Gods and Generals: Chancellorsville

I’ve gotten to the end of the movie, through some of the more droll scenes in between Fredericksburg and the final engagement of the movie. The portrayal is a little stilted, only showing Jackson’s Corps assault on the 11th Corps and not the other fighting until it leads up to Jackson’s wounding, but I appreciated the construction of those scenes, the reenactor extras who took time to run silently out of the trees tens of times to get the scene right, and the view where this video spot starts of several brigades worth of Confederates at right shoulder shift arms at the double quick showing how it probably looked had one been there to witness it.

Visiting the battlefield is interesting. There are gun emplacements still visible, emplacements that were dug before the battle started pointing to something of Hooker’s mindset at the time. These emplacements had to be repositioned, faced in a direction Hooker suspected he might be attacked and they had to be swiveled as Jackson’s attack drove the 11th Corps in on the III Corps positions. These are small burms now, preserved and cut into the earth to protect field batteries. They are sort of unique for this time period on a civil war battlefield save for Petersburg and Vickburg where long term siege lines were constructed. Emplacements such as this were constructed when one thought they were going to occupy this spot for more than a day.

Union Artillery facing Hazel Grove’s confederate batteries, dug in emplacements in the foreground facing towards the Orange Plank road.
View of Union Artillery positions looking towards Hazel Grove, emplacements in the background.

Joseph Hooker had stolen a march on Lee, placing the bulk of the Army of the Potomac on Lee’s flank and leaving two corps back on Stafford Heights overlooking Fredericksburg to demonstrate – which Sedgewick does and takes Maryes Heights finally. Why Hooker paused and waited and why he waited for Lee to make the next move is up for debate. The fighting was ¬†a precursor to what fighting would be like in a year when Grant pushes the AoP into the Wilderness and Lee meets him again near the site of the bitter two day struggle known as Chancellorsville. Jackson’s attack is commenced with limited daylight left and is able to push in the 11th Corps but is unable to do more, the other attacks by Lee’s army also fail to drive into the Union left and center and a stalemate ensues the continuing day with neither side gaining any advantage. Hooker finally pulls back across the Rappahanock river and the rest is history leading up to the invasion of Pennsylvania and Gettysburg.

At the bottom is a Google Maps view of land that the Civil War Trust is trying to save on the Jackson Sneak Attack and marshaling area. You can see from the patchwork of colors that this area is only partially preserved. This battlefield is hemmed in by lots of development and a fight was waged several years ago to prevent a Walmart going in on ground that abutted the park.

In other news, work on Iuka to Corinth has gone into its final phases, the first pass edit has come back from the editor and I’m busy rewriting a few chapters to flesh out the Michael Greirson character introduced first in They Met at Shiloh and his involvement with the renowned 2nd Texas Infantry. The rewrite is always an interesting exersize as you cover stuff you are already over familiar with but need to read with a new eye for the detail that needs to be added. The conflict had already been set when I first wrote the manuscript out and fortunately this is just bringing certain things out and not a full alteration of the text.

ARC versions of Iuka to Corinth will be available soon, if you’re interested in a copy in electronic format, sign up for the news letter as I’ll be letting members have first stab at copies.

 

Satellite view of Jackson’s Flank attack, noting the land preserved by the Civil War Trust (blue), CVBT (brown), and the National Park Service (green). The 2013 target properties are highlighted in yellow. (Google Earth)

The Eagle has landed

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We landed in Tennessee this evening, Nashville to be exact and right away trouble; my wife’s laptop, an old Dell XPS that has had multiple motherboards replaced just six months ago, the same laptop that was working at the Albuquerque Airport suddenly will not boot once we were settled in our room.

This was one of the first trips where I did not bring my own laptop, choosing to do everything from my iPad. This is only an issue as my wife intended to offload her photos to her laptop so that her camera’s memory cards would not fill up. So, this was unexpected but not entirely disastrous. The Dell is out of warranty by several weeks now. Annnnd, I left my iPad’s HDMI converter as we were planning on watching movies from my iPad on the flatscreen in the room, also not a big disaster and the local Apple store did not have one in stock.

One thing that I am going to hunt for is an iPad to USB keyboard adapter (if one exists). Bluetooth is disabled while in flight, so my Apple bluetooth keyboard, something that I use to type with when I write (I almost exclusively use my iPad for writing) is really tough using the soft keyboard for any length of time. I did manage to get in 1K+ word count in during the first hour of our flight on book #3. So it is not impossible to do serious writing on the soft keyboard, but is a little annoying as I often miss hitting the “n” key most often or I hit the spacebar instead of the n.

But, we are going to leave tomorrow morning for the Corinth Interpretive Center and Shiloh as our first day out. We have all day to revisit sites at Shiloh and get lots of photos of the bronze relief and the Battery Robinette reconstruction. Then we’ll be back at Shiloh to close the park down, drop off a Sell Sheet at the bookstore and try to say “Hi” in person to the lady who runs the bookstore (I’ve talked with her several times on the phone after I mailed her the book and other materials). Will be a long day of driving, however.

New Orange Walmart Site Good for Battlefield and County, Preservationists Say

New Orange Walmart Site Good for Battlefield and County, Preservationists Say.

I visited this area last year while on a training trip for work and civilization has surrounded both the Wilderness and the Chancellorsville battle sites. I have wondered about this conflict between past and future present, the progress of commerce and the presence of both jobs and convenience. While one could say the principle portions of the Wilderness battlefield are already protected, it is the need for saving all that can be saved before more is eroded away, even the main site could be sold off by the government for cash or claimed by eminent domain by a community.

I do support saving what can be saved and building on that memory with a “never forget” attitude that was enlivened by the horrific events of 9/11. The 150th events bring this even more to the front as we spend these next five years remembering the anniversaries of each battle.