(Courtesy of Kansasmemory.org, Kansas Historical Society; copy/reuse restrictions apply)
effort finally met success Monday when Kansas’ governor signed a bill calling
for the creation of a mural honoring the first African-American regiment to be
raised in the North and to see combat during the Civil War.
“It is well
past time we pay tribute to the contributions the 1st Kansas Colored Voluntary
Infantry Regiment made to Kansas and to our country as they fought valiantly to
defeat slavery,”Gov. Laura Kelly said in a news release. “Once this mural is complete, all who enter the Statehouse
will be reminded of the sacrifice and service these soldiers made for our
The unit first saw combat at the Battle of Island Mound in
Missouri on October 29, 1862. In this skirmish, roughly 225 black troops drove
off 500 Confederate guerillas, according to the National Park Service. The Nov. 10, 1862, edition of the Chicago Tribune reported: “The men fought like tigers, each and every one of them.”
was due to an opposition to the arming of black troops among many in the North
and federal policy that reflected this prejudicial attitude. This would not
deter them from training or seeing action. Despite the existence of a
widespread national reticence, many Kansans advocated the use of black troops
early on,” says the Kansas Historical Society, which has the regiment’s preserved flag.
Slavery was prohibited in Kansas, which endured intermittent violence following it becoming a territory in 1854. Sen. James Lane pushed for the formation of the unit despite concerns by President Abraham Lincoln that their formation would push border states away from Union loyalty.
Fort Scott in Kansas served as the home base for both the 1st and 2nd Kansas Colored Infantry, with both regiments
being mustered into federal service on its former parade ground. They
were composed largely of free blacks and former slaves. The regiment was formed several months before the more famous 54th Massachusetts.
On Jan. 1, 1863, during a celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation, Capt.
William D. Matthews, who led Company D of the 1st Kansas Infantry,
declared, "Today is a day that I always thought would come …Now is our
time to strike. Our own exertions and our own muscle must make us men. If we
fight we shall be respected. I see that a well-licked man respects the one who
thrashes him." (Photo of Matthews courtesy of Kansasmemory.org, Kansas Historical Society; copy/reuse restrictions apply)
The regiment’s combat history includes Reeder Farm near Sherwood, Mo.,
Honey Springs in Indian Territory (both 1863) and Poison Spring in Arkansas
(1864). The latter fight included allegations that Confederates killed wounded and captured 1st Kansas soldiers. The regiment lost nearly 120 men at Poison Spring.
late in the war became part of the 79th U.S. Colored Infantry. About
180,000 African-Americans served in the US Army during the conflict.
passage of the bipartisan bill, the Capitol Preservation
Committee will begin raising money from donors and procuring an artist for the
Rep. Valdenia C. Winn (left), a member of the committee, said, “A mural honoring this Regiment will not only honor the sacrifices
of the 1st Kansas Colored Infantry but will also further recognize Kansas’ role
in holding the Union together. This story and its inspiration are more relevant
than ever today – and long overdue.”
The Santa Fe
City Council has decided to delay a decision on a controversial plan to rebuild
a Civil War obelisk. The Santa Fe New Mexican reported that dozens of community
members opposed to having the Soldiers' Monument reconstructed voiced their
concerns at a public meeting. Initially built as a tribute to Civil
War Union soldiers, an engraving dedicated the monument to the “heroes” who
died in battle with “savage Indians.” -- Article
Nails may have had multiple uses, a Federal trouser buckle (Camp Lawton Archaeological Project)
Archaeology students trying to learn more about a Confederate prison that operated for less
than two months in southern Georgia are exploring where Federal soldiers were
held captive, and they’ve thus far turned up buckles, nails, a Rebel musket
ball and intriguing turtle remains.
Southern University Associate Professor Ryan McNutt said this season’s dig on the site of Camp Lawton began in January and
will go through April or early May. This is the first time the project has been
on the Federal side of the stockade since 2014.
POWs died at Lawton during its brief existence in fall 1864. Prisoners were
shuttled among several Southern prisons, most notably Andersonville as Union
forces advanced on Savannah. The camp was built near Millen; a portion lies
within Magnolia Springs State Park and the rest is on the grounds of a former
federal fish hatchery.
announcement in 2010 of the discovery of the Lawton site, GSU has studied
several areas to get a better understanding of prisoner and guard life. McNutt
responded this month to a series of questions from the Civil War Picket. His
responses have been edited.
