Sunday, July 31, 2022

Park bearing the name of former slave who served in USCT during the Civil War opens in suburban St. Louis

Oglesby Park features trails, lakes and this giant playground (St. Charles County Parks)
A video detailing the service and postwar life of a former slave who fought for the Union was released on the day a Missouri park named for him opened.

Benjamin Oglesby, who fled captivity at age 39, served with the 56th US Colored Infantry Regiment. He later farmed for 30 years on what is now the park property.

The 199-acre Oglesby Park, on West Meyer Road just west of Wentzville and near Interstate 70, features a large playground, lakes, trails and shelters, St. Charles County officials said. A dedication ceremony was held Saturday in the suburban St. Louis community.

Ryan Graham, parks director, told the Picket in an email that signage will be added at a later date and a schoolhouse that served Oglesby descendants during the early 20th century will be moved to the park.

County parks historian Ben Gall said his research showed that Oglesby was born in Bedford, Virginia, in about 1825. In the mid-1830s, he came to St. Charles County with his enslaver Marshall Bird. 

The farm near Foristell grew corn, wheat and tobacco. Oglesby was one of seven enslaved people working on the land.

In November 1864, Oglesby left the farm, went to a recruiting depot and enlisted in the U.S. Army and was sent to Benton Barracks in St. Louis for training.

He was assigned to the 56th USCT, which conducted military operations in Arkansas, including fighting at Indian Bay and Big Creek before he enlisted. (One of Oglesby's military records at left, in National Archives collection. Click to enlarge).

Oglesby was with the unit during an expedition from Helena, Ark., to Friar's Point, Ms., in February 1865, and subsequent post and garrison duty.

Oglesby was honorably discharged in November 1865, outside Helena, Gall said.

More than 180,000 African-Americans served in the U.S. military during the Civil War.

The 56th USCT lost during service four officers and 21 enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and two officers and 647 enlisted men by disease, according to the National Park Service. Nearly 180 died from cholera when they were being mustered out in 1866.

After the war, according to the 1870 census, Oglesby, his wife, Patsy (also called Martha) and their six children -- Medora, Samuel, Oskar, Bell, Albert and Charlie -- worked on a farm in Hickory Grove Township in Warren County, officials said.

In 1871, he purchased 146 acres of land in Foristell believed to have been owned by a German immigrant. He financed the property through a $2,000 deed of trust and paid off the property six years later.

“When Mr. Oglesby died in 1901, the estate records indicate a nearly 50% increase in the value of his property, demonstrating him as a successful farmer,” Gall wrote in an email. “The property was still in the family through the 1960s.”

Plan for Oglesby Park; click to enlarge (St. Charles County Parks)
The county on Saturday released a six-minute video about Oglesby’s life. The park is a “fitting tribute to Oglesby’s perseverance in reaching his goals in life,” the narrator says.

Barbara Love, the soldier’s great-great-granddaughter, told St. Louis TV station KMOV earlier this year that her ancestor was determined to succeed after escaping slavery.

Love wrote on Facebook that her ancestor's story shows "you can be anything you want if you keep the faith."

Oglesby and his wife are buried in a cemetery about a mile from the park.

Friday, July 29, 2022

Ohio's largest Civil War event returning after a two-year break

Hale Farm & Village has scheduled its Civil War event after a two-year hiatus. The living history and reenactment event -- Ohio’s largest -- is 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 13-14, in Bath. A recreation of the Battle of Brawner’s Farm will be staged. The battle marks the beginning of the Second Manassas on Aug. 28, 1862. -- Article

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Rocky Face Ridge Park: North Georgia community celebrates 20-year effort to open scenic site featuring Civil War earthworks and recreation trails

Bob Jenkins (left) with reproduction 3-inch ordnance rifle at park. (Picket photo)
High above Crow Valley, on a ridge near Dalton, Ga., men of the 64th and 125th Ohio endured withering Confederate fire that cut down officers and enlisted men alike.

It was May 7-8, 1864, at Rocky Face Ridge, during the first battle in what became known as the Atlanta Campaign. Gen. William T. Sherman sent troops from the Chattanooga area as a feint while Maj. Gen. James B. McPherson rushed to Snake Creek Gap in a bid to cut Rebel forces off from a vital railroad.

