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2018 Edwin Bearss Award Recipient: Stephen Recker

Chambersburg Civil War Seminars & Tours announced Stephen Recker as the third recipient of the Edwin C. Bearss Award during the Bearss Symposium: American Military History and Combat earlier this month.

Stephen Recker is named the 2018 recipient of the Edwin Bearss Award

Given annually, the award, encourages the study of the American Civil War era by reimbursing Recker with up to $1,000 for scholarly research on his project: “O.T. Reilly’s Sharpsburg.” Recker plans to capture and convey the importance of O.T. Reilly’s encounters with veterans and making available searchable copies of “Antietam Wavelet” and “Antietam Valley Record” and of the Shepherdstown “Register.”

“I am grateful to receive this award that will allow me to fulfill my long-time dream of scanning and interpreting 50 years of newspaper articles written by Sharpsburg’s O.T. Reilly about the veterans’ period at Antietam,” Recker said. “No other battlefield has anything like this, and I am excited to live in O. T. Reilly’s world as I compile his stories into book form for others to utilize.”

The award is given each year to a deserving author working on a non-fiction book about the Civil War in Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia or the Shenandoah Valley.

“We are pleased Stephen Recker was chosen by the committee to receive this prestigious award,” said Ted Alexander, facilitator and co-founder of Chambersburg Civil War Seminars. “Recker’s project will promote the study and understanding of the Civil War, which is paramount in preserving our American military heritage that Edwin Bearss has dedicated his life to.”

Submissions for the award were reviewed by the Ed Bearss Award Committee with Dr. Richard Sommers of the U.S. Army War College as chair. Dr. Sommers and his committee of distinguished scholars will review applications in 2019. Applications are being accepted now through February 1, 2019.

Funds raised for the award originate from donations, silent auction proceeds and raffles. The award is supported by both Chambersburg Civil War Seminars and attendees at tours held throughout the year. Interested individuals should contact Lark Plessinger at or call 717-264-7101 ext. 206 for more information or to receive an application.

Chambersburg Civil War Seminars & Tours is a division of the Greater Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce and held in partnership with historian Ted Alexander. Tours planned for 2018 include Roads to Gettysburg: Brandy Station and Second Winchester as well as Mr. Lincoln’s City & John Wilkes Booth Escape Tour. Eric Wittenberg, Bob O’Neil, Keven Pawlak, Ed Steers, Joan Chaconas, and more than 20 other speakers/guides will lead our upcoming military history tours. Please visit for more details or call Lark Plessinger at 717-264-7101 ext. 206.


Tour group listens to Tim Smith explain the Shiloh battlefield at Shiloh National Cemetery.

2018 Military History Tours

Follow in the footsteps of an assassin, walk the grounds that inspired the birth of our nation’s anthem, or see the site of the largest cavalry action in North America; Chambersburg Civil War Seminars & Tours is pleased to announce its 2018 tour schedule.

Back by popular demand, the “5th Annual National Ed Bearss Symposium” will take place April 4-8 in Chambersburg focused on all aspects of American military history along with lectures by top historians including the legendary Edwin Bearss. The Symposium will include bus tours of the decisive 1814 Battle of Baltimore that inspired Francis Scott Key to pen “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Other aspects of the tour will include colonial war sites in the lower Cumberland Valley as well as Civil War points of interest in Harrisburg, Pa. and Shepherdstown, W. Va.

“Our tours are designed to bring history to life by telling the stories and walking the hallowed grounds of sites that truly shaped our nation,” said Lark Plessinger, program coordinator of Chambersburg Civil War Seminars & Tours. “From Fort McHenry to Ford’s Theatre, our 2018 conferences will deliver an unforgettable experience.”

“Roads to Gettysburg” will also be held at the Hampton Inn on July 24-29. Eric Wittenberg will lead this popular tour and follow the path of the Blue and Gray to Gettysburg with Brandy Station (site of the largest cavalry action in North America) and the battle of Second Winchester. Bonus tours in Virginia will include Aldie, Upperville and Middleburg as well as retracing the path of Officer Mosby’s Confederacy. The conference will include sessions by well-known historians, a silent auction to raise funds for Civil War battlefield preservation and more.

Finally, “Mr. Lincoln’s City & Booth’s Escape” will happen October 10-14 in Frederick, Md. This event will retrace one of the greatest manhunts in history – the flight of John Wilkes Booth! Attendees will discover Washington, D.C. through the eyes of Abraham Lincoln led by Dr. Ed Steers and Joan Chaconas. Also included are tours of Frederick’s Civil War history (like a behind-the-scenes look at artifacts at the National Museum of Civil War Medicine) as well as visiting popular places in the South Mountain region made famous by five U.S. Presidents including Eisenhower, Lincoln, Lyndon B. Johnson, James Buchanan and Andrew Jackson.

