Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Kemper's Grave

Kemper's Grave, marker F-17 in Orange County, VAOrange County, VA
Marker No. F-17

Marker Text: A mile south is the grave of James Lawson Kemper, who led his brigade of Virginia troops in Pickett's charge at Gettysburg, July 3, 1863, and fell desperately wounded. He became a major-general in 1864. Kemper was governor of Virginia, 1874-1878.

Location: On Route 15, north of Orange, near Rapidan River bridge, near Orange/Madison County line. Marker is grouped with marker Z-12 (Madison/Orange County). Erected by the Virginia Conservation Commission in 1948.

  My last post was about the residence of Confederate General James L. Kemper in Madison, VA who commanded a brigade of Gen. George E. Pickett's division during Pickett's Charge on the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg. Kemper though seriously wounded survived his wounds.

  After 1882, Kemper moved to this area of Orange County, VA, just across the county line from Madison County, VA.  By 1858 Kemper was a brigadier general in the Virginia Militia. He also served three terms as a Virginia legislator, rising to become the Speaker of the House of Delegates at the start of the Civil War and the chairman of the Military Affairs Committee, where he was a strong advocate of state military preparedness.

Kemper's Grave, marker F-17 along U.S. Route 15 in Orange County, VA

Photo taken looking south on Route 15.  Road in the background on the right is the road leading to Kemper’s grave, but is on private property.  Click any photo to enlarge.

  After the start of the Civil War, Kemper served as a brigadier general in the Provisional Army of Virginia, and then a colonel in the Confederate States Army, commanding the 7th Virginia Infantry starting in May 1862. His regiment was assigned to A.P. Hill's brigade in James Longstreet's division of the Army of the Potomac from June 1861 to March 1862. He saw his first action at the First Battle of Bull Run or First Manassas.

James L. Kemper Residence

James L. Kemper Residence, marker JE-3 in Madison, VAMadison County, VA
Marker No. JE-3

Marker Text: This Greek Revival-style house was built about 1852 for state senator Thomas N. Welch. In 1868 James Lawson Kemper (1823-1895) purchased it from his mother-in-law, Mrs. Belfield Cave. Kemper, an attorney, represented Madison County in the House of Delegates (1853-1863), served as speaker (1861-1863), led a brigade in the Civil War, was wounded in Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg, and served as governor of Virginia (1874-1878). In 1882 he moved from Madison to Walnut Hills in Orange County.

Location: On Business Route 29 and Route 231, northern end of Madison near Ruth Road in the driveway for the residence. Erected by the Department of Historic Resources in 1991.

  Considering my interest in American history and many visits to Gettysburg, I enjoyed watching the movie made several years ago called, “Gettysburg.” With any movie attempting to cover a massive event, like the Battle of Gettysburg, the producers have to be selective concerning the specific events and individuals of the battle they cover. Of course, the movie covered the people and activities surrounding the third day of the battle, particularly Pickett's Charge. When it came to Pickett's Charge the movie concentrated on specific military officers from both sides. The movie focused on three specific officers who participated in Pickett's Charge and one of those officers was Confederate General James Lawson Kemper. When I was traveling through Madison, VA in 2009 and saw this marker I knew this name and why.

James L. Kemper Residence, JE-3 in front of Kemper's residence in Madison, VA

Photo taken in front of the residence, home is in the background. Click any photo to enlarge.

  During the American Civil War both sides had many officers who were not professional military officers. James Lawson Kemper was the youngest of the brigade commanders, and the only non-professional military officer, in the division that led Pickett's Charge, in which he was wounded and captured.

  James Kemper was a lawyer by profession and he was born in Mountain Prospect, Madison County, Virginia in 1823. He was the brother of F. T. Kemper (the founder of Kemper Military School). His grandfather had served on the staff of George Washington during the American Revolution, but he himself had virtually no military training.

  Kemper received his training and education as a lawyer at Washington College (now Washington and Lee College) in Lexington, VA graduating in 1842. After the start of the Mexican-American War, he enlisted and became a captain and assistant quartermaster in the 1st Virginia Infantry, but he joined the service in 1847, too late to see any combat action.

  By 1858 Kemper was a brigadier general in the Virginia Militia. He also served three terms as a Virginia legislator, rising to become the Speaker of the House of Delegates and the chairman of the Military Affairs Committee, where he was a strong advocate of state military preparedness.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Gettysburg Campaign

Gettysburg Campaign about First Day of Battle outside of Gettysburg, PAAdams County, PA

Marker Text: The Battle of Gettysburg began here the morning of July 1, 1863, when Union cavalry scouts under Gen. Buford met Gen. Hill's army advancing from the west. Arrival of Gen. Ewell's army that afternoon drove Union troops to south of the town.

Location: On U.S. Route 30 at the western approach to Gettysburg. Erected by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission in 1947.

Gettysburg Campaign about First Day of Battle along U.S. Route 30

View of the marker looking west toward Cashtown.  Confederate troops appeared along this road.  Click any photo to enlarge.

  As you approach Gettysburg from the west. On U.S. Route 30 from Chambersburg and Cashtown you enter Gettysburg on northwest side of town, you come to the statue of Brig. Gen. John Buford where the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg began. Today, the field where the Battle of Gettysburg was fought is covered by hundreds of markers, monuments, and memorials to the men from both sides that fought here between July 1-3, 1863.

Gettysburg Campaign about First Day of Battle, Buford Statue across the road.

Statue of Buford located across road from the marker, looking west on U.S. Route 30.

  Like, this state historical marker, it is only one of a few state historical markers located in and near the battlefield telling the visitor of the events related to the battle. I have photographed many Battle of Gettysburg monuments, but someone could spend several weeks photographing all the monuments and several years writing a blog telling the stories of this battle alone.

  On June 30, 1863, Union Cavalry under the command of Brigadier General John Buford entered Gettysburg, PA. Buford realized that the high ground south of the town would be key in any battle fought in the area. He recognized that any combat involving his cavalry division would be a delaying action at best. Buford ordered his men to dismount and posted his troopers on the low ridges north and northwest of this location with the goal of buying time for the army to come up and occupy the heights.