Monthly Archives: January 2014

Internship Journal: Week Three

This past Sunday, January 26th, I spent my day at the Visitor Contact Station at the park. During my shift, I manned the center and eagerly waited the arrival of visitors (unfortunately no one showed up). During this time I was able to read up some more on the Second Battle of Kernstown and get a broad understanding of the battle. At this point, I feel comfortable enough in my knowledge of the battle to hold a conversation with another person. No where near the knowledge I need for my program. 

As you can see, no one ventured to the park this past Sunday

As you can see, no one ventured to the park this past Sunday

There is no definitive, book long study on the battle. Therefore, I am reading Scott Patchans, Shenandoah Summer, which has among other things two chapters on the battle. The book contains a lot of great information but I do not like his writing style. He includes too much biographical information on commanders that could have been left out. Also, he seems to be trying to much to make the book sound like a novel. Using extraneous adjectives and verbs where they could have easily been left out. Regardless, I am reading his work because it contains great information after you see through the fluff. 

Also, I have read the new biography on George Crook, George Crook: From Redwoods to Appomattox. I received this via Inter-library Loan and read the chapters on the summer campaign and Second Kernstown. Ironically enough, the author, Paul Magid, cites Patchan’s work extensively during his study. But, his book and account of Second Kernstown provides the reader with a succinct, to the point account of the battle.  

I also met with my academic adviser this week, Dr. Dillard. Since he is the “Civil War” guy on campus, I asked him if he knew any reading material off the top of his head I would find useful. He did not, but said he would let me know if he thought of anything in the future. He also wants me to share with him my findings as the semester goes along. 

Next week on Monday, February 3rd, I will meet with Eric Campbell and Gary Crawford, to discuss the logistics of my program in July. 

Hours Completed this week: 8

Total hours: 29

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Internship Journal: Week Two

Unfortunately due to the snow this week, I was unable to have my meeting with Eric Campbell (NPS) and Gary Crawford (Kernstown Battlefield Association) regarding my program on July 24th. However, this meeting has been rescheduled for Monday, February 3rd. The three of us will sit down and discuss some of the logistics for the program on The Battle of Second Kernstown during this time.

This weekend I covered one of my colleagues at the Visitor Contact Center while she visited South Carolina. Since it has been so bitterly cold, we have had little to no visitation. This is not good because we always want visitors to see the resources of the park, but on the other hand, this is positive. With the quietness at the park, I am able to start my in depth research and collection of sources to start to comprehensively understand the Second Battle of Kernstown. I took a look over the holdings at our park library, and gathered some books and articles to help give me some context on the battle and greater campaign. I still need to find  and narrow down the specific Official Reports from the campaign.

Some of the resources I was able to obtain

Some of the resources I was able to obtain

  • Cooling, Benjamin F. Jubal Early’s Raid on Washington 1864, (Baltimore: The Nautical and Aviation Publishing Company of America,1989).
  • Crook, George. General George Crook: His Autobiography, ed. Martin Schmitt (Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1960).
  • Early, Jubal A. Jubal Early’s Memoirs: Autobiographical Sketch and Narrative of the War Between the States. (Baltimore: The Nautical and Aviation Publishing Company of America 1989).
  •  Lepa, Jack H. The Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1864. (Jefferson: McFarland and Company, Inc. Publishers, 2003).
  • Patchan, Scott C. Shenandoah Summer: The 1864 Valley Campaign. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2007).
  • Noyalas, Jonathan A. 2003. “Early’s Costliest Victory: The Second Battle of Kernstown and Its Impact on Union Strategy in the Shenandoah Valley, 1864.” Winchester-Frederick County Historical Society Journal 15, 64-79.

Also, by using the JMU Library services I was able to come up with numerous articles pertaining to the battle. Some are on Inter library loan and should be arriving anytime.

  • Patchan, Scott C. 2012. “George Crook’s Tin Ear.” Civil War Times 51, no. 1: 50-55. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed January 24, 2014).
  • Wert, Jeffery D. 1984. “The Old Killing Ground; The Second Battle of Kernstown, 1864.” The Civil War Time Illustrated 23, no. 8:40-47.
  • Magid, Paul. George Crook: From Redwoods to Appomattox.  (Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 2011).

