Friday, September 25, 2009

Gettysburg's Coster Avenue Mural


During a recent trip to Gettysburg, I had the opportunity to visit one of the lesser known monuments, the Coster Avenue Mural.

Here I am sitting on the monument to the 154th New York in front of the mural.

This painting shows some of the fighting that took place here on July 1 between soldiers from the 134th New York, 154th New York and 27th Pennsylvania ( Col. Charles R. Coster's Brigade) who stood along a nearby fence line and fought against the attacks of two Confederate brigades under Generals Ivery and Hayes.

According to a small sign near the mural, the Union troops arrived in this area known then as Kuhn's brickyard from Cemetery Hill. The Union troops were then attacked by Confederate soldiers from Louisiana and North Carolina. The Union soldiers were outnumbered and were defeated and had to retreat back to Cemetery Hill.

The paper goes on to say that the mural was designed and funded by Mark H. Dunkelman who was a historian of the 154th New York. The final mural was painted by Rhode Island artist Johan Bjurman. The mural was dedicated on July 1, 1988, the 125th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.

Here is my friend CJ pointing to the painting:

Finally, here is a map from Google Earth of downtown Gettysburg to help you find the location of this beautiful painting.

Until next time...

Friday, September 18, 2009

Busy! Busy! Busy at the Surratt House!

The last couple of days at the Surratt House have been extremely busy, but have been educational and fun! Yesterday I officially became a volunteer docent (a person who gives tours of a site or museum) of the Surratt House! I was very excited, because then I knew I was going to give tours of the museum, and I was ready to meet new people from around the country!

Yesterday, I decided I needed to do some research about the Surratt House Museum, so I was ready for my tours today. I learned soo much.

  • Mary was born in 1823
  • She has 3 Children, Isaac Douglas, Elizabeth Susannah (Anna), and John Surratt Jr.
  • The Surratt House was built by her husband, John Surratt, Sr. in 1852.
  • The house was to serve as a tavern and a family home.
  • The house was also a post office, for the people who lived in the area!

The Surratts were Confederate Sympathizers during the Civil War, that means they support the South. Many people in Maryland supported the south because many people grew tobacco and relied on slaves to farm the tobacco. Slaves are people who work for no money, and do not have any rights, and are considered property of someone else.

Mary's husband John, Sr. dies in 1862, and leaves Mary in a lot of debt (about $70,000 in today's money!)

Mary brings her son John Surratt, Jr. Home from seminary school to run the business for her, and at that time he was a SPY for the Confederate Underground. The Confederate Underground was a spy network that traded weapons, supplies, and messages to help the Confederate Army. Eventually, John Jr. is caught and he loses his post office.

Mary needed to make more money, so she rents the Surratt Tavern to aman named John Lloyd and she moves to her boarding house in Washington D.C. (it is now a Chinese food restaurant called the "Wok and Roll".) A boarding house is like a hotel, where people pay money to stay the night, sometimes a week, sometimes months!

Mary's son John Jr. met a famous actor named John Wilkes Booth, who had this plan to kidnap President Abraham Lincoln!! John Surratt, Jr. wanted to help, so they start planning at Mary Surratt's boarding house for months! Then in March of 1865 they try to kidnap Abraham Lincoln, but the plot failed!

Not only did the plot fail, but a man named David Herold, was holding weapons, in a tavern near Surratt House, to use while escaping with the captured president. But, since the plot failed they needed to hide the weapons, so they bring them to the Surratt House!!
About a month later John Wilkes Booth discovers that Abraham Lincoln is going to see a play at Ford's Theater, so he has a secret meeting with all of the remaining men from the failed kidnapping. He tells one man to kill the Vice President Andrew Johnson, another man to kill the Secretary of State William Seward, and John Wilkes Booth was going to kill President Abraham Lincoln.

After the meeting he goes to Mary's boarding house, and he asks her to deliver a package to John Lloyd at the Surratt Tavern. So, Mary rides down to the house...And she gives the package to John Lloyd, and apparently delivers a message, "Get the shooting irons ready, they will be picked up tonight!"

Later that evening John Wilkes Booth shoots Abraham Lincoln at Ford's Theater. He will break his leg, but meets up with David Herold, and rides to the Surratt House.
The two men grab 1 of the 2 rifles hiding in the house, and then they go on a 12 day journey.
Eventually John Wilkes Booth is shot and killed.

Federal Troops (Like police during the Civil War) will arrest Mary Surratt, because they found evidence of secret meetings between men involved with the assassination, and other evidence (you will have to visit to find out the rest!).

Mary Surratt was put on trial and hanged for conspiring to assassinate Abraham Lincoln.

