Our Country's Fiery Ordeal

A blog about the American Civil War, written and maintained by historian Daniel J. Vermilya, author of The Battle of Kennesaw Mountain (History Press, 2014) and James Garfield and the Civil War (History Press, 2015)

Dedicated to my great-great-great grandfather, Private Ellwood Rodebaugh, Company D, 106th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, killed at the Battle of Antietam, September 17, 1862.

"And may an Overuling Providence continue to cause good to come out of evil, justice to be done to all men where injustice has long prevailed, and finally, peace, quiet, and harmony to come out of this terrible confrontation and our country's fiery ordeal." -- Albert Champlin, 105th Ohio, Diary entry of June 19, 1864 (Western Reserve Historical Society)

Thursday, June 30, 2011

"Unforgotten Sons of God"

As you will come to know by following and reading my blog, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain has been a hero of mine for about as long as I remember. I know Chamberlain and his story have been over-commercialized at Gettysburg. I know that you can't go five feet there without someone trying to sell you a t-shirt, painting, bookmark, coffee mug, coaster, or anything else with his image on it. Yet, I remain fascinated. His story is so incredible. A college professor from Maine who ignored the counsel and wishes of his fellow faculty members and left to enlist in a war which was hundreds of miles away. He did not have to go, but he did. I find that simple fact to be quite compelling about so many of those who volunteered to fight, sacrifice, and endure the American Civil War so that freedom itself could endure.

I recently picked up a copy of Chamberlain's account of his experiences with the 20th Maine at Gettysburg, titled "Through Blood and Fire at Gettysburg." Originally published as an article in 1913 by Hearst's Magazine, this short selection is a wonderfully written first person account of Chamberlain's experience at Gettysburg on July 2, 1863. Reading this short volume impressed me with several things, but chief among them was the power of Chamberlain's pen. He is not alone in this regard, as when one considers the literature that the veterans of the war produced in the years which followed it, the quality, style, and messages of it put to shame most anything that 21st Century Americans may claim as literature. In reading the final segment of the narrative, I found Chamberlain's words to be so powerful I thought I would use them in a blog post, combined with some pictures of Little Round Top that I have taken over the course of my visits stretching back through the years.

Here, Chamberlain is writing of the ground at Gettysburg where many of his men from Maine were buried. Chamberlain describes the aura of a place which saw such amazing sacrifice 148 years ago:

They did not know it themselves--those boys of ours whose remembered faces in every home should be cherished symbols of the true, for life or death--what were their lofty deeds of body, mind, heart, soul, on that tremendous day.

Unknown--but kept! The earth itself shall be its treasurer. It holds something of ours besides graves. These strange influences of material nature, its mountains and seas, its sunsets and skies and nights of stars, its colors and tones and odors, carry something of the mutual, reciprocal. It is a sympathy. On that other side it is represented to us as suffering. The whole creation, travailing in pain together, in earnest expectation, waiting for the adoption--having right then, to something which is to be its own. 


And so these Gettysburg hills, which lifted up such splendid valor, and drank in such high heart's blood, shall hold the mighty secret in their bosom till the great day of revelation and recompense, when these heights shall flame again with transfigured light--they, too, have part in that adoption, which is the manifestation of the sons of God!

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, Through Blood and Fire at Gettysburg (Gettysburg, PA: Stan Clark Military Books, 1994), 28-9.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Colonel Dan McCook at Kennesaw Mountain

On June 27, 1864, William Tecumseh Sherman's massive army made a daring and futile assault upon Kennesaw Mountain, roughly 20 miles north of Atlanta. Sherman was frustrated after weeks of slow moving trench battles around Kennesaw, and decided to break the stalemate with a grand frontal assault against Confederate lines. The well entrenched Confederates met the Union attacks with a deadly barrage of infantry and artillery fire, decimating the Federal ranks. On that day, over 4,000 men would fall, and the vast majority of them were Union casualties. One part of the battlefield where the fighting was especially fierce was an area now known as Cheatham Hill. It was here where Union brigades commanded by Colonel Dan McCook and Colonel John Mitchell made a fierce attack against well fortified Confederate troops commanded by Major General Benjamin Cheatham. This hill saw desperate and brutal combat, and at the end of the day, the remaining Union attackers lay in a shallow trench they had dug to protect themselves from deadly rifle and artillery fire, not more than a few hundred yards from their enemy. Their charge would be viewed by many as one of Sherman's greatest mistakes as a commander during the war, yet, their feats that day still stand as a reminder of what courage, bravery, and duty truly mean.

