An Action-Packed Bicentennial Year!

The cover of the paperback edition.

The cover of the paperback edition.

With George Meade’s 199th birthday ceremony rapidly receding in the rear view, it’s time to look forward at the next big events in the Meade universe. There are several coming right up. The first will take place way across the Atlantic Ocean on January 30, when the city of Cadiz, Spain will unveil a plaque on the house where the future general was born on December 31, 1815. The event, sponsored by the Literary, Artistic and Scientific Athenaeum of Cadiz, will take place at noon at the Plaza de España n.4. The American ambassador to Spain, the mayor of Cadiz, and the U.S. Naval commander at Rota will attend. I wish I had the budget to get there myself! I will try to obtain some photos from the ceremony and post them here.

The next big event—from my standpoint, anyway—will be the paperback publication of Searching for George Gordon Meade: The Forgotten Victor of Gettysburg. That will be available on February 1, for the very affordable price of $19.95. If you don’t already have the book, here’s your chance to correct the oversight.

February is also the month for the annual Meade Symposium, sponsored by the General Meade Society of Philadelphia. The date this year will be Sunday, February 15, and the venue West Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia. Bad snowstorms last year forced the cancellation of the event, so keep your fingers crossed that the weather goods are feeling more beneficent in 2015. It should be a fun and fascinating day (I’ve posted the program below. Click on the image to enlarge.) Dr. Andy Waskie will talk about Meade’s early life, Jerry McCormick will discuss Meade’s military career through Fredericksburg, Ralph Peters will handle the rest of the Civil War, and I’ll talk about Meade’s post-war life. Jim Schmick of Civil War and More will be on hand with a fine selection of books, and the always dependable Kearney Kommissary will provide food. Make your reservation now!

The program for the 2015 Meade Symposium. Click to enlarge.

The program for the 2015 Meade Symposium. Click to enlarge.

2015 is, of course, Meade’s bicentennial year, and already my calendar is filling with Meade-centric events. I have talks scheduled for Chicago, Milwaukee, Petersburg, Chambersburg, Richmond, Gettysburg and Philadelphia. You can keep abreast of events right here.

And if you want a place to write things down, boy, do I have a calendar for you!

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Visiting the Dead

Civil War soldiers, Union and Confederate, are buried in Harrisburg Cemetery.

Civil War soldiers, Union and Confederate, are buried in Harrisburg Cemetery.

Yesterday (September 8, 2013) I drove over to Harrisburg Cemetery in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to take a tour offered by the Camp Curtin Historical Society. Our guide was Jim Schmick, the society’s founder and president. Jim is also the owner of Civil War and More in Mechanicsburg and a seemingly inexhaustible source of knowledge about the Civil War and local history. For more than two hours Jim showed us around the cemetery as he told stories about the people buried there and tied in their lives to the places and events of Harrisburg’s past. There was nothing here particularly Meade related, but we visited governors and the city of Harrisburg’s first mayor, stopped by the grave of Andrew David Porter, who served on George Washington’s staff, and saw the grave of Simon Cameron, Lincoln’s first secretary of war.

Of course, we went to see John Geary’s grave. Geary commanded a division of the XII Corps at Gettysburg (where he unfortunately got lost while leading his men to reinforce the Union left on July 2) and was also the mayor of San Francisco, the territorial governor of Kansas, and the governor of Pennsylvania. Quite a career.

The cemetery, founded in 1845 on 12 acres, has grown to cover 35 acres. It’s still an active cemetery and it is suitably atmospheric. I’ve posted a few photos–click on them to see larger versions.

The cemetery gatehouse. Harrisburg Cemetery is a stop along the Pennsylvania Civil War Trails (and I wrote about it in my book of the same name).

The cemetery gatehouse. Harrisburg Cemetery is a stop along the Pennsylvania Civil War Trails (and I wrote about it in my book of the same name).

Jim Schmick shows us a brochure from the cemetery's 150th anniversary in 1995.

Jim Schmick shows us a brochure from the cemetery’s 150th anniversary in 1995.

The Pennsylvania State Capitol is visible through the trees. George Grey Barnard, who created some of the statuary for the building, is buried here.

The Pennsylvania State Capitol is visible through the trees. George Grey Barnard, who created some of the statuary for the building, is buried here.

John White Geary had an impressive life as a soldier and a politician.

John White Geary had an impressive life as a soldier and a politician.

In this closeup of the Geary statue, you can see the dings from bullets that someone recently fired at it.

In this closeup of the Geary statue, you can see the dings from bullets that someone recently fired at it.

Jim tells us about Joseph Knipe, the officer who named Harrisburg's Camp Curtin after the then-governor of Pennsylvania.

Jim tells us about Joseph Knipe, the officer who named Harrisburg’s Camp Curtin after the then-governor of Pennsylvania.

Simon Cameron, Lincoln's first secretary of war, is buried here. Cameron's combination of corruption and incompetence forced Lincoln to replace him with Edwin Stanton and ship Cameron off to Moscow to serve as envoy there.

Simon Cameron, Lincoln’s first secretary of war, is buried here. Cameron’s combination of corruption and incompetence forced Lincoln to replace him with Edwin Stanton and ship Cameron off to Moscow to serve as envoy there.

The only Medal of Honor recipient buried here, Charles C. Davis earned his honors with the 7th PA Cavalry at the Battle of Shelbyville.

The only Medal of Honor recipient buried here, Charles C. Davis earned his honors with the 7th PA Cavalry at the Battle of Shelbyville.

As good a place to end the tour as any.

As good a place to end the tour as any.