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tv   Battlefield Tour  CSPAN  August 20, 2014 12:26am-1:07am EDT

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closet, and some of the confederates, particular jubal early, is a good drinking man, and they are consuming francis p. blair's liquor supply, and they are very delighted as they get more and more, because one of the confederates there is john c. breckenridge. who is the youngest man ever to be vice president of the united states. being vice president under james buchanan, and the confederates are feeling good. now, lincoln had kept construction going on the capitol dome. the dome has been completed. you can see it from the soldier's home, and they are debating, because breckenridge had been expelled from the senate in october 1861 as when he left the vice presidency and
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then the senate. as they get more and more influenced by what they are drinking, they boast, tomorrow we'll march down massachusetts avenue and we'll escort general breckenridge into the capitol, into the senate chamber, which he had presided over and place him back there. well, the president is going to pay a visit out here again on the wealth. he's going to arrive out here and he's going to bring mary with him. now mary and he, there have been causalities out here, and close to the walls of fort stevens is a hospital. they go in and visit several wounded union soldiers there and then mary sits down. out here also is the secretary of state.
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the secretary of state, of course, is william seward. soon to arrive is going to be gideon wells, secretary of the navy, and his wife. now mary gets the one cabinet member that mary gets along well with, mrs. wells. she doesn't get along with others. the president will go up and stand on that paraben, where in the 1960s they'll put up a monument there. the principle speaker there will be one of breckenridge's soldiers that they put up that monument to commemorate where lincoln is standing there in his top hat, seven feet tall, looking out over the sloping ground in front of him, where the confederates have taken
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shelter in the house in a grove about a quarter of a mile away. as he's standing there, there's a spat. standing next to him is dr. crawford of the 102nd pennsylvania. he is shot in the thigh and blood spurts over the president. now i often wonder what the secret service would do now, because the president has blood on him and now horacio g. wright has a tough job. that is, he's got to get the president off the banquet, the firing step, getting him down where he's not exposed. there's two versions of how he does it. one, that he will ask the president politely to please step down. the other is, that he will put
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his hand on him, might have been bad for him in the days when we had secret service around, and they help him down off and he sits on the level ground, the step just back from the paraben and sits down with his back to the par apin. after awhile he'll go over and talk to mary. mary will swoon and the president will say mary will not make a very good soldier, as she swooned. so while the president has been under fire, a man has been shot near him, and by 4:00, the 6th corps is ready to take the offensive. and they will move out from in
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front of fort stevens, moving across the ground, the slopes down to where walter reid is now, beyond battleground cemetery, where 40-odd men of the union soldiers who were killed here are buried and the union troops and the confederates pulled back. lincoln will not take his eye off the big picture. tuesday the 12th. on the 14th, he is back out at the -- taking care of business. so he is going to do, and i want you to take another little tune there, because he's going to sign a bill calling for 500,000 more men. and there's one of the tunes in
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that, we are coming father abraham, 500,000 more. so he's showing his commitment to continuing the war. he's also curtailed negotiations carried out through on the same day with mr. blair, through frank blair, and horace greeley with meetings up in buffalo, where they are going to meet with confederate representatives and he's going to order them, direct them, they will not -- there are two things he will not compromise on. he will not step back on the emancipation proclamation or that bill that's working its way through the house and the senate
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abolishing slavery by congressional amendment, and he will not step back on the confederacy having an independent nation. so great things have happened here. it's wonderful to see the group out here today to talk about these events. too often these events here in washington are kind of forgotten. and as early pulls back to virginia, he's going to say one thing. well, we didn't capture washington, but we sure as hell scared the hell out of abraham lincoln. we have to remember what abraham lincoln is going to write on the 24th day of august, that is five weeks after this day. and that day things are still
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not going well. butler's army and stymied in front of richmond and petersburg. sherman is stymied in front of atlanta. and president will write a letter to the file and he will say, and the democrats have met in chicago, adopted a peace declaring the war a failure and nominating for president george b. mcclennan and pendleton of ohio as vice president. and the president will write that day, as of this day, we will probably lose the election. therefore, we will have to work with the left to save the union after election day and before
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he's inaugurated as president on march 4th, because he will not be able to say it at at day. but, of course, just like everybody could remember, my age or younger can remember harry truman on the night, on election eve, a little after 12:00 in 1948 when he pulled out the headlines of "the chicago tribune," dewey wins. lincoln would do the same thing with the letter he'd written to the files. cabinet member, put it in an envelope, members of the cabinet signed their names on it, he opens it up and reads it to what they had signed, because with that election, father abraham will be in for another term, and
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it's wonderful to come out here and be with this group here and think of the great events that took place here. thank you so much. [ applause ] >> thank you, mr. bearss. before closing, we have a few announcements. >> thank you again, mr. bearss,
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mr. gibbs, everyone for joining us again today. we do want to acknowledge, we have a lot of special guests in the audience, but we actually have the great grandson of captain simon e. chamberlain of company k., the 25th new york calvary, the first calvary to deploy here on july 11th here at fort stevens when early's troops arrived. with mr. -- i'm sorry, would mr. chamberlain please stand. [ applause ] we will close the benediction, but we do hope each of you will come over and join us. just across the street you'll get some instructions. it's the moment to join us for the first fine of the civil war here in the district of columbia since 1864, 150 years ago today.
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fire a canon, yes. >> please welcome again reverend louis as he leads us through the benediction. >> please stand. now lord we ask for our blessings that as we leave this place, that the street fellowship of the holy communion will rest, rule and abide with us now and forever more and all god's people said -- amen. american history tv in primetime continues wednesday with the civil war battle of the crater, which took place during the siege of petersburg, virginia, on july 30th, 1864.
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the battle failed with heavy losses for union troops. at 8:00 p.m., the national parks service commemorates the 150th anniversary of the battle and honors the role of u.s. color troops. at 9:20, emanuele dabny discusses how the attack failed and why u.s. color troops were unjustly blamed. and at 10:15, author kevin la vigne discusses how color troops were remembered immediately following the civil war. the battle of the crater at 8:00 p.m. eastern here on c-span3. here are some of the highlights for this weekend. friday on c-span in primetime, we'll visit important sites. saturday night at 8:00, highlights from this year's new york's idea's forum. and on sunday, q&a with new york congressman charlie rangel at
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8:00 p.m. eastern. friday night at 8:00 on c-span2, in-depth. saturday on afterwards at 10:00, retired neurosurgeon and columnist ben carson, and sunday at 11:00 p.m. eastern, lawrence goldstone on the competition between the wright brothers and glenn curtis to be the predominant name in manned flight, c-span3 on friday at 8:00 eastern, a look at hollywood's portrayal of slavery. saturday at 8:00. and sunday night at 8:00 p.m., former white house chiefs of staff discuss how presidents make decisions. find our television schedule one week in advance at and let us know what you think about the programs you're watching. call us at 202-626-3400 or e-mail us. join the c-span conversation, like us on facebook, follow us on twitter. each week american history tv's
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series "the civil war" marks the 150th anniversary of the conflict by bringing you lectures, discussions, and battlefield visits. 150 years ago in july of 1864, a confederate army of about 12,000 troops under the command of general jubal early nearly invaded washington, d.c. next, historian and journalist marc leepson takes us on a tour of battlefields in maryland and washington, d.c. to tell the story of the battle of monacacy, where confederates were delayed by union forces in the approach for the nation's capital where early probed the defenses of the heavily fortified city before deciding to turn back. >> july 1864, to give you a bigger picture of the war, this was just after the bloodiest six weeks of the civil war, the wilderness campaign, spots of wilderness, over 60,000 union
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causalities dead or wounded. about 40,000 confederates dead or wounded. there was war weariness, especially in the north, but general grand grant, u.s. grant, was determined to -- this was his grand plan to end the war. he had richmond and petersburg surrounded and his idea, his plan, was to choke robert e. lee and force him to come out and fight what he thought would be the battle that would end the war. lee knew this, of course, too, so lee came up with a bold plan of his own and that is on july -- on june 13th in the early morning hours, he took about 12,000 troops under general jubal early and took them outside of the defenses of washington on a bold plan, a
