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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

End of the War Report

Hi all,

We had a fantastic trip to Richmond for the Civil War Tour: “End of the War: Richmond, Petersburg and Appomattox” July 22-26, 2015 with Dr. Richard Sommers, Dr. James “Bud” Robertson, Ed Bearss, Robert E. L. Krick, Jim Godburn, Ted Alexander and others.  We had more than 100 people attend including participants, speakers and guides! Thank you for coming. 

We also asked Hal Jespersen, one of our participants, if we could post a snippet of his review of the tour in Richmond for an After Action Report. Below is the beginning of his 2015 Civil War Travelogues – Chambersburg “End of the War” Seminar.

“Welcome to my 2015 travelogue pages, commemorating the fifth year of the Civil War Sesquicentennial! This report covers my trip to attend the Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce seminar, “The End of the War: Richmond, Petersburg, and Appomattox.” (This is my fourth excursion with Ted Alexander and the Chambersburg gang.) To see the entire list of my 2015 trips, go here…”

For the rest of Hal Jespersen’s day by day travelogue of the seminar, please click here.

Below are photos from our seminar. See you in September! -Ted Alexander, Lark Plessinger

Ed Bearss Symposium After-Action Report

Ed Bearss bellows to the group at the Gettysburg Battlefield.

Ed Bearss bellows to the group at the Gettysburg Battlefield.

Our Ed Bearss Symposium in April had a great turnout with nearly 50 members from all over the U.S. and Canada. Thank you for coming! Please click here to see more photos from our Ed Bearss Symposium.

We enjoyed hearing from Wayne Motts of the National Civil War Museum speak about leadership at Gettysburg as well as insights from Perry Jamieson regarding Bentonville and learning more about Falling Waters and the end of the Gettysburg Campaign.

The speakers are introduced during our Ed Bearss Symposium featuring Ted Alexander, Dennis Frye, Ed Bearss, Richard Sommers, and John Priest.

The speakers are introduced during our Ed Bearss Symposium featuring Ted Alexander, Dennis Frye, Ed Bearss, Richard Sommers, and John Priest.

Sessions at the Hampton Inn in Chambersburg also included talks by John Priest, Dr. Richard Sommers, Tom Huntington, and Dennis Frye. George Wunderlich spoke about Civil War Ballistics and the type of wound damage expected of Civil War weaponry. A lively discussion with these historians, Ed Bearss, and Ted Alexander proved insightful as they reflected on the leadership attributes of Civil War Commanders.

The view of the valley from Little Round Top.

The view of the valley from Little Round Top.

Our seminar concluded with an energetic and interesting tour of Little Round Top and Devil’s Den led by Ed Bearss. We are looking forward to visiting Gettysburg again in May as one of the stops on our tour with Lance Herdegen following the footsteps of the Iron Brigade! Please click here for more information about our 2015 Civil War Seminars & Tours.

The Ransom of Chambersburg Print

Chambersburg Civil War

To purchase the Limited Edition Ransom of Chambersburg Print, click here.

“The Ransom of Chambersburg” painting commemorates the 150th Anniversary of Brig. Gen. John McCausland’s ransom demand on the Courthouse steps on July 30, 1864 in Chambersburg. The Chamber commissioned historical artist Jeff Trexler to depict the scene in collaboration with historical consultant, Ted Alexander. A total of 150 signed and numbered prints are available for purchase at $100 each at the Heritage Center Gift Shop. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to support Civil War battlefield preservation.

The first of its kind, no other piece of artwork has ever been commissioned to depict the Chambersburg ransom demand. Historian Ted Alexander provided information on the personalities involved in the incident as well as data on uniforms and other aspects of the scene.

In the painting, General Bradley Johnson, McCausland’s second in command, is behind the General. He was from Frederick, Md. To the right of Johnson is McCausland’s aide, Captain Fitzhugh. On horseback in the plumed hat is Major Harry Gilmor, a noted raider and native of Baltimore. The citizen delegation to the left of McCausland was composed of prominent citizens such as lawyers and businessmen.

When the ransom demand was not met, the town was put to the torch. More than 500 homes, businesses and out buildings were destroyed in the fire.

Please call 717-264-7101 to purchase a print of “The Ransom of Chambersburg,” visit the Heritage Center at 100 Lincoln Way East in Chambersburg, or click here.

 

With Bearss in the Woods

Greg Bayne has kindly allowed us to publish this article he wrote about attending our 2012 seminar – “The Battles of South Mountain.” Greg is from the UK and is a member of the American Civil War Roundtable: www.acwrt.org.uk.

