How Does The Civil War Qualify as the First Modern War?


Okay, welcome, this is the last lecture of
the winter lecture series. Thank you for being here, and how many of
you were here to hear James Hessler speaking today? Isn’t it wonderful that you come to Gettysburg
National Military Park and do seminars throughout the day like this, and your tax dollars at
work? Yeah, okay. Well, thank you for being here and this will
be the last one. Of course, here in the park internally, we
think in the park of tomorrow as a big day, March 12th, because we get to wear our summer
uniforms. So, you all didn’t know that, so symbolically
is the ending of the winter and passing onto the Spring. But, today we are going to talk about the
Civil War as the 1st Modern War. And, I’ve got some broad points to make,
contextual points to make, to try to put the war itself into context in world history. And, then I have a lot of detail stories that
have to do with the actual modernization of the war. We will look at newfangled weaponry, and those
kinds-of things. So, now we start with big picture. You always want to answer the “why and so
what?” questions when you are doing history. So, let’s start with the big questions and
the big points. You know, how can the Civil War be the 1st
Modern War? What context do we have to consider it’s
the 1st Modern War? Well, in the broader context of the Renaissance
it does? For fifteen years, I taught at Harrisburg
Area Community College, in the history department, I taught credit courses in the evening, while
working here by day. I would work there by evening. This would be a point that I would make over
several weeks, so we will kind-of create a quick outline, kind-of a bullet list of how
the 19th century, and how the American Civil War comes to be, which is really the first
modern century and the 1st Modern War. We start with the Renaissance. The Renaissance is from about 1400-1600 AD. And, when you think of Renaissance, you think
of Leonardo Da Vinci, Michael Angelo, and Rafael and Botticelli, and some of the artist,
and how they brought three dimension to their sculptures and paintings. You also think of the humanist writers, of
which we think of Chaucer and his Canterbury Tales. We also think about Shakespeare. There are a number of famous writers that
come out of that Renaissance period, such as Machiavelli, who is part of that same milieu. And, the Renaissance was a, it literally means
a new birth, or reborn. It’s the idea that the Middle Ages were
starting to give way to culture again. The Renaissance prided itself, those who helped
shape the Renaissance, they prided themselves in linking themselves back in antiquity with
Ancient Rome, and Ancient Greece and Ancient Egypt. And, they wanted to forget that middle period,
the Middle Ages where culture went backwards. So, the Renaissance fueled Humanism. Humanism recognizes human potential and that
became the spark or seed for the movements that would follow as in the Science Revolution,
which would be the next major movement. When you think of Science Revolution, you
think of Galileo, you think of Tycho Brahe, you think of Isaac Newton. And, they tried to scientifically explain
the heavens. They tried to mathematically come up with
equations, and quadrants, and calculus, and all of that was invented in the 1600s and
1700s to try to explain the universe in logical, mathematical terms. This was an attempt to deliberately reject
the superstition of the Middle Ages. Astrology was giving way to, “let science
typically explain what we see in the sky.” So, the Renaissance sparked that with it Humanist
Movement, then the Science Revolution, and then the Enlightenment. And, the Enlightenment, you heard the names
Locke, Rousseau, Voltaire, Diderot, Hume, Bacon and Thomas Jefferson. These were individuals who said, “okay,
if the Isaac Newton’s of the world can explain the universe scientifically, let’s explain
human needs, human government scientifically. And, so they came-up with political science. I used to work at Independence Hall in Philadelphia
in the 1980s as a ranger, and gave tours there where the Declaration and the Constitution
were both written and signed. And, the story there is our founding fathers
wanted to apply science to human behavior. Our constitution was written scientifically
to try to rule out monarchies, dictatorships, to try to bring balance to government, to
try to create a more perfect union. And, in that same tradition, you people like
Frederick the Great, and Napoleon and their disciples come along, and write about the
military in a scientific way. So, by the middle 1700s, and into the early
1800s, you these books called the Art of War that would try to scientifically explain in
formulas, not unlike Newton and Galileo trying to explain the universe mathematically, you
had people like Antoine-Henri Jomini, and others writing formulas. Napoleon’s Maxims did the same with the
idea that if you are going to make a direct frontal assault, you should have a 3-1 ratio
over the defender whom you’re attacking if you want to carry the position. Those are the kind-of things they thought
about. If you divide your forces in the face of an
enemy, you can be defeated in detail, and those kinds-of things. So, they thought scientifically about the
military. And, so industrialization is kind-of the book
end on this discussion about the Renaissance starting the thought-process of science. Industrialization became the application of
science to everyday life, and we are going to see some of those industrial breakthroughs
as we go along today. Industrialization became the practical application
of science to human affairs to human government. And, Max Weber who you see there on your right,
and Karl Marx on your left, we’re not necessarily fans of theirs, not fans of them, but if we
are going to talk about what is a modern war, then we have to acknowledge these two philosophers
and writers, in the 19th century, defined the notion of what is a pre-modern world versus
a modern world and a post-modern world. Now, pre-modern – now there’s a long definition
if you were to go back to Communist Manifesto, but the short of it is pre-modern has to do
with agriculture, it has to do with energy sources related to wind power, water power,
literal horse power, human power. And, that’s the way of the world for most
of history, history has been pre-modern. But, then the steam engine was patented by
James Watt in 1781, which set in motion a modern world. We’ll see that the application of steam
just changed the world. It’s not unlike President Clinton signing
legislation in 1996 that commercialized the internet. It went from an internal thing used by the
government to suddenly commercialize. And, the day that was signed, all malls were
dead. And, we did not know it yet, we had to wait
and watch that play-out. The Walmart’s and Targets of the world are
still reeling from that signature. That’s how technology works. The modern era would be the 19th century. And, we will define it as we go along, in
passing about post-modernism. Post-modernism is a theory that certain economic
historians hold onto that eventually there will come a time when nationalism, when competitions
between nations, including imperialism, colonialism, religious zealously, all will eventually give
way to a global world where everyone sort-of blends together. Post-modernism is controversial, but that’s
been foretold and predicted by philosophers in some look to it as a reality. Okay, so the Civil War falls within that broader
context of the Renaissance to these various movements up to the point of Industrialization
thanks to the steam engine. And, so let’s look at how the North was
modernizing on the eve of the Civil War. You are looking at a picture or lithograph
of Frederic Jones Shoes from the 1850s. There were over 1,300 shoe factories in Massachusetts
in 1860, with 60,000 plus employees in Massachusetts involved in shoes. A few years ago, I got a chance to speak in
Lynn, Massachusetts at the GAR Hall there. And, it’s a wonderful visit if you get a
chance to go, and they took me to the Lynn shoe factory. Well, some of those buildings are gone now,
they took me to the district where the original buildings were. Lynn, Massachusetts was also a major producer
of shoes, producing shoes for Civil War soldiers. So, contracts for the Union armies looked
to factories like Frederick Jones, and looked to factories like the one in Lynn. So, the North was industrializing, that’s
industrialization, which is the outgrowth of science applied to political economies. Also, the North was becoming modernized through
other examples such as McCormick Reapers. Here’s a picture of McCormick Reapers in
1847. McCormick Reaper was to the West and to wheat,
Midwest in wheat production, what the cotton gin was to the South and cotton production. It revolutionized the West to be the breadbasket
of the country, and some cases, the whole world. The McCormick Reaper, it’s a complex machine
that pull-in grains and it would cut-down on the laborious aspects of gathering wheat. By 1853, the North was modernizing in yet
other ways through the Singer Sewing Factory. And, so Singer Sewing machines allowed for
textile mills to produce even more, because now you had these sewing machines. And, there would be a room where all these
sewing machines were set-up, there was a peddle you would press, that’s how you powered
it. How many of you remember that, it’s okay? There were also steam powered ones as well
connected through pulley systems and belts. Connecticut Clocks, this is a picture of such
clock factory in New Haven, Connecticut in the 1840s. So, Connecticut was known for clocks, just
like Massachusetts was known for shoes. Lowell Mills by 1850 had converted from water
power to steam power. And, they were producing textiles, you know,
in a major way. The Springfield Armory also represents industrialization
and modernization in that within the Springfield Armory they were using jigs, fixtures, gages,
templates to replicate parts in such a way where you could make interchangeable parts. That’s important to note. In the late 1980s, I worked for two years
at Valley Forge National Military Park, and my role was to wear a tricorn hat, and sit
around a campfire on weekends for two years and I was stuck in the year 1777-1778. But, as I did that, in that time period the
Brown Bess and Charleville muskets that they carried into battle, if they were damaged,
they were only used from that point on as corduroy for the roads. You couldn’t do anything with them, because
they were made by a gunsmith by hand, and the parts were not interchangeable. By the time of the Civil War, thanks to Springfield
Armory, and Harpers Ferry Armory, you had these machines that could replicate parts. When you read accounts sometimes of the Battle
of Gettysburg, and the immediate aftermath, you read of Union contingents, regiments going
