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Thursday, June 30, 2016


Powers Hill from the intersection of Blacksmith Shop Road and Granite Schoolhouse Lane. Powers Hill was used as an artillery platform, headquarters, and signal station. This view was taken from the southeast. Union cannons were pointed toward northeast into Spangler’s Spring and Meadow beyond (upper right of photo). 
In 2010, the Civil War Trust ( successfully preserved five acres on Powers Hill, the "Forgotten Hill" of the Gettysburg battlefield. 
Power’s Hill is lesser known because Union and rebel forces did not fight on its slopes.  Powers Hill was where 14 Federal artillery pieces were situated to aid in the defense of Culp’s Hill (less than a mile to the northeast).
The cannon fire from Powers Hill and from larger batteries along the Baltimore Pike created a cross fire that kept the confederate forces from using Spangler’s Spring and meadow to flank Culp’s upper and lower hills on the southside.

Rebel officers called fire from the Federal artillery as pure hell. 

By not being able to flank or surround Culp’s Hill on any of the 3-days of the Gettysburg battle (July 1-3, 1863), the South was forced to attack frontally “up the steep hill” where they were met with entrenched and well armed Union forces occupying the top.  The North held Culp’s Hill throughout the battle thus protecting supply lines and the rear of General George Meade’s forces.

The following is an excerpt from Civil War Trust blog.  In this interview with Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide Charlie Fennell, he discusses the historical importance of the fight involving Power’s Hill for Culp's Hill and Spangler's Spring during the Battle of Gettysburg.

Civil War Trust: What role did Power’s Hill play in the struggle for Spangler’s Meadow?

CF: One of the more significant terrain features which is forgotten today and had a huge impact on the outcome was Power's Hill.  Artillery fire from this hill contained the Confederate forces in Spangler's Meadow and force them to attack the Union position head-on.  As the Park Service takes down trees in the Spangler's Meadow area visitors will begin to better appreciate the importance of Powers Hill in the battle.  It is therefore essential for a true understanding of the Battle of Gettysburg that Power's Hill be preserved and restored to its 1863 appearance.

Civil War Trust: Artillery aside, what else happened around Power’s Hill?

CF: In addition to being a very important artillery position it was also Slocum's Headquarters and one of the places that General Meade went to escape the artillery fire preceding Pickett's Charge.

Civil War Trust: How well preserved is the area around Culp’s Hill and Power’s Hill?
CF: All things considered the Culp's Hill and Spangler's Spring areas are fairly well preserved but the ground along the Baltimore Pike including Power's Hill is not.  In fact, in order to get to one of the monuments you have to cross private ground.

UPDATE: With the 2010 acquisition of five acres on Power's Hill (which have since been turned over to the National Park Service) the Civil War Trust made these monuments more easily accessible to the public. 


Dr. Charles Fennell is a longtime licensed battlefield guide at Gettysburg, specializing in the actions around Culp's Hill on which subject he wrote his doctoral dissertation. He is an instructor at a Harrisburg Area Community College and lives with his family in Hanover, Pennsylvania.

1.  In this Civil War Trust map by Steven Stanley it shows the juxtaposition of the Union cannons on Power’s Hill (and the Baltimore Pike) which constantly bombarded Spangler’s Spring and Meadow area keeping the Confederates from flanking Culp’s Hill along the southside.

2.  A closer look at the battle for Culp’s Hill shows how the rebels were forced to attack up the hill instead of flanking around to the south.  It is the cannon fire from the forgotten hill (Power’s Hill) that kept the South under withering artillery fire all during the three day Battle of Gettysburg.

3. Spangler’s Meadow shortly after battles

4. Spangler’s Meadow today

5. Dr. Charles Fennell is standing at the location where the Mathew Brady photograph below was taken in 1863. The monument to the 150th New York Infantry Regiment is behind the camera. This view was taken facing south. Photo: Rob Shenk

6. Mathew Brady photograph shows the Union breastworks not visible in 2009 photo above.  The rebel forces attempted to charge up the hill (from left side of photo) toward the Federal positions atop Culp’s Hill.  They were repulsed each time.

7. View from the top: Painting by Edwin Forbes shows generally the same breastworks but from the opposite viewpoint as photo above.

