Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Hi all,
Well its been a while.. A long while.
But after a bunch of thought and praying about it, I am going res erect this thing and get it going again.

There have been a couple of changes in my life, but none stronger then dealing with a couple deep personal issues.

Now with those behind me and the 150 th coming at us like a run away freight, its time
I will be finishing up the series on the 11th NJ.

I will also post more on the New Jersey at Gettysburg day right now scheduled for July 20th.
So look for it.. And yea I promise I will update this more.
Hope you are well..
JIM

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A new fight, new project, and yea, I am stoked.

Hi all,

Well even though we don't get much attention, I am going to use this to share a concern..

A couple of years ago, it came to my attention that we had a unit from New Jersey that suffered heavily during the Gettysburg campaign. No, its not the 11th New Jersey..

I speak of the 1st New Jersey Cavalry.

Yes they fought and well I might add at Gettysburg during July 3 and the repulse of Stuarts men over on what is now called East Cavalry Field.. They have a wonderful monument over there btw.

But their main place of service was at Brandy Station where they lost their Colonel, Lt Colonel, major and squadron commander. All killed or captured or badly wounded.

The place they fought on at Brandy Station was the subject of a great deal of controversy as the Brandy Station Foundation failed to do its duty. It failed to protect the ground on which they served. And lost so heavily.

Eric Wittenberg a good friend of mine, and also well known author and Civil War historian called the BSF out on their lack of fulfilling in essence their chartered duties. It wasn't until Eric and Bud Hall basically let the world in on what the BSF had not done. And the situation was well I will not call it fully resolved yet.

The property and house that sit on top of this key position is up for sail. It carry's a tidy price tag. At least a couple of million.

Now I not a well known historian and certainly do not carry nor have the weight of authority that Bud Hall or Eric have, but I do have a voice. And a loud one. Any one of my friends including Eric will tell you that.

Ok you might ask, what is the project?? Whats got you so well worked up.....

I want to issue a call to arms to all of my Civil War friends. We have a chance to buy this land, and give it to the CWT. I wouldn't put it in the hands of the BSF unless there is a complete turnover of those who are in control now. But if you are concerned about this like I am. And want to help out and set something right. To correct a wrong that is so horrendous. Here is your chance.

I will be staying in touch with Eric.. And will find out where to send any funds.

I plan to give as soon as I know where to send the money. All I want to know is.. Are any of you, any of my other friends in? We can do no less. And if you dont want to do it for yourself. Do it for those sons of New Jersey who on a warm June day, layed it all on the line. For you and me.....

Its up to us..
TO ARMS!!!!!!
Jim

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Robert, John, Ackerman and wellll yea me!




I posted early about the impact that the 11th has had on my life. I reread that this morning, found myself thinking further on. Then in my minds eye I went back to some of the letters that McAllister wrote post Gettysburg. And even into his after action report.

Robert McAllister was a middle aged man thrust by choice mind you into one of the darkest time in our nations history.  We know that from his letters.

At the center of his belief system as it were, was his Christian faith. It matters not that he was of the Presbyterian persuasion, what matters was his deep abiding faith.

This value system as our day and age would put it, helped him to ensure that the 995 officers and men under him would be able to serve, thrive and yes even how in a strange way meet death so they could fight.

But the interesting thing was he didn't pound into his mens heads that they must do this they must do that , he lived it. Though he despised any alcoholic beverage of any kind,ever since birth, he didn't necessarily looked the other way, by his writings he understood that it was well part of other mens lives.

His example of living his faith and that's what he did. He had daily prayer and bible reading. Some joined right in as well with him, but for the most part the 11th kind of had this stand off ishness to it all.

But slowly and surely as time went on, as the war wore on, it slowlycame to be understood that well it would be good for the rest of them that they joined in.. And among them were John, Andrew and William and so many others. Till the whole regiment joined in.

I marvel at that. According to Marbakers regimental history, this all paved the way for two revivals that swept the Army of the Potomac, not once, but twice. Once after Chancelorsville and then Gettysburg.

The interesting thing though is the impact that had on Robert... He rejoiced in it, but he also seemed to be well some what in awe of it. Humbled by it.

It impacted John Schoonover.. And also Andrew Ackerman. And also Dunning. Schoonover so much that he continued it on after he took over and McAllister returned but moved up the command ladder.

Ackerman, from some of the writings, seemed to have accepted it and was beginning to embrace it all till he was killed at Gettysburg. Dunning much the same way though he is gone from the Army after Gettysburg..

So were does the "ME" come in you ask? I noted my discovery of the 11th and McAllister as a whole helped to pull me out of a tail spin that almost cause me to make decisions that would have profoundly impacted me. Most likely have shortened my life, or left me miserable.

