Sunday, February 26, 2006

A Little Civil War Fun

After all of the tragedy, I thought a little lightheartedness might be in order.

The hosting company for my web site offers a collection of statistics and information concerning how people find my web site, www.brothers One section keeps a list of the links taken to access my site which includes search engines and, if I'm lucky, the questions people have asked to find my site. With no offense intended, I found a few somewhat amusing and thought I’d share. So, in the spirit of that classic question of all Gettysburg inquisitions, "Did they fight behind the monuments during the battle?" here are some of my favorites searches.

"Who were the two men who fought at Gettysburg?"

"Name of that charge at the end of the Gettysburg battle"

"The soldier who survived the Battle of Gettysburg"

"When was the civil war in Gettysburg?"

And, last but not least (I suppose this is just a sign of the times...)

"Sweet Civil War Battles"

My favorite comment heard while walking the fields at Gettysburg had to do with what seemed to be an ongoing argument. Apparently, a wife was angry that her husband drove up to see the "Little Big Top" without her...

A friend of mine who had been a re-enactor tells of a wide-eyed spectator approaching their camp and innocently asking if the fire was real.

Finally, one of my favorite stories comes from the prolific author of Gettysblog. Hours after sunset while helping to patrol the grounds at Gettysburg, a park volunteer found a man strolling slowly around the cannon near The Angle. Aware that walking through the park after dark violates NPS regulations, this volunteer politely let the visitor know of this park rule. The man replied in return that he was waiting for General Armistead’s ghost. Thinking quickly, the volunteer said that the General gets off at 10pm which was a few minutes ago. Dejected, the gentleman expressed his disappointment at missing the General and walked away.

Hope this brought a smile or two.



PS: If you want to read a comical retelling of the history of the American Civil War, check out Camp Chase's A Low-Fact History of the Civil War. The story begins after the page's cartoons.

Please visit my entirely unfunny primary site at

All original material Copyright © 2006. All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Sad Damage & Needed Assistance

The Gettysburg National Military Park kindly provided these tragic pictures of two of the three recently vandalized, damaged monuments. (Additional information about these terrible acts of desecration can be found in the previous posts below.)

Gettysburg National Military Park Rangers Laurie Gantz and
Brion FitzGerald examine the damaged
114th Pennsylvania Infantry Monument.

The damaged 11th Massachusetts Monument.
Note the shattered pieces at the monument's
base. This is all that remains of the saber
wielding arm which had graced this unique treasure.

When asked, NPS staff said that those wishing to donate to help restore these monuments can write checks payable to "DOI/NPS" (without the quotation marks) and send them to:

Gettysburg National Military Park
97 Taneytown Road
Gettysburg, PA 17325

If you wish to designate the money for a specific monument, please note the name of the monument on the check. According to NPS staff, contributing donations to the "General Maintenance for Monuments" fund allows greater flexibility to address all repairs or replacements. And certainly, all donations are greatly appreciated. Having seen first hand the NPS' previous efforts at restoring other damaged monuments, I can say that they do excellent work.

Respectfully submitted,


Sunday, February 19, 2006

Former Glory

I thought I would include a few pictures of the recently vandalized monuments at the Gettysburg Battlefield (more information is below). Unfortunately, I'm still searching through my collection for a good picture of the 114th Pennsylvania Monument. However, included below are two of the beautiful monuments now permanently damaged. A very sad day indeed.

The 11th Massachusetts Infantry Monument
along the Emmitsburg Road.

The 4th New York Artillery, Smith's Battery
on Houck's Ridge.

Respectfully Submitted,


A Pattern of Senseless Destruction

Over the years, a combination of careless inattention, vandalism, and outright criminal activity have caused irreparable damage to the sacred monuments and markers at the Gettysburg Battlefield. These monuments, erected and dedicated mostly by the battle’s veterans, cannot be replaced. Despite the exceptional efforts of the National Park Service to restore any damage inflicted, the original monuments, or portions of them, are often forever lost.

Here is a brief chronology and listing of only some of the damaged treasures.

February 16, 2006:

The 114th Pennsylvania Monument (Dedicated in 1886): Torn from its pedestal and thrown to the ground damaging the monument and a wrought iron fence.

The 11th Massachusetts Monument (Dedicated in 1885): The upper granite portion of the monument was thrown from it’s base, the arm irreparably shattered and the sword stolen.

