Yesterday was the 3rd anniversary of 13thmass.org
It had a false start some years earlier, when my friend and fellow researcher Greg Dowden set up a '13thmass' site with free web space and web authoring tools that were frequently offered with service providers back in the day. Greg and I were both anxious to get the stories of the '13th Mass.' out there. I was pursuing my 'book' at that time.
In 2008 with Greg's approval, I took over the reins of building the site, using the same url. I did about 6 months of research on web authoring before choosing a service provider and building the site. Much of this research was done here.
Susan Harnwell who maintains the website for the '15th Mass.' provided some excellent advice and encouragement too.
In late May, 2008 I purchased a plan from Futurequest, and in a couple weeks I had my basic website live on-line.
Adding the 'detail' pages is an on-going project that was planned from the start. This is the heart of the site. Pictures and graphics are an important part of each page and care is taken to find the right images to match the text. In search of these, I've often contacted historical societies and towns that could provide insight, images and anecdotes about the local areas the 13th Mass traveled through. Usually this leads to an exchange of information which is mutually rewarding. It probably builds a little bit of regional interest in the site too. (I've corresponded with people in Hagerstown, Hancock, and Williamsport, Md.; Bluemont, Va., Front Royal, Va., and Warrenton, Va., among other places back east).
I'm finally working on the Antietam Campaign, a year and 2 months into the regiment's three year term of enlistment and three years into the slow building of the website. Here the regiment made its mark, a lasting reputation for valor and dependability that continued through to the end of service. It was at the front from the day it arrived in Western Maryland Aug. 1, 1861, to the day it left the trenches before Petersburg to return home, July 14, 1864.
I must add however, that the regiment was already famous back home in Massachusetts. It gained for itself the moniker of 'The Marching Regiment" in its early days, and it began skirmishing with Rebel pickets across the Potomac almost immediately from the time it arrived in W. Maryland the summer of 1861.
I have lots of good material for the Antietam page.
Antietam is also a turning point in the history of the unit. Several of my primary sources dry up following the battles of 2nd Bull Run and Antietam, fought within 3 weeks time of each other. I've had the good fortune to use several letter collections, gathered from institutions or family, that simply end at this time with the soldiers wounding, or muster out. There won't be as many consistent voices with which to follow the fortunes of the regiment from this point forward. This might be a good time to appeal for source material from any that might have a collection of 13th Mass. letters they wish to share.
The website has so far fulfilled my expectations. I hope it proves a valuable resource for others as time marches on.
And, thanks for stopping by!
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