John Thomas Lewis Preston’s account is as follows:
The execution is over, we have just returned from the field and I sit down to give you some account of it. The weather was very favorable: the sky was a little overcast, with a gentle haze in the atmosphere that softened without obscuring the magnificent prospect afforded here.
Between eight and nine o’clock, the troops began to put themselves in motion to occupy the positions assigned to them on the field, as designated on the plan I send you. Col. Smith had been assigned the superintendency of the execution, and he and his staff were the only mounted officers on the ground, until the Major-General and his staff appeared. By ten o’clock all was arranged. The general effect was most imposing, and, at the same time, picturesque.
The cadets were immediately in rear of the gallows with a howitzer on the right and left, a little behind, as to sweep the field. They were uniformed in red flannel shirts, which gave them a gay, dashing, Zouave look, and was exceedingly becoming, especially at the Battery. They were flanked obliquely by two Corps, the Richmond Grays (Greys) and Company F, which if inferior in appearance to the cadets, were superior to ant other company I ever saw outside of the regular army. Other companies were distributed over the field, amounting in all to about 800 men. The military force was about 1,500.
The whole enclosure was lined by cavalry troops posted as sentinels, with their officers — one on a peerless black horse, and another on a remarkable looking white horse, continually dashing round the enclosure. Outside rip this enclosure were other companies acting as rangers and scouts. The jail was guarded by several companies if infantry, and pieces of artillery were put into position for its defense.
Shortly before eleven o’clock the prisoner was taken from jail, and the funeral cortege was put into motion. First came three companies, then the criminal’s wagon, drawn by two large white horses. John Brown was seated on his coffin, accompanied by the sheriff and two other persons. The wagon drove to the foot of the gallows, and Brown descended with alacrity and without assistance, and ascended the steep steps to the platform. His demeanor was intrepid, without being braggart. He made no speech; whether he desired to make one or not, I do not know. He had desired it, it would not have been permitted. Any speech of his must, of necessity, have been unlawful, and as being directed against the peace and dignity of the Commonwealth, and such could not be allowed by those who were then engaged in the most solemn and extreme vindication of law.
His manner was without trepidation, but his countenance was not free from concern, and it seemed to me to have a little cast of wildness. He stood upon the scaffold but a short time, giving adieus to those about him, when he was properly pinioned, the white cap drawn over his face, the noose adjusted and attached to the hook above, and he was moved blindfold a few steps forward. It was curious to note how the instincts of nature operated to make him careful in putting his feet as if afraid he would walk off the scaffold. The man who stood unbalanced on the brink of eternity was afraid of falling a few feet off the ground.
He was now all ready. The sheriff asked him if he should give him a private signal before the final moment. He replied in a voice that seemed to me unnaturally natural, so composed was its tone, and so distinct its articulation, that ‘it did not matter to him, if only they would not keep him too long waiting”. He was kept waiting, however. The troops that had formed his escort had to be put into their position, and while this was going on, he stood for some ten or fifteen minutes blindfold, the rope around his neck, and his feet on the treacherous platform, expecting instantly the fatal act. But he stood for this comparatively long time upright as a soldier in position, and motionless.
I was close to him, and watched him narrowly, to see if I could perceive any signs of shrinking or trembling in his person, but there was none. Once I thought I saw his knees tremble, but it was only the wind blowing his loose trousers. His firmness was subjected to still further trial by hearing Colonel Smith announce to the sheriff, “We are all ready, Mr. Campbell.” The sheriff did not hear, or did not comprehend; and in a louder tone the same announcement was made. But the culprit still stood ready until the sheriff, descending the flight of steps, with a well-directed blow of a sharp hatchet, severed the rope that held up the trap door, which instantly sank beneath him, and he fell about three feet; and the man of strong and bloody hand, of fierce passions, of iron will, of wonderful vicissitudes, the terrible partisan of Kansas, the capturer of the United States. Arsenal at Harpers Ferry, the would-be Catiline of the South, the demi-god of the abolitionists, the man who is in his motives, his means, his plans, and his successes, must ever be a wonder, a puzzle, and a mystery — John Brown — was hanging between heaven and earth.