But the feint did not come without cost: About 1,400 men from both sides became casualties in the fighting over several days at Rocky Face Ridge in northwest Georgia.

One of them was remembered Monday afternoon as Whitfield County and a host of Civil War, conservation, recreation and other entities formally opened Rocky Face Ridge Park just north of Dalton.

Georgia Division reenactors take part in ribbon cutting Monday (Picket photo)
Scott McIlvain was among the 100 attendees gathered under a pavilion on a sweltering day. His ancestor, Col. Alexander McIlvain of the 64th Ohio, died from wounds he received atop the ridge, which offered its defenders commanding views and defenses.

Rocky Face Ridge Park was 20 years in the making, following purchases of 625 acres -- in the shape of a rectangle -- on top of the mountain, and then 301 grassy acres below, where the ceremony took place.

The county touts the venue as a wonderful history magnet -- with the remains of Federal and Confederate earthworks, trenches, a replica cannon and 12 interpretive signs spread out over a 3-mile trail below the ridge. The signs have QR codes that link to online stories about the battle.

The purchases were in 2002 and 2016 (Courtesy of Whitfield County)
Many visitors will likely come for the recreation offerings, including 10 miles of bicycle trails and an area used for cross country runs.

It’s a beautiful setting, topped by the spiny ridge that offers breathtaking views.

“There are mountains on which you can see the whole Atlanta Campaign, from Lookout Mountain to Kennesaw Mountain, on a good day,” Kathryn Sellers, chair of the Dalton Historic Preservation Commission, told the crowd.

Getting to the mountaintop is not easy. It’s accessible from a bike trail, but officials are hoping a better-marked, hiking-only trail will one day be constructed. Visitors are rewarded with a great view and stone breastworks built by Confederate defenders.

T-shirt worn by bicyclists group features Civil War cannon (Picket photo)
The effort to open the park got a push in 2016 when the Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association (SORBA) became involved.

The association donated money and helped design the trail system. The Northwest Georgia chapter helps maintain the trails.

SORBA was able to convince officials that the trails would not damage Civil War features.

Gaye Rice, president of the local chapter of SORBA, told the audience on Monday that bicyclists using the Buzzard’s Roost trail come from all over the Southeast to ride the ridge. Riders have been using the trails for about two years.

One of a dozen markers placed on 300-acre tract below ridge (Picket photo)
Rocky Face Ridge Park was the site of two Civil War clashes.

Federal Maj. Gen. George Thomas probed the Confederate defenses in February 1864, ahead of the grinding march on Atlanta. The park is near Dug Gap, Mill Creek Gap and Tunnel Hill, other Civil War sites of interest.

And in early May, Union troops advanced toward Dalton, which was held by forces under Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston. The Yankees “were the tip of the spear” that launched the Atlanta Campaign, said Jim Ogden, chief historian at Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park.

Items shown Monday include detailed aerial view of ridge's top (Picket photo)
Sherman knew it would be impossible to take the mountain head on, but he wanted to divert his foe as McPherson moved to the south.

“At places, the crest of the ridge was only four-persons wide, with sheer drop-offs on either side. Confederates stacked rocks to create breast works and, where the ground allowed, dug earthen works,” says Emerging Civil War. “The line runs for miles, from the northern tip of the ridge southward to Mill Creek Gap and Dug Gap.”

Union troops were able to take part of the northern tip of the ridge in May, but attacks on the division of Maj. Gen. Carter Stevenson failed to dislodge the Rebels.

The American Battlefield Trust, which is a major player in the acquisition of Civil War battleground, has YouTube videos and articles about the fighting at Rocky Face Ridge and Resaca. It is here where Sherman and Johnston began their famous flanking game that eventually pushed the Confederates back to Atlanta.

One of the trust’s articles is a letter that was published in Confederate Veteran magazine in 1918. The author was Lt. Col. David H. Moore of the 125th Ohio, writing to a former foe. He describes the fierce fighting on the crest of Rocky Face Ridge. He suffered a hip wound from a bullet that killed another soldier. About 55 men in the regiment were casualties.