Q. One (Facebook) post said a prime
focus is the sutler's cabin. Was it within the prison area (where Federal
soldiers roamed)? What does the record say about the cabin, its purpose and
operation? Why would you like to find evidence of the cabin?
Sutler cabin (top) at Camp Sumter/Andersonville (Library of Congress)
A. The sutler cabin seems to have been across the stream
from the gate, and directly in line with it on the main west-east running road
(in modern cardinal directions, not Robert Knox Sneden's). The record is
frustratingly quite vague.
We know there was one, as there was at Andersonville
(photo above, log structure with slanted roof), as POWs discuss it.
Union POW’s drawing below of Camp Lawton) seems to place it in the same general location,
though in at least several instances he places it on opposite sides of the road
leading to the bridge.
Detail of Sneden's drawing shows sutler cabin, police area in center (Library of Congress)
at Andersonville seems to have been a James Selman Jr., followed by a James
Duncan, who may have been a Confederate guard and was possibly replaced again
by a James Selman. One of these individuals likely ran the sutler's
(cabin) at Camp Lawton. They were authorized by the prison commandants to sell
to the prisoners authorized items. From their stories, prisoners with
money that they were able to hang on to, or make, could buy eggs, flour, bacon,
cornbread, beans, baking soda, and blackberries; soap, shaving equipment,
clothing, tobacco, tobacco pipes, cigars, reading material, and so on -- for
eyewatering prices that were much higher than regular marker prices. Examples:
Fifty cents an egg, six dollars for a pound of bacon, and 25 cents a spoon for
We're looking for evidence of the cabin as part of a graduate
student's thesis work, which is focused on shadow and underground economies
inside prison camps. As one of the only sources of goods coming into the
prison, it's like the sutler's cabin was the center point of much of the legal
and illegal trade between prisoners, guards and prisoners and the sutler.
We're hoping to find evidence of this in the material culture around the cabin,
to get an idea of how heavily trafficked and used it may have been. Sneden
certainly seems to imply the area around the cabin was always crowded.
Students sift through soil (Camp Lawton Archaeological Project)
Q. What else are the students
concentrating on this spring?
just the area around the bank on the west side of the stream. Interestingly,
while Sneden shows it lightly occupied, he does show an area of shebangs
labeled 'Police' with no explanation, as well as potentially a chapel, though
this might be reading too much into Sneden's maps and images.
getting a better idea of how densely the camp was occupied, where we have
evidence of POW activity, and in a very real way, the extent of past impacts on
the site during its transition from timberland to state and then federal fish
hatchery, and CCC work.
We used Lidar data to pinpoint potential anomalies that
might be the sutler's cabin, and the students are learning how to locate those
on the ground, test them and get an understanding that even with the most
accurate technology you can get, archaeologists still have to dig to confirm our
guess of flat areas and odd shapes that show up in Lidar.
Q. Can you briefly summarize what has
been learned thus far in this field school? And what more you want to work on
for the remainder of this session.
Q. So far we've got clear indications of a lightly occupied
area of the stockade, and our current grid is likely just off of where the
sutler’s cabin should be, but we have another area just west that might have
more promise. We're working from our known to our unknown, from areas that were
lightly tested in the past to areas that the project has never looked at
before. We're almost finished with our current grid, which has clearly showed
some POW occupation. Turtle bones and shells (left) possibly came from a hearth, and
we have a few other spots that might be POW shelters. We'll explore these with
test units, and we'll establish another area over our area of interest that
might be closer to the sutler's cabin and the main road.
But we also
clearly have empty spots, with no artifacts at all that seem to indicate the
presence of roads and paths shown on the plan created by the Confederates as
the camp was being built, and Sneden's water colors.
Q. Social media photos by the project
show numerous buckles -- trousers, knapsack or elsewhere. Are these believed to
be from Union POWs? What about the iron nails --- suspected use for them?
