tv Discussion on the Traveling Blacksmith Forge CSPAN June 11, 2017 12:00pm-12:29pm EDT
i wrote to the national archives in washington, d.c., and about two months later i received a plan book of about 135 pages with all of the details on how to make the forge. in washington, d.c., and about i did make this forge, everything here except the wheels and the vice. it took about two years. i cut down my own oak tree and ash tree and cut to those dimensions at all of the rivets are things that i forged and fabricated. ok, i aim going to bend the pigtail. so, i hold this over the anvil. just very carefully hit it.
and there is the pigtail at this point. now i'm making a little hook. it looks like this, called the teardrop hook. now the next step is to make the actual hook itself. once again, i have to heat it back up. in making the forge, i have come to find out there's only five or six of these in the entire country and they do have an original one, which i did go and see down in chickamauga, chattanooga battlefield. i did take some pictures to get the finer details of the chains on the hooks, so this forge is a very, very accurate. now, i do not want to ruin my
pigtail, so i have to cool it off in water to harden it. ok? you can see this as black and this is still orange. this will be very easy now to bend. i put it over the war and of the annville -- over the horn of the anvil. straightened it out. and there is my curve. now cut this off here and i will make the top and, called the teardrop. ok. >> ready to heat it up again, boss? john baronich: yep, heat it back up.
i use a tool called a cut off hardy, which is a chisel with a square shank on it. just put that back on the and vil.he annville -- annville i will take the metal and i will be hitting this and then i will -- just put that back on the anvil. i will take the metal and i will be hitting this and then i will break it off. a little more. now the hooks that i am making called the tear drop hook was a hook that soldiers would have blacksmiths make. i don't want to cut that all the way through, because i will ruin the sharp edge.
so, i cut it about halfway. then all i do is twist it right off. now put this in. and i will shape the back end into the shape of a teardrop. >> [indiscernible] john baronich: yep. the soldiers -- these soldiers would be marching along, and they might find a piece of chain -- not too much -- they might find a piece of chain or a square nail and they would take that to the blacksmith and ask the blacksmith to make them this hook, the teardrop hook. i will make the teardrop end right now.
and i just hold the metal in one spot, just pound it to make it wide. you can see here. now bring this to a point. and i will put it over the horn and just curl it a little bit. as you can see, it looks like a teardrop. when the soldiers had the blacksmith make the teardrop hook, they would go back to their tents and they would write a love letter home to their wife
or girlfriend, and they would put the date on the top of the letter and they would mail this home. when the wife got the teardrop hook, it told her two things. one, the husband missed her, wanted to be home. it was a symbol of love. so, she would take the to drop hook and hang it on the wall and she could hang her aprons or maybe her hat or handbag over this. the letter also, because it was dated, told the wife her husband was still alive on this day on april 12. unfortunately there is a sad side to this story. the soldier, the husband the next day was killed in battle. so, the sergeant or the lieutenant would go out and clean his body, maybe take of a
wedding ring and send it back to his wife. when she then got that letter with his personal effects, she would take her items off there, hanging his items on here and then take her wedding ring off and hang it over here. that was now a memorial to her following husband. that is the story that took me from the forge and the teardrop hook. >> this is a lot of trouble for you to do all this. what is the value of it? john baronich: the value is spectators really get into what we are doing and teach people about the history of our country. being a former shop teacher, i became a principal, and teaching kids about history is very important for me. most of the items you see in the blacksmith shop called the boxes -- the table, the stove, the desk -- are all items i have made from old barn wood.
so, it keeps me busy because i like to do this kind of hobby. i like to work with my hands. if i could sum up the last five years with this 150th anniversary period we have been going through, i would say it has been very emotional. we have been out in the field with our cannons, because we are an artillery unit. and i can honestly say, once you get into what is going on around you, you really believe you were there at that particular moment in time. gettysburg was very, very emotional for so many all. we were just at cedar creek in the fall. again, very emotional for us, and we are a second artillery group. we came down here at appomattox, the forge, and became a confederate group because general robert e. lee
surrendered a battery forge and they asked if we could be part of that demonstration. i know the group we belong to or i belong to is about 80 people and we really like the living history piece. most of us are educators are former educators and like to interact with people. that's why i do what i do. i never served in the military, so this is my way of paying back those people that have gone before us and served our country. >> are there any stories you can remember from the past four years? john baronich: you know, there's a couple things that happen at every single event. i think -- my favorite -- not necessarily one particular
thing, but at every event we seem to connect with the local people. like yesterday, for example, we had some chickens do and a couple ladies came by and we offered them, hey, you want some chicken stew? and they ate stew with us, two days ago, and yesterday they came back and -- well, let me show you. they came back with lemon pound cake and cookies for us yesterday for dessert. we just have a lot of fun with them. at gettysburg, we were on cemetery ridge doing blacksmithing, and people were coming by offering food, and a gentleman came back with a porcelain basket of vegetables from his garden. and that is what we do.