around the battlefield with horse and carriage, picking-up rifles and throwing them in the
back of a wagon. And, what are they doing? They are sending them back to Springfield
to be reconditioned, because you could just replace parts and use them again. When I worked in Appomattox in 1984, one of
the points we would make there, people would ask, “This is where the Confederates surrendered,
this is where the Confederates gave-up all their weapons, where are those weapons?” I suppose it was kind-of silly, but the Confederates
worried that if they surrendered their weapons, they would be used against them by other Union
forces combating other Confederate forces still in resistance from Virginia through
North Carolina all the way to Texas. And, so there were some Confederates who buried
their rifles, and those sort-of things still turn-up today. There are stories of complete cannons being
buried. And, it’s silly because the North had more
than enough. They took the Confederates weapons that they
gathered at the surrender and used them for corduroy in the route back to Washington,
as their armies marched back to a victory celebration in Washington D.C. But, the Springfield Armory then represents
industrialization, modernization. And, if you study the history of technology,
armory in Springfield is really important, because it represents the introduction of
interchangeable parts. Singer Sewing machine, there were interchangeable
parts there too, but they had to do some filing to make things fit better. The first fully assembled devices that you
could buy were Western Bycycles in the 1890s. And, then Henry Ford perfected it with the
Model-T in 1914 with full assembly. Once you have full assembly, it was sort-of
the end of the craft tradition, which is tragic and sad. I suppose from a technology perspective, though,
it represents the fulfillment of what Springfield Armory started. The North was modernizing too economically. Banks were starting to appear all throughout
the North. I should say this in the way of background. If you were to travel back to 1810s, 1820s,
there were virtually no banks. There was a National Bank, and there were
some Wildcat Banks in the 1830s that printed their own money, or depended on loans from
state banks. But, banks were very limited, because there
was not a lot of capital in this country. If you really wanted a loan, let’s say to
buy expensive material to build a railroad, you had to either a loan from Great Britain,
or you took a loan from a merchant who would dock in New York Harbor, for instance, or
Charleston. And so, money was handled not through banks
but merchants. Well, that was changing by the 1850s. There was more and more money being generated
by industrialization in the North. So, you had banks, Wall Street came into existence. In Chicago, they had their Union Stockyard
by 1865, but that was on the heels of having produced three times more Civil War beef,
over 100,000 beef per year produced for the Union armies, during the war. So then, Chicago as the war was ending, went
ahead and opened their stock exchange. Telegraphs helped stock markets come into
existence. Why? It is because, knowledge is power. If you can get information on an incredible
crop, let’s say out in the Midwest, an incredible bounty of wheat, and you know about it, and
you’re living in New York City, you can buy it by telegraph, because you got the news
by telegraph. You buy it before anyone else, and then you
sell it at higher shares to everyone else and make a profit. So, the telegraph went hand-in-hand with the
stock market. The North was modernizing. I think I mentioned this to Larry the other
day, because Larry and I have these good discussions, about the Erie Canal. Occasionally in the classroom this provocative
point is made that the Civil War would not have been fought without construction of the
Erie Canal. And, when it was completed in 1825, it linked
the Hudson with Lake Erie, which linked New York through Lake Erie to the Midwest, and
specifically more-so than any other place, Chicago. But, you know, the Midwest today we consider
to be Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota and Ohio. We would consider those the Midwest states. Those states prior to the Erie Canal’s construction
were economically connected with St. Louis, New Orleans and the Gulf via what body of
water? It was the Mississippi. And so, the Erie Canal, the argument goes,
connected the Midwest economically with the Northeast, and then rail just reinforced that. And, then once those economic connections
were rearranged, then eventually there were political alignments that went along with
that. So, sectionalism, which is a major cause of
the Civil War, where the South and North were virtually not speaking and not trading, the
Erie Canal played a role in that. But, it’s all part of pulling the North
together toward modernization. And, then rail would eventually just reinforce
all of that. So, the stage was set for the 1st Modern War. You had steam ships, steam trains, steam factories
and so-on. So, now we are moving from the very broad
to the very specific now. And, we are going to talk about, let’s start
with balloons. And, I am going to tell a lot of stories. I love telling stories, and narratives are
fun, but they are meaningful stories, and they help make the point. One of the mediums, or lenses that we look
at the past through is through people. You know, great events, great men, great women. But then, if we refine the great men and great
women lens to look at the past through, there’s also conflict between men and men, women and
women. That’s a major theme all throughout history. Envies and jealousies and conflict, it goes
on-and-on, and competition. Thaddeus Lowe and John La Mountain, both had
the desire to be the chief contractor for balloons in the Union army. And so, they would not only approach the Army
of the Potomac, but they would approach officials in Washington and make their bid to be the
supplier of balloons. And, before I move on, let me say something
about how aero pilots were received back then. Aero pilots, or balloon pilots, if you will,
were seen in the armies as eccentric people. They were seen, they dressed a little different,
they carried sextants in their hand, you know this instruments for measurement, they carried
these bulky contraptions, these hydrogen inflators and they had wagons. And, they had titles that gave them status,
but the average soldier never acknowledged them as official military. So, chains of command were always precarious
trying to work through the contracted balloonist. And, I will make a broader point about that. Some of you have been out there with me on
my Samuel Johnston walk. And, he did the reconnaissance for General
Longstreet’s attack on the Union left, the Round Tops and Wheatfield and that part of
the battlefield. And, you know that Samuel Johnston, there
were problems after the war when Confederate veterans corresponded with him, about exactly
what he was doing, and did he make it to Little Round Top, and could he have made it to Little
Round Top? And, seeing what he saw, or not seeing what
he saw – some of you know that story real well, — well, one the problems with Samuel
Johnston, in the Army of Northern Virginia, is that he would be considered an outsider,
not unlike the balloonist. “This eccentric subcontractor that was brought
in, he was not official army, and we don’t know if we should listen to him or not. He didn’t go to West Point, and he doesn’t
wear our uniform, and we are not sure where he falls into our order.” The average soldier would have walked past
both of these individuals and looked at them, you know, strangely. Thaddeus Lowe eventually got the primary contract. He would send-up balloons not only along the
Rappahannock River, but the Rapidan, and he would keep a constant eye on the Confederates. But, he would send-up his balloon in other
places in Virginia, depending on where the armies moved. And, the Intrepid is synonymous with Thaddeus
S.D. Lowe. Now, the Intrepid, one incident involving
it was that it was captured in a flight from Cincinnati to Charleston. It just so happened to land right after the
firing on Fort Sumter. That’s really bad timing isn’t it? And, so after some explanations and official
letters, the Confederates let him go, and he made it back North again. But, I mention that story because that story
spread throughout the South, and it also spread throughout portions of the Union army as well,
and so it just added towards the mistrust that the average soldier had toward an aero
pilot. “Here’s an individual that floated off-course
it seems like several hundred miles,” or that’s how the story evolved. The average soldier also looked at the balloonist
in the light of going to a county fair or carnival. They would go there, and they would have the
balloon ride. Have you ever taken a balloon ride? And, you hear the fire blast forth. I don’t know how that sounds on Facebook. But, the balloon would go-up on a tether,
and then you would be able to look across the countryside. And, those balloons were a novelty. And, they seemed to be a carnival act, seemed
to be the outgrowth of charlatan-like behavior. So, the average soldier the average soldier
in the ranks did not know what to do with the aero pilot. And, okay Thaddeus Lowe did most of the ballooning
near Confederate lines. Notice the contraptions here that I made a
reference to, as in the hydrogen or oxygen tanks that would inflate the balloons. These balloons were very prop heavy. And, of course, tethered means you are using
a rope or chain to allow the balloon to go-up to a certain distance. And, we can see one of the pilots there on
his mission. And, the balloons would be raised to a certain
level so that a telegrapher could telegraph what he saw from this bird’s-eye perspective. And, the telegrapher would have cartographer
ability, so they would map-make. I suppose the equivalent today would be Google
Earth. But, they would be high above, and they – You
know, there was a point just before the Gettysburg Campaign where Thaddeus Lowe would have had
upwards of seven balloons, tethered above the Rappahannock, watching the Confederate
movements south of the Rappahannock, all throughout the day, and watching their campfires at night. And, so when General Lee stole a march to
come North, you may not know this, but as he moved North, around the federal right flank,
into the Shenandoah-Cumberland Valley – again going North up-through Maryland into Pennsylvania
– as he did that, the Confederates left a lot of campfires burning to keep the balloonists
unsuspicious of the flanking maneuver that was occurring. Other ways the Confederates tried to fool
the balloonists, the aero pilot, is they tried to cut down trees to the trunk and then paint
the trunks black so they looked like artillery pieces from the sky. This was very precise as we talk about the
