Tag Archives: Civil War tours

Recipient of Ed Bearss Award

We are pleased to announce Dennis Frye as the 2016 recipient of the Ed Bearss Award! Given annually, the award encourages the study of the American Civil War era by reimbursing the awardee with up to $1,000 for scholarly research.

Named in honor of the esteemed, nationally-known historian, Edwin “Ed” C. Bearss, the award was presented to Frye at the Stonewall Jackson in the Valley Civil War conference last month. Frye is the Chief Historian at Harpers Ferry National Park and is the author of more than 77 articles and seven books.

“We are pleased to announce Dennis as the recipient of this prestigious award,” said Ted Alexander, facilitator and co-founder of Chambersburg Civil War Seminars. “His project, Searching for Stories: New Discoveries of the First Invasion of the North from Newspapers and the National Archives will gather primary source material for two of his upcoming books. We are honored that such a distinguished scholar will inaugurate this program to promote the study and understanding of the Civil War.”

The award is given to a deserving author working on a non-fiction book about the Civil War in Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia or the Shenandoah Valley. Applications are being accepted now through March 1, 2017. The awardee will receive up to $1,000 to cover expenses related to researching their book.

Submissions for the award are 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 2017.

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 lplessinger@chambersburg.org 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 2016 include Gettysburg Day 3 & Beyond in July as well as Lincoln at Gettysburg in September. Ed Bearss, Jeffry Wert, Joe Mieczkowski, John Schildt and more than 20 other speakers/guides will lead the Civil War tours.


Civil War Tour

2015: A Year in Review

We had one of our best years yet hosting Civil War Tours following the sesquicentennial anniversary of the Civil War!

We kicked off 2015 with our Ed Bearss Symposium in April with a bus and walking tour of Little Round Top and Devil’s Den with Ed Bearss. We heard from fantastic speakers about leadership and combat in the Civil War including Dennis Frye, Wayne Motts, Perry Jamieson, George Franks III, Dr. Richard Sommers, and others. We had a great time and a full house at the Hampton Inn in Chambersburg. To read the reviews from some of our attendees, click here.

Civil War Tours

Stop at the Antietam National Battlefield Visitors Center.

May was dedicated to following the footsteps of those Damn Blackhats with the Iron Brigade led by Lance Herdegen. We toured Gettysburg, South Mountain and Antietam with Lance. Sessions also included talks about the Iron Brigade by Tom Clemens, Dan Welch, Joe Mieczkowski, and others. Our participants had a great time on this Civil War tour – we were glad to see so many new faces at this event!

Civil War Conference

Visiting with General Grant at Appomattox.

One of our absolute favorite seminars (it may have been logistically challenging for Lark) was our trip to Richmond to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the End of the War: Richmond, Petersburg and Appomattox. We had a completely full house and heard from amazing speakers, had excellent guides and could not have asked for a better Civil War tour. Lt. Col. Ralph Peters and Dr. Bud Robertson spoke, Dr. Richard Sommers and Ed Bearss led bus tours, and we had a fantastic week in Richmond. Thank you to everyone for coming – we couldn’t ask for better guests!

Ed Bearss, Bob Allen and the group at what's left of the Garrett Farm.

Ed Bearss, Bob Allen and the group at what’s left of the Garrett Farm.

Our final 2015 Civil War seminar was focused on Lincoln. Specifically, we focused on Mr. Lincoln’s army at Gettysburg and the John Wilkes Booth Escape Tour. Guides and speakers included Ed Bearss, Bob Allen, Dan Vermilya, Ed Steers, Wayne Motts, and others. We had the opportunity to tour Gettysburg as well as Ford’s Theatre, Surratt Tavern, view Dr. Mudd House and stand on the ground of the Garrett Farm.

Now as our 27th year of tours approaches, we are working hard to finalize the 2016 itinerary and update our branding. Specifically, we have redesigned our website to make it easier for our guests to navigate and learn more about our tours. If you’re interested in the Civil War and would like to be updated about our events, please sign up for our monthly e-newsletter. If you have specific questions, please contact Lark directly at lplessinger@chambersburg.org or call 717-264-7101.

We can’t wait for our 2016 Civil War Tours! Click here for the latest updates.


Ted Alexander, Lark Plessinger

After Action Report

Report by Harry Smeltzer, author of Bull Runnings

Coverage of  our Weekend with Lance Herdegen & The Iron Brigade 

This past weekend I attended the Chambersburg Civil War Seminars & Tours event, On the Trail of Those Damn Black Hats: Weekend with Lance Herdegen & The Iron Brigade. I did so as the guest of friend and facilitator Ted Alexander, in return for coverage of the event on my Twitter and Facebook accounts. Hopefully you are all followers and were kept up to date of all the happenings – if not, you can subscribe here. Below is a recap of the event.

