On a warm afternoon on the last day of November 1864, Maj. Gen. John Bell Hood leaned on his crutches atop Winstead Hill and watched as his men marched across two miles of open field toward the Federal lines on the south side of Franklin, Tennessee. Larger in numbers than Pickett’s famous charge at Gettysburg, Union Maj. Gen. Jacob D. Cox said “No more magnificent spectacle was ever witnessed.” In the end, from his elevated position on the hill, General Hood watched the destruction of his army.
Gettysburg is one of the most famous and most visited Civil War sites. As such, many places on the battlefield are household names to those interested in the war: Little Round Top, the Peach Orchard, Devil’s Den, and many others. But as visited and well-tramped as the field is, there are still relatively obscure and unvisited places, even to those well-versed in the battle. One of those locations is Coster Avenue.
Big beats little almost every time. No one advertises a little meal, deal, or sale. People like things big. At Gettysburg, however, there is a little that has trumped the big for almost 150 years. Most people are familiar with Little Round Top. It is the site of one of the more famous and dramatic events in Civil War history. But ever since the battle, it has figuratively overshadowed its taller neighbor to the south. This article is about that lesser-known hill: Big Round Top.
In late June 1863, Union Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecrans finally moved out of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, to attack the Confederate army of Gen. Braxton Bragg. At the Battle of Hoover’s Gap, Bragg’s men were unable to hold back the Federal advance. After the war, former Confederate soldiers returned to the area to gather their comrades who had been killed and buried in various locations around the area. The plan was to rebury them in one place: Beech Grove Cemetery.
When the First Battle of Manassas was over and everyone realized the war wasn’t going to be a quick affair that was concluded by one major battle, people’s thinking had to change. Even more emphasis had to be placed on things like supply routes and transportation. The area along the Potomac River between Maryland and Virginia that separated Union and Confederate territory also contained other vital pieces of transportation: the National Road, the B&O Railroad, and the C&O Canal. In an attempt to guard these means of transportation, as well as the border, the Union army looked to an old, dilapidated fort: Fort Frederick.
There was a grating sound coming from somewhere. We listened closely. Yes, it was there, probably coming from the camper we were pulling. We had to stop and check it out. It was a Wednesday morning and we were out in the middle of nowhere. A man in a truck behind us stopped as well. Driving slowly forward, we thought the sound was from the camper step that wasn’t in its proper place. With the step correctly stowed, we continued.
The Civil War is seemingly everywhere and touches everything. Westminster Hall and Burying Ground in downtown Baltimore has a famous resident who attracts visitors. He didn’t fight in the war, but is instead one of the country’s best-known authors. Edgar Allan Poe, was buried at Westminster after his death in 1849.
I think I found Shangri-la. Sort of. As I mentioned in an earlier article, I like cemeteries. So when I found out recently I’d be in Baltimore for several days on a family mini-vacation, I naturally looked into cemeteries in the city. When I found Green Mount, it definitely caught my eye. Joe Johnston’s buried there. That’s pretty big in the Civil War world. Then I saw Isaac Trimble. Being involved with The Gettysburg Magazine for so long, I’ve read quite a bit about the man who was part of the Pickett-Pettigrew-Trimble Charge, as it’s sometimes called. Then I saw Charles Marshall, General Lee’s aide and knew I had to visit this cemetery.
The Civil War is considered the first modern war. There were many technological advances that either debuted or saw their first widespread use in the war: rifled muskets, telegraphs, observation balloons, metal warships, submarines, and more. One of the things that helped make the war different was the use of railroads.