1st Modern War, the balloonist on a tether, could save a lot of running around, and a
lot of wasted time and energy. If they spotted what looked like Confederate
movements of cavalry or infantry, the aero pilot could make a precise reading, and that
would allow him to telegraph that to the ground, and that would allow a commander to send out
a precise amount of cavalry to check-it-out, to debunk it, or to affirm it. This is the George Washington Parke Custis
floating from a coal barge on the Potomac early in the war. This would be considered, along with the Teaser
– some of you know that the Confederates had a barge like this that floated up and
down the James River, during the Peninsula Campaign, in May and June of 1862. And, a balloon was connected to a barge so
that McClellan could be studied from the air. Do you know who the pilot was in that one
Confederate balloon? It was Edward Porter Alexander, who commanded
artillery for Pickett’s Charge here. So, he would have been one of those eccentric
people that somehow eventually fit-in. But, the balloon being pulled along the barge
has caused modern technology historians to say these were the first examples of modern
aircraft carriers. So, there you go, okay. Okay, and then you have – notice I’m jumping
around to different themes, the broader theme is the Science Revolution which leads to Industrialization,
which leads to the 1st Modern War. But, there are some other themes going on,
just underneath that, and this one, or one of those is personalities, and how they come
into play. And, so here we see Joseph Henry and Samuel
F.B. Morse. And, when you think of them, you immediately
think of Morse Code and you think of the telegraph. Joseph Henry was working with electromagnetism,
and impulses that were communicated in a telegraph fashion before Morse, and he inspired Morse. But, as is often the case, one person gets
the credit, and there are others who are discovered a little bit later. Thomas Edison wasn’t the only person who
ever worked with electricity. Have you heard of Nicholas Tesla? Alright, but only recently is Tesla getting
his due, though it took over a century. It’s usually one person who beats the others
to the patent office. That allows me to make this point, this broader
contextual point. That is, if you go back and do a little research
when the program is over, go online and check, “how many patents were there in the 19th
century filed to the government in Washington D.C?” And, it’s thousands. Everyone became their own personal inventor. You read, I mean there was this incredible
fascination with science. And, so this is a really good broader contextual
point. If you read diaries and memoirs, let me stick
with diaries in particular, if you read diaries of the 19th century, oftentimes the person
keeping the diary starts-out every morning with the weather and temperature. They will go outside and record those things,
they thought of themselves as their own personal scientist. In the early 1920s, people buy their own radio
kits and buy their own radio. They thought of themselves as scientific doing
that. So, there was this fascination with the Renaissance
and carried all the way up, even unto this present day. As I hold this device in front of you, it’s
a modern version of what we’re about to talk about. Okay, and so in the field, the telegraph wires
were called the grapevine. Have you heard that expression, I heard it
through the grapevine? That’s where it comes from. And, the grapevine connected for the first
time, we’re talking about the 1st Modern War, for the first time in history, divisional
headquarters and corps headquarters were connected by wire, so that there was communication within
the lines. And, I’m thinking of Frank O’Reilly’s
excellent on the Battle of Fredericksburg. You all know that about that book. One of his arguments is that the main attack,
or what we think of as the main attack at Fredericksburg, involving Burnside’s repeated,
seemingly futile attacks against Marye’s Heights, and the stone wall, Frank argues
those were not the main attacks. Those were the diversionary attacks. And that Burnside kept ordering them over
and over and over, not out of futility, but to try to give William Franklin a chance on
his left to coordinate, turn the Confederate right flank, cut them off from Richmond, cut-off
their water supply along the Rappahannock, and cut-off the road to Richmond from Fredericksburg. It is an intelligent argument isn’t it? Very, very good argument, and in any case,
he’s a good friend of mine, very, very smart book. But, one of the points that Frank makes is
that Burnside set-up wires to Franklin, so that his subordinates, Reynolds and Meade
would make their attack against Jackson’s portion of the line at the right time. That is, Burnside set-up the grapevine to
connect the main attack with Franklin, the diversionary attack of Burnside against Marye’s
Heights, and that Franklin never hooked-up the wire and made the connection. Okay, and that Burnside, when he was brought
before the Committee on the Conduct of War in Washington, the congressional hearings,
he was the gentleman, took the blame himself and never put the blame on Franklin. I should say something technical, because
when you are doing technology history, we have to bring-in some of the technical aspects
too. Impulses, okay, so through electromagnetism
you have impulses, they were transmitted through copper. Copper could easily break, so you had the
option of transmitting these signals through iron, but iron is not a good conductor, so
what these soldiers or telegraphers were doing, in the field by the 1860s, is they would wrap
copper around the iron to get the best of both worlds. And, then wrapping them both up in cloth,
putting them underground. Well, the problem with that is the cloth deteriorated
and eventually it affected the connection, because there would be corrosive qualities
with the copper. So, it led to what we look at is telephone
poles. So, that’s why that comes into existence. Telegraph typically followed rail lines because
the right-of-way was already cleared with the rail line. You know how today there will be wires that
you see riding down along the highway, and you’ll look to the top of the hill and there’s
high-wire cables extending all the way up? There are these magnificient towers and a
clearing in the woods that go all the way up to the top. But, also if you look carefully, you’ll
see cell phone towers in that same space. And, the reason is because the utility company
already has a right-of-way, which if you’re a cell phone company, you use that right-of-way
and you don’t have to invent the wheel all over again, getting permissions across private
property. The same is true with the telegraph. The telegraph ran along rail, because that
was already circumvented through peoples’ properties. Also, rail followed the shortest distance
between two points. Roads will meander. Rail tends to go very straight. And, then rail is a good plumb bob or chalk
line to guide on. Armies tended to follow rail, because they
knew that if they looked on a map and followed rail, it would always lead them to where they
were going. It was an axis they could trust. Notice I have the letters LOC that stands
for lines of communication. That’s a military term. Lines of communication also include lines
of supply. If you are advancing, along a rail line, not
only can you control the rail, and protect it, but you have communications the whole
way. Communications mean supply trains are coming-up,
as well as control of the telegraph. So, telegraph would follow rail. Armies tended to march along rail. It’s not a coincidence that Robert E. Lee’s
Army followed the Cumberland Valley Rail Line, and that Stuart’s cavalry followed the Northern
Central Rail Line to try and meet them in Carlisle. There’s a rail line the whole way. So, the rail line would dictate a lot of those
things. And, then as we continue to talk about the
1st Modern War, now look at the clock, the time is just running away from me here. But, there were two companies that were private
companies that immediately helped out the armies. One was the American Telegraph Company, the
other the Western Telegraph. The American Telegraph was preferred early-on
by the Union Army, but the trouble with the American Telegraph Company was that it ran
across sectional lines from North to South. So, when the war started, something like half
their customers were in alien, that is, in enemy territory. So, financially American Telegraph did not
survive the sectional split. Western Telegraph survived really all the
way up to modern times, and Western Telegraph still exists. They ran more laterally, more horizontally
East to West, and that helped them survive. And, then a sub-category under that would
be the military telegraph, and the military telegraph was tied-to a signal flag corps. And, so let’s talk a little about the Signal
Corps, and relate that to the telegraph. Now, let’s use a personal example at Little
Round Top. Little Round Top, along with Cemetery Hill
and Powers Hill were the three primary signal flag stations here at Gettysburg. I imagine most of you knew that. And, so at any given time, you would see someone
standing with a white flag with a red border, or red flag with white trim, and that flag
would be waved from atop Round Top to, let’s say, to a signal station on Cemetery Hill
and over to Powers Hill. The Confederates watched all these signals,
by the way, trying to decode them, and were not able to break the code. You here coaches sometimes complaining about
someone watching their signals on the sideline. The armies did that during the Civil War too. But, you would see the flag, for instance,
if you were on Cemetery Hill, and you were looking through your field glasses, from your
signal station on Cemetery Hill to the Union signal station on Little Round Top. As you looked through your field glasses,
and you saw the flag waggle, a couple times to the right and once forward, you took out
your cipher disc and turned it, and that might be the letter “H” or “L.” And, so
they were able to communicate through what is called aerial telegraphy, or semaphore
communication. Now, balloons were not here at Gettysburg. We talked about balloons. One reason they were not here is because the
Confederates tore-out so much rail, it was impossible to transport them from Northern
Virginia. Secondly, the battle happened so quickly,
relatively speaking after General Lee left Virginia, that there wasn’t time for all
federal logistics to catch-up. The balloons were bulky and they needed rail
transportation to be there. Well, how did the federals compensate here
at Gettysburg? They picked the hilltops that I mentioned
so that they could communicate. That information would be transcribed and
then passed to generals and then generals would communicate. There was a telegraph station out on Hanover
Road near East Cavalry Battlefield. That was another one. And, then there was one for a short while
