Days Away From 2014 Civil War Encampment at Medina

MEDINA – We are just days away from GCC’s third annual Civil War Encampment weekend at the Medina Campus Center. Rain or Shine there will be great educational opportunities and fun for the whole family throughout the weekend. Even if Mother Nature chooses to make it a wet weekend, there are many indoor and events under the shelter of tents – ALL FREE!

The action will begin Saturday morning, April 26th, with events in downtown Medina from 9:00 AM. Civil War music, provided by David Armitage and Dona LaValle, will be played in Rotary Park to get everyone in the spirit of the 19th century. Downtown Medina will be visited from Generals from both sides as they reconnoiter the ground. Union General Ulysses S. Grant and his staff will mingle even while Confederate Generals Lee and Longstreet make an appearance. The Generals will duck in and out of downtown restaurants prior to the parade so that towns people may later boast they had “Breakfast with the Generals.”

The parade through downtown Medina will begin at 10:00 AM Saturday, beginning near the fire station and ending at Boxwood Cemetery. There will be tunes from the Excelsior Fife and Drum Band and both Union and Confederate troops will stop at the four corners to drill. The parade will conclude with a brief wreath laying ceremony at Boxwood Cemetery. President Lincoln will read the Gettysburg Address and Union and Confederate officers will lay a wreath at the grave of Capt. Erwin Bowen, commander of Company D, 28th NY Infantry, during the Civil War.

Following the parade the actions shifts to GCC’s Medina Campus Center for a full array of interesting exhibits and events – many indoors or under cover. Highlights include formal lectures on the making of the film Copperhead, a showing of the film Saturday evening, a Victorian ball also Saturday night. On Sunday there will be talks on James Longstreet, Col. Edwin Franklin, and the Confederate Navy. There will be mock skirmishes on both Saturday and Sunday afternoons at 2:00 PM that you will not want to miss! Consider bringing lawn chairs and umbrellas.

An exciting late addition to the schedule involves recording visitors reciting the Gettysburg Address. PBS and Ken Burns recently produced an excellent documentary on the Gettysburg Address and began an effort to gather recordings of people from all walks of life reciting the address. We decided that we should join the effort! Saturday from 11:00 AM until about 4:00 PM we will record anyone interested in taking part in room 18 of the campus center. After editing, the recordings will be posted to a national website:

Come join all the fun in Medina! All the great activities and demonstrations are FREE and open to the public. Parking is also FREE!

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2014 Civil War Encampment Program

MEDINA – Two weeks remain before GCC’s 3rd Annual Civil War Encampment weekend, which promises to be bigger and better than ever. Many new and exciting elements will combine to provide a full weekend of family fun – ALL FOR FREE! Click on the link below to view the official program.

CW Medina Encampment Program 2014 FINAL FINAL.pdf

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Maxfield to Speak on Madison and War of 1812 at HLOM

BATAVIA – On Thursday, April 10th at 6:00 PM, GCC Asst. Professor Derek Maxfield will deliver a lecture on the War of 1812 at the Holland Land Office and Museum. Often associated with Civil War topics, Prof. Maxfield has done extensive research on the founding fathers, including Madison. According to Maxfield, although we know Madison as the “Father of the Constitution,” we don’t often remember him as a war president. The general trend in the history books is to judge Madison as inept and weak as a commander in chief – a portrayal that is unfair. Madison was at the helm with a ship of state that was hampered by divisive Congressional politics and outright treason. Join us as we paint a new portrait of the diminutive Virginian

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Civil War Lecture TONIGHT — Religion and the Civil War

BATAVIA – The GCC Civil War Lecture Series continues TONIGHT at 7:00 PM in room T102 when we host Rev. Gary Hakes who will speak about religion and the Civil War. To 19th century Victorians, Christian morality was at the very core of their beings. It formed their values and attitudes towards life, death and war. As a result, the vast carnage of the Civil War challenged the faith of many Americans and brought new dimensions to their religious sensibilities. Join us as we explore this fascinating topic!

This event is FREE and open to the public.