Friday featured presentations at seminar HQ the Hampton Inn by Lance Herdegen (see an interview with him here) on The Iron Brigade at Gainesville; Tom Clemens (see an interview with him here) on the Black Hats’ Memories of Antietam; and Dan Welch (with the Gettysburg Foundation) on Beyond the Sobriquet: The Men of the Iron Brigade. After a break for dinner, the evening concluded with Lance and “Forward! Forward! Charge! Align on the Colors!”: The Unfinished Railroad Cut at Gettysburg.

Bright and early Saturday the 40 or so attendees boarded a bus bound for South Mountain (where we stopped on the National Road at Mt. Tabor and Bolivar Roads where Lance described the brigade’s move on Turner’s Gap.) Then it was on to Antietam, and discussions at the Visitor’s Center and the Miller Farm. Finally we arrived at Gettysburg, and after lunch at the Dobbin House Lance held court near the Reynolds Wounding marker and covered the brigade’s actions in Herbst Woods and the Railroad Cut. Of course, time in the bus was spent talking about the brigade’s actions on other parts of the field, and Lance unleashed a small portion of his vast knowledge of the men and events of the Iron Brigade as well.

I decided to stay over Saturday night for a slate of talks on Sunday morning, and I’m glad I did. Lance kicked off with a more complete history of the Iron Brigade (by the way, Lance is one of the most upbeat, happy guys I’ve ever seen on tour, and it wasn’t just this time – a hail fellow well met); fellow Save Historic Antietam Foundation board member and founder of the National Civil War Medical Museum Dr. Gordon Dammann gave a delightful presentation on Civil War Medicine Hollywood Style: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly; and Gettysburg Association of Licensed Battlefield Guides President Joseph Mieczkowski concluded the formal talks with a really interesting talk on Rufus Dawes & the 6th Wisconsin at Gettysburg and Beyond. Joe is apparently a “thread puller” like me and shared some fascinating tidbits.

The seminar and tour were well-organized. Raffles and auctions held Friday and Sunday raised about $500 for battlefield preservation, which will go toward purchasing available land at Antietam (see Civil War Trust info here.) And to top it off, I got to spend some time with a couple of fellows whom I had not seen in ten years, friends from prior battlefield stomps.

Next up for Civil War Seminars & Tours is The End of the War: Richmond, Petersburg, & Appomattox, July 22-26 (see brochure here.) Speakers feature Ed Bearss (see interview here) and friend and blogger Jimmy Price (see interview here), among others (like Bud Robertson, Richard Sommers, R. E. L. Krick, John Coski, Chris Calkins, the list goes on.) Sounds like a great event – register soon if you agree!

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.

Thank you.

Dear friends of Chambersburg Civil War Seminars & Tours:

We wish all of you a wonderful holiday season and a Happy New Year! We are grateful for each of you; we could not exist without your support. Many of our friends have been with us since the beginning, and we have met many more great people along the way. We had several new faces attend our seminars in 2014, and look forward to hosting you again in 2015. Here’s a look back on 2014:

The group views Fisher's Hill during Ed Bearss talk.

This year we hosted four Civil War Seminars that attracted folks from all over the United States and Canada. Thank you for coming! Our seminars also had new developments with changing our seminar location to the Hampton Inn in Chambersburg, redesigning our website, launching a Facebook page and Twitter account as well as a monthly enewsletter. We’d like to extend our heartfelt thanks to all the staff who helped make our seminars successful from the bus companies and caterers to our logistics team. Thank you.

Thanks to the support from each of you, we raised $6,400 for battlefield preservation in 2014. These funds were donated to organizations including Monterey Pass Battlefield, Seminary Ridge Museum, Adams County Land Conservancy, Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania, Antietam National Military Park, Wood Lake Battlefield, Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation, National Civil War Museum, Monocacy National Battlefield, and the Ed Bearss Award. To date, we have raised more than $175,000 for preservation.

And a special thanks to our sponsor, Franklin County Visitors Bureau. Their 2014 sponsorship helped provide additional advertising opportunities for our seminar while encouraging tourism to our area. We look forward to working with them next year.

Remember to check out our upcoming seminars in 2015 here. See you in the new year!

-Your friends at Chambersburg 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.


Dear Editor,

It is with a deep sense of gratitude and appreciation that I am writing this letter to you regarding the Chambersburg Civil War Seminars and Tours, an affiliate of the Greater Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce. I was awarded the Scott Hosier Scholarship in late July, which allowed me to attend the “Terror on the Border: Summer of 1864” weekend. As a college student with many expenses, this scholarship gave me an opportunity that may have otherwise been impossible.

I am currently a sophomore at Lycoming College, where I double major in History and American Studies. Although I cover a wide variety of topics in my studies, learning about the Civil War is my passion. I spent my summer interning at Antietam Battlefield and the Gettysburg Seminary Ridge Museum to supplement my studies. Although these were both very enriching experiences, they cannot compare to the knowledge I acquired during my time spent at the “Terror on the Border” weekend. Touring battlefields with Civil War experts and listening to them speak on their topic at Wilson College not only provided me with new perspectives, it also gave me a new found motivation to push even harder in my studies.