There was profound stillness during the time his struggles continued, growing feebler and feebler at each abortive attempt to breathe. He knees were scarcely bent, his arms were drawn up to a right angle at the elbow, with the hands clenched; but there was no writing of the body, no violent heaving of the chest. At each feebler effort at respiration his arms sank lower, and his legs hung more relaxed, until at last, straight and lank he dangled, swayed to and fro by the wind.
On December 2, 2020, Author Philip Andrew Hamilton visited the site of John Brown’s execution. The wagon that was used to take John Brown to the gallows is in the Jefferson County Musuem in West Virginia.
The Maryland State House, which was built during the British Colonial Era, served as the Maryland legislature and as the capital of the United States during the course of the Revolutionary War. At the end of the war, Congress ratified the “Treaty of Paris” and appointed Thomas Jefferson as a minister.
On September 14, 1786, the Annapolis Convention called for a, “Convention of States” to ratify the proposed United States Constitution.
During the summer of 1861, President Abraham Lincoln commissioned the United States Balloon Corps. The Union Army utilized the U.S. Balloon Corps in Virginia to observe various Confederate positions from afar.
Professor Thaddeus Sobieski Constantine Lowe was an aeronautics expert whom was utilized for various surveillance balloon launches. On April 13, 1862, Virginia Military Institute graduate John Randolph Bryan launched the first Confederate Army surveillance balloon by the Lee Hall Mansion of Newport News, Virginia.
A year after Lincoln established the U.S. Balloon Corps, the Confederate Aeronautic Corps was established. The Confederate Aeronautic Corps operated form 1862 to 1865.
Gary Francis Powers, Junior the son of Gary Francis Powers and Sue Powers established the original musuem in 1996 as a tribute to all Cold War veterans. Francis’s father had served as a U-2 pilot and as an American Cold War era spy. On May 1, 1960, the armed forces of the Soviet Union shot down Gary Francis Powers’s U-2 plane while he was conducting a reconnaissance mission.
During World War II, Vint Hill Farms hosted Japanese Americans whom helped the United States military intelligence interpret axis Japanese communications. During the Cold War the base was used in correspondence to spy missions on the Soviet Union. Vint Hill Farms was utilized as a covert operations center until 1997. Gary Francis Power, Junior established a traveling Cold War Museum in 1996, and in 2011 Francis established the permanent museum in Warrenton, Virginia.
On November 29, 2020, Philip Andrew Hamilton had the opportunity to visit the Cold War Museum and spoke with three military veterans; who were volunteers at the facility. Mike, a veteran of Vint Hill Farm, explained the technologies behind past communications devices used by military intelligence in addition to the fact that modern cellular phones utilize four types of radio technologies developed during the Cold War.
In 1786, Christopher Vaughn founded the town of Hampstead, Maryland, within Carroll County, on lands called “Spring Garden”.
On November 18, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln spoke to residents of Carisle, Pennslyvania, from his train, on his way to Gettysburg for his “Gettysburg Address”.
On June 30, 1863, the Battle of Sporting Hill, an engagement which occurred right before the Battle of Gettysburg, is considered to be the northernmost conflict between Confederate and Union soldiers during the Gettysburg Campaign. Some historians deem the conflict to be a skirmish due to the lessor amount of troops involved, compared to better known battles.
On June 30, 1863, the Battle of Hanover took place in Hanover, Pennslyvania.
Charles Carroll was known as a “First Citizen” who opposed Daniel Dulaney Junior’s “Fee Bill”.
In 1952, the land within Brooklandwood was used to build Saint Paul’s School. The Maryland Historical Trust and the Maryland State Highway Administration established a historical marker dedicated to Brooklandwood at the front entrance to Saint Paul’s School.
William Ball, President George Washington’s great-grandfather, arrived in Virginia in the 1650s. William Ball served as a Colonel and lived in Lancaster County, Virginia; where he established the plantation of, “Millenbeck”. In 1900, the Ballston Village, which was named after the Ball Family, was formed within Arlington County, Virginia. In 1969, Arlington County erected a Ballston Historical Marker in front of a church.
In 1908, Orville Wright, one of the famous “Wright Brothers”, had his first flight in Virginia and his first public passenger flight within the county of Arlington, Virginia.