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A Familiar Haunt

GETTYSBURG — I may not be George McGaughey, who has been to Gettysburg more than any other living person who does not live there, but it is – as you would expect – a familiar place. But even though it has been a destination of choice for many years, the personal connection to this place has grown dramatically in just the past few years. That is because it was just a few years ago that I discovered that one of my tertiary Great Grandfathers fought at Gettysburg on the first day and was wounded there. As a result, I see the place with new eyes.

My ancestor, William B. Reese, was a member of the 149th PA Infantry — the so-called “Second Bucktails.” His regiment arrived with Gen. Reynolds at Gettysburg, just in time to save the cavalry from annihilation. It was bloody business. Company A would find itself wedged between to parts of Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. They were fighting off a portion of Gen. A.P. Hills corps, when they began to be shelled from the north. Gen. Ewell opened on the 149th causing many casualties and chaos. I suspect that my ancestor was wounded around that time.

Under a pelting rain, I went to examine the ground occupied by my Great Grandfather’s regiment, but without adequate rain gear and a more stolid constitution, I postponed my closer examination of the ground. I did, however, get a picture of the monument to the 149th PA Infantry near the spot where they were posted. As is customary, my Civil Wargasm always either begins with Gettysburg or end there. And a good wargasm it has been.

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Ft. McAllister

SAVANNAH, GA — As Gen. William T. Sherman and his army approached Savannah from the landward side, after his long march from Atlanta, his first task before tackling the city was to hook up with the Union Navy. The plan was to reduce Ft. McAllister on the Ogeechee River, which would allow the navy to bring up fresh supplies in rear of Savannah. According to Sherman’s memoirs, he took position on the roof of an old rice mill while his infantry approached the fort. The navy signaled to Sherman and asked “Is the fort taken?” and Sherman’s answer was no, but “it would be in a minute.” That is pretty much how it happened — minute and all.

Truth be told, Ft. McAllister was well situated to block the Ogeechee, but poorly situated to defend against a determined land assault. Now a state park, the fort is situated between a forest and the river. It is a scene of great beauty and a fantastic way to spend a nice day — the best of our whole stay. Approaching seventy degrees, it was the one day I could get away with shorts. The fort was quiet and very peaceful. I had, in fact, the whole place to myself.

As I explored the fort and its gorgeous surroundings, it struck me as odd that a simple earthworks – though backed by heavy guns – should be able to stop the powerful Union navy. However, I learned that in addition to the thick earthen walls, pilings had been sunk in the river obstructing the channel and making it even more difficult to approach. But, again, there was little done to protect the place from a land-based attack. Sherman’s men took the place so quickly, that it was something of an embarrassment the Confederate officer in charge at the time. In any case, once Sherman’s army captured the fort, Sherman declared that Savannah was now his. Officials in Savannah largely agreed and surrendered the place to prevent its destruction — once the Confederate army had safely found its way to the South Carolina shore.

Next: heading back north.

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SAVANNAH, GA – For years people have been telling me that I must get to Savannah. The chief reason, they say, is all the history associated with this city. But, they also claim that it is one of the most beautiful cities in America. Now I can confirm that both are correct – and then some. The only real disappointment is that it did not feel all that southern today. It may have cracked sixty.

At the top of my list of things to see in Savannah were Sherman’s HQ, Ft. McAllister, and Bonaventure Cemetery. Finding the first was not difficult as it was just a few blocks from the hotel. The Green-Meldrim Mansion was home to Gen. William T. Sherman after he captured the city – from a few days before Christmas 1864 to about February 1st, 1865. Here the general resupplied his army, reorganized his command, and planned for the next campaign into South Carolina. Interestingly, nearby is the Sorrel-Weed House which was the boyhood home of G. Moxley Sorrel, CSA Gen. James Longstreet’s Chief of Staff.

Bonaventure Cemetery has always been on my bucket list, but not for Civil War-related reasons. One of my fields of research interest is Victorian cemetery art. Usually, however, my research takes me to northern cemeteries. So this was a treat — a cemetery of the right era, but one with a southern flair in a gorgeous setting. The picture of the monument tells the story well: a lady in mourning with beautiful oaks behind her dripping with Spanish moss, haunting in its effect.

I hope to get to Ft. McAllister tomorrow before beginning the long, slow ride north.

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