Tuesday, September 22, 2009

...Oh my! Part 2

In a short time, we were in historic Shepherdstown, a place I haven't visited in a few years. While we went through town, the Shepherd University football team was playing in the stadium to a large crowd. After a while we reached Harpers Ferry. I love it there. I brought my wife there shortly after we were married, and showed her around. I even walked her out to the Jefferson Rock, quite a hike up the mountain.

The four of us were starved (yes, I know, that shocks folks who know me well), and one of my favorite places is a BBQ restaurant located near the train depot, a restaurant that is actually in a train car. Steve and Kyrstie have been there before, too, so we sat down to a great meal of Lt. Louis ribs slathered in sauce. I finished my rack, but I don't think Steve got all the way through his. Kyrstie only ate half of hers. Leigh Ann had a pulled pork sammich, and when through we we all satisfied. I'm grateful to our waitress, Brooke, who steered me away from my initial ordering of the fruit punch as my beverage. "Tastes like cough medicine," she admitted, out of earshot of the owner behind the grill. I got the root beer instead, seemingly a wise decision. I gave her an extra tip for the advice.

We then walked down to the Harpers Ferry bookstore, which has a great selection of books - Civil War, general history, local history, etc. It never fails that I melt the credit card in there, and this day was no exception. I found a recent book on the history off the CW in Loudoun County I've been meaning to get, as well as a new book on Chew's artillery battery in the war that will prove to be a great resource for Jeb Stuart's artillery. I found a quote from one of Chew's gunners in there about the July 3, 1863 battle of Fairfield outside Gettysburg that I wished I'd had a while back. A couple of my books were there as well, always good to see. Leigh Ann, a school teacher, bought the book of Lincoln's Quotations for use in her classroom. It is a newer paperback reprint. When I saw it, I told her that I actually have a hardcover first edition of it and that it's a good book and I recommended it.

We needed to get back to Gettysburg, so we got back on the road and arrived back in town about 7:00 pm. That gave us enough time to freshen up, let me make a few phone calls, and head out for the evening. I met Steve and the girls at Kilwin's on Steinwehr Avenue for ice cream. My hot fudge sundae hit the spot!

We then walked down to Jim Glessner's American History Store. Jim had only two copies of the Gettysburg Guide left, and Steve promised to drop some more off later. We shot the bull for a while, then we drove to the Mine. Before meeting up with the gang, I had stopped at Sal Prezioso's house, "Red Patch." Sal had asked me to stop, and then I convinced him to come out and play - to come to the Mine for a few drinks. After telling his lovely wife Gail that I was going to booze up her husband and corrupt him, he followed me to the Mine - he admitted that in all the years he's lived in Gettysburg, the Mine was the one spot he's never visited. It was my duty, of course, to correct that omission.

We had a terrific time that night, talking with friends including Jim Lamason and his wife Bev. Sal got initiated in the atmosphere of the Mine, and regaled us with tales of his many overseas travels. I think he had a good time that night, and hopefully Gail will let him out once or twice again.

I was scheduled to tape the tours of Hunterstown and Fairfield on Sunday at 2:00 pm. The tapings for Gettysburg Daily had been set up by my publicist at Savas Beatie, based on the tours of the cavalry battles there in the Gettysburg Guide. I had some time Sunday morning to run out to Hunterstown and make sure that it was okay to be on the property of the historic John Tate farm, owned by Hunterstown Historical Society founders Roger and Laurie Harding. When I arrived, Roger was painting the fence in front of the house, and Laurie also came out to greet me. When I described the taping, they agreed that it would be great PR for the battlefield. I would be able to take Bobby onto their property and show the old road trace that led out of the old town square, on which the Confederate and Federal cavalry galloped to what became the main battlefield on the Felty and Gilbert farms. Laurie also told me that she had a pen and ink engraving showing the old road trace as it went between the Tate barn and blacksmith shop - she promised to have a copy of it for me that afternoon.

I had lunch back in Gettysburg, and then went back to Hunterstown to meet Bobby and Steve. Steve had printed large versions of the pertinent battle maps from the book for us to show on camera. Bobby arrived at 2:00 pm, and we drove east to the area of the wartime Jesse and Jane Ann McCreary home, in front of which the opening skirmish of the battle took place. Steve and I got ready, and Bobby turned on the camera. Well, he tried to, that is. It wouldn't work for him. He changed tapes, changed batteries, but nothing worked. Uh oh.