It is QUITE THE STORY! I already told too much!! But, I was just sooo excited about what I learned!! The interesting thing about the museum is they let you decide whether you think Mary Surratt is guilty or innocent. Hmmm....not sure what I think!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

My First Day at Surratt House Museum!

It was a bumpy journey, but I arrived to Surratt House Museum, late yesterday afternoon. I was so tired, I decided to sleep for the rest of the day. I was definately awake and ready for my first day!! Today, Miss Julie and Miss Susan were cleaning the museum, and I got to help! Cleaning a museum, is much different than cleaning a house. You have to wear cotton gloves, to protect furniture and other artifacts from the oils on our skin. The oils can damage furniture and other objects. We also had to lightly dust the artifacts with a soft cloth. Each individual piece had to carefully be taken off of a shelf or table and set on the cleaning table, where we would dust off the artifact. It was very time consuming but worth it! I was very glad that they allowed me to take part in such a responsiblity!

After we cleaned, we took a break, and I watched everyone do office work. I am very excited for this week. Tomorrow, I will officially become a Surratt House Museum Volunteer, and I get to give tours with Miss Julie! And on Saturday, I will be going on the John Wilkes Booth Escape Route Tour! People come from miles around to take this tour, and I am one of them!!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Clara Barton's Home Part 3

Since I've been so busy traveling, I completly forgot to post this final installment on my visit to the Clara Barton Home in Glen Echo, MD.

In this final post about my visit to the Clara Barton home in Glen Echo, MD I thought that I would share some of my favorite photos that I took during my visit. Please be sure to check out Part 1 and Part 2 of my visit.

This is the sign that welcomed us to Clara's home

This is the front of Clara's home

Here Ranger Finta is showing us the supply closets that were hidden in the walls of the home

Here is a view looking out of the attic of the home toward the front of the house. Check out those stained glass windows!

Here is a picture of Clara's bed where she slept and she actually died in this bed too.

This chair is in the den on the first floor. I really like how you can see the American Flag and the Red Cross flag. Did you know that the Red Cross flag is actually the same as the Swiss flag but with reverse colors? That's how they came up with the flag.

Here is one of the desks in the office of the Red Cross. Look at all those drawers!

This is the dining room where Clara and those who worked for the Red Cross would have dinner or lunch.

Here I am resting after a wonderful tour of the Clara Barton home. I highly recommend that you visit. If you do stop by, please tell the Rangers that I said hello.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Visiting Lancaster - Fulton Opera House, Lancaster Cemetery, Wheatland

After visiting and learning about three sites in Lancaster, you would think we are done, but we aren't! There is still more to see and learn during our time in the city. After we visited the Stevens and Smith site, we walked a few blocks to our next stop. On our way, Julia and Nathan showed me one of their favorite places in the city - Central Market. They told me which stands to visit to get the best cookies, vegetables, and chocolate milk. Market wasn't open on the day we visited, so I will have to come back and stay with them again so I can get one of those cookies!

We stopped outside the Fulton Opera House on Prince Street. The Fulton Opera House was built in 1852. It is proud to say it is the oldest continuously operating theaters and a National Historic Landmark. During the Civil War militias drilled here, and it is said that Union officers planned here. All the talk of cookies made the children hungry, so we stopped in a local coffee shop for hot chocolate and treats. It gave us a chance to talk some more before we ventured to the Lancaster Cemetery.

Once we had a treat, we got in the car and drove across town to the Lancaster Cemetery. We found the Reynolds family plot very easily. Here we found General Reynolds' large gravestone.
General Reynolds was a Union Major General. He was considered to be one of the top Union Generals of the war. General Reynolds was in charge of the left wing of the army on the approach to Gettysburg. He was shot in the neck on July 1 during the battle of Gettysburg. He was the first and highest ranking officer to be killed in the battle.
We spent a lot of time at the cemetery reading the stones and markers. It was amazing how much detail was carved into the four sides of General Reynolds' stone. We were happy to see the flags that were left at this veteran's grave. Right next to General Reynold's grave we saw his brother's grave stone. It had an anchor on the top because William Reynolds was a Civil War Union Naval Officer. During the Civil War he served on the USS New Hampshire in the Navy blockades in the south.

Next we drove out of the city and stopped at Wheatland. Wheatland was the home of President James Buchanan, who was the president right before Abraham Lincoln. He was the only President who never married, and he was the only President from Pennsylvania. His Presidency was marked by a nation that was becoming divided. While we were at Wheatland, I got my first PA Civil War Trails stamp. I hope to visit some more sites highlighted in my Civil War Trails passport!