A. So far, we have one whole and one partial trouser
buckle, as well as three that are likely haversack or knapsack buckles. We also
have some different files -- metal and wood working, that seem to have
been fairly degraded when they were dropped. As well as one piece of
ceramic and some fragments of glass bottles. One of which was likely a pickle
or sauce bottle. These were all probably dropped by POWs. The trouser buckles
are standard issue on several Federal trouser types, and the buckles match
Federal issued equipment. While this isn't to say they are absolutely from
POWs, the Confederates present at the camp do not seem to ever have been issued
anything close to uniform items.
Some of the
iron nails (right) are interesting, in that they fall into two groups. A couple (of them) are big enough
to be structural and used to pin the corners of wooden structures together.
Most, however, are of the size to come from express boxes (like those used on
US Sanitary Commission aid boxes), and may represent the distribution of this
material to the POWs, who are then repurposing the boxes.
The nails may have
just been dropped -- most of them seem to have been pulled and bent, and aren't
modified in any clear way. But we haven't done a full analysis yet.
found a host of unknown items, and some personal effects such as what is
possibly part of a match safe, and maybe even a cigar case.
[An] unexpected moment was one of our artifacts
that is also the most puzzling. An iron strap with copper rivets, and a hinge
on one side, and a threaded rod on the other, it still has preserved leather
around several of the rivets. And it looks as though whatever it is, it may be
(The GSU team also found what appears to be a
spent Confederate bullet. The Picket will have a separate article about this
Cast copper alloy buckle with iron tongue (Camp Lawton Project)
Q. Anything else readers might want to
A. I'd be interested in being contacted by anyone who might
have an ancestor inside the stockade who left any memories, or anyone with
photos of Magnolia Springs State Park and the stream going back to the CCC
activity. Individuals are also always welcome
to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any questions, and I'll get back
as soon as I can. They're also welcome to stop by the site, even if we're not
running a public day. (The GSU team usually is on site Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays during this field school.)
COMING SOON: Recovered
Confederate bullets at Camp Lawton raise questions about how often and why
guards fired upon prisoners there, at Andersonville and other sites.
Carbine has Japanese cartouche, mums on stock, barrel (AHC, Picket photos)
Civil War carbine, sold to the Japanese government in 1868 and marked with imperial chrysanthemums and another design, has
been acquired by the Atlanta History Center for its growing collection of
The history center, home to the Cyclorama painting depicting the Battle
of Atlanta and a major exhibit on the Civil War, has acquired dozens of weapons
in the past couple of years, bringing the total inventory to nearly 400. It
purchased the Starr carbine in November 2022 from a private dealer.
Gordon L. Jones, senior military historian and curator at the AHC,
recently showed me some of the firearms kept in the museum's secured basement. We
examined the carbine and two notable weapons – one highly regarded and the
other considered subpar -- from the existing George
W. Wray Jr.collection of rare Confederate guns at the history center.
While some of the long guns at the AHC are in the long-standing
exhibit “Turning Point: The American Civil War,” the vast majority are awaiting
their time in the daylight, minus the occasional special exhibit.
Gordon L. Jones with guns from the Wray collection (Picket photo)
The AHC would like in coming years to revamp “Turning
Point” with a new and expanded area that would showcase many of the stored firearms,
says Jones. He said it would compare to the impressive Fuller Gun Collection at
Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park.
The Starr carbine and many other surplus American weapons
were shipped to Japan shortly after the Civil War.
There was significant upheaval there amid “the beginning of
Westernization,” said Jones. The .54-caliber gun may have been used in the Boshin War (Japanese Civil War) in the late 1860s. Some experts say many were
procured by the Tokugawa shogunate, which was desperate for such weapons.
“It is marked with (the) chrysanthemum (photo, left) and
what is believed to be a Japanese military school cartouche (not yet positively
identified). The 1853-1854 visit of U.S. Commodore Matthew Perry opened the
once-closed society of Japan and started a race between rival clans to acquire
modern firearms from the West.
"What followed was the rapid Westernization and
militarization of Japan under the Meiji emperors, ultimately culminating in war
against Britain and the United States in 1941,” the AHC says.
“This carbine helps tell the story
of the long term and sometimes unintended international consequences of the
American Civil War, which will be a key theme in the new exhibition.”
