First Police Car

14 July 2013
The term "squad car" likely came from early patrol days, when agencies used wagons to transport the whole squad. Photo Credit: Akron Police Department.

The term “squad car” likely came from early patrol days, when agencies used wagons to transport the whole squad. Photo Credit: Akron Police Department

Akron, Ohio claims to be the home of the country’s first police car in the form of a motorized police patrol wagon built in 1899. Designed by Frank Loomis and manufactured by Akron’s “Collins Buggy Co.” for $2,400, the vehicle was powered by two 4hp electric motors. It could go up to 18 mph on level ground and had enough power to travel about 30 miles before having to recharge.  Equipped with electric lights, a bell and a stretcher, the wagon weighed around 2½ tons with a seating capacity for 12 prisoners. Its first inaugurate act was to pick up a drunken, disorderly citizen.

A year later, on August 22, 1900 during a Akron riot, the wagon was stolen and pushed into the Ohio Canal by a mob. The next day, the vehicle was pulled out, cleaned and repaired. The country’s first police car was used until 1905 when it was then sold as scrap for $25.

Akron’s first patrol car. Photo Credit: Akron & Summit County Blog

Akron’s first patrol car. Photo Credit: Akron & Summit County Blog

History of Akron & Summit County Blog
Paul Clinton, “History of America’s First Motorized Patrol Vehicle,” Police Magazine, May 18, 2010.

Segregated Drinking Fountain, 1939

13 July 2013

“Colored” drinking fountain in a Oklahoma City streetcar terminal, July 1939.

Bette Davis at Fort Benning

12 July 2013
Photo Credit:

Photo Credit: Austin (Photographer)/Army Signal Corps/National WWII Museum

Actress Bette Davis and group watches village fighting demonstration at Fort Benning, Georgia on October 6, 1944.

“Six Flags Over Texas”

11 July 2013

3 Flags of Texas3 Flags of Texas 2

There have been six different flags flown by six different nations that claimed the land of Texas. They are:

  •     Spain (1519-1685; 1690-1821)
  •     France (1685-1690)
  •     Mexico (1821-1836)
  •     Republic of Texas (1836-1845)
  •     Confederate States of America (1861-1865)
  •     United States of America (1845-1861; 1865- )

Spanish explorer Alonso Álvarez de Pineda was the first European to map out the area surrounding the Gulf Coast – including parts of Texas. The first Europeans to explore the land occurred nine years later. After being shipwrecked, Spanish explorer Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca and his men were reportedly the first European in Texas.

Other European powers ignored the area until René Robert Cavelier de La Salle created a short-lived French colony. He had miscalculated his location and established Fort Saint Louis at Matagorda Bay instead of along the Mississippi River. The colony lasted a few years before the harsh conditions and hostile tribes destroyed it.

After the Louisiana Purchase, settlers began settling in Texas. In 1821, Mexico was victorious in their war against Spain for Independence. The Texas territory became part of Mexico. The United States attempted to purchase Texas and were denied. Texas eventually won its independence from Mexico in 1832 and became the Republic of Texas.

On December 29, 1845, Congress admitted Texas as the 28th state. Upon hearing of Texas’s annexation, Mexico broke off diplomatic relations with the U.S. It set off a chain of events that ended with the Mexican-American War in 1846. The war would end two years later with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidago in which the U.S. was given undisputed control of Texas in exchange for $18,250,000.

As a slave state, Texas seceded during the Civil War on February 1, 1881 and joined the Confederate States of America on March 2, 1861. Congress would later restore Texas to the Union on March 30, 1870.

Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Signal Corps Training, 1918

10 July 2013

Members off Signal Corps 29 Division in training at Camp McClellan, Alabama using semaphore flags, 1918.

Tri-State Tornado of 1925

9 July 2013
A "Herald Examiner" headline covering the Great Tri-State Tornado of 1925. Photo Credit: Source

Chicago’s “Herald Examiner” headline covering the Great Tri-State Tornado of 1925. Photo Credit: Source

 All morning, before the tornado, it had rained. The day was dark and gloomy. The air was heavy. There was no wind. Then the drizzle increased. The heavens seemed to open, pouring down a flood. They day grew black…

Then the air was filled with 10,000 things. Boards, poles, cans, garments, stoves, whole sides of the little frame houses, in some cases the houses themselves, were picked up and smashed to earth. And living beings, too. A baby was blown from its mother’s arms. A cow, picked up by the wind, was hurled into the village restaurant.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 20, 1925

A map of the track of the 219-mile, 3.5 hour Tri-State Tornado which killed 695 in Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana on 18 March 1925. Photo Credit: Source

A map of the track of the 219-mile, 3.5 hour Tri-State Tornado which killed 695 in Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana on 18 March 1925. Photo Credit: Source

On Wednesday, March 18, 1925, the longest and deadliest tornado in U.S. history stuck the Midwest. Called the Great Tri-State Tornado, it started at 1:01 p.m. around Ellington, Missouri. It raged for three and a half hours, barreling through southern Illinois and Indiana before finally breaking up after hitting Princeton, Indiana. The 219 mile devastation path included three states, 19 communities, destroyed more than 15,000 homes, injured 2,027 people and leaving 695 dead.

At the time, weather forecasters did not have the technology to predict, identify or even to track severe weather. In the Midwest, weather often changed quickly. The morning could be perfectly pleasantly sunny and a blizzard or, in this case, a tornado could occur in the afternoon. Cities had no tornado sirens to give warning. No weather interruptions on the radio. The tornado was moving too quickly to telephone anyone – if one even had a telephone. There was only one thing left for people to do – get down and brace themselves.