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four-part plan that he hoped would mess up general grant's grand plan to end the war. the first part was to kick the union forces out of the shenandoah valley. now, at this time of the war, robert e. lee's biggest problem was supply, including food, and most of their food came from the shenandoah valley. so the union forces under general david hunter had taken over just about the entire shenandoah valley. second part of the plan was to quote/unquote threaten washington, d.c. the third part of the plan was to free confederate prisoners at the point lookout prison camp, which was on the very tip of southern maryland in the chesapeake bay. and the fourth part of the plan, and i think the part that lee considered the most important, was to force grant to take troops outside of richmond and petersburg and to ease this chokehold that grant had on him. so in the early morning hours of july 13th, 12,000, an entire corps of troops, left the
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defenses of richmond, about a third of lee's troops. they marched 70 miles to charlottesville, virginia, got on a rickety old train and arrived in lynchburg on june 17th and june 18th came the battle of lynchburg, which didn't last very long, because hunter who wasn't one of the great union generals to say the least, fled once he saw early's troops. so hunter fled over the mountain into west virginia, what is now west virginia. early thought about chasing him, they didn't, but he took one look and saw the entire shenandoah valley was cleared of union troops. this is big. so early marched his men down the valley, north because of the way the river flows, so they began to march down the shenandoah valley. they were very -- they were not very well supplied. a third to the half of the men did not even have shoes. they tied burlap around their feet. they waited two days along the route for a shipment of shoes.
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they got up to harpers ferry in martinsburg, both in west virginia now, then in virginia, where another dim bulb of union generals, he was a political general, a german immigrant, he was made a general because he could bring in germans, he was from st. louis. he was the one who had the not very good experience at new market on may 15th, where he outnumbered the confederate troops and lost when the entire corps of v.m.i. cadets came up from lexington and defeated sigel, unofficially known as the flying dutchman. sigel fled martinsburg and harpers ferry and they had a nice 4th of july, the southern troops did, eating all the yankees' food and drinking whatever beverages they found. the next day on july 5th, they crossed over the potomac river into maryland. this is the third invasion of
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the north by confederate troops. 1862, 1863, into what will be the battle of monacacy in 1864. seagal fled to the other side of the river from harpers ferry and were pretty well embedded up there. early thought about going after them, but he didn't. he made a right turn, now 50 miles from washington, d.c. and they did rest for a couple of days in maryland. then he headed towards washington, d.c. jubal was quite a character, to say the least. he went to west point, but not to be a military man, it was a good education at the time. he did take part in the seminal wars and mexican war, but he didn't see any action. he was a member of the virginia
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assembly at one time, he was a warrior, and before the war started, he was part of the virginia secession convention. once virginia seceded, he became probably one of the most ardent confederate die hards. he quickly gained a reputation of being aggressive leader, he became a general, he was in all the battles in the eastern theater from manassas onward, and he was kind of a cantankerous guy. he was a hard drinking, tobacco chewing, -- he was famous for cursing, hated women. didn't get along with fellow officers, didn't get along with generals. the men sort of loved him and hated him. robert e. lee really liked jubal early. lee called him "my bad old man," even though lee was older than early. early had arthritis, kind of
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hunched over, scraggly beard, wore the slouched hat and lee liked him because -- it's interesting that lee should depend on him and admire early so much, because lee's personality was 180 degrees opposite. he was a god-fearing man, he didn't curse, respected women, and so on. robert e. lee said it's good war is so horrible, otherwise men would love it, compares to jubal early, who probably, if there was something the opposite of that to be said, he would have said it. sths a man lee entrusted to go on this mission and he was one of the more aggressive southern generals, and it's interesting because of what happened later at washington, his aggressiveness. washington was just across the river from virginia. 90 miles from richmond, from the very beginning of the war, the union was very concerned about a southern invasion of the nation's capital, so immediately troops were sent down into washington, d.c., and then after the battle of first manassas,
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the feet 35 miles from washington, they started building a series of forts and fortifications that by the time a couple of years later, washington was completely ringed by interconnected series of 67 forts. they were called the defenses of washington. they were kind of like a beltway. they even went across the po potom potomac. those forts, only one of those forts exists today and that's fort ward in alexandria, virginia. fort stevens, where we're going to go later, has been partially rebuilt and that's where the end of my story happens, outside of fort stevens. but these forts were very well built. they were all connected by fortifications and berms, and they were designed to be manned by about 35,000 troops, but now we're in the summer of 1864, just about every able-bodied union troop is down outside