As a lifelong resident of Waynesboro, the seminar was especially valuable. Learning how the area that I have grown up in was affected by the Civil War enriched how I view the heritage of our area. I believe that residents of this area would greatly benefit from the information I learned during my time at the “Terror on the Border” weekend. Personally, it helped me connect our local heritage to a larger scale.

In closing, my time spent with the Chambersburg Civil War Seminars and Tours at the “Terror on the Border” weekend stemming from the generous Scott Hosier scholarship was invaluable, and for that, I am extremely appreciative.

Thank you for your time.


Rebecca Reed

Lycoming College

Suicide Creek & Beyond: Ed Bearss, an American Icon

Our April 2014 Civil War seminar, “Weekend with Ed Bearss,” paid tribute to an American original. To preserve this rich history, we filmed four of Ed Bearss’ talks. This Ed Ed Bearss lectureBearss DVD Lecture Series is a 4 disc set from the man who some have called our greatest living national treasure. Discussions include Ed’s serious wounding in the Pacific in WWII, his work on salvaging and restoring the sunken gunboat U.S.S. Cairo, his classic work on the Battle of Brice’s Crossroads, and his personal discussions with LBJ in the planning and acquisition of the LBJ Ranch for the National Park Service.

Cost is $29.95 plus shipping and tax. A portion of the proceeds will support the Ed Bearss Award.

Click here to buy the DVD SET. Please contact Lark Plessinger to for more information at lplessinger@chambersburg.org or 717-264-7101 ext. 206.

Ed Bearss


Student Scholarship Opportunity

We are looking forward to our 2014 July seminar! Check out the details below about our student scholarship opportunity and let me know if you have any questions.

Thank you!

Lark Plessinger, Program Coordinator

The Scott Hosier Scholarship is offered during our July 2014 seminar, “Terror on the Border: Summer 1864″ and is a full scholarship covering the non-membeCivil War Seminars & Toursr complete weekend package ($645 value). A $100 stipend for expenses is also offered if the awardee lives outside of a 50 mile radius from Chambersburg, Pa. The scholarship will be awarded to one student each year. The student must be at least 16 years old and must provide proof of student status whether at a high school, university or graduate level.

To apply, please send a letter stating why you would like to attend Chambersburg Civil War Seminars & Tours’ “Terror on the Border: Summer 1864″ weekend, why you should receive the scholarship, and what your interest is in Civil War history. Applicants must provide proof of student status such as a copy of a student identification card. Application deadline is July 10, 2014. Send applications to lplessinger@chambersburg.org or mail to Chambersburg Civil War Seminars & Tours; 100 Lincoln Way E. Suite A; Chambersburg, Pa 17201.

Just days away!

Hi Folks,

Time is flying, but there is still time to sign up for our Ed Bearss weekend. This is going to be a really great event. Ed will be 91 this June. Yet he can still out hike most people. On Friday, April 4, we begin this special weekend with Ed talking about his service and wounding by the Japanese in the Pacific in WWII.  A talk on Ed’s books will follow. Terry Winschell, retired Chief Historian of Vicksburg, N.M.P. has read everything that Ed has ever written. His talk, “Reading Bearss” will provide an excellent introduction to Ed’s many published works. Next is a panel of scholars with Richard Sommers, Dennis Frye and others as we look at the man and his contributions to the history field.

After dinner Ed will present a power point program on one of his greatest preservation accomplishments, the raising and stabilization of the U.S.S. Cairo.

On Saturday, April 5  will be a walking tour of the final attack trail at Antietam.There Ed will tell the story of Burnside’s attack as only he can do. Next, the bus will go to Gettysburg for a bountiful lunch at the historic Dobbin’s House. Afterward, Ed will lead a tour of the fighting on July 1, 1863. Here is your chance to walk in the footsteps of Buford’s dismounted troopers, the Iron Brigade and Heth’s gray clad soldiers, with Americas’ premier battlefield guide. That evening we will have dinner and testimonials from many of Ed’s friends. Let us know if you would like to say something.


We will wrap up Sunday morning with a talk by Dennis Frye on his work with Ed over the years in the National Park Service. Ed will give two talks. Ed is the leading authority on the Battle of Brice’s Crossroads and his book, FORREST AT BRICE’S CROSSROADS is the definitive work on the subject. Accordingly, we could not let this weekend pass without having him give a talk on the subject. The event will conclude with Ed discussing his several meetings with President Lyndon B. Johnson and the acquisition of the LBJ Ranch by the National Park Service.


I sure hope that you can make it to this truly unique event.


Best Wishes,


Ted Alexander

Co-Founder, Chambersburg Civil War Seminars and Tours