Confederacy. After that hope for victory would change to hope for survival as the long, slow death spiral of the CSA began.

Joshua Chamberlain and the 20th Maine

At the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863 there were many heroes. One that stands out from the list is Colonel Joshua Chamberlain of the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry. On July 2nd, the second day of the battle, Chamberlain and the 20th found themselves on the far left of the Union line on Little Round Top.

Opposed to them were the 15th and 47th Alabama who had been tasked with finding the Union left, turn the flank and take Little Round Top. Early in the battle they found the end of the line and started a hard push towards it. Chamberlain ordered the far end of the line to forma right angle to meet the coming attack.

After several attempts by the rebels the 20th found themselves running low on ammunition and about to be over run. Seeing that they were gathering for another attack Chamberlain did the unthinkable and ordered his men to make a bayonet charge down the hill into the advancing rebels. His men took the enemy by surprise and drove the Alabamians scattered and gave up their attempts to take the mountain.

Later in the war Chamberlain would be promoted to General and was in command of the Union troops that presided over the Confederate surrender at Appomattox. He would go on to be Governor of Maine and serve as president of Bodowin College in Maine. He passed in 1914 at the age of 85 but remains one of the stand outs of Gettysburg.

The picture above, though terrible I admit, is of the statue of him that stands on Little Round Top to this day.

Sherman’s Neckties

 

Late 1864 found the Union Army under General Sherman having just taken Atlanta and well in control of the Deep South. With the Confederate army scattered and trying to fight a war on multiple fronts, Sherman knew that he was in a position to provide a death-blow to the cause, and perhaps bring an end to the war.

With Atlanta secured he set his sights on Savannah about 250 miles to the east. It was not the target that made his next actions so controversial, but how they would be accomplished that put Sherman into the annals of military history. He would seek out and destroy not just the enemy military, but anything that could be used in support of them. Industry, farms, food, livestock, anything that the South could use to prolong the war would be a valid target. Tied in with the fact that the army would have to supply itself on the way, the utter devastation of the South would be accomplished.

One target that the army went after with particular glee was the railroads. Used to move men and materials, destroying the railroads would have even more of an effect that destroying buildings and crops. In order to make sure that the destroyed rails could not be easily repaired, something different from just tearing up the tracks had to be used. So the Union Army got creative.

Rails were dismantled and placed on bonfires until they were red-hot. They would then be taken off the fire and twisted around a nearby tree, tied up much like a necktie. The rails could never be salved without being reforged, and in a time of war, with resources already stretched, this just was not going to happen. The name Sherman’s Necktie became how these fancy decorations were known. The one you see in the picture above is authentic and rumor has it that if you look hard enough on the path that the army took in 1864, you can still see them where they were made. A monument to the harsh reality of war.

 

 

 

Henry Hill Monument At Manassas

The Civil War began with a slow burn years before any shots were fired. Slavery, states rights, honor and profit all pulled the men of the country into colliding orbits that collapsed like a supernova on July 21, 1861 at Manassas Virginia on the banks of Bull Run Creek.

The fresh and eager volunteers from North and South were about to start a dance that would last for many, many years and cost hundreds of thousands of lives. None of the men that started the fight that day thought that this would only be the first battle of many. The first battle of the war was the first battle for a great number of them men involved. For some it would be there last.

The monument above was dedicated on June 13, 1865, not long after the war finally ended, on Henry Hill a site on the battlefield that saw some of the hottest action. The monument stood twenty feet tall and was made of from locally quarried red sandstone. It was built by Union soldiers who were garrisoned in nearby Fairfield County. Gaining permission from their officers and the government they spent the last several weeks of their enlistments building the monument to their fallen comrades. A little way down the road the constructed a second monument to the men that fell during the second Battle of Bull Run in 1862.

This stand as one of the first monuments to commemorate the brave soldiers that fought in the war. The simple inscription says everything more that needs said.

“Memory of the Patriots Who Fell At Bull Run July 21 1861.”

 

Monumental (Part Three)

 

The image of Confederate General Robert E. Lee astride his white charger could bring his men to tears. Filled with pride and the knowledge that he was there helped the men to fight harder and longer than should have been possible. The men loved Lee as a father and they would follow him to the end of the world.

His monument at Gettysburg, officially the monument of Virginia, shows Lee in all his glory staring stoically out across the open field, surveying the Union lines on the third day of battle. The third day, the day that would not only seal the loss of the battle for Lee, but would be the death kneel of the Confederacy.

This was the day that lee sent General Pickett and his troops across the field, over a mile in the open to try to smash their way through the center of the Union line. A line that had been beaten and bashed for two days. Against the advice of his right hand General Longstreet, Lee knew in his heart he had made the right decision.

The attack got off slow. The bombardment that was to soften the defenses fell short, lack of ammunition kept the fire rate lower than expected. When the time came though Picket and his men advanced. The story of Pickett’s charge is one for another time. Regardless of whose side you sympathize with the bravery and sheer will power that the Confederate soldiers showed as they reached the Union line is beyond measure.

Yet they failed. Crushed by Union artillery. Raked by a withering flanking fire that decimated them as they closed in. Fences, fences that the men had to stop and climb over as rifle and cannon fire tore gaping holes in their lines. They failed and those that could crawled, ran, walked, shuffled back to the stating point of their attack. And there when they arrived was Lee. Tears in his eyes as he realized he had made a mistake and hundreds of men paid the price.

His monument sits at the very spot where he solemnly greeted those that survived the attack. A stone face stares out at the fields of what had to have been worst day of the war for him. The high point of the rebellion had come and gone, and Lee will forever bear witness to that failed attack.

Monumental (Part One)

Above we have the North Carolina monument at Gettysburg National Military Park. A monument to the bravery and tenacity of the men from North Carolina that fought in the field for the state and for the Confederacy.

The history of Confederate monuments is fascinating as for many years they were discouraged completely and it was not until much later that they started to appear. Hard feelings and lack of money kept many Southern states from being able to build the monuments. As such there are far more monuments to the Union troops than the Confederates, which makes sense because the battle was  a Union victory and occurred in the North.

The North Carolina monument was dedicated on July 3, 1929. (Interestingly enough the Texas monument was not dedicated until 1982.) To the side of the monument is erected a stone tablet with the following inscription:

1863
North Carolina
To the eternal glory of the North Carolina
soldiers. Who on this battlefield displayed
heroism unsurpassed sacrificing all in sup-
port of their cause. Their valorous deeds
will be enshrined in the hearts of men long
after these transient memorials have crum-
bled into dust.

Thirty two North Carolina regiments were in
action at Gettysburg July 1,2,3, 1863. One Con-
federate soldier in every four who fell here
was a North Carolinian.

This tablet erected by the North Carolina Division United Daughters of the Confederacy.

 

Over 14,000 men of North Carolina were a part of the Army of Northern Virginia, only Virginia provided more men. During the battle NC lost almost 6,000 men or almost 40% of those that took part in the battle. As stated on the tablet over one-quarter of all Confederate casualties these three days came from North Carolina.

We will look at some more of the monuments in the days to come.