"Peculiarly distinguished among the advance guard, where all were distinguished, must be recorded . . . Private J. W. Brown, of Company F, First Georgia Regiment, who, upon hearing the order to fall back, exclaimed, 'I will give them one more shot before I leave,' and while ramming down his twenty-ninth cartridge fell dead at his post." - General Henry R. Jackson in his report of the Battle of Greenbrier River.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Gettysburg Casino

The Civil War Preservation Trust has just issued a news release on a new study showing the adverse impact of the proposed Mason-Dixon Casino at Gettysburg. 

 * * * * * * * * *


Examination discloses that casino would have “serious, substantial and sustained adverse impacts” to the Gettysburg Battlefield and surrounding community

(Gettysburg, Pa.) – Today a coalition of preservation groups working with local business owners involved in Businesses Against the Casino released an independent assessment of the potential impacts of gaming on Gettysburg and Adams County. The report, Impacts of the Proposed Mason-Dixon Casino on the Gettysburg Area – A Realistic Assessment, found that the application for a resort casino license near Gettysburg greatly exaggerates the economic impact of the proposal and ignores the “serious, substantial and sustained adverse impacts” it poses for existing businesses and the battlefield.

The report was commissioned by the Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT), National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), National Trust for Historic Preservation and Preservation Pennsylvania on behalf of the Adams County organization Businesses Against the Casino. Author Michael Siegel of Public and Environmental Finance Associates of Washington, D.C., has more than 30 years experience in public and environmental finance and impact analysis.

“Appropriate scrutiny shows the analysis performed by Mason-Dixon in support of its application to be insufficient and amateurish,” said CWPT president James Lighthizer. “The document mentions no potential impacts on the Borough of Gettysburg — where existing businesses are at ground zero for negative fallout — despite explicit requirements for such consideration in application materials.”

“Gettysburg National Military Park is already an economic engine for the surrounding communities,” said Cinda Waldbuesser, NPCA Pennsylvania senior program manager. “This independent analysis shows that Mason Dixon’s promises of economic gain are exaggerated and ignore the impacts that the casino will have on the park. Licensing a casino so close to the battlefield would put a known economic engine at risk in favor of an unknown venture.”

Based on the many important findings revealed in A Realistic Assessment, Charles McElhose, a local business owner and a spokesman for Businesses Against the Casino, believes it should be required reading for every business owner and local resident.

“Claims made about a project of this scale must be able to withstand close examination,” said McElhose. “Many things were unaccounted for, or perhaps purposefully omitted, in the Mason-Dixon impact report. This new analysis is crucial to obtaining a full understanding of the impacts this casino will have on our community. It stands to affect the bottom line of every local business — especially those serving heritage tourists, but, likewise, the companies that provide products and services to those businesses. There is very real potential for a “snowball effect” that could devastate our economy.”

Key findings of A Realistic Assessment include:


Casino proponents claim the facility will bring hundreds of good jobs to the community. By comparing apples to oranges, the Local Impact Report confidently announces that the facility will create approximately 900 “net new jobs” for Adams County. That figure, however, is a confused and deceptive jumble of “full-time equivalent,” full- and part-time jobs to which further ancillary positions were also added, based on an inappropriate, misleading, and undocumented statistical multiplier. This causes the LIR’s projection of jobs to be unreliable and overstated.

The LIR’s economic analysis does not mention the actual number of on-site jobs it has assumed to be at the proposed casino, instead citing a figure of 375 full-time equivalent jobs. As A Realistic Assessment documents, this is actually a mix of 1,087 full and part-time jobs. Realizing that the average salary is $17,061 per year — just $.95 above state minimum wage requirements— indicates that the majority of those positions will be part-time jobs rather than full-time or career positions.


Among the most unreasonable assertions put forward in the Mason-Dixon LIR is that the proposed casino would support more jobs per gaming position — the individual seats for gamblers at a slot machines and table games — than the largest, highest-value destination casino in Atlantic City, N.J. Based on Mason-Dixon’s projections, the casino would employ 1.21 individuals per gaming position (nearly 1,100 jobs for 900 gaming seats). By contrast, Atlantic City’s Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa, the second largest casino complex in the country, has a ratio of just 1.19 jobs per gaming position, while the average for Atlantic City is .90. Adjusting the projections from the Crossroads Gaming Resort and Spa — proposed for the identical market area in 2005–2006 — to include the same number of table games, it would yield only .55 jobs per seat.