The 4th New York Battery Monument (Dedicated in 1888): Torn from its pedestal and dragged more than 160 feet causing extensive damage. The perpetrators severed and stole the monument’s head.

Total damages estimated at about $75,000.

January 18, 2005:

8th Pennsylvania Cavalry Monument (Dedicated in 1890): Bronze sword stolen.

Total damage estimated at $3,000

September 15, 2004:

Alexander Hays Monument (Dedicated in 1915): Bronze sword stolen.

Total damage estimated at $1,200

May 2004:

58th New York Monument (Dedicated in 1888): Hit by car. The driver hit the monument so hard that she broke her ankle.

Total damage estimated at $20,000

May 2004:

Granite marker on Reynolds Avenue: Backed over by a school bus.

Total damage estimate unknown

March 3, 2004:

4th Ohio Right Flank Marker (Dedicated in 1887) and two granite fence posts: Destroyed by a driver who lost control of a pick-up truck. The marker was damaged beyond repair.

Total damages estimated at between $5,000 and $10,000

November 12, 2003:

74th Pennsylvania Infantry Monument (Dedicated in 1888): Driver hit the monument after losing control of her SUV. The monument was broken it into several pieces large and small.

Total damages estimated at between $15,000 and $20,000

October 21, 2003:

Battery E, 1st Rhode Island Light Artillery Cannon Carriage (Dedicated in 1896): Shattered by a hit and run driver after he plowed down 80 feet of fencing. Unknown persons stole parts of the broken cannon carriage, which was slightly over 100 years old, before National Park Service staff could collect them all.

Total damages estimated at between $10,000 and $13,000

November 1999

17 Monuments Vandalized: Vandals poured oil over 17 monuments threatening permanent discoloration.

Total damages estimated at over $4,000

July 1999

90th Pennsylvania Monument (Dedicated in 1888): Thieves stole several pieces of bronze ornamentation from the monument including a knapsack and a rifle.

Total damages estimated at over $12,900

Respectfully submitted,


Saturday, February 18, 2006

Vandalized Monuments - A Plea for Help

National Park Service Asks Public for Information.

Gettysburg National Military Park is looking for information related to the vandalism of Civil War monuments on the Gettysburg Battlefield damaged during the night of February 15, 2006 or the early morning hours of February 16, 2006. Vandals pulled the top stone and sculpture off of the 11th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Monument, dedicated on October 8, 1885. The 11th Massachusetts monument is located on Emmitsburg Road at the intersection of Sickles Avenue. Vandals pulled down the bronze sculpture of a Zouave infantryman from the pedestal of the 114th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Monument, dedicated on July 2, 1886, located at the Sherfy house on Emmitsburg Road. The figure landed on a decorative iron fence that was also damaged.

The 114th PA Monument
thrown to the ground

Vandals also pulled the bronze sculpture of a Civil War Artilleryman from the monument to Smith's battery, also known as the 4th New York battery, located on Devil's Den. The Smith's battery monument was dedicated July 2, 1888.

Anyone with any information is asked to call the National Park Service at 717/ 334-0909. Anyone with any information is asked to call the National Park Service at 717/ 334-0909.

Contact Information
Katie Lawhon | (717) 334-1124
Laurie Gantz | (717) 334-0909


For more information, please see the related article below.


Respectfully Submitted,


Thursday, February 16, 2006


If you have any information concerning these despicable, unconscionable crimes, please notify the National Park Service. And please, if you have a blog or web site, post a link to this article or post one of your own with the NPS contact information. The more widespread the search, the more likely the apprehension of these pathetic, thoughtless, idiots.

From The Boston Globe

Three Gettysburg battlefield monuments vandalized

February 16, 2006

GETTYSBURG, Pa. --Monuments honoring Civil War soldiers from Pennsylvania, New York and Massachusetts were damaged late Wednesday or early Thursday morning, Gettysburg National Military Park officials said.

The head of a sculpture was stolen on Devil's Den, a rocky part of the battlefield, and a sword was taken from a second memorial. A third marker's sculpture landed on a decorative iron fence, which also was damaged.

"It's terribly sad, and the monuments were put there by the veterans and survivors of this battle. So what's happened is, it's their memory that is vandalized," said park spokeswoman Katie Lawhon.