To the Confederate veteran, Moore (right) wrote:

“That night, as I recollect, your men reconsidered your purpose to hold the ridge, only to fall back to another and stronger position, thus inaugurating that series of unparalleled struggles which has gone down in history as the ninety days' battle. Your division was almost constantly opposed to us during the Atlanta Campaign. So accustomed had we become to your style of fighting and to the vicious soprano of your Minie balls and to the indescribable fury of your battle-shouts and charging-yells that it was lonesome when by chance we struck a stranger foe.

Johnston, surprised by McPherson’s move and seeing that Sherman was moving south, evacuated troops off the ridge and rushed them to Resaca. The Federal strategy had failed, given McPherson moved back to Snake Creek Gap when he thought his army might be in a precarious position. Sherman was angry about McPherson’s failure to attack and perhaps cut Johnston off from the railroad. The Battle of Resaca ensued, with Johnston having consolidated his troops.

Monday’s ceremony included a tribute to Mike Babb, the former Whitfield County commission chairman who was the driving force behind the park.

Three of several mounds showing position of Mississippi battery (Picket photo)
According to the Chattanooga Times Free Press, the $4 million effort was funded with about $3.2 million in local, state, and federal government funds, plus about $800,000 in grants. Numerous organizations supported the project, including the Georgia Battlefields Association and the Georgia Piedmont Land Trust

“The amazing thing about this park is how many people got involved in it,” said Babb.

Chris Welton, a trustee with the American Battlefield Trust, said partnerships resulted in a park that is a "poster child for what we are about." He cited funding from the National Park Service's American Battlefield Protection Program as a seed for preservation projects.

Following the ceremony, I was able to see Confederate trenches (left) and the remains of Stanford’s Mississippi battery. The unit fought in several major battles during the war, including Shiloh, Chickamauga and the Atlanta battles.

I am grateful for Brian Chastain, the county’s recreation director, and another employee for taking me there via a rugged utility vehicle. It's always poignant to see physical reminders of what occurred as Americans fought each other.

The remains of the entrenchments offer proof for a statement from Bob Jenkins, head of Save the Dalton Battlefields:

Dalton, Georgia, and the county she resides in, Whitfield County, have more undisturbed Civil War earthworks than any other county in the nation.

If you go: Rocky Face Ridge Park is accessible from 2209 Crow Valley Road, Dalton, Ga.

 Jim Ogden of Chickamauga and Chattanooga was among speakers (Picket photos)

Sunday, July 24, 2022

In Atlanta, John A. 'Black Jack' Logan picked up the pieces and helped save the day for the Union. He inspired his men in several battles

In the nick of time, Logan rallies the troops on July 22, 1864 (Picket photo)
On Friday, I marked the 158th anniversary of the Battle of Atlanta in a rather unusual way. Rather than walking paved-over battleground, I drove to the Atlanta History Center and bought one of two puzzles it stocks depicting the Cyclorama painting. It's been a while since I put one together.

The AHC, of course, houses the colossal Battle of Atlanta Cyclorama, which focuses on a brief Confederate breakthrough on the afternoon of July 22, 1864, at the Troup Hurt house.

Galloping furiously to the rescue, hat in hand, is Union Maj. Gen. John A. “Black Jack” Logan, temporary head of the Army of the Tennessee. That’s the scene shown in the 48-piece puzzle (I know, not super challenging to put together).

Known for his flowing hair and marvelous mustache, Logan was perhaps the best “political” or non-West Point general fighting for the Union. His clutch performance in Atlanta and a few days before, at Dallas in nearby Paulding County, were perhaps his shining moment.

Capt. DeGress trails Logan as they ride forward (AHC)
Entering the battle, Logan, commanded the 15th Corps, which with the 16th  Corps and 17th Corps, made up the Army of the Tennessee. During the pitched fighting on the 22nd, Maj. Gen. James B. McPherson, commander of that group, was killed. Logan took command of the three corps and rallied troops after the breakthrough and pushed the Rebels back, securing a decisive victory.

“He was a damn good leader -- indispensable in restoring 15th Corps morale that afternoon,” say Gordon Jones, senior military historian and curator at the AHC.