Ruins of the Baptist Church at Murphysboro. A funeral was in progress when the tornado hit around 2:30 p.m. Photo Credit: National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration

Ruins of the Baptist Church at Murphysboro. A funeral was in progress when the tornado hit around 2:30 p.m. Photo Credit: NOAA

The forecast for that day called for showers and cooling temperatures. In the early afternoon the column of  twisting air formed near Ellington, Missouri. A local farmer was killed as it moved east 70 mph with winds over 300 mph. Within 15 minutes the tornado struck Annapolis – destroying 90 percent of the town and killing 4 more people. It took a little over 80 minutes for the storm to move through the farmlands of rural eastern Missouri. It left around a dozen died. The worse was yet to come.

The twister moved into Illinois. It was said that the tornado followed a slight topographic ridge that a series of mining towns were built on. The town of Gorham, population 500, began getting pelted by hail. The wind quickly increased. Resident Judith Cox was having lunch in town at the time. To the St. Louis-Post Dispatch she later recalled“There was a great roar. Like a train, but many, many times louder. ‘My God!’ I cried. ‘It’s a cyclone and it’s here.’ The air was full of everything, boards, branches of trees, garments, pans, stoves, all churning around together. I saw whole sides of houses rolling along near the ground.” Cox attempted to leave the restaurant but the strong winds blew her back inside. A cow came through the restaurant’s roof. The building collapsed, killing the cook. Cox, and the cow, were later pulled out alive. Also appearing in the St. Louis-Post Dispatch‘s March 20, 1925 edition, a Gorham schoolgirl gave her own harrowing account.

“Then the wind struck the school. The walls seemed to fall in, all around us. Then the floor at one end of the building gave way. We all slipped or slid in that direction. If it hadn’t been for the seats it would have been like sliding down a cellar door.

I can’t tell you what happened then. I can’t describe it. I can’t bear to think about it. Children all around me were cut and bleeding. They cried and screamed. It was something awful. I had to close my eyes…

Ruins of the Longfellow School where 17 children were killed. The storm hit the school at about 2:30 p.m. Photo Credit: National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration

Ruins of the Murphysboro’s Longfellow School where 17 children were killed. The storm hit the school at about 2:30 p.m. Photo Credit: NOAA

The tornado literally tore through the town. Every building was destroyed and 37 people were died. The tornado, now stretching almost one mile in diameter, had its sights on the rail hub city of Murphysboro situated 11 miles east.

Homes shattered to pieces at Murphysboro, Illinois. Half the population in the city was homeless. About 1,200 homes were completely destroyed in an area 1 mile wide and 2 ½ miles long. Photo Credit: Jackson County Historical Society/NOAA

Homes shattered to pieces in Murphysboro. Half the population was homeless. About 1,200 homes were completely destroyed in an area 1 mile wide and 2 ½ miles long. Photo Credit: Jackson County Historical Society/NOAA

Of all the communities the tornado stuck, Murphysboro had the most concentrated and extensive damage of all. Additionally, with the death total at 234, Murphysboro had the greatest number of tornado fatalities suffered by a single U.S. city during such a disaster. At the town’s Longfellow Grade School, children were trying to escape the building as it started collapsing. About half were still trapped and 17 children were killed. Whether it was the winds or the fires that came after, numerous blocks of homes, schools, business and churches were flattened leaving the 12,000 population in utter shock.

Residence district of Murphysboro where 154 city blocks were destroyed in the Tri-State Tornado of March 18, 1925. Photo Credit: Jackson County Historical Society/NOAA

Residence district of Murphysboro where 154 city blocks were destroyed in the Tri-State Tornado of March 18, 1925. Photo Credit: Jackson County Historical Society/NOAA

After three and a half hours and 219 miles of destruction, the Tri-State Tornado, the longest and deadliest in the United States, finally began to dissipate 10 miles northeast of Princeton. It left an estimated $16.5 million ($1.5 billion today) in damages. Even worse though was the number of casualties. In southern Illinois alone: 541 were killed while 1,423 were injuried in 40 minutes when the storm blew through Murphysboro, De Soto, Hurst-Bush and West Frankfort. It killed 69 children in nine schools.

Gentleman hanging from a piece of wood that was hurled into a tree by the tornado. Photo Credit: Jackson County Historical Society/NOAA

Gentleman hanging from a piece of wood that was hurled into a tree by the tornado. Photo Credit: Jackson County Historical Society/NOAA

The Red Cross and National Guards were called in to help in the recovery and cleanup. The National Guards also made rounds to discourage looting and other lawlessness that comes with disasters. Adlai E. Stevenson II, a 25-year-old Pantagraph reporter, rushed to Murphysboro. He wrote about the scene at railway station as he left to go to the city. “An atmosphere of catastrophe and havoc pervades all trains en route to the storm-stricken area. The train is carrying three cars of volunteer nurses and doctors, many of whom saw service on the muddy fields of Flanders [World War I battlefield] and know, without being told, something of what awaits them.” When he arrived at the destroyed town, Stevenson remarked that it was “a field of kindling and bricks over the face of a bleeding and smoking world.”

The Red Cross established 13 relief centers and public donations poured in. “Many of the doctors have not taken off their aprons in 36 hours,” Stevenson wrote. “The few available hearses in Murphysboro are racing back and forth to the cemetery, carrying two caskets at a time, many of them small ones. Of formal funerals there are none, but of heroic fortitude there is much.” Tents were erected as temporary homes for those who had no where to go. Food and clothing were also distributed. Nurses and doctors gave out tetanus shots fearing the bacteria from the dirt would cause infections in the wounds.