on Steven’s Knoll, or McKnight’s Knoll next to Culp’s Hill. So, the federals were using those signal stations
effectively. And, so the Confederates were on the outside,
the Federals had the interior lines. So, their communications wouldn’t be easily
be seen by flag across Union lines. Can you see that problem, that’s another
problem with exterior lines. Now, today that can be overcome through what’s
called super lateral communications. Super lateral communication is wireless communication,
it’s aviation, it’s satellite communication, so you no longer need interior lines to communicate
quickly. You have technological advancements that compensate
for all that. And, you have transportation systems that
can take you, let’s say, from one side or the other of an interior position just as
fast as if you had interior lines. Now, the signal station – how do you like
my gif there? I was real proud of that. And, the signal station on Little Round Top,
this is fascinating now, they communicated with Jack’s Mountain, which is about twelve
miles west of here, out in the vicinity of Fairfield and Ski Liberty. If you know where to look, you can see it
from Little Round Top. On Jack’s Mountain, for a while, until the
Confederates went up to the top of it on July 3rd, and ran the signal station off, and captured
a few. Prior to that the Jack’s Mountain signal
station waited for signals that General Meade wanted to send to Washington D.C. They would be sent from Little Round Top to
Jack’s Mountain, from Jack’s Mountain there was a line of sight to Harpers Hill,
which is four miles south of Big Round Top. From Harpers Hill, there was a signal station
that had a line of sight to Indian Lookout Mountain, that would be where Mount Saint
Mary’s is. From there, the Western Maryland line did
not have telegraph. Do you all like this kind-of information? If you want credibility, you want to bring
details into a discussion. There was a group called the Adams Express,
and there were twelve horses, and the horses would run at breakneck speed, even to their
death, to a premature death, to carry messages from Emmitsburg to just north of Baltimore,
and from Baltimore along the B&O, telegraph communications would go all the way from Baltimore
to Washington D.C. By the way, the station where Adams Express
would arrive, with the horse from Emmitsburg, was called Relay Station. For those who like those kinds-of details,
it is just north of Baltimore. So, theoretically within three hours a message
from Little Round Top could reach the White House. And, so that is how they compensated with
having to fight the battle before all those grapevines were in place. Okay, and we are looking at a map that’s
put out by the census bureau, in concert with the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, and
it’s on the Hofstra page. And, it shows us what rail lines looked like
in 1860, and where the greatest populations were near those rail centers. Now, it’s important as we talk about rail
as part of the 1st Modern War to make the point that the North had a lot more rail than
the South did. Can you see that? The South typically, if you do a study of
Southern railroads, before the Civil War, the South tended to build rail lines from
places like Charlestown, South Carolina, Wilmington, North Carolina, Savannah, Georgia on an East-West
construction, out to somewhere in the Piedmont region of one of those states, and then it
didn’t connect to anything. There were no trunks that they were intentionally
connected to. The North had a problem with their rail lines. They had trunks. There was a trunk in Harrisburg, for instance,
that brought together several lines, one from Delaware, one from Philadelphia, one from
the Ohio Valley, and then of course, from the Northern Central that came up from the
B&0 at Washington and Baltimore. But, the North had the problem that there
were many different rail companies, and they were in competition with each other, and they
didn’t want to unite, and they didn’t want the federal government to control their
rates. They wanted to have their own companies. So, you had the Northern Central, the B&O,
the Cumberland Valley, the Hanover-Gettysburg line. They were all, they had different gauge track. There was so such thing as standard time. That didn’t come about until the 1880s,
where there was Eastern, Pacific and Central time. That would come later because of some horrific
train wrecks. The rail, then, the problem then in the North
was one company would have a line end in a city like Baltimore, and if you wanted to
transfer, there was all this entourage of people, haulers and carters, that would unpack
all of your material from one rail company and put it on a train of another rail company. And, that was so you stay overnight in one
of their hotels and dine in their restaurants. So, that’s why cities were in collusion
with these rail companies. They wanted people to take time to transfer. That caused problems during the Civil War,
because the rail lines were not integrated yet, different grades of track, you had different
gauges, different deepness in grade, some rail had sidetracks where you could park vehicles
off to the side, others didn’t. Now, some of the more famous stories, I told
you I wanted to integrate some stories, some of the more famous stories related to rail
during the war, and how it’s part of the 1st Modern War. One was Longstreet’s 5,000 troops, you know
McLaws’ and Hood’s divisions transferred to Chickamauga, where the battle was from
September 18th to 20th, but they arrived to participate on the 20th. And, those 5,000 troops became pivotal in
the outcome of Chickamauga in Tennessee. There were six different railroad companies
used, 775 miles of track. And, the Confederates were sitting on the
rooftops during the ride. Again, there was no central control in command,
and that was one of the problems of the Confederacy. Their lack of central government made it very
difficult for all the rail companies to work together for the military to use them to their
advantage. Oh, before I go to this one, let me add a
couple more stories. When you think of the Confederacy using rail,
another example would be the battle of First Manassas, First Bull Run, and the Manassas
Gap Railroad was used by Joseph Johnston’s troops, and they arrived just in time to support
Beauregard against the fight against McDowell at the Battle of First Bull Run. Another famous Southern example of rail, bringing
troops in the nick of time, was Stonewall Jackson’s joining of Lee in the Seven Days
Battles, or the Peninsula Campaign. After Jackson fought in the Valley, he had
his troops board, well it was a little more complicated than that, a little more complex,
but they eventually boarded the Central Virginia line and it brought them to just outside of
Richmond, where they were able to join Lee’s push of McClellan back on the James River,
and his exit via the Chesapeake. On the Union side, you had an interesting
story. The Union 11th and 12th Corps were sent to
Tennessee, shortly after the Gettysburg Campaign. This would have been in late September of
1863. After the Confederates had shifted troops
and won the Battle of Chickamauga, and the federals under Rosecrans had to fall back
on their defenses in Chattanooga, and the Confederates were starting to lay siege there,
the federals countered by taking the 11th and 12th Corps, later combined and became
the 20th Corps. But, they were taken from Meade’s Army of
the Potomac, placed on the B&O line where they would eventually access the Louisville
line, and that would take them essentially to the banks of the Tennessee River. And, so they were able to travel with 20,000
men, 1,200 miles, in less than a week. That’s all part of the 1st Modern War. You have to understand that no previous war
has an example of this. So, this was all monumental. And, technology has always been about who
is quicker to adapt. If you adapt to a new technology, you have
an advantage over people. Those who don’t adapt as quickly tend to
lose – it’s that way all through history folks. When you teach the Hittites, they were able
to overthrow Northern Egypt, because they adapted to the new technology of iron, which
was stronger in battle than was copper, and brass, and bronze. So, if you have a new technology and you put
it to use quicker, you are likely to benefit, while the other person is catching up to speed. Of the units that were in that shift, from
Meade’s Army on the banks of the Potomac to Tennessee, were 11th and 12th Corps. And, one of the brigades was George Sears
Greene’s brigade, Pap Greene that fought on Culp’s Hill at Gettysburg here. The 149th New York from Syracuse, and the
60th New York from Ogdensburg, you can go on down the list, the 137th New York from
Binghamton. Those New York boys, when they were traveling
South, they took all kinds of tools, implements, you know, axes, for example, and they chopped-up
the box cars so they could get fresh air. And, I remember when I was first reading that
I thought, “what if they used some of the same axes that they built those fortifications
on Culp’s Hill with?” Those folks, those New Yorkers from Greene’s
brigade, Geary’s division could rearrange a train car, a freight car as well as they
could rearrange the earth over on Culp’s Hill. I mentioned Ruger NYC. Ruger’s brigade of 12th Corps, you all know
they fought on lower Culp’s Hill during this battle. They made that ill-fated charge with the 27th
Indiana, 2nd Mass made that ill-fated charge across Spangler Meadow and they lost a lot
of men. Well, they recovered well enough to within
just a few weeks after that were on a train headed north, and they would help quell, or
put down the draft riots in New York City. That’s pulling double-duty isn’t it? But, it’s not possible without rail. That’s the underlying point here. Hospital trains are important. This is another big picture point. Did you all know there was a hospital here
for over four months called Camp Letterman? And, it was east of Gettysburg, and not far
from where Giant food store and Walmart is today, along the York Pike. There were, at any given time, there were
upwards of 1,600 beds, sort-of like applying for a nursing home, or institution, or hospital,
or something, and would have to wait for a bed. But, there were still way more troops processed
through Camp Letterman than actually had a bed, way more than 1,600. It is a very bad notion to say there were
only 1,600 cared for at Camp Letterman. There was something like 20,000 wounded patients
processed through Camp Letterman. Not all of them got a bed. Only 1,600 got a bed. Keep in mind, where did the other 18,400 go? They boarded a train not far from where Walmart
is today, and they were taken, with whatever their would was, they were taken to Philadelphia,
Harrisburg, Baltimore or in Washington. And, within a few hours, they went to a place
