Friday, September 27, 2013

Remember this?...

...I'd like to forget it! It's been 21 years, but...


Sorry, EW! I couldn't resist borrowing your phrase!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Who wants to win a prize?

Here's the clue:

McClellan eventually concentrated his cavalry into a single division before Antietam, and placed it under Brigadier General Alfred Pleasanton, a West Pointer of the class of 1844 with service in the 2nd Dragoons under Zachary Taylor in Mexico.

In honor of international book week, grab the book closet to you, turn to page 52, and post the 5th complete sentence as your status. Please don't mention the title, and post the rules as part of your status. Have fun!

If you can name the book that the above sentence comes from, post your guess as a comment to this blog (not on my Facebook status). The first one to get it right will get the prize. 

Hint: It's one of the books that's visible in the above photo. (The name of the book can be read in the photo.)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

How does this happen?

This is a bit of old news, but it's still relevant. I just wonder how this happens? You see rocks, you're up high, you should use common sense. It had a happy ending, but it could have been much worse. It's a sad state of affairs that the Fire Chief is like, "Yes, this happens often. No big deal!" Really?

Read about it here, and use caution. The rocks can be tricky, and I'm sure they're very unforgiving!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Just win a few, please!

So, 1992 signaled the multi-year decline of the Pirates. The Steelers lost Super Bowl XLV to the Packers, got Tebow-ed in Denver, and have been mediocre ever since. The Penguins, after slaying the Red Wings have taken early exits from the playoffs, and even with a stacked team cannot get over the obstacles and back into the final round..

Fans in the Burgh still support their team, but there doesn't seem to be any electricity; there is not a whole lot to be excited about, or so it seems.

The 2011 Pirates were first in the division in July and seemed to be poised to end the streak. They didn't. After one of the most monumental collapses in sports history, the Pirates sunk back to where they seemed to be most comfortable, the bottom half of the NL Central. They finished a dismal 70-92.

Repeat in 2012. On August 8, they were 63-47. They lost 35 of their next 49 games to extend the longest stretch of futility in the history of North American sports. Shades of the three ALCS series in the early '90's re-appeared. The talent was there, but they couldn't quite finish.

The emergence of Andrew McCutchen as a powerhouse was taking place. A.J. Burnett got his career on track and showed signs of becoming the Ace the team had been looking for since the days of Doug Drabek. Clint Hurdle was at the helm, the crew was assembled, and the stars seemed to be aligned to end the journey of futility, and sail in the right direction. Yet, the ship continued to sink. 

So, how do you re-ignite the passion of fans who seemed to have given up hope and gotten tired of watching the same old story? Simple! One word; three letters. Win!

The Pittsburgh Pirates have finally ended the streak. At times this season they had the best record in baseball, and they've toyed with the division lead almost all season. A bit of a late-season slump may have put the division pennant out of reach, but there's a winning record, and the odds of post-season play look good.

Pittsburgh fans have hope. It was never lost, but just hidden for awhile. Now, it's uncovered. Fans that have become accustomed to seeing winning teams once again have one, and they're loving it! The city has "Pirate Fever!" The merchandise is selling, and people young and old are "Raising the Jolly Roger" and wearing their colors with pride.

Division champion or wild card seed, win or lose, the future looks good. The electricity is in the air, and the future appears to be well-lit. And I'm lovin' it!


Sunday, September 22, 2013

"The Outfield of Dreams"...

...before two of them became nightmares, made up one of the finest outfields in the history of baseball. Barry Bonds, Andy Van Slyke, and Bobby Bonilla added superstar punch to a powerful lineup. It was a team strong enough to achieve greatness; it was a team best remembered for coming up just short of the ultimate prize. It signaled the fate and the seeming demise of the once-strong Pittsburgh Pirates.

Barry Bonds as a Pirate was one of the best. He had speed, could field, and had power. He could steal bases and drive in runs. His potential soon turned to controversy after leaving the Pirates at the end of the 1992 season. An excellent player during the regular season, Bonds is best remembered by fans of the Buccos as a player who choked, repeatedly, in the playoffs.

Andy Van Slyke came to the Pirates along with Mike Dunn and Mike LaValliere in a trade that sent Tony Pena' to the Cardinals. Van Slyke was a powerhouse in the lineup and a looming presence in center field, but in the era of free agency, high salaries and declining attendance he left the Pirates in 1994. 

Bobby Bonilla was an error-prone third baseman who moved to the outfield with Bonds and Van Slyke after committing 67 errors in two seasons on the hot corner. Bonilla left after two failed playoff runs with the Buccos, and went onto to a colorful career with more than a bit of controversy.

Why do I mention these three? After 20 consecutive losing seasons, does anyone really care?

