I joined the other six at Shade Gap, PA at 7:00AM on the 27th, and we rode to Chambersburg for our first fuel-up. I’m not going to give a blow by blow account of the journey; because for me the journey is partly the ride to and from any destination. Each person on the ride could give you a different view of what they enjoyed most and they would certainly be correct.
Our ride first would take us to Gettysburg. You know Gettysburg! It’s that place in Pennsylvania where many people think was the only battle fought during the entire war. NOT; it may or not have been the turning point of the war, but it certainly wasn’t the only battle.
(Keep up with the weekly battle listing, and those KIA-DOD-WIA from Juniata County, on my facebook account at Red Husler.)
At Gettysburg, the new visitor’s center is on Baltimore Street extended. We spent about three hours viewing the introduction film then the revitalized Cyclorama, and finally spent some time with their vast collection of battlefield artifacts. The Cyclorama to me is always a highlight when I visit town. Next we went to the Wheatfield, where the 148th fought so valiantly 151 years ago. Here we sat reverently and discussed what they did there. Then it was on the road again.
We next rode to Monocacy, Maryland. This little known battle had an important railroad junction and bridge that was vital to both sides. At this site is an electric map highlight troop movements for a good visual and sound effect of what happened. It was also the site that General Lee’s aid lost General Order #191. This would change the outcome of the next couple weeks.
From Monocacy we rode the Leesburg, Virginia, the site of the Battle of Ball’s Bluff early in the war. It was here that California Senator Edward Baker was killed. After trying to raise the 1st California, Baker then raised the 2nd California from poor Irish from Philadelphia. When Baker was killed at the bluff, the 2nd became the 24th PVI. It’s a strange and long story.
From Leesburg we rode to Hagerstown, Maryland to our hostess for the night. The next morning; some of us rose very late. This won’t happen again. Our group of riders likes to ride from sunrise to sunset. That’s the way we’ve been doing it, to maximize the amount of daylight hours as possible.
9:30 AM Saturday, we rode through Funkstown, Maryland, which was part of Lee’s retreat after Gettysburg. We didn’t stop because we were on our way to Boonesboro for the Battle of South Mountain. This Union victory won two important mountain passes, Turner and Fox Passes. South Mountain also had an electric map. At this park we climbed about a ¼ mile to the original Washington Monument, built in 1827.
From Boonesboro, we rode to Harpers Ferry, Virginia. This was my fourth visit, but for some others, it was their first. This of course was the site of John Brown’s raid and where he was hung for this act of treason.
We left Harpers Ferry and rode on a rather interesting road named Sandy Hook Road. It’s just on the other side of the Shenandoah River, next to the C& O Canal. The road is like being on a roller coaster with many twists and turns, ups and downs, making for a very nice ride to our next destination.
Sharpsburg is the site of the deadliest single day of the war. It was this battle September 17th 1862, that, twenty three thousand casualties occurred in just twelve hours of fighting. We didn’t really tour the battle field; but instead visited the cemetery where many of these guys are buried. To me this is the sobering part of the war. It’s the place and the honor we pay to those who died to defend and preserve the union which we still have.
At Sharpsburg, Maryland we rested a while, then departed for home, taking as many back roads as practicable. 65-63-68-75 then I road on 75 till I got home. The rest of the crew returned on 641- 522 and 22 till they got closer to their home base.
All in all it was a fairly safe ride on our part. We sincerely feel bad for those four wheel vehicles who found it necessary to leave their brain at home and then got behind the wheel. I guess we live in a free country and they have the right to act stupid if they want. I just wish they would kill themselves on the road instead of risking-taking us with them…
While at Sharpsburg I picked up a tour book we’ll use on our next ride. From Petersburg to Appomatox is an interesting three day, two night trip. The first day will probably be just getting to Petersburg and tour around the city battle sites. Then we’ll ride most of the next two days getting to the end of the war…
REMEMBER MOTORCYCLES ARE EVERY WHERE… IT’S OUR ROAD TOO…
Donald “Red Hagar” Husler
PS: More photos here