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Civil War Trust

June 13, 2008

Hagerstown Summer Teacher Institute, The General, Events


Civil War Preservation Trust Teacher Newsletter

The Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT) is America's largest non-profit organization (501-C3) devoted to the preservation of our nation's endangered Civil War battlefields. CWPT's Education Department promotes Civil War battlefield preservation by encouraging the study of the war's timeless lessons, provoking thought about the vital roles these battlefields play in our nation's history.


   Don’t leave for the summer before you register!



    The Great Locomotive Chase and the First Medal of Honor".




   Hagerstown, MD • July 25-27, 2008


* “Field trips” to Antietam and Harpers Ferry.
* Workshops demonstrating pedagogical strategies.

Civil War Lost and Found: An Antietam Soldier’s Diary Civil War Service Records as Primary Source Creating a Student Living History Museum Lincoln Assassination Murder Mystery Teaching the Civil War with Technology Economic Issues in the Civil War Teaching the Civil War to Elementary Students Marie Tepe: Vivandiere – Women in the Civil War Organizing a Youth Re-enactment Program Creating a Civil War Sesquicentennial Event

*Saturday Field Trip choices:
Antietam – Two NPS Education programs
     Battlefield in a Box, & Angels of the Battlefield),
     battlefield tour


Harpers Ferry – Includes three NPS Education programs
     (covering John Brown, the Civil War in Harpers Ferry,
     and the African American Experience), battlefield tour

*Special Guests:
-Dr. James I. “Bud” Robertson, Director,
     Center for Civil War Studies at Virginia Tech
-William C. Davis, Director of Programs,
     Center for Civil War Studies at Virginia Tech
-Hari Jones, African American Civil War Museum
-Garry Adelman, Center for Civil War Photography

*Saturday Evening Panel Discussion
*Continuing Education Units offered through
        Virginia Tech (by pre-registration ONLY –
        none issued after the event, sorry)
        Time is running out …

*Limited number of Stipends available

*For more information
Contact the Civil War Preservation Trust at or visit


“The National History Education Clearinghouse, an online project that brings K-12 U.S. history teachers high-quality support and resources… explore history content, best practices, teaching materials, current research and much more!”
“The Flags of Bentonville” – Flags carried by units who fought in the March 19-21, 1865 battle.  Also includes maps, links to museums and historical societies, and a preservation opportunity.
Various Civil War books readable via Google Books
From Harper’s Weekly – a Sampler of Civil War Literature
American Slave Narratives: An Online Anthology.  “From 1936 to 1938, over 2,300 former slaves from across the American South were interviewed by writers and journalists under the aegis of the Works Progress Administration. These former slaves, most born in the last years of the slave regime or during the Civil War, provided first-hand accounts of their experiences on plantations, in cities, and on small farms. Their narratives remain a peerless resource for understanding the lives of America's four million slaves. What makes the WPA narratives so rich is that they capture the very voices of American slavery, revealing the texture of life as it was experienced and remembered. Each narrative taken alone offers a fragmentary, microcosmic representation of slave life. Read together, they offer a sweeping composite view of slavery in North America, allowing us to explore some of the most compelling themes of nineteenth-century slavery, including labor, resistance and flight, family life, relations with masters, and religious belief.”


A. What is a Percussion Arm?

B. Who was CS Lt. Gen. James Longstreet’s roommate at West Point?

C. What does it mean to “wave the bloody shirt”?

D. During the Civil War, what was a “traverse trench” and who is often credited for being the first to extensively use this item?




Published by (June 2008)

Russell S. Bonds. _Stealing the General: The Great Locomotive Chase and the First Medal of Honor_. Yardley: Westholme Publishing, 2007. 438 pp. Illustrations, maps, notes, bibliography, index.

Reviewed for H-CivWar by C. David Dalton, Department of History, College of the Ozarks

A Raid and a Race

In April 1862, James J. Andrews led nineteen Union soldiers into northern Georgia. Their mission was to destroy the Western & Atlantic railroad running from Atlanta to Chattanooga as well as telegraph lines and bridges. The means by which they would attempt to accomplish the feat was a Confederate steam locomotive, the "General." If successful, Chattanooga, the railway center of the Confederacy, would be isolated from receiving supplies and reinforcements, making it untenable. If unsuccessful, the Northern volunteers would be executed as spies since they would be wearing civilian clothes. It was a daring adventure, the stuff of movies and legend.