Engineering committee examining a 1X5 inch board which was driven through a 2X6 plank. Photo Credit: National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration

Engineering committee examining a 1X5 inch board which was driven through a 2X6 plank. Photo Credit: NAOO

Clean-up started almost immediately. Many of the towns planned to rebuild. Some towns had no one left to build a town for as was the case of Parrish, Illinois. The little town of 250 lost the majority of their population to either death or injuries. Their funerals were held in adjacent towns and most of the survivors moved away.

De Soto, Gorham and Griffin, Indiana were also virtually annihilated by the Tri-State Tornado. In Griffin, between 69-75 people were killed and 85 farms were destroyed. Of the 500 people who lived in De Soto, fewer than 200 were left uninjured. The survivors were resilient. On De Soto’s unsure future, one state senator stated that he would not give up on the town simply because, “My father is buried there.” De Soto, Gorham and Griffin all rebuilt.

In his writings about Murphysboro, Stevenson summed up the aftermath of the 1925 Tri-State Tornado best. “Viewing this broad expanse of scattered, twisted smoldering wreckage one cannot but reflect on the futility of life and the insignificance of man.”

After the storm, the Red Cross and other charitable organizations brought food, clothing and tents (shown above) for those in need. The National Guard assisted with the clean-up efforts and patrolled the streets to prevent looting, Murphysboro. Photo Credit: Jackson County Historical Society/NOAA

After the storm, the Red Cross and other charitable organizations brought food, clothing and tents (shown above) for those in need. The National Guard assisted with the clean-up efforts and patrolled the streets to prevent looting, Murphysboro. Photo Credit: Jackson County Historical Society/NOAA

Depicts destruction of Griffin, Indiana after the 1925 Tri-State Tornado. Photo Credit: Source

Depicts destruction of Griffin, Indiana after the 1925 Tri-State Tornado. Photo Credit: Source

The destroyed building is of the Reliance Mill on North 17th Street, it was never rebuilt after the tornado. Photo Credit: Jackson County Historical Society/NOAA

The destroyed building is of the Reliance Mill on North 17th Street, it was never rebuilt after the tornado. Photo Credit: Jackson County Historical Society/NOAA

Sources
John Galvin, “Tri-State Tornado: Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, March 1925,” Popular Mechanics, July 30, 2007.
Bill Kemp, “Adlai Stevenson II witness to 1925 tornado devastation,” Pantagraph, April 17, 2011.
Jon Henley, “Tornadoes can kill, and the Tri-State tornado was the deadliest of them all,” The Guardian, May 21, 2013.
TIME
NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
Red Cross
Tornado Project

Blowing Glass, 1936

7 July 2013
Photo Credit: Lewis Hine/Works Progress Administration (National Archives)

Photo Credit: Lewis Hine/National Archives

One man sitting while other man blows glass at a factory in Millville, New Jersey in 1936.

Famous Relations: James Dean & Richard Nixon

6 July 2013

The second in History By Zim’s “Famous Relations” series.

James Dean and Richard Nixon

“Flying Nun” Field Trip, 1942

5 July 2013
Sister Aquinas is photographed while explaining engine structure to her students during a field trip to Washington D.C. Their visit included inspection tours of hangars at the Washington National Airport. (LOC/History By Zim)

Photo Credit: Library of Congress

Sister Aquinas is photographed explaining engine structure to her students during a field trip to Washington D.C. Their visit included inspection tours of hangars at the Washington National Airport.

Child as “Liberty,” July 4, 1916

4 July 2013

This little girl is dressed as “Liberty” and holding an American flag during Fourth of July celebrations in 1916.

Annin Flagmakers

4 July 2013
A seamstress in Annin Flagmakers' Verona plant sews an American flag to be used in 1943's 'March for Mac' - a rally of people who wanted President Douglas MacArthur to take the place of President Harry Truman. Photo Credit: Annin Flagmakers/North Jersey Website

A seamstress in Annin Flagmakers’ Verona plant sews an American flag to be used in 1943’s ‘March for Mac’ – a rally of people who wanted President Douglas MacArthur to take the place of President Harry Truman. Photo Credit: Annin Flagmakers/North Jersey Website

The Annin flag company is the oldest and largest flag company in the United States. Founded by Alexander Annin in 1847 and incorporated on January 10, 1910, Annin Flagmakers experienced its first dramatic sales increase during the Civil War.  From 1861 to 1895, they sold 1.5 million flags and emblems and were also commissioned by both the Union and Confederacy to make their flags.

According to Annin, flag sales dramatically change during major historical events.

Historically, the domestic political climate and world events have affected U.S. flag sales in a way that is unique compared with other products. While sales of American flags dipped during the depression years, they rose again during the patriotic fervor of World War II. The addition of the new states of Alaska in 1959 and Hawaii in 1960 generated a avalanche of orders from Americans who wanted to replace their outdated forty-eight star U.S. flags with the new fifty-star version. The anti-Viet Nam War sentiment during the turbulent period of the late sixties and early seventies made those years lean ones for U.S. flag sales but America’s Bicentennial in 1976 brought Old Glory back stronger than ever.