Jones cited remarks made by J.W. Long of the 2nd Iowa Infantry in a National Tribune article in September 1888:

"No one can describe how Logan looked in battle any more than he could describe the raging sea. I am satisfied that the biggest coward in the world would stand on his head on top of the breastworks if Logan was present and told him to do so."

Logan excelled despite no military training before war (Library of Congress)
Logan, from Illinois, served in the U.S. House before the war. He opposed abolition of slavery, but his thoughts on that changed during the war and he later espoused equal rights for African-Americans. He served with distinction at Fort Donelson, where he was wounded, and Vicksburg.

In his review of Gary Ecelbarger’s biography of Logan, Charles R. Bowery writes of the general: “Logan was a quick study in tactics and the operational art. He took care of his men, shared hardships with them, and led by example at all times, placing himself in danger to inspire his men on numerous battlefields. The units he commanded responded in kind, often stopping to cheer him when he appeared on the field of battle to reverse a deteriorating situation.”

Such a potential situation presented itself at Atlanta, when Logan, as ranking officer, found himself in the hot seat after McPherson (right) was shot down. The news of the popular McPherson’s death tore through the Union lines that afternoon. He was a favorite of Gen. William T. Sherman.

Ten years after the war, Logan made these remarks at the unveiling of the McPherson monument in Washington, D.C.

“The news of his death spread with lightning-speed along the lines, sending a pang of deepest sorrow to every heart as it reached the ear; but, especially terrible was the effect on the Army of the Tennessee. It seemed as though a burning, fiery dart had pierced each breast, tearing asunder the flood-gates of grief, but, at the same time, heaving to their very depths the fountains of revenge. The clenched hands seemed to sink into the weapons they held, and from the eyes gleamed forth flashes terrible as lightning.

“The cry ‘McPherson, McPherson! and “McPherson and revenge!’ rose above the din of battle, and, as it rang along the lines, swelled in power, until the roll of musketry and booming of cannon seemed drowned by its echoes.

The Cyclorama, which was painted in Milwaukee to show a Union victory, was later modified and misinterpreted in Atlanta as showing a Southern triumph – however short.

At 4 p.m. on July 22, the battery of Federal Capt. Francis DeGress was firing canister as fast as it could near the Troup Hurt house (left). Determined Confederates continued to push forward and were about to be upon them.

DeGress knew the horses could not pull back the guns in time, Jones said, and he had two guns spiked. The captain and Sgt. Peter Wyman stayed with the other two weapons, firing double canister. They eventually had to flee; Wyman was killed while DeGress fled back to the collapsed Federal line.

Fast-forward to the scene depicted in the Cyclorama: Logan – riding a black horse named Slasher -- rallying his troops and rushing toward the breach, with DeGress riding behind.

DeGress, already a respected veteran, is about to become a folk hero to the Northern cause. He retakes the four 20-pounder Parrott guns and turns them on the retreating Confederates.

(It’s important to note the battlefield on July 22 was much larger than what is shown in the painting. For example, troops clashed for a much longer time on Bald (Leggett’s) Hill south near current Interstate 20.)

Charlie Crawford, president emeritus of the Georgia Battlefields Association, told the Picket that Logan was “inspirational” at Dallas and Atlanta.

“Didn’t function much as an army commander, but was great at restoring the line of his own 15th Corps. McPherson and Dodge (16th Corps) deserve credit for repulsing the initial attack on the far left flank, and Blair (17th Corps), Leggett, and G.A. Smith did most of the command work in the Battle for Bald Hill.

“By the time (approx. 2:30) that Logan knew he was an army commander, 17th Corps was facing repeated attacks by Cleburne and Maney, but Blair, Leggett, and G.A. Smith were effective in their respective command roles without a lot of direction from Logan. Once breakthrough occurred in 15th Corps sector (approx. 4:30), Logan justifiably focused on that emergency.”

Logan, DeGress and others head for the Troup Hurt house breakthrough (AHC)
Despite his heroic service that day, Logan served as commander of the Army of the Tennessee for only four days. Sherman gave that job to Maj. Gen. Oliver O. Howard, a West Point grad. Sherman reportedly was skeptical of politicians in uniform, but there may have been personal differences, too. Logan was crushed by the news.