As you can see, the majority of these are secondary accounts of the action at Kernstown. I want to get a good grasp of the context of the battle before I start to read primary accounts. The notes section of these works will help guide me to journals, letters and regimental histories in the future. I as also able to find a great map of the battle superimposed to a modern day map via Google books. The map was prepared by Historian Col. Joseph Whitehorne and found in a guide book on Civil War Battlefields.

By no means am I saying that my collection of materials is complete, but I like to think I am off to a good start. I will spend the upcoming time reading and studying these materials.

Finally, there is a new book on the fall portion of the 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign that just came out this week. Entitled, Bloody Autumn: The Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1864, historians Daniel T. Davis and Phillip S. Greenwalt examine Sheridan’s fall campaign in the Valley. However, the great part of this book is that it is not only a narrative of the history of the battles and campaign. It is also a very practical guide book. Readers can take this to the battlefields and use it as a self guided tour book, guiding them through some of the most pristine battlefields in the Valley. I encourage anyone interested, to purchase their book here. The books is also for sale at the Visitor Contact Station.

Bloody Autumn

If you look closely you will see my name in print

If you look closely you will see my name in print

I consulted Phillip during his research of the book, looking into the injury of Confederate Brig. Gen. Cullen Battle’s leg during the Battle of Cedar Creek. And, for the first time, I get to see my name in print! Thanks for the acknowledgement Phillip!

Hours Completed this week: 16

Total Hours: 21 Hours

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Internship Journal: Week One

A requirement to graduate with a History Degree from James Madison University, is for each student to complete an internship in the field of history, known as History 340. I am fortunate enough that my duties at Cedar Creek and Belle Grove NHP will qualify for this internship this spring. My internship adviser, Dr. Kevin Borg, has asked for me complete a weekly journal compiling the activities and hours completed for each week. I do not see a better outlet for this journal, than this blog. So, for the next 16 weeks, I will be chronicling my internship during the Spring 2014 weekly through these journal posts.

This week, I had a preliminary meeting with my supervisor and Chief of Interpretation at Cedar Creek and Belle Grove NHP, Eric Campbell. We discussed what my duties were going to be for the spring semester. I will be required to do my usual duties of, but not limited to; manning the Visitor Contact Station, working with the public on their concerns and queries, conducting interpretative programs, completing research for the park, creating written material to be used for the park and helping with special events. However, as the 150th Anniversary of the 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign nears us, the park is gearing up for special programming and events for the summer and fall of 2014.

Since 2011, the National Park Service has been running various sesquicentennial events to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War. Cedar Creek and Belle Grove NHP has been involved in many if not all anniversaries in the Shenandoah Valley from 2011-present. The NPS conducts “real time” programs on the same day, same time, 150 years later after battles, taking visitors through battlefields in guided programs exactly 150 years after the battle. During the summer of 2014 there will be numerous battles leading up to Sheridan’s 1864 Valley Campaign. One of these is The 2nd Battle of Kernstown, on July 24th 2014. During my internship, I will be responsible for representing the Park and the NPS by leading a Special “On this Day” Tour of the battlefield. During my time, I will conduct all of the research, and develop an interpretative program. I will also prepare a written document of the battle, to be used and posted on the Parks website. For a full list of tentative sesquicentennial events in the Valley, click here.

During this meeting, Eric and I set up a meeting with the Director of the Kernstown Battlefield Association, Mr. Gary Crawford. The Kernstown Battlefield is not owned by the NPS, but rather by a private non-profit organization, the Kernstown Battlefield Association (KBA). We will be partnering with the association in planning and conducting this program on their land. Next Wednesday, January 22nd, Eric, Mr. Crawford and myself will sit down to discuss some of the logistics for my upcoming program on July 24th.

For my research, one of the first things I want to do, is compile all the source material I can about the battle itself. As I am not to familiar with the specifics of the battle, I reached out to some of my colleagues for some guidance on where to start. One person I instinctively contacted was my former professor, mentor and friend, Jonathan Noyalas. A professor at Lord Fairfax Commuinty College, Jonathan Noyalas is the most modern scholar on the Civil War in the Shenandoah Valley. He is the author of numerous books on battles from Cedar Creek to Fisher’s Hill, has written portions of Cedar Creek and Belle Grove NHP’s Historical Resource Study and has always been willing to help all the staff at our park. For a full bio click here.  I emailed Professor Noyalas about source material he may know about regarding the 2nd Battle of Kernstown. He responded by first saying that he wrote an article for the Winchester Frederick County Historical Society Journal on the battle and its impact on the community, he recommended I start there. Also, as he has given tours on this battle, so, he offered to take Eric and I out to the battlefield come spring to help compare notes and such.  I found his article in the WFCHS Journal in the park’s library and read it this week. It gave me a better understanding and orientation of the battle than I had before. But, more importantly, Noyalas’s notes and bibliography will help me locate more sources, especially primary sources for further research.

