Monthly Archives: February 2014

Internship Journal: Week Seven

With midterms taking up most of my attention this past week, I was not able to commit as much time I would have wished to my ongoing research and internship. However, with that being said, I was able to iron out a few details and get the ball rolling on some other projects.

Firstly, Author Scott Patchan returned my email regarding primary sources on the battle. He gave me a list of online accessible sources such as, the memoirs of Hayes and Hastings. The material is easily accessible online through the Library of Congress. He said that there is a good amount of Union primary sources available, but not too much on the Confederate side. I am looking forward to the materials he said he would send me on Col. Mulligan that he has collected from Notre Dame. A good Confederate source he mentions was the memoir of Augustus Forsberg that is available through VMI or Washington and Lee. I plan on meeting with him in person next week on March 8th. I will be attending a conference he will be speaking at regarding the Civil War in the Shenandoah Valley during the spring and summer of 1864. I hope to pick his brain a little more about the battle.

Secondly, I have written a blurb to be used for promoting my program. This will be proofread by my supervisor, Eric Campbell before it will be sent out. However, we will post this on our website and send it out to other partners sties so they can promote the program as well. Also, as seen you will notice I have chosen a title for my program:

“The Most Easily Won Battle of the War”: The Second Battle of Kernstown, July 24th 1864

Join Ranger Kyle Rothemich at the Kernstown Battlefield on July 24th 2014, as he will be taking visitors on a special “On this Day” battlefield tour of the Second Battle of Kernstown. To commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the battle, Ranger Kyle will be leading a free 90 minute walking tour. He will take visitors through the same ground that was contested over exactly 150 years after the fact. This battle was the pinnacle of Confederate General Jubal Early’s successes in the Valley in 1864, and with his Confederate victory, ushered in a new Union commander in Philip Sheridan. With this appointment of Sheridan, the Confederates fate was sealed in the coming months. Meet Ranger Kyle at 4:00pm for this free program. After the program, the Kernstown Battlefield Association will be opening the Pritchard-Grim House, allowing visitors to get up close and personal with this beautiful mansion. Any questions, please contact Kyle at Kyle_Rothemich@nps.gov or call Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park at 540-869-3051. 

Lastly, as I look forward to more 150th programs in the fall, my eyes fall upon October 17th. On this day I will be responsible for leading an interpretative hike to Signal Knob and doing interpretation up there for a couple of hours, as visitors hike up and down the peak. This peak was where the Confederates had a signal crew stationed before the battle of Cedar Creek. On October 17th, Early’s chief lieutenants hiked to the knob and reconnoitered the Union forces and developed their surprise attack. After talking to my co-worker, we came up with a great idea. Why don’t we try to get in touch with living historian who interpret signal corps and see if they would want to join me up there? This would draw in the public with the opportunity to see exactly how it was done, with people in period uniform. Not knowing where to start, I sent a message on Facebook to all of my fellow NPS colleagues, across Virginia. No doubt, within ten minutes my friend at Petersburg National Battlefield  put me in contact with his colleague from the Civil War Trust who does Signal Corp living history. So, I have contacted him to see if he would be interested in participating in this program.

Hours completed this week: 5

Total hours: 58

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Internship Journal: Week 6

Outside of my regular research during the week, I worked at the Visitor Contact Station in our park on Saturday February 22nd. During my shift here at the park I delivered new brochures on information regarding the parks upcoming sesquicentennial events. I dropped them off at Hupp’s Hill Civil War Park in Strasburg, the Front Royal Visitor Center and the Winchester Frederick County Visitor Center in Winchester.  This will outline the tentative 150th events at the park come October 17th, 18th and 19th. I also helped visitors entering the park get oriented to the resources available to them.

150th Anniversary rack card

150th Anniversary rack card

On Thursday, I attended a lecture by my former professor, Jonathan Noyalas regarding letters of Civil War soldiers. He examined their letters for their content, but more importantly their context. He explored different themes found in the letters such as sentiments towards slavery, reluctance and motives to enlist, reports of battles and of course affection for distant loved ones. This got me thinking about letters regarding the Second Battle of Kernstown, where they are, and where I could get a copy of them. I have emailed Scott Patchan about possible primary sources and am waiting to hear back from him.

Prof. Jonathan Noyalas presenting a lecture on Civil War letter

Prof. Jonathan Noyalas presenting a lecture on Civil War letter

During my day at the park, I started to brainstorm some “big” ideas I want visitors of my program to take away and understand when I am done. I think by doing this, it will help me narrow down and refine my research. Since there is such a plethora of information out there on the battle, I think it is important to begin to synthesize some of these thoughts.

