Skip to main content

tv   1922 Marine Reenactment and Accident at Gettysburg  CSPAN  September 17, 2017 9:20am-10:01am EDT

9:20 am
over the world. our cities tour staff recently traveled to concord, new hampshire to learn about its rich history. learn more about concord and other stops on our tour at tour. you are watching american history tv, all weekend, every weekend on c-span 3. >> next, author james rada talks about his book "the last to fall" which chronicles the march of marines to reenact the civil war battle of gettysburg. more than 100,000 spectators attended the event including president warren harding. the lead up to the reenactment was marred by the death of two aviators in a plane crash. the gettysburg heritage center
9:21 am
hosted this 35 minute talk. >> good afternoon and welcome to the gettysburg heritage center. this is our second in the series for today. i've the pleasure of introducing the next speaker, james rada. he is a historian and an author. he has written many works of fiction and nonfiction history. they include popular books such as battlefield angels, the charity work of civil war nurses. he lives in gettysburg where he is a freelance writer. he has received numerous awards from the maryland delaware d.c. press association, the associated press, the maryland state teachers association, society of professional journalists, and computed hash community newspapers holding, inc., for his newspaper writing. without any further introduction, i will introduce
9:22 am
to you james rada. james: good afternoon. today we are going to talk about a book that myself and a co-author wrote called "the last to fall." it is about the marine march in 1922 that saved the marine corps. the marines had proved themselves a formidable fighting force during world war i and after the fighting there to drive off the germans who were entrenched, army general john pershing who was the commander of the american expeditionary force said, "the deadliest weapon in the world is a marine and his rifle." that did not stop general pershing and others from wanting to disband the marine corps after the war.
9:23 am
marine general john lejuene understood that the marine corps, needed to fight a battle on the political front as well as battles like world war i. he put together a campaign to save his marine corps, and part of that involved going to civil war battlefields instead of isolated places to perform their summer exercises. early on the morning of june 19, 1922, more than 5000 marines at marine camp quantico marched onto waiting barges supplied by the u.s. navy and at 4:00 a.m. those barges were towed up the
9:24 am
river to washington dc. tanks and artillery pieces towed by trucks rolled out along the richmond road. the march involved the entire fifth and sixth regiments, a squadron of the first marine air wing, and elements of the 10th marine artillery. the "baltimore sun" noted these marines were ready for anything. the 5000 men are caring the equipment of a complete division of nearly 20,000. the machine gun outfits especially, the personnel is skeletalized, the materials complete. companies of 88 men are carrying gear for companies of about 140. here's a shot of the encampment at washington, d.c.
9:25 am
here is a list of some of the things they were taking along on the march. as extensive as this list is, it still does not include the 30 airplanes and four tanks that were part of the maneuvers. they were taking both livestock like mules and horses to ride on, but also more modern equipment like the trucks and cars. the marines spent their first night on the march at potomac park south of the washington monument. once they had set up the cap, they then marched past the white house and were reviewed by president warren g. harding and other dignitaries. the marine corps gazette reported observers declared this is the first time the troops have passed in review on the white house grounds since the civil war.
9:26 am
it took those 5000 marines more than an hour to pass as 134 piece marine band play the music for them to march 2. they stayed just one night in washington. they marched onto to bethesda and spent two nights in gaithersburg, one night in bridgeville, a night in frederick, maryland, and then a night in thurmont. they set up a full encampment and named the camp after one of the marine corps generals. once they finally arrived at gettysburg, they named that encampment after the president. as the marines would march through the small towns, crowds would gather around the roads to see them coming, waved to them,
9:27 am
cheer them on, which showed the marines gather not support to help them survive in the political arena. they would play baseball against local teams, they also sought out any living civil war veterans who were still around and invited them to come to gettysburg to watch the reenactments there. here is the march going through emmitsburg, maryland just south of gettysburg. you can see the group of men gathered in front of the fountain. those are the civil war veterans in the area who were still living at the time. many of these marines were decorated veterans who fought in europe during world war i and it was a mix of new marines who had
9:28 am
joined since the war. many veterans were reluctant, as are many veterans today, to talk about their experience from the war. there were embedded reporters from major newspapers who were traveling along with them to report throughout the march of their activities, and these reporters continually tried to get these veterans to open up about their experiences and found they did not want to talk. here's the encampment at gettysburg. it was set up on a farm just north of the north carolina monument. the ultimate size of the encampment was reported to be anywhere from 65 to 100 acres. thomas williams, who is the director of the united states
9:29 am
marine corps historical company, said 100 acres is probably closer to the actual size. although the war department control the parks, which allow the marines to conduct their exercises on parkland, they did not want to damage the property or the historical site, so they were careful in how they brought in their heavy vehicles to minimize damage. here is a couple shots of the marines relaxing in camp at gettysburg, tuning up their instruments, getting a shave, things like that. due to a plant's day of president harding and his wife florence who were going to stay for a night at the camp, it was decided to erect a structure for
9:30 am
the first couple. also to house them and their guests. the site chosen was a high point on the field along west confederate avenue just north of the north carolina monument. it was situated in close proximity to the mcmillan farmhouse. the gettysburg times described the presidential compound this way. the floorplan of the structure is of the unique design, being semicircular in shape. in the center of the building is the president's public reception room, which is 40 feet in length by 25 feet in width. the one on the left being allocated to the president and his wife, while the one on the right will be used by the
9:31 am
president secretary. in the rear of each of these rooms are private baths finished with all of the fittings of a modern bath and the added convenience of hot and cold water. the first couple were really roughing it for their one night in camp. this canvas white house as it was dubbed unofficially was completed on june 29 and the last part of the installation were six porcelain bathtubs. these bathtubs had to be flown in strap to the bottom of bomber planes. because of the concern -- it had to be done that way because they were concerned about damaging them if they were taken by truck. this is believed to be the first time bathtubs were ever carried by airplanes. here is a shot of the planes, so you can see why the bathtubs had
9:32 am
to be strapped to them instead of what into a big cargo bay like the planes of today. as part of the weeklong military demonstration in gettysburg, much of the aviation group was here. they had light bombers, fighters, observation aircraft, and they also had two observation balloons similar to blimps. these balloons were inflated with highly explosive hydrogen gas. captain george hamilton was in command of a squadron of fighters providing scout duty while escorting the marine infantry along with george martin on the right. they were flying a dh 4b and
9:33 am
left thurmont, maryland and headed north. it was at the rear of a formation of four planes. on the journey up, nothