On May 19 and May 20, 2018, Friends of Camp Geiger will sponsor their 10th Lehigh Valley Civil War Days, at the Whitehall Parkway Recreational Area on Church Street in Whitehall, PA. 

Event opens at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday.  Jackson’s flank attack at Chancellorsville, which took place in May 1863, will be featured (the only known reenactment of the Chancellorsville Battle to take place this year).  Jackson’s assault on the 11th Corp, in particular Northampton County’s 153rd PA regiment, forced the Union to retreat.

The local reenacting group that portrays the 153rd PA Volunteers will be featured in this battle.  The battle will be reenacted on Saturday at 3:00 p.m.  A battlefield lecture by Jeffrey Stocker author of We Fought Desperate”: A History of the 153rd Pennsylvania Volunteer Regiment will precede the battle.

On Sunday, a reenactment of the battle of the Mule Shoe at Spotsylvania will take place at 11:00 a.m. Trench battles demonstrating the changing face of war will also be held each day along with behind the scenes tours of the trenches during breaks in the fighting.

Military camps, a field hospital, displays on the US Sanitary Commission, Victorian parlor past times, children’s games, and a recruitment center will be among the offerings held daily.  Lectures, a Victorian fashion show and period music will be offered at the Lyceum.  The event closes Sunday at 1:00 p.m.

Admission is free for spectators.  Food is available.  Donations to benefit Civil War battlefield preservation will be accepted.  On Saturday night at 6:30 p.m. a period dance and concert will be held.  Everyone is invited to attend.  Weather permitting; a rifle firing demonstration is planned after the concert.

Please do not wear period attire or bring weapons to the event unless you are a registered participant.

For information and directions, please visit their website at
or call Neil Coddington at (610) 837-7403

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Free Admission and daily programs offered at the David Wills House in Gettysburg this summer


Free Admission and daily programs offered at the
David Wills House in Gettysburg this summer

 Gettysburg, Pa. – Beginning June 9 through the summer season, Gettysburg National Military Park will welcome visitors to the David Wills House on Lincoln Square in downtown Gettysburg for free.

No other location is as closely associated with Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address as the David Wills House except the Soldiers’ National Cemetery. The three-story brick house served as the home of David and Catherine Wills before and after the Battle of Gettysburg and was occupied by President Abraham Lincoln the night before the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery. Lincoln finished composing his Gettysburg Address in the second story bedroom the evening of November 18, 1863.

Museum exhibits at the David Wills House tell the story of the Wills family, the aftermath of the Battle of Gettysburg, and the significance and legacy of the Gettysburg Address.

 “We want the David Wills House to be part of every visit to Gettysburg,” said Chris Stein, Acting Superintendent of Gettysburg National Military Park. “The themes of the Gettysburg Address continue to be an inspiration to all Americans especially in times of crisis. The National Park Service museum in the home provides an opportunity to reflect on the meaning of the carnage of Gettysburg and the legacy of the American Civil War.”

From June 9 to August 12, David Wills House admission will be free, with added staffing by National Park Rangers, interns and Living Historians.  Park Rangers will offer a daily program at 3 p.m. called, “Lincoln Comes to Gettysburg: Downtown History Hike.”  The Ranger-guided walk will explore the impact of the battle upon the Gettysburg community, walk in the footsteps of President Lincoln, and visit the room where he completed the Gettysburg Address. This 75-minute program begins and ends inside the David Wills House.

In addition, park staff will be on site to share the story of the David Wills family before, during, and after the battle, the role of Wills in the creation of the National Cemetery, and highlight Lincoln’s visit and the crafting of the Gettysburg Address.

 “The Wills House is a tangible symbol of the residents of Gettysburg working together to heal their community after the battle,” said Matthew C. Moen, president of the Gettysburg Foundation. “Visitors cannot help but reflect upon Lincoln’s presence and timeless words at Gettysburg that blended humility with commemoration.” 

The David Wills House is managed and operated by the Gettysburg Foundation. Throughout the summer, the Gettysburg Foundation will continue to staff the front desk, provide visitor services and information, and manage the sales area.