Three failed playoff runs, the departure of many talented players, and incompetence in the Pirates' farm system  led to many bleak seasons. There were last place finishes, 100 game losing seasons, and many names few even remember for the Buccos.

The Outfield of Dreams soon became the lineup of incompetence. While fans of good teams had visions of the World Series, Pirates fans began dreaming only of 82 wins. Would it ever happen?

Part 3 soon to follow!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Off topic, but still fun...

Pittsburgh has long been a sports town. Producing talent like Joe Montana, Mike Ditka, Dan Marino, Charlie Batch and Ty Law in the NFL (along with many others too numerous to name), Ryan Malone and several others in the NHL and even a few Major League baseballers, there's been a history of great talent coming out of western PA.

The Steelers have 6 Lombardi Trophies in their collection. Mario Lemieux has his name on Lord Stanley's cup 3 times and the Pirates have won several World Series. Names like Roberto Clemente, Honus Wagner, Terry Bradshaw, Mario Lemieux, Mean Joe Greene, and again numerous others are, and have been household names through the decades. Two of the most dramatic plays in Sports history have been made by Pittsburgh sports players, the "Immaculate Reception", and Bill Mazeroski's game 7 homer to win the World Series. There's been "The Steel Curtain", "Franco's Italian Army" and "Gerela's Gorillas". The Pirates were "Fa-mah-lee" and served up some "Chicken on the Hill With Captain Will", and Badger Bob Johnson made everybody believe that "It's a Great Day For Hockey!"

Pittsburgh fans support a winner, and in a small market city, the dedicated fans always came out to support their team in the sport of their choice, with the idea, "Well, there's always next year!", and usually there was. All teams slump, all teams under-achieve, and all teams disappoint fans with bad seasons, but in the Burgh, bad seasons tended to be few and far between, and very rarely were there more than two or three losing seasons in a row. Even the Pittsburgh Penguins, after suffering several lean seasons drafted well and re-built a winner in relatively short order.

Then, there are the Pirates. Division winners and potentially World Series bound in three consecutive seasons, they never made it to the World Series in any of the three. In 1992 the team learned two lessons, and the fans learned one more. The lessons the team learned are that you can't win it all without dependable relief pitching, and that players you may have given up on can come back to hurt you.

In Game 7 of the 1992 NLCS, Pirates' pitcher Doug Drabek pitched a monster of a game against John Smoltz of the Braves. Drabek pitched 8 scoreless innings, and the Pirates went into the 9th inning with a 2-0 lead. The World Series was within reach. Drabek tired, and was replaced by shaky-at-best relief pitcher Stan Belinda. In a play that will live forever in infamy in Pirate lore, no-name Francisco Cabrera got a hit off Belinda, and former Pirate Sid Bream scored what would be the winning run for the Braves. Bad knees and all, Bream got it done. 

The fans learned another, but different type of lesson. They learned that it would be 20 long years before they'd ever see another winning Pirate team!

More in Part 2.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Please excuse the delay...

...but the pumpkins are picked and I've returned to Hanover. Regular, on-topic posting will begin again tomorrow. Thanks for your patience.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Away for awhile...

...but the blog is still rolling. It's pumpkin picking time in Grove City. Regular posting will resume on Monday the 16.

Friday, September 6, 2013

A small ditch on a side street...

...that doesn't look like much, but during the battle of Hanover it provided a safe route of escape for the fleeing JEB Stuart.

Let's set the stage. In June of 1863, there were few if any houses in this neighborhood. The ditch by many accounts was deeper and considerably wider, as wide as 15 feet. Though smaller now, it is still foreboding. I wouldn't try to jump it on horseback unless my life depended on it. For JEB, however, that was exactly the case!

Slightly southwest of Hanover, in an area now known as Pennville, riders from the 2nd NC Cavalry hit the vanguard of the 18th PA Cavalry. In the chaos, the 18th PA was basically split in half. As the surviving Yankee cavalrymen skedaddled through the streets of Hanover, Confederate horse artillery opened on them, adding to the confusion and chaos.

As Confederates began to occupy the town, cavalry troopers under command of the newly-promoted Brigadier General Elon Farnsworth hit the Tarheels. Elements of the 5th New York cavalry put a twist on the Confederates, hit them in their flank and broke the Confederate hold on the town. As the 2nd NC retreated, their commander, Col. Wm Payne, was thrown from his horse and into a tanning vat in the Winebrenner Tannery. Payne was captured, but accounts vary as to who actually captured him.

More Confederates arrived to join the fight, including JEB Stuart himself. They were met by more Union cavalry in the vicinity of the Karle Forney farm. In the confusion, Stuart was nearly surrounded. He and a staff officer fled through the hedges along a farm lane, and were forced to jump this very ditch to get to safety. They were not pursued by Federal cavalry.

