Wednesday, November 25, 2009

American Civil War Living History Museum

I had a great day at the Center Learning Community Charter School's American Civil War Living History Museum! I learned about the Underground Railroad, slave life, abolitionists, soldier life, naval battles, artillery, and more. I also learned about many major battles that were fought during the war. I got to see iMovies that the students made about the Battle of Gettysburg , I saw cool posters that the students made about each battle, and I listened to podcaststhat the students made about the battles that they researched.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Cleaning Up the Gettysburg Battlefield

Last weekend I traveled to Gettysburg to help my friends, The Beeghley Family, clean up the area of the battlefield known as the Peach Orchard. The Beeghley Family help out at the battlefield as part of the Adopt-A-Position program. As part of the program, they travel to Gettysburg a few times a year to help pick up trash, fix fences and help clean up the battlefield.

Here I am with my friend Sarah sitting on a canon getting ready to clean up the Peach Orchard (behind us). The Peach Orchard was the site of some very heavy fighting on July 2, 1863.

Here I am picking up some trash. It is a shame that there is trash, but at least we are here to clean it up for everyone to enjoy this beautiful battlefield.

This is my friend CJ helping to pickup trash. The Trostle Farm is the white barn in the distance. General Dan Sickles was wounded on that farm and Confederate General Barksdale charged across the field behind CJ toward the Trostle Barn.

Here I am sitting on a fence with the Rose Farm in the background. The area around the Rose Farm was made famous by Alexander Gardner who took many photographs of dead Confederate soldiers on this farm.

Taking a break under a nice shady tree.

Having a nice cold drink after cleaning up the battlefield. What a great day!

This a National Park Service Ranger DeJesus who is in charge of the Adopt-A-Position program for Gettysburg.

Special thanks to the Beeghley Family for teaching me about how everyone can help keep my favorite place clean.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Rock carvings and dinosaurs in Gettysburg

Today, I took a trip with the Beeghley family to Gettysburg to help clean up the battlefield as part of their Adopt-A-Position program. While we were there, we decided to use our copy of The Complete Gettysburg Guide to find some rock carvings.

We stopped on Little Round top to find some carvings. One of the more famous ones is a carving that tells about where Colonel Strong Vincent was shot and killed on July 2, 1863. Here is a photo of me sitting on the rock with the carving.

Next, we moved up toward the top of the hill and started to look for another carving. According to The Complete Gettysburg Guide, the carving was behind the monument to the 91st Pennsylvania and marked the spot where Lt. Charles Hazlett and General Steven Weed died. According to the story, General Weed was shot in the chest and paralyzed. Lt. Hazlett (who was commanding the cannons nearby) knelt over the dying General to help him when he too was shot in the head and killed.

That's me checking out the Weed/Hazlett carving that reads, "C.E. Hazlett Fell Com'g Batt'y D U.S. Art'y in Battle July 2nd 1863"

So, I saved the best for last (actually it was our first stop). According to the book, on the way to Little Round Top, there is a stone bridge over Plum Run with actual dinosaur tracks in the stones. We had to find these. So, we walked up the bridge, counted out the stones and found the dinosaur tracks. How cool is that!

Here is a picture of me (and our handy Guide) with the track near my right paw.

Next time you are in Gettysburg, be sure to look up some of these famous rock carvings.

Until next time...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Complete Gettysburg Guide

In preparation for a trip to my favorite town of Gettysburg tomorrow to help some friends clean up the battlefield as part of the Adopt-A-Position program, I borrow a copy of The Complete Gettysburg Guide from Dr. Beeghley who runs the Teaching the Civil War with Technology blog. He recently wrote a review of the book and I thought I would take a look.

What a terrific book! I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about the Battle of Gettysburg. I plan on taking it to Gettysburg with me tomorrow so we can find some new places to visit.

Getting anxious for tomorrow! I'll be sure to report what I find.

