Categories
Historic America

St. Lawrence in Flames

In 1813, war raged between Great Britain and America. The Saint Lawrence River, dividing the two powers in North America, became a thoroughfare for bloody conflict.

The War of 1812, fought between the United States and Great Britain between 1812 and 1815, arose from a dispute over maritime trade and U.S. territorial ambitions on British Canada. The war went badly for the U.S., with British troops burning Washington, DC in August 1814. The St. Lawrence River, as the border between the United States and Canada, was a vital waterway that saw dozens of small naval battles as each side sought to control it. Both sides attacked vulnerable supply shipments being ferried up and down the river.

Battle of Ogdensburg

At the mouth of the Oswegatchie River on the south bank of the St. Lawrence River, Ogdensburg was originally a French trading settlement and home to more than 3,000 Iroquois Indians. By 1812, American settlers had built a small village and established trade with British Canadians across the seaway.

With the outbreak of hostilities, Brig. General Jacob Brown used Ogdensburg as a jumping-off point for raids on British shipping. The Americans began building Fort Oswegatchie between what is now Franklin and Elizabeth Streets on Riverside Drive to defend the village.

Categories
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.

Categories
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.”

Categories
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.

Categories
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.

Categories
Historic America Photography

Farnsworth’s Charge

Bas relief on the monument to Maj. William Wells at Gettysburg National Military Park. On the afternoon of July 3, 1863, after the final Confederate attack had been repulsed, Union cavalry commander Brig. Gen. Hugh Judson Kilpatrick ordered Brig. Gen. Elon John Farnsworth to charge the Confederate’s right flank. The terrain was rocky and uneven, and Farnsworth protested the order. Never-the-less, he obeyed, and accompanied the 1st Vermont Cavalry, commanded by Maj. William Wells. Farnsworth had two horses shot out from under him before he was killed–shot five times. Wells survived, earning the Medal of Honor.

Farnsworth’s Charge