where there was a better ration of help to need. So, they suddenly had a bed, and more doctors
and nurses caring for them. And, when I went to Walter Reed Medical Museum
a few years ago, with another ranger here, and we visited there, they gave us a behind
the scenes tour, and they let us handle with cotton gloves, two skulls of people who had
fought in this battle, who had died in Washington D.C. And, the first point they made was, “those
people died something like a week or two after the battle, in Washington.” How did that happen? It is because of rail, the 1st Modern War. Now, let me put that in context. Do you remember after Hurricane Katrina in
2005, there were all of these buses parked outside of New Orleans, and they, while the
city was flooded, and helicopters were taking people off their roofs and putting them on
buses, the buses took them to Atlanta, to the Houston Astrodome, to San Antonio, and
gave them shelter, and pets were being adopted all through the United States from there,
and there was a dispersal of people from the flood area, because the area was overtaxed
even for drinkable water. Do you remember that? Alright, now think of that example as it relates
to rail at Gettysburg, of dispersing the need into the population, where there’s a greater
ratio of help to need. Isn’t that fascinating? Today, if a soldier is wounded in Afghanistan,
theoretically within a few hours he can be convalescing in Germany, far from the scene
of action. And, then theoretically within a couple of
weeks, or less than that, he can be at Fort Hood, Texas way from the scene. Now, his mind is still swimming from what
he endured, and may for years, and he may never fully recover, but he is geographically
far from where he fought. The first war in human history to remove someone,
from the battlefield, that quickly was the Civil War. Gettysburg is a great example of that. It’s the 1st Modern War. Hanover Junction would have been the primary
link from the Northern Central to Gettysburg, via the Hanover-Gettysburg line. So, Hanover-Junction was a really important
holding area. If you look at some of General Meade’s original
orders, his Pipe Creek orders, Hanover was one of the four options where the battle might
take place. You all know that because of the rail. Okay, that was important, and it turns out
that the Confederate troops were not that far east. Jubal Early’s troops marched back towards
the South Mountain, and the battle ended up closer to, and in Gettysburg. Jubal Early burned twenty-two bridges, from
Gettysburg to Hanover Junction. Did you all know that? Twenty-two bridges, it is like I tell people
in the field, these are random acts of violence, and these are not anger management issues,
this was intended to target the rail. General Pickett’s division, you know one
of the reasons why they were not here at Gettysburg until the evening of July 2nd and on the battlefield
July 3rd, it is because they were tearing up rail along the Cumberland Valley line. You know why? So, the federals could not transport troops
in from the Ohio Valley to join the fray. Rail is very important, you know, so. And, Lincoln, when he came to speak, he used
the same line and he stopped at Hanover Junction, and Grant came there in 1869 and sat there
for a while at the Hanover Junction, before he came to be hosted by John White Geary,
the Governor of Pennsylvania for a tour of Gettysburg. He always wanted to see this battlefield that
he had heard so much about through Meade, and other members of the Army of Potomac. Disrupting rail was also part of the equation. I have already made a reference to that. It is estimated that between the four rail
lines that I mentioned, the Confederates tore-up approximately a hundred miles of rail, during
the Gettysburg Campaign. And, so there were ways to achieve this. The USMRC is demonstrating this, the United
States Military Railroad Construction Corps sometimes would strategically tear-up rail,
and you can see them at work there. Sabotaging rail was turned into a science
by Sherman late in the war, into Sherman’s neck-ties. But JEB Stuart did that during the Gettysburg
Campaign too. You would tear-out a certain section of rail,
not the entire length of the rail, but just a few ties, set fire to the ties, put the
rail across until they melted, twist them, and toss them down into the woods. And, so then, someone would have to come along
and repair them. And, that was Haupt’s United States Military
Railroad Construction Corps. Did you know that Haupt was from Gettysburg? He lived in the Schultz House. I know the guides know that, Jim knows that. His house is beautifully restored, it sits
right next to the Lutheran Theological Seminary at the juncture of Fairfield Road and the
Seminary Avenue. But, Haupt was the military superintendent
of all railroads, or a title very close to that, and he would come along after the Confederates
damaged the rail, and he was a wizard at repairing it. And, one of his greatest feats, and Lincoln
made a special trip just to see it, was the Potomac Creek Bridge. It was 400 feet long, 100 feet high. It was rebuilt by Haupt in 72 hours. And, Lincoln made the comment that it was
made of bean poles and corn stalks. Have you all heard that before? And, it was amazing that he learned the old
Etruscan – Roman idea of using crisscross, if you crisscross the wood, you create trusses. And, therefore, you create more support. And, that would inspire high rise, steel cage
construction. We have to answer the why?, and the so what?,
to all of this. Not only were the Confederates dumbfounded
by how quick Haupt was ready to repair everything, but then Haupt’s construction inspired Carnegie,
and his high rise, steel cage construction in Chicago. That’s where the idea came from, “Haupt
of Gettysburg” trusses. And, then let’s talk about ironclads briefly,
the Assistant Secretary of the Navy is on your left, that’s Gustavus Fox, the Inspector
of Ironclads was Alban Stimers, and the Inventor and Inventor and Systems Manager was John
Ericsson on the far right. Here’s this subtheme of mine, interplay
of competing individuals. And, these three individuals put into the
waters, on behalf of the Northern Navy, they put into the waters these ironclads. The most famous would be the Monitor and the
Merrimac, or the C.S.S. Virginia. The Confederates captured what were the remains
of a U.S. ship known as the Merrimac, and they converted it into the C.S.S. Virginia. They met on March 9, 1862, in a classic battle
off the shores of the coast of Virginia. And, they lobbed shells back and forth. The noise was such that sailors inside had
nose bleeds and ear bleeds from the concussions of the noise. Their shells were not able to penetrate either
vessel. So, after pounding each other for many hours,
they disengaged. When that battle was over, all the wooden
fleets of the world were obsolete. And, so that’s the significance of it. The federal Monitor had the advantage of revolving
turret, which allowed them to line-up their guns no matter how the boat was situated,
whereas the C.S.S. Virginia just had 12 guns broadside, and if
the broadside wasn’t facing the Monitor, they were in trouble. And, so you had turret that revolved. And, so where did the turret construction,
where did the ironclad construction come from? It came from forges. This is an interesting point for those who
like the study of technology and the development of technology. When Fox, Stimers and Ericsson got to together
and talked about how to produce many ironclads, like the Monitor, or similar to the Monitor,
vessels that could be placed in the Gulf, placed in the Mississippi, placed along the
coast, is they had those conversations. Then the question was, who are we going to
contract to build them when ship builders were still building the old technology which
was wooden ships? So, they went to forges, to iron forges. And, oftentimes the person who agreed to the
contract had never built an ironclad before. I would say in all cases they had never built
an ironclad before. But, they took the contract anyway. It was good government money coming in, so
they would just hammer it out and build these things according to the design that was given
them. The design, it was originally designed by
Ericsson, it was approved for aesthetic purposes, for artistic purposes by Stimers, and then
Gustavus Fox, who was Assistant Secretary of the Navy went ahead and implemented it. But, that’s what we had going on. And, then the Passaic was one of the common
ironclads that you would see in the bodies of waters that I mentioned. And there were coaling stations. People ask sometimes how, or, why was Florida
important during the Civil War, and why were there skirmishes there at times, conflicts
there at times? And, the answer is, it was an important coaling
station along the East Coast. So, if you controlled it, then you could stop
and get coal to continue your journey. Submarines, well during the American Revolution,
there were submarines, including the most famous American Turtle. But, the Civil War would improve upon that
with the H.L. Hunley. I tell my son this sometimes, my fourteen
year old son, Thomas Edison was asked about how he invented the lightbulb. When praised for inventing the light bulb
he said, “no, don’t praise me, I just learned 2,000 ways not to invent the lightbulb.” And, that is hard work in experimentation. Hunley is a similar case. Hunley had several failed missions, where
people died to the point the Confederate government was leery of giving him another chance. But, he decided he wanted to break the naval
blockade at Charleston Bay. And, so he convinced enough higher-ups that
he could do it. And, so the Hunley, this is in 1864 now, we
will look at specifics in a minute. The Hunley had a spar on one end. Can you see the sharp point on the far left? And, it was harpoon of sorts. And, so explosives were placed on that harpoon
and you would try to align, if you were navigating the Hunley. The idea was to align the spar so that it
could be rammed and inserted into the side of a Union ship that was blocking trade in
Charleston Harbor. And then when retracting, the explosive would
fall inside the ship, and then it would blow-up. Inside, it had several people turning cranks. Okay, and as we try to look for connections
across time and space to look for patterns, the Vikings had oars under ship, you know. But, these members of the Hunley, they stood
inside of a particular groove, and they would turn the crank. How did they descend? Well, there were ballasts under the ship. Ballasts could be opened to allow water to
come in and it would sink. And, so it would take water. And, then when they wanted to come up, they
released the water from the ballasts and it would come back up again. To know that they were running out of oxygen,
they had a candle. As the candle started to flicker, it meant
its time come up. In the two previous instances where it didn’t