Author Russell S. Bonds grew up in Marietta, just a few blocks from the spot where Andrews and his men stole the "General" and three boxcars. He is an attorney with Coca-Cola, but he writes as a historian, with one eye toward factual detail--sometimes bordering on the tedious--and the other toward writing a suspenseful work of fiction, though his tale is a true one. Although his story is well known, Bonds contends that many Civil War historians gloss over or even omit the raid from publications, perhaps due to its ultimate failure. _Stealing the General_ is his attempt to provide an accurate account of the incident as well as its ultimate legacy, the awarding of the first Congressional Medal of Honor.

Rather than seize the train in Atlanta, Andrews's plan called for his men, traveling in small groups dressed as civilians, disguising their Northern accents and trying to seem uneducated to avoid suspicion, to meet in Marietta, twenty miles to the north. When the "General" made a breakfast stop at Big Shanty (Kennesaw) on April 12, Andrews and his raiders quietly took possession of the empty train and steamed off, despite the presence of Confederate soldiers and civilians nearby. Train conductor William Fuller gave chase on foot and handcar until he reached another train, the "Yonah," whereupon he chased Andrews another thirty miles to Kingston. In Kingston, Fuller boarded a second train, the "William R. Smith," to continue the chase until broken tracks forced him to once again travel by foot until he found the "Texas."

But the "Texas" was headed south rather than north. Undeterred, Fuller gave chase in reverse. When Andrews realized that Fuller was continuing his pursuit, despite the numerous obstacles his Union soldiers placed in the way, Andrews decided not to stop along the Western & Atlantic line to destroy tracks and telegraph lines, or take on wood and water, which led to the "General" running out of steam north of Ringgold, GA, just a few miles south of Chattanooga. The raiders then scattered into the woods, but eventually all were captured, including two who overslept that morning in Marietta and missed all of the excitement.

Andrews was quickly tried as a Union spy in Chattanooga, found guilty, and executed on June 7, 1862 in Atlanta (the threat of Union troops moving toward Chattanooga forced his removal southward). Less than two weeks later, seven other raiders were hanged as spies. Several of the raiders made a remarkable jail escape into Union lines and the remainder were exchanged as prisoners of war in March 1863.

The daring plan, its implementation, and the subsequent chase and capture of the raiders comprise only half of the book. The remainder is devoted to the various trials, executions, escapes, and exchange of the raiders. Arguably, the most important aspect of _Stealing the General_ is the story surrounding the awarding of the Medal of Honor. On July 12, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed into law a bill recognizing noncommissioned officers and privates who distinguished themselves in action. Secretary of War Edwin Stanton awarded the first Medals of Honor to six of raiders in March of 1863.  In all, nineteen of the raiders were eventual recipients, but Andrews and William Campbell were ineligible since they were civilians. Two of the raiders, Perry Shadrach and George Wilson, both of whom were hanged in June 1862, never received the honor, though efforts are underway currently to secure a posthumous award for each man.

Bonds sets the stage for the raid with a good summary of the military situation in the western theater of the Civil War from the fall of 1861 through the following spring. He also provides excellent capsule biographies of the raiders, complete with photographs of each, as well as a detailed map of the chase. He correctly cites the tremendous disadvantage of the Confederacy in terms of railroads, making it all the more important that it maintain control of its lines and trains. Andrews is portrayed as a quiet but effective leader who actually possessed no military training; he was best known as a smuggler of quinine prior to his raid.

This fascinating story is not new, however. In fact, many Americans were first introduced to Andrews's raiders in the 1927 silent movie classic "The General," starring Buster Keaton.  The story was remade by Walt Disney in 1956 as a film entitled "The Great Locomotive Chase," featuring Fess Parker. Both depictions were filled with errors, in part due to "dramatic license" as well as exaggerations and faulty memories on the part of the surviving participants. Russell Bonds has ensured that such mistakes will never again be repeated and the story of one of the most daring, if unsuccessful, raids of the Civil War will no longer be overlooked.



The Camp Curtin Historical Society will hold its annual Civil War Days in Lemoyne on Saturday and Sunday, June 21and 22, to commemorate the 145th anniversary of the Gettysburg Campaign.  The event is part of the Pennsylvania Civil War Trails Program, created to bring local history to life. 
Cooper's Pennsylvania Artillery Battery will camp at Lemoyne's Negley Park and conduct cannon firing demonstrations at 1:00PM and 3:00PM on Saturday and 1:30PM on Sunday.  One of the highlights of the weekend will be the spectacular evening cannon firing at 8:30PM on Saturday.  For visitors who have never seen the full fury of Civil War artillery, this is a rare opportunity to see the flame as well as hearing the roar and smelling the gun smoke. 
Prior to the evening firing, the Victorian Dance Ensemble will conduct a Civil War dance at 7:30PM on Saturday.  Everyone is invited to attend and neither period attire or dance experience is required.
The camp will be open to the public 11AM to 5PM on Saturday, 11AM to 3PM on Sunday.  Free maps and information on other area Civil War sites will be available.  All programs are free.
For more information, telephone 717-364-9764 or email