The bronze sculpture of an artilleryman from the monument to Smith's Battery, also known as the 4th New York Battery, was dragged from its place and its head was removed and is missing, Lawhon said.

The top stone and sculpture from the 11th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Monument were toppled, and a sword was stolen from it.

Also, the vandals pulled down a bronze sculpture of a Zouave infantryman from the 114th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Monument, and a fence was damaged when it fell.

Thieves have damaged park monuments three times in the last year-and-a-half. They also stole a bronze sword from a Pennsylvania cavalry marker in January 2005 and a sword from the monument to Alexander Hays in September 2004. Those crimes have not been solved.

Bronze markers, including state seals, also are occasionally stolen from the park.

Motorists also have taken a toll on the park's historical objects in recent years. Drivers crashed into the 4th Ohio Volunteer Infantry right flank marker in 2004, and destroyed a cast-iron cannon carriage and damaged the 74th Pennsylvania Infantry Monument in separate 2003 incidents.

The 6,000-acre park houses some 1,300 monuments to the tide-changing July 1863 battle between the Union and Confederate armies.

Respectfully submitted,


Saturday, February 11, 2006

A Mangled Heap of Carnage

With his 35th birthday a few weeks away, Frank Aretas Haskell marched north with the Army of the Potomac. The blue-clad men picked up the gauntlet General Robert E. Lee had thrown down and now covered 20 to 30 miles a day in search of their familiar adversaries. The Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, somewhere in the vast mountainous countryside, had broken away from their lines near Fredericksburg, Virginia. The oft victorious Rebels pushed forward onto northern soil, their aims and goals entirely unknown. As the Union Army fanned out in pursuit, Frank Haskell noted, "The people of the country, I suppose, shared the anxieties of the army, somewhat in common with us, but they could not have felt them as keenly as we did. We were upon the immediate theatre of events, as they occurred from day to day, and were of them. We were the army whose province it should be to meet this invasion and repel it; on us was the immediate responsibility for results, most momentous for good or ill, as yet in the future. And so in addition to the solicitude of all good patriots, we felt that our own honor as men and as an army, as well as the safety of the Capitol and the country, were at stake."

86th New York MonumentHe could not know that in a few short days, after colliding with their elusive foe, thousands would lay dead aside the tens of thousands wounded like so many ashes born of this sanguinary, windswept conflagration. In a description of events that Haskell penned for his brother, he conveyed the grim visage presented in the aftermath of the bloodshed of July 2, 1863, the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg.

"The fight done, the sudden revulsions of sense and feeling follow, which more or less characterize all similar occasions. How strange the stillness seems! The whole air roared with the conflict but a moment since-now all is silent; not a gunshot sound is heard, and the silence comes distinctly, almost painfully to the senses. And the sun purples the clouds in the West, and the sultry evening steals on as if there had been no battle, and the furious shout and the cannon’s roar had never shaken the earth. And how look these fields? We may see them before dark-the ripening grain, the luxuriant corn, the orchards, the grassy meadows, and in their midst the rural cottage of brick or wood. They were beautiful this morning. They are desolate now-trampled by the countless feet of the combatants, plowed and scored by the shot and shell, the orchards splinted, the fences prostrate, the harvest trodden in the mud. And more dreadful than the sight of all this, thickly strewn over all their length and breadth, are the habiliments of the soldiers, the knapsacks cast aside in the stress of the fight, or after the fatal lead had struck; haversacks yawning with the rations the owner will never call for; canteens of cedar of the Rebel men of Jackson, and of cloth-covered tin of the men of the Union; blankets and trowsers, and coats, and caps, and some are blue and some are gray; muskets and ramrods, and bayonets, and swords, and scabbards and belts, some bent and cut by the shot or shell; broken wheels, exploded caissons, and limber-boxes, and dismantled guns, and all these are sprinkled with blood; horses, some dead, a mangled heap of carnage, some alive, with a leg shot clear off, or other frightful wounds, appealing to you with almost more than brute gaze as you pass; and last, but not least numerous, many thousands of men-and there was no rebellion here now-the men of South Carolina were quiet by the side of those of Massachusetts, some composed, with upturned faces, sleeping the last sleep, some mutilated and frightful, some wretched fallen, bathed in blood, survivors still and unwilling witnesses of the rage of Gettysburg."



