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Historic America Photography

Stories in Stone: Erasmus D. Keyes

Monument to Maj. Gen. Erasmus Darwin Keyes (1810–1895) in West Point Cemetery, 329 Washington Road, United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. New Englander Erasmus D. Keyes led a brigade at the First Battle of Bull Run, then the Union Army of the Potomac’s IV Corps during the Peninsula Campaign. Despite having a regular Army background, his lackluster performance led to reassignment and eventual removal from command. He resigned his commission in May 1864. Later in life, he became a successful businessman in San Francisco.

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Historic America Photography

Faugh a Ballaugh!

Relief sculpture on the Irish Brigade monument, Bloody Lane, at Antietam National Battlefield. The Irish Brigade, consisting of the 63rd New York Infantry, 69th New York Infantry, 28th Massachusetts Infantry, 116th Pennsylvania Infantry, and 88th New York Infantry regiments, was first commanded by Colonel Michael Corcoran, then Brigadier General Thomas Francis Meagher, and finally Colonel Patrick Kelly. It experienced one of the highest casualty rates in the Civil War.

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Historic America Photography

Burnside’s Bridge

Burnside’s Bridge at Antietam National Battlefield, 5831 Dunker Church Road, got its name on September 17, 1862 when Union Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside’s IX Corps forced an ill-fated crossing of a stone bridge over Antietam Creek. His attack briefly succeeded, despite heavy casualties, until Confederate Maj. Gen. A.P. Hill’s Light Division arrived from Harpers Ferry and drove his men back. The bridge was recently restored.

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Historic America Photography

Hallowed Ground

Maryland State Monument on Antietam National Battlefield, 5831 Dunker Church Road, is dedicated to Marylanders who fought for both the North and South during the American Civil War. Several Maryland units fought at the Battle of Antietam, including the Baltimore Light Artillery (CSA) and the 2nd, 3rd, and 5th Maryland Infantry Regiments (USA). It reads: “Erected by the State of Maryland to her Sons, Who on this field offered their lives in maintenance of their Principles.”

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Historic America Photography

Thomas Farm

The Thomas Farm on Monocacy National Battlefield, 4632 Araby Church Road (Visitor Center) outside Frederick, Maryland. The farm was owned by Christian Keefer Thomas and is a treasure trove of Civil War history. Maj. Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock once used its brick farmhouse as a headquarters as his corps marched north to Gettysburg. On July 9, 1864, the farm was the scene of fierce fighting during the Battle of Monocacy. That fall, Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant held a council of war at the house with his cavalry chief, Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan.

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Historic America Photography

Stories in Stone: William H. Seward

Monument to U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward (1801-1872), his wife Frances Adeline Miller (1805-1865), and their family in Fort Hill Cemetery, 19 Fort Street in Auburn, Cayuga County, New York. William H. Seward was governor of New York and a U.S. senator before rising to become among the most influential secretaries of state in American history, serving from 1861 to 1869 under Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson. He was instrumental in preventing European powers from recognizing the Confederacy during the Civil War and was attacked in the same assassination plot that killed Lincoln (though Seward survived).

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Historic America

Tracing the Overland Campaign

“I propose to fight it out on this line if it takes all summer.”

Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant

In March 1864, after three years of civil war, President Abraham Lincoln promoted Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant as general-in-chief of all Union armies. His main target was to be Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. This became known as the Overland Campaign, a brutal seven weeks of near continuous combat in eastern Virginia, resulting in approximately 90,000 total casualties. The two armies fought three major battles and several smaller engagements, the locations of which you can still visit today.

The Wilderness

Fought between May 5-7, 1864, The Wilderness was the first battle of Grant’s campaign. It resulted in approximately 28,600 total casualties. Participants described the aptly-named battle as a whirlwind where front and rear were almost indistinguishable. It ended in stalemate, but rather than retreat, Grant ordered his army to move south around his enemy’s flank.

On May 6, Confederate Lt. Gen. James Longstreet was accidentally wounded by his own men while leading an attack along Orange Plank Road. This was the second time a veteran Confederate corps commander was wounded by friendly fire in the tangled Wilderness, the first being Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson at the Battle of Chancellorsville, just a few miles east of that intersection.