Sunday, August 28, 2011

Tromp Shot 7: Fort Sumter

Today's Tromp Shot: 

Confederate gunners await the star shell signal from James Island, soon to open on Fort Sumter and thus beginning the Civil War (150th). A pulsing, palpable, pregnant historical moment. 

(Patriots Point - Fort Sumter National Monument Park - Charleston, SC)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Breaking News!

Digging through a box bequeathed to me from my great-great grandmother, I was astounded to find this original document. Boy, does THIS change the ballgame!

Washington City, D.C.
Oct. 24. 1862

Majr. Genl. McClellan
                         I have just read your dispatch
about sore tongued and fatigued horses.
   Will you pardon me for asking what the
horses of your army have done since the
battle of Antietam that fatigued anything?
                                                   BFF 4 Life,
                                                       A. Lincoln

(Original, unaltered document from: Holzer, Harold and Joshua Wolf Shenk, eds. "Two Telegrams to Gen. George B. McClellan, May 1, 1862 and October 24, 1862." In Lincoln's Hand: His Original Manuscripts with Commentary by Distinguished Americans. New York: Bantam Dell, 2009.)


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Tromp Shot 6: Harpers Ferry

Highly regretting an extended absence, I hope to ease the boots back on with this Tromp Shot.

October maple alights the scene over Harpers Ferry from Bolivar Heights.

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park (West Virginia, Maryland)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Pre-Trip Tromp: The Overland Campaign

Looks like we'll be focusing on Richmond, Petersburg, and Appomattox during our upcoming three-day trip. I am very much looking forward to this.

As we'll be doing that over Memorial Day weekend, I plan to run out to The Wildnerness and Spotsylvania (and possibly North Anna) this Sunday. I really feel that having this background will help bring it all home as we make our way to the place where all the killing stopped.

The forecast is calling for rain, and I'd almost have it no other way. I read today that a dark mist hovered over the Spotsylvania fields in the predawn hours, with intermittent downpours throughout the day.

Eager to tromp those fields and add some new mud to the ol' boots.

Monday, May 10, 2010

First Trip of Season

Pristine earthworks at Cold Harbor, 2009.

I've got plenty to share from the offseason, but I'm jumping out of my britches in anticipation of a tentative trip planned for the end of May or early June.

My battlefield buddy and I are in the process of planning a looong weekend trip (3-4 days). We almost ALWAYS over-prepare - and often end up throwing the guides aside and doing it our way - but on this one we're open to any and all suggestions. A very early plan is as follows:

Day One: Overland Campaign. The Wilderness, Spottsylvania, North Anna, Cold Harbor, Totopotomoy  . . . This seems a bit ambitious, so we may fit in some of this the following day.

Day Two: Seven Days Battles plus some of Richmond. Gaines Mill, Malvern Hill, etc. Really, Richmond could take a whole day. I want my friend to see Monument Avenue and, especially, Hollywood Cemetery. We'll also fit in the Confederate White House, CSA Museum, Belle Isle Prison, Tredegar Iron Works, and some 'Lincoln in Richmond' sites.

Day Three: Whatever we want to wrap up in Richmond, plus Petersburg. Neither of us has seen Petersburg or the rest of the following sites planned for the trip.

Day Four: The Road to Appomattox. This is sure to be a poignant one for us. If time permits, we may head home via the Shenandoah Valley to catch some of those sites.

If anyone has any suggestions, please feel free to leave comments or email me at:
They'd be much appreciated!

I'll be sure to take notebook and camera along. Hopefully, this will be the beginning of an exciting season. Hope to see you on the field!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Tromp Shot 5: Ball's Bluff

Today's Tromp Shot:

Viewed from the muddy foot of Ball's Bluff, the autumnal trees of Harrison's Landing meet a crystal blue sky in the reflective waters of the Potomac River.

Ball's Bluff Battlefield Regional Park (near Leesburg, Virginia)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Jacob's Pen 7, plus Muddy's Return

After sinking in the cesspool of winter, Muddy Boots is ready to climb out and breathe new life.

Upcoming posts include a number of topics, including: overdue eyewitness accounts of Civil War Sesquicentennial events in Harpers Ferry and Charles Town; anniversary hikes at South Mountain, Antietam, and Ball's Bluff; and tromp reports from Brawners Farm, Blackburn's Ford, and Monocacy. Other topics will include touring Carroll County Civil War sites; battlefield witness trees; monuments of peace at Gettysburg; and a review of the Lincoln-Douglas debates-inspired play The Rivalry at Ford's Theater. Of course, we'll continue to post "Jacob's Pen," "Tromp Shots" and "Living Memory" pieces, as well.

Sesquicentennial events for 2010 will focus largely on educating us about pre-war sentiment. How did John Brown's raid propel sectional conflict? Which other events forced us to think more deeply about our convictions? What rhetoric and ideologies helped to push our nation to war? Was it possible to stay neutral in the midst of mounting hostilities? I would imagine a major theme will focus on the political factions vying for the presidency in the election of 1860. How did the campaign unfold in your community? We'll follow all of this and more, with a special focus on Maryland, generally, and Frederick County, specifically.

For now, it's time to catch up with our good friend, Mr. Engelbrecht. On this day, 150 years ago, Jacob's Pen writes:

Harpers Ferry raid - Aaron D. Stevens & Albert Hazlett were last week tried & found "guilty of murder in the first degree" for being engaged in the Harpers Ferry raid, in company with Captain John Brown (Ossawattomie Brown) & others in October last. The sentence was pronounced by Judge Kinney day before yesterday (February 13) and they are both to be hung on Friday March 16 1860 between 10 A.M. & 2 P.M.
- Wednesday February 15, 1860 2 P.M.

Aaron D. Stevens

Albert Hazlett

For a fascinating discussion on John Brown, check out this post by 'sailerd' over at Blog Divided. Included is a link for video of the entire conference on Brown at Yale University last October, featuring historians and authors such as David Blight and Tony Horwitz.

As the snow melts and the days grow longer, many of us are itching to get back on the field. I hope to see you there!

All Engelbrecht photos and diary entries in the "Jacob's Pen" series come directly from The Diary of Jacob Engelbrecht, published by The Historical Society of Frederick County, Inc.