Starting on August 13, 2018, the fees will again be charged.  For more information about hours and fees go to:  https://www.nps.gov/gett/planyourvisit/david-wills-house.htm

History's Headlines: The Red River Campaign

History's Headlines: The Red River Campaign
Posted on WFMZ.com our own: Frank Whelan
Updated: May 07, 2018 06:49 PM EDT


No one saw it happen.

It was late February, 1864. The screw steamer “Charles Thomas,” carrying the 47th Regiment of Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteers, was just pulling into the dock at Algiers, a small village opposite New Orleans. They had had a relatively pleasant voyage since they had left Key West, returning from garrison duty at Fort Jefferson where they had been guarding Rebel prisoners.

“Just as the steamer was preparatory to our landing,” wrote a member of the 47TH, “a fatal accident happened.” A recruit sitting on one of the hatches either fell or jumped between the ship and the gangplank. “Before a boat could get to him either from the steamer or from the land he was drowned,” the soldier wrote. The victim’s body was quickly caught by the current and drawn out into the Mississippi until it disappeared from view.

The rest of the men were in shock. The victim, recognized from the initials FK on the visor of his cap, was fished out of the water. Frederick Koehler of Luzerne County had made no attempt to cry out “man overboard” or anything else. At least one soldier writing home to his family, said, “Some think he wanted to do it because he was so depressed.”

The tragic death of Frederick Koehler was to be the 47th’s introduction to the ill-fated Red River Campaign of March/April 1864, one of the most botched episodes in the Civil War. It began with high hopes of seizing Shreveport, Louisiana and a lot of cotton along with it. The Navy was to send ironclads up the river providing support for a land army that it was presumed would “whip” the Rebels. The Confederate troops, commanded by General Richard Taylor, ironically the son of the late former U.S.  President Zachery Taylor, were not expected to put up much of a fuss.

Union commander Major General Nathaniel P. Banks had his eye both on glory- he was hoping a victory would carry him to the White House- and making a tidy sum from captured Confederate cotton. Admiral David Dixon Porter, one of the most skilled officers in the U.S. Navy, wanted to show the power of his new ironclads. He also so had his eye on cotton. And Lincoln was hoping it would spilt Texas off from Louisiana, possibly making it the first state to re-enter the Union.

The 47TH had been raised in Allentown in 1861 by Col. Tilghman H. Good. They had fought a number of battles in South Carolina and Florida before being assigned to act as garrison troops and prison guards over U.S. forts in the Florida Keys. It was understood that they would be headed back east before the end of April to join Grant’s Army in Virginia.

The 47th was one of two infantry divisions that formed... Click here to read the entire article

Jewish Americans in the Civil War


Jewish Americans in the Civil War


Mark Jewish American Heritage Month with NMCWM volunteer Brad Stone as he examines the important roles that Jewish Americans played during the Civil War on Thursday, May 10, 2018 at 7 PM in the Delaplaine-Randall Conference Room at the National Museum of Civil War Medicine. The museum doors will open at 6:30 PM. This is a “pay-what-you-please” event. *Note: a previous email sent out listed an incorrect time.

The program will feature an overview of the many contributions Jewish Americans made to both sides of the struggle and reveals the strong influence that surrounding social forces had in shaping Jewish communities’ views towards slavery and secession.

The Jewish community had an enormous impact on many aspects of the war – everything from the design of the Confederate flag to the abolition of flogging in the U.S. Navy. Their contributions continue to affect us today.  This pivotal point in U.S. history in many ways forever established the Jewish American community as a key element in the fabric of American culture.

Brad Stone has had a long career with the federal government as a senior public relations executive dealing with a wide variety of public health issues. This experience included leading the public relations operations of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). He currently combines his interest in the Civil War and medical history by volunteering as a docent on a regular basis at both the National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Frederick, MD and aboard the U.S.S. Constellation in Baltimore Harbor.