He “viewed this as a personal slight which gave him a very dim view of West Pointers in the future,” says the American Battlefield Trust. He performed well in the coming days at Ezra Church and Jonesboro.

“Logan put on his politician hat in the fall of 1864, returning to his home state to campaign for Abraham Lincoln -- a marked contrast for the erstwhile Democrat,” the trust says. “In December, the major general returned to the field at the head of the Fifteenth Corps until the cessation of hostilities. He was given command of the Army of the Tennessee on May 23, 1865 -- just in time to lead it in the Grand Review in Washington, DC.

Logan got back into politics, serving several terms in the U.S. House and Senate. He was an unsuccessful Republican vice presidential candidate in 1884 and was considered a front-runner in the upcoming presidential election. He died in 1886 at age 60 from the effects of rheumatism.

The artists made this sketch of Logan, other figures for the painting (AHC)
He also is remembered today as the father of Memorial Day, which began as Decoration Day in 1868. As head of the Grand Army of the Republic, Logan lobbied for a special day to commemorate America’s war dead.

Logan obviously is the star of the Cyclorama, given there are no recognizable Confederate officers during the fight at the Troup Hurt house.

The circular painting debuted in Minneapolis in June 1886, a few months before the general died, but there is no evidence that he saw it (Logan later in life, right. Library of Congress photo) .

Harper's Weekly illustrator Theodore R. Davis is responsible for Logan and DeGress being prominently depicted in the painting. Davis, who traveled with the Federal army, submitted an illustration and article for the publication about DeGress soon after the battle and served as an advisor to the artists in Milwaukee.

Jones, the AHC military historian, told the Picket that stories claiming Logan commissioned the painting to promote a political campaign amount to an untrue urban legend.

The Battle of Atlanta was paid for by about 40 Chicago-area investors in the American Panorama Company. Logan had nothing to do with it,” said Jones.

“Theodore Davis ... was a personal friend of Logan and all the top brass of the Army of the Tennessee. He was the one who placed Logan so prominently in the foreground of the painting. Besides, having him there would give the painting celebrity star power and help sell tickets in the upper Midwest.”

Advertisement for painting when it was show in Minneapolis in 1886 (Picket photo)

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Fragment of stone monument marking location of a Georgia regiment is back 'home' at Manassas battlefield after disappearing decades ago

Then head of school Diane Dunne and Jim Burgess (Photos: The Country Day School)

A missing stone fragment that once marked a position held by a bloodied Georgia regiment is back at the Manassas battlefield in Virginia for today’s 161st anniversary, ending a saga that began decades ago.

The Civil War marker’s story is a fragmented tale whose pieces finally came together earlier this year when the chunk of marble was donated to the park by a small private school in McLean, about 45 minutes away.

Veterans of the 7th Georgia Infantry – which was in the thick of fighting at the First Battle of Manassas (Bull Run) – in 1905 opted to place six markers indicating where they were positioned in that battle and another marker for a position at Second Manassas in August 1862.

The markers fell victim to time and vandals, with only two still on the field today, one of them rarely seen by visitors.

Officials believe this returned so-called “second position” marker disappeared before the park was established in 1940. How the top half landed in the upscale Langley neighborhood of McLean – near the CIA headquarters – remains a mystery. The son of the school’s director in the 1970s found it while doing construction work on an old barn on the school property. His mother believed it to be a tombstone for a Georgia boy.

A sketch of the barn on the school property (Courtesy of McCormick family)
That wasn’t the case, says Manassas National Battlefield Park museum specialist Jim Burgess, who has documented the 7th Georgia position markers and tried to get this one donated to the park nearly 30 years ago after he learned of its discovery.

The school’s director held onto the marker and Burgess moved on to other things. After the director died in 2018, her children sold her home to the school and left the artifact behind.

In February, the federal park got a call from the school, indicating the school’s desire to see the stone back at Manassas. Burgess got to the campus within two hours.

“It has sort of been on the back burner,” Burgess said. “I was flabbergasted in getting the call.”

Sign at Manassas park has photo of 7th Georgia veterans (Shane Oliver/
The fragment is about 10 inches by 10 inches and appears to have the first part of  “2nd POSITION” etched at top.