Though I didn't fight with him, heck I didn't even live then, but in my own time and way, I did. Its most likely why when I go to Gettysburg now, and stop to pay my respects to the 11th. When I walk up to the monument, time seems to just well part. And for that sliver of time, the 11th, McAllister, John and me, well we are together. All of them.... For you see...... He not only saved all of them.. He saved me......
JIM

Monday, July 9, 2012

Back to the 11th NJ

I see there are 7 of you following this blog. I would love to see a lot more.. So if you all would be so kind to pass the word  on this I would deeply appreciate it..

I am asked repeatedly why my fascination with this regiment?  A couple of reasons..
First and foremost is its service at not only Gettysburg, but Chancellorsville and then also the rest of the war. Its two biggest points of service are first Chancellorsville and then Gettysburg. Though Gettysburg is where it basically almost gets knocked out of existence.

The other is the men who led it. Between McAllister and then the other colorful men like Kearny, and Martin and Schoonover just to name a few. All very different,  and also very strong leaders. Especially McAllister and Schoonover.

Having said that, back to Gettysburg.

We have talked about the controversy's with it.. How it got out to where it serves and then also why that is important.

We have talked about the men who led it..

But we need to talk about how it fights.....

In several books and even magazines Carrs Brigade is lumped in with the rest of Humphreys division as ones who fought a bit and then ran...

However in the first hand accounts, especially Marbakers regimental history, and then McAllisters letters the regiment was steadfast, courageous, and full filled its duty.

The casualty list bears that out. With the command structure shot to pieces, McAllister down, Kearny is mortally wounded and dies in August. The deaths of Martin, Ackerman and so many others shows that it didn't fire just a few volleys and run away. It paid a huge price.

The tendency I think is to lump the 11ths record in with the division as a whole. And thats wrong. Why does that happen? Because I for one believe the fighting for the Klingle farm, like so many other fights on July 2, is confusing, frustrating and at times tough to put all the parts together. So its easier to just say that they fought a bit and ran like the dickens.

Welll some thoughts for you to ponder....
JIM


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Interested in the 11th NJ? Me? Nahhhhh..

I have been so busy working and helping with edits on other peoples works besides having a life  I forgot to update this... My apologies.. Its been since March.. YIKES!!!

OK... Its time to get back to it.. But before I do.. A question from a co-worker got me thinking about why I have been reading and writing so much about New Jersey at Gettysburg.. And then specifically why the 11th New Jersey Volunteers.

Ever since that hot August afternoon, on a break from the heat outside at Gettysburg itself a chance meeting between myself and the wife of a historian, I have spent a great deal of time reading, researching, photographing on New Jersey there. I have so immersed myself in the research into the 11th NJ that I find myself just shaking my head at it all. Some times it has taken on a life of its own. I have also spent by now, what has to be hundreds of hours and thousands of miles driving from home to places such as Belvidere NJ, in Warren County, to Sea Girt New Jersey, to Manasquan, to Somers Point NJ, to Cape May, to Phillipsburg, to Stroudsburg Pa, Easton Pa, and even many trips to Gettysburg. And countless hours in the State Archives of New Jersey, the War College library at Carlisle, and by now ohhh 20 to 30 historical societies in New Jersey and Pa alone..  I owe an incredible debt to people like Bette in the State Archives and Sue and so many others.. And even the Monroe County historical society where I found leads into John Schoonovers life that are still slowly but surely coming into the light of day after being hidden for over a century.

I have handled the shell fragment that tore the bottom of the boot of McAllister at Gettysburg and the part of a canister round that almost killed him. I have touched the pistol that Schoonover fired most likely in every engagement that he served in.  Caress with tears in my eyes the buttons that were on McAllisters coat, the Eagles shoulder boards that he wore as a Colonel of the 11th.  My paper back edition of his letters is now so dogged eared from use and reading and rereading I just may have to replace it, as I dont want to wear out the hard bound version I know have as a gift from a very dear friend. Some one who I have come to know and cherish as a very good friend and is a nationaly known historian in his own right.

I cannot understate the impact of all of this has on my own life. My own sense of self worth. All during a time when I almost quit it all, and got off by myself for the rest of my days, surrendering to a depression so deep that it was robbing me of my sense of values, moral center, and spiritual place and peace.

All of this has played a huge role in the recovery of me. Of refinding me. It has recentered me. Especially getting to know a man who has been in Heaven now for over 100 years.  I speak of Robert McAllister.

