Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Monterey Pass Battlefield Association

One Continuous Fight; The Monterey Pass Battlefield Association; & The 'Other' Regiment.

Lee's Retreat from Gettysburg
Even people with little interest in the Civil War have heard of Gettysburg and the great battle that happened there.  But has anyone heard of the midnight Battle at Monterey Pass that directly followed?

Until 1999, Lee's retreat from Gettysburg was given little attention.  That's when Ted Alexander, Chief Historian at Antietam National Battlefield edited a special issue of North & South magazine on the subject.  Historians Eric Wittenberg, Steve French, and Kent Masterson Brown contributed detailed pieces on the fighting that followed Gettysburg as General Meade's Union Cavalry pursued the retreating Rebel Army to Williamsport, Md.  Some of these historians have since collaborated on a scholarly study of the retreat in detail, with analysis; "One Continuous Fight, The Retreat from Gettysburg and the Pursuit of Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, July 4-14, 1863; by Eric Wittenberg, J. David Petruzzi, and Michael F. Nugent; published by Savas-Beati; 2008.

Ted wrote the forward.  I'm reading the book now.  There were so many actions that took place in this ten day period that one trooper described it as 'one continuous fight,' hence the title of the book.

The Midnight Battle at Monterey Pass; July 4-5, 1863
Picture a midnight fight on a dark mountain top; a violent thunderstorm is raging; Yankee troopers and horse artillery are slowly advancing to capture a long Confederate wagon train of supplies and wounded, jamming narrow mountain roads and trying to cross the mountain before the Federals capture them.  A very small band of Confederates assisted with a battery of light artillery are blasting away at the Yankees trying to delay their advance.  It's so dark the soldiers can barely see their own hands in front of them.  Lightening and canon blasts point the way forward and define enemy targets.   Panicked teams drag wagons over the mountain cliffs, carrying with them screaming wounded.  Picture a wild Cavalry charge down the mountain. The troopers feel as if they are flying because they can't see the road below them.  This is the drama of the battle.

The Battlefield Association
I turned to the internet to see if I could find the route taken to Leitersburg by the 1st Vermont Cavarly the morning of July 5th.  The flanking ride is detailed in the book but the route was left off the accompanying map.  My search led me to John Miller and the Monterey Pass Battlefield Association.

John and several others are trying to preserve the history of Emmitsburg by conducting tours, raising awareness and purchasing land.  I found the map I needed at this site and I wrote to John.  I told him my ancestor participated in some of the fighting during the retreat.

3rd U.S. Artillery
William Henry Forbush transferred out of the 13th Mass while in the hospital recovering from a wound received in the Battle of 2nd Bull Run, Aug. 30, 1862. He enlisted in 'Flying Battery C,' 3rd U.S. Artillery on Dec. 11, 1862.  He joined the unit in January, 1863 and started a diary.   (I've done so much research on the 13th Mass that I refer to this unit as the 'other' regiment.  It's been difficult to learn much about them.)  The battery was in reserve at Westminster, Md. during the battle of Gettysburg, but participated in the cavalry pursuit afterward.  William wasn't at Monterey Pass, but he mentions it.  He did participate in the engagement at Smithburg the next day.  Smithburg? you ask, what's that?  Boonsboro?  Jones Crossroads?  These engagements are hardly known today.

John Miller responded to my email with a color photo of Gardenhour's Hill where Williams battery was positioned July 5th.  Diary entries for the week read:

Saturday [July] 4.  Left Westminster Md. and came through Emmetsburg Md. and laid on the road all Night.  The Cavalry burnt a train of wagons and took the wagon Guard prisernors.

Sunday 5.  Came to within 1/2 mile of Smithsburg Md. and we came on the Rebels.  We opened on them with our whole Battery and they with a Battery.  Their Shells struck in the Town but done us no harm.

Monday 6. We came to Boonsboro Md. and the left Section went to a Rebel train of wagons and burnt them about 4.esn [dozen] number and charged through Hagerstown.  Hung a spy and then Laid in the woods that Night.

Tuesday 7.  The Section came back here.  Laid in Camp at Boonsborough Md. all Day. At Night had Orders to get ready to march but the Order was countermanded. Pleasant Day but Rainy Night.

Wednesday 8.  Started about 12 A.M. and Skirmeshed with the Rebels until dark then came back to the other side of Boonsboro and halted for the Night.

