Historic America

Thoroughfare Gap Battlefield in Prince William County, Virginia

Hike nature trails and visit the ruins of a Colonial-Era mill at this historic battlefield in the Bull Run Mountains.

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The Battle of Thoroughfare Gap (Chapman’s Mill) was fought on August 28, 1862 between Union forces commanded by Brig. Gen. James B. Ricketts and Col. Percy Wyndham and Confederate forces commanded by Maj. Gen. James Longstreet in Fauquier and Prince William Counties, Virginia during the American Civil War. The battle was a Confederate victory, allowing two wings of the Confederate army to unite and win the Second Battle of Bull Run over the following three days. It resulted in 100 total casualties.

In late August 1862, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia squared off against Union Maj. Gen. John Pope’s Army of Virginia 40 miles from Washington, DC. Lee outmaneuvered Pope, sending Maj. Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson’s wing around Pope’s flank to destroy his supply depot at Manassas Junction. Confederate Maj. Gen. James Longstreet followed with the rest of the army. To reach Jackson, Longstreet had to pass through Thoroughfare Gap in the Bull Run Mountains.

To delay Longstreet and his 28,000-man force, Pope sent one brigade commanded by Brig. Gen. James B. Ricketts and a regiment of cavalry commanded by Col. Percy Wyndham, a British adventurer who volunteered to fight with the Union Army. Their force totaled approximately 5,000 men. On August 28, Wyndham was guarding the pass when Longstreet’s men began to march through. The cavalry retreated and sent for help, but Ricketts’ small brigade was severely outnumbered. By the time Ricketts arrived with reinforcements, Longstreet’s lead units held the high ground and easily fended off several Union attacks.

Mysterious America

Twin Haunted Mansions of Marian University

Since acquiring the Allison and Wheeler-Stokely mansions, rumors persist at this Catholic university that both former estates have an active spiritual life, and not of the religious variety.

Marian University in Indianapolis, Indiana was established in 1851 by the Sisters of St. Francis as St. Francis Normal in Oldenburg, Indiana. In 1936, it merged with Immaculate Conception Junior College to become Marian College. The Sisters of St. Francis purchased Riverdale, the former James A. Allison estate in Indianapolis, and moved in. Marian College officially opened on September 15, 1937. Its name changed to Marian University in 2009. Since occupying the Allison Mansion, and in 1963, the Wheeler-Stokely Mansion, rumors persist that both former estates have an active spiritual life, and not of the religious variety.

Built for automotive mogul James Asbury Allison (1872-1928) between 1911 and 1914, this Art & Crafts Country-style mansion quickly gained a reputation as a “house of wonders”. It was revolutionary at the time for integrating the latest advancements, including intercoms, automatic lighted closets, an indoor swimming pool, and even an electric elevator. Allison co-founded the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, co-founded the Prest-O-Lite Company, and founded the Allison Engineering Company.

Architect Herbert Bass designed the mansion’s exterior, but Allison fired him before completion and hired Philadelphia architect William Price (1861-1916) to design the interior.

The Sisters of St. Francis of Oldenberg purchased Allison’s estate at 3200 Cold Spring Road in 1936 and moved their school there, renaming it Marian College. It served as their main administration building, library, and living quarters for decades. Allison had previously worked with the Sisters of St. Francis to open a hospital in Miami Beach, Florida. After his death in 1928, rumors spread that his ethereal form remained at his beloved Indianapolis estate, which he called “Riverdale”. 

Historic America

Bulltown Historic Area and Battlefield in Braxton County, West Virginia

Camp on a Civil War battlefield and explore historic Bulltown in the Allegheny wilderness along the Little Kanawha River.

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The Battle of Bulltown was fought on October 13, 1863 between Union forces commanded by Capt. William Mattingly and Confederate forces commanded by Col. William L. Jackson in Bulltown, West Virginia during the American Civil War. The battle was a Union victory, with Confederates failing to take take their objective and cut Federal communications. It resulted in a dozen or so total casualties.

In April 1863, a small Confederate force under Brig. Gens. William E. Jones and John D. Imboden embarked on what’s become known as the “Jones–Imboden Raid” into western Virginia, a few months before West Virginia formally separated and joined the Union. They burned railroad bridges, captured supplies, and temporarily reversed Confederate military fortunes in the area. Col. Jackson had served under Brig. Gen. Imboden during the raid.

That fall, Jackson and a force of 775 men and two artillery pieces sought to capture the small Federal garrison at Bulltown in Braxton County. Capt. Mattingly had between 125 and 400 infantry with which to defend his “fort”. On October 13, Jackson divided his force and attacked piecemeal. At 8am, Jackson called on Mattingly to surrender, and he replied: “Come and take us.” Though Mattingly was wounded in the thigh, miraculously his was one of the few injuries sustained by his command all day.


Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis, Indiana

Established in 1863, Crown Hill Funeral Home and Cemetery at 700 38th Street in Indianapolis, Indiana, sprawls across 555 acres, making it the third largest private cemetery in the United States. Indianapolis architect Adolph Scherrer designed its triple-arch Gothic gatehouse at 34th Street and Boulevard Place in 1885. Crown Hill is the final resting place for one U.S. president, three vice presidents, and several governors, U.S. Senators, U.S. Representatives, industrialists, military generals, and over 190,000 other former residents. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

Brig. Gen. Abel D. Streight (1828-1892)

Monument to Brig. Gen. Abel Delos Streight (1828-1892) and family. Streight grew up in New York and moved to Indianapolis to open a publishing business just before the Civil War. He became colonel of the 51st Indiana Infantry Regiment and conducted Streight’s Raid in 1863, when he was captured and later released. He was brevetted Brigadier General after the war and served as a state senator.

Corliss Randle Ruckle (1877-1889) II

Monument to Corliss Randle Ruckle (1877-1889). Corliss was the son of Nicholas and Jane Charlotte Ruckle. He died of diphtheria at 12 years of age.

Historic America

Brandy Station Battlefield Park in Culpeper County, Virginia

Visit the scene of the largest cavalry battle on American soil, where sabres flashed and Union troopers ended Confederate cavalry dominance in Virginia.

The Battle of Brandy Station (aka Fleetwood Hill) was fought on June 9, 1863 between Union forces commanded by Maj. Gen. Alfred Pleasonton and Confederate forces commanded by Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart around Brandy Station, Virginia, during the American Civil War. The battle, which inaugurated the Gettysburg Campaign, was a marginal Confederate victory, resulting in a total of 1,430 casualties.

Late in May 1863, fresh off their victory at the Battle of Chancellorsville, Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern Virginia moved into Culpeper County in preparation for a march north to take the war into Union territory. Secrecy was essential, since Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker’s Union Army of the Potomac was still camped nearby. It was J.E.B. Stuart and his 9,500 horsemen’s job to shield Lee’s army, and Alfred Pleasonton’s job to find out what Lee was up to.

Pleasonton had at his disposal approximately 8,000 of his own troopers and 3,000 infantry from the V Corps. He divided his force into two wings and crossed the Rappahannock River at Beverly’s Ford and Kelly’s Ford, intending to envelop what he believed to be a smaller Confederate force. If not for poor coordination and quick action by Stuart, he nearly succeeded.

Mysterious America

The Falling Ghosts of Carlyle House Historic Park

From colonial aristocratic manor to dilapidated squatter’s nest to historic landmark, Carlyle House has survived centuries, but eyewitnesses claim something otherworldly has survived with it.

A Colonial Era ruin uncovered after decades hidden behind an antebellum hotel should be enough to ignite storytellers’ imaginations, but it’s reports of numerous apparitions that make Carlyle House in Alexandria, Virginia a mandatory stop on any local ghost tour. Built by Scottish merchant John Carlyle on premier lots along the Potomac River from 1751 to 1753, this mid-Georgian stone manor is older than our country. History was made in its parlor.

John Carlyle (1720-1780) began his career as an apprentice to an English merchant, but soon made his own fortune in the British colonies. He married Sarah Fairfax, daughter of William Fairfax, who was a cousin to the largest land owner in Virginia. Carlyle himself became quite wealthy, with three plantations, dozens of slaves, and several business interests.

In the French and Indian War, British General Edward Braddock used Carlyle House as his headquarters before he embarked on his ill-fated campaign into western Pennsylvania. During a conference with colonial governors at the house, Braddock and the governors clashed over British demands for the colonies to fund his campaign, an early source of tension that later led to the Revolutionary War.

Historic America

Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park in Pocahontas County, West Virginia

Visit the scene of West Virginia’s largest Civil War battle, with breathtaking mountain views.

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The Battle of Droop Mountain was fought on November 6, 1863 between Union forces commanded by Brig. Gen. William W. Averell and Confederate forces commanded by Brig. Gen. John Echols in Pocahontas County, West Virginia during the American Civil War. The battle was a complete Union victory, resulting in 394 total casualties. It effectively ended Confederate resistance in western Virginia.

In October 1863, Brig. Gen. Benjamin F. Kelley, commander of the Department of West Virginia, ordered Brig. Gen. W.W. Averell to clean out Confederate troops from the newly formed Union state of West Virginia. On November 5, 1863, Averell attacked Confederate forces under Col. William L. Jackson (approximately 600 men) at their supply depot at Mill Point. The outnumbered Confederates withdrew to Droop Mountain, where they were reinforced by Brig. Gen. John Echols’ brigade from Lewisburg, a 28-mile march. His exhausted men arrived just in time.

When Averell commenced his attack at 10am on November 6th, Echols and Jackson’s combined command totaled no more than 1,700 men (including 1,110 under Echols), while Averell brought approximately 5,000 to the fight. The fiercest fighting occurred in dense woods and steep terrain on the Confederate’s left flank. Union forces pushed their foes back into their mountaintop trenches, where a final assault by Averell’s combined force sent them fleeing for the rear. Brothers Frank and Harrison Dye fought on opposite sides of the battle, embodying why the Civil War was truly considered a war of “brother against brother.”