that is so much fun for us. those are the things that i like. not one particular situation, but at every event, there is just that connection with the local people. these are the tools the blacksmith would have in the forge wagon. this tool is called a flatter, and after you forge or metal there are bumps in it from the edge of the hammers. you would put this on the and fall and hit it here and it would make a real flat surface on your piece of metal. it's almost like an iron, but you would have to hit it with a hammer. oh, this is pretty cool. this is -- we do not know if this is confederate. one of the guys was telling me,
this is really an old piece. but the handle is made from an old wagon spoke, wagon wheel spoke. this is one of the punches. a can, you heat the metal up and when the metal -- again, you heat the metal up and when the metal is hot, it will punch a hole in here, versus drilling it. this looks like a hammer, but the back part is rounded, so if i wanted to make a 90-degree bend in my metal, i would just hit this along it line and then i could hit it up straight. if her hammers. these are the basics. the ballpeen hammer. then we have several different kinds of punches. my favorite thing -- kids say,
hey, you become a really good blacksmith when you can drill a square hole. of course, you can't drill a square hole, but you can punch a square hole. if you heat the metal, you can get a punch. you can see them think, drill a square hole? their parents catch onto it. of course, i will show you how these soldiers may be bullets. this is a bullet mold where we would heat the lead, then pour the lead into the two holes. it would cool off, you open it up, and then you have the bullets.
that would be in there like that. like that. i'm sorry. there we go. there would be two of them here. >> you are from buffalo, but you are playing a confederate. does that bother you? john baronich: does not bother me at all. we have a lot of fun being confederates. it is all about meeting people all over the country and getting to know them better. being an educator, i think for the younger generation coming up, the most important thing for them is to get involved with their community, get involved with some type of hobby that you can learn. i've been doing this for over 10 years and every day i learned something. our young people cannot forget our history. in high school they have trouble with history and then after high school when they are college age
or whatever, they start to get into it because they can come to places like appomattox and learn about what happened. they become involved with it. sitting back is one thing and kind of watching, but actually do it and experience it and immerse yourself in it -- i think that is what is really important for our young generation to not forget. >> near the camp of the traveling blacksmith forge, civil war reenactors pretrade the gun stacking ceremony that took place when lee surrendered to grant in 1865. [drumroll] >> shoulder.
>> brigade! forward! march! >> my name is chris roberts and i'm from weaverville, north carolina. i am portraying the commander of the 26 north carolina infantry. at the moment, i'm commanding the first battalion. this is my 30th year of reenacting. i have been through the one 25th --125th anniversary ceremony. who knows if i will be around for the 175th, but it is on that course, i suppose. >> how has reenacting changed the last 30 years? chris roberts: with the internet, it's easier to find
information, quartermaster records, images. in the days before that it was difficult to find that information. now it's much easier to communicate with folks. the specificity has increased immensely, down to minute details of buttons being reproduced and blankets. there are many pieces now that would be difficult to tell from the original. the good thing about living history is that when you read the books and you sort of try to picture the moment, there are so many blanks.