The newly acquired gun will be displayed with
another Starr carbine already in the DuBose Collection that was
sold to Great Britain and used in the defense of Canada against the Irish
Fenian incursions of 1866 and 1870.
The Starr carbine was a single-shot, breech-loading weapon.
Not many were used by the U.S. military, relative to those put out by other
Other guns acquired in the past two years include:
-- A British
Pattern 1853 rifle-musket of Pvt. Robert Marold, Company K, 143rd New
York, used at Battle of Peachtree Creek and the Atlanta Campaign, 1864.
(Interestingly, actor Chris Evans, who has portrayed Captain America, is a
descendant of Marold)
Model 1861 rifle-musket, modernized with the patented Needham breech-loading
system, as used by the Governor’s Guard, a Black volunteer militia in Atlanta
-- U.S. Starr
Arms Company breech-loading carbine with markings indicating use by the 1st
Arkansas Cavalry, a U.S. regiment comprised of white unionists from Arkansas
and West Tennessee.
European firearms shipped to Union and Confederate troops from 1861-1864.
Jones points to damage on the AHC's Texas contract rifle (Picket photo)
visit, Jones brought out two guns from the Wray collection as examples of the
best and worst utilized by Confederates.
Visitors to the AHC’s “Confederate Odyssey” exhibit in 2014
learned how the Confederacy successfully adapted to modern warfare. They also
saw failures or limitations: poorly crafted bayonets or makeshift clothing.
Examples came from firearms, swords, uniforms, flags and other items
collected by the late Wray over the years.
Southern manufacturers struggled to make firearms that could
stand up to extensive wear and campaigns. Jones showed me a so-called
Texas contract rifle, used for a time by William Malloy, a trooper with the 29th
"William Malloy" is carved into the gun's buttstock (Atlanta History Center)
Jones believes the 1863 contract rifle, made by a
small private company, is the crudest weapon in the Wray collection.
“This has a thick heavy barrel with tiny iron
bands,” the curator told me in 2014. “It is poorly balanced and the back action
lock is weak.” The wood behind the bolster was chipped away, despite a nail
inserted as a repair.
One officer said of the carbines, “These things are more dangerous
to my men than the enemy.”
“Malloy” and “Tex” are carved into the buttstock. It is unknown
whether Malloy was still with the unit at its most famous battle at Honey
Springs, Indian Territories, facing the First Kansas (colored) Infantry in
The star of the Wray collection is a Whitworth rifle
made in England and shipped to the South during the war. The Whitworth was the
first sniper weapon and was incredibly effective, supplied to only the best
marksmen. About 50 came over and only 18 are known to survive, Jones said.
The weapon had a range up to 1,500 years and had
an open site on the barrel and a side-mounted Davidson telescopic sight (right), giving
the shooter two options. The Whitworth had much tighter rifling than an
Enfield, making it that much more deadly.
The AHC believes the one Wray
purchased was likely used in the Western Theater, though the telescopic sight
on the AHC weapon is a restoration with 20th century optics.
A book on the Wray weapons has this to say: “Although
it is impossible to say when or where this particular rifle was used, as one of
the Confederacy’s most valued weapons, it certainly did see use. Just as
certainly, it killed and wounded many Union soldiers.”
Gordon L. Jones with a rare Whitworth sniper rifle used by the South (Picket photo)
AHC acquisitions from the past couple years (Picket photo)
years after the battle at Gettysburg, a Civil War-era unexploded artillery
shell was found this week in the Little Round
Top area. According to the Gettysburg National Military Park, the shell weighs
about 10 pounds and measures about 7 inches long. An Army explosives ordnance
disposal team later detonated the round. -- Article
Union troops inflate Intrepid at Fair Oaks in Virginia (Library of Congress)
likely never imagined that balloons would one day sail in the stratosphere at
60,000 feet and up. Lowe and other aeronauts during the Civil War reached only
1,000 feet or so, and their balloons were tethered to ships or ground stations.
the Chinese suspected spy balloon that was shot downoff the coast of South Carolina this weekend by a U.S.
fighter jet, no Union or Confederate airships were lost. They were behind front
lines and too difficult to hit.
The flight of
the unmanned Chinese craft over multiple states was a reminder that spy balloons have
been used since the 19th century, seeing particular service in Lowe’s
Union Army Balloon Corps.