On May 13, 1938, Veterans Day was established by an act of the United States Congress to honor the veterans of World War I, also known as, “The Great War”. The official end of the First World War was on June 28, 1919, but the Veterans Day holiday honors the date of the armistice which began on November 11, 1918.
At the end of my tour of the Arlington National Cemetery, I got to see the burial site of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy and of U.S. Senator Robert Francis Kennedy.
In 1864, Harriet Brice, a former slave, bought her first home within Union occupied Falls Church, Virginia; across the street from a church that George Washington used to attend. A historical marker was placed in front of the home that former slaves Harriet and George Brice used to live in.
In 1734, the original Falls Church was built and in October 3, 1763, George Washington was elected as a “Vestryman” at that church.
During the U.S. Civil War the Union utilized Falls Church as a recruiting station and as a stable.
During the First Battle of Manassas, Confederate soldiers utilized telescopes to observe Union troop movements. At Signal Hill, within Manassas, Virginia, the Wigflag Signal System was utilized for the first time by Confederate soldiers.
In 1876, Ben Boyd, an engraver for a gang of Chicago based Irish counterfeiters, was arrested at his workshop in Fulton, Illinois. Ben Boyd was sentenced to ten years at the Joliet Prison. Members of the Irish gang were unable to find another engraver to continue their counterfeiting efforts, thus they developed a scheme to steal President Abraham Lincoln’s grave, in Springfield, Illinois, and to hide it in the san dunes in Illinois, as a way to bargain for Ben Boyd’s freedom and for a cash payment of $200,000.
Members of the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Association were in charge of guarding Abraham Lincoln’s grave, and did not have guards posted daily. On November 7, 1876, Secret Service agents were sent to guard Abraham Lincoln’s tombsite and they discovered that his grave was already removed. A secret service agent accidentally discharged his firearm, and a firefight between the agents began, allowing for all of the members of the gang, except for two to escape the scene. Abraham Lincoln’s grave was left in the cemetery and the escapees were unable to leave with it.
Two of the captured members were sentenced the maximum sentence for grave robbing, one year, at the Joliet Prison.
The Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism During World War II is a memorial dedicated to the Japanese Americans who faught during the Great War and to those who were unjustly interned in camps during the war.
A statue dedicated to Civil War veteran and former President James Abram Garfield, within the Capital Park in the District of Columbia, was created by John Quincy Adams Ward. President Garfield had been assassinated, a mere 16 years after President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, within the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad Station in Washington, D.C.
The pedestal for the sculpture, which was created by architect Richard Morris Hunt, represents different phases of President Garfield’s life.
James Lawson Kemper served in the Virginia House of Delegates and served as the Speaker of the House during part of the time that Virginia was part of the Confederacy.
In the middle of the Civil War, James Lawson Kemper left the legislature and served as a general for the Confederacy. During Pickett’s Charge, during the Battle of Gettysburg, James Kemper was wounded. After the war, from 1874 to 1878, James Kemper served as the Governor of Virginia.
On November 3, 2020, the American Election Day, I went to the Masonic Temple dedicated to George Washington, the first President of the United States. The temple was being utilized as a polling location for some of the residents in the city of Alexandria, Virginia.
Doctor Charles Alexander Warfield was a member of the, “Sons of Liberty” who participated in the burning of the “Peggy Stewart”. Charles Warfield was buried in Carroll County, Maryland.
Evan W. Warfield, the grandson of Charles Warfield, also served the public as a doctor.
In 1867, the Mount Gregory School became the first high school, for African Americans, to be established within Howard County, Maryland.
During the Battle of Antietam former President William McKinley served as a sergant for Company E of Ohio’s 23rd Infantry. Sergant William McKinley worked for the U.S. Army’s commissary and served coffee and food to the soldiers in his company, while under fire from Confederate forces.
McKinley’s work on the battlefield earned him the nickname, “Coffee Bill”.
Decades after the war monument was dedicated to William McKinley, who was the last United States President to be a veteran of the U.S. Civil War. William Mickinley was also the only enlisted U.S. Civil War soldier to serve as a U.S. President
The Battle of Antietam, also known as the Battle of Sharpsburg, is known as the battle with the highest casualty number out of any other battle, regarding to any other war, in American history. A total of 22,717 soldiers were either killed, wounded or missing in action during the Battle of Antietam. This was the first field-army level endgame to, on Union soil, during the U.S. Civil War.
