Strike The Tent...
15 April 2011
  A New Book to Read & Review.

Just received a copy of Jeffry D. Wert's new book "A Glorious Army: Robert E. Lee's Triumph 1862-1863" from Simon & Schuster to review here on the blog. I am looking forward to another good read from Mr. Wert. Stay tuned....
14 April 2011
April 14, 2011

For more information, contact:
Jim Campi, (202) 367-1861 x7205
Mary Koik, (202) 367-1861 x7231

Civil War Trust praises board for its enduring commitment to protecting this hallowed ground

(Harrisburg, Pa.) – Following today’s decision by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to reject a second proposal to bring casino gambling to the doorstep of Gettysburg National Military Park, Civil War Trust president Jim Lighthizer issued the following statement:

“Both personally, and on behalf of our members, I would like to thank the members of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board for their thoughtful deliberation and insightful decision. By stating that the hallowed ground of America’s most blood-soaked battlefield is no place for this type of adults-only enterprise, they have reiterated the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s commitment to its priceless history and upheld its obligation to protect such sites from wanton and unnecessary degradation.

“This is a great day, not just for Gettysburg, but for all historic sites. However, we must remember that this proposal was just a symptom of a larger problem — the numerous irreplaceable sites similarly besieged by ill-considered development. I am confident that those seeking to protect priceless treasures of our past will be empowered by this victory for historic preservation, and I hope that its spirit will be carried forth in other communities facing similar questions of encroachment.

“Sadly, this was not the first time that the Gaming Board was forced to weigh the possibility of gaming with a Gettysburg address. Now that two such proposals have been denied — clearly demonstrating the resonant power this iconic site and the widespread desire to protect it — I sincerely hope that those would seek personal profit and financial gain will think twice about trading on the blood of 50,000 American casualties.

“Now, as ever, the Civil War Trust and its allies stand ready to work on behalf of Gettysburg and the other deathless fields that shaped the legacy of our nation, particularly as we begin the sesquicentennial commemoration of the American Civil War. We are exceptionally pleased to have the support and cooperation of visionary government bodies, like the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, that understand the singular significance of such sites to aid our efforts.”

Since it was announced last year, the proposal to open Mason-Dixon Gaming Resort a scant half-mile from Gettysburg National Military Park has drawn immense opposition — an early April survey by a nationally renowned polling and research firm found that only 17 percent of Pennsylvanians supported the idea, with 66 percent actively opposed and 57 percent indicating that such a facility would be “an embarrassment” to the Commonwealth. Tens of thousands of petitions were submitted against the project and nearly 300 prominent historians united to urge its rejection, as did the national leadership of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund and the American Legion. Other prominent Americans who lent their name to the campaign to protect Gettysburg include Susan Eisenhower, Emmy-winning filmmaker Ken Burns, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author David McCullough, Medal of Honor recipient Paul W. Bucha, renowned composer John Williams and entertainers Matthew Broderick, Stephen Lang and Sam Waterston. In 2005, citing public outcry, the Gaming Board likewise rejected a plan to construct a casino one mile from the edge of the national park.

The Civil War Trust is the largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization in the United States. Its mission is to preserve our nation’s endangered Civil War battlefields and to promote appreciation of these hallowed grounds. To date, the Trust has preserved more than 30,000 acres of battlefield land in 20 states— including 800 at Gettysburg. Learn more at
13 April 2011
  Governor Corbett Helps Launch 150th Anniversary Observation of the Civil War
HARRISBURG, Pa., April 12, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Governor Tom Corbett today helped to launch Pennsylvania's observance of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, the four-year struggle between northern and southern states that forever ended slavery in the United States.

"The Civil War left an indelible mark on Pennsylvania, and the war could not have been won without the many sacrifices and contributions of its people," Corbett said. "Nearly 338,000 Pennsylvanians fought and 33,000 died in the Civil War – a staggering number, especially when you consider Pennsylvania had fewer than 3 million residents when the war began."

Waged from 1861-65, the Civil War resulted in more than 623,000 deaths and left hundreds of thousands of people injured.

The war erupted on April 12, 1861 in South Carolina's Charleston Harbor at the contested federal Fort Sumter. President Abraham Lincoln's refusal to abandon the fort goaded impatient Confederates to open fire.

Fought in July 1863, the Battle of Gettysburg was considered a major turning point and was the only major battle fought in Pennsylvania. More men fought and died in this decisive battle than in any other battle on American soil. A strong victory for the Union delivered a severe blow to the morale of the Confederacy. Other battles and skirmishes that took place in the state occurred at Hanover, Fairfield, Hunterstown, and Monterey Pass.