For two years
– until the corps was disbanded due to bureaucratic and logistical issues and indifference
– Lowe’s brainchild provided valuable, if limited, service in spotting Rebel
positions and putting them on the defensive.
Thaddeus Lowe observes Battle of Fair Oaks from the Intrepid (Library of Congress)
was a patriot and knew he had the technology (of the time) to help commanders
reduce the total time of the war and the total number of casualties,” says
Kevin Knapp, a retired Army officer and former professional hot-air balloon
Picket reached out to historians and writers who have documented the use of
seven Federal and two Confederate balloons during the Civil War. We asked Knapp,
historian Michael G. Stroud, author Russell K. Dutcher III and Gail Jarrow about their use during the conflict, changes in technology and the role of military balloons today.
Did the use of balloons have a major
impact on the conduct of the Civil War?
tackle that, a little previous balloon history is in order.
may not be aware that the use of balloons was proposed to the
hierarchy of the U.S. Army during the Mexican-American War. Unfortunately, the
use of the balloons was discounted by higher command authority,” says
Dutcher, author of the book “Union Army Balloon Corps.”
introduction of military ballooning was proposed during the Seminole
War, but again, fell upon the short-sightedness and unwillingness of the U.S.
Army to accept new technology,” he said.
While the use
of balloons never really got off the ground for the Confederacy, they did
garner advantages for Federal forces in the first half of the Civl War.
Union disaster at the Battle of Bull Run (Manassas) in July 1861, both sides
regrouped and expanded recruiting. Concerned that Confederates would cross the
Potomac River and take Washington, Federal aeronauts took to the air.
“Balloons went up in multiple locations from Edwards Ferry
to Buds Ferry making observations and reporting which helped calm the general
public and gave the North a greater chance at regrouping,” says Knapp. (Intrepid at left, Library of Congress photo)
gave observers a bird’s-eye view of the topography that was previously unheard
of or unthinkable, according to Stroud. Two of the more well-known Federal craft were the Intrepid and Union. The small Confederate fleet included the Gazelle.
In and around the capital over the coming months, engineer Brig. Gen.
John Gross Barnard designed and built 68 forts, a task made much more urgent by the ignominious Union defeat Manassas.
Rebel troops weren’t far from the capital – in Falls Church, Va. The Union Army Balloon Corps spied on them from Fort Corcoran.
In Virginia, along the Potomac River, among the most imposing Confederate
defenses was Cockpit Point Battery in Prince William County. Perched atop a
70-foot bluff, the fort had an air of mystery from the beginning. It was built
in secret, with trees left in front to better hide the construction. Curious
Federal troops on the Maryland side of the river eventually used a balloon to
try to figure out how many men were at Cockpit Point and other batteries in the
Island No. 10 in the Mississippi River, John Steiner’s Eagle balloon surveilled
Rebel strength and defenses. Steiner directed Federal fire from 500 feet up,
tethered to a ship. The island was eventually taken.
Balloon Intrepid watches fighting at Fair Oaks in May 1862 (Library of Congress)
balloons played a significant part of offensive operations in Virginia in 1862, including Fair Oaks.
Richmond when Union forces were separated in two by a flooded Chickahominy
River, multiple ascents and reports by Lowe helped reunite the forces and saved
hundreds of lives,” says Knapp, who has portrayed Lowe at events and talks.
time the balloons went aloft, the Confederates had to move their positions.
They made false camps; matched in circles to kick up dust to give the
impression they had more forces on the ground and they made false campfires at night,”
he says. “All (of) this distracted and took time away from actual fighting.Look at
all of the attention the China balloon (distracted) us from other more
the end, Rebel aeronauts made fewer than 10 ascensions in 1862. Their enemies
made about 3,000 flights from 1861 to 1863.
understood why the enemy abandoned the use of military balloons,” wrote
Confederate Brig. Gen. and artillerist Edward Porter Alexander. “Even if the
observers never saw anything, they would have been worth all they cost for the
annoyance and delays they caused us in trying to keep our movement out of
Kevin Knapp in a reproduction balloon and at site where Thaddeus Lowe landed in South Carolina
How has balloon technology changed
since the Civil War?