After Bobby tried everything but just couldn't get it working, he pulled out a smaller digital camera that could take both pictures and video. We now would really have to keep each vignette short. I described the opening skirmish, the we went to the old town square to talk there. Steve held up one of his maps and we showed how the area looked in 1863. We then went to the old road trace through the Hardings' farm, and on their fence was an envelope for us from Roger and Laurie. Inside were two very nice copies of the pen and ink drawing of the old road - really neat! We did a taping there, then several tapings on the main battlefield. Several times Steve held up his maps for us to point out the locations and 1863 topography.

Next was Fairfield. Bobby stopped in town to get another disc for his camera, and we made the 10-minute drive to Fairfield. Again we taped at the area of the opening actions, then went to the main battlefield. I showed the old road trace of what is now Knox Road, and made a point to emphasize that the very tough fences along the roads and in the fields really made it difficult for mounted operations. I then finished up with a little talk about the ramifications of the July 3 battle there, which showed how exposed Lee's rear was, and the unexploited opportunity to choke off one of Lee's main lines of retreat - the Fairfield Gap/Monterey Gap corridor.

Since it was already 5:00 pm, there wasn't any time to do South Cavalry Field as planned. Also, I needed to get on the road for the nearly four-hour drive. We made a plan to tape SCF on March 7 next year.

Bobby is really a terrific guy. He's very personable, easy to work with, and I really appreciated the opportunity for the additional exposure for the tours in our book. Folks in over 120 countries view and enjoy his website. Doing the tapings was a great deal of fun. While at Fairfield, one of the 6th US Cavalry's squadron commanders slipped my mind for a moment, and I went blank. We had to stop the tape, and we had a good laugh over it. Bobby doesn't expect folks to be infallible experts, just to be well-informed, passionate about the events, and to have fun with it all. We certainly did.

Back at Steve's apartment, we signed a bunch of copies of the Guide - second editions since the first edition was pretty much gone shortly after release. The third edition has just been ordered, which is really very humbling. I brought back a couple cases which needed to get shipped out for orders.

There was a lot of construction on the freeways, so it took me all of the four hours to get home Sunday night. I was beat, but was able to look back on a very nice weekend in Adams County, Antietam, and Harpers Ferry. After being sick for nearly an entire month, and pretty much chained to the house and office since, it was fabulous getting out for a couple days and having a great time with great friends. I'm hoping to get back once or twice before Remembrance Day in November.

Bobby tells me the Hunterstown tour segment should be on his site this Friday - I'll post a link here once it appears.


  1. "as well as a new book on Chew's artillery battery"


    Can you tell me more about this title? Always looking for something new on the Horse Artillery guys.

    Mike Peters

  2. Mike,

    It's "Chew's Battery of Stuart's Horse Artillery" by Edward K. Cassedy. It actually came out in 2006, but I had missed it. Published by Jefferson County Museum, Charles Town WV. 160 pp. Tons of primary accounts in the form of letter quotations mainly. I don't think it was a very large print run (it's one of those soft-cover 8.5x11 type books) and I snagged the only copy that was in the Harpers Ferry bookstore. I'd just never run across it before, never had heard of it, and I think I was lucky to find it. There is some really fabulous stuff on the Gettysburg Campaign as well as the entire war.

    Contact the JCM at 304-725-8628 about available copies - they might be able to send you one.


  3. I would love to hear more about the new book on "Chew's Artillery Battery", as Chew was very effective in supporting Barringer's Cavalry Brigade.

    Bobby Edwards
    Moderator of the 3rd North Carolina Cavalry
    NC Regimental Heritage Project


  4. Bobby,

    If you can't find a copy of the book locally, try giving the Jefferson County Museum a call at 304-725-8628 to see if they can send you a copy. The book is a home and I'm at my office at the moment, so I can't look at it to see what info on ol' Rufus' command might be in there. But I suspect you'll find some useful stuff.


  5. I read Gettysburg Daily along with your blog each day, so I will look for the post you recorded. It should be great information. Thanks

  6. Thanks, Patty - hope you enjoy it. The Fairfield tour will appear in the future - I'm not sure when, but I'm sure Bobby will let me know.

  7. Re: "I found a recent book on the history off the CW in Loudoun County I've been meaning to get..."

    Was that Steve Meserve's, "The Civil War in Loudoun County, Virginia: A History of Hard Times," by chance?


  8. Yep, that's the one. Been hoping to run across it in a store, and finally did that day.