The Region Today
Much of the area is unchanged.  This is documented in 'One Continuous Fight' which features a section on touring the battlefield sites, complete with photos and GPS co-ordinates.  But time marches on and some of the sites are slowly disappearing.  After nearly150 years these little known areas are beginning to disappear, just as they are beginning to receive attention.  Gardenhour's Hill is marked for development and will soon be gone.  I'm hoping to get there to see it before that happens.  You might want to do the same. Check out the association and read about the Battle at Monterey Pass!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Drum Barracks Civil War Museum

Southern California does have some important Civil War history.  It is represented by the Drum Barracks Civil War Museum in Wilmington, California, which is part of the City of Los Angeles. You can read about California’s role here:

This week I received notice that the Mayor and Los Angeles City Council are planning to layoff Susan Ogle, the Director of ‘the Drum,’ sometime between now and July 1st.

I quote from Loran Bures’ message; Commander, Gen. W. S. Rosecrans Camp No. 2; Department of California & Pacific; Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War:

“On the eve of the Civil War Sesquicentennial (150th anniversary), it is, at best, short-sighted to eliminate the only full-time, onsite staff member of the only truly tangible connection that Southern California has to the Civil War, and California’s contribution to save the Union.  It would be next to impossible to find someone as knowledgeable and dedicated to the Drum Barracks as Susan Ogle.  The next several years will bring many opportunities to present and remind the people of Southern California and beyond about the sacrifices made by our ancestors to save the Union.  The Drum Barracks is the natural focal point for many of these activities. 

Most likely the Drum Barracks would be consolidated under the Director of the Banning Museum.  Needless to say we are concerned with the prospect of the Drum being only "slightly" managed.  The prospect of not having the artifacts supervised full time is inconceivable.”

James F. Ramsey, Co E, 13th Mass; at the Drum
There is a connection to the 13th Mass at the Drum Barracks.  Long time Massachusetts resident James F. Ramsey  and several members of his family settled in Inglewood, CA, some years after the war.  An original letter dated April 19, 1870 hangs on the wall of the museum.  The letter is addressed to James F. Ramsey, (company E, 13th Massachusetts Volunteers) from Massachusetts Governor William Claflin; thanking Ramsey for his service in suppressing the rebellion and maintaining the integrity of the nation.   James Ramsey and his wife Ella are buried side by side at Inglewood Park CemeteryHis descendents preserved his letters, (many of which are featured on my website, and donated the letter of appreciation to the Drum Barracks.

If You Want to Help
I’m passing on Commander Bures’ plan of action for those concerned.  If you would like to help keep Susan on at the Drum here is what you can do.  Time is of the essence, the layoff could happen as soon as February 19th.

Write a personal letter to each of the following City officials, expressing your concerns about the pending layoff of Susan Ogle as the Director of the Drum Barracks Civil War Museum and its impact(s).  

First email your letter, and then send it by U.S. Mail. If you belong to a Civil War group mention it.  Please note that phone calls and emails are simply counted - they do not take note of your specific comments.  Letters are the most effective and have the most impact, unless they are form letters, which again, are simply counted.

Janice Hahn
Councilwoman, 15th District
City of Los Angeles
638 S. Beacon Street, Suite 553
San Pedro CA  90731
(310) 732-4515

Jon Kirk Mukri
General Manager
Department of Recreation and Parks
221 N. Figueroa Street, Suite 1550
Los Angeles, CA  90012
(213) 202-2633

Mark Mariscal
Superintendent, Pacific Region
Department of Recreation and Parks
1670 Palos Verdes Drive North
Harbor City, CA  90710 

Since the Drum Barracks and the land it sits on is the property of the State of California, except for the north portion of the parking lot which is owned by the City of Los Angeles, and is a California Historical Landmark, we should also voice our concerns with our state legislators.  It is leased to and operated by the City of Los Angeles.

To find your State Assembly member and Senator visit:

Out of Staters:
The following two legislators’ districts include the Drum Barracks, but it is best to write your own state legislators first.  If you are not a resident of California, I would still encourage you to write to the following two legislators.

Jenny Oropeza
Senator, 28th District
2512 Artesia Blvd., #200
Redondo Beach, CA  90278-3279
(310) 318-6994

Warren Furutani
Assemblymember, 55th District
4201 Long Beach Blvd Suite 327
Long Beach, CA  90807
(562) 989-2919

Los Angeles County Residents:
If you are a resident of Los Angeles County, also please write a letter to Supervisor Knabe.  I know that this is a City of Los Angeles decision, but the Drum Barracks is located in his district, and he takes an active interest in everything that is happening in his district.

