But Ewell missed the signal to commence activity. He claimed later he could not hear the barrage of Confederate artillery, and failed to move his troops in time, allowing Union commanders to shift troops to blunt Longstreet’s assault.
|Longstreet's July 2 assault at Gettysburg (Library of Congress)|
“The hot temperatures near the ground probably caused a dramatic upward refraction of sound waves,” Charles D. Ross wrote in 1999 newsletter of the Acoustical Society of America.
Union commander George G. Meade also claimed not to hear the sound of fighting at one point during Gettysburg, while people in Pittsburgh, 150 miles, heard the din of battle.
The phenomenon, known as “acoustic shadows,” is among the topics being covered Saturday (Feb. 16) at a daylong free seminar at Longwood University in Farmville, Va.
The 14th Annual Civil War Seminar is sponsored by the university and Appomattox Court House National Historic Park, which is 30 miles from Farmville.
Unusual acoustics due to atmospheric conditions sometimes make it difficult for commanders to hear sounds of battle that can help them deploy trees or react. Temperature inversions, terrain, absorption and wind can factor in, creating an auditory dead zone.
Patrick Schroeder, park historian at Appomattox Court House NHP, told the Picket that organizers are hoping for a crowd of about 300.
“They are topnotch speakers for free,” he said. “We are going to get people from Civil War roundtable groups, Sons of Confederate Veterans groups. We will get a fair amount of Longwood students and local people.”
The 8:45 a.m.-4 p.m. program is being held at the 800-seat Jarman Auditorium on campus.
Other speakers are:
|T.J. Duckett of S.C. at 1913 reunion|
n --- Troy Harman of the NPS will discuss the fighting at Gettysburg. “He is probably going to cover how the federal troops would use the terrain to their advantage,” said Schroeder.
n -- John Heiser will talk about Gettysburg and the “Great Reunion of 1913.” That meeting was the largest combined reunion of Civil War Veterans ever held.
Registration to attend the seminar is not required. “If you want to come in just the afternoon or morning you can just do that,” said Schroeder.