Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Fredericksburg Revisited

Like many visitors to Fredericksburg, my previous visit began and ended at Marye's Heights. I walked along the sunken road, saw the film and viewed the exhibits. Then I got in my car and drove to another battlefield.

What a monumental mistake. It is impossible to really understand the battle without visiting Lee's Drive and the Slaughter Pen Farm. On my visit this October, I skipped Marye's Heights and navigated very carefully across the road to, a not well marked, Lee's Drive. There I really understood Edward Porter Alexander's remark to Lee that "A chicken could not live on that field when we open on it." The drive takes the curious visitor from Lee's command post on Telegraph Hill down along Jackson's line to Henson Hill and finally to Prospect Hill. You have a compelling view of the field where the Union breakthrough occurred and the railroad tracks. This perspective, like all battlefield visits, helps explain the disaster that befell Burnside's troops.

Then, I drove down the road to the Slaughter Pen Farm. The CWPT recently gave this land to the NPS. I had to ask a Ranger at the Visitor Center for directions because it's not on the park brochures. I walked around the field which features a number of trail guides. I crossed the irrigation ditches and saw where Meade's forces broke through Jackson's line. I had seen where General Gregg was killed on my walk along Lee Drive.

Please see the Battle of Fredericksburg for more pictures.

On your next trip or first trip, be sure to venture beyond the visitor center and walk these two areas to really understand this battle.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Lloyd Tilghman House in Paducah, KY

General Lloyd Tilghman lived in this house from 1852-61. The Greek revival house was built for Mr. Tilghman, who was a railroad engineer for the New Orleans and Ohio Railroad, by Robert Woolfolk. Tilghman rented the house for his wife, seven children and five slaves. Tilghman spent most of his time working on a railroad in the Isthmus of Panama.
When Tilghman left to join the Kentucky State Guard, Woolfolk moved into the house. During the Union Occupation of Paducah, Woolfolk made the mistake of showing his Southern sentiments by flying the Confederate flag. Soldiers of the 11th Indiana saw the flag and threatened to burn the house down. Mrs. Woolfolk appealed to Brigadier General C. F. Smith and sent an aide to prevent the Union soldiers from removing the flag. The Union soldiers refused to obey the officer. When Smith tried to have the men arrested, Smith's subordinate offices, General Lew Wallace and Eleazar Paine, refused to obey his command.

Smith, a stickler for discipline, was outraged. However, he wanted to prevent a mutiny and so issued General Order 36 in which he addressed those involved "in a kindly spirit" and decided to "let it drop without investigating." He reminded the men of Kentucky's fragile allegiance to the Union and reminded them that they were sent here as protectors "of a loyal State." Smith also told the men to exercise "moderation, obedience and charity."
This incident was to brand Smith as a "Southern sympathizer" and postpone his promotion to Major General.