Don Knabe
Supervisor, 4th District
County of Los Angeles
822 Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration
500 West Temple Street
Los Angeles, CA  90012
(213) 974-4444

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Maryland Pies

     Sue and I watched the movie Julie & Julia last night.  It tells the true story of  Julie, who decided in 2002, to cook all of Julia Child’s French recipes in a year, and write a daily blog about the experience.  Her blog became popular.  A year later she received all kinds of offers from magazine editors and book publishers and TV show producers.  And since movies are like real life, (n’est pas ?)  now I’ll know what to expect when 13thMass blog turns 1.

     After the movie I commented to Sue, (who constantly uses the internet to find recipes and cooking tips) “Wow, cooking is a hot topic.   I should write about cooking.”

     "Yes." she replied.

     I could do a Civil War cook book.  But it has already been done; several times.  (The sausage/ham meatloaf is really good).  I do have a lot of food stories though.  The soldiers often wrote about food in letters, diaries and memoirs; because they were often hungry.  Here is one of my favorite food stories from the chronicles of the 13th Mass; about Maryland pies.  The following recipes didn’t make it into the cook book; fortunately.
By Clarence H. Bell.

     Austin Stearns wrote in his memoirs  "To appreciate a Maryland pie one must eat it.  One of some kinds would be a great plenty."     The following excerpt from an article in the military magazine 'Bivouac', circa 1885 sheds more light.

     All the latter half of 1861, the Thirteenth was quartered in different parts of Western Maryland, and as the population of that region was of a thrifty nature, our camps were often thronged with hucksters of both sexes, who catered to the dainty appetites of those not yet thoroughly broken to army fare, and whose finances were not wholly depleted.  Various were the wares that tempted the greedy — roasted chickens, boiled eggs, biscuits - but more than all else, pies.  And the resources of that section in the line of pies were remarkable.  When it is remembered that a large body of New Englanders sojourned there for so many months, it is to be wondered at that none of the receipts for the filling of pies were brought away; for in all the development of talent in the building of pies, and the subterfuges for filling those pies – to keep the crusts from too intimated contact- Western Maryland “takes the cake.”

     We had become used to custard and pumpkin pies of so thin a texture that we suspected the filling to have been put on with a paint-brush, when one day a new variety appeared in the shape of elderberry pies.  The unwary bought one, for there is always the first step in folly – be sure they never bought another.  The purchaser would take a liberal bite, but the slow mastication, and the haste to get behind a tent, or other convenient shield, to unload both mouth and hand, proved that elderberry pies were not appreciated.  If ever a new purge is needed, certainly this delectable combination is to be recommended.  The regiment was a full one, and a great many elderberry pies were palmed off upon our unsophisticated members, ere we became thoroughly introduced to the novelty.

     Human life is a progress.  There are gradations both upward and downward.  From one lane of happiness, we can look forward and upward to a higher, to which we may attain; and in the opposite degree, there are depths of misery into which one may fall, only to find, later on, a depth yet lower.  We had vainly imagined that elderberry pie was the bottomless pit of misery into which a pie-addicted individual could be decoyed, when one day there blossomed on our visions yet another variety.  The rustic peddler passing into camp was greeted with: “What have you got to sell, old man?”  “Pies,” was the answer, as he deftly lifted the napkin, exposing a basket well filled with nicely browned pastry, very tempting in its outward appearance.

The numbers that gathered about, had the money in hand and the exchange was very rapid.  “What kind of pies do you call these, old fellow?” 

“T’martusses.”  “What?”  “T’martusses - t’martusses.”

Somehow or other, we could not comprehend the dialect, nor could our minds grapple with the compound the peddler informed us the pies were made of.  It was only when we crossed our legs and sat down on the ground to supper that we realized the conundrum.  A single mouthful solved the doubt – demolished the expectation of a pleasant repast, and made us long for the elderberry, as the pie of paradise compared to our new acquaintance.  Talk about the ingenuity of our Yankee housekeepers!  One stands but little chance of loss in wagering that in all of the eccentricities of our New England kitchen discoveries, no Yankee matron ever hit upon green tomatoes as filling for pies.  Just imagine, if you can, the change from joy to poignant grief, as a tired guardsman lays down a ‘hard-tack,” and bites into a well-browned pie stuffed with green tomatoes very stingily sprinkled with sugar.  Ah, “T’martusses Pie!”  Many long years have elapsed since our first and only introduction to thee, but the misery of our meeting yet lingers in the volumes of memory.  Thou wer’t the dessert in the oasis of our army fare, crossed just once – we never went there again.  “Lost to sight, to memory dear” – very dear – about twenty-five cents worth.