Archive for August, 2010

Civil War Tour 200K - September 18, 2010

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

The Civil War Tour is a 200km trip through three years of the U.S. Civil War and four significant battlefields. Starting at the Frederick Perkins Restaurant & Bakery, the route first heads south to the Monocacy Battlefield. General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia camped there in September of 1862, during their first invasion of the north. It was at that site that Lee issued his famous “Special Orders No.191,” which ordered his army to be divided into multiple pieces. When Union soldiers later occupied the same area they found a lost copy of the orders wrapped around three cigars. Union General George McClellan recognized the significance of the find: he now knew that the Confederates were divided into relatively weak pieces as well as where he could attack them. So he ordered his Army of the Potomac to cross the passes of South Mountain (the Battle of South Mountain) and attack the main piece of Lee’s army that was situated on the other side. Our brevet route follows rolling terrain and a steep climb over Catoctin Mountain at Mar-Lu ridge to the southernmost of these passes at Crampton’s Gap, and to our second battlefield, South Mountain. Passing through the town of Burkittsville, the route climbs to the crest where it passes the only monument in the world dedicated to journalists killed in combat before plunging back down into Pleasant Valley.

The Confederates were pushed out of the passes in South Mountain but they delayed the Union advance long enough for Lee to set up a defensive position along the Antietam Creek near the small town of Sharpsburg, MD—the site of our third battlefield, Antietam. On September 17, 1862, Union forces attacked that defensive line in what is still the bloodiest single-day battle in US history, resulting in over 23,000 casualties. The battle was also a major turning point in the war since the Union victory permitted President Lincoln to announce the Emancipation Proclamation, which changed the reason the war was being fought from a war against states rights to a war against slavery. Our route descends South Mountain, follows Antietam Creek past Burnside Bridge, passes through the town of Sharpsburg, and arrives at the first control at the Battleview Market. It then makes a loop past the Cornfield, which was the site of intense fighting in the morning, and Bloody Lane, a sunken road that was the focus of fighting in the middle of the day. Leaving the battlefield, the route passes through Boonsboro, heading north before passing back over South Mountain on the last major climb of the route, and approaching our fourth battlefield at Gettysburg, PA in the year 1863.

Gettysburg was the battle with the largest number of casualties in the Civil War, and is often described as a major turning point of the war. Gettysburg ended Lee’s second invasion of the north, as Antietam had ended his first invasion in the previous year. Our route enters the southern end of the battlefield and turns north along what was the Union defensive line on Cemetery Ridge. The route passes a spot sometimes called “the high-water mark of the confederacy” because it was the spot of the deepest penetration by the Confederate Army of the Union Army’s lines during the battle, and also perhaps the best chance the Confederate Army had of achieving victory in the war. Then, after a stop at a control in the town of Gettysburg, the route passes the historic Lutheran Seminary, and heads south along the Confederate battle line on Seminary Ridge. After passing the section where the disastrous Confederate attack known as Pickett’s Charge was launched on the third day of the battle, the route loops around the southern end of the battlefield where Confederate General James Longstreet launched the attack on Little Round Top on the second day of the battle, finally exiting the battlefield near Little Round Top itself.

Heading south again, the route enters the year 1864 and follows fairly gentle, rolling terrain back to the Monocacy Battlefield. At that time Confederate General Jubal Early had marched north through the Shenandoah Valley and was under orders to turn southeast and attack Washington, DC. Until reinforcements arrived, the only thing standing between the Confederate army and DC was a ragtag group of 2,300 men commanded by Union General Lew Wallace. Reinforced by a few thousand additional men arriving by train from Baltimore, but still outnumbered by a ratio of nearly 3:1, Wallace set up defensive positions near the strategic railroad junction at Monocacy. Although the South won the resulting battle (the only Southern victory in the North), it delayed the Confederates long enough that reinforcements could reach DC. Therefore it is often called “the battle that saved Washington, DC.” Our route crosses over the rail junction before finishing at the Pizza Hut.

(Thanks to Brian Baracz of the US National Park Service at Antietam National Battlefield for reviewing the text and suggesting improvements.)

Cue Sheet and GPS Files for August 14 Warrenton (Old Rag) 200K ACP Brevet

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

The cue sheet for the Warrenton (Old Rag) 200K ACP brevet starting at the Howard Johnsons in Warrenton, VA at 7:00AM on August 14, 2010 is now posted at Cue Sheet - 20100814 Warrenton 200K Brevet. Be sure to park either at the high school indicated on the map or along Waterloo Rd. Do not park at the HoJos or nearby businesses.

The link to the GPS files is posted below. But please read this information before downloading them. Always get a copy of the final cue sheet. That final cue sheet contains the official route, so in case there is a conflict with the GPS file, you should resolve the conflict in favor of the cue sheet. Use the GPS as a handy-dandy adjunct. Keep your wits about you, as the GPS cannot notify you of road hazards — it is up to you to ride safely.

We strongly recommend that you set your GPS to the settings below. We cannot guarantee that these will keep you on the official route, but if you have your GPS set some other way, it is entirely possible that it will take you off route, possibly onto unsafe roads. Go to the Setup->Routing page and set as follows:

Guidance Method: Follow Road
Follow Road Method: Shortest Distance
Next Turn Pop-Up: On
Follow Road Options:
  Off Route Recalculation: Prompted
  Calculation Method: Best Route
  Calculate Routes for: Car/Motorcycle
  Avoid: (set to none – the route itself should control this)

By the way … make sure that your GPS either has maps already downloaded, or select the relevant maps around the routes.

GPS files are posted at GPS Files - 20100814 Warrenton 200K Brevet.