Pennsylvania played a crucial role in the Union's eventual victory. In addition to private fundraising by citizens, the state contributed vastly in terms of food, resources, and manufacturing. Pennsylvania farmers supplied food and fodder while its mines produced millions of tons of hard and soft coal. The industrial centers of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia were especially important, supplying steamboats, locomotives, wagons, iron and weapons.

Pennsylvania Civil War 150 is the state's official program commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, 2011-2015. PA Civil War 150 is governed by a statewide alliance of history, heritage, arts and culture organizations convened by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC), the Pennsylvania Heritage Society (PHS), the Senator John Heinz History Center and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania along with a number of partner organizations across the state.

PA Civil War 150 will include numerous activities and events at the regional and local levels through 2015.

Officials leading today's kickoff event also toured the Pennsylvania Civil War Road Show, a traveling exhibition that will visit all 67 counties during the four-year anniversary period. The Road Show will introduce the compelling stories of the Civil War to Pennsylvanians from all walks of life and of all ages.

The Road Show will ask Pennsylvanians to add their own stories, documents and artifacts to a database traveling with the Road Show. These collections will be posted on, ensuring the personal narratives of Pennsylvanians are recorded for future generations.

Learn more online at
12 April 2011
  A Bit of a Dilemma I Need Help With.

I have been struggling with a bit of a dilemma recently. I have been reading a fairly recent book (Civil War related, of course) and have discovered errors and misstatements in the book. Do I report on these here, or just keep it to myself? I have verified my findings with other historians, authors, and even Civil War roundtables. Any input from the general audience?
07 April 2011
  Federal shutdown could close some US parks

BRUCE SMITH, Associated Press
FORT SUMTER, S.C. (AP) — The looming shutdown of the federal government includes the National Parks Service, which could mean festivities commemorating the start of the Civil War with the attack on Fort Sumter could happen without Fort Sumter.

If lawmakers can't reach agreement, the National Park Service ceases operations at midnight Friday, shuttering Fort Sumter in the middle of Charleston Harbor in South Carolina just days before events marking the 150th anniversary of the first shots of the war.

"It's a very special event and it would be very sad if something like that happened," said Chris Kimmel of Harrisburg, Pa., who visited the fort Wednesday as a chaperone with a group of high school students from another town tied to the war, Gettysburg, Pa.

Events for the anniversary have been planned for years. Hundreds of Union and Confederate re-enactors plan to stay in Forts Sumter and Moultrie, another Park Service site across the harbor, during a week of events.

If there is a shutdown, plans will move forward to re-enact the bombardment Tuesday with about 30 cannons ringing the harbor from sites not on federal land.

"I'm shocked. This is a pivotal event in the nation's history," said Jeff Antley, who is coordinating arrangements for an estimated 1,000 re-enactors coming to the city. "You can't say we're going to reschedule for May. The money has been spent. The uniforms have been bought. The travel arrangements have been made."

Kate Gibbs, a spokeswoman for a group that promotes tourism in the nation's capital, said the National Mall will remain open, although the world-class Smithsonian museums would go dark.

"What we might stand to lose is the National Park Service expert who can add that ounce of magic by saying, 'You're standing where Martin Luther King stood when he delivered the 'I have a dream' speech,'" said Gibbs, of Destination DC.

It's a busy time for Washington. The National Cherry Blossom Festival, which draws about 1 million visitors each spring, is finishing up this weekend, though it wasn't clear how a government shutdown would affect events.

At Yosemite National Park in California, students on spring break flock to the majestic mountains this time of year to see waterfalls swollen by winter rains, park spokesman Scott Gediman said.

Any shutdown, he said, would be done in phases.

"It's such a complicated place with campgrounds, trails, hotels, tour buses," Gediman said. "It's not as simple as we close the gate and everybody goes home."

About 1,000 workers employed by a company that runs park services as well as about 800 park workers would be affected. Business outside the gates would also suffer.

"We really don't have a whole lot of industry other than tourism," said Lester Bridges, president of the Mariposa County Chamber of Commerce.

If there has to be a shutdown, April is the best time of year for Yellowstone National Park, where snow is forecast for the next several days.

For much of the month, only buffalo and a few hardcore bicyclists visit Old Faithful. The few hardy visitors are usually weekend warriors looking to spy on wolves in the Lamar Valley or ski or snowshoe.

The park had about 33,000 visitors last April. "That's about a day during our peak summer months," park spokesman Al Nash said.

A closure could set preparations back for the busy summer season. About 300 miles of road are being plowed while hotels, stores and park facilities have to be opened, and water and sewer systems have to be readied.

"If the park doesn't open on time, it's definitely going to be a financial hit for businesses that already struggle with a highly seasonal economy," said Bill Berg, president of the chamber of commerce in Gardiner, Mont., just outside the park's north entrance.