On the morning of June 27th, before his men made their ill fated assault, Colonel McCook, a native Ohioan, stood before his brigade and recited the following lines from Thomas Macaulay’s poem “Horatius:”

Then out spake brave Horatius
The Captain of the Gate:
To every man upon this earth
Death cometh soon or late,
And how can man die better
Than facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers
And the temples of his gods.[1]

A veteran of the battle later recalled the moment and McCook’s quotation, as well as the effect it had on the men of his regiment: “It was, doubtless, a spontaneous quotation, but very appropriate to inspire the patriotic feeling and, if we had been Roman soldiery, a trust in the care of the gods. It was a heathen refrain, but impregnated with love of country and kith and kin and duty owed to them all.”[2] Macaulay’s poem was fitting, for shortly after McCook recited those lines, he was mortally wounded leading his men against the Confederate works. Colonel McCook had reached the Confederate works, and was leading his men over and into them when he was shot down before his troops. McCook died several weeks later on July 17, just one day after being promoted to the rank of Brigadier General.

Photo of Colonel Dan McCook at Cheatham Hill, Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park

[1] Echoes of Battle, 176.
[2] J.T. Holmes, 52nd O.V.I., 177-8.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Hillsdale College and the 4th Michigan Infantry at Gettysburg

As many of you may know, I am a proud alumnus of Hillsdale College, a small liberal arts school nestled in the rural countryside of southern Michigan. Hillsdale has a long tradition of being a place of dedication to liberty and freedom, a tradition which stretches all the way back to the American Civil War. Before and during the war, Hillsdale was widely known as an abolitionist college, and its record of sending young men to fight in the Union army was truly remarkable. I hope to tell some of the stories of the students from Hillsdale who left to fight, as well as to write of the remarkable status Hillsdale had as a college of equality. Yesterday, while riding my bike through Gettysburg, I saw an area in southern Pennsylvania that made me think of my Alma mater many miles away...

In 1861, the nation was caught up in the fervor of an oncoming war, and patriotism was the order of the day. Thousands and thousands of men from across both the North and the South left their homes, families, and livelihoods to take up arms in the burgeoning struggle. Many of those men who left were leaving behind paths of education and study. Hillsdale College was not immune from this grand exodus to the armies. Founded in 1844 by Freewill Baptists, by the start of the war, Hillsdale was a small yet thriving institution. It held a unique distinction as the first four year school in Michigan to admit students regardless of race, religion, or gender. As one historian wrote of Hillsdale in the early 1900s, "Hillsdale College has been a pioneer in the educational reforms of the age. From the first it has given the same advantages to the colored race as to the white. It was the first college in the State, and one of the first in the country, to admit ladies to rights and privileges equal with gentlemen." (Quoted in Arlen K. Gilbert, Hillsdale Honor, 4).

With such a strong foundation of patriotism and an abolitionist ideology, many Hillsdale students left to join the Union army at the outbreak of the war. One student, writing years later of those who left Michigan noted, "Each man, each boy, felt that the appeal was to him, that the call for men was the cry of Father Lincoln to his boys to gather at Washington; to rally around the home and flag..." (Ibid.). Over the course of the war, Hillsdale sent as many men into the ranks of the Union army as did the undergraduate programs at the much larger University of Michigan. Hillsdale can claim having sent over 500 students into the Union armies; among this group were three generals, three colonels, five lieutenant colonels, and three Congressional Medal of Honor winners. In the 1880s, the college newspaper estimated that over 200 of Hillsdale's student soldiers died during the conflict. While that number is inflated, many students from Hillsdale did give their lives during the war.

One unit which contained an especially significant number of Hillsdale students was the 4th Michigan Volunteer Infantry. Company E of that regiment was comprised solely of volunteers from Hillsdale, Michigan, many of them coming from the college. The 4th Michigan was in the 5th Corps of the Army of the Potomac, and saw action in many of the most devastating battles in the Eastern Theater. Of the many battles in which they participated, the men of the 4th Michigan saw perhaps their greatest testing of courage on July 2, 1863, in the Wheatfield at Gettysburg.

