Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Fabric... Welcome to the Patriotic Quilter where I like to share all things quilty as well as red, white, and blue! Please feel free to look around and enjoy yourself! I would love to hear from you.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Battlefields and Bugs

Hi Everyone,

I'm working away at patriotic-themed quilt right now, but there isn't much to show.  I'm having fun with it especially since I've been wanting to make it for about 2 years now.  The only problem is that my quilt room is upstairs and the upstairs A/C went out.  I'm patiently enduring the landlord's desire to get three estimates, but it has been a week already and it is getting HOT, so it isn't much fun to be up there right now. 

I thought I would share some of our trip last weekend.  We traveled up to Sharpsburg, Maryland on the first day to visit Antietam battlefield.  On the way up we were able to stop at a Hobby Lobby!  We don't have one close, so that was a treat for me.  When we got to the battlefield, we watched the movie.  If you have ever visited a national park, you know that they usually always have a movie.  This one was particularly good, in my opinion, but it must be shared because they had copies for sale.  The events at this battlefield took place over just one day.  There were three major events--the cornfield, the sunken road, and then the stone bridge.  By the time the day was over there were 23,000 casualties total for both sides.  23000 men were killed, wounded, or missing.  In one day.  I believe it still remains the largest single day of loss of life for America. 

This is the Cornfield in the distance.  The battle took place in September, so the corn was tall at the time.  The battle begun here and the fighting was so fierce that by the end of it not a single stalk of corn remained--and the whole place was covered in bodies.

This is the sunken road.  The Confederates were in here, using the lower elevation as protection so they could just easily mow down the Union soldiers who were coming across the open field towards them.  Eventually, the Iron Brigade of the Union army was able to flank them and get into the sunken road.  Then it was the Confederates who got mowed down.  They said this sunken road was filled with bodies.

Antietam was the first big battle to be photographed extensively.  The photographs were published much to the horror of the rest of the country.  One photograph in particular, of the casualties of what was known as the "boys' battery" (a battery is a group of artillerymen who fired the cannon) generated a general outcry.  It was known as the "Boys' Battery" because the average age of the group was 17.  There were some boys as young as 11 also there.   At the end of the day there were, as I mentioned, 23000 casualties.  The results?  Nothing.  The Union did keep the Confederates out of "the North" but that was it.  Nothing was gained or loss.  It was a "draw."  But 23000 lives were destroyed.  It is really hard to get your brain around.

The next day we went a few miles down the road to Harper's Ferry.  If you remember your American History, you will recall that it was there where John Brown captured the Arsenal as the first step in his attempt to free the slaves.  It failed, he was captured, and hung.

  These events occurred before the Civil war.  Did you know that the arsenal was stormed by a group of Marines?  The Marines were commanded by Robert E Lee.  The young officer that ordered the door of the building that Brown was holed up in to be stormed was Jeb Stuart.  Both of these men would later be prominent in the Confederate Army.

Harper's Ferry was really neat.  I'm not sure what I was expecting, but there was a lot of fascinating history.  There used to be factories lining the rivers, but repeated floods finally drove them to find other places.  I was amazed to see a display featuring the Lewis and Clark Expedition.  Merriweather Lewis armed his group from Harper's Ferry when they set off to explore the west.  As a child in the Midwest--we lived along the Lewis and Clark trail and we studied it quite a bit in school.

We left Harper's Ferry and traveled southeast.  We were able to stop at a quilt shop called Web Fabrics, but I can't remember right off just where it was.  Somewhere west of Leesburg, VA.  It was a nice shop--know for the huge selection of blenders.  Pushing on we arrived at our next destination--Manassas, VA.  The community of Manassas was the site of two different Civil War battles.  Did you know that the Union usually named the battles after a geological formation nearby but the Confederates names them after the nearest community?  Thus the battles here are know as Manassas to the South and Bull Run to the north.  Bull Run is a creek in the area that figured into the first battle.  While it wasn't deep, the banks were very steep, so it could only be crossed at bridges. 