The Applicant claims its facility — serving a primarily local and convenience market — would proportionally have more jobs than Atlantic City’s Borgata resort complex, which dwarfs Mason-Dixon in scale and scope. The estimated construction cost for Mason-Dixon is $27.03 million, while the 2009 value of the Borgata was $1.77 billion.


The LIR’s economic analysis is based on the odd proposition that none of Gettysburg’s existing businesses will be hurt when residents and current visitors spend their money at the proposed casino instead of local shops and restaurants. Based on the spending of local residents in other casino communities, area residents would annually gamble away $776 per person, or $68.3 million, at Mason Dixon — plus another nearly $18 million in estimated food, beverage and entertainment spending. Estimating half that sum would otherwise have been spent locally, that’s $43 million annually siphoned out of the pockets of local residents and businesses. Based on Mason-Dixon’s estimates, existing visitors to the community are conservatively estimated to spend an average of about $35 each at the casino, for a total annual diversion of about $78.4 million from existing county businesses, ultimately resulting in the loss of as many as 1,130 existing jobs in the community. Many positions, following the spending that supports them would be transferred to the proposed casino. But the LIR fails to recognize this, as its methodology is incapable of distinguishing between a legitimate net new job and one transferred from a local business.


The previous application for a casino oriented to the identical market area as Mason-Dixon relied heavily on touting Vicksburg, Miss., as a model of how a casino would affect Gettysburg and the surrounding area — specifically that visitation to Vicksburg National Military Park (NMP) was unaffected and actually benefitted from the introduction of casinos. Vicksburg was once a close, second to Gettysburg, in visitation among National Park Service Civil War sites, but in 1994, the first year all four Vicksburg casinos were open, visitation plunged 20 percent. By 1998, visitation had ultimately recovered to its pre-casino level and remained relatively stable until Hurricane Katrina caused another steep decline in 2005. But the ability for visitation to Vicksburg’s historic battlefield to bounce back seems to be exhausted. Unlike other national parks in Mississippi and Louisiana, which have returned to their pre-hurricane levels, Vicksburg’s visitation remains at levels not seen since the imposition of visitor fees in the 1980s or the 1970’s oil embargo, and the link cannot be ignored or easily dismissed.

Vicksburg’s main casino complex lies about 2.5 miles south of its historic Main Street area, roughly 4 miles from the main entrance to Vicksburg NMP and 1 mile from the park boundary — distances that are comparable to the proposed Gettysburg site. Between 1992 and 1994, when visitation plummeted, traffic bypassing the park’s entrance increased by the same percentage, while traffic on a key access segment of old Highway 61 running directly to the casinos exploded by 64 percent. Today, traffic through downtown Vicksburg is 17 percent lower than it was in 1998. As A Realistic Assessment concludes: “The pattern is clear: traffic to casinos up; traffic and visitation at Vicksburg’s two most significant historical, cultural, and tourism sites down.”


In rejecting the 2006 Crossroads Application, the Gaming Control Board cited the applicant’s failure to adequately address its potential geographic disadvantage, as other neighboring states were contemplating adding or expanding their gambling options. Since then, the regional gaming landscape has changed dramatically. In West Virginia, table games have been added to existing casinos, including nearby Charles Town Races and Slots. Delaware will soon add table games of its own, and the nearby Dauphin County casino overlaps with the market area that Mason-Dixon would draw upon.