Enjoy! – Lark Plessinger, Program Coordinator

“We have all made that list. You know, the 100 things to do before you go up to Valhalla to talk to Massa Robert about what really happened at Gettysburg. I won’t detail my complete list out, but number 86 was recently fulfilled in an unexpected manner.

This tale also involves the “life sometimes throws up a surprise or two” trick. I had to make an unplanned trip to Virginia in October. My schedule was all over the place so I emailed all my US Contacts to say I was coming and I just might (emphasise might) be in their neck of the woods. Tom Clemens, who obviously hadn’t heard about my nocturnal snoring habit, insisted that I break my journey to Clifton Forge and stay with him and Angela and their dog Bomber. Plus if I could stay the next day, he had a very pleasant surprise for me.

That weekend the Chambersburg Civil War Seminars had organised a conference around the battles of the gaps during the Antietam campaign. A variety of speakers were on show including Ed Bearss. Ed was on the main coach and I was on the mini bus with Tom as we pulled into our first stop. It was the Schaffer House where the Union 9th Corps stopped for breakfast and lunch and I think if Franklin could have had his way, high tea as well, just below the mountain ridge. Ed skipped out of the bus and I immediately went over to say hi. “Ed,” I felt I could call him Ed, “I don’t suppose you recall the last time we met?” There was a slight twitch of his moustache as he was trying to decipher first the audacity of the approach and then the strange accent. Sensing a complete loss of face I blurted, “Oxford 2003″. An awkward moment of silence then “Ah, yes”. With a slight twinkle in his eye he was off.

Slightly crestfallen I went back to my place with the troops. The general idea of the tour was to have the whole South Mountain campaign explained by the Antietam experts, John Hoptak on most things, Joe Stahl on Fox’s Gap and Tom Clemens on Turners Gap. I say general idea because you could see Ed bubbling and bursting minute by minute until he could barely restrain himself with an impromptu running narrative. Whenever a speaker paused for breath, he was in there. We just stood and listened in awe.

We demolished the rebs on the extreme right then pursued them up to Crampton’s gap. At Crampton’s, Ed had a few moments berating some (but not all) of the previous Antietam park commissioners. I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about most of time, but it was highly amusing all the same. Then his gaze focused on me. I was completely alone having wandered off to take a few photos. He marched over on an intercept course. Catching me at the War Correspondent monument (note the irony here folks) he said, “You know, I had a very good time in England with your Round Table. Very knowledgeable group, good questions, nice people. Give my regards to them.” I smiled and mumbled “Thanks”. Before I could get my next comment in, he was off, explaining the sighting of the Confederate guns at the top of the road junction to another member of the group. Wonderful, just wonderful.

After a church hall lunch of roast chicken and Burkittsville cole slaw (a very secret recipe) went up to the Old Mountain Inn at Turners gap.  We hiked across part of the Appalachian Trail to Fox’s Gap, shadowing the Confederate defence line. Most of us trod carefully, mindful of the mud, deadfall, ticks and the odd slithery thing. Not our Ed, he was off yomping at the front. Thankfully he wore a red cap so we could keep him in sight. A short way in was a modern toilet block. Ed stopped “If any of you need to use the head, this is your last chance.” Seconds later he was off. At one point I thought I heard a voice behind me whisper. “For goodness sake tell him to slow down.” At Fox’s gap he was in good form then decided to route march to an undetermined place deeper in the forest where Haye’s was wounded. Thankfully a no trespass sign plus a large fallen tree barred our way or else he may have got there on his own, such was the rate of stragglers. Undeterred we bushwhacked back to the new North Carolina monument. I am pretty certain that we left no one behind but I couldn’t be 100% sure.

Back at the Reno monument we were treated to one of Ed’s favourite games where the participants were press ganged into Union and Confederate Regiments, “You sir,” he gravelled, “are the 3rd SC, and you are the 50th. You will oblique right and then be surprised by the Union forces in the road and take more than 50% casualties in less than five minutes.” You could almost smell the smoke as Drayton’s Brigade was destroyed piece by piece. Thankfully I was left guarding the supply train.

A traipse back to Turners gap and we had Tom Clemens wrap things up with a view of the evening assault. As darkness fell both sides lay down where they were amongst the rocks and trees. No campfires were lit such was the fear of being shot at from the darkness. Lee ordered a retreat. The Confederates slipped away quietly. The Battle of South Mountain was over.

So number 86 “Go on a Civil War tour with Ed Bearss” has been ticked off. There are three more CW related items still to tick off but let’s leave those for now. Many thanks to Tom Clemens and the Antietam team for what was a brilliant and totally unexpected day. If you ever get the chance to do number 86 for yourself, please make sure you take it.”