Visit www.civilwarmed.org or contact Jake Wynn at jake.wynn@civilwarmed.orgfor more information.

Thursday May 10 | 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM
National Museum of Civil War Medicine
Delaplaine-Randall Conference Room

48 E Patrick Street Frederick, MD 21701

Tourism to Gettysburg and Eisenhower Parks creates $92 Million in Economic Benefits

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Tourism to Gettysburg and Eisenhower Parks creates $92 Million in Economic Benefits

Report shows visitor spending supports 871 jobs in local economy

Gettysburg, Pa. – A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 1,089,800 visitors to Gettysburg National Military Park and Eisenhower National Historic Site in 2017 spent $68.1 million in communities near the two parks. That spending supported 871 jobs in the local area and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of $91.8 million.

“Gettysburg National Military Park and Eisenhower National Historic Site welcome visitors from across the country and around the world,” said Chris Stein, Acting Superintendent. “We are delighted to share the stories of these places and the experiences they provide.”

“National park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy, returning $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service, and it’s a big factor in our local economy as well. We appreciate the support of our partners at the Gettysburg Foundation, Destination Gettysburg, and many other organizations, businesses and neighbors, and we are glad to be able to give back by helping to sustain local communities,” added Stein.

The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas of the U.S. Geological Survey and Lynne Koontz of the National Park Service.  The report shows $18.2 billion of direct spending by more than 330 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 306,000 jobs nationally; 255,900 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $35.8 billion.

The lodging sector received the highest direct contributions with $5.5 billion in economic output to local gateway economies and 49,000 jobs. The restaurants sector received the next greatest direct contributions with $3.7 billion in economic output to local gateway economies and 60,500 jobs.

According to the 2017 report, most park visitor spending was for lodging/camping (32.9 percent) followed by food and beverages (27.5 percent), gas and oil (12.1 percent), souvenirs and other expenses (10.1 percent), admissions and fees (10.0 percent), and local transportation (7.5 percent).

Report authors also produce an interactive tool that enables users to explore visitor spending, jobs, labor income, value added, and output effects by sector for national, state, and local economies. Users can also view year-by-year trend data. The interactive tool and report are available at the NPS Social Science Program webpage: https://www.nps.gov/subjects/socialscience/vse.htm

To learn more about national parks in Pennsylvania and how the National Park Service works with Pennsylvania communities to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation, go to https://www.nps.gov/state/pa/index.htm.

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Explore Four Battlefield Structures During “Doors Open Gettysburg” On May 5

 The McPherson Barn will be one of four Civil War-era buildings at Gettysburg National Military Park that will be open to the public on May 5

The McPherson Barn will be one of four Civil War-era buildings at Gettysburg National Military Park that will be open to the public on May 5

NPT Staff on April 24th, 2018
National Parks Traveler

The third annual Doors Open Gettysburg event offers an insider’s look at the preservation and history of four of Gettysburg National Military Park’s magnificent battlefield structures. This free event is held during National Historic Preservation Month in cities and towns throughout the United States and internationally.

On May 5, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the National Park Service, in cooperation with the Civil War Trust, will open four historic structures on the Gettysburg battlefield to the public for a rare look at buildings ranging from newly restored to those in need of repair. Visitors will be able to explore the recently restored National Cemetery Lodge; the Edward McPherson Barn; the Jacob Hummelbaugh House; and thanks to the participation of the Civil War Trust, the interior of the Mary Thompson House, used by General Robert E. Lee during the battle.

Doors Open Gettysburg highlights the park’s important historic preservation mission and the stories these buildings can tell,” said Chris Stein, Gettysburg's acting superintendent. “This event is a great opportunity for our community and park visitors to learn more about Gettysburg and how we take care of these resources.”

The buildings that are scheduled to be opened are:

Edward McPherson Barn: A landmark on the First Day’s battlefield and used as a field hospital and aide station. Park along Stone and Meredith Avenue.

Jacob Hummelbaugh House: Used as a field hospital and rallying point on July 2, 1863. Confederate General William Barksdale died and was temporarily buried in the yard. Park in designated areas along Pleasanton Avenue.