8. View from the bottom.  In another Edwin Forbes painting the scene drawn is of the evening of July 2, 1863 when rebel forces attempted to climb to the top of Culp’s Hill. The breastworks in this painting are shown above in the Brady photograph.

9. 1st New York Artillery Monument on Powers Hill.


Painting depicts Union General John Buford leading an advanced guard of U.S. Calvary into Gettysburg, June 30, 1863.  Historians conclude it was Buford’s ability to force the Rebels into battle at Gettysburg before General Robert E. Lee had all is troops in place.  Forcing Lee to improvise on the run forced the South into many battle situations they were not accustomed to performing—for example fighting on the offensive instead of the defensive.  All of the major Southern victories prior to Gettysburg were fought on the defensive.                  Painting by Mort Kunstler:
Editor’s note: Often overlooked by the casual reader, the month and day before the Civil War Battle of Gettysburg (July 1-3, 1863), are also filled with fascinating examples of intrigue and blunder.  Utmost is an amazing decision by President Abraham Lincoln to replace his top field General Joe Hooker on June 28 with General George Meade.  Two days later, General Meade is faced with preparing to fight the Rebels on Federal/Pennsylvania soil. 

It was akin to Lincoln saying “...Thank you for accepting the promotion and by the way here are the keys to hell.”

Let’s go back six weeks before Gettysburg.

GUEST BLOG—National Park Civil War Series [ ] --  Immediately after his victory at Chancellorsville (Apr. 30 to May 6, 1863), General Robert E. Lee prepared the Army of Northern Virginia for campaigns soon to come. He reorganized its infantry into three corps of three divisions each and placed them under command of Lieutenant Generals James Longstreet, Richard S. Ewell, and A. Powell Hill. (A Confederate corps numbered about 20,000 infantrymen, 2,000 artillerymen; a division 6,000 infantry men, and a brigade 1,500.) His cavalry division remained under the command of Maj. Gen. James E. B. Stuart, and he allotted supporting artillery battalions to each. The Army of Northern Virginia numbered about 75,000 officers and men, nearly 10,000 of whom were cavalry.

After his defeat at Chancellorsville, General Hooker's Army of the Potomac returned to its positions near Fredericksburg and prepared for a new thrust toward Richmond. Lee retained the initiative gained at Chancellorsville, however, and on June 6 launched an ambitious campaign of his own. Because he could see nothing to be gained from another battle in the Fredericksburg area, he decided on a bold move that would transfer the scene of hostilities north of the Potomac River. If this could be done, it might disrupt Federal campaign plans for the season, remove Federal forces from the Shenandoah Valley, and give him a chance to win a decisive victory for the Confederacy.

Leaving Hill's Corps to guard the Rappahannock River's crossings at Fredericksburg, Lee moved Ewell's and Longstreet's Corps west and north to the Culpeper area where much of Stuart's cavalry had assembled for the march north. There on June 9, in obedience to Hooker's order to "disperse and destroy" the Confederate force in that area, the Cavalry Corpus of the Army of the Potomac surprised and nearly defeated the Confederate horsemen in the battle of Brandy Station, the largest cavalry battle of the war. The battle was a draw; the Federals rode from the field, leaving Stuart to nurse his wounded pride. Maj. Gen. Alfred Pleasonton, commander of the Union cavalry, however, had confirmed that the Confederates were in force in the Culpeper area, and the Union horsemen had learned that they could "dispute the superiority hitherto claimed by, and conceded to the Confederate cavalry."

On June 10 Ewell's Corps left Culpeper for the Shenandoah Valley. Four days later it captured the Union garrison at Winchester and a large amount of supplies there and at Martinsburg. Ewell's Corps reached the Potomac near Hagerstown on June 15. As Ewell neared the Potomac, Longstreet's Corps moved northeast of the Blue Ridge to the mountain gaps west of Washington. There it and Stuart's cavalrymen guarded the Confederate right and rear as the remainder of Lee's army moved north. In mid-June also Hill's Corps marched from Fredericksburg toward Front Royal and the Shenandoah Valley beyond. Lee's plan to remove the theater of operations from Virginia was well under way.

