Monday, July 1, 2013

On A Warm July 1 Morning

On a warm summer morning one July 1, birds sang.  Perhaps children were out picking raspberries on the edge of a small town in Southeast Pennsylvania.

Perhaps some of them were picking wild strawberries.

And other picked the abundant wildflowers, perhaps to put in a bouquet for their mothers.
None of these people knew what would happen in the next three days.  At the end of July 1, 1863, 16,000. soldiers would lie dead, wounded or captured.  All together, from July 1 to July 3, 1863,  51,000 casualties....and the Confederates turned back from their aim to capture Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and force the Union to recognize the Confederate States of America.  But at what a cost.

Today, Tuesday and Wednesday are the 150th anniversary of the Civil War Battle of Gettysburg, the pivotal battle in Pennsylvania which changed the course of American history.  This battle was the bloodiest battle in the Civil War/American history. 

Thursday, July 4, will be the 150th anniversary of the fall of Vicksburg, in Mississippi, a siege which also shaped the course of American history.

In recognition of these watershed events in the Civil War, I will be devoting the next four days on my blog to the Civil War.  This won't be "just any" coverage - if you were bored to tears in school by your history classes,  I promise this will not be your school's dreaded dead or dying on arrival history instruction.  I hate dead history myself.  I know not all of my blog readers are into the Civil War, so you may want to come back on Friday for some nice wildflowers.

For today, I'd like to have Senator Angus King of Maine provide the "video" for my blog.  (If you don't want to listen to the video, a transcript of the speech is included - but I do recommend the video. You'll see why.)  It's almost 13 minutes, but it is time well spent, and will give you an overview of some of the events of this battle, including the actions of one man - Joshua Chamberlain - a man who had been a professor in a Maine college the year before.

So what else is interesting about Senator King? He was born, not in Maine (a Union state) but in Virginia (a former Confederate state). And he is an Independent (not a Republican or a Democrat) - "his own man".

In the next couple of days, I'd like to tell you some stories about the battle of Gettysburg, perhaps some you have never heard of before, including two with a local, upstate New York slant.  You'll learn things many people do not know about Joshua Chamberlain, the hero of Little Roundtop, who spent a lot of his life in Brunswick, Maine,. You'll also find out about the role my home area of upstate New York played in the Battle of Gettysburg - one you, and many others, probably have never heard of.

And, you'll read a story about Vicksburg, Mississippi, the city with a long memory which refused, I'm not going to tell you.  You'll have to come back July 4th and see.

For those joining me today in either Camp NaNoWriMo or the Ultimate Blog Challenge, welcome!


  1. I love your social history pieces....

  2. Well done - and I'm very familiar with the actions of Chamberlain - and how he closed the back door on the Confederates. His story and heroics throughout the war, not just the battle are stuff of legend.

  3. Hooray! I'm glad that you're going to be writing about the civil war, during this anniversary year. The kids and I have studied that war many times in our homeschooling, and it never fails to fascinate me. I expect to learn something new from you, as I always do!

  4. Your knowledge is impressive, Alana. It is amazing how our present is shaped by our past, even in the smallest of ways. I look forward to more of your teachings!

  5. It is so sad that the cost to any sort of freedom for anyone usually has a high count of lost lives.

  6. I love history and am intrigued. :)

  7. Goodness! I never thought I'd be so anxious to read more about the Civil War. I'm hooked!

  8. Just saying hi from UBC. I wonder why we can't learn from the past how to avoid war, instead of how to make it more devastating.

  9. Greetings from the Ultimate Blog Challenge. This is a fascinating post and I'm looking forward to the stories you have coming about Upstate NY, which is where I'm from.

  10. Great pictures of flowers and fruit in the wild beside you at this time of the year. I love wild roses. They are so much more natural than the cultivated varieties. Must admit, I've never seen wild strawberries.

  11. I've just read that you won a prize on Wordcount blog competition. Congratulations. You so deserve it. I hope you can learn something new.


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