Civil War Roundtable plans Gettysburg trip

The Civil War Roundtable of the Mid-Ohio Valley will host a Fall 2014 Field Trip to Gettysburg, Pa., departing from points in Marietta and Parkersburg on Friday, Sept. 26, and returning on Sunday, Sept. 28. The field trip will include charter bus transportation, two-night accommodations at the Quality Inn in Gettysburg, tour of the Gettysburg National Military Park Battlefield led by a Licensed Battlefield Guide, admissions to the Gettysburg National Military Park Visitor Center and Seminary Ridge Museums, a “core” itinerary with interpretive visits to sites central to the battle and The Gettysburg Address, and an exclusive guided tour of Falling Waters Battlefield near Williamsport MD.

The mission of the Civil War Roundtable is to “Educate, commemorate and encourage public interest in the American Civil War”. In support of this mission the roundtable regularly conducts field trips to locations of related interest. A central feature of each field trip are visits to sites where soldiers from the Mid-Ohio Valley region served during the Civil War and interpretation of their experiences based on original research by local historians compiled from letters, personal memoirs and official records. Interpretation of key events during the Gettysburg Campaign will be provided by historians Scott Britton, Jeff Danner, Bill Reynolds and George F Franks III.

The Battle of Gettysburg, July 1 to 3, 1863, is significant in that it is often identified as the turning point in the Civil War. After successes at Fredericksburg in December of 1862 and Chancellorsville in May of 1863, General Lee led his confidant Army of Northern Virginia on his second invasion of the North – the Gettysburg Campaign. Lee intended to shift the conflict from war-ravaged Virginia to the verdant fields of Pennsylvania from where he hoped to threaten Baltimore, Philadelphia and Washington, and ultimately destroy the Union Army. Unexpectedly, General George Gordon Meade, the latest in a long series of Union army leaders, was given command of the Union army on June 28, 1863, just three days before the armies collided at Gettysburg. The three days of battle that ensued were the bloodiest of the war and are rife with heroism, tragedy, missed opportunity, and controversy. After two and one-half days of desperate attacks, flanking movements, and counterattacks, Lee ordered the Pickett-Pettigrew-Trimble Assault, a frontal charge of the Union center that momentarily broke the Union line. Reinforcements were rushed to the position and the farthest advance of the Confederate Army was repulsed. The armies still faced each other under a heavy rain on July 4 when Lee started his retreat – the same day that Vicksburg surrendered to General Grant after months of siege on the Mississippi River.

The Battle of Falling Waters near Williamsport MD rarely garners more than a paragraph in history books. It is the last battle of the Gettysburg Campaign and occurred when Union cavalry attacked the Confederate rear guarding the retreat across the Potomac River. Most of General Lee’s rebels managed to cross safely vexing President Abraham Lincoln who had hope to destroy Lee’s army before it could return to Virginia. Falling Waters represents yet another missed opportunity for the Union army and a tragic end to the campaign for hundreds of Confederate soldiers who became casualties or prisoners of war.

Historians estimate that the two armies suffered between 46,000 and 51,000 casualties at Gettysburg, the largest of war. Lee would never again invade the North but, more significantly, Lee’s successful retreat set the stage for nearly two more years of hard fighting before his army was finally captured at Appomattox, Va.

Britton is a scholar, educator, historian, re-enactor, and Executive Director of The Castle in Marietta. He is past commander of Benjamin D. Fearing Camp #2, Sons of Union Veterans, and has undertaken extensive research on Civil War soldiers and citizens from throughout Southeastern Ohio and Northern West Virginia to define their contributions to the events of the period. Britton is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University. Soldiers from the 25th, 73rd, and 75th OVI, 1st Ohio Light Artillery – Batteries H and K, 1st WV Light Artillery – Battery C, McEldowndey’s 27th Virginia (CSA) Inf, 7th WVI, and 6th Wisconsin Volunteers will come alive through photographic illustrations and narrative accounts of their engagements on the battlefield.

Danner is a scholar, volunteer educator, historian, and an Associate Member of the Licensed Battlefield Guides of Gettysburg. He is also a member of the “Friends of Gettysburg”. Danner earned an undergraduate degree in foreign language at the University of Kentucky and has pursued graduate studies in philosophy and theology. Danner’s enthusiastic presentation style has produced memorable Civil War Roundtable programs and lively roundtable discussions on diverse subjects.

Reynolds is a scholar, educator, re-enactor, muzzle-loader craftsman, U.S. Army veteran and professional historian. He is Curator of Campus Martius Museum in Marietta and a graduate of Kent State University. Reynolds is a direct descendent of Major General John F. Reynolds who declined command of the Union Army in the days preceding the Battle of Gettysburg and was killed there while leading the Union Ist, IIIrd and XIth Corps on the first day of fighting. Bill was recently honored with a Special Proclamation issued by the State of Pennsylvania as one of only 34 re-enactors to participate in each of the 100th, 125th and 150th Battle of Gettysburg re-enactments.

Franks is a U.S. Navy veteran, retired businessman, leadership consultant and Civil War historian who resides in Williamsport, Md. In 2013, Franks authored, Battle of Falling Waters 1863: Custer, Pettigrew and the End of the Gettysburg Campaign. He contributes a unique perspective based on years of study of the engagement, the circumstances that preceded it, its leaders and their leadership styles.

For those who have previously visited Gettysburg and wish to expand on their experience, optional activities and events will include: Gettysburg Fall Outdoor Antique Show, Antique Store and Gallery Tour, Alley and Backyard Tour of Gettysburg, Midnight Adventure in the Jennie Wade House, Gettysburg Licensed Town Guides, Seminar entitled, Forward the Colors – The Flags and Bearers of the Flags at Gettysburg, Eisenhower National Historic Park, General Lee’s Headquarters, David Wills House, The Shriver House Museum, Jennie Wade House Museum, Gettysburg Heritage Center, an extended evening program with the Cyclorama painting, and more.

A flag ceremony to honor Civil War veterans from Southeastern Ohio and Northern West Virginia who are buried at Gettysburg National Cemetery will conclude the visit to Gettysburg.

Registration is limited and will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. Cost is $310/ guest for shared double-occupancy; and, $400/guest for private accommodations. Contact Bill Reynolds at (740) 350- 0316 or for additional information.

The Civil War Roundtable conducts regular meetings on the third Thursday of odd numbered months (eg. January, March, May, etc.) at 7 p.m. at Campus Martius Museum in Marietta. Presentations embrace a wide range of subjects and interests. There is no cost to attend and the public is welcomed.

The Civil War Roundtable of the Mid-Ohio Valley is affiliated with the Marietta Community Foundation. Donations to the Marietta Community Foundation on behalf of the Civil War Roundtable of the Mid-Ohio Valley Fund are tax deductible.