Tuesday, October 26, 2010

13 Days Under The Confederate Flag

On Monday, 4th Grade had a special visitor, Mrs. Bourdeau. She has been a Civil War reenactor who is very familiar with her hometown's history. Here is what I learned along with my host class.

From late June to early July, 1863, the small farming town of Waynesboro was occupied by Confederate forces. Before this, the sleepy town's citizens had not been directly involved in the war with few men enlisting. Life went on with farmers bringing produce to Saturday markets in the square and business conducted by the blacksmith, butcher, and other small shopkeepers. Most citizens felt that this political problem would be handled by Lincoln's Federal Army.

When Confederate troops came to town, Lee's plan was to advance north and capture key points so that the Union would surrender. Southern troops who had experienced the hardships of war in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley wanted Northerners to get a taste of war in Pennsylvania's Cumberland Valley. While in Waynesboro, the troops simply occupied the town...no battles, no shots fired. Many of its citizens met with Southern soldiers and listened to their reasons for entering the war and their stories of loved ones at home. Troops did go to farms to gather fruits, vegetables, meat for hungry soldiers.

Some local farmers hid out during the day in nearby caves...they feared that the Rebels would demand that they join their troops. Also some hid livestock so the army could not take it. One of those farmers was Mrs. Bourdeau's great, great grandfather. These scared men would sneak home at night to make sure that their families and farms were secure. The soldiers did not require that any men join the army so their fears were unfounded.

Finally, Rebel troops left the town...onward to Gettysburg and points north!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Union Forces Attacked Lee's Army At Monterey Pass

Today I visited a peaceful mountaintop on a gorgeous autumn day. There I visited an area where Union and Confederate troops clashed on a thunderstorm dominated summer night in 1863.

About six miles from Waynesboro lies the quiet, tranquil setting of Blue Ridge Summit. Forests shade and surround homes, churches, and stores. But on the evening of July 4, 1863, quiet did not prevail. The nearby Monterey Pass would be a center of mass confusion and fighting.

After Lee's loss at Gettysburg, he planned the retreat back to Maryland and across the Potomac River. Early on the morning of July 4, he directed General Richard Ewell and his Second Corps to go with their wagon trains through Fairfield and the mountains around Monterey Pass. This would be the shortest way back to Williamsport, Maryland, and the Potomac River. That evening a terrible thunderstorm drenched the nine mile-long line of wagons, supplies, livestock, and soldiers. Many of the soldiers had been wounded during the three day battle at Gettysburg.

That same night, the Union Calvary led by General H. Judson Kilpatrick met a local 12 year old girl named Hetty Zeilinger who was walking to her home at Monterey Pass. She warned the soldiers that the Confederates were blocking the pass and that she would show them how to get around them. One of the soldiers lifted her onto his saddle so that she could point out the way. She made her way home safely, but...
The Union and Confederate troops (about 10,000 soldiers in total) met and engaged in battle for six hours. With lightning, thunder, heavy rains, and flying ammunition, the scene was one of chaos and confusion. Many of the Confederate wagons crashed down the mountainside and crushed the occupants. The Union captured about 1,500 Confederate prisoners.
The Battle of Monterey Pass was the second greatest battle on Pennsylvania soil. Today Civil War history buffs such as I can visit and read the various markers that tell about the battle.
Tomorrow along with the 4th graders, I will meet a reenactor and learn more about Waynesboro's occupation by the Confederates for 13 days.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Here In Waynesboro, Pennsylvania!

I arrived on Monday, October 18, at Saint Andrew Catholic School which is located on East Main Street. Down this very street rode Confederate troops in 1863. More about the town's history in a moment...

My hosts for this trip are the 4th Graders and Mrs. Haffner. We have been reading If You Lived During The Civil War and You Wouldn't Want To Have Been A Civil War Soldier to gain background knowledge. Several of the students have ancestors who were in the Union Army.

The town of Waynesboro is in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. It is in the Cumberland Valley. It is two miles from the Mason-Dixon Line. During the days of June and July, 1863, the town was under the Confederate flag for 13 days. When Lee passe through the town headed north, he stopped in the town square. At the time, there was a water pump there. Lee dimounted his horse and got a drink. Then, he gave his horse Traveller a drink. A week before the Battle of Gettysburg, Major General Jubal Early's division passed through the town as they were headed north. Check my blog for Tuesday, October 26, to find out more about the occupation of the town.

This weekend, I am staying with Mr. and Mrs. Haffner who have an extensive Civil War art collection which I will view. We will be visiting historic sites, including one with an incredible view. I will post about my weekend jaunts tomorrow along with some photos.