From the crest of Mount Suribachi, the Stars and Stripes wave in triumph over Iwo Jima after U.S. Marines had fought their way inch by inch up its steep lava-encrusted slopes. ca. 02/1945. Photo Credit: National Archives

From the crest of Mount Suribachi, the Stars and Stripes wave in triumph over Iwo Jima after U.S. Marines had fought their way inch by inch up its steep lava-encrusted slopes. ca. 02/1945. Photo Credit: National Archives

Annin Flagmakers have had their flags flown at many world events such as:

  • Contracted to supply the flags for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s “Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations” in London. This event held in 1851 is considered by historians to be the first World’s Fair.
  • President Lincoln’s inauguration as well as the flag that draped his casket after his assassination in 1865.
  • Brooklyn Bridge opening ceremonies in 1883.
  • Opening of Yankee Stadium on April 18, 1923.
  • Commander Robert E. Pearly’s expedition to the North Pole on April 6, 1909.
  • Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd’s Antarctic expedition in 1930.
  • During World War II, a Annin flag was famously flown at the top of Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jima.
  • In the 1950s, a massive one flew atop the George Washington Bridge to honor WWII veterans.
  • Two Apollo missions, including the 1969 mission to the moon.
  • The 1976 American Bicentennial.

They have also supplied flags for the United Nations, the U.S. Olympic team and the International Space Station. Additionally, in 1979, Annin collaborated with the National League of Families of POW/MIA to design and produce the POW-MIA flag. To this day, the company is a family business with the 6th generation of the Annin family still working there.

Annin Flagmakers

Battle of Gettysburg – Day 3

3 July 2013

This year marks the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. From July 1 – July 3, 1863 the bloodiest battle in the entire American Civil War waged around Gettysburg, Pennsylvania between Union Major General George Gordon Meade’s Army of the Potomac and Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. This is Day 3 of the Battle of Gettysburg.
Battle of Gettysburg – Day 1
Battle of Gettysburg – Day 2
Gettysburg Day 3

“We gained nothing but glory, and lost our bravest men.”

- Lt. John T. James, the 11th Virginia Infantry, Pickett’s Division

Preparing for Battle

Map of the third and final day during the Battle of Gettysburg. [Union is in blue and Confederacy is in red.] Map Credit: Hal Jespersen, cwmaps.com

Map of the third and final day during the Battle of Gettysburg. [Union is in blue and Confederacy is in red.] Map Credit: Hal Jespersen, cwmaps.com

The third and last day of the Battle of Gettysburg was the hottest yet. Fighting went late into the night and neither army had any reprieve. While their armies were fighting, General Lee and General Meade began planning for the next day. Meade called “a council of war” at his headquarters at the Lydia Leister house to hear the opinions of some of his corps and divisional commanders. Figuring Lee would probably make a move at the Union’s center line to weaken and divide them, Meade told General John Gibbon (commanding the area in the middle of the line), “Gibbon, if Lee attacks tomorrow, it will be in your front.” Lee’s plan was to do exactly that.

While the North’s main plan was to take a defensive position and let Lee attack first, Lee decided on a three element plan. According to the Gettysburg National Park Service, Lee’s plan was for “Longstreet’s First Corps, reinforced by the fresh infantry division of Major General George E. Pickett, would assault the Union left, while Ewell’s Second Corps assailed the Federal right flank at Culp’s Hill. Major General James E. B. Stuart’s cavalry would support the infantry effort by maneuvering east of Gettysburg where they both posed a threat to the Union rear and would be in an ideal position to pursue and harass a retreating Army of the Potomac.”

Lee’s proposed plan failed for two reasons. Firstly, he did not met with his men the night before as Meade had, so there was a breakdown in communication that led to confusion. Secondly, while most of Meade’s plan centered on being ready for Lee in a defensive position, he also did not keep all his troops merely standing around – which is what Lee thought. Meade made the first move on the third and last day.

The Fighting Begins

Charge of the 2nd Maryland Infantry, CSA into the "slaughterpen" at Culp's Hill, Battle of Gettysburg, July 3, 1863. So severe were the casualties among the Marylanders that General Steuart is said to have broken down and wept, wringing his hands and crying "my poor boys". Photo Credit: Source

Charge of the 2nd Maryland Infantry, CSA into the “slaughterpen” at Culp’s Hill,  July 3, 1863. So severe were the casualties among the Marylanders that Gen. Steuart is said to have broken down and wept, wringing his hands and crying “my poor boys”. Photo Credit: Source

Gunshots began early on July 3, 1863 as Union troops tried to take back areas they lost in the previous days of fighting. The specific point of contention was the lower slopes on Culp’s Hill. The 12th Corps batteries launched a full bombardment where the Confederates were on the hill. When Lee wanted to start his offensive (at the center of the Union line), Longstreet was not ready and had doubts about the entire plan. Pickett’s men were not even on the field yet. Ewell was engaged already in a bitter battle over Culp’s Hill. Around 11 a.m. and after seven hours of fighting, the second battle on Culp’s Hill ended. The Union lines were still strongly intact.

Meanwhile, Stuart’s cavalry marched east of Gettysburg to begin their assult. Their movement was seen by the Union who quickly order their own cavalry under Brig. Gen. David M. Gregg to cover the right flank. The opposing forces made contact in mid-afternoon. They traded artillery fire, sent in soldiers and mounted forces before it all resulted in a draw. Gregg and the Union were successful in squashing the Confederacy’s attempt at stationing themselves at both the front and rear of the Union. So far two of Lee’s three elements had failed. Their last attempt would become the “symbol of Southern courage.”

Pickett’s Charge

Thure de Thulstrup's Battle of Gettysburg, showing Pickett's Charge, 1887. Photo Credit: Library of Congress

Thure de Thulstrup’s Battle of Gettysburg, showing Pickett’s Charge, 1887. Photo Credit: Library of Congress

Like a grey wave washing over almost a mile of open and exposed field slopes, 12,500 Confederates marched in line towards Union defense. The men were initiating Lee’s last attempt of getting a foothold in the enemy’s defenses. Longstreet lead the massive infantry assault from Seminary Ridge. The soliders were from 10 brigades, including those under the command of Maj. Gen. George Pickett. They carried bright regimental flags as their lines were blasted by double canister shells and Union riflemen and sharpshooters.