Anna Holloway runs the Tumbleweed Café and Bookstore in Gardiner. Holloway has a hard time believing that a government shutdown will happen, but things would be grim if it does — and lasts into summer.

"My business would go under and I would lose it all," she said.

Associated Press writers Beth Harpaz in New York; Matt Volz in Helena, Mont.; Gosia Wozniacka in Fresno, Cal.; and Brett Zongker in Washington contributed to this report.
06 April 2011
  Michael Leavy: Railroads of the Civil War

After 5 years of research and writing, “Railroads of the Civil War author Michael Leavy emphatically states that “I can't look at the war without the railroads looming prominently.”
Addressing a crowd of more of more than 100 railroad and Civil War enthusiasts at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania on April 2nd, Leavy also believes that “railroad men do not get the play they deserve” when it comes to the Civil War.
Leavy is a professional “paint decorator” who specializes in murals, wood graining, wall glazing and marbleizing, and is originally from Rochester, NY. He has always had an interest in American history, especially the Civil War and railroads. He is the author of eight other books through Arcadia Publishing. Most deal with regional history, but they include a title dealing with railroads, "The New York Central System" which sells nationally and in the Whistle Stop Shop at the museum.
“Railroads of the Civil War: An Illustrated History" focuses on the impact railroads had in the war. It details how they escalated the war, prolonged the war and led to its terrible carnage. “Railroads had altered the nation and by the time of the war they were navigating us through the Industrial Revolution towards world prominence,” he said. Leavy believes that the secret to an army’s success relies on logistics; “the ability to move soldiers and supplies from base to base.” Prior to the railroad, men and pack animals moved things at a slow pace. ”The animals had to rested, be fed and were often hobbled. Railroads could now move men and supplies at a rate ten times faster,” according to Leavy. He further explained that armies now had the ability to grow in size exponentially, and that war could now range across the continent--anywhere you could lay tracks. “Most battles developed around railheads or nearby in the district. The establishment of the USMRR was one of the biggest technological undertakings of the war and was given priority over nearly everything else,” he said. “Under Herman Haupt's brilliant direction, the railroads were used like whips against the Confederacy. His use of railroads in the Civil War laid the foundation for all future use of trains in war not just here in America but around the world”

Leavy also acknowledges that although there are several important works on the use of railroads in the war, being a train and Civil War buff, he wanted to investigate the subjects more fully and offer a combination narrative and pictorial history. “A lot of new information has come to the surface so I felt it was time for an update. I contacted railroad historical societies and museums to gather the most up – to - date research. In the process I found many new photos, and using digital technology I was able to extract railroad images from larger views. There was also a lot of enthusiasm for the project and I received many photographs via email.”
The experience was often frustrating and daunting for Leavy because there was an abundance of misinformation for him to glean through. “I kept reading the same things over and over and sensed there was more to some these matters.” One of his main objectives was to bring humanity to the book and not “just go on about piston sizes and boiler pressures.” This is why passages about Mary Todd Lincoln, Anna Custis Lee and “that young band leader from Honeoye Falls who marched with Sherman” were included. “I wanted to stretch the canvas to encapsulate the entire war” said Leavy.
When asked to elaborate on his statement earlier that railroaders never got the “play” they deserved, Leavy was quick to point out that in many books, studies and movies, the railroads and railroad men were ignored. He also includes the construction corps who were transported to sites in his praise. “They (railroads) directed the course of the war from beginning to end. They were a brave lot, particularly the engine crews who were often shot through the cab window by sharp shooters, or burned, scalded and horribly maimed when their engines were derailed.”
Leavy signed copies of both of his books carried at the Whistle Stop Shop for 1 hour before and 1 hour after the lecture.
05 April 2011
  "Strike The Tent..." Makes Another Best Of List

Strike the Tent... has been added to "Ace's Web World's" list of Best History Sites. Thanks to Ace for the recognition...
04 April 2011
  SW VA Regional Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee & Hollins University to Present Program
On the evening of April 9, 20011, the SW Virginia Regional Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee and Hollins University (Roanoke, VA) are presenting "Railroads, Raids, and Ruin--Laying the tracks of destruction in Virginia's Civil War." Speakers include fellow blogger Eric Wittenberg, Professor Peter Coogan (Hollins), Chris Calkins, Clark "Bud" Hall, Gordon Hamilton, and a special appearance by Dr. James I. "Bud" Robertson. The event will be taking place from 8 am - 4 pm. Cost is $45. Unfortunately, you had to RSVP by March 28, but I still wanted to give the lecture a plug.
A Reference & Research Destination With Peer-Reviewed Sources, Published By an Amatuer Civil War Enthusiast.

Location: Gordonville, Pennsylvania, United States
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