Heritage & News - October 2003

Fort Donelson TN - Raising the Hunley SC - 'Gods & Generals' Movie (2) - Longstreet's Spy Harrison - New Gettysburg Visitor Centre (2) - Brandy Station VA - Battlefield Miscellany . (From issue 72 of Crossfire, the magazine of the ACWRT(UK)


Compiled by Ken Grant-Coker


Fort Donelson Battlefield Park


There are plans to expand the current Fort Donelson site to include the area of the Confederate breakout attempt together with the acquisition of Fort Heiman and to gain access to Fort Henry which is currently under the US Forest Service. A special Act of Congress is required and the organisers are seeking support in Congress and to raise funds for land purchase to prevent a landowner seeking to put in gravel pits and so defacing the battlefield.



Raising the Hunley


Following the raising of the Huntley there will be a funeral for the C.S.S. Hunley's crew this has been arranged for April 17 next year in Charleston SC. It is anticipated that this will be a major historic event being the last real time funerals from the Civil War and will be a fitting tribute to the brave crew. If any of you wish to attend then it advisable to book your hotels now as I am advised this will be a major event.


'Gods and Generals'


In the last review I raised the question of Stonewall Jackson and his Negro servant. Further information has come to light concerning Jackson and his relationship with not only his immediate servants but also in his community were he lived and taught. Frank O'Reilly, one of the speakers at the 50th Celebration and Historian at the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania battlefields, has said he would produce an article for a future edition of Crossfire dealing with this very point. It seems that Jackson was very keen to ensure that coloured people had a proper education and could read their bible and taught Sunday school even though it was against the local laws at the time.


Longstreet's Spy/Scout "Harrison" Finally Buried


On the 18th May 2003 General Longstreet's famous spy was finally laid to rest in Highland Cemetery, Fort Mitchell, Kentucky. A service was held to install a new CSA headstone with full honours being given and the last post being played. This followed years of research by Henry Harrison's great grandson who traced Harrison's final resting place following his death in Covington KY at the age of 91. It is believed that Harrison's information prior to the battle of Gettysburg was vital and enable Lee to combine is his forces at Gettysburg and the rest is history.


The New Gettysburg Visitor Centre


Ambitious plans to develop a new museum and visitor centre for the Gettysburg battlefield have suffered a major setback. This is because of a change in the Governorship of the State of Pennsylvania; the new governor has frozen all State grants approved by the previous Governor. One of the grants in question is a $10 million contribution to the new visitor complex, also effected was a grant to assist with the restoration of the Majestic Theatre of Gettysburg College. The loss of the grant will have a major effect on the proposed visitor centre and museum as it accounts for a third of the capital so far raised and leaves a big hole in the financing of the proposed project which was also to include restoration of some of the battlefield and the setting aside substantial funds as an endowment for future expenses.


Brandy Station Battlefield Park


The Brandy Station Battlefield Park was officially opened on the 6th June 2003 and marked the 140th anniversary of the battle fought on the 9th June 1863. The battle was the largest cavalry battle of the civil war and though tactically a Confederate victory it is generally acknowledged that it saw the coming of age of the Union cavalry. It is also believed that the battle had a major impact on the role of the cavalry in the Gettysburg campaign that followed immediately after. The Battlefield consists of some 950 acres and the Civil War Preservation Program (CWPT) has created a driving tour, hiking trails interpretative signs and parking lots to assist visitors to understand and appreciate the battle. The CWPT is an arm of the National Park Service, is made up of some 45,000 members and is the largest non-profit making battlefield preservation organisation in the United States.


Battlefield Miscellany


A number of civil war battlefield sites are fighting off attempts to develop for industry or housing and these feature Spotsylvania/Chancellorsville Battlefield - the site of Mullins Farm the scene of bitter fighting on May 1st 1863. Other battlefields under risk from developers are: the Battle of Stephenson's Depot near Winchester, Virginia and Franklin Battlefield, Tennessee, featuring a plot of land near Hood's headquarters overlooking the Carter house the scene of fierce fighting as the Confederates attempted to take Franklin and open the road to Nashville in 1864. Finally Perryville battlefield, Kentucky. The largest battlefield in Kentucky and a fight that many historians consider was a turning point in the Civil War. The news is better, for the Perryville Battlefield Preservation Association (PBPA) is to commence work on a number of houses in the battlefield area which date back to an 18th century frontier settlement and housed Union doctors. One of the houses will be converted into a visitor centre. The PBPA have recently increased the current battlefield area of 98 acres to nearly 600 acres. A reenactment of the battle will take place on 4-5 October 2003.