By the Civil War, balloons had moved from construction of linen and paper filled with hot
air to those made of durable varnished silk, powered by hydrogen and helium
“Thaddeus Lowe made his a balloon inside of a balloon
knowing they’d be used in a field environment: corn stubble, bush and tree
stumps – anything but a freshly mowed lawn,” says Knapp.
could reach altitudes between 500 and 3,000 feet. Lowe tethered his balloons to
the ground to provide a stable platform for aerial observation and so
information collected could be delivered to the ground commander immediately, says
Knapp. Observations were made by line of sight, aided by binoculars or
telescope. Wind, trees and obstructions could limit the visibility.
Stroud (left), balloons would remain largely unchanged until the 1960s, “when Edward
Yost utilized a propane burner to control a balloon’s ascension and descent
thus allowing for a degree of balloon control that had not before existed.” Balloons now could carry their own fuel.
Today’s balloons have a thick vinyl envelope, and the
helium or hydrogen allows significant lifts that are limited only by the size of the
Lifting gas expands with increased altitude, according to Knapp, and
observation equipment may include radar, infrared, photo imaging and radio frequency sensing
-- "all at the same time, in every direction for miles.”
How has their use in
military/surveillance matters evolved since the 1860s?
The bulky and
cumbersome balloons of the Civil War, with their labor-intensive field hydrogen
gas generators, where outfitted with the highest tech of the day for field
observation and reporting.
balloons has been used by various world powers since the 1850s predominately as
an observation platform, but there were instances where it was used as a
bombing platform such as the siege of Venice in 1849,” says Stroud. “The U.S.
military considered using balloons as early as the 1830s during the Second
Seminole War and even more so during the Mexican-American War of 1846-1846 to
break strong Mexican defenses, but none were executed.”
Barrage balloons protected against aircraft at Normandy (Wikipedia)
It would only
be during the Civil War when ballooning was given an official military role in
both the North and South (though the South lacked the resources to properly
outfit and run a ballooning corps), according to the historian.
took major steps forward during World War I, and the conflict also saw the use
of dirigibles, including the Zeppelin raids of Britain.
see the use of barrage balloons or blimps by the UK as part of their defense
network to thwart German bombers and V-1 attacks, the Japanese use fire
balloons with explosives to cause terror to Americans on the West Coast, the
Soviets used them to assist in artillery spotting and the U.S. Navy utilized
balloons in their anti-submarine operations,” says Stroud.
receiving much publicity, balloons continue to be used as strong surveillance
tools and assets by many countries. “The cheap cost structure, when combined
with a balloons ability to stay aloft longer and over targets of interests,
have made it an ideal platform for intelligence and information gathering,”
according to Stroud.
Does this event give you any new
thoughts on the practical role (or limits) of balloons to conduct surveillance?
Even with super
sophisticated technology, there is something to be said for simplicity, Stroud
“Balloons in the military continue to surprise in their value and role
diversity from nuclear test detection, to observation and most importantly,
intelligence gathering. This alone shows world powers and nations that one does
not have to spend millions if not billions on complex military platforms or spy
satellites when a fraction of the cost can be invested in disposal yet
effective balloons outfitted with surveillance gathering equipment to spy on a geopolitical
They still provide a high rate of return
military balloons provide a high rate of return for the investment.
“We have yet
to develop and implement a relatively cheap surveillance platform that allows
one to rise to 60,000 feet (or higher) and therefore out of the range of most
fighters, keep eyes on a target for longer than satellites can and provide
valuable intelligence on said target like a balloon can,” he says.
Navy Lt. Cmdr. Steven D. Culpepper, writing in 1994, said the usefulness of information gleaned by balloons matured during the Civil War. Logistical problems decreased as aeronauts gained experience.
has participated in balloon races, says colleagues have had “to thread the
needle” to avoid going into Chinese airspace. And he recalls when two Americans
died when their balloon was shot down over Belarus in 1995.
U.S. leaders for waiting for the Chinese balloon to go over the ocean before it
was taken down. Officials had said they were worried about shooting it down over land, were debris could potentially harm people or structures. China has insisted the balloon was used for civilian purposes.
of the information collected was immediately received by China as it was
collected. We should have shot it down as soon as it entered our airspace,
period,” Knapp says.