Most significantly, however, the LIR fails to note the effect of the soon-to-open Maryland casinos — which were only a possibility at the time of the 2006 application, although their impact was a serious concern to the PGCB. This could cause the proposed casino to lose tens of thousands — if not a hundred thousand or more of its expected visitors following their opening
More information about the CWPT's efforts to block the casino can be found here.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Flags of the First Georgia

When the various companies which would make up the First Georgia Infantry arrived in Macon, each one bore with them beautiful flags. As in communities across the South, these banners were most often sewn by groups of local ladies and presented to the troops in elaborate ceremonies. Many (if not most) of these flags were of a pattern mimicking the new national colors, known as the “Stars and Bars”. Today also known as the First National Flag of the Confederacy, the banner contained of a blue canton containing a pattern of stars, and the field consisted of three horizontal wide stripes (“bars”) of two red and one white.*

The first company to arrive at Macon’s Camp Oglethorpe in early April, 1861, was the Quitman Guards of Monroe County. The Guards’ flag, patterned after the First National, was described in an 1883 newspaper article about a regimental reunion of First Georgia veterans:

“The old flag of the Quitman Guards attracted a great deal of attention. It has many a ghastly gash where the vicious bullets split their way through its fleecy folds, but it is yet in a fair state of preservation, and though the white silk fringe with which fair hands decked its borders is stained and torn, its red, white and blue bars and golden stars stirs the memories of the heart and calls up again the dark days of ’61, when the pride of many a home and the idol of many a heart marched away so proudly away, never, alas, to return again, with it waving so gaily above them. I am as strong for fraternization as anybody, but if I am to do so at the expense of the memory of the men who fell under that flag I will have none of it. Thank heaven there are no longer any to say that the men who marched and fought under the stars and bars were not as noble, as brave, and as honest in their convictions as those who fought under the stars and stripes.”

The major difference between the Quitman Guards’ flag and most First National pattern banners is in the canton. Where in most flags the canton meets the seam of the lowest bar, covering the field of the top two bars, in the Guard’s banner the canton comes down just to the top seam of the middle, white bar. This is my rendering of this flag:

The Monroe County Historical Society holds a photograph of Monroe County veterans, a portion of which is at left. In the right background is displayed a First National Flag. During my research I was advised that this was probably the flag of the Fourteenth Georgia, which is now in the collection of the Georgia Capitol Museum in Atlanta, and can be seen here. Confederate flag authority Greg Biggs, who was of great help with I Will Give Them One More Shot, has studied the photo, and agrees that it is most likely the flag of the Quitman Guards. The flag in the photograph quite plainly displays a fringe, and though shows the obverse, there is no shadow or bleed through of lettering from the front side. The flag of the Fourteenth Georgia has the regiment’s name stenciled on the length of the white bar. Also, the canton of the Fourteenth’s flag projects slightly down into the white bar, while the canton of the flag in the veteran’s photograph appears to run even with the top and middle bars’ seams. Lastly, the Fourteenth’s flag shows no evidence of having had a fringe. It is quite possible that both flags were made by the same person or persons.
*A pet peeve of mine is today’s common habit of calling any Confederate flag the Stars and Bars – most frequently confusing it with the Battle Flag (or Southern Cross) with its St. Andrew’s cross.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

William Booth Taliaferro

When the First Georgia marched into the works at Laurel Hill, Colonel William B. Taliaferro (pronounced TOL-li-ver) of the Twenty-Third Virginia was more impressed with their uniforms than with their martial bearing. Born December 28, 1822, Taliaferro was educated at Harvard University and William and Mary, and served in the Eleventh and Ninth U.S. Infantry during the Mexican War. He was a member of the Virginia legislature from 1850 to 1853. After John Brown’s raid in 1859, Taliaferro was assigned as commander of Virginia militia at Harper’s Ferry, and following Virginia’s secession was promoted to major-general of the state’s militia. Appointed as colonel of the Twenty-Third Virginia Infantry in May of 1861, Taliaferro was assigned to General Garnett’s Army of the Northwest. Friction quickly developed between Taliaferro and the Georgians, partially due to the fact that, even though Ramsey’s military experience was miniscule compared to Taliaferro’s, Ramsey’s commission predated the Virginian’s. After General Garnett was killed at Corricks Ford, Ramsey was ill and unable to take charge, so Colonel Taliaferro directed the army’s retreat until Colonel Ramsey recovered enough to assume command.

During the Battle of Greenbrier River, Taliaferro commanded General Henry R. Jackson’s center, and upon Jackson’s departure from the army, Taliaferro was given his brigade. Friction continued between Taliaferro and the Georgians – at one point the colonel was assaulted by a drunken Georgia soldier.