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All original material Copyright © 2006. All Rights Reserved


References for this article:

The Harvard Classics, American Historical Documents, P. F. Collier & Son Corporation, New York 1969

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Value of Men

During the last 140 years, countless persons have found themselves consumed with a passion for the Late Unpleasantness, the American Civil War. Stemming from questions such as “Why did this happen“ and “What made them do this” they read, listened, and walked the fields in search of answers. They enthusiastically sought understanding of what led men to fight this catastrophic war and to die in such incomprehensible numbers.

The 142nd Pennsylvania at GettysburgWith a conflict of this scale, we could not, if we would, examine each death. We focus not on any one individual, but frequently opt instead for the more ghastly descriptions of death and the vast endless lists of casualties. The tragic, spectacular deaths and those of key participants predictably hold our attention. With the sacrifice of so many, we tend to overlook the simple, single loss of one.

In a nation of near 300 million, how do we define the relevance of the death of a single nameless man? When we discuss the preservation of Battlefields, the furnaces within which millions violently forged our nation, each argument includes the obligatory justifying statistics concerning the number sacrificed on the locations and grounds in question. But what of the parcels of land which claimed only a pittance, only one or two mortals now entirely forgotten?

In those places where our soil lays saturated with blood, where thousands of souls seeped from torn and battered flesh, we rightfully offer the proper reverence. Yet by such a singular focus, do we then deem as inconsequential the place where mother earth cradles the life’s blood of but a single man? While larger battlefields welcome millions of visitors annually, the small timeworn grave of the Civil War veteran in the hometown cemetery frequently goes unnoticed and unattended, their final resting place deteriorating further with each neglectful day.

Had we the ability to speak with them, the suffocating, enveloping sorrow of the soldier’s widow, orphaned children, or grieving parents would cry out in emphatic protest. Given a moment, we could to some degree understand their loss. Along our nation's highways, many erect small memorials to those they loved where fate stole a precious life from the ones left behind. Anonymous to most, these many small shrines mark ground of unquestionable meaning to those whose love will now go unreturned and whose regrets will remain painfully unassuaged. Now irrevocably gone from this life, they will never be seen, held, kissed, spoken with, or relied upon again. So too became the lot of many a young soldier.

With reverent determination, we hold sacred the fields of Gettysburg, Antietam, Vicksburg, Chickamauga, Chancellorsville, Shiloh and all others dyed by the blood of so many. These grounds welcome continuous streams of the curious and reflective. Yet by our inattention elsewhere, do we risk trivializing that one death, the solitary picket whose life spirit ebbed as he sank down onto the unmarked ground he did his duty to defend? Do we honor any less the soldier who marched, fought, and endured, only to join the tens of thousands who died a decidedly inglorious death from dysentery, cholera, or tuberculosis away from the now memorialized battlefields? How much less then do we hold dear the life of the unknown wounded soldier unable to drag himself into the open where aid instead of death might find him? So too, their families suffered as they went on with souls forever burdened by a hardened emptiness. When the soldier’s suffering and life passed, his agony rushed forward to claim as victim the many who would mourn his and their mutual loss. When his pain ended, theirs began. Over two thirds of the six-hundred and twenty-thousand men who died during this war perished not on the glorious field of battle but in inadequate medical facilities, tents, fields, yards, barns, and other nondescript places so very far from home.

And what of the men seared by the fire of battle who survived the war? How many more strode into battle on determined legs, with strong arms and a clear eye only to have lead or iron tear from them a portion of their formerly whole selves? Sanitized words like "wounded" or "casualty" hide the grim torment of the shattered soldier. Musket balls, round shot, shards of artillery, and bayonets tore through flesh and shattered the bones of men who then fell onto the bloody agonizing ground. Most did so on fields now no longer known as the places of their suffering.

How do we rightfully honor these men consumed by the horrors of war away from the grounds and monuments so treasured? We remember them, each of them. We hold sacred the lives and memories of all who perished, North and South, that our nation might live. We honor those whose blood nourished the growth of the young nation that became the country that we now call home. We mourn their loss, honor their courage, and protect their legacy.

But what is the worth of just one man, perhaps not of my blood, state, race, or time? On the day that we waiver in answering this question, we begin the perilous slide towards becoming once again a nation that would sacrifice hundreds of thousands to decide the rights and value of men.



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All original material Copyright © 2006. All Rights Reserved