Late in the afternoon on July 2, the 1st Corps of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, led by Lieutenant General James Longstreet, made a massive assault upon the southern end of the Union line. For several hours, the fields along the Emmitsburg Pike south of Gettysburg saw some of the fiercest combat in American history, and the 4th Michigan was right in the thick of it. Union Major General Dan Sickles had moved his 3rd Corps in front of the rest of the Union line, and as a result suffered heavy and devastating losses. In the course of trying to stop the Confederate assault, the portions of the 5th Corps, including the 4th Michigan and the rest of James Barnes's division, were positioned near a wheatfield belonging to John Rose's family. From this point on this field would be known solely as The Wheatfield. The 4th Michigan met the attack of Brigadier General Joseph Kershaw's brigade of South Carolinians head on, and a chaotic fight ensued. Over the course of the next several hours, fierce Confederate attacks met desperate Union counterattacks, as portions of the Union 3rd, 5th, and 2nd Corps fought in this area. As portions of the line began to fade away, the 4th Michigan soon found itself surrounded on 3 sides and taking heavy casualties, forced to retreat towards Cemetery Ridge. In the course of their retreat, their 26 year old commander, Colonel Harrison Jeffords saw the regimental colors fall to the ground. Rushing over to save the colors, Jeffords was speared with a bayonet and spent his last words calling for his mother. Over the course of the several hour long fight in the Wheatfield, the 4th Michigan lost 175 out of its 300 men. Gettysburg historian and author Harry Pfanz, in his excellent work on the fighting on that 2nd day of July, 1863, wrote, "The Michigan men stood like rocks but fell like sheep before the slaughter" (Gettysburg--The Second Day, 257).

Today, in a peaceful field in southern Pennsylvania, among an ocean of granite memorials to soldiers and heroes of many years ago sits a monument to this gallant group of soldiers, some of whom were from Hillsdale, Michigan. The monument depicts a likeness of Colonel Harrison Jeffords, clinging to the same flag for which he sacrificed his life.

Monument to the 4th Michigan, with the Wheatfield in the background

Enrollment and casualties from the entire war

"Mustered in at Adrian, Mich., June 20, 1861, Veterans Consolidated with
First Mich. Infantry, June 20, 1864"

4th Michigan Infantry, 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, 5th Corps

Colonel Harrison Jeffords and his flag

Hillsdale College holds many proud distinctions, but being able to say that some of their students valiantly fought and died in the Wheatfield at Gettysburg is among the greatest and most honorable. Hillsdale students fought on many battlefields throughout the war, but on none did they suffer more severely than at Gettysburg.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

"There is no doubt but the Emperor is both willing and anxious to recognize our independence..."

One of the most understudied aspects of the American Civil War is how it played out overseas. In regards to Antietam and the Maryland Campaign in particular, the strategic impact that battles had on international affairs is blatantly clear. One of my favorite quotes about Antietam comes from George Stevens, a surgeon with the 77th New York. When describing the Antietam landscape after the war, Stevens could not fathom how such a peaceful place became the scene of "one of the grand battles which would decide the march of events in the history, not only of our own country, but of the world...."

One of the books in my possession that I value quite highly is a volume of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy. There is a treasure trove of information in this book, and a good deal of it has to do with diplomatic affairs during 1862. One of the letters that stood out quite dramatically when I was reading through this volume the other day is an exchange between Confederate diplomat James M. Mason and Confederate Secretary of State Judah Benjamin. On September 18, the day following Antietam, Mason wrote to Benjamin to apprise him of the effect that the Confederate successes of 1862 were having in Europe. The following is a portion of that letter:

I have heard from one or two accredited quarters that this question (recognition) is again to come under the consideration of the British Cabinet in October, and the same report has reached Mr. Slidell.

In this posture of affairs, I can but hope that the reconsideration of the British Cabinet is brought about at the instance of the Emperor (Napoleon III, Emperor of France); and if this is so, I have little doubt that a favorable response will be strongly pressed upon it by him.

