A significant portion of Williamsburg’s historic Civil War battlefield was recently purchased to be secured for preservation. The Virginia Gazette reports the American Battlefield Trust bought the 29 acres in the area of the “Bloody Ravine” from The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. The land was zoned for commercial used and valued at $2,743,000. Located about 1 mile from the city’s historic area and primarily within the city limits, the land is pristine and looks much as it did 158 years ago when the battle took place, according to the newspaper.
Sunday, December 27, 2020
Saturday, December 26, 2020
2020's top 10 Picket posts: A treasure of artifacts hauled to surface; arson fire at museum, USS Monitor and innovative Colt revolving rifle
|Recovered round from Colt revolving rifle (Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park)
We’ve got a
few items in the works, so we look forward to rolling those and others out in
2021. Thanks so much for your interest – and Happy New Year!
10. MYSTERY TIMBER: Forty years ago, someone walking North Carolina’s Kure Beach found a curved piece of timber pocked with holes and containing a piece of iron. Its donation to the state earlier this year raised questions over whether it belonged to a blockade runner. -- Read more
|One of the two Dahlgrens that were cleaned (The Mariners' Museum and Park)
8. BELOVED ED BEARSS: By the beginning of 2020, it was clear that the legendary Civil War historian, author and mesmerizing guide was no longer able to lead tours. One of his publishers encouraged fans to send Bears letters of appreciation. Bearss (left) died in September at age 97.
7. SAVING THE STRAIN: A tabby structure that survived the federal burning of Darien, Ga., seemed destined for the wrecking ball just a year and a half ago. But an Atlanta-area couple came through, and they are restoring the Adam Strain building in the coastal town. -- Read more
6. PRAIRIE GROVE FIREPOWER: Removal of underbrush at the epicenter of a ferocious battle in northwest Arkansas has allowed archaeologists to recover about 400 Civil War artifacts, including spent bullets fired from innovative Colt revolving rifles. -- Read more
5. USS MONITOR REDUX: Earlier this year, conservators at The Mariners’ Museum and Park in Newport News, Va., removed the last concretion from inside the barrels of the two large turret guns. They used a special drill to remove the hardened mix of sediment and sea life. -- Read more
4. PUZZLE PIECE AT PEA RIDGE: A 140-acre parcel that was the scene of Confederate troop movements and a hospital during the March 1862 battle was bought by a coalition of conservation and historical groups, with plans to donate it to the National Park Service. -- Read more
|Inverted fantail of the CSS Jackson (Picket photo)
2. STAGGERING HAUL OF ARTIFACTS: An estimated 13,601 artifacts brought ashore from the Confederate ironclad CSS Georgia wreck site in Savannah were trucked to Texas for conservation. What’s known about the ship’s design, construction, propulsion, armament and life aboard the "Mud Tub" are detailed in a massive report about the CSS Georgia's recovery. -- Read more
|CSS Georgia Dahlgren cannon, bayonet hilt, breast plate (USACE-Savannah)
Sunday, December 20, 2020
Immigrants deserve much of the credit for winning the Civil War. A Wisconsin museum's new exhibit explores why they took up arms
|Exhibit on soldier David Oram (Courtesy Civil War Museum, Kenosha, WI)
|The Library Company of Philadelphia
Many immigrants had fought in European conflicts and were prepared for combat. Others arrived impoverished, ripe for recruiting – drawn by a bounty (enlistment bonus) and steady military pay.
“Some had families to support, or wives and children awaiting money for passage,” the museum says in an article about the exhibit. “Many men enlisted on the spot, or within days of reaching American soil. Others went to war for draftees who paid them to take their place.”
More than 500,000 immigrants showed uncompromised bravery while fighting for the Union.
Norwegian-born Col. Hans Heg (left), commanded the 15th Wisconsin, a regiment comprising mostly Scandinavian immigrants. David Oram, who came to the United States from Dundee, Scotland, when he was about 8, joined the 24th Wisconsin.
Both were at the Battle of Chickamauga in September 1863. Oram was seriously wounded and spent six months recovering. Heg became the highest-ranking Wisconsin officer to die in battle.
Heg, 33, died defending the freedoms he found in the United States. “The State has sent no braver soldier, and no truer patriot to aid in this mighty struggle for national unity, than Hans Christian Heg,” the State Journal wrote Sept. 29, 1863, reporting word of his death. “The valorous blood of the old Vikings ran in his veins, united with the gentler virtues of a Christian and a gentleman.”
Early in the conflict, Heg wrote about what motivated he and other immigrants.
|(Civil War Museum, Kenosha, WI)
“More than a third of Wisconsin’s population was foreign-born, giving it the second-highest proportion of immigrants of all states, says Patrick Young, who writes “The Reconstruction Era” and “Immigrants’ Civil War” blogs.
every one immigrant who served in the Confederate army, nine served with the
Union. Many, particularly the Germans, said they did so to end slavery. Without
these men, and their wives who supported their service, it is difficult to see
how the Union could have been preserved,” Young tells the Picket.