General Hooker knew that Lee's army was moving north but could not divine Lee's intentions or objectives. When it became apparent that only Hill's Corps remained at Fredericksburg, Hooker suggested that he be allowed to strike it and advance toward Richmond. Although this suggestion had some merit at that time, Lincoln denied it, observing that Lee's army was his "sure objective point." Therefore, Hooker shifted the Army of the Potomac to the area west of Washington and south of the Potomac, whence it could face Lee's main force and cover Washington. Hooker's efforts to learn of Lee's army's locations west of Washington by sending cavalry and infantry probes through the mountain gaps there resulted in lively fights with Stuart's men at Aldie, Middleburg, and Upperville, but they provided little information and did not seriously disrupt Lee's movements.

Ewell's Corps and Brigadier General Albert G. Jenkins's brigade of cavalry crossed the Potomac on June 15 and headed north up the Cumberland Valley to Hagerstown and Chambersburg in a giant raid, sweeping the country for supplies. At Chambersburg, the one-legged Ewell divided his force, sending Maj. Gen. Jubal A. Early's division east to Gettysburg, York, and the Susquehanna River beyond. In the meantime, Ewell continued north to Carlisle and toward Harrisburg with the divisions of Maj. Gens. Robert E. Rodes and Edward Johnson. On June 29 Early's troops reached the Susquehanna River at Wrightsville, and Rodes's division threatened Harrisburg. By this time the corps of Hill and Longstreet had crossed the Potomac on June 24th and 25th and reached the Chambersburg area on the 27th. They occupied Chambersburg and Cashtown Pass over South Mountain to the east.

On June 25, on learning that Lee's forces had crossed the Potomac, Hooker ordered the Army of the Potomac from Virginia into that part of Maryland between Frederick and the river. In the meantime other Federal commands in the threatened area girded to meet the Confederate menace, and Governor Andrew Curtin of Pennsylvania worked to organize the Pennsylvania militia to defend Harrisburg and other important points within the Keystone State.

On June 3, 1863, the Army of Northern Virginia begins moving west to cross the Blue Ridge Mountains and gain the Shenandoah Valley. By the time General Hooker discerns Lee's purpose the Confederate army has entered the valley and is moving north to cross the Potomac and invade Maryland and Pennsylvania. The Union Army of the Potomac withdraws from the line of the Rappahannock River and starts marching north to intercept Lee's army.

After crossing the Potomac, Lee lost contact with Stuart and much of the Confederate cavalry. He had instructed that general to guard the mountain passes with part of his horsemen so long as the enemy was south of the Potomac and to cross that river with the remainder in order to screen Ewell's right. Stuart saw that his troopers guarded the passes, but he attempted to reach Ewell's right, not by a direct route near the mountains, but by leading his three best brigades between the Union army and Washington. Stuart hoped that such a move would create havoc among the enemy and remove the stain of Brandy Station from his reputation. But his gamble failed; the Union forces moved and prevented his reaching Ewell's right. Thus, the three errant brigades crossed the Potomac at Rowser's Ford and rode north via Rockville, Westminster, and Hanover to Carlisle, completely out of touch with General Lee and the main army and not providing the intelligence and screening important to its success. Stuart's failure to cover the the right of Lee's army and provide him with information on the enemy was one of the major Confederate blunders of the Gettysburg Campaign.

Burning of the Wrightsville/Columbia Bridge over the Susquehanna River, June 28, 1863
Early on June 28, when the Army of the Potomac was concentrated near Frederick, Maryland, a messenger from the War Department arrived with an order relieving General Hooker from command of that army and replacing him with Maj. Gen. George G. Meade, commander of the Union Fifth Corps. Hooker had rashly offered his resignation on the 27th, and President Lincoln accepted it with alacrity. Meade was thoroughly surprised at his appointment and was reluctant to accept it. Few if any Americans have had so much responsibility thrust upon them at such a critical time. Yet, Meade, a thoroughly capable professional soldier who had a strong sense of duty, shouldered the burden and took immediate measures to move his army north on a broad front to the relief of Harrisburg while covering Washington and Baltimore.

On the evening of June 28 General Lee, who was at Chambersburg, learned from a spy that the Army of the Potomac, now under General Meade, had crossed the Potomac and was in the Frederick area. He decided immediately to concentrate his army east of the mountains to hold the Union army there and sent riders to General Ewell at Carlisle with orders to return his corps at once to the Gettysburg-Cashtown area. Ewell, who was about to attempt the capture of Harrisburg, called off that operation and ordered General Early at York, Pennsylvania, to return his division to the assembly area without delay. In the meantime, Ewell sent Johnson's division and his wagon train back toward Chambersburg and started with Rodes's division on a direct route toward Gettysburg.