come up, and some people died, they opened the hatches too early, and it just flooded. So, this was a very tricky thing. But, after dark the Hunley approached the
U.S.S. Housatonic, a 16 gun Sloop of War on February
17, 1864, in Charleston Harbor, and successfully planted the spar in the ship and sunk it. And, the significance was this was the first
example in human history – as we talk about the 1st Modern War – the first example in
human history of a submersible vessel, a submarine destroying any sort-of floating vessel. And, in this case, they destroyed a sloop. And, the Hunley was recently raised. How many of you knew that? Just a few years ago, the year 2000 I believe
it was raised. Were any of you there for the ceremony when
they reentered the craft and found remains and reburied them there in Charleston? And, they had a major ceremony. Bernadette Atkins who is a dear friend of
some, or many of you here, and myself, she used to run the Eastern National Bookstore. And, she has a bookstore here in town. Bernadette was there and brought a stack of
pictures back for me to look at. She was there for the ceremony to celebrate
they had found it. It is in remarkably good shape isn’t it? And, there it is. It is almost kind-of haunting to see something
like that be found on the bottom of the bay and be brought up. The North had their version. It didn’t have any, there were some experimental
launches, but it didn’t have the prestige of sinking an enemy vessel. But, nevertheless they had the technology. It was called the Intelligent Whale. There was also another one called the Alligator. But, the Intelligent Whale, this particular
one is in the Washington Navy Yard. I was doing a tour with some group, and we
went to Washington, and it was not my part of the tour, someone else took over at that
point, that was their expertise, but they let us off the bus and told us to walk around
the Washington Navy Yard. I don’t know if you have been there, but
I stumbled onto this room, and it was really, really hot that day, there was no air conditioning. And, I looked-up and saw a sign that said
Intelligent Whale. I thought, “Oh my gosh, there it is.” And, Jules Verne, as we talk about the importance
of science — Einstein said “imagination is more important than knowledge,” right? Because, you can see that knowledge has limits,
but imagination has none. It’s the imagination that leads to inventions
like this, and then the knowledge to replicate. Jules Verne, about that time in his writings,
probably inspired the Intelligent Whale. Leonardo de Vinci did some drawings that are
similar hundreds of years earlier, during the Renaissance. Yes, the Coffee Mill Gun. Did you know that the first machine gun was
not the Gatlin Gun? It was actually the Coffee Mill Gun. And, it was used really earlier in the war
in 1861, and seems to have disappeared by the end of 1862. But, one of the notable people who ordered
it was John White Geary, in his defense of Harpers Ferry. Geary was Governor of Pennsylvania from 1867-1873. He was in command of the troops on Culp’s
Hill for the most part, and repelled the Confederate attacks there. But Geary, he said that they fired at a keg,
and six of the ten shots hit the keg, and he didn’t say from what distance. There is some obscure information on the Coffee
Mill Gun, but you would feed the ammunition in through what looks like a coffee grinder. And, one other interesting point about all
of this. James Ripley, he was in charge of all the
ordnance distribution in Washington, he was logistics guy. And, people will ask sometimes, “Why didn’t
Spencer Repeating Rifles enter in the federal armies in bulk and in mass earlier? Why were there only two regiments here at
Gettysburg, 5th and 6th Michigan Cavalry that had them? Why weren’t there more plentiful? Why wasn’t the Gatlin Gun, or Coffee Mill
Gun mass produced? It would have given the Union a unique advantage
earlier in the war. And, one of the answers for all of the above,
if you have ever had those thoughts, is James Ripley. James Ripley was older, he was from old school,
he thought the war was going to be a short war. The men had learned Hardee’s tactics, and
a variation of that later called Casey’s tactics. They had been trained to fight with Springfield’s
and Enfield’s, and he was not going to mess with that, and start mixing supplies, causing
differences behind the lines, and then confuse men on how they should fight. Ripley was out by the middle of 1864, and
then you start to see those newfangled weapons, as he called them, being used in the ranks
more plentifully. There was the Gatlin Gun then. Its two claims to fame during the war was
it was used in the trenches of Petersburg in the last year of the war, and this may
be an urban legend, but there’s been a story for years that for a show of strength, it
was brought to the draft riots in New York City, in July of 1863. But, that is sometimes disputed. It would be more commonly used in other wars
like the Boer War, the Russians purchased them, the English purchased them and used
them in late 19th century wars. It was a .58 caliber that fired 200 rounds
per minute. It was steel jacketed. One of the problems with the Spencer cartridge
is that it was copper, for the Spencer Repeating Rifle, and it would heat up and melt and jam. Some of you know that. But, this Gatlin Gun was full proof with a
steel jacket. Let’s see, we need to wind down here. You have the 1862 Springfield, and then you
have the Enfield that were produced at armories, various armories, and the biggest producer
would be, of course, at Springfield, Harpers Ferry, but there were some other armories. And, the soldiers carried them in the field. And, one of the problems with the rifle was
parabolic trajectory. If you have been with me on tours out on the
battlefield, you’ve heard me say that on occasion. Parabolic trajectory is the arc flight to
the projectile. If you have ever fired a rifle, even now,
you don’t fire the barrel level to the ground, because of the curvature to the flight, the
ball will curve right into the ground, way short of its mark. If you are firing at something a football
field’s distance, you need to slightly raise the rifle, so you aim high. And, then the ball curves, and there’s a
precision to all of that. Well, Earl Hess, in his controversial book
on the rifled musket argues that the rifled musket, during the Civil War, was less effective
than the smoothbore musket in other major European battles. He uses the example of the Battle of Prague,
the Battle of Austerlitz. These are battles that either involved Frederick
the Great or Napoleon, where the smoothbore musket casualties he said were upwards of
28%, whereas the rifled musket, in Civil War battles, accounted for 10% casualties of the
opposition. Now, why? Well, you think of the rifle, and this is
why the book is so controversial. Why would that be? Why is that the case? Because, of parabolic trajectory, and because
they were still firing with weapons before the era of smokeless gun powder. So, if you are firing with a precise weapon,
and you can’t see after the first couple of volleys, the precision is gone. Right? Visibility is key to precision. So, the attacker, so, you fire high, and so
what the attacker does is they go through low ground. I’ve told some of you this a number of times,
over the years. The reason that Pickett’s troops went through
that low ground beyond the Codori Buildings, one of the reasons they marched towards the
Codori Buildings, because Union artillery wouldn’t fire directly at that house, or
the barn. The barn was a little bit smaller, it was
about half the size it is now. Let me give you a quick example. You know how you’re driving down I-81, and
pull-up behind a tractor trailer. And, if you get close, you can let off the
peddle, because he is pulling you. You know what I’m talking about? It’s called drafting. It’s because that tractor trailer is big
enough, it’s creating a vacuum of air around you, and then when it closes-off around your
car, you’re in that vacuum, that pocket is just pulling you down the road, and you
can just take your foot off the peddle. But, you’re supposed to disconnect. Why? It is because your engine will overheat if
it is not using its own fan after a while. So, I thought I would put that precaution
in there for you. The Codori Barn and the house then, think
of it as a vacuum that Union artillery could not curve around. If you know how to hook a golf ball, I suppose
you could fire a draw or fade, or something like that, but Union artillery could not go
around that barn, that’s one of the reasons why the Confederates were guiding on it, at
least part of the way. And, you see in their accounts they mention
seeing this conspicuous red building in the march. Marching toward that red building would have
obscured, you know, a third to maybe half of the Union artillery. Now, when they crossed the road, they were
in low ground. And, if you read Armistead Long’s account,
he was on Lee’s staff, he doesn’t mention a ‘copse of trees,’ or anything like that. What he mentions is that the Confederates
were trying to get into that low ground. Why? Because if you are standing on a ridge, and
you are Hall, or Harrow, or Webb’s brigade of Gibbon’s division, Hancock’s Corps,
and you are firing off that ridge, and you are having to aim high to reach the barn,
and the Confederates are in low ground, and you add smoke, a lot of the shots go over
their head. You see that? And, so they were trying to move – by the
way, we are doing history at a higher level when we look for patterns across time and
space, patterns tell us something deeper about ourselves. So, apply that pattern everywhere you go that
attacks during the Civil War always go through the lowest possible ground, even if the ground
isn’t the size of the Grand Canyon. If it is enough of a depression, it plays
games with the parabolic trajectory and the accuracy of someone who is firing at them
from high ground. Vis-a-vis, the Confederate attacks on Little
Round Top and Devil’s Den went through Plum Run Gorge. The Confederate attacks on McPherson Ridge
went through a quarry and Willoughby Run. You pick low ground. The Confederate attacks against Culp’s Hill
were launched from Rock Creek Valley Ravine. Firing from high ground to low ground with
parabolic trajectory and smoke is very difficult. So, that’s a counterpoint about the importance
of rifle technology. But, you had sharpshooters, and they would
go out between the lines, and they would occupy points to fire at you when you crossed an
obstacle like a fence. And, they waited for the moment, and fired
at you. You want to look for skirmish markers on the
battlefield? Find the nearest fence, or the nearest creek
and then back-up about fifty yards, and that’s where the line was. They made the enemy pay for crossing that
obstacle. So, sharpshooters were out in “no man’s
land.” They learned how to fire a rifle with the