Lastly, Eric suggested that I begin to read Scott Patchan’s book entitled, Shenandoah Summer: The 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign. His book details the summer portion of the campaign and Early’s Raid to D.C.. I will pick this book up next week from our library and begin to read that for more context on the battle and a greater broad understanding.

This upcoming weekend, Friday January 24th-26th I will be manning the Visitor Contact Station. During this time I hope to dive straight into researching more about the battle.

Hours completed this week: 5 hours.

Total completed: 5 hours.

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Ramblings of a History Infused Winter Break

For about a month I have been on what seems to have been an extra long winter break. With classes starting back up again tomorrow I want to reflect on some of the sights I was fortunate to see during this time off from school.

My girlfriend is utterly obsessed with the “Gallant Pelham”, a.k.a. John Pelham. Back in the fall we heard about a ceremony being conducted by the Central Virginia Battlefield Trust to dedicate an acre of land known as Pelham’s Corner. This is where John Pelham began shelling the Union lines as the Battle of Fredericksburg began in 1862. The dedication was planned for Friday December 13th, a day after our finals ended. So we decided as a end of the semester celebration, to travel down there and witness the dedication of the new Napoleon canon at Pelham’ s Corner.

Not knowing really what to expect, we left early and arrived at the Fredericksburg Visitor Center at the Sunken Road at about 9:00am. The V.I.P. there was a tremendous help. He gave us detailed directions to Pelham’s Corner, a map marking the route to take and a plethora of other information about the happenings in the park for the day. So we got back on the road and headed for Pelham’s Corner. After about a ten minute drive we saw Confederate flags waving in the wind and figured we were close. Then, in a grassy corner adjacent to a strip mall parking lot, we saw a cannon and people starting to collect for the ceremony.

My girlfriend Casey and I at Pelham's Napoleon before the dedication

My girlfriend Casey and I at Pelham’s Napoleon before the dedication

 

There were living historians, as well as the black powder crew from Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, who were there to conduct a live cannon firing. The ceremony began when Frank O’Reilly arrived leading a special tour that morning. (He was leading a tour on the movements of John Pelham during the Battle of Fredericksburg. The dedication was one of the stops.) A noted historian and Ranger at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, Mr. O’Reilly addressed the crowd of about 70. He first thanked the efforts of the Central Virginia Battlefield Trust for saving this land and donating a cannon, and then delved into the action that took place there exactly 151 years prior. His colorful speech describing the young Confederate cannoneer was moving yet at the same time very descriptive of the events that took place; as well as placing the action in the larger context of the battle. After his speech a live cannon firing was conducted and the crowd dispersed.

Frank O'Reilly addressing the crowd

Frank O’Reilly addressing the crowd

My girlfriend and I then decided to go the Sunken Road and do the walking tour there on our own. Ironically, we were there exactly 151 years to the day, after the battle on December 13th, 2013. Yet, there was literally no one at the Sunken Road.

The Sunken Road

The Sunken Road

The Kirkland or "Angel of Marye's Heights" Monument on the Sunken Road

The Kirkland or “Angel of Marye’s Heights” Monument on the Sunken Road

So we enjoyed a quiet walk to ourselves, saw the Kirkland or “Angel of Marye’s Heights” monument, Marye’s Heights and the Sunken Road itself. As this was my first time at the Sunken Road, I had a pre conceived notion that the land in front of the road was a big expansive lawn as depicted in Gods and Generals, but I was wrong. Once again the encroachment of modern day was seen as the ground in front did not span for more than a few yards. We then made our way to the Chatham Manor house. Once again, we were greeted happily by two V.I.P.s who oriented us to the house. They also engaged in a colorful conversation with us about the different layers of the house and which would be the “correct” one to exhibit and interpret.

Chatham Manor House that overlooks Fredericksburg

Chatham Manor House that overlooks Fredericksburg

For our final stop of the day, we went to the Chancellorsville Battlefield as the sun was setting. We saw the site, and or sites of Jackson’s wounding and then began driving through the battlefield. I must say, at dusk, driving through some of those swamps was a little eerie.