The park has put the piece in a temporary display case along with a photo of an outdoor stone fireplace/grill – a seemingly odd pairing.

Burgess believes the lower half of the marker may be the gray stone in the middle of the fireplace, which was built by a farmer on what is now park property.

Georgia veterans returned to battlefield

The 7th Georgia, part of a brigade led at Manassas by Col. Francis S. Bartow, was mustered into Confederate service in late May 1861. Most of the regiment’s soldiers were from Coweta, Paulding, DeKalb, Franklin, Fulton, Heard and Cobb counties in northern Georgia.

The unit was rushed to Virginia and saw heavy combat at Manassas on July 21, 1861, the first major battle in the Eastern Theater. (At left, photo of Pvt. John William Barrett of the 7th)

Bartow was killed while leading the 7th against Capt. James B. Ricketts’ battery on Henry Hill during a pivotal moment in the fighting, which swung to the Confederates’ favor late in the day for a victory that left Union forces fleeing to Washington. The 7th Georgia suffered a staggering 153 casualties out of 580 men present, according to American Battlefield Trust.

Decades later, 7th Georgia veterans decided to place the position markers, rather than a large single monument. They resembled tombstones and were scattered across the rolling hills.

Burgess’ records indicate the second position marker may have been broken and displaced when the Warrenton Turnpike was widened in the 1920s.

The top half ended up in McLean, while the bottom -- which has no inscription -- may be in the fireplace adjacent to the old George Sutton farm.

Piece of marble is in middle of large fireplace at Manassas. (Jim Burgess, MBNP) 
In 1970, Sutton said he built the fireplace with stones recovered from the area, but “This piece of marble here was picked up along the highway when we put the fence up there. Evidently it was a piece of a monument…”

The farm was acquired by the park in the 1950s.

Fragment was found among rocks

In the 1960s, Dorothy McCormick, a leader in early childhood education, started a small school at her Great Falls, Va., home. McCormick (right) later acquired Happy Hill School (renamed The Country Day School) in McLean in the early 1970s.

The nonprofit venue, located in the suburban Washington, D.C, neighborhood, offers preschool and kindergarten classes. McCormick promoted motor skills training and an enrichment center, among other innovations.

“We called her the director. She was old school,” said son Robert McCormick. “Very sweet, but you didn’t give her any guff.”

Becky Benton, current officer coordinator at the private school, told the Picket that Mrs. McCormick, a widowed mother of six children, had a strong imprint on staff and parents.

“She had a way of attracting people to her mission,” Benton said.

The 5-acre property included a two-story cattle barn built in 1921.

Mrs. McCormick decided to live there after extensive renovations were made. Robert, who designs and builds homes, led that project. In 1977, he discovered the marker while moving rubble and other material from a fill pit while working on a deck foundation at the barn.

“It was in there. We had thought we had uncovered a Civil War grave site,” he said.

“She was very excited to think a soldier may have been buried here,” Benton said.

McCormick’s mother kept the fragment on the hearth as a conversation piece, and a 1990s Washington Post article about Langley includes a photograph of her holding the stone, described as a tombstone.

Mrs. McCormick told the paper it was an indication of the area’s historical significance.

“It was important for her to keep it safe,” Benton said. “She was history minded and appreciated the history of the school and America.”

Park communicated with educator 

Burgess contacted Dorothy McCormick by phone and through a March 1994 letter, sharing what he knew about the position markers and telling her the fragment was not a tombstone.

We did not know as much about the movements of the 7th Georgia Regiment and their markers at that time (of the letter) as we do today,” he told the Picket earlier this year.

The school is in the Washington, D.C, area (Andrew Gast map, click to enlarge)
The official asked Mrs. McCormick to look at documentation of the markers. “Naturally, we feel the stone in your possession rightfully belongs at the battlefield. We would be most grateful to accept it as a donation to the park’s museum collection should you feel inclined to part with it,” Burgess wrote in 1994.

Burgess said after the letter was sent, the school director “indicated to us by phone that she wanted to retain it for sentimental reasons, I guess. We did not pursue it. We did not have any legal claim to it because it disappeared well before the park was established.”

The letter probably annoyed his mother, said Robert McCormick, and she likely forgot about it over the years, he said.

