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Heritage and News - May 2007

Civil War Preservation Trust adds Wirral to Civil War Discovery Trail

by Len J EIIison

Designation in the Birkenhead Museum 29/11/06

(Wirral) - The Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT), America's largest nonprofit battlefield preservation group, on 29th November 2006 announced the addition of the Wirral Maritime Heritage Trail to the 600-site Civil War Discovery Trail. The Wirral Maritime Heritage Trail becomes the first Civil War Discovery Trail site in the UK and the second to be designated outside the United States, the first being the Cite de la Mer, a French maritime museum in Cherbourg, both sites have strong CSS Alabama connections.

Edwin C. Bearss, CWPT Trustee and Chief Historian Emeritus of the U.S. National Park Service, was the keynote speaker at the designation ceremonies. Prior to the designation Ed was taken on Civil War tour of Merseyside by Len Ellison a similar tour taken by Kevin Foster some weeks before. On arriving at the Birkenhead Priory to see the No 4 dock where the CSS Alabama was fitted out, to gain best advantage of viewing the site it is necessary to climb 105 steps up the Priory Tower, Kevin 48 years old refused to climb the steps Ed 82 years old climbed the steps.

Ed Bearss' Speech

The area along the River Mersey in northwestern England played a crucial role in equipping the fledgling Confederate Navy and that the most famous Confederate raider of the entire war, C.S.S. Alabama, was built at the Laird Brothers Shipyard at Birkenhead on the Wirral peninsula, across the Mersey River from Liverpool.

"Adding the Wirral Maritime Heritage Trail to the Civil War Discovery Trail brings an important dimension to our understanding of the international partnerships that supported the Confederate war effort," remarked Ed. "This formal designation of the region's role in the war will provide unique insights into the breadth and scope of what was an immensely far-reaching conflict. The Civil War did not just stop at the water's edge".

The Wirral peninsula is bordered to the west by the River Dee, to the south by Cheshire, and to the east by the River Mersey. Facing the city of Liverpool and extending into the Irish Sea, it already has a long shipbuilding tradition when Confederate leaders sent James D. Bulloch to England in 1861 with $1 million and orders to commission ships for the Confederate Navy. The posting was fortuitous since, as Ed stated, "Bulloch, like his nephew, future president Theodore Roosevelt, recognized the critical importance of sea power and the significance of the Wirral's connection to the ocean."

Ed closed by presenting The Mayor of Wirral Peter Johnson with a plaque to designate the WIirral as a site on the American Civil Discovery Trail. This was followed by Ed taking a tour of the ACW exhibition in the Birkenhead Museum, which features the original ships model of the CSS Alabama and $400,000 of Confederate bonds.

Focus On: Gettysburg

This is the start of a new series. Take one battlefield or campaign and highlight what is happening on that site. There is probably no better place to start than Gettysburg.

On Dec 20 2006, THE PA Gaming Control Board Voted NO CASINO AT GETTYSBURG. The investors say they will NOT appeal the decision!

The opposition to the casino idea began the day Crossroads announced its intentions in April 2005. The group held public meetings, seminars, and a candlelight vigil. They brought Civil War icons Lincoln, Lee, and Grant to speak at a press conference at the capital and attended every PGCB meeting wearing their signature 'No Casino Gettysburg' t-shirts. They met with various local officials where the casino proposal was to be discussed, producing voluminous research on economic impact.

They spent months of Saturdays on the street corners in Gettysburg with 'No Casino' merchandise and petitions. Their volunteers lobbied Gov. Rendell and the legislature, helping to influence the Pa House to unanimously pass a bill stating that Adams County should be off-limits for casinos. The amendment was never considered in the Senate.

Visitors Center Update

The Gettysburg Foundation announced in February that it has secured more than $93 million in funding toward its Campaign to Preserve Gettysburg.