The Gettysburg National Cemetery Lodge: This recently restored structure served as the original headquarters of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery. Park in the National Cemetery Parking Lot on Taneytown Road and walk through the cemetery to get to the gatehouse or park in metered spots along Baltimore Pike.

“Lee’s Headquarters” – Mary Thompson House: Rehabilitated and restored by the Civil War Trust, this famous battlefield landmark was used by Confederate General Robert E. Lee during the battle. Park in the designated lot at Mary Thompson House.

Please note that the buildings are not wheelchair accessible. No tickets or reservations are necessary for Doors Open Gettysburg. The event is free.


Antietam National Battlefield Proposes Improvements To Trails


By NPT Staff on April 24th, 2018
National Parks Traveler

Antietam National Battlefield staff are studying ways to make the park's trails system more informative in terms of understanding the Civil War battle that took place there.

Staff areproposing to reposition certain tour stops and developing a comprehensive trail system. "By improving the trail system and relocating some of the tour stops, the National Park Service will provide visitors with a more comprehensive understanding of this significant battle and its lasting legacy, while better protecting and preserving park resources," a park release said.

You can learn about the proposal, and comment on it through May 23, at this site.

The new system is intended to better integrate the land that the park has acquired since 1992, which has nearly doubled the park’s acreage. The plan includes reconfiguring some existing trails to improve visitor access, creating walking loops around key historic areas such as the Sunken Road and Miller Cornfield, and developing a perimeter trail around the entire battlefield.

The plan will also amend the battlefield’s 1992 general management plan to preserve its historic visitor center and commemorative-era tour roads. While drafting the plan, the NPS incorporated significant feedback from both visitors and stakeholders.

Manassas National Battlefield Park Prescribed Burn Improves Habitat, Restores Civil War Look


The following story is from
 National Parks Traveler 

Better wildlife habitat, and a look reflective of how the Brawner Farm area of Manassas National Battlefield Park appeared during the Civil War, was achieved through a prescribed fire set by park firefighters.

Firefighters last week burned approximately 60 acres of meadow and brush to maintain the landscape as it appeared during the Civil War, reduce the chance of wildfire, and improve habitat for wildlife, including Northern bobwhite and American woodcock.

This was the first prescribed fire in the park’s history, and the first prescribed fire on National Park Service property in Prince William County, Virgina. To ensure a safe and effective operation, the team had to wait for ideal weather conditions. An earlier scheduled burn was delayed because the soil was too wet.

“Our team was excited to complete the park’s first prescribed fire safely and successfully,” Manassas Superintendent Brandon Bies said. “We are eager to see the results, including better views and more wildlife habitat.”

Twenty-nine staff from 11 national parks in Virginia, Maryland, District of Columbia, and Pennsylvania helped with the fire. The staff primarily used hand tools to ignite and control the fire, with assistance from four engines and three utility task vehicles.

Before the prescribed fire, park staff surveyed the area for Civil War artifacts and wildlife.

The Park Service acquired the Brawner Farm in 1985. At the time, much of the property had grown over with trees. Subsequently, the trees were cleared, restoring the historic sight lines present during the battles at Manassas in 1861 and 1862. Because of the difficulty mowing in the rocky and uneven terrain, fire is an effective way to reduce woody plant growth and to maintain the meadow ecosystem.

In August 1862, the Brawner Farm was at the center of the Confederate lines at the opening of the Battle of Second Manassas (Second Bull Run). The battle saw action from well-known units on both sides of the Civil War, pitting the Confederates’ “Stonewall Brigade” against the Federals’ “Iron Brigade.” The Confederates won the battle.

Prescribed Fires on the Gettysburg Battlefield will take place April 13 and 14 


Prescribed fires on the Gettysburg battlefield will take place April 13 and 14

Gettysburg, Pa. (April 10, 2017) – Conditions are right for the National Park Service to conduct a prescribed fire on 215 acres between Devils Den and South Confederate Avenue this Friday and Saturday at Gettysburg National Military Park. If conditions remain unchanged the prescribed fire on half of the burn unit will be April 13 with the second half on April 14.