In July 1864, a Confederate General Jubal Early demanded a $5,000 ransom from the local leaders of Middletown, Maryland in order to not burn down the whole town down. A ransom of $1,500 was paid, since they were unable to pay the full amount, and the town was not burned down.
In 2014, a re-enactment of the Confederate siege of Middletown was conducted.
In 1827, the first ever monument dedicated to former President George Washington was built on top of a hill in Boonsboro, Maryland. The locals of Boonsboro had built the First Washington Monument as part of their preparation for their first Independence Day celebration.
On July 4, 1827, the First Washington Monument was not yet complete, and would not be done until the fall of that year.
During the U.S. Civil War the Union forces occupied the First Washington Monument.
During the Battle of South Mountain, also known as the Battle of Boonsboro Gap, the monument was utilized as a signal station.
Years after the Civil War, the First Washington Monument became a Maryland State Park. Currently, several markers indicate multiple highlights in George Washington’s life along the trail to the monument.
The Appalachian Trial, in adjacent to the First Washington Monument, leads hikers all the way up to the state of Pennslyvania.
September 12th, 1862, the Battle of Harpers Ferry, which was part of the Maryland campaign, began. General Robert Edward Lee divided his army and had Stonewall Jackson lead a division to Harpers Ferry as he led the rest of the Confederates to Hagerstown, Maryland. Stonewall positioned artillery on the hills next to the town leaving the Union forces at a severe disadvantage.
The battle resulted in the Union soldiers burning down the federal armory since they were outnumbered and outgunned by Confederate forces. The battle ended with the Confederates taking on over 12,000 Union prisoners on September 13th.
In 1855, Abolitionist John Brown, and two of his sons, had participated in the fighting against pro-slavery settlers in the state of Kansas. John Brown met with Frederick Douglas and Harriet Tubman, whom he referred to as “General Tubman”. Both abolitionists reinforced John Brown’s militant believes which would lead him to attempt a slave insurrection in the state of Virginia.
In 1859, John Brown took 20 followers to raid the United States Armory in order to procure weapons for a slave insurrection. General Robert Edward Lee was sent to the Fire Station, next to the armory, that John Brown and his militant followers were staying in. A shootout commenced and the group was forced to surrender. John Brown and some of his followers were hung for actions.
In 1861, during the Battle for Harper’s Ferry, the Union burnt down the armory, that John Brown had raided geo years before, to keep Confederate sympathizers from getting a hold of the weapons inside.
Congress declared, the area within the site of the former armory and John Brown’s Fort, as well as the areas that former President Thomas Jefferson and another areas that Lewis and Clark had once explored within the town, as part of a U.S. National Park.
On a hill near the John Brown Fort is a monument dedicated to the former abolitionist.
Here is a Smithsonian Magazine documentary on John Brown’s raid.
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association hosts the site of Billy Graham’s former childhood home, his library and the gravesite of Billy Graham and his wife Ruth Graham.
On July 1861, William McLean owned a plantation in Manassas, Virginia, which became occupied by Confederate General Beauegard shortly after the beginning of the U.S. Civil War. Shortly after William McLean left his militarily occupied home, with his family, the fireplace in his detached kitchen was hit by a shell during the Battle of Blackburn’s Ford. Soon after, William McLean worked as an unpaid quartermaster for the Confederacy. However, after the Second Battle of Manassas, in August 1862, William McLean made the decision to move his family to another plantation in Appomattox, Virginia.
Three years after William McLean moved to his new residence, the outcome of the U.S. Civil War followed him to his new home.
On April 10, 1865, the day after the Battle of Appomattox Courthouse, the first level of the McLean Home was the location where General Robert Edward Lee agreed to meet to officially surrender to General Ulysses S. Grant.
After the surrender documents were signed, General Robert Edward Lee decided to give a speech to the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, after the Union successfully blocked that army from meeting Joe Johnston’s army in North Carolina. Many soldiers objected to surrendering and offered to fight in the mountains conducting guerrilla warfare. General Lee in his farewell speech to his men argued otherwise by stating:
“After four years of arduous service marked by unsurpassed courage and fortitude, the Army of Northern Virginia has been compelled to yield to overwhelming numbers and resources.