What would Thaddeus Lowe think of all
and scientist, as head of the balloon corps, would be impressed with modern
ballooning and electronic technology, according to Knapp.
“Lowe would feel extremely vindicated in the longevity of the balloon as a platform and as
a military asset,” Stroud says. “He argued vehemently as to its value with
President Lincoln and continued to do so up until his dismissal from the Union
and the disbanding of the balloon corps.
instinctively and fortuitously saw the need for the military to be able to gain
greater situational awareness of its surrounding and to gather data, with
balloons being the only way to do that. He was only limited by the resources
and primitive technology of the time, but his vision became a reality in both
our military and those throughout the world.”
interesting side note on Lowe(above) involved his own adventure only weeks before the
Civil War erupted.
Lowe had future plans to cross the Atlantic in his balloon, and this was
his test flight.
“Unfortunately, he came down in South Carolina eight days after Fort
Sumter. The locals weren’t too pleased when they realized he was a Yankee,”
says Jarrow. “Lowe was arrested, and some wanted to hang him as a spy. No one,
including Lowe, knew that within three months, he would be a Union spy. He was
eventually released and took a train north immediately.”
The idea is to eliminate loud sounds and strobing lights
for those on the autism spectrum or having PTSD.
During those hours, visitors will have free access to the painting and galleries. The Cyclorama will be displayed fully lit, but with no narration, sound effects or
flashing lights, so visitors can spend an extended time with the painting.
Where possible, loud sounds from audiovisual displays, interactives and films
will be reduced or turned off in the Gettysburg Museum of the American Civil
War, park officials said. “Hands on History” carts will be available allowing
visitors to touch and feel reproduction objects from the parks collection.
chief of interpretation and education at the park, emailed the following
responses to questions about the event from the Civil War Picket. The responses have been edited.
Q. How did the idea come
about? Is this something park visitors have asked about/for?
A. We have had many visitors
comment to us that the Cyclorama show and the museum galleries are loud. Most
of the time this isn't an issue that detracts from the overall experience of
visiting, and in the case of the Cyclorama presentation the intent is for the
soundscape to mimic the thunder of battle. With that said, for anyone with
sensory sensitivities, be it PTSD or individuals on the autism spectrum,
the experience can be quite overwhelming. Our goal is to make sure all visitors
have an opportunity to engage with our museum in a meaningful way and that our
programming is as inclusive as it can be. This new event is an attempt to
forward that goal. We have a great relationship with the Wounded Warrior Project, and in the
past have offered them quiet time with the Cyclorama. It was such a positive
experience for the attendees that we wanted to extend it to the general public.
At the same time, our education team has been committed to offering more
inclusive learning opportunities. In addition to this event, they have recently
piloted new programming for the visually impaired, as well as those with
Q. Are there any specific groups or
individuals you are expecting this Saturday? If so, can you provide a brief
A. We hope that
anyone who enjoys a quieter or more relaxed museum experience will attend. We
especially hope that young visitors, especially those on the autism spectrum,
along with their friends and family members are able to attend. We also hope to
provide a chance for those with PTSD to enjoy the Cyclorama experience and
museum without the sound and strobing lights.
Q. Are there other such venues around the
country that have done this? If so, have you been in contact with them or
A. We did not invent
this concept. Other museums and historic sites such as Mount Vernon, the Smithsonian, and others have piloted similar events. I believe this
is the first of its kind for a National Park Service Museum or Civil War site.
We have been in close contact with these institutions and they have provided
some wonderful tips. The big challenge for us is to make this event appropriate
for a battlefield park / museum.
Part of the camp life exhibit at the park's museum (Gettysburg NMP)
Q. How will the day work? Will there be a
program per se, or will the event be "self-guided"?
A. The program will
be self-guided. Visitors can spend as much time as they want in the Cyclorama
or museum. We will have staff and volunteers on hand to assist and provide
opportunities to have a tactile experience (handling reproduction items,
Q. Are you able to provide a small list of
what will be in the "hands on history" carts?
museum items. Uniform and equipment of the Civil War infantrymen, replicas of
what visitors can see in the diorama surrounding the cyclorama, musical
instruments and more.
Q. What is the specific purpose of the
sensory bags patrons will receive? What is included and why? Will they be able
to keep them?