The Army of Northern Virginia is attempting to concentrate near Cashtown to prepare for battle. Only four of the army's nine divisions are on the eastern side of the mountains. The Army of the Potomac is moving north from Frederick along nearly a thirty-mile front. Buford's Union cavalry division occupies Gettysburg during the afternoon, and Reynolds's 1st Army Corps camps five miles south of the town. The remainder of the army is gradually moving in the direction of Gettysburg.

On June 29 Maj. Gen. Henry Heth's division of Hill's Corps crossed South Mountain through Cashtown Pass to the hamlet of Cashtown at the east base of the mountain. On June 30 Heth sent a brigade east eight miles to Gettysburg in search of supplies, shoes especially, that he heard were in the town. When near Gettysburg, the Confederates saw a sizable force of Union cavalry and returned to Cashtown without having a fight. On July 1 General Hill sent Heth's division, followed by that of Maj. Gen. Dorsey Pender, to Gettysburg in a reconnaissance-in-force.

Brig. General John Buford
Painting by Mort Kuntsler
The troops seen near Gettysburg on June 30 were cavalrymen of Maj. Gen. John Buford's division of the Army of the Potomac. As that army had moved north from the Frederick area, Buford's troopers screened its left front, collecting information on Lee's army for General Meade and for Maj. Gen. John E. Reynolds, commander of the Union First Corps. Buford, an excellent cavalry officer, had reached Gettysburg with two of his three brigades. He posted them in an arc west and north of the town covering the roads over which the Confederates might approach.

Gettysburg in 1863 was a town of about 2,400 people. It sat amid gently rolling farmland—a bucolic quilt of orchards, grain fields, pastures, and wood lots. Its landscape undulated between low north-south ridges sometimes connected to lone granite hills, and Rock Creek bordered the town on the east. Gettysburg was the county seat of Adams County, and it could boast having Pennsylvania College and a Lutheran seminary. In addition, it was the hub of a road network with turnpikes leading west to Chambersburg, east to York, and southeast to Baltimore. Eight other roads led to Harrisburg, Carlisle, Emmitsburg, Taneytown, Hagerstown, Hanover, and lesser places nearby. A railroad stretched east to Hanover Junction and to Baltimore beyond. A railroad bed had been constructed near the Chambersburg Pike west of the town, but it had no tracks.

The Army of the Potomac numbered about 95,000 officers and enlisted personnel, all volunteers. It had seven corps of infantry and artillery, a corps of cavalry and artillery, and an artillery reserve of twenty-one batteries. Its corps were significantly smaller than Confederate corps and averaged 14,000 officers and enlisted men each but ranged in size from 9,800 to 17,000. There were twenty-two divisions, two or three per corps, divided into fifty-nine brigades. The infantry brigades were comparable in size to Confederate brigades, having an average strength of about 1,500 officers and men. Union divisions, however, were usually smaller than those of the Army of Northern Virginia.

Meade's army had marched north from Frederick on a broad front, searching for the Confederates and covering Baltimore and Washington. On June 30 the left of Meade's army was near Emmitsburg, Maryland, and its right about 25 miles to the east near Manchester. As Lee ordered a concentration near Gettysburg, Meade prepared to set up a defensive position along Pipe Creek just south of the Mason-Dixon line. The events of July 1 were to change each commander's plans.


This is the official print for the 1990 Class of the U.S. Army War College by renown Civil War artist Mort Kunstler.
The decision of Brigadier General John Buford to make a determined stand against the oncoming Confederates at Gettysburg cannot be underestimated. His decisive commands set the stage for the Battle of Gettysburg, which became a great Union victory and one of the crucial turning points of the war.