There is no doubt but the Emperor is both willing and anxious to recognize our independence, and seems so to declare himself without reserve. I had a note the other day from an English gentleman of high position, who told me that he had just seen the Emperor at Chalons, and who told him in conversation that he was, and had been for some time, ready to recognize us, and spoke rather impatiently of the opposite disposition of the British Government....

We are all much cheered and elated here at the signal successes of our arms in the series of battles reported from the Rappahanock to the Potomac lines opposite Washington, followed up by an arrival yesterday announcing that our forces had crossed into Maryland. We have only the Northern accounts, but even they are full to show that our victories have been complete, and the enemy both routed and disorganized. At this distance, and without the power to aid, I am filled with emotions of gratitude to those by whose counsels and whose courage such great events have been brought about. I look with renewed confidence to the effect which they must produce on the pending decision of the Emperor as to recognition.

(James Mason to Benjamin Judah, September 18, 1862, in Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, ed. James Richardson, Vol. II, Nashville: United States Publishing Company, 1906, 316-7.)

When Mason wrote this letter, he had yet to receive news of what had occurred the day before in Western Maryland. Many historians agree that had Lee won at Antietam, both England and France would have recognized the Confederacy as an independent nation. Europe loved American cotton, and laborers in factories and textile mills required it for their own livelihoods. European recognition most likely would not have come in the form of an international war being fought on American soil, but it would lead to financial, diplomatic, and political support. With these things considered, the dark days of 1862 could have been even darker for Union forces with Europe firmly on the side of the Confederacy.

Yet, with Lee's defeat and subsequent retreat from Maryland, events turned back in favor of the Union armies, stymieing European desires for recognition. The resulting Emancipation Proclamation was yet another nail in the coffin of European recognition. The case for Antietam's international impact is clear; it was a failed Saratoga for Robert E. Lee. Should Lee have won in Maryland, England and France were poised and ready for recognition and possible financial alliance. The Confederacy would never again come as close to gaining the international recognition and legitimacy that they so craved as they had come in the pivotal month of September, 1862.

Monday, June 20, 2011

"He performed all the duties required of him as a soldier promptly and cheerfully."

Sorry for the paucity of posts on here as of late. It has been a busy few weeks for me, and I hope to get back to posting regularly on here in the weeks to come.

I wanted to take a few minutes this morning to post one of the many documents I have about Elwood Rodebaugh. Among the many pension papers that I have in my posession regarding Elwood's death is a series of letters and affadavits from Elwood's company captain, William Jones, as well as a few members of his regiment. These documents shed some additional details on who Elwood was, how he died, and what happened to his remains. The following is a scan of one of those letters, this one written by Captain William Jones. There is no date listed, but based on the other documents I have, I assume it was written sometime in late 1863. Could it mean that Josephine did not definitively know about Elwood's death until a year after it happened? Quite possibly, but without further documentation, it is impossible to say for sure. Elwood was initially listed as missing from the ranks of the 106th PA, and it was only assumed that he was dead. Most likely, this letter was an attempt to officially move Elwood from the number of missing to the listing of those killed at Antietam. Below the image of the document I have a transcription which is a bit easier to read.

Also, I am working on adding an additional page to this blog that will serve as a biography for Elwood. I plan on posting this document, as well as others, on that page. More on that to come in the future...

I hereby certify on honor that Private Elwood Rodebaugh was a member of Company D, 106th P.V.. That he volunteered on the 26th day of August, A.D. 1861, and from the period of his enlistment up to the battle of Antietam, September 17, 1862, he performed all the duties required of him as a soldier promptly and cheerfully. That he participated in the following battle with unflinching bravery to wit. The siege of Yorktown, Battle of Fair Oaks, Peach Orchard, Savage Stations (where he was wounded yet remained on the field throughout the fight), Glendale, First and Second Battles of Malvern Hill, Second Bull Run, and Antietam at which last named battle I last saw him at the time the division was flanked and compelled to retreat. He had faithfully performed his whole duty on that day up to the time I last saw him. The Company retreated under a galling by which many were killed. The said Rodebaugh had shaven off a very heavy set of whiskers only a few days before the battle and would not have been readily recognized. I truly believe he was killed while in the performance of his duty and not recognized by the burial parties and I have reported him missing in battle and supposed to be killed on the field.

