Junkie and Mrs. recently returned from a driving tour of up-state New York. Visits to the Revolutionary War Battlefield at Oriskany, Niagara Falls, Thomas Edison’s boyhood home in Milan, Ohio, Ft. Ticonderoga, and Bennington Battlefield were long anticipated places we planned to visit.
While en-route we encountered several other historical sites that we enjoyed. Three Civil War sites, little visited, turned up. The prisoner-of war camp on Johnson’s Island in Sandusky Bay was an adventure to find as we rode into the late afternoon in the mist. Nothing remains of the camp that was built to imprison about 2000 Confederate officers of all grades. The camp was the objective of Confederate raiders in 1864, but alas, their plot was foiled. Today only the cemetery and a monument statue is there holding the remains of 200 prisoners who died in confinement. We came, we saw, and we paid our respects.
The next opportunity was the Erie Maritime Museum in Erie, Pennsylvania, the site of Master Commandant Oliver Hazard Perry’s victory on 10 September 1813 over British Commander Robert Heriot Barclay in the Battle of Lake Erie. 2015 is the 200th anniversary of the US victory of the War of 1812.
The museum contains an interesting artifact that has Civil War import. The iron prow of the USS Michigan, later renamed the USS Wolverine, is in the collection saved from the scrap heap by a generous scrap dealer name Sam Tanenbaum in 1949. The side-wheel steamer USS Michigan was launched in 1843 and was the first iron-hulled ship in the US Navy. It was at the time the most technologically advanced warship in the Navy. The Michigan was the target of Confederate Acting Master John Yates Beall in his plot to capture the Michigan and use it to release the prisoners from Johnson’s Island. The iron prow is proudly on display and attests to a fine career of service. You may ask why this ship did not serve in the Union blockade of the Confederate coast? She was simply too large to pass through the locks of the canal joining Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. She did play a vital role in blunting the Finian attempt at starting a war with Great Britain by invading Canada.
The last point of interest relating to the Civil War was an unanticipated visit to the Vermont town of St Albans, site of the 1864 raid and bank heist. We saw Main Street of this lovely town and Church Street and in many ways it seemed unchanged except for the paving. TD Bank, the Franklin County Bank at that time, is still standing. The Taylor Park, where the citizens were held during the robbery, is still much the same and is located in front of the Historical Society Museum, then the St. Albans Academy. American Hotel, where some of the raiders stayed, is still there as is the St Albans House. Eighteen raiders names are known but many references cite 22 as the number who participated. One civilian, Elinus Morrison, was killed by the raiders. He was the only fatality although two other citizens and one raider were wounded.
Our last stop was to pay our respects to the 9/11 heroes of United Airlines Flight 93 at Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The spirit of America still lives!