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richmond in petersburg in the eastern theater. we don't know the exact number, but we think only about 10,000 troops were on the barricades at washington, d.c. who were these 10,000 troops? well, they were members of what was called the veteran reserve corps. the veteran reserve corps had just changed its name before that. before that it was known as the invalid corps. they changed the name for obvious reasons. who wants to be named the invalid? most people, i think, know there were so many causalities that washington, d.c. was basically one giant hospital during the last years of the war. as troops got better but couldn't go back to the field, they were given these pale blue uniforms and did rear echelon duty. so that's who was defending washington, d.c. when jubal early came here to monacacy on
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july 9th and the battle started. this was not a good example of union high leadership, what happened here during this. first of all, union intelligence was abysmal throughout the war and it was not good here. the union did not know that robert e. lee had taken an entire corps of troops outside leaving richmond where they left on june 13th. they didn't know really that an entire corps had left until july 5th, when they crossed the potomac river, then you had a little bit of panic going on. especially when the word got out that early was heading towards washington, or maybe baltimore. he didn't let people know. here at monacacy, strategically northwest and east/south transportation connection. we have the 355 over here, which was here then, it was called the georgetown pike, and it goes directly on a line to washington, d.c. today, it's called the irbana
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pike here, it becomes the rockville pike, then becomes wisconsin avenue. goes right into washington. up the monacacy river we have the pike that goes straight to baltimore. then we have the railroad line, which comes straight down here from baltimore and the spur that goes straight from frederick, so you had north, south, east, west railroad hub and two roads that went right to baltimore. so it was not clear. there was panic in the streets in baltimore and in washington when they heard. and, of course, the rumors started flying. early had gained troops. they had about 14,000 troops on july 9th. the rumors were that he had 15,000, 20,000, 35,000 troops. so washington's command structure was fragmented. there were a lot of generals in washington, d.c. in fact, general hallock, henry hallock, who was the army chief of staff, at one point said we have plenty of generals, what we
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need is privates here. we need people to get to the barricades of washington. so that was the situation in washington. now back down in richmond, grant, when he learned what was happening here, did not want to send troops outside of richmond and petersburg, this was his grand plan to win the war. you can read the telegrams that went back and forth between washington and outside of richmond. you can read the memoirs of people on his staff. you can read the letters that they wrote. grant would not send troops, and finally he gave in at the last minute and he sent two regiments of the 6th corps, woke them up in the middle of the night, marched out to city port, got on these steamers, went down the james river, out into the chesapeake bay, up into baltimore harbor, they got off the ships, they marched to the
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railroad station, camden station, now camden yards where the baseball stadium is, and they arrived here at the monacacy junction at 1:00 in the morning on july 9th, 1864. union intelligence was not very good, but one man figured out through the intelligence and more or less what was happening, and that was lou wallace. now lou wallace was an interesting character and he was the other main character of this story. he was from indiana, he was from a prominent family. he did serve in the mexican war as a 19-year-old lieutenant, but he had no military experience other than that when the war started. he did have a unit in indiana before the war. those were those drill teams that dressed up in these colorful uniforms. they became the 11th indiana when the war started, he was their leader and he scored an early victory at romney, west virginia, right after first manassas when the union was looking for heros. and the union press played him
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up really big and he became a general and that was sort of his high point. his low point happened at the battle of shiloh when his regiment got lost the first night. probably not his fault. it was rough terrain, bad weather, et cetera, dark, kind of a fog of war situation, but grant and hallock were very, very upset with wallace after shiloh. he did fight the second day, but they sort of shoved him to the side after that and his job was at this point in the war, he was the commander of the union's middle atlantic department, which was basically his job was he was military governor of baltimore. it wasn't a very plum assignment. well, reading the same intelligence that the union high command got and didn't do anything about, wallace did something. the other thing that helped him here was that the head of the b.n.o. railroad, a man named john garrett, he had his network of intelligence who were the station masters all along the b.
