Thursday, July 17, 2008

Iron Brigade Memorial Highway

Every weekday morning, I make my morning commute from my home to my office and back down a five-mile stretch of road called Michigan Avenue, better known as US-12. Also known as The Iron Brigade Memorial Highway. The simple fact that my work day pilgrimage occurs along a portion of the same long road that 24th Michigan Infantry marched down on its way to war somehow makes my daily routine seem a little less, well ... routine.

Thanks to road signs placed strategically along the way, I am constantly reminded of the tremendous significance of this otherwise unremarkable stretch of highway. (Pictured above left and right is one particular sign located on US-12 at Carpenter Road just east of Ann Arbor, Michigan.)

However, I am not so naive as to not know that the meaning behind the designation is probably lost on many -- if not most -- of my fellow commuters. Of those, perhaps some people wonder as to the meaning of the signs but, more likely, most people simply don't care.

But they should. Thanks to the bravery and sacrifice of the men of the Iron Brigade, we all have the freedom to travel down roads like this in the United States of America we know today.

The Iron Brigade Memorial Highway was named as such in 1994, when the Michigan legislature passed House Concurrent Resolution No. 626. This resolution memorialized the stretch of US-12 from downtown Detroit to the Indiana border in honor of the 24th Michigan Volunteer Infantry of the Iron Brigade.

Since Wisconsin and Indiana also comprised the ranks of this illustrious brigade, these states have also designated the portions of US-12 within their borders in the Iron Brigade's honor. (Shown below is an Iron Brigade Memorial Highway sign on US-12 in Indiana.)

Not often do simple road signs have the power to make me smile wistfully with a little tear in my eye. But these do.

Indiana marker image courtesy of

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Brand New Novel about the 24th Michigan!

I am excited that my copy of the new novel from Brent Richard Force titled: "Among Men of Iron - A Novel of the 24th Michigan Infantry Regiment" arrived today. I am anxious to begin reading and sharing my thoughts with you all. The author is a very nice guy and I look forward to the tremendous success of his novel, which will undoubtedly fortify and widen the 24th's already formidable group of devotees.

You check out the video trailer for the book below and you can order your own copy on Amazon.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Then and Now - Meade's Gettysburg Headquarters

It never occurred to me during our vacation in Gettysburg how fun it might be to try duplicating some well-known Civil War-era photographs with my digital camera. And little did I know that today I would accidentally do just that!

It was our last day in Gettysburg and I was SO not ready to leave! On our way out of town, still drained from the excitement of the 145th anniversary Gettysburg battle reenactment the day before, I mentioned to my husband that I had forgotten to take pictures of Meade's headquarters.

I think he suspected this was a ploy to savor a few more moments of this long-awaited trip, but, like the doll he is, he happily headed down Taneytown Road in the opposite direction we needed to travel in order to let me have just a few last minutes alone on the battlefield with my camera.

Upon arriving at the Leister House, I hurredly shot a half-dozen or so photos and hopped back in the car, still terribly unhappy about going home but satisfied with my last-minute bounty.

Upon downloading these last few photos on to my laptop, I noticed one particular shot and its amazing similarlity to photo of Meade's headquarters that was taken shortly after the battle.

Meade's Headquarters in 1863

Meade's Headquarters in 2008

Is it just me, or are the similarities in these photos simply spooky?! I consider this as my special going-away gift!

1863 photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

July 1: Day One at Gettysburg: From the Emmitsburg Road to McPherson's Ridge

Exactly 145 years ago, on July 1, 1863, along with the 24th Michigan Infantry and the Iron Brigade of the West, my Great Great Grandfather traveled north on the Emmitsburg Road and marched into history. At the picturesque Codori Farm, the Union Army of the Potomac left Emmitsburg Road to await their destiny in McPherson's Woods.

On July 1, 2008, it was only fitting that our battlefield journey begin here as well.

The Codori Farm on Emmitsburg Road

From here, we moved onward to the McPherson's Ridge area, where we participated in a guided battlefield walk, narrated by well-known historian and author D. Scott Hartwig.

Caravan Alongside McPherson's Ridge

Hikers Ready to Take the Field

For several hours, we hiked across the field while Scott told stories about the fighting that occurred at various locations on Day One of the battle. Our entire tour was fimed for television by PCN (Pennsylvania Cable Network).

Scott Hartwig Narrating the Tour

Highlights for me included hiking through what was, at the time, an unfinished railroad cut and the site of some of the blooodiest fighting that day as well as the open field of McPherson's Ridge.

Hiking the Railroad Cut

Crossing McPherson's Ridge

In some odd sense, that field seemed to have a life of its own and I felt as though I was violating some kind of sanctity by crossing it.

Once our guided battlefield walk was over, it was time for Jason and me to strike out on our own and start hunting down the places that mattered to me most ... the locations where my Great Great Grandfather's life changed forever. Starting with ... McPherson's Farm.

Where it All Began

McPherson's Barn

We Are Met On a Great Battlefield