Before the men marched onto the field, the Confederates launched a massive bombardment. Most of it missed its mark and their artillery reserve dwindled. At 3:00 p.m. the 12,500 began marching across three-quarters of a mile of open field – a suicide march. As they neared, the Southerns began to run with Picket reportedly shouing, “Charge the enemy and remember old Virginia!”

Confederate Maj. Gen. George Edward Pickett. Photo Credit: Library of Congress

Confederate Maj. Gen. George Edward Pickett. Photo Credit: Library of Congress

Those who got through the field were met with small arms fire from well protected infantrymen. Gaps within the Union’s line began to emerge near the Corpse of Trees and The Angle. The Confederates took that opportunity to break through and engage in hand-to-hand combat. It was short-lived but the spot is known as the “high water mark of the Confederacy.” A mixture of exhaustion and not enough men caused the remaining rebels to retreat back across the field, the Union continued to fire at them.

Over 6,000 Confederate soldiers were killed, wounded or taken prisoner.  Pickett’s Charge was named after Maj. Gen. Pickett – much to his dismay. Pickett’s division lost 26 o the 40 field grade officers, all three of its brigade commanders and suffered 2,655 casualties. After their retreat, Pickett was said to have been inconsolable. He blamed Lee for the disaster and, when asked by Lee to prepare his division in case the Union countered, Pickett replied, “General Lee, I have no division.”

Old Friends: Hancock & Armistead

Confederate Brig. Gen. Lewis Armistead (left) and Union Maj. Gen. Winfield Hancock were old friends before the Civil War put them on opposite sides. They would not see each other until Pickett's Charge. Only one would make it out alive.

Confederate Brig. Gen. Lewis Armistead (left) and Union Maj. Gen. Winfield Hancock were old friends before the Civil War put them on opposite sides. They would not see each other until Pickett’s Charge. Only one would make it out alive. Photo Credit: Source/Source

Union Maj. Gen. Winfield Hancock and Confederate Brig. Gen. Lewis A. Armistead both commanded their forces during Pickett’s Charge, were wounded and were old friends. They had served together in southern California and in the Mexican War. When the Civil War broke out, Hancock stayed with the United States Army while Armistead joined the Confederate States Army. At the farewell party before leaving, Armistead reportedly told Hancock, “Goodbye, you can never know what this has cost me.” Armistead also gave Hancock’s wife a prayer book in which he had “Trust In God And Fear Nothing” inscribed in it.

During Pickett’s Charge Armistead led his brigade at the front. After noticing the regiment’s colors were down, he waved his hat from his saber’s tip shouting “Come on, boys, give them the cold steel! Who will follow me?” His brigade got the farthest hitting what is known as the “high water mark of the Confederacy.” Union forces launched a counterattack and Armistead was shot three times crossing the wall.

Meanwhile, Hancock led his troops similar to Armistead but on a horse. Throughout the three days of fighting, and especially during Pickett’s Charge, he would ride up and down the line encouraging his troops and double-checking for weaknesses. He and his men were in the thick of it and a bullet struck the pommel of his saddle. It entered his inner right thigh, embedding wood fragments and a bent large nail.

As Armistead lay bleeding, he asked about Hancock. They told him that his friend was also badly wounded to which Armistead cried, “Not both of us on the same day!” The story goes that he turned to Hancock’s aide Capt. Henry Bingham and said, “Tell General Hancock, from me, that I have done him and you all a grave injustice.”

Armistead’s injury was quite severe and he died two days later. Hancock could not go to his friend because of his own injury. One of Armistead’s dying wishes was that his personal effects and Bible be given to Hancock.

Ginnie Wade

Ginnie Wade, killed by one of the 150 bullets that hit her sister's house, was the only civilian killed during the Battle of Gettysburg.

Ginnie Wade, killed by one of the 150 bullets that hit her sister’s house, was the only civilian killed during the Battle of Gettysburg. Photo Credit: NPS

Born May 21, 1843, Ginnie Wade lived in Gettysburg at her family home. She worked with her mother as a seamstress and, to make ends meet, they also cared for a little boy. When the fight first broke out on July 1, her family fled to her sister’s house on Baltimore Street. During the first day, Ginnie distributed bread and water to Union soldiers. They spend the next day preparing bread and giving it out.

Many of Gettysburg’s civilians did similar things. Here is where her story greatly, and sadly, differs. On July 3, 1863 around 7 a.m., Confederate  sharpshooters began firing through the north windows of the house. An hour later, Ginnie began making biscuits even though bullets ricocheted through the house. A half an hour later, a bullet hit her while she was kneading dough. Ginnie was killed instantly after it struck her back. She was the only civilian killed during the Battle of Gettysburg.

Johnston "Jack" Skelly was mustered into Co. E, 2nd PA Volunteer Infantry in April of 1861. Photo Credit: Source.

Johnston “Jack” Skelly was mustered into Co. E, 2nd PA Volunteer Infantry in April of 1861. Photo Credit: Source.

At the time of her death, Ginnie was engaged to Gettysburg local Corp. Johnston “Jack” Skelly. Two weeks before she was killed, Jack was mortally wounded fighting for the Union at the Battle of Winchester. Private Wesley Culp, another Gettysburg native who went to school with both of them and was fighting for the Confederacy, stumbled upon Jack in a field hospital. Jack knew he would not survived and gave Wesley a note to give to Ginnie.