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& o. railroad. they are heading your way. so wallace picked up on this and on his own, don't forget he was in hot water with grant and halllock, no orders, he gathered up 2800 men, about all he could get, and came down to the western most point of his jurisdiction, which was right here, and he set up on the eastern bank on the monacacy river. lou wallace, after the war, became a novelist and he wrote the second most popular novel of the 19th century, which was "ben-hur" and also wrote an 800-page memoir, which was really a god send for a historian, after reading these sort of dry memoirs and lots of them and letters and so on, journals, and orders, here you get lew wallace who writes his memoir, you know, 40 years after the fact, writes it in a flowery
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19th century novelist style. and when wallace says that they arrived here in the morning and lit their campfires, he'll say something like, you know, the steely sky gave way to a brilliant orange sun as we made our way down to the junction and the campfire smoke curled up, which was great. of course, you have to balance what wallace says in his memoir with his telegrams from the battlefield, his after-action report the day after, his after-action report two weeks later, because wallace had a way of making himself sound really good, and, you know s he did a very brave thing here, can't get away from that, and as i say in the book, i believe and i think the judgment of history is that what wallace did here, did save washington, d.c. so this battle took place on july 9th, 1864. right now it's november 2nd of 2007 and it's a beautiful fall day, but one thing to keep in mind about this battle was that it was very, very hot.
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they didn't have thermometers or no one referred to a thermometer in their memoirs or at the time, but had to be in the mid to upper 90s and very humid. wallace set up headquarters in a very good tactical spot and that was on the east bank of the monacacy river on high ground, so he could overlook the entire battlefield and he was on the other side of the river, which made it difficult for -- to be attacked. it was a good defensive position. who were these 2,800 men? well, they were 100 days men. they joined just for 100 days, no one had fired a weapon in anger before. pretty gutsy thing, if you think about it. here was intelligence, a corps of troops, maybe as many as 35,000 are headed your way and he sets up right here with 2,800 unexperienced troops. that's what finally happened when grant sent up the troops. those troops got here at 1:00 in the morning on july 9th and now
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wallace had about 6,500 troops, including experienced 6th corps men and he knew what to do with them. he arrayed them along the bank of the monacacy river and i think we're going to go down there now and we'll talk about what happened when the battle started. we're at the very edge of the monacacy national battlefield and this monument was dedicated at the 50th anniversary of the battle to honor the confederates who died here. there are about 800 confederate causalities at the battle, dead and wounded. route 355 today runs through the battlefield, as it did back then. it was known as the georgetown pike, but what didn't go through the battlefield back then, of course, was interstate 270, which is, i think you can see it right over there on the edge of the horizon, but this is where the confederate artillery was arrayed during the battle, and it's just an unfortunate thing that interstate highway runs
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through this entire battlefield. i think they've done a terrific job interpreting it. they have a lot of the farmfields that the battle took place, but it's sort of a difficult battle to envision, one reason being it took place in several different places at the same time and another reason being an interstate highway goes right through it. this is the actual junction itself. you can see it down there, and the bridge on route 355 was the old covered bridge over the junction. this is where some of the most brutal fighting of the battle took place. later on in the day, when a group of vermont soldiers took a stand against early's -- some of early's top troops and they were at a very good strategic point down there. i don't know if it's that easy to see, but the confederates came this way and the vermont