The first battle of Bull Run was known for two things.  One--it was the first major battle of the war.  No one seemed to realize just how terrible it was going to get.  Civilians on both sides flocked out to watch and were promptly horrified by the blood.  The other major reason to remember the first battle has to do with a person.  This man was a teacher at Virginia Military Institute.  He was the least favorite instructor there as he had all of his lessons memorized.  If the students had questions, he would just recite the lesson over again exactly the same as previously.  Anyway, after the war was looking certain, he took a group of the students and formed a brigade.  They were there on the battlefield and it was looking like the Union was winning the day.  Many of the Confederates were fleeing and running back, but this guy, Thomas Jackson, stayed on the field.  One of his fellow Generals said:  "There stood Jackson like a stonewall."  Thus the nickname of one of the most famous Confederate generals--Stonewall Jackson--was coined. 

The fighting in the second battle took place over three days.  At the conclusion of the three days, there were also around 23000 casualties.  And this battle took place just three weeks before Antietam.  So in three weeks there were 46000 casualties.  It is just incredible to consider!

While we were there, we took all the tours they offered.  At each one, the ranger would caution everyone against going in the tall grass, as they had a tick problem.  Meanwhile, it became obvious that other bugs were going to take center stage.

The Brood II cicadas were finally coming out of the ground.  These are the 17 year cicadas that are all over the East coast.  We don't have them here in Hampton Roads, though.  Anyway--they were all over and really gross.  Really.   Freaking.  Gross.  I don't like bugs.  Eew!  A few of them landed on me!  Yikes!

We went home from there and arrived Sunday evening.  My husband promptly did all the yard work, washed cars, etc. all day Monday.  After all that work, he had a shower and discovered a tick on his back!  We were being so careful, too!  After I found that, I checked myself over good, and was tick free, but still, my skin is still crawling.

Have a great weekend!


  1. The bugs are awful! When I'm in Atlanta visiting my daughter I see the cicadas.... And some how they get in the house... You are right so GROSS!

  2. That is one huge bug! Not only are the GROSS, they are noisy!

  3. It sounds like you had a great trip. I do love American history it is fascinating. Bugs YUK . Hugs Melanie xxx

  4. Very interesting post, it is hard to imagine the brutality and death toll of the Civil War. We visited Stone Creek, Tennessee a couple years ago. They had a fatality count also but I think it was over three days.

  5. I love American history ... actually, all history but American history most of all. While living in Pennsylvania we did a number of Civil War battlefield visits and you come away, as you said, trying to get your head around the number of people who died. We were told once that most Civil War soldiers traveled no more than 100 miles from their homes during the entire war ... hard to understand that when we now send troops thousands of miles away. Sounds like you had a great weekend ... except for the tick and the cicadas. They are SO ugly .....

  6. Sounds like a wonderful trip!! Thanks for sharing. So very interesting! What a momentous time in our history!
    Looking forward to seeing your patriotic project. Hope the AC is fixed soon!


  7. What a fascinating trip you had--I hope someday I can visit some of those sites too. I'm glad we don't have those ginormous bugs here! I had a tick crawling on my neck the other day and now I can feel them all over me--I hate those little suckers!

  8. Your post brought back such happy memories of a visit we made to the Civil War battlefields.
    The death statistics are overwhelming - here is an article from the BBC about recent research which gives a higher total than was believed earlier.

    That was nearly 22years ago and we have explored many other parts of the US since then, but still usually visit the DC area every couple of years. Our last visit in 2011 took us to Lancaster County among other places.

    Webfabrics is in Purcelleville - I have been using the on-line shop for over 10 years. The owner. Carly, and all her staff go the extra mile to be helpful.

    All the best for your further explorations of the area - there is so much to see and do near you and you don't have to fly from UK to get there!!

  9. Good history lesson! It's awful to think of the death toll and what they went through though. It's nice that the two of you are so close to all that history.

    We have to deal with ticks every year with the dog that they've ceased to gross me out. I find a number of them on me every year even though we treat her and I just pick them off and move on. I do wish the bites didn't take so long to heal though. Glad you didn't find any on yourself! And I don't think I'd like to be around the cicadas either!

  10. Oh! I'm so glad I went back a few days and found this post! :o) This was really interesting, and I didn't remember ANY of my history from school, so your write up was fascinating! Thanks! The next time we are heading down the coast, I really want to spend more time at the historic sites and battlefields. And you're right.....I can't wrap my head around 23,000 killed in one day. It's unbelievable!

    And I'm totally with ya on the tick thing! My skin is crawling just thinking about it! Ewww! lol And I'm so glad we are too far north for the cicadas. Yuck!