Cannon at the Chancellorsville Battlefield

Cannon at the Chancellorsville Battlefield

We made our way back to the Valley the next day and were itching for something to do the following week, So we made a day trip to Harpers Ferry, especially Bolivar Heights to do the walking trail there on a nice layer of ice. Getting a view of Harpers Ferry like that in the winter gave me a whole new perspective on the lay of the land. The same at Fredericksburg, being able to see how the land shaped battles without the intrusive leaf cover was amazing. After tramping through the ice, we went to the lower part of town and walked around and enjoyed the park essentially to ourselves.

Bolivar Heights looking towards Harpers Ferry

Bolivar Heights looking towards Harpers Ferry

As Christmas passed, I packed my bags for New England to see both family and friends for a week. Once I arrived I hooked up with my good friend, Bobby. As we both love history, we spent a day sightseeing many of the Revolutionary War sites greater Boston had to offer. The day started with us at Minuteman National Historical Park. Unfortunately, the main visitor center was closed. (Sadly, this was as to be expected with the various budget cuts.) But, we followed the park signs, pulled off at different waysides until we found ourselves at the Park Headquarters. Fortunately, the headquarters had a small orientation center and gift shop manned by a very kind ranger. Also, from here were trails leading to the North Bridge, where the “shot heard round the world” was fired and the Battle of Lexington and Concord began in 1775. We saw the two respective monuments, the bridge, and then had a thoughtful and insightful conversation about the ramifications of this action that took place there and how things could have played out differently.

Monument at Minuteman NHP

Monument at Minuteman NHP

Monument describing the opening action during the Battles of Lexington and Concord

Monument describing the opening action during the Battles of Lexington and Concord

One of the items on my personal Civil War bucket list was to see the Robert Gould Shaw memorial in the Boston Common. So, after visiting Minuteman NHP we hit the Mass. Pike and headed east into Boston. As Bobby is a Boston native, he weaved in and out of traffic effortlessly as we searched for a parking spot. As we did, he pointed out the site of the Boston Marathon bombings and explained his personal story of terror as this took place in April. After finding a parking spot, we walked to the Common seeking out the monument. On the way, we encountered the Soldiers and Sailors monument. A large stone pillar with metal engravings and what seemed to be a depiction of lady liberty at the top; commemorated the lives lost during the Civil War. We then made our way towards the Massachusetts State House that glimmered in the sun until we encountered the Shaw monument.

Soldier and Sailors Monument in the Boston Common

Soldier and Sailors Monument in the Boston Common

The memorial was larger than I had pictured in my head. The artwork was beautifully done, showing the fearless expressions of the men of the 54th Massachusetts as they went into battle. Part of me had to laugh however. There was an African American male depicting a USCT at the monument. He was talking to visitors about the struggles of blacks in the service during the Civil War and answering questions visitors may have had. I do not know where he was from or what organization he represented. His costume seemed legitimate, and his answers were too. (Based off my knowledge). But, there was a sign. “5 Dollars for your picture with a Civil War Re-enactor!”.  This is what just simply amused me. In Virginia, you witness countless re-enactors who will willingly take a picture with you for free, hell, they often are begging for the attention. But, here in downtown Massachusetts, tourists seemed flabbergasted by someone wearing 19th century garb.

Robert Gould Shaw Memorial

Robert Gould Shaw Memorial

After spending some time at the monument we walked across town for some seafood and some well deserved beer. As we were quasi playing tourists ourselves that day, Bobby brought me to the famous Green Dragon Tavern. Supposedly before the Revolutionary War, the Sons of Liberty would conjugate at this pub to talk about the ideas of liberty. But, at this point during the day, I did not question the authenticity of the historical information presented. I sat down, enjoyed some fresh mussels a lobster roll and drank some great Sam Adams Irish Red Ale.

This winter break was amazing for a history nerd like myself. I got to experience a special dedication on the 151st Anniversary of the Battle of Fredericksburg, enjoy a quaint and quiet day in Harpers Ferry with my beautiful girlfriend, experienced the Revolutionary War at Lexington and Concord and viewed with my own eyes the Robert Gould Shaw memorial. As classes start again in the morning, I will surely be dreaming and planning some more history trips in the near future.

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