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soldiers, there weren't very many of them, there was like a company of them, and they held off a regiment of early's troops for hours before they finally had to flee, and they were -- they had to flee back up the railroad track and then over the old railroad bridges, you can't see from here. the railroad bridge did not have a bed. it had just railroad ties, and these vermont soldiers while they were being fired upon by this confederates, had to run across the railroad ties, over the river, with the water 40 feet below, sort of a dramatic point of the battle. two vermont soldiers received the medal of honor for their actions that day. right where we're standing now is where the overmanned vermont men took up their stand against the confederate troops, who came straight down that way from where the tracks are, and this is where they held them. this is the actual junction. it says frederick junction, but
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it's known as the monacacy junction then. the old train station was right behind us over here. and, in fact, these are the tracks that the troops came down from baltimore. anyway, after their vermonters finally couldn't take it anymore, they fled down the tracks, around the bentd, and the old railroad bridge over there, the ones they had to flee for their lives over while they were being shot at by the confederates. what you see in the back behind me, which has been restored by the national park service to the way it looked the day of the battle in 1864, this was the portion of the battle of monacacy, and what you're hearing is interstate 270 in the
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background, but what was here then was cornfields and wheatfields and they were crisscrossed by farm fences. it was not an ideal place to have a battle, especially if you were attacking, which the southerners were. so behind me, general john mccausland from louisiana, they were part of john brown gordon's brigade, they came right behind me and they got off their horses because i guess of the conditions in the field here. so there was a dismounted calvary and they charged the union through the farm fields over here. they didn't know it was 6th corps men. the 6th corps men were waiting for them and it was carnage. the southerners got chopped down and they had to retreat and went back there again. most of gordon's brigade was way back at the farm where we first
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started here where the artillery was. now, here's an important thing you have to keep in mind, jubal early did not want to fight a battle here at monacacy, he wanted to go invade washington. he's only 40 miles away from it right now, but wallace forced him. he blocked him along the river. early held as many troops back as he could. in fact, early wasn't here when the battle started, he was in the city of frederick extorting money of the city fathers to the tune of $200,000, which he got. but anyway, mccausland's charge does not work, they flee back here, they charge again, get repulsed again, then gordon brings all of his troops here and this is where the most fighting of the battle took place. gordon called it the sharpest fight he was in in the civil war. he was in the wilderness. the river ran red with blood and when it was over, there were about 1,300 union causalities
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killed, wounded, and captured, and about 800 confederates killed and wounded, and most of it took place here and the thomas farm, which is the next farm over. a young -- the family hid in the basement during the fight, and a young 6-year-old boy named glen worthington saw everything that happened, as did his father and his family, and he wrote a book about it later. it's one of our best descriptions of what happened on this battle. and actually later in life, glenn worthington was one of the people who influenced congress to set aside this land to be a national battlefield. and so back to the battle itself, of course, early prevailed. he outnumbered 14,650. retreated, went up towards baltimore, wound up at elkin mills. it was very, very hot. early let his men rest on the
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battlefield that night, buried their dead, took care of their wounded, took prisoners to frederick and the next morning on july 10th, 1864, they started their march towards washington, d.c.. only took us about an hour to get here, but i'll pick up the story. early, they spent that night on the battlefield. the next day they maarten, 15 miles, 20 at the most. don't forget, it was really very hot and they were tired and had been marching since june 13th, so they camped in rockville and gaithersburg, which are busy suburbs of washington, d.c. now, but it was farmland there. early started to get money from the city fathers of rockville. there was


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