Wesley, still carrying the note, died during the Battle of Gettysburg – the same day Ginnie was killed. Worse yet, Wesley Culp was killed near his uncle’s farm at Culp’s Hill. William Culp, Wesley’s brother, fought for the Union as an officer. William survived the war and reportedly thought his brother was a traitor for fighting for the Confederacy against Pennsylvania. The story goes that William never spoke of Wesley again.

Jack succumbed to his injuries on July 12. Jack and Ginnie were buried close to each other at Gettysburg’s Evergreen Cemetery. An executive order was issued to allow a flag to fly at her grave 24 hours a day. Ginnie Wade and Betsy Ross are the only women in the United States that were given this executive order.

Aftermath & the Gettysburg Address

A burial party inters the dead from the Battle of Gaines' Mill on the battlefield. Photo Credit: Library of Congress

A burial party inters the dead from the Battle of Gaines’ Mill on the battlefield. Photo Credit: Library of Congress

Lee was unsuccessful at gaining the upper hand or the upper land at Gettysburg. They were low on many things – most importantly they were low on morale. The Confederate Army lost a staggering 28,000 of the 75,000 men – a 38 percent casualty rate. There was no choice but to retreat. Lee’s second attempt at a Northern invasion failed as well as the hope of winning the war.

Meade’s forces numbered around 97,000 before Gettysburg. After the three days of fight, the Union army was 23,000 less. As the South retreated and the North followed but heavy rain and Confederate rear guards made their efforts ineffective.

As the armies moved out of Gettysburg they left behind thousands and thousands of dead and wounded soldiers. Surgeons and medical personnel from both sides stayed back to tend to the wounded. Local citizens also helped by bringing clothing, food and water. They created temporary shelters and helped with the wounded. The battlefields still held the bodies of the fallen. African American laborers were given the task of burying the dead. In the three days of fighting, as many as 51,000 soldiers were killed, wounded, captured or missing. It was said that the rivers and streams ran red with all the blood that was shed.

The only confirmed photo of Abraham Lincoln (circled) at Gettysburg, taken about noon, just after Lincoln arrived and some three hours before the speech. To Lincoln's right is his bodyguard, Ward Hill Lamon. Photo Credit: Source

The only confirmed photo of Abraham Lincoln (circled) at Gettysburg, taken about noon, just after Lincoln arrived. To Lincoln’s right is his bodyguard, Ward Hill Lamon. Photo Credit: Source

Four months after the Battle of Gettysburg, on November 19th, President Lincoln traveled to the town to dedicate the Soldiers National Cemetery which honored the killed Union soldiers. His physical features were described by an observer:

“[Lincoln’s] face, lined and sad, bore traces of tremendous worry the ordeal of war had brought to him. His expression was benign and kindly, and the strength of his character seemed to be evidenced in the pronounced features; a high forehead, a prominent nose and a decided chin jutting below firmly-set lips. His countenance seemed to reflect the tragedy of war and the significance of his visit to Gettysburg on that day.”

Lincoln was not the principal speaker that day and was only invited as a formality. His address was only 10 sentences long and lasted for 2 minutes. Not everyone in the audience could hear him but his message became immortalized in the history books. A message proclaiming that even hope could arise from war’s sacrifices and that the Civil War was a struggle for the principle of human equality.

The Great Reunion of 1913

Photograph taken on July 3, 1913 during the reunion at "Bloody Angle." Pickett's men are in foreground and the Union men  (likely the Philadelphia Brigade) are lined against the wall. They wait to shake hands which the camera in the left middle is set up to capture. The monument in the upper left honors the 71st Pennsylvania. Photo Credit: Bain News Service/Library of Congress

Photograph taken on July 3, 1913 during the reunion at “Bloody Angle.” Pickett’s men are in foreground and the Union men (likely the Philadelphia Brigade) are lined against the wallwaiting to shake hands. The monument in the upper left honors the 71st Pennsylvania. Photo Credit: Bain News Service/Library of Congress

After the Civil War’s guns became silent and the smoke cleared the battlefields, the country began to heal. The war pitted brother against brother, neighbor against neighbor and countryman against countryman. No one knew that better than those who fought it. Veterans from both sides periodically visited Gettysburg and the graves of fallen friends, family and comrades to reflect, heal and find peace.

In 1913 a formal reunion was organized to honor the 50th Anniversary. More than 50,000 attended including President Woodrow Wilson who stated: “These venerable men crowding here to this famous field have set us a great example of devotion and utter sacrifice. They were willing to die that people might live. But their task is done. Their day is turned into evening. They look to us to perfect what they have established. Their work is handed unto us, to be done in another way but not in another spirit. Our day is not over, it is upon us to full tide.”

Veterans of both sides gather under their respective colors in July 1913 during the Great Reunion, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. Photo Credit: Library of Congress

Veterans of both sides gather under their respective colors in July 1913 during the Great Reunion, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. Photo Credit: Library of Congress

Sources
John MacDonald, The Historical Atlas of the Civil War, New York: Chartwell Books, Inc., 2009.
John Keegan, The American Civil War: A Military History, New York: Alfred A. Knoff, 2009.
Glenn W. LaFantasie, “How Lincoln Won and Lost at Gettysburg,” Papers of the Ninth Gettysburg National Military Park Seminar, Gettysburg, PA: Gettysburg National Military Park, 195-209, 2002.
Anthony M. Nicastro, “Why Gettysburg?: An Analysis of the Command Decisions and Intelligence Failures That Led to Gettysburg,” Papers of the Tenth Gettysburg National Military Park Seminar, Gettysburg, PA: Gettysburg National Military Park, 143-153, 2005.
Civil War Trust
National Park Service
The National Guard
U.S. Army

Boy with Fireworks, 1940

3 July 2013

Patriotic boy with fireworks, ca. 1940.