Late in 1861, Taliaferro’s brigade, along with two others from the Army of the Northwest, were ordered to Winchester to join General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson command. On January 1, 1862, Jackson embarked on his Romney Campaign, during which his soldiers suffered greatly during prolonged marches in snow and ice. After Romney was occupied on January 14, Jackson decided to leave the three brigades of the Army of the Northwest to garrison the town, and returned with his “Stonewall” Brigade to Winchester. This led to hard feelings among the officers and men of the Northwestern army.

Fed up with the squalid conditions in Romney, most of the officers of the Army of the Northwest signed the infamous “Romney Petition,” which declared that the town was exposed and indefensible, and to implore the leadership to order the army’s removal. Obtaining leave, Taliaferro traveled to Richmond to plead the army’s case directly to Jefferson Davis, Alexander Stephens and Judah P. Benjamin. The Petition, Taliaferro’s politicking and other factors convinced Davis that Romney should be evacuated, so he instructed Benjamin to order Jackson to withdraw the troops to Winchester. Jackson did so, but incensed over having his authority overridden, submitted his resignation. (He was persuaded later to relent) The ill will between Jackson and Army of the Northwest commander General William W. Loring led the authorities in Richmond to break up the Northwestern army, sending some units west, and added all the Virginia units, including Taliaferro’s troops, to Jackson’s Valley Army.

Promoted to Brigadier General in March of 1862, Taliaferro continued to command a brigade under Jackson, and was wounded at the Battle of Second Manassas. After a period of convalescence, he returned to army prior to the Battle of Fredericksburg. Following that campaign, Taliaferro was transferred to District of Savannah, then later Eastern Florida. He led a division at the Battle of Bentonville, and finished the war in command of South Carolina forces.

Returning home, Taliaferro was appointed to a judgeship, and reentered politics as a member of the Virginia legislature. He also served on the boards of visitors of the College of William and Mary and VMI. Taliaferro died on February 27, 1898, and is buried in Gloucester County, Virginia.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

General Robert S. Garnett

After two and a half months of relatively quiet service in Florida, the First Georgia was ordered to Richmond. The regiment’s stay there was brief, for after only a few days Ramsey and his men were ordered to the western reaches of Virginia, there to augment the newly formed Army of the Northwest, commanded by Brigadier General Robert Selden Garnett. Born in Virginia on December 16, 1819, Garnett graduated 27th in his West Point class of 1841. His military career included service in the Fourth U.S. Artillery during the Mexican War, as well as stints in the Seventh and Ninth U.S. Infantries and First U.S. Cavalry. He was appointed Assistant Instructor of Infantry Tactics at West Point in 1843, and served as the Academy’s Commandant from November 1852 to July 1854. While carrying dispatches to San Francisco in 1849, Garnett sketched a design that was later adopted as the California State Seal.

Devastated when his wife and only child died of disease in 1858, Garnett took an extended leave of absence and traveled to Europe. He returned home one month before Virginia’s secession, at which time he resigned his commission in the U.S. Army. Shortly thereafter he was commissioned as Colonel and appointed adjutant general of Virginia. After the humiliating Confederate defeat at Phillippi on June 3, 1861, Garnett was promoted to brigadier general and given command of the forces in Western Virginia, from which the Army of the Northwest was created. Garnett’s forces entrenched at Laurel Hill and Rich Mountain to guard vital roadways passing through the Allegheny Mountains. Following the defeat of his troops at Rich Mountain on July 11, Garnett retreated from Laurel Hill, first south toward his depot at Beverly, then north toward Maryland. Skirmishes between his troops and pursuing Union forces occurred at Kalers Ford and the two river crossings of Corricks Ford. At the second Corricks Ford crossing, Garnett was killed by Union fire, earning the dubious honor of being the first general officer on either side to be killed in the Civil War. His body was recovered by Federal troops, and was taken by family members to Baltimore. Following the end of the war, Garnett’s remains were reinterred next to his wife and child in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York. His monument makes no mention of his military service, but a veteran’s stone placed later says “Brig Gen Robert S. Garnett CSA 1819 1861.”