                William N. Jones

                Captain, Company D, 106th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Review of The Union War, by Gary Gallagher

If one was to make a list of the top five most influential active Civil War historians, Gary Gallagher would certainly be on it. Thus, when I saw that Gallagher had a new book coming out this spring, I began looking forward to it. With The Union War, Gallagher did not dissapoint. Always persuasive, always well argued, and always relevant, Gallagher's books always manage to discuss important facets of Civil War history while addressing larger problems in the field of Civil War historians. Even if one does not agree with each point he makes (which I do not), one must respect the depth of Gallagher's arguments and the important questions they bring up.

In The Union War, Gallagher examines what the Civil War meant for the loyal people of the North. He begins by discussing the Grand Review, when Meade's Army of the Potomac and Sherman's western armies triumphantly marched through Washington on May 23 and 24 of 1865. Using this as a departure point, Gallagher makes several distinct points: first, the people of the North fought for and supported a war against the rebellious states primarily to preserve the Union; second, the people of the North were not whole hearted supporters of emancipation, and moreover, emancipation was not a predetermined result of the Civil War; and third, the Union armies were the primary agents which affected change throughout both the North and the South, and as such need to be studied and examined to understand how the war was fought, how it evolved, and what it meant.

I have tried to summarize these three points as best I can, but they are filled with detail and complexity. For example, in discussing the Northern desire to preserve the Union, Gallagher provides an explanation of what the Union meant. He suggests that there is no word in the 21st century political vocabulary which evokes the same emotions, meaning, and power that the concept of the "Union" did for 19th century Northerners. Fighting to preserve the Union did not simply meaning fighting to preserve a political organization of states; it meant fighting to preserve the promise of American liberty and the opportunities, freedoms, and hopes guaranteed for all under Constituion. Obviously, questions of how far these opportunities stretched and to whom they applied were debatable points. Yet the fact remains that these Northerners did not fight solely to preserve an archaic political organization with little application to their daily lives. Often times, I hear people say, "Oh, they were fighting ONLY to preserve the Union" with an air of disdain in their voices, somehow lessening the importance of the struggle because abolitionism was not an explicit goal of many Northerners. However, we must understand that our definition of preserving a political union is different from the 19th century understanding of what the American Union meant.

Another point that Gallagher made which I found exceptionally poignant was his argument concerning the relevance of the Union armies to the study of the war. While it may seem nonsensical to some to study the war without focusing on armies, that is exactly how Civil War history is taught in the majority of colleges and universities. In an attempt to correct years of neglect, professional historians today devote nearly all their time to subjects such as slavery, women, civilians, economics, social class, gender, and so on and so forth. As a result, many academics have nothing but disdain for professional military historians. Conversely, popular historians have taken over the realm of military history. Often times, such historians focus solely on issues related to the battlefield, and as a result, these histories ignore important themes and figures. Gallagher argues that these two fields need to be blended together. For example: one can not understand how emancipation came about at the practical level without studying both the efforts of Union armies, who were the enforcers of the emancipation policy, and those slaves who attempted to escape. Without campaigns taking Union forces deep into the South, many slaves would not have had opportunities for freedom, something which is often overlooked by academic historians.

The major point in Gallagher's work where I disagree is regarding his discussion of emancipation. I believe emancipation had a greater role in motivating Northerners in the latter years of the war, and that it was a cause which was implicitly and explicitly linked to the war from the beginning, one way or another. Certainly, the Confederacy could have won the war before Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation and emancipation was not a logical outcome of the conflict. However, when slaves began escaping to Northern lines early on, the issue of how the Union army was to deal with slavery became a salient question in the first year of the war.  Furthermore, from my own studies and researcch, many Union soldiers, while not abolitionists, were motivated by what they saw as the evils of Southern society, chief among which was the institution of slavery. Thus, while not all were fighting as ardent abolitionists, slavery played a crucial role in defining the Southern cause and the need to preserve the Constitution and the Union so that oligarch slave owners would no longer hold the country hostage for their own benefit.