Pie Eating Contest, Fourth of July, 1945

2 July 2013
Photo Credit: Library of Congress

Photo Credit: Library of Congress

Pie eating contest during a field day held by the 87th Regiment of the Tenth Mountain Division, on July 4, 1945, near Caporreto, Italy. Shows laughing people with whipped cream on their faces; a woman in a Red Cross uniform is (possibly) Deborah Bankart.

Battle of Gettysburg – Day 2

2 July 2013

This year marks the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. From July 1 – July 3, 1863 the bloodiest battle in the entire American Civil War waged around Gettysburg, Pennsylvania between Union Major General George Gordon Meade’s Army of the Potomac and Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. This is Day 2 of the Battle of Gettysburg.
Battle of Gettysburg – Day 1
Battle of Gettysburg – Day 3
Gettysburg Day 2

They say the noise was incessant as the sound
Of all wolves howling, when that attack came on.
They say, when the guns all spoke, that the solid ground
Of the rocky ridges trembled like a sick child.

- Stephen Vincent Benet

Defensive Positions

During the evening and night hours on July 1, 1863 both the Union and Confederate infantry forces had arrived. There were now around 160,000 soldiers at Gettysburg. At the end of the first day, the Union soldiers were positioned on higher, ridged ground south of the town. Their defensive position was like a “fish hook” and started at Culp’s Hill, traveled west to Cemetery Hill where it curved around and went south down Cemetery Ridge.

Map of the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg. [Confederates lines are red; Union lines are blue.] Photo Credit: Map by Hal Jespersen, www.cwmaps.com

Map of the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg. [Confederates lines are red; Union lines are blue.] Photo Credit: Map by Hal Jespersen, www.cwmaps.com

Unlike the previous morning, fighting did not start until the afternoon. Both armies took the morning hours to gather their troops, survey the area and shift their forces. It was humid and warm, but the men knew that the day was ripe with tension. It was understood that it “would be a day of bloodshed and that with some of us our next sleep would be the cold sleep of death.” Maj. Gen. George Gordon Meade again waited for Confederate General Robert E. Lee to make his move.

Lee shifted his forces to form a parallel line across from the Union line starting at Seminary Ridge, traveling east through the town before curved southeast and ended on a point opposite Culp’s Hill. The Confederate line was nearly five miles long while the Union had the interior lines.

Sickles’ Move

Meade ordered Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Sickles to take up defensive positions on the southern end of Cemetery Ridge. Sickle’s III Corps held the Union left, bottom of the fish hook, and were anchored to the north by the II Corps and to the south was the hill known as “Little Round Top.” The hill held the Union’s signal station which was vital for quick information. Stickle was unhappy with where he was stationed because he believed the land was too low. At 1 p.m. he moved his III Corps from the Little Round Top area to the “Peach Orchid” – an area with a slightly higher terrain. It was almost a mile in front of Cemetery Ridge. In doing so, Sickles weakened Meade’s concentrated defensive line, stretching it too thin. Additionally, he left his force open to attacks from multiple sides with no anchors.

Federal breastworks in the woods on Culp's Hill during the Battle of Gettysburg, 1863. Photo Credit: Library of Congress

Federal breastworks in the woods on Culp’s Hill during the Battle of Gettysburg, 1863. Photo Credit: Library of Congress

Attacking the Flanks

Lee was still waiting on Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart’s cavalry to arrive; however, he could not wait any longer. He ordered a coordinated demonstration on both Union flanks at Culp’s and Cemetery Hills. While Meade and the Union’s soldiers were focused on defending those positions, Lt. Gen. James Longstreet’s I Corps would stealthily attack the Union’s left flank. Due to faulty intelligence, Lee was unaware of Sickle’s re-positioning. Sickle’s III Corps was directly in their path, forming a rough V-shaped line.

Right before the fighting began, around 3:30 p.m., Meade arrived at the Peach Orchard after learning of Sickle’s unauthorized move. Sickle, recognizing the vulnerability of the position and Longstreet’s incoming batteries, he acquiesced, stating “I will withdraw to my original position, if that is what you prefer, General.” Seeing the advancing Confederates, Meade responded “It is too late sir, those people won’t let you!” At about 4:00 p.m. Longstreet and Lt. Gen. A.P. Hill’s divisions charge the Union left flank at Devil’s Den, the Peach Orchard, Little Round Top and the Wheatfield. Brig. Gen. Gouverneur Warren orders brigades to defend Little Round Top before the Confederates could take it. The second day of battle had begun.

Little Round Top, western slope, photographed by Timothy H. O'Sullivan, 1863. Photo Credit: Library of Congress

Little Round Top, western slope, photographed by Timothy H. O’Sullivan, 1863. Photo Credit: Library of Congress

Meade sent reinforcements (taken from Cemetery Hill and Culp’s Hill) to Sickle’s line. Despite their best efforts, the Peach Orchard position collapsed by 6:00 p.m. Confederate troops shifted their focus to Cemetery Ridge – now weakened after troops were sent to the Peach Orchard. Meade’s Cemetery Ridge line held. By 7 p.m. Lee’s main offensive attack had lessened and the Union pulled through. The night, however, was not over.