It makes interesting food for thought to imagine how much different Gettysburg and the rest of the war would have been had Stuart been unsuccessful in jumping the ditch and been killed, wounded, or captured.

Check out the ditch next time you're in Hanover if you haven't seen it. It's on Westminster Ave., off of Frederick St. and just a short distance from the Hanover square. The Forney Farm site, the Winebrenner Tannery, and several other interpretative markers are only a short distance from it.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Fannie the Bomber Pilot...

...wants to remind everybody to come to the Carroll County Regional Airport in Westminster, MD the weekend of Oct. 11-13. The Collings Foundation will have a B-17 bomber, a B-24 bomber and a P-51 Mustang fighter there. They will be open for tours and plane rides, and there will be living history displays. Fannie might even be there for awhile on Sat. the 12th for photos and to visit.


So, after my post the other day, I've received a few emails from people who have never been to Hanover, or from people who have been here but never realized that anything significant in regard to the Gettysburg Campaign happened here. In all cases they ask basically the same questions; "What's left?", and "What is there to see to learn about the battle?".

To answer them both, I think there's a lot of significant things to see, and a lot that is marked and interpreted. It can be done in a brief visit, or you can dig deep, do some walking, do some exploring, and spend a good amount of time seeing it. A trip to find Hanover's Civil War treasure is time well spent no matter how long you stay.

(Shameless book selling pitch time): Plenty of Blame to Go Around, by Eric Wittenberg and J. David Petruzzi actually features a very good narrative of the battle of Hanover. At the end there's gold; it features a driving tour with distances and directions of where to go and what to see in Hanover. In fact, the driving tour traces Stuart's route from Westminster to Gettysburg, so it's not limited to the Hanover area.

Briefly, on the Hanover square, or in close proximity, you can find a memorial to all who fought, "The Picket" monument, and his companion, "Mr. Mike", the dog eternally at his side. There's also Kilpatrick's headquarters, Custer's headquarters, the site of the "Custer Maple", the No. 1 Parrott rifle, and various interpretive markers. 

The Hanover Theater, though not open at present, features portraits and paintings outside that are related to the battle and the major players in the Civil War. Please excuse the wrong date on the tablet. It says that the battle happened in 1883.

Nearby are the Sheppard Mansion, the site of the Winebrenner Tannery, the ditch that Stuart jumped on Westminster Ave, and various waysides and markers that detail the battle. Also scattered in abundance throughout Hanover are buildings and homes that were here during the battle. Many are on Broadway Ave in close proximity to the square and are worth seeing. There is a wayside on Broadway that locates and identifies several historic buildings.

With the help of the Internet, or the driving tour in Plenty of Blame to Go Around, you can locate such things as the opening area of the battle, Stuart's position when the battle started, the Jesse Rice farm location, the route of the captured wagon trains, and many other little-known and often-overlooked sites of interest.

Lastly, no tour of Hanover is complete without a stop in Mt. Olivet Cemetery. Confederate artillery dueled with Federal artillery on the heights on the opposite side of town from this cemetery. Cannon from both sides fired directly over the town, and as can be expected, several rounds fell short into the town or exploded overhead. Mt. Olivet also features the gravesites of many of Hanover's prominent and wealthy residents, the Hanover Civil War Memorial, and the gravesites of some of Hanover's Civil War veterans. In itself, this cemetery is a treasure, and any time spent there will be both worthwhile and rewarding.

So, Civil War Hanover is out there waiting to be explored. Some of it is right in the open just asking to be seen. A lot of it is hidden, but it can be easily found by those who take the time to look for it.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Its elegance, its engines,...

...its exciting new features, 
make other cars seem ordinary.

That's how Ford tried to advertise the Edsel. On Sept. 4, 1957 the first Edsels rolled off of the Ford assembly lines amid considerable publicity on what Ford called "E Day"! It was also promoted on a top television show, "The Edsel Show", but no marketing hype or campaign could overcome the buying public 's negative reaction to the Edsel's styling or design.

The Edsel offered several new features, including its rolling dome speedometer, low oil level and high engine temperature warning lights, and Push-button teletouch transmission shifting button in the center of the steering column. Advertised as a "revolutionary new concept", the Edsel actually shared several design and body features common with other Ford models, and which were apparent when seeing the cars in person. Other Edsel design innovations included ergonomically designed instruments and controls, child-proof rear door locks which could only be opened with a key, seat belts, and self adjusting brakes (claimed by Ford to be the first of their kind, but which actual were perfected in earlier Studebaker models).

Despite the hype, the innovation, and the strong marketing campaign, the Edsel was a flop. In its first year, 63,110 Edsels sold in the US, making it the second most successful initial vehicle launch, even though it was far short of Ford's expectations. 4935 models also were sold in Canada.