advantages of that new technology. The average soldier in the ranks just fired
three shots a minute behind a wall of smoke, didn’t know what they were firing at, accuracy
was reduced by the smoke, parabolic trajectory. The sharpshooter went far enough out in front
of the lines where the smoke cleared. They separated sometimes 15-50 yards so that
they would have the smoke clear, and they would have one clear shot after another. There were ethical problems with that. Nineteenth Century people were very concerned
about shooting at someone when they were not defending themselves. But, sharpshooters were introducing the rifle
as a new technology. Did you know that the Confederates used rifling
to keep Union artillery from being as effective. Do you recognize McGilvery’s batteries there
near the Pennsylvania Memorial and 1st Minnesota Monument? It is over on the far left in the Union defense
against Pickett’s Charge. And, do you see the George Weikert Farm beyond
that? Okay, the woods to the right of the George
Weikert Farm, a little bit farther to the right, beyond our view, would be called Trostle
Woods. And, the Confederates after the fight in the
Wheatfield on July 2nd, mostly the 18th Mississippi sent their best squirrel hunters to climb
the trees, not unlike someone working on a utility pole, you know, working their way
up to the top to work on the transformer box. And, they just shot constantly at McGilvery’s
guns. If you go over there today to the Pennsylvania
Memorial, and you will see all those guns aligned, and there are lunettes in front of
them, these crescent moon-shaped lunettes, they are earthen mounds. And, why were they built? They were to absorb incoming sharpshooting
fire, as well as explosive shell. Isn’t that fascinating? What were the sharpshooters trying to do? They were not only trying to weaken the federals,
and kill a number, and wound a number of their artillerymen — that would cut down on Union
efficiency during the cannonade, where if you have to sequester infantry, and do on-the-job-training
to replace people that have been wounded, you don’t fire two shots a minute with artillery
do you during the cannonade? — so, the Confederates were using sharpshooters to soften up the
Union line, their artillery before they made the charge. Secondly, by positioning sharpshooters to
continually shoot at McGilvery, the 6th Maine, and some of those other units, received a
message of don’t dare think of counterattacking with your artillery. “If you advance with artillery, we’ll
take out every one of them.” In Napoleon times, you could advance artillery
in a charge, but in the Civil War, there were no artillery charges. Why? It was because of sharpshooters. And so, we answered the “so what” question
there. And, this is the last portion of it. My favorite point, we will fly through it. It’s the idea of the Art of War as it relates
to field fortification technology. It is Jomini versus Gay de Vernon. And, these two thought processes competed
with one another all throughout the war, with arguably Gay de Vernon’s concepts winning
out. But, before the Civil War began, there were
two schools of thought on how you should fight Napoleonic War. The Jomini school of thought said you should
mass troops on a critical point of mass and overwhelm it. That is, even leave parts of your line vulnerable
to counterattack so that you overwhelm the most important point on the battlefield. Vis-à-vis, the continual Confederate attacks
on Culp’s Hill, and the Confederate attacks “up the Emmitsburg Road,” were supposed
to sandwich the Union line at Cemetery Hill, disconnect the federals, cut the head-off,
and separate the Union in two, force them to fallback across the logistical wagons somewhere
closer to Maryland. Alright, and that’s why we have that. Lee believed in critical mass on one point. Grant did too. But, that was the Jomini thing, put troops,
mass them, overwhelm a point, and then all of the other pieces will fall into place. But, what was starting to replace that with
modern war was Gay de Vernon’s ideas that – and you can see his book on the right,
Science of War and Fortifications – he was arguing, “no, leave a leaner, meaner, smaller
force with field fortifications that will make them larger. So, instead of putting 5,000 troops in one
location, for critical mass, put 1,500 troops there and learn how to throw up field fortifications,
which will turn them into a 5,000 man force if you know how to build them. You see what I am saying? And, in that way, you can avoid putting all
your eggs in one basket, all your chips on the table with critical mass. Instead, you can spread those troops out to
cover passes, to cover pontoon bridges at key river crossings, to cover symbolic places,
to cover naval yards, to cover army headquarters. You can diversify where you place everyone
by just learning the technology of field fortifications. And, by the end of the Civil War, his ideas
were gaining traction. Gettysburg is considered a pivotal moment. Some of you heard me in my lecture a couple
months ago say that the Battle of Gettysburg is sometimes referred to as the “last romantic
battle.” That’s imperfect language, but last romantic
battle is the last battle where people stood out in the open to some degree, toe-to-toe,
and fought each other like a gentleman’s duel on a grand scale. And, you face your accuser out in the open,
and you restore your reputation, and you fire back and forth. Gettysburg, though, like all historic events
is more complex than that. Larry, you know that field fortification technology
was being subtly introduced into this battle. It was not full-blown trench warfare, but
there was field fortification technology. As you look at East Cemetery Hill, for instance,
this is a photograph taken a few days after the battle, looking from the Baltimore Pike
to the north. And, where you see the trees and some fallen
brush, if you look through a magnifying glass, you’ll see abatis and palisades there. Abatis, in the era before barbed wire, were
branches or small woods that you would cut, and sharpen the end just like a pencil. And, stick it in the ground to impale your
opponent if they didn’t watch their step as they came towards the artillery. It’s a way of slowing them down, creating
points where the enemy has to stop and you get a clear line of fire at them. And, if you read Harry T. Hays’ account,
he commanded the Louisiana Brigade at Gettysburg, and he had charged up East Cemetery Hill. He said, “we overran their abatis,” he
actually mentions the abatis in his account. And, I remember the thrill I had in the book
Gettysburg: A Journey in Time, the first time I looked in Frassanito’s book with a magnifying
glass, and saw the abatis. Do that yourself when you get home. You know, maybe that’s a little strange,
but in this audience that’s normal. And, palisades are the same kind-of thing. They are small woods driven into the ground
that are sharpened. You see this picture taken from the Evergreen
Cemetery Gatehouse looking north toward where the Hancock and Howard monuments are now. And, there’s a Union regiment there. They were cleaning up muskets off the battlefield,
burying the dead, and doing various other things several days after the battle when
this photograph was taken. And, notice over on the far right side of
their tents you see smoke. They were burning palisades and abatis and
using it for firewood. So, East Cemetery Hill had field fortification
technology. This is just so fascinating. If you read Isaac Seymour’s account, he
was on Harry T. Hays’ staff, the Louisiana Brigade that attacked East Cemetery Hill,
and he said, “we could hear the federals up there working like busy beavers all night.” Well, he wasn’t talking about Culp’s Hill,
he was talking about East Cemetery Hill. Isn’t that fascinating? And, where did they get the wood from, by
the way? There was a patch of woods where Georgia and
Ginny Wade House is today, and you all know where O’Rorkes is? Did you know there was a patch of woods there? GTC bus parking lot is there now. That’s the patch of woods where they were
getting their wood materials from. Okay, and embrasures were also part of the
field fortification technology — of this 1st Modern War — that Gay de Vernon recommended. Embrasures, have you ever seen a turret at
the top of a castle, and it has dental-like indentations? That’s so you can step behind, if it’s
an arrow or whatever it is you are loading, you can step behind the denture, and then
step back into the portal and fire. And, those are called embrasures. And, see how the federals built their redoubts
around their artillery, and placed their planks in such a way so they had walk-through points. Lunettes, and you can see the Confederates
attacking East Cemetery Hill, with the famous Evergreen Cemetery Gatehouse as the focal
point in the background. And, you can see the Federal 11th Corps up
there behind their lunettes. And, this is what they look like, you know,
today. They were re-dug in the 1930s by the CCC boys. And, then you have earthworks. If you go over to, between McKnight’s Knoll
or Stevens Knoll, and Culp’s Hill, and you walk up through the woods towards Culp’s
Hill, did you know there are earthworks up through there? Yes, it’s fascinating. They are still there. They are actually there. I don’t believe most people see them. And, it’s probably better that they don’t. We want to keep it a secret. But, with the woods recently being cleared
there, you can see them even better. Just take your dog and walk through there
at some point. On Stevens Knoll, you can see the Iron Brigade’s
earthworks. They are still there. Again, they were re-dug, re-entrenched in
the 1930s, but they are where the Iron Brigade left them overlooking, you know, from Stevens
Knoll out towards East Cemetery Hill. And, then the breastworks on Culp’s Hill,
they were fairly elaborate. Here’s kind-of a caricature of the 149th
New York from Syracuse on Culp’s Hill firing behind these fortifications. If you read Edward O’Neal’s account, he
commanded the Alabamians that attacked the Syracuse line on July 3rd. He said they were like log cabins at the top
of the hill. The federals actually felled trees and did
some master craftsman work. You can see Color Sgt. William Lilley being presented there on the
relief. What he did was, there were so many Confederate
projectiles that flew through there that it cut the flag staff in half, of the 149th New
York. So he’s spliced it together. Isn’t that neat? So, he using a splint and putting it together
so that he can plant it back and show the Confederates, discourage them from trying. There were traverses on Culp’s Hill. That’s all part of the Gay de Vernon idea
on field fortification technology. A bonnet traverse is like a bonnet you wear
on your head. That means it’s a head covering. But, the traverse is something that goes at
right angles with the main line. And, on Culp’s Hill, you all recognize Dr.
