Never Forget

Let me begin this post by saying that I’m not a Civil War “buff”. It was a part of this country’s history, which I accept, but I have been to only one battlefield in my life and don’t feel the need to visit more.

While I appreciate that this has been the 150th anniversary of a major turning point in this war, I feel that all other battles have been overshadowed, as if the rest of the battles which were part of this war don’t matter. I have therefore endeavoured to make sure that the others aren’t forgotten, despite the fact that the Battle of Antietam as well as the Battle of Fredericksburg both occurred 15years ago.

While this list I found reflects the casualties of each battle, if we are honest, a greater portion of those casualties were, in fact, deaths due to the poorer medical treatments of the day. Additionally, at both the Battle of Fort Henry & Fort Donnelson (TN) as well as the Battle of Vicksburg (MS), there were thousands who were taken prisoner and we have no way of knowing how well they were treated.

These, then, are the casualties* of each battle of the American Civil War:

Fort Sumter (SC) – 15
First Bull Run (VA) – 4,878
Fort Henry & Fort Donelson (TN) – 4,832
Hampton Roads (Monitor vs Merrimac) – 265+
Shiloh (TN) – 24,647
Shenandoah Valley (TN) – 10,000
Seven Days Near Richmond (VA) – 35,990
Second Bull Run (VA) – 26,051
Antietam (MD) – 22,539
Perryville (KY) – 6,841
Fredericksburg (VA) – 17,900
Chancellorsville (VA) – 29,800
Gettysburg (PA) – 51,000
Vicksburg (MS) – 18,000
Chickamauga (GA) – 34,624
Chattanooga (TN) – 12,400
The Wilderness (VA) – 28,000+
Spotsylvania (VA) – 27,500
Cold Harbor (VA) – 16,000
Atlanta (GA) – 66,600
Sherman’s March to the Sea – 3,100+
Petersburg (VA) – 70,000
Appomattox (VA) – 9,512

For those who haven’t the time for math, that gives us a grand total of 520,176. Half a million people. Of course that’s just a drop in the bucket for a country whose 1860 Census recorded a total US population of 31,443,321, yet each of these lives lost – either directly on the battlefield or soon after – should not be forgotten. We should honor all battlefield anniversaries, or none at all. Singling out one because it’s got all the bells and whistles people want now, is like singling out a favourite child. It’s wrong. Every man there was fighting for a cause he believed in and should be honored for his courage to stand up for what he believed in.

* All casualties of each battle reflect a combination of both Confederate and Union casualties.

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Armistead’s Cost

Pickett's Charge Map

PIckett’s Charge Map – Click Image for larger view (at the Civil War Trust website).

The morning of July 3, 1863 began with an assault on Culp’s Hill, but General Meade had ordered troops back to Culp’s Hill to fortify Union ranks. By 11 am, the Union forces regained lost ground. The Confederate assault at Culp’s Hill was stymied. General George Edward Pickett’s brigade, having the only fresh troops on day three of the battle, was ordered, under General James Longstreet’s command, to assault the weakened center of the Union line. Confederate artillery commenced firing on Union troops on Cemetery Ridge at approximately 1 pm. Union cannons answered this bombardment with a cannonade of their own. At 3 pm, the battlefield quieted and the order to begin the infamous “Pickett’s Charge” across a mile of open battlefield towards a “copse of trees” was given.

Originally positioned at the rear of the brigade, General Lewis Addison Armistead, a Confederate from North Carolina, led his men forward during the charge. Union cannon began to fire at the advancing Confederate Army, mowing down as many as 20 Confederate troops at a time, as it advanced towards Cemetery Ridge. General Armistead’s “support troops” filled in the gaps and, eventually, ended up in the front of the Confederate charge.
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Gettysburg, PA: The Devil’s Den

Devils Den, Gettysburg, PA (c1909)

Devils Den, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (c1909) – Location of intensive fighting on Day 2 (July 2, 1863) of the Battle of Gettysburg in the American Civil War.
Photo Courtesy of the Library of Congress Archives.

I’ve been to the Gettysburg battlefield in Pennsylvania twice (so far) in my lifetime. Once in 1999 with my family and again in 2005 with my old, college roommates at my insistence. Both times, I’ve really enjoyed myself there. The historical significance of the Gettysburg Battlefield alone is really inspiring. And, of course, the ample graveyards and ghost stories really made me feel at home.

You have to spend at least a day in Gettysburg. The battlefield is so extensive it takes a whole day to do a self guided car tour– if you see everything from Iverson’s Pits, the Roundtops, the Devil’s Den, the Triangular Field, and Culp’s Hill (among other places). The visitor centers, cemeteries, and museums are really engaging too. Probably the most notable thing about this battlefield is the documentation of the battle and the National Park’s efforts to restore the battlefield to how it looked those three fateful days in 1863. In the years since I’ve been to Gettysburg, they’ve removed trees where there were none and planted trees and orchards where they once stood. Something about the atmosphere and the terrible amounts of men who met their untimely demise on the field of battle in Gettysburg calls to the dead– though the official park stance on the paranormal is that they have no stance on the paranormal.
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150th Annviersary of the Battle of Gettysburg

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Gettysburg Battlefield

51,000 men. That’s the number of American soldiers who were missing, wounded, and those met their demise on the battlefield in Gettysburg, PA on July 1-3, 1863. By today’s standards, these losses are the equivalent of 6 million men in three days. Confederate General Robert E. Lee lost one-third of his army during this battle. It was a grueling and iconic battle of the American Civil War for it marked the turning of the war in favor of the Union armies. It was also one of the bloodiest battles of the war, and probably the most hallowed and, dare I say, haunted ground in the country.

Today marks the beginning of the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. What better way to honor the brave men who fought at Gettysburg than sharing stories from the battle?

The first day of the battle did not go well for the Union troops. A minor skirmish started in the northwest of Gettysburg around 10 am. Major General John F. Reynolds and his troops attempted to hold the Confederates at bay, but Reynolds was struck and killed. (Read “Star-Crossed Loves of Gettysburg” for more of Reynolds’ tragic story.) By 4 pm, the Federal troops were retreating through Gettysburg towards Cemetery Hill. Several troops were cut off from their units and killed in the retreat. One of those soldiers was the source of a battlefield mystery of a Union soldier who died during the retreat.
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Star-Crossed Loves of Gettysburg

A corporal in the 87th Pennsylvania expires from wounds during the Second Battle of Winchester while a Major General for the Union in the American Civil War is marching towards the little town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Neither of the men have met before, but what they share in life makes a better tragedy than any writing of Shakespeare’s because their true stories are written in the annals of history.
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Haunted Lodgings: Farnsworth House Inn: Gettysburg, PA

Farnsworth House Inn

For anyone interested in history or the paranormal, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania is a must visit.  For me, being enthralled with both of these topics, it was a much anticipated trip. The town is amazing! The movements of the Union and Confederate armies are recorded throughout the town and its surrounding hill, fields and woods.  Monuments, plaques and historical markers note each stage of the three day long battle. The markers, plaques and monuments are located not in a museum, or along some tame trail, but right on the very spots where the soldiers’ feet had tread almost one hundred and fifty years ago. The whole town is dedicated to keeping its history alive.

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Paranormal Musem Opens in Gettysburg

GETTYSBURG, Pa. — A new museum opened in Gettysburg on Monday. It’s called the International Museum of Spiritual Investigations.

The downtown Gettysburg museum focuses on ghosts — a subject for which the city already draws a lot of attention. Some ghost hunters have called the city the most haunted place in America.

Full Story (with link to museum website)