  • Realize the significance of a once in a lifetime opportunity to be on a battlefield exactly 150 years after the battle
  • Learn about the preservation efforts of the Kernstown Battlefield Association and the NPS
  • Understand the main factors that led up the battle and how battles occur for a specific reason of certain land for a particular reason. They do not happen out of the blue.
  • Early’s plan of attack and why he chose it the way he did
  • Crooks response (or lack thereof) to the advance and reasons why he did what he did
  • Major phases of the battle
    • Confederate approach
    • Crook sending lines forward
    • The flank march by Breckenridge and subsequent fighting
    • Ramseur of the Confederate left
    • The stand of Mulligans Brigade and his death
    • Know the main commanders and rough make up the Confederate force under Lt. Gen. Jubal Early and Union Gen. George Crook.
      • Have an appreciation for the rank and file of each army and how the Union army was made up of local “western” Virginians. Vice versa, how Early’s Second Corps was attempting to repeat the glory that was the 1862 Valley Campaign
      • The major consequences of the battle
        • Appointment of Phil Sheridan
        • Burning of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania
        • Civilian story

These points, now on paper, will help me organize my thoughts as I go forward. With midterms coming up this week, I hope to still dedicate some time to my research of this program.

Hours Completed this week: 10

Total Hours: 53

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Internship Journal: Week Five

So after some major delays because of snow, Eric Campbell and President of the Kernstown Battlefield Association, Gary Crawford and myself were all able to get together. We met on Monday, February 10th at the Park’s Headquarters in Middletown. Mr. Crawford actually remembered me from I program I gave to him and his wife a year ago, and was excited to see that I was the Ranger leading the tour on the 24th.

Once we got talking, the three of us started to iron out some details for the upcoming program. First, Gary filled us in on the programs taking place at the Kernstown Battlefield the weekend before my program, Saturday July 19th and Sunday 20th. In an attempt to bring in visitors on the weekend prior, KBA has organized numerous programs during this weekend to commemorate Early’s 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign and the Second Battle of Kernstown. Historian Scott Patchan will be leading a day long bus tour of the Valley on Saturday, ending his tour at the battlefield. The National Park Service is also going to loan out Civil War era artifacts to be exhibited this weekend. After some discussion, Eric decided that since I will be involved with the 150th Anniversary program, I will be in uniform with the flat hat and all manning this exhibit. I will be responsible for answering questions from visitors and possibly presenting a program relating to the artifacts. This is a win win for both organizations. KBA will get the presence of a National Park Ranger and everything that comes along with that, including the flat hat that visitors tend to flock too. Also, on our end, I will be able to do interpretation as well as promote my upcoming special program the following week, as well as the slew of Sesquicentennial Programs the park will be holding in the fall.

We also discussed some logistics for my program come July. We decided that a 4:00pm starting time would be suitable for all parties. This allows people who work, and really want to attend, to take a half a day of work and get the program on time. Also, during this time, the sun will not be as powerful as say noon or 1:00pm. I will run my program for about an hour and a half. Gary presented us with a great opportunity. He offered to open up the Pritchard-Grim house following the end of my tour! The house, which is owned by the KBA was the home of the Pritchard family during the war. This will be a great segway following my program to allow folks to see this beautiful cultural resource not usually open to the public.

The Pritchard House on the Kernstown Battlefield

The Pritchard House on the Kernstown Battlefield

The three of us decided that on Monday, April 14th, we will all conduct a site visit of the battlefield. Gary will take us around showing us certain aspects of the battlefield as well as the suggested walking routes during my tour.

In an attempt to compile more primary resources on the battle, I reached out to Gary himself to see if KBA or he had any archives pertaining to the battle. He said that I would need to contact historian and author, Scott Patchan.. As he has conducted extensive research on the battle and the summer 1864 campaign, Gary figured he would be a great resource for me. He emailed me his contact information and I will be in touch with him this week.

Also, I spent some time in the park’s library scouring some primary source materials. This included the memoirs of CSA Generals Jubal Early and John Gordon. Early’s memoirs are well known to be littered with Lost Cause vocabulary. So, with this in mind, I found the segment he left on the Second Battle of Kernstown. He describes the whole battle in a page and half. Mentioning the morning attack and flank movement of Breckenridge’s men, he gives credit where credit is due in this aspect. However, as Early tended to do, he blames his cavalry for not routing the fleeing Federals further north than he did. Unfortunately, Gordon’s colorful memoirs neglected to mention Second Kernstown.