Fennel there, Charlie Fennel, one of our licensed guides? He’s standing where the traverse is today. If you walk over there on Culp’s Hill, the
earth is still risen up from the traverse built there by David Ireland and the 137th
New York from Binghamton. And, but there’s a mound there. A traverse also indicates that there are compartments
that protect you at right angles. So, there would have been a little zig-zag
to the traverse. When the Confederates from Virginia, North
Carolina and Maryland attacked that position, they would have had trouble being able to
approach the federals in any direction and have a clear line of fire. Traverses also tend to have boards that go
across the forehead. And, we don’t have precise proof that this
particular traverse on Culp’s Hill had one, but a lot of traverses have a board that covers
the forehead. You know why? It’s to protect against plunging. The federals might have had these headboards
as well. It is like a football player who has a face
mask. It doesn’t stop his eyes from being harmed,
but it fends-off a lot of blows to the head. In a similar way, a board at forehead level
stops a Confederate on lower Culp’s Hill from shooting down into the ravine into the
top of the head. That’s called plunging. So it is with the traverses. Big Round Top has stone walls that were constructed
the night of July 2nd. Did you all know that? And, they run from the top of Big Round Top
all the way to near the 44th New York monument, not quite that far, but almost to Little Round
Top. Unbelievable, and they built them up there. And, the Confederates said, General Longstreet
told Lee, “You don’t want to attack Round Top again,” he told him on the morning of
July 3rd, “they have been building stone walls up there all night.” They could hear the echoes of the rocks being
put into place. The 20th Maine, the stone wall that’s been
put into place to the 20th Maine, where Joshua Chamberlain made his famous counterattack,
was not there when the 15th Alabama attacked them. It was built after the attack, in case they
attacked again. And, that’s field fortification technology. Now, the stone wall itself would have been
dressed up with abatis in front of it. It would have also been built into natural
rock formations already there. So, by the time the Confederates get anywhere
near the house, he’s stumbled and bumbled across all kinds-of natural obstacles that
he stone wall enhances. Yes, that was built after the famous fight. The 13th Vermont rifle works, can you see
behind the Sgt. Brown statue and the 13th Vermont monument,
along the fence there how the earth has been changed? That’s over on the fields of Pickett’s
Charge. Those are field fortifications. The 13th Vermont would have dismantled that
fence, and laced it in with the earthwork to make it stronger and give it fiber strength. Out in front of the Hancock wound monument,
in the fields of Pickett’s Charge, out on that little plateau, in front of it was field
fortifications built there too by the 13th, 14th and 16th Vermont. It would have been about waist high. It would have been laced with stone, dirt,
dismantled rail. And, it was one of the reasons why Pickett’s
troops had to march in front of the Union line. They couldn’t flank it because of the field
fortification technology. Isn’t that fascinating there? You normally never hear that. If you look at the Codori Thicket, and how
rough that is, tie that into McGilvery’s lunettes, and then tie that in with the field
fortification technology the Vermonters put there, the Confederates were not, would have
ideally wanted to flank Hancock’s line, and get reverse fire with frontal fire and
roll the Union line up in the direction of the Angle and beyond. But, they were never able to flank, and then
the federals turned the trick on them by pivoting Stannard out into the field. But, they were initially firing behind fortifications. Where did those fortifications go? 1n 1887,
a rail line was built across from Harrisburg to Gettysburg, and then across the fields
of Pickett’s Charge. And, that’s when the field fortifications
were leveled. The whole National Cemetery would have looked
like a hundred ground hogs were let loose in it, before the cemetery was created. The National Cemetery smoothed all that ground
out, but there was all kinds-of field fortification technology in what is now the National Cemetery. And, in front of the 20th Massachusetts Infantry
marker, see those field fortifications? They’re significant. That’s what Pickett’s troops were up against. If you read James Kemper’s account, to John
Bachelder, its 1871 or 1873, he wrote Bachelder, Kemper was the Governor of Virginia at the
time. He had been in Pickett’s Charge, was wounded. He wrote Bachelder and he said, “I didn’t
allow any of my men, in the preliminary hours before [we call it Pickett’s Charge] the
attack to leave their swales, and walk to the top of the ridge where the artillery was,”
he said, “I didn’t want them having a look at the field fortifications.” He actually mentions them. They must have been formidable. And, then we have the stone wall at the High
Water Mark. How many of you have noticed the new stone
walls that are being put up out there? Okay, now they are not exact replicas. There are some differences and people have
raised concerns, and that kind-of thing. Although, I think all of those concerns have
been addressed. The park has been real attentive to that. But, they are meant to represent where the
actual stone walls were. We are trying to put back stone walls that
were removed with construction of the Cyclorama building. But it’s gone, the Cyclorama has been demolished. We’re putting those old, original stone
walls back up. But, occasionally somebody will look at the
representation walls that we put up in the last nine to ten months, and they’ll say,
“could they have been that tall during the battle?” And, the answer is yes. Look at this hand shake in 1938 at the ‘Angle,’
where Pickett’s Charge was repulsed. Look at how high up they are. And, the 69th Pennsylvania, they felled trees
from the ‘copse of trees’ to create abatis all out in front of them, that position. The ‘copse of trees’ was not very tall,
but they extended all the way out towards the Emmitsburg Road. And, all those trees were ground down like
an orchard manager prunes down an orchard to just nobs, sharpened knobs. The Confederates called the area all in front
of the ‘copse of trees’ the ‘slashing.’ Slashing, have you ever been into a forest
where they felled a lot of trees, and maybe the trees have been dragged out of there,
but there’s still a lot of debris lying around, that you better not walk through without
steel-tipped boots. You know what I’m talking about? That’s slashing. The 69th Pennsylvania, the 71st, 72nd, 106th
Pennsylvania, 59th New York, they put all of those sharpened abatis obstacles out in
front of the line. Okay, our summary conclusion. The 19th century has been compared to a driver
who looks in the rearview mirror at what is behind them, while they drive down the highway
at 65 mph. Similarly, generations that lived between
1800 and 1903 witnessed the steam train, steam boat, steam factory, steam press, photography,
telegraph, telephone, x-ray machine, electric grids, combustible engines and first flight,
even as they clung to the past. With all of this rapid change, they still
looked to pre-modern traditions for meaning with their Victorian dress, manners, social
values and class structure. They fixated on the past, while charging full
steam ahead. The American Civil War represents the clashing
of pre-modern and modern worlds in favor of modernization. The war became a testing and proving grounds
for the modern world. Thank you for coming out today, and coming
out all winter.

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