His life, his persistence, his persevering ad midst such horrors of such magnitude that would have caused even stronger men to curl up and just die. He survived and thrived during that time. And became a leader that men looked up to. His life, his sense of duty, has caused me to rally. To as he puts it in the 11th New Jerseys regimental history, to press on... Press on.. Press on..

The men of the 11th New Jersey.. The Ackermans, Mounts, Martins, Dunning, Kearny, all of them.... I owe them a debt I will never ever be able to pay.....

Some one once said of me that I was basically a low life, with no meaning no purpose. And yes at one time he would have been right...... But now... I have been given a new life, a renewed sense of purpose. To press on.....

I can do no less.. I have to .. For not only my sake but for them as well...... I owe them that.. So I can make sure I say thank you for saving me. And in that they get the glory and the honor that is so deservedly theirs. Not mine. Theirs.....

To them..... I say thank you! And I salute each and every one of you......
JIM


Monday, March 19, 2012

11th New Jersey at Gettysburg... Part 4.. Locations, you want locations?

Hi all,
Sorry for the time lapse in the update of this blog. First day I have had to sit down, and put this together.





The 11th arrived with the rest of the III Corps some time during the early hours of July 2,1863. The very first place it finds itself is in the area behind where the statue to Father Corbys monument now stands stretching towards with the wonderful monument to the officers from New York served at Gettysburg.  Thats what this series of included photos show. The last being Corbys statue.

The interesting thing is that when the 11th NJ wakes up after falling asleep where it stopped, the view west would have been in a surreal. Before them lay the battlefield the ground they would advance, first with flags snapping in the breeze, bands playing, to take up their positions and then fight, bleed and give that last full measure..  This last photo shows the view of what they would have seen once the day had cleared and brightened. In the distance in this last shot is the Klingle Farm complex. Not quite a mile away. Oh yes btw, according to LBGs and other friends of mine.. This is the position that the III Corps was supposed to take up.

It makes my blood boil when I stand there and look out. Why? Because if Longstreets Corps advances over this ground, its a wide open killing field .. In my honest opinion it would have been a killing field. Wide open.. The area that looks like scrub and trash is the Cordori/Trostle Thicket.. Plum Run..  I will never understand it.

And the 11th NJ and the rest of the III corps units that advance out there pay for this mistake with their lives!
That makes me furious...
JIM

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The 11th New Jersey at Gettysburg Part 4 Location, Location, Location

I have shared the story of how I got start on my focus on New Jersey at Gettysburg, so I will not go over that again, unless it is felt that I needed to so. Therefore I will go from there.

One of the incredible things of New Jersey at Gettysburg is that the units from NJ were involved in almost every key part and point of the three days Even to the point of having representation in other units and means of service that included all three days. We had men who were part of Brig General, John Bufords staff, we had men in a New York battery that served on all three days. We even had men in such notable units as the 14th Brooklyn or better known as the 84th NY.

The places that still ring down through history. THE WHEATFIELD, THE VALLEY OF DEATH, THE PEACH ORCHARD, THE BRYAN FARM, or the field of Picketts Charge.. All places that are even known to those with even a basic knowledge of not only Gettysburg, but the Civil War itself.

But how many know of the FIGHT FOR THE KLINGLE FARM? If I were to take a vote I bet I might even among my closest friends get ohhhh maybe a couple of handfuls of votes. The Klingle Farm is not that well known.. And yet... 4 brigades of the Army of the Potomac basically get so badly mauled that they are never again the same as they were even before the battle.  And in the midst of this carnage not one, but TWO regiments from New Jersey. The 5th New Jersey and the 11th New Jersey.

By way of quick review, the 5th was from George Burlings 2nd NJ Brigade. And the 11th from Joseph Carrs brigade. The 5th was the orphan as the other regiments in and around the farm were from the same brigade as the 11th NJ.

So where is the farm you might ask? Its located on the Emmitsburg Road. The two more famous farms are to its south and north. On the North is the Cordori Farm. By about a 1/2 mile. To its south, by about 500 yards is the Sherfy Farm.. Both on the Emmitsburg Road.  The Klingle farm or "Klingel farm" can be found here on Gettysburg Daily http://www.gettysburgdaily.com/?p=13285. And this update gives you an great idea of the land around it. I will post some other photos later on..

This complex sits atop one of the highest points if not the highest point on what is known as the Emmitsburg Road ridge line or spur. This ridge line runs through the heart of the battlefield with its lowest points in front of the Angle and also the southern end of it as it tails off.. Its one of the reasons why Sickles moves his III Corps  out to man this spur.

So with that Introduction done, what will follow is basically the places the 11th will find itself in during its part in the fight for the farm. Its an interesting study. So stay tuned!
JIM