During the Remembrance Day Ceremony I was able to meet the authors of the Complete Gettysburg Guide. Here I am with JD and Steve.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

CSI: Gettysburg Part 1

My friend Sarah's dad, who runs the Teaching the Civil War with Technology blog loves to do something he calls, CSI: Gettysburg. So, one one day we decided to take a trip to Gettysburg to due some investigating. So, we loaded up his iPod Touch with some photographs and armed with background information we set off. Our goal was to find the the location where Civil War photographer Matthew Brady took the following photograph:

According to the book Gettysburg: A Journey in Time by William Frassanito, this photo was taken by Brady on July 15, 1863 on the slopes of Culp's Hill. The photo shows two of Brady's assistants sitting on a rock looking at the breastworks of the Union line. Frassanito further states that this photo was taken near the monument to the 102nd New York Regiment and some of the trees in the photograph are still standing today. Our hunt for clues was on!

Once we were on Culp's Hill, our first task was to find the monument to the 78th and 102nd New York Infantry Regiments. This was pretty easy as it was on the right side of the road leading up to the summit of Culp's Hill. Here is a photograph of my friend Jacob next to the monument. Now, look closely....Can you see the head of a lion and his paw in the monument?

According to one account, it was said that the 102nd and 78th fought like lions at Gettysburg so they had the lion carved into their monument. Here is a close-up of the monument, can you see the lion's head now?

Our next job was to find out where the photo was taken from, so we walked up the hill a bit further and using the original photo on the iPod and Frassanito's book as guides, we were able to find the same rock that the assistants were sitting on in the original photo.

Here I am with my friend Sarah (in her Civil War dress) sitting on the same rock as the assistants.
Here is a close up view of me and my friend Sarah. The tree behind us is the same tree behind Brady's assistants in the original photograph (although much bigger now). Many people refer to these as "witness trees" because they witnessed part of the battle.

One more photo of me sitting on the famous rock. It was kind of exciting to think that I was sitting in the same place that the photograph was taken.

According to one of the park rangers we met later on and told about our story told us that the tree that is fallen over in front of me (behind the one that is standing up and it looks like a mound of dirt) is another witness tree that fell over during a storm.

What a great, fun-filled day at Gettysburg. We used primary sources from the Library of Congress, a book and our knowledge about the battle to sort out the clues and find this famous place on the battlefield.

Next time we are going to due some crime scene investigating in Devil's Den. Stay tuned ....

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Hi. Sallie here,

I wanted to tell you a little bit about my visit to Mechanicsburg, Pa. Did you know that Union and Confederate soldiers passed through there. I learned that they used the Frankenburger Tavern, Peace Church, and the John Rupp House as headquarters during the invasion of Mechanicsburg. The Confederates had planned to try to take Harrisburg, which is the capital of Pennsylvania. Instead of attacking Harrisburg, the Confederates headed for Gettysburg instead. The John Rupp House was a stone brick house that is now a small private office.

Here is the sign in front of the John Rupp House

Here I am sitting in front of the John Rupp house

Here is what Albert Jenkins looks like.

Albert Jenkins was Confederate General. He and his troops used this house during the invasion of Mechanicsburg. He was part of the Battle of Sporting Hill. During the battle of Gettysburg, General Jenkins was wounded on July 2nd and could not fight for the rest of the battle. Because of the wound he received at Gettysburg, Jenkins did not return to his army till the Autumn.

Did you know that the Frankenbuger Tavern is the oldest building in Mechanicsburg? They had to use 20 tractor trailers to get all of the stuff out of the house. If you ever visit Mechanicsburg, the Frankenbuger Tavern is on 217 E. Main Street.

For anyone that wants anything Civil War era, you can check out Jim Schmick's Civil War and More Store on 10 S. Market Street. Here is the website for his store

Until next time.....

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Visit to Montgomery Cemetery

I learned a lot on my visit to Montgomery Cemetery in Norristown, PA. Founded in 1847, this cemetery has many historic grave sites. Of particular interest is Major-General John Frederick Hartranft - he led the charge that took the bridge at the Battle of Antietam. After the war, he became Auditor General of PA and went on to serve two terms as PA's Governor.

My friends Maureen and Jackie were nice enough to tour the grounds with me. We saw the graves of the Schall family who lost several sons to many American conflicts. We also visited Lizzie Brower who died in 1919 and was a volunteer nurse during the Civil War.

I also learned about Major-General Winfield Scott Hancock - he was a key figure in the Battle of Gettysburg. He was important during the Abraham Lincoln Conspiracy trial. After the war, Major-General Hancock ran for President of the US and was narrowly defeated by James Garfield in 1880.