A. Yes, visitors will
keep the bags. The purpose is simple: 1) to provide basic park information
(maps, museum guide, etc.), but also, 2) to provide a tactile
experience. The bags are designed to help lessen the potential sensory
overload for our younger visitors. It gives them something to fidget with that
engages them at the same time. These are very common in museums, libraries, and
classrooms. They will contain: A park map and guide, a social narrative guide,
a small notebook, Legos, modeling clay, etc.
A "hands on history" cart at the museum (Gettysburg NMP)
Q. In your and the staff's experience, why
are loud sounds, narration and flashing lights an impediment to some visitors?
A. It is the
cumulative effect for those audiences I mentioned above. It is simply too
overwhelming for individuals with these sensitivities, or it has the potential
to trigger a previously traumatic experience.
Q. During these two hours will only the target audience be
allowed in the areas?
A. We won't turn anyone away.
Anyone who wants to experience the museum and Cyclorama is free to do so.
space will be available in the Ford Education Center for those visitors who
need a break during the event.)
From the park: Complimentary tickets
for the sensory friendly hours at the museum and visitor center can be picked up
day of at the ticketing desk in the main lobby. All sound, light, and
audio-visual programming will return to normal beginning at 11 am. Visitors
with sensory friendly tickets are encouraged to explore the museum galleries
and remain in the visitor center if they wish. Please note: During sensory
friendly hours the park orientation film, “A New Birth of Freedom,” will not be
The grave of
a man who served in the Civil War has been formally marked at a
northern Michigan cemetery. Claude Fields ensured that Ruel Boynton's
service wouldn't be forgotten. Fields, manager of the Maple Grove cemetery in
Empire Township, has performed research on many of the dead buried
there, the Traverse City Record-Eagle reported. “We can’t have a vet in here with no
headstone,” Fields said. “That isn’t right.”
William N. “Bill” Still Jr., a leading figure in the study of U.S. maritime history, including ironclads and other Civil War warships, has died at age 90.
Still died last week while in hospice care, according to Wilkerson Funeral Home and Crematory of Greenville, N.C.
The retired professor, author and lecturer co-founded the maritime history and underwater archaeology program at Eastern Carolina University, and was known for his study of USS Monitor, commerce raider CSS Alabama, ironclad CSS Georgia and the Confederate submarine Hunley.
“His impact on the history and nautical archaeology program at East Carolina University and on the legion of students that passed through that program will be a perpetual legacy,” program co-founder Gordon P. Watts Jr., wrote the Picket in an email this week. “He will be missed by all who benefited from his attention, none more than me.”
Watts, a former student of Still’s, is himself a renowned nautical archaeologist, and is among only a few people who found the remains of the USS Monitor off Cape Hatteras, N.C., in 1973.
The two men, according to ECU, led conservation work on the famed ironclad’s propeller, which was recovered in 1983. It is exhibited at Mariners’ Museum and Park in Newport News, Va.
Still, a native of Columbus, Ms., conducted research and wrote numerous works for the U.S. Navy over his career. From 1995-2005, he served as a member of the Secretary of the Navy's subcommittee on naval history.
“He authored and co-authored dozens of books and publications focused on maritime history from the Civil War through World War II,” according to his obituary. Up until two weeks prior to his death, he was actively researching and writing the last installation of his series for the Secretary of the Navy, which began with Crisis at Sea and Victory Without Peace, focused on the U.S. naval force's withdrawal following WWI.”
John Quarstein, author and director emeritus of the USS Monitor Center, said Dr. Still “was a marvelous person, historian, lecturer, and writer. I believe his volume, ‘Iron Afloat,’is the best book written about Confederate ironclads. He helped me with my writing, Civil War preservation efforts, and with my work about USS Monitor."
Still, known as “Doc” by graduate students, retired from ECU in 1994, a key figure in its prominence for graduate study in the field. He was considered a dynamic, caring and animated professor.
Jeff Johnston, formerly with NOAA's Monitor National Marine Sanctuary, said Still "was a true hero of ironclads and freely shared that knowledge."
The award-winning historian and author was preceded in death by Mildred Boling Still, his wife of 55 years. He is survived by four children and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.