I had a great visit to Lancaster. Julia and Nathan loved to read with me, talk with me, and learn with me. I had many hugs and kisses from them. I hope to come back and visit some other historic sites soon!

Visiting Lancaster - Reynolds Birthplace, Square, and Convention Center

Once we were in the city and parked the car, we walked onto King Street and found the Reynolds House marker. This marker is outside a building on the right hand side of the street. This is where General Reynolds was born and lived for much of his life. Although the location has been modernized and is now a gallery on the first floor, we were very excited to be at this location and to think about what happened here so many years ago. Julia and Nathan read the marker and talked about what the city may have looked like at the time of General Reynolds' birth. They were pretty sure that there wouldn't have been any construction equipment around!

Next we walked up the hill to Lancaster Square. There we found the Soldiers and Sailors monument. This monument was built in 1874 to honor the brave citizens who lost their lives to save the Union during the civil war. As we walked around this monument we found many inscriptions. We even found a plaque with Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address printed on it. You can see more pictures of this monument on my Flickr page.

After we read the many inscriptions on the monument, we crossed the street and entered the new Lancaster Convention Center. After you travel through the HUGE and beautiful lobby and down a long hall and a set of stairs, you arrive at a glassed-in archaeological site. They are excavating a cistern that was at the rear of the Thaddeus Stevens and Lydia Smith properties. Historians believe this cistern was used to hide escaped slaves as part of the underground railroad. The historic preservation trust is turning the Stevens and Smith properties in to an interpretive museum. I want to come back and visit when it is complete!

Visiting Lancaster, PA with the Leisure Family

I was welcomed with open arms by the Leisure children when I arrived in Lancaster, PA. We began my visit by looking at the many items that travel with me. I received lots of hugs and compliments! We read the story books, looked at the pamphlets, and decided where we would go on our trip in to Lancaster city. They told me that there was a lot for us to see in Lancaster city. When I think of the civil war, I don't usually think about Lancaster! The places we decided to visit were:
We gathered up everything we needed and headed into the city. Julia and Nathan were really excited to share the fun with me.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Jacksonville Museum of Military History Part 2

My tour of the museum begins with the Civil War section and in particular I learned about the Battle of Reed's Bridge that took place in Jacksonville on Aug 26th 1863. The Confederates burned Reed's Bridge to try and stop the Union Army from crossing Bayou Meta and moving on to capture Little Rock. I got to exam the actual bolts from the burned bridge. You can tell they have been burned and are very old!

Next, Frank McClure a volunteer here at the museum told me all about the Arkansas Ordnance Plant (AOP) that was located in Jacksonville during WWII. The ordnance plant made detonators and fuses for explosives used during WWII. In fact the Arkansas Ordnance Plant made 85% of all the detonators and fuses used during WWII!!! That's a lot of explosives and it was dangerous work. Frank explained to me that 75% of the workers were women which was a big social change for back then. Women usually didn't work outside the home. The women that worked at the plant were nicknamed "WOWs" which stood for Women Ordnance Workers.

There is so much military history here in Jacksonville it's hard for me to take it all in. In the 1950s the military opened up an air force base here in Jacksonville. Even though its in Jacksonville they named it the Little Rock Air Force Base, which seems a little silly to me but...whatever. During the 1970's and 80's they had Titan II Missiles here at the base. They were the most powerful nuclear weapons ever made! I got to sit at a mock control panel and do a simulated launch of a Titan II Missile. In the 80's the United States and the Soviet Union agreed to get rid of some their big nuclear weapons and the Titan II's were taken out.

This is the Mighty Mite Jeep. It is the smallest Jeep ever made and was used by the Marines in Vietnam. The military considered them a "throw away" Jeeps so if they broke down they just left them and didn't try and fix them. That's why there's only about 20 of them left in the world. Even though it's the smallest Jeep ever made, it's still too big for me to drive.

While I was at the museum I got to try on a helmet that was worn in Desert Storm. Hey...who turned out the lights!

Well I guess since it's dark I'll call it day. Whew, I'm tired. Tomorrow I'll get to greet visitors to the museum and help out the volunteers at the front desk. In the afternoon I'll be helping the guys with the renovations on the F-105 Fighter Jet and tomorrow evening I'm going on a tour of the Reed's Bridge Civil War battle site. Another big day! I better get some rest. Good night all...Sleep tight...Don't let the bed bugs bite!

Better Late than Never...Civil War Sallie tours the Jacksonville Museum of Military History

Hey everyone,
Sorry this has take me so long to post this blog. They kept me so busy at the Jacksonville Museum of Military History I'm using my travel time to post my blog. First things first. I signed the log into the museum