In the 1959 model year, 44,891 Edsels sold in the US, and 2505 were sold in Canada. In 1960, the last year of the Edsel, only 2846 units were made. Total Edsel sales were right around 116,000 which was half of Ford's projected "break-even" number, the number required to turn a profit. Ford lost $350 million on the project, or nearly $2.7 billion in today's dollars.

Why didn't the Edsel sell? Was it the design claimed to be radically new, but actually evident in other Ford models? Was it the revolutionary new features advertised but actually already in use by other manufacturers? No one seems to know for sure, but today fewer than 10,000 Edsels are thought to survive. Mint and rare specimens can bring over $100,000 on the collector market. Obviously the morbid curiosity with "Ford's flop" continues. We may never understand why, but the Edsel mystique continues to inspire curiosity.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

On this day in history... 1189, Richard Cromwell, aka Richard the 1st, aka Richard the Lionheart, is crowned King of England in Westminster Abbey. Richard was most notable for being the orchestrator the 3rd Crusade.

In 1783, the Treaty of Paris was signed, officially ending the rebellion of the American colonies against the English crown. The rag-tag band of rebels, with more than a little help from some friends, defeated the strongest military nation in the World at the time, and the great experiment in freedom and democracy began.

Also on this date, in 1939, Britain and France officially declared war on Germany for Germany's invasion of Poland. As many as 70 million people would die over the next 6 years as the World  was plunged into the greatest chaos of death and destruction in history. The Second War to End All Wars would end in 1945 with the total military defeat of Germany, and with two atomic bombs being dropped on Japan.

Monday, September 2, 2013

It's too bad you had to move to Hanover.

You love Gettysburg so much I bet you wish you could have stayed where it happened and not had to move so far away, right?

I get it. I've only got that a few times so far, but let's clarify. It's the basis for a good blog post, so let me first say what's around us, and what we're right in the middle of. In later posts, I'll go into some of the things in more detail in the coming days.

I've gone into this same topic when I lived in Gettysburg, and I won't get bogged down again. Just remember, there's more to the Gettysburg Campaign than three days of fighting in Gettysburg. Gettysburg was a large campaign that lasted for over a month. It was spread out over an extremely vast amount of territory through three states. The culmination of the campaign was the three fierce days of fighting, but the campaign did not end until the pursuit ended on July 14, when the ANV crossed the Potomac River. 

The Battle of Hanover took place on June 30, 1863 in and around the center square and the town of Hanover. It involved Union cavalry forces under the command of Judson Kilpatrick, and was the first significant combat action of the newly-promoted Elon Farnsworth and George Custer in their new rank of Brigadier General.

On the Confederate side, JEB Stuart's lengthy delay, and eventual withdrawal from Hanover would basically end any chance that Stuart would have of linking with Ewell's Corps and the main body of the Army of Northern Virginia. Custer would fight Stuart first in Hanover, again on July 2nd in Hunterstown, and once more on July 3 just east of Gettysburg. The Battle of Hanover would produce over 325 casualties, so in actuality it was no small affair.

The Hanover square is less than a mile from our new residence. Keeping an eternal vigilance over the Hanover square is "the Picket", a tribute to all who fought here. We'll get more into the story of the Picket, and "Mr. Mike", the dog sculpture who is now his faithful companion, in an upcoming post.

During the Hanover engagement, JEB Stuart and some of his staff would avoid capture by jumping a 15ft wide drainage ditch on Westminster Avenue. It is 1 1/2 miles away.

Kilpatrick's headquarters, Custer's headquarters, and the so-called "Custer Maple" location are on the square, less than a mile away. Also nearby is the Number One Parrott rifle.

Stuart would position an artillery battery in Mt. Olivet Cemetery. It is 1 1/2 miles away, and it will be the subject of an upcoming post.

A Confederate Colonel, Wm Payne, was thrown from his horse and into a tanning vat at the Winbrenner Tannery and would be captured as a result. It's just over a mile away.

At the start of the fighting in Hanover, Judson Kilpatrick was a four miles north of Hanover near Abbottstown. When he heard the fighting, he made a mad rush back to Hanover to assess and try to take control of the situation. The Abbottstown Rd, currently Broadway Ave is 1/2 block from our new place, which means Kilpatrick basically rode through our neighborhood.

So, when thinking of Gettysburg, don't overlook the vastness of the territory encompassed by the entire campaign. A person may not live in or near Gettysburg; that doesn't mean they aren't "where it happened." As I see it, we're still right in the middle of it all. In this case, however, the "all" is some of the more obscure, though still significant, cavalry fighting, the result of which would affect the three day battle still to come.