it is such a failed moment. even with the greatest imagination, you still fail. when you wear the uniforms, you have the sites, the sounds, the smells the same as they were then, all of these nuances, and you begin to realize all of the small details you missed before. a good example -- when i first began to reenact -- i was alongside, and a soldier pointed out, that would get in the way of your cartridge box. that is something that would never have occurred to me. but with all of the same actions, that becomes clear. [drumroll]
[flute playing lively tune] >> each week, "american artifacts" takes viewers to museums and historic sites around the country. on april 9, 1865, general robert e lee met ulysses s. grant in the village of appomattox courthouse and surrendered his army of northern virginia, effectively ending the civil war. next, we visit the museum of the confederacy in appomattox to see items related to the surrender. we also toured the museum,
looking at the war's aftermath. >> welcome to the museum of the confederacy appomattox. i am the site director here. our museum has been open for almost three years now. we are an extension of the museum that was originally founded in 1890, opened in 1896 in richmond. we house a lot of the artifacts that were from the confederates. we will tell you about how we got some of those artifacts. here, we kind of focus on appomattox since we are in this location. one of the things people ask us about is why appomattox? why did lee come here to surrender? it was not his original intent, of course. lee, on his retreat from petersburg, had been looking for supplies.
his goal was to find supplies for his men and turn south to meet with general johnston in north carolina. as he is traveling from petersburg, grant had been able to effectively block all the railroad supplies lee has waiting for him. he gets into appomattox court house. that is the name of the village built on a stagecoach road between richmond and lynchburg. "courthouse" spelled as two words. appomattox as a county was formed in 1845. the county seats are always known with the county name and the two words, "court house." but it did have a courthouse building in it. lee arrived here on the afternoon of april 8. he deployed artillery in front of him on this road on the way to appomattox station.
this is where he has supply trains waiting for him. he sent some of the artillery to a position here and sent men out to unload the supply trains. while they are unloading these trains, they are surprised by general custer's cavalry, who captures the supply trains and some of the men. some of them escape and start heading back towards the courthouse village, where the main army is. when they are in this area, where the artillery troops are, the federal army has caught up to them. this was known as the battle of appomattox station. the only battle in the civil war fought between federal cavalry units and confederate artillery units. no infantrymen involved. the federal cavalry can overrun artillery positions quickly. so they are all retreating to the appomattox courthouse village. the next morning, lee sends more
troops to be able to take the trains. he believes that his infantrymen and the troops that he has can overtake a cavalry unit in the area and get back the supply trains. at 7:30 in the morning, another battle begins in the area when lee discovers that the general and his army have arrived overnight with plenty of federal reinforcements. they have effectively cut off lee's approach to the supply trains. the battle lasts until 10:30 in the morning, when general lee sends a message to general grant, telling him he is ready to surrender his army. the bridge is highbridge, going from farmville to appomattox. it crossed the appomattox river. this photograph was taken in august of 1865, when they were doing final repairs to the bridge after the war. we are going into the gallery. i will show you some of the
items we have. some of them were specific to appomattox. our collection is very broad, very deep. we have a lot of interesting things to share with you as well. this sword is one of our outstanding pieces. it is general lee's dress sword given to him by a marylander. that is all we know about it. he wore it in dress appearances and the day he surrendered to general grant. he did not know what was going to happen to him personally that day.
he knew he was surrendering his army but did not know what was going to happen to him. the sword has a myth that comes with it. not too long after the surrender, writers started saying things, that lee offered his sword, grant refused it. those were strictly myths. both grant and lee tried to dispel those rumors when they started cropping up, that lee never surrendered his sword. this, in grant's words, is the "purest romance." it never happened. the confederacy was founded in 1890 and opened as a museum in 1896 in richmond. our collection was gathered by a group of women who were prominent in each state. they would gather artifacts from veterans or their families to add to our collection in richmond. the flag is an army of northern virginia battle flag and is one of 500 we have in our collection, the world's largest collection of confederate flags.
on the top, there is a stencil number, 384. this signifies this was a captured battle flag. if a soldier captured a confederate flag and turned it into the war department, he was awarded a medal of honor. the war department would stencil the number on it as part of their records, noting who captured it, the date, all the pertinent information. after the war in 1905, president teddy roosevelt came to visit our museum in richmond. when he was there, he noted the pride the women had in the collection. he went back to washington and made it possible for the war department to return the flags to the states from which they came. if it was identified as a texas flag, it was given to texas. the virginia flags were given to the confederate museum, as we were called then.
there was not a historical society or library that existed at that time. after the war department went through the process and dispersed all the flags it could identify, it had 200 left. in turn, it turned those over to the confederate museum for safekeeping. that is how the collection came to be that large. this particular case talks about the overland campaign. this is when lee and grant began to face each other in 1864. you will notice there are photographs of the men with the artifacts. this picture of earley next to the saddle. you can get a personal connection to the men and the items you are looking for.