I need not tell the brave survivors of so many hard fought battles, who have remained steadfast to the last, that I have consented to this result from no distrust of them; but feeling that valor and devotion could accomplish nothing that could compensate for the loss that must have attended the continuance of the contest, I determined to avoid the useless sacrifice of those whose past services have endeared them to their countrymen.
By the terms of the agreement, officers and men can return to their homes and remain until exchanged. You will take with you the satisfaction that proceeds from a consciousness of duty faithfully performed; and I earnestly pray that a Merciful God will extend to you His blessings and protection.
With an unceasing admiration of your constancy and devotion to your Country, and a grateful remembrance of your kind and generous consideration for myself, I bid you all an affectionate farewell”.
After General Lee’s surrender, Ulysses S. Grant sent a telegraph to Washington, D.C. notifying President Abraham Lincoln of the fall of the Army of Northern Virginia. April 9, 1865, was General Grant’s last day on the field and he made his way to Washington, D.C. the next day.
On April 11, 1865, after Ulysses S. Grant and Robert Edward Lee had left Appomattox, the artillery surrendered the entirely of their arms to the Union Army.
After the events at Appomattox. U.S. President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, Confederate President Jefferson Davis was captured, confederate gurellia warfare never William Quantrill was captured and Washington, D.C. was planning a victory parade. However, the Battle of Palmito Ranch, also known as the Battle of Palmito Hill, was faught in May 12th and 13th in 1865. The Texan Union soldiers and Confederate soldiers had not gotten word of the Army of Northern Virginia’s surrender and believed that the war was still raging on. Ironically, although the Union had technically won the war the Confederacy won the last battle of the U.S. Civil War.
During the fall of 1865, Timothy O’Sullivan photographed the McLean House while members of the McLean family sat on the porch. After the war, the property around the McLean House continued to operate as a farm and eventually changed ownership.
On June 11, 1926, fifty one years after the end of the Civil War, a confederate soldier reunion, for the North Carolina regiment, was held at the Battle of Appomattox Courthouse.
On April 10th 1940, seventy five years after General Lee’s surrender, a majority in the U.S. Congress voted to establish the Appomattox Court House National Historical Monument. On December 7, 1941, after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, restoration plans for the McLean House were stalled. On November 25, 1947, after the end of World War II, bids for the reconstruction of the McLean House began.
On April 16, 1950, after a speech by historian Douglas Southall Freeman in front of a crowd of approximately 20,000 individuals. Major General Ulysses Simpson Grant III and Robert Edward Lee IV cut the ribbon at the dedication ceremony of the McLean House. The meeting of the grandsons of Robert Edward Lee and of Ulysses S. Grant.
The home is located in Appomattox, Virginia near the McLean House and the Appomattox Courthouse. The home is currently under the ownership of the National Park Service.
The Fairfax Musuem and Visitor Center is located within a former schoolhouse in Fairfax City, Virginia.
Clarissa Harlowe Barton founded the American Red Cross, at a church in Fairfax Station, Virginia while caring for soldiers during the United States Civil War.
On October 12, 2020, which is called Columbus Day and Indigenous Peoples’ Day, a group of about 300 people tore down the statutes of President Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt in what the rioters called “A Day of Rage”. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler condemned the violence and Portland mayor canidate Sarah Iannarone stated, “Public access to art is vital to our city’s cultural fabric … I condemn all acts of violence and destruction, especially those targeting public art.”
Should we as a society ever tolerate the taking down of statutes of, “The Great Emancipator”? What will it take as an American people to stand up to rioters and to tell them that we will no longer allow you to destroy public works or art and to destroy aspects of our nation’s history?
On June 1865, Union soldiers stationed at the Fairfax Courthouse, whom were tasked with burial duty, dedicated the “Bull Run Monument” to the Union dead from the First and Second Battle of Manassas.
The first Confederate monument was dedicated to Colonel Francis Stebbins Bartow, a mere six weeks after the First Battle of Manassas. Colonel Francis Stebbins Bartow, am attorney and politician from Georgia, was the first Confederate officer to die during the battle.