Dorothy McCormick sold the school and a cottage on the property in 1991 and continued living in the converted barn until her 2018 death at age 96. The family then sold the barn to The Country Day School, which in turn converted it into an office.

Robert McCormick says his mother was very happy while living in the rustic barn. “It was a cozy, homey place.”

Chance review of photos led to donation

The Country Day School and the surrounding neighborhood is rich with history. The main building was constructed in 1858 and at times it served as a church, Civil War hospital and residence. Mrs. McCormick lived in a cottage on the property before moving to the barn.

Converted barn and main building of The Country Day School in McLean (Picket photos)
After the McCormick family sold the old barn, they left school-related items, photos and the marker in the structure.

Early this year, Benton – the office coordinator – went to the structure to find old photographs of the main building for a class of children who are age 3.

She flipped through a photo album and came across the 1994 letter from Burgess. While Benton knew the marker was there, she had not seen the correspondence. “(Mrs. McCormick) did not necessarily agree it was not a soldier’s gravestone.”

“It was very sentimental for Mrs. McCormick. The children thought it belonged here. We felt it belonged to the battlefield.” The school decided to make the donation and reached out to the park.

Robert McCormick was not aware of the donation until reached by the Picket, but he says the family is satisfied with the disposition.

The two 7th Georgia markers still on the field (Manassas National Battlefield Park)
Burgess said he is pleased the marker is back “home.” He would like to see it displayed with a piece of another position marker and a map.

The stone fragment we just acquired lacks sufficient integrity to be put back in the ground.  It would be nice to replace all seven markers with exact reproductions and save the originals in the park collection,” Burgess wrote in an email.

The originals have been subject to damage from tree falls, road construction, vandalism and theft. It would be good to protect what is left of them and still mark the positions the veterans made effort to preserve for posterity. Unfortunately, we don't have the funding to do that.”

Burgess set up this display after the school's donation (Jim Burgess, MNBP)

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Restored gun carriage will be featured at Georgia battlefield

Civil War history is being preserved in Clinton, Ms., as artists put the finishing touches on battlefield weaponry. For more than two years, two men have been working tirelessly to restore a cannon carriage that weathered the elements and will now find a new home on a Georgia battlefield. -- Article here

Friday, July 8, 2022

Police said a Civil War-era munition found at a Massachusetts antiques collector's home was destroyed by bomb squad

Police provided few details on the item (Mansfield Police)
Updated July 17: A police department in a Massachusetts town 40 miles south of Boston said an apparent Civil War-era cannon munition found in the home of a deceased antiques collector was detonated by a bomb squad.

Police in Mansfield -- which has a population of nearly 25,000 -- said on social media that the artifact was found Thursday evening (July 7) by family members at their deceased father’s home. They were cleaning the residence at the time.

An X-ray done by Massachusetts State Police found “an unknown substance inside that necessitated a prompt controlled demolition.” Mansfield police did not elaborate on the substance.

We want to apologize to our neighbors for the late-night noise,” the post said of the demolition.

“If you ever come across something similar, whether it be a cannonball or just old ammunition, call us and we will come to you. Don’t drive it to us and definitely don’t walk into the station with it.”

The Picket reached out Friday to the department with questions about the find and was told it would attempt to answer them.

The Facebook post showed a metal object in someone’s hand, with a hole at the top of the ball. The Picket asked readers of Facebook pages focusing on Civil War artillery for help identifying the item, but there was no consensus. Some said without more details they could not confirm it was a Civil War ball.

Massachusetts State Police on July 14 said the ball was 4 inches in diameter.

"The Bomb Squad Troopers ... took multiple x-rays of the object, which revealed inconsistencies within, indicating its interior was not homogenous matter. The x-ray image was consistent with cannonballs that have an interior void space filled with whatever explosive material was used by its manufacturer," read a Facebook post.

"Based on that finding, as well the Troopers’ experience and additional research, they determined that the item was a Civil War-era cannonball and that it could be live," the agency said, adding troopers said the best and safest decision was to blow it up.

"The manner in which the ball exploded when countercharged confirmed the Troopers’ suspicions that it was indeed live and still could have posed a threat."