Temporary Closures: On Friday, South Confederate Avenue and Sickles Avenue will be closed beginning at 6 a.m. On Saturday, only South Confederate Avenue will be closed. Devils Den, including all pedestrian access, will be closed Friday.  All pedestrian and horse trails within the burn unit, as well as the hiking trails on Big Round Top will be closed both days.  The picnic area along South Confederate Avenue will also be closed both days.

The public may view the prescribed fire from the Snyder farm house at West Confederate Avenue and Emmitsburg Road (parking along West Confederate Avenue), or from Little Round Top. No stopping of vehicles along Emmitsburg Road for viewing the fire will be permitted.

Additional roads, trails and areas may need to close temporarily if smoke conditions reduce visibility to a level that would require a temporary closure of limited areas to ensure public and firefighter safety. 

More information including maps of the burn unit is available at https://www.nps.gov/gett/learn/news/prescribed-fires.htm. Up-to-date information on this and any other closures and fire activity will be posted on the park's social media sites, using the hashtag, #GettysburgNPS


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CIVIL WAR COMMEMORATIVE SIGN TO BE INSTALLED AT PHILADELPHIA NATIONAL CEMETERY -  an event to unveil a memorial for the United States Colored Troops of the Civil War

APRIL 4, 2018;  PHILADELPHIA, PA – On Saturday April 21, 2018, at 11am, a new Civil War commemoration will be unveiled at Philadelphia National Cemetery, dedicated to the United States Colored Troops (USCT) buried there.

Erected by the Veterans Administration, the new sign celebrates the achievements of the USCT, nearby Camp William Penn, and those who died, whether of disease or battle wounds, or who enjoyed post-war lives.

The Mütter Museum of medical history is co-sponsoring the dedication ceremony of the interpretive sign as the latest in a series of annual events commemorating the medical dimension of the Civil War. These events augment the exhibition, Broken Bodies, Suffering Spirits: Injury, Death, and Healing in Civil War Philadelphia. The exhibition, which opened in 2013 and closes in late 2019, highlights stories and experiences of a white soldier, black soldier, physician, and female nurse, framed by the words of poet Walt Whitman.

“Across the country, people are questioning the presence of statues and monuments to soldiers of the Civil War, but in Philadelphia, a new memorial will be dedicated at Philadelphia National Cemetery. Of all the monuments and statues to Civil War generals and soldiers in the City of Philadelphia, none recognizes the achievements of the black soldiers who, according to President Abraham Lincoln, were essential to saving the Union,” says Director of the Mütter Museum, Robert D. Hicks, Ph.D., who will participate in the ceremony.

Hicks adds that “Black soldiers experienced higher mortality due to disease than white troops during the war, and doctors—usually white—struggled to understand how black bodies differed from white ones. The data collected on the health and performance of black soldiers constituted the first public health record of African Americans in the United States.”

“Many of the USC Troops buried in the cemetery were trained at nearby Camp William Penn, the first and largest federal training camp for black soldiers in what is now Cheltenham Township,” says Joyce Werkman, President, Citizens for the Restoration of Historical La Mott (CROHL), co-sponsor of the dedication event. The village of La Mott is located in the area once occupied by the training camp. CROHL operates the Camp William Penn Museum, open seasonally.

The unveiling ceremony will include music, the presentation of wreaths, USCT re-enactors, and light refreshments. Speakers include Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, Dwight Evans, Congressman (PA-02nd District), and Charles L. Blockson, Curator Emeritus of Temple University’s Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection.

The event is free and open to the public, beginning at 11am on Saturday, April 21 (rain date: May 5).

Location: Philadelphia National Cemetery, 6909 Limekiln Pike (entrance at Haines Street and Limekiln Pike), Philadelphia, PA 19138 (https://www.cem.va.gov/cems/nchp/philadelphia.asp)

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