More than 200 people from the U.S. and Canada are expected to attend the conferences, with limited seating available on each tour. For more information about the upcoming seminars, or to register, visit or call Plessinger at 717-264-7101 ext. 206. Chambersburg Civil War Seminars & Tours is a division of the Greater Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce and held in partnership with historian Ted Alexander. Special thanks to Franklin County Visitors Bureau for sponsoring the tours.


Bearss tour group

Student Scholarship for July Civil War Tour

One lucky student will have the opportunity to learn about the Civil War from some of the nation’s top historians with a full scholarship to the seminar, “On to Richmond: The Peninsula Campaign” held this July in Richmond, Va.

The Scott Hosier Scholarship will be offered to one eligible high school or college student. The scholarship covers the registration fee for the non-member complete weekend package ($685 value) to Chambersburg Civil War Seminars & Tours’ July seminar. A $100 stipend for expenses is also offered if the awardee lives outside of a 50 mile radius from Richmond, Va.

The July seminar features tours and lectures about the Peninsula Campaign, Seven Days Battles, Jeb Stuart’s ride around McClellan and more events associated with the American Civil War in 1862. More than 14 historians will speak at the event including the legendary Edwin C. Bearss who is the chief historian emeritus of the National Park Service.

To apply, please send a letter describing why you would like to attend Chambersburg Civil War Seminars and Tours’ “On to Richmond: The Peninsula Campaign,” why you should receive the scholarship and what your interest is in Civil War history. Applicants must be at least 16 years old to apply and provide proof of student status in their applications. High school and college students (both undergraduate and graduate) are eligible to apply.

Application deadline is July 10, 2017. Email applications to or mail to Chambersburg Civil War Seminars & Tours; 100 Lincoln Way East, Suite A, Chambersburg, PA 17201.

For information about the July seminar or other 2017 tours, please visit or call 717-264-7101. Chambersburg Civil War Seminars & Tours is sponsored by the Franklin County Visitors Bureau and is a division of the Greater Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce.

Lincoln at Antietam


In the first four days of October, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln visited the Army of the Potomac and General George B. McClellan on and near the Antietam battlefield. This trip reinforced the presidents resolve to issue the Emancipation Proclamation and ultimately led to McClellan’s dismissal as commander of the Army of the Potomac.

Join us as we examine Lincoln and his Antietam visit. We will have tours of the battlefield and locations where Lincoln visited , along with talks by noted Antietam historians such as John Schildt, Tom Clemens, Ted Alexander, Dennis Frye and others. Do not miss this seminar and tour of one of the Civil War’s seldom covered events.




Bearss Symposium Update

Hi Folks,

Due to maintenance  being conducted by the National Park Service at Jumonville Glen, we will not be able to visit this site of the symbolic first shots of the French and Indian War. However, we have an excellent substitute. We will be visiting the actual site of Braddock’s Defeat. Through the hospitality of Mr. Bob Messner, Director of the Braddock’s Battlefield History Center, we will visit the museum which features relics from the battle; and view a number of terrain features that remain from the battle.  Among them; the ridge line held by the French and Indians and the ford on the river where the British army crossed. This is a rare opportunity to visit a battle site that most people never see. In the afternoon we will visit Braddock’s grave and tour Fort Necessity. We look forward to seeing you.

Please contact Lark with any questions at or 717-264-7101.

Best regards,
Ted Alexander & Lark Plessinger

Gaines Mill

July 2017 Conference – On to Richmond

Hi Folks,

We are excited for our July 2017 Civil War tour to Richmond, Virginia. This year’s theme is “On to Richmond: The Peninsula Campaign.” We begin on Wednesday with a detailed tour of the lower Peninsula. This includes visits to the Monitor Center to observe the restoration of that great ship, historic Fort Monroe, extensive earthworks built by the Confederates, Williamsburg battlefield and much more. We have the go-to guy to lead this tour: author and historian John Quarstein. He also serves as the Director of the Monitor Center and oversees the Monitor’s restoration.

Thursday and Saturday will feature detailed tactical tours of the Seven Days led by master tour guides Edwin Bearss and Robert E.L. “Bobby” Krick. Superintendent Dave Ruth will open the seminar with an update on the extensive preservation that has been made on the Seven Days battlefields. We will have talks on every phase of the campaign, including a talk and tour of Jeb Stuart’s legendary Ride Around McClellan.

Friday night dinner will be a Southern BBQ buffet. Following dinner we will have a talk by award-winning McClellan biographer Ethan Rafuse.

Of course we will have our book dealer, Jim Schmick selling all the books about our subject. Many of our speakers will be available to sign their books. We will also have book raffles and our traditional    silent auction. Part of the proceeds from this event will go to the U.S.S. Monitor Center as well as friends’ groups associated with the Richmond Battlefields.

I know that I say this all of the time, but this truly promises to be one of our best seminars ever. We hope to see you there. Meanwhile, thank you for supporting our seminars.


Ted Alexander, Co -Founder



Ed Bearss Award Applications

Chambersburg Civil War Seminars & Tours is now accepting applications for the 2017 Edwin C. Bearss Award. This award is given annually to support the study of the American Civil War era by reimbursing the awardee with up to $1,000 for scholarly research.