A large proportion of those on the Union side were German and Irish, but Poland, Italy and many other countries were represented.
Some 369 immigrants received the Medal Honor for their heroism in the Civil War.
|(Courtesy of Civil War Museum, Kenosha, WI)
In a video posted to the museum’s Facebook page, education coordinator Doug Dammann details the life and service of David Oram, who settled in Racine. He enlisted in August 1862.
Oram rejoined the Union army after he was wounded at Chickamauga, and mustered out in June 1865. He returned home, married and worked for a machine company. Like many Union veterans, Oram was active in the fraternal Grand Army of the Republic – in his case, the Gov. Harvey post.
Oram and his wife, Rosina, attended many events, including the 1915 encampment in Washington, DC, marking the 50th anniversary of the war’s end.
In April 1935, a few months before Oram died at age 94, he was honored at a patriotic and military ball in Race County. Besides Chickamauga, he was a veteran of the battles at Perryville, Stones River and Franklin-Nashville.
|David Oram before the Civil War
Comrade David Oram
The last of Abe Lincoln’s boys,
And to his Comrades departed;
Our Boyhood Heroes
To You, We the younger veterans,
Affectionately dedicate this Program.
Ourselves, we dedicate
To Carry On the Work, so well and nobly done
By the Grand Army of the Republic
|(Courtesy of Civil War Museum, Kenosha, WI)
Wednesday, December 9, 2020
Dear mom: Unfiltered letters from three Massachusetts brothers about combat and camp life are featured in new book
Nearly 100 letters written by three Massachusetts brothers have been transcribed and published in a new book, “My Dear Mother: Civil War Letters to Dedham from the Lathrop Brothers.”
correspondence by John, Joseph and Julius Lathrop to their mother and three
sisters stretched from December 1861 to a postwar visit to the Antietam
battlefield by John in September 1865.
“The letters tell of the fierce battles, long marches, camp life and the
brothers’ dedication to the Union cause,” says a description by the Dedham
Historical Society & Museum, which transcribed the material. “The letters
are published as written, without corrections or sanitation, but transcribed
using the language of their time.”
A letter written
by Julius to his mother on Feb. 13, 1862, details the taking of Roanoke Island,
N.C., several days before and describes the 24th Massachusetts
Infantry’s role in the capture of more than 2,000 Confederate prisoners.
Ambrose Burnside and his troops secured a vital victory in the Union effort to
put a stranglehold on Southern ports. Rebel forces surrendered after they were
routed from one battery and rushed to the northern end of the island, as
described in the letter.
wrote his regiment was supposed to be among the first to land early in the battle but
the steamer carrying troops ran aground. “We had the mortification of watching
all the other regiments pass by us as while we were left lamenting.”
witnessed the bombardment of the Confederate battery and its line was eventually
formed near hospital buildings. Wounded Federal soldiers cheered the regiment
and its brass howitzer, he wrote.
Fanciful depiction of Union attack at Roanoke Island (Library of Congress)
Other Federal forces took the battery as the 24th moved up. Lathrop got his first look at the horrors of war, seeing dead and maimed men, some nearly cut in two by artillery shots. “I saw … a poor fellow who was shot through the head with a grape shot. He was still alive though his brains were running out of his wound.”
home to Dedham, about 10 miles southwest of Boston, asked his loved ones to “excuse
the dirt but, I must tell you this is Secesh paper; of course it can’t be clean.”
the Lathrop brothers saw action across the breadth of the war, from Antietam
and Fredericksburg in the east to Port Hudson in the west, the historical
Julius, who later in the war accepted a commission with the 38th Massachusetts, was a captain when he was mortally wounded on April 23, 1864, in a skirmish at Cane River, La.
A regimental history says Lathrop "has rode in an ambulance the day previous, unable to march; but upon the approach of an engagement, had taken command of his company, and was leading his men when he received the fatal shot." He died a few days later.
Joseph Lathrop, who
served in the 43rd Massachusetts Infantry and the 4th
Massachusetts Cavalry before capture late in the war, also survived. He wrote
only one of the letters in the book.
Michael B. Chesson,
editor of “The Journal of a Civil
War Surgeon (2003),” wrote an Amazon review praising the book and the
range of subjects in the letters, from Army life to skulkers and the home
Chesson wrote: “Some of the letters describe close combat as
raw and immediate as a scene from the movie version of 'Cold Mountain.' The
letters span the full range of human emotions, expressed in the characteristic
reserve of old time New Englanders.”
A recording of Julius’ letter is on the Dedham Historical
Society & Museum website. Five other recordings are being uploaded weekly.
The letters were donated to the society in 1928. Volunteers began transcribing them about three years ago, according to the Dedham Patch.
The book includes photographs of the brothers and images of
battlefield maps drawn by John and Julius in their letters. The volume, put out
by Damianos Publishing, sells for $25 through Amazon and the publisher.