At the same time, it revised its fundraising goal to $125 million, which includes funds to build, furnish and operate the new Museum and Visitor Center at Gettysburg National Military Park, to preserve the park's extensive collection of Civil War artifacts and archives, including the massive Cyclorama painting, to return portions of the battlefield to their 1863 appearance, and to create an endowment to support future preservation and maintenance needs. The goal also includes additional preservation projects previously handled by the Friends of the National Parks at Gettysburg. The Friends merged last summer with the Gettysburg National Battlefield Museum Foundation to form the Gettysburg Foundation.

Construction of the new Museum and Visitor Center remains on schedule for a spring 2008 opening. During February, workers put in place the cupola atop the Cyclorama gallery. The circular structure in the center of the new facility will be the first to be completed, to accommodate the ongoing conservation of the 365-foot painting. The next phase of that project will take place in the new gallery; the conservation team anticipates moving the painting into its new home later this spring.

Planning a trip this year? Here are the schedules


May 5

Doors Open Gettysburg.

Visit a number of historic buildings, on the battlefield and in town, that are normally closed to the public. This is held in conjunction with the Gettysburg Foundation and is free.

May 28

Memorial Day Parade and Ceremonies 140th Annual Memorial Day observances. Parade at 2 p.m. followed by a ceremony in the Soldiers' National Cemetery.

June 2

Annual "Friends of Gettysburg" Volunteer Work Day Sponsored by the Gettysburg Foundation.

June 9

Interpretive Summer Season Begins - Includes a full range of FREE Ranger conducted programs, walks, tours, campfire programs, living history programs, children's programs and Battle Walks offered everyday through August 11. (These dates are subject to change).

June 16

Greater Gettysburg Brass Band Festival - The Wildcat Regimental Band will present a concert on the history of the American Brass Band Movement, along with a grand concert in the afternoon. This is free at Cyclorama Center.

July 1-3

144th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg - A series of special National Park Service Ranger-Conducted Battle Walks. Free.

August 11

Last day of the Interpretive Summer Season (Subject to change)

August 25

13th Annual Civil War Music Muster Civil War brass bands, fife and drum and parlor music are presented in concert on the Cyclorama lawn followed by a concert at the Pennsylvania Monument in the early evening. Another free event.

September 15-16

World War II Weekend A living history encampment at the Eisenhower National Historic Site. Featuring Allied soldiers, a German camp, and World War II vintage jeeps and trucks.

Saturday, 9-5; Sunday, 9-4. Included in site admission. Both shuttle service and, weather permitting, on-site parking available this weekend only.

November 17

Remembrance Day Parade and Ceremonies An annual event held in conjunction with the Gettysburg Address anniversary. A parade of Civil War living history groups begins at 1:00 p.m. Sponsored by the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War.

5th Annual Remembrance Illumination, Soldiers' National Cemetery Sponsored by the Gettysburg Foundation. Luminary candles will be placed on each Civil War grave as a testament to the sacrifices made here in 1863.

November 19

144th Anniversary of the Gettysburg Address An annual observation with brief memorial services in the Soldiers' National Cemetery at 9:45 a.m..

December 1-31

An Eisenhower Christmas. The Eisenhower home is decorated in the traditions of the Eisenhower's. Some original decorations and Christmas cards will be on display..and if you can't wait, you can always listen

"The Battle at Little Round Top" - Free Podcast available from Gettysburg National Military Park.

The National Park Service now has a downloadable Podcast available for Gettysburg National Military Park. Park Ranger and historian Eric Campbell created the Podcast in cooperation with the website Civil War Traveller. The program is a 53-minute walking tour of Little Round Top on the Gettysburg battlefield. Also available for downloading is a detailed map that goes with the Podcast walking tour showing troop movements, topography, and the four stops on the tour.

The program was recorded live on the Gettysburg battlefield in the autumn of 2006. Ranger Campbell researched and presented the tour.

The Podcast is available on the park website at and directly through the website:


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