Named in honor of Edwin “Ed” C. Bearss, the Chief Historian Emeritus of the National Park Service, the award will be given to a deserving author working on a non-fiction book about the Civil War. The publication should be focused on Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia or the Shenandoah Valley. Once chosen, the awardee will receive up to $1,000 to cover expenses related to researching their book.

“Ed Bearss has played an essential role in the study of the Civil War throughout his career and regularly educates others about it across the country,” Ted Alexander, facilitator and co-founder of Chambersburg Civil War Seminars & Tours, said. “His long term commitment to the field is astounding, and this is one way for us to show our appreciation for his diligence working with our organization and educating the public at large.”

This award is supported by both Chambersburg Civil War Seminars & Tours as well as its program attendees throughout the year. Funds are raised through donations, raffles and auction proceeds.

Applications are being accepted now through April 1, 2017. Submissions will be reviewed by the Edwin C. Bearss Award Committee. The awardee will be announced at the “On to Richmond” Civil War tour scheduled for July 26-30, 2017 in Richmond, Va.

Interested individuals should contact Lark Plessinger at or call 717-264-7101 ext. 206 for more information or to receive an application. The awardee will be notified by May 1, 2017.

Chambersburg Civil War Seminars & Tours is a division of the Greater Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce and held in partnership with historian Ted Alexander. Tours planned for 2017 will be held in Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Virginia during April, May, July and September. These programs will be led by expert historians including Edwin C. Bearss, Dr. Richard Sommers, Wayne Motts, Christopher Kolakowski, Tim Smith, Tom Parson and others.


Early Bird Pricing

We’re rewarding our participants with $30 off each Generals or Complete Weekend Package when you register early! Use code EARLY30 when registering online or call Lark at 717-264-7101 to apply the discount. (Cannot be combined with any other discounts).

Register by Feb. 1, 2017 for the Ed Bearss Symposium to receive $30 OFF a Complete Weekend Package.

Register by March 1, 2017 for the Shiloh Civil War Tour to receive $30 OFF a Generals or Complete Weekend Package.

Register by May 1, 2017 for the On to Richmond Civil War Tour to receive $30 OFF a Generals or Complete Weekend Package.

Questions? Contact Lark at or 717-264-7101.


2017 Tours: Covering New Ground

Hi Folks,

Welcome to our 2017 seminar year! This promises to be an exciting season with new and different events that we are trying for the first time. We start with the April 6-9 seminar featuring talks on all aspects of U.S. military history presented by many of the top military historians in the country.

The centerpiece of this is a tour we call George Washington on the Frontier. It will be led by battlefield guide extraordinaire Ed Bearss. Many tours cover George Washington as a Revolutionary War commander. But rarely is there a chance for you to follow Washington’s exploits on the frontier with a man who is arguably the leading battlefield guide in the country, Mr. Ed Bearss. Along the way we will see sites associated with the ill-fated Braddock Campaign of 1755. This includes the site of Fort Cumberland, a major staging point for the campaign. Step back in time as we visit Jumonville Glen. This pristine site has changed little from the time Washington ambushed a French detachment more than 260 years ago. Historians argue that the French and Indian War began at Jumonville Glenn.

The tour will include historic Fort Necessity National Battlefield. Here Washington and his men battled the French and Indians. Participants will tour the reconstructed fort and state of the art visitor center and museum. We will also visit General Braddock’s grave and other sites associated with this decisive campaign.

We look forward to seeing many of you in April. Please click here for the schedule. Thank you and we appreciate your support of our seminars and battlefield preservation.

- Ted Alexander, co-founder & facilitator

- Lark Plessinger, program coordinator

Ted Alexander’s Retirement & Roast

Hi folks,

In appreciation of Ted’s more than 40 years of work in the history field and preservation efforts, a retirement fundraiser dinner will be held on Thursday, Oct. 6 in Greencastle, Pa from 6 to 9 p.m.

ted alexanderThe Retirement & Roast will be held at the Blue Heron Events Center at 407 S. Washington St. in Greencastle, just minutes from the historic Mason Dixon Line. The event will include a delicious country buffet with fried chicken, stuffed pork chops, lasagna, salad, green beans, mixed vegetables, drinks and dessert.

Cost per person is $25 with a portion of the proceeds going toward the Preservation and Education Fund of Chambersburg Civil War Seminars & Tours as well as the Ed Bearss Award. A silent auction will also be held with books, prints and other items to raise funds for these initiatives.

Donations will be awarded that evening to various groups such as the Save Historic Antietam Foundation.

Reservations are due by Tuesday, Oct. 4. Please pay and confirm via at or send confirmation with check to: Scott C. Anderson at 397 Morgan Grove Rd, Shepherdstown, WV 25443.

Please join us in celebrating the career of Ted Alexander and raising money for historic preservation.

Thank you,
Scott Anderson & Lark Plessinger