** FIGHTING FOR THE HEARTLAND: A Symposium Exploring the Stories of the Civil War in Tennessee

June 19-21, 2008 at Franklin, TN: 

-- Comprehensive guided tours of the many historic buildings and landscapes associated with the November 30, 1864 battle,

-- Compelling occupation and emancipation stories from the war years,

-- roundtable discussions led by noted Civil War scholars about the battle’s impact on the competing Army of Tennessee CSA and the Army of the Cumberland USA, and its impact on the Confederate high command,

-- discussions by preservation and heritage tourism professionals on how to make battlefield preservation work in your community and how Franklin serves as a national model.

The symposium is the primary summer public event of the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area, a partnership unit of the National Park Service. The conference is presented in cooperation with the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area, Tennessee Civil War Preservation Association, Civil War Preservation Trust, the Tennessee Preservation Trust, and the Williamson County-Franklin Chamber of Commerce. On a local level, major partners include Carnton Plantation, Carter House, City of Franklin, Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County, Land Trust of Tennessee, McLemore House Museum, MTSU Center for Historic Preservation, Save the Franklin Battlefield, Tennessee Historical Commission, Tennessee Wars Commission, and the Williamson County Historical Society.

More information at


**Two-Week Civil War Curriculum CD-ROM: For grades 5, 8 & 11.  Download online, or e-mail your land address to to have it mailed.
The classroom curriculum guide is endorsed by The History Channel.
**Classroom Membership:
Contains the monthly classroom newsletter and quarterly Hallowed Ground magazine, a packet of classroom materials, curriculum CD-ROM & book of Civil War trivia.  To sponsor a classroom, obtain an application, or view a newsletter - contact  

Civil War Preservation Trust Education Web Site

Adopt a Battlefield:
Save battlefields while teaching about their history! Site packs include Fredericksburg, Antietam, Appomattox, Perryville, Peninsula Campaign, Harpers Ferry, Third Winchester and Chancellorsville.   More sites will be added in the future.  Email for more details.  
Summer Teacher Institute – July 25-27, 2008 ==>



A. A percussion arm is “A musket or rifle-musket that requires a cap to fire. A tiny cap is placed on the gun so that when a trigger is pulled, the hammer strikes the cap. The chemical in the cap (fulminate of mercury) ignites and flame shoots into the chamber that holds the gunpowder. This ignites the powder and the blast shoots the bullet out of the barrel.”  See

B. US Gen. William S. Rosecrans.  See

C. According to, to wave the bloody shirt means “to foment political strife by keeping controversies alive”. 

They continue:  “This expression first appeared during Reconstruction, when Northerners who used incendiary rhetoric to keep alive bitter feelings against the South were said to be waving the bloody shirt. The meaning later broadened to mean any sort of rabble rousing or divisiveness in politics.”  A possible source for the phrase comes from “the 1603 Scottish battle of Glenfruin. Reputedly, the widows of the battle rode on palfreys in front of James VI, displaying their husbands' bloody shirts in an effort to rouse his support. Political commentators still occasionally speak of waving the bloody shirt. However, it now seems to imply fomenting political trouble by referring to any war or other violent event.”

D.  Per William Garrett Piston, CS Gen. James Longstreet used traverse trenches – earthworks (or field fortifications) used to protect troops.  “Earlier trenches,” he states, “were dug as long ditches, the earth piled up in front to form a wall.  Often they ran in straight lines, protecting soldiers against fire from the front but leaving their sides vulnerable, particularly to artillery shells.  As these shells flung shrapnel in all directions, even a near miss could be deadly.  Longstreet greatly lessened the danger from artillery by building short earth walls to traverse his tranches at regular intervals.  Running perpendicular to the main trench wall, the traverses separated the men into a series of compartments, covered on each flank.”  He further states that the idea may have come from Longstreet or from his engineers – but Longstreet deserves credit for widely using traverse trenches in his earthworks.  In fact, Stonewall Jackson requested instructions on how to construct the traverses. 

(Piston, William Garrett.  Lee’s Tarnished Lieutenant:  James Longstreet and His Place in Southern History.  U of GA Press, Athens, GA:  1987.  pp. 34-35.)


Jennifer Rosenberry
Education Coordinator
Civil War Preservation Trust
11 Public Square, Suite 200
Hagerstown, MD 21740

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