As dusk fell, Confederate Lt. Gen. Richard Ewell began his assault on the Union right against Culp’s Hill and Cemetery Hill. Even though many of Culp’s Hill’s original defenders were sent elsewhere during the day, those who remained had utilized their rocky surroundings and constructed fortifications. The Confederates attacked but were slowed down when they could not breach the constructed earth barriers. The intense fighting lasted well into the night but the Union held their positions. Since they operated within concentrated, interior lines, it allowed men to move and defend weakened areas quickly and easily while the Confederate line was stretched miles long.

1st Minnesota Civil War drum, 1861. The 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment was the first unit from any state pledged to fight for the Uni1st Minnesota Civil War drumon. As part of the Army of the Potomac, the 1st took part in many significant battles and campaigns including Bull Run, the Peninsula Campaign, Antietam, and Gettysburg.The Battle of Gettysburg was the 1st Minnesota’s finest hour, where it made a heroic charge that helped secure the Union victory. The regiment suffered heavy losses as a result.

1st Minnesota Civil War drum, 1861. Photo Credit: Minnesota Historical Society

Notable State Militias 

As with the first day of battle, state militias again contributed greatly. Some of the bloodiest fighting took place in the Wheatfield, the Peach Orchard and north to Cemetery Ridge. It is at Cemetery Ridge where the 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry, outnumber 4-to-1, made their stand. The 1st Minnesota was one of the first units called into service at the start of the Civil War. Confederate infantry threatened to pour through a gap in the Union lines. If the South got a foothold on Cemetery Ridge, the North likely would have been pushed off. Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock ordered the 1st Minnesota forward. Lowering their bayonets, 262 Minnesotans charged. Their actions stalled the Confederate until the III Corps took over. The 1st Minnesota’s flag fell five times and rose again every time. Of the 262 who charged, 215 became casualties in only five minutes. The 1st Minnesota’s 83.1 percent casualty rate is still the largest loss by any surviving military unit during a single day’s engagement in United States history.

In 1889, veterans of the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry gathered at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, with Gen. Chamberlain. He is seated at center right, bracketed by the Maltese Cross banner and the unit's regimental flag. Photo Credit: Maine Historical Society

In 1889, veterans of the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry gathered at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, with Gen. Chamberlain. He is seated at center right, bracketed by the Maltese Cross banner and the unit’s regimental flag. Photo Credit: Maine Historical Society

In the famous battle for control of Little Round Top, the 15th Regiment Alabama Infantry faced off against the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry. The 15th Alabama, led by Maj. Gen. John Bell Hood and commanded by Col. William C. Oates, charged the hill guarded by the 20th Maine. The Confederates were quite exhausted at the time, having marched over 20 miles prior to the assault. However, they fought anyways. After one and a half hours of intense fighting (as well as six different spirited attacks by the 15th Alabama) the 20th Maine, led by former professor Col. Joshua Chamberlain, found themselves low on ammunition and morale. Told to protect Little Round Top “at all costs,” Chamberlain knew they could not withstand another attack attempt. So the 20th Maine famously fixed their bayonets and charged downhill, surprising and scattering the Confederates. They held the hill. Oates later said of his opponent, “There never were harder fighters than the Twentieth Maine men and their gallant Colonel. His skill and persistency and the great bravery of his men saved Little Round Top and the Army of the Potomac from defeat.” In turn, Chamberlain said of the 15th Alabama: “these were manly men, whom we could befriend and by no means kill, if they came our way in peace and good will.”

Statistics of Day 2

The areas of fighting  on Day 2 included the Peach Orchard, Devil’s Den, Little Round Top, the Wheatfield, Trostle’s Farm, Cemetery Ridge, Cemetery Hill and Culp’s Hill. While the Confederates gained some ground, the Union still held onto their strong positions. July 2, 1863 was the largest and costliest during the Battle of Gettysburg. An estimated 90,000 Union soldiers faced off against 70,000 Confederates of which around 20,000 were killed, wounded, captured or missing. The second day is ranked as the 10th bloodiest battle of the war and had more causalities than the larger Battle of Fredericksburg. With no clear victor in sight, generals planned their next steps. Civilians braced themselves for more chaos and destruction. Soldiers prepared for battle – some prepared for death.

Dead Confederate soldiers in the "slaughter pen" at the foot of Little Round Top after the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg. Photo Credit: Library of Congress

Dead Confederate soldiers in the “slaughter pen” at the foot of Little Round Top after the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg. Photo Credit: Alexander Gardner/Library of Congress

Sources
John MacDonald, The Historical Atlas of the Civil War, New York: Chartwell Books, Inc., 2009.
John Keegan, The American Civil War: A Military History, New York: Alfred A. Knoff, 2009.
Stephen Vincent Benet, John Brown’s Body, Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Doran, 1928.
Andrew Curry, “Turning the Tide,” U.S. News & World Reports: Secrets of the Civil War, 21-22, 2012.
Anthony M. Nicastro, “Why Gettysburg?: An Analysis of the Command Dicisions and Intelligence Failures That Led to Gettysburg,” Papers of the Tenth Gettysburg National Military Park Seminar, Gettysburg, PA: Gettysburg National Military Park, 143-153, 2005.
James Hessler, “Dan Sickles: The Battlefield Preservationist,” Civil War Trust.
Hampton Smith, “First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment,” MNopedia, March 13, 2012.
20th Maine Volunteers
Civil War Trust
National Park Service
The National Guard
U.S. Army

Panorama of 2nd Day's Battle, 1909. Photo Credit: Library of Congress

Panorama of 2nd Day’s Battle, 1909. Photo Credit: Library of Congress

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