Despite this disagreement, I found Gallagher's work to be an excellent study of the Union forces and citizenry during the war. This work goes a long ways towards refining the historical debate on crucial questions of emancipation, the meaning of the Union, and the importance of studying the Union armies. The detail, care, and depth of Gallagher's argument make for an excellent, and concise read, and are always worthy of being a part of a great historical debate on such topics. For anyone attempting to understand what the Civil War meant to the loyal people in the North, The Union War is an indispensible work that must be considered.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Ranger Dan in action

Thought some of you folks might like to see what Ranger Dan looks like in his official NPS hat.

On Memorial Day, despite the temperature soaring near 100 degrees, I took some time to head over to the National Cemetery in the afternoon to help my friend and colleague Ranger Brian Baracz out with a special program. Brian had the tour that afternoon, and at the end of his tour he brought part of his group up to the cemetery to tell a few stories that were fitting for Memorial Day. Here, in the background, you can see the "Old Simon" soldier's monument with the Memorial Day wreaths sitting in front of it.

After Brian made a few opening remarks, he began to lead his group through the cemetery, pointing out important landmarks such as the grave site for the 4 soldiers from the Irish Brigade who were found in the late 1980s near Bloody Lane. When we neared the middle of the cemetery, Brian graciously let me talk for a few minutes about the graves of unkown soldiers. I described the burial process, as well as how some soldiers ended up being unkown. Keep in mind, these were the days before dogtags, and soldier identification was often done based solely on either personal recognition or personal items the soldier may have had on his person. After describing this process, I proceeded to tell the story of Elwood Rodebaugh, a soldier from Antietam who is buried in an unknown grave. I always try to make sure that visitors understand that the men who fought at Antietam were real individuals just like you and I, and that they should be remembered as such. I hope that Elwood's story helps to provide a personal touch to the battlefield stories. Describing in detail a man who is buried as an unknown takes a different angle on an often told story. It was in keeping with the theme I had incorporated into each of my talks this past weekend, a theme which I try to convey to each visitor I speak encounter, that while some soldier's identities and fates may be unknown, their sacrifices and importance must never be forgotten.

Any good historian is always sticking to his sources...

The quote I am reading here is from an Ohio soldier. This soldier did not fight at Antietam, in fact, he fought in the western armies during the war. The quote is from David Blair of Company D, 45th Ohio, and was part of a letter home on September 20, 1864:

"Old soldiers are forgotten before their time is out except by a few intimate friends. But that is all we want, the support and encouragement of "Dear ones, at home" and of a clear consciousness of having done our duty...."

Remember to never let "old soldiers" be forgotten, and always strive to support and encourage those who continue to serve our country today. Let's make sure that all of us are the "dear ones, at home" who support the men and women of our armed forces.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The advantages of being 30 miles away from Gettysburg...

Working at Antietam and living in Frederick, Maryland has many, many perks. Not only do I get to stay with good friends Brian and Michelle, and not only do I get to work at one of the coolest places in the country, but in addition...

I am only a short drive away from Gettysburg!!

This morning, I headed out quite early to meet good friend, colleague, and fellow Civil War blogger John Hoptak for a morning hike of the first day's action at Gettysburg. John is working on a new book regarding Gettysburg, and he is beginning the process of walking and hiking the ground to sort out the action for his project. Because John is as knowledgeable as they come about Gettysburg, I of course jumped at the chance to spend some time out on the field with him. We met at around 8 on McPherson's Ridge and proceeded to hike over at least 2 miles or more of the first day's action. We followed the positions of the Iron Brigade, as well as the positions of 1st Corps troops of Doubleday and Wadsworth's divisions on Oak Hill. It was a productive hike and a very enjoyable morning, despite the oppresive heat.

Afterwards, I took the time to stop by Little Round Top, one of my all time favorite places. I snapped a few photos for those who are not fortunate enough to make it out to Gettysburg, just to show what it looks like on a 95 degree day.

Of course, I had to venture back to the 20th Maine monument, one of my favorite places on the field. I know the story is discussed all the time and very commercialized now, but I still find myself moved every time I walk back into the woods on the southern side of Little Roud Top. Chamberlain is a hero of mine, and I always love seeing this monument. 

I plan on doing quite a few entries on Gettysburg, as I hope to make frequent trips to the battlefield in the upcoming weeks and months. As busy, commercialized, and congested as it has become, there is something special on that battlefield that keeps me captivated, and I will never tire of going there to drive, hike, and visit.