Above, we see General Buford, dismounted, holding binoculars and pointing to the Confederate forces on the other side of Willoughby's Run. General Reynolds peers through his binoculars to see the enemy, through the smoke and dust. the action takes place McPherson's ridge at the site of the monuments to General Buford and Reynolds, McPherson's barn, still in existence, is seen in the right background. Two artillery pieces are seen, both 3" Ordinance Rifles, part of Calef's Battery A, 2nd U.S. Artillery. They were positioned at this site and are there to this day. The "worm" fence on the north side of the Chambersburg Pike has been torn down at this point to prepare the ridge for the strong defense that followed. In the background, a shell bursts near one of the horse holders of the dismounted cavalry, as they are being led to a safer area behind the ridge.

General Buford, casual in his field appearance (note the unbuttoned top button of his four button sack coat) has his ever present pipe protruding from his chest pocket. His headquarters flag, carried by the mounted corporal immediately behind him, with the two number ones in block lettering (1st Brigade, 1st Division) was the standard headquarters flag adopted for the Cavalry Corps in early 1863. His horse is held by the dismounted sergeant, immediately below his outstretched arm.

General Reynolds, on his black charger, has a Western style saddle, which still exists in the J. Norward Wirt Collection at the Mollus Museum in Philadelphia, and has a brace of pistols in horse holsters attached to the saddle. His uniform is regulation dress for General officers, with the buttons grouped in threes, and a velvet collar and cuffs. Directly behind him flies his headquarters flag, as illustrated in Headquarters Flags, American Military Equipage Vol. II. A fragment of the actual flag is also in the Mollus Museum in Philadelphia. The cavalry escort for General Reynolds was Company "L" of the 1st Maine Cavalry. Their guidon flies between the two headquarters flags. The other flag in the painting is the artillery guidon of Calef's Battery, with Lt. John Calef, seen mounted to the immediate right of the guidon and directly behind the artillery piece in the left foreground. The officer directly to the left of Reynolds is Capt. Miles Keogh, one of Buford's aides, who would eventually die at the Little Big Horn, under Custer.

The title of the painting is based on the actual words of Brigadier General Buford to Major General Reynolds when asked, "What's the matter, John?" plans.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016


Singapore developers working with architects are not strangers to adding a bit of pizazz to the large scale projects they’ve undertaken.  For example, the recently completed Marina Sands Casino in that city nation last March, has a fountain on the street level that drains into the shopping mall below creating a waterfall effect.  See for March 16, 2016 for more coverage:

It’s all theatre.  And, obviously contagious.

We mention this because last Saturday, Oue, a Singapore based commercial realty firm unveiled a new “attraction” atop one of the Los Angeles based properties it purchased, renamed and spent an additional $100 million or so on the rehab.

Called “Skyspace LA, the new multi-level architectural shtick is spread across four different floors of the high rise tower, that was originally built in 1989 as the U.S. Bank Tower.

The attraction that has captured the bulk of media attention this week is a 45-foot fully-enclosed plexiglass slide called Skyslide.  The new thrill ride is now open to the public  at $25 per per person.  Skyslide is attached to the side of the 70th floor and sliders will be dropped down to the landing on the 69th floor.   

The slide will take you on a magic carpet ride 1,000 feet over downtown LA.  But the title of LA’s tallest building will pass next year from the Oue Tower to the Wilshire Grand Tower in less than a year.  The new Chris Martin designed tower will top out at 1,100 feet vs. Oue’s 1,018.

Another feature of Skyspace LA is a new observation deck that offers a 360 view of the third largest city in the U.S.

The LA Times reports architecture firm Gensler handled the new remodel, which include “...a pair of redesigned lobbies (one for the tenants at ground level that is much more open to the sidewalk than before and the other for the slide-going public), a café, a slick and windowless “transfer floor” on the 54th story and a restaurant and bar on the 71st. The slide itself, called Skyslide, was designed by M. Ludvik Engineering...”

The Oue team didn’t dream up charging tourists for observation deck views.  Fees are already in place to reach the view deck atop the new World Trade Center in New York (about $35); the Shard in London has a view spot for about $40 per person and the glass bottom view ledge at Chicago’s the Willis Tower charges $22 per person.

Doom and gloomers and other media will note the Oue staffers insist the slide can withstand an 8.0 earthquake and 110-mile-per-hour hurricane force winds.  Speaking of hot air, no mention was made how it will withstand a possible Donald Trump election.

Shops at Marina Bay Sands Mall, Singapore, features a fountain 
in the plaza above ground which drains to become a water fall below