Some of our parks extensive resources

Some of our parks extensive resources

I then moved to the commander of the Union forces at Second Kernstown, George Crook. In his autobiography he leaves fewer words on the battle than Early. Two paragraphs! As he lost the battle, it is not a surprise that he left so little. For what they it was worth, his memoir was of little help at this point in my research.

The next source I checked was Battles and Leaders of the Civil War. This four volume series is well known in the Civil War community. Following the war in the 1880’s there was a newspaper that published primary accounts from veterans about campaigns and battles. After they were all published over a series of years, they were compiled into this series. This is a great resource for any Civil War historian to have, so I checked to see if there was an article on Second Kernstown. Unfortunately, there was not. There was a account of Early’s Raid to D.C. by Early himself, but it concluded with him passing back into the Shenandoah Valley. The next chronological article was written by Gen. Wesley Merritt. His detailed account of the fall 1864 campaign begins with the appointment of Philip Sheridan to the Valley on August 6th 1864. Once again leaving out Second Kernstown.

One place I knew I could find primary evidence was in the Official Records. I found the volume pertaining to this time period and geographical area, Vol. 37. I was able to find the official after battle reports from George Crook, Joseph Thoburn and Col. Wells among others. As these were written immediately following the battle, they offer a great insight to the happenings of the battle. Also, the individual reports of Colonels give highly detailed accounts of their individual regiments during the battle, helping pin point men and units.

Bookcase containing our parks collection of the Official Records of the Civil War

Bookcase containing our parks collection of the Official Records of the Civil War

As next week quickly looms, I wish to compile a list of major objectives I want to cover in my program. Sort of an outline of my outline. What big ideas do I want to convey? What information do I want visitors to leave knowing? What are some details I can leave out?

Hours Completed this week: 8

Total hours: 43

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Internship Journal: Week Four

Unfortunately for a second time in two weeks due to snow, my meeting with Eric Campbell and Gary Crawford was postponed due to snow. The meeting planned for February 3rd was rescheduled for this coming Monday, February 10th. Barring no more snow!

I was however able to compile what seems to be, the last of my secondary sources for the battle. One of the perks of having a Civil War enthused girlfriend, is that you never know what kind of material she will pull up. Come to find out, she had volunteered at the Kernstown Battlefield back in high school. After digging through some drawers she pulled out a big binder containing historical information on all the actions during the Civil War at Kernstown; including a manual for being a volunteer at the Kernstown Battlefield Association.

Kernstown Volunteer Handbook from a couple years back

Kernstown Volunteer Handbook from a couple years back

I was ecstatic! As I started to flip through the pages, something became very clear to me. All of the narratives written about the Battle of Second Kernstown was by Scott Patchan. I was hoping that this binder would have information written by another historian. The information seems to be (based on my knowledge of the battle) accurate. But as a historian, it is better to get accounts of events written by different scholars and or authors. However, most if not all of the recent material on the Battle of Second Kernstown is by Scott Patchan. (Including his work, Shenandoah Summer which has two chapters on the battle).   This means, that most of, if not all, of the current scholarship on the battle is by one author. I was able to find an article written on the battle by noted Civil War historian Jeffery Wert. But, this was from 1983.

Interpretive booklet on the Kernstown Battlefield that was inside of the binder

Interpretive booklet on the Kernstown Battlefield that was inside of the binder

So what does all this mean? Now that I have read most of the current scholarship on the battle, I want to start to dive into primary source material and match that up against the secondary sources. I will use the bibliographies from Patchan’s Shenandoah Summer and Jonathan Noyalas’s article to guide me to some primary sources.  In the weeks to come, I want to find the Official Records of the campaign and read through the reports and correspondences of each side.

Chronology of the Second Battle of Kernstown by Patchan

Chronology of the Second Battle of Kernstown by Patchan

Interpretative Write Up by Patchan

Interpretative Write Up by Patchan

Also during this past week, I reached out to another colleague of mine at the Stewart Bell Jr. Archives at the Handley Library in Winchester Virginia. I was in Winchester for some errands and figured I could stop by and ask archivist, Rebbeca Ebert, about her knowledge on Second Kernstown. I did not have a lot of time, but I asked her if she knew anything the archive contained about the battle off the top of her head. She said that she does not, but directed me to look at the various search and finding guides on the Civil War collections. She took my email address and said she will contact me in the near future if she comes across anything pertaining to my research.  There was one thing she did say I should come back and check regardless. Apparently, there is an additional companion to the Official Records of the Civil War. These are not usually included in the sets libraries or parks contain. So, she said to check these, in conjunction with the regular O.R.’s to see what they may contain.

Hours Completed this week: 6

Total hours: 35

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