New (sort of) Blog on WordPress: Fleeing Nergal, Seeking Stars

Fellow skeptic and blogger, Aaron Adair–a grad student at (the) Ohio State University–has finally switched from blogspot to wordpress!  And aren’t we happy he did?  Makes it much easier to report and share his awesome work on various subjects ranging from history to science (predominantly science).  Here is his inaugural wordpress post:

I received some advice about posting at WordPress instead of Blogspot, so here is the start of a new beginning. I have brought over all my content from my original blog, and I’ll see which is best for me.

via Now Posting at WordPress | Fleeing Nergal, Seeking Stars.

And here are some links to some blogs of his you’re going to want to read:

Honestly, you will want to just go there and read his stuff.  Also, add him to your blogroll and start following him so he stays on wordpress!

Some Great Historical Gems in PA: Eckley Miners Village and M&H Railroad

To continue with my Civil War-themed posts for the next few days, I thought I tell my readers about some excellent little side trips and attractions in Pennsylvania that I really enjoyed going to and that are sort of ‘hidden away’.  In August and September, a group of us went to Eckley Miner’s Village and the Middletown & Hummelstown Railroad respectively.  Here are some tidbits about them and some pictures for your enjoyment (or not, who knows).

Eckley Miner’s Village: Civil War Living History Weekend

This small little patch of Victorian Era bliss is hidden away near Freeland, PA.  It grew as part of the expansion of the coal industry (which utilized canal boat travel and rail travel) prior to the Civil War and was predominantly run by immigrants–many of whom thought they were getting a better life but, as it turned out, found that their lives in the US were not all that different than they were back in the ‘old country’.

The town is a living testament to their conditions–it has remained, essentially, a ghost town (though some houses are occupied on the main street), acquired by the state–it is one of the largest Victorian Era mining towns that I’ve seen.  The houses have been restored (and continue to be restored) but it is incredible how small they are and, interestingly enough, one house would house anywhere between 15-30 people on average.  There were only two streets in Eckley (one is now gone) and the town–perhaps a little over a mile long–boasted a population of over a thousand at its peek.

We visited Eckley for their annual Civil War Living History event.  We went on a Sunday, but the town was still crowded with tourists and living historians in period attire.  Several reenacting groups attend every year and camp out in various parts of town and put on demonstrations–and also a skirmish (which is always really cool to see).

Eckley is beautiful, quiet, and completely awesome; they are constantly doing fun little events and if you live in PA or are looking for a little place to stop on your way through–this is a must see.

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M&H Railroad: Civil War Remembered

A few weekends ago, we took a day trip to Middletown–it is a hike from where I live, but it was well worth it.  The railroad station is quite small but the town (which also hosts a Penn State satellite campus) is nice.  Interestingly enough, the station was turned into a junkyard for some time–the trains and rail ways were left untouched.  When the effort came to clean it up, the station was refurbished and now they have great events there (like a dinner/mystery theater event–on the train!).

We went down for the Civil War Remembered event.  Like Eckley, reenactors camp out near the station at a local park and visitors are permitted to walk through the camp and ask questions, watch firing demonstrations and for the big event, a reenactment that is definitely worth checking into.

I won’t give away too much of the plot, but all the visitors board the train along with a group of prisoners who are being guarded–on their way to a prisoner exchange.  The train makes its way there and some really cool  stuff happens along the way.  At one point the train stops at a field where passengers can watch a battle unfold.  It is a really neat event.

The slideshow shows both events (the first half or so are Eckley, and the second half are M&H RR). 

Even for the Civil War Historian, Facts are Hard to Nail Down

As a fan of American Civil War history (for a while in my early 20’s I was unsure which direction in the field of history I would head), I have always found it interesting that, despite the high literacy of the troops and the amount of letters and correspondence we have from both armies, how incredibly complicated it is to narrow down ‘what happened’.  Even something such as figuring out how many Confederate casualties there had been during the Gettysburg Campaign seems to be a troubling challenge.  D. Scott Hartwig had this to say:

A further drain on the army’s manpower was the high number of desertions it experienced through July and into September. Using a variety of methods General Lee managed to staunch the flow of desertions that early fall. And in a testament to his administrative and organizational skills, he reorganized and rebuilt his army so that it was ready for the spring campaign of 1864. Yet good as that army was it never again approached the army Lee led to Gettysburg in size or offensive capability.

via “. . . in my opinion the army will never be made up of such material again” – Confederate Losses at Gettysburg | From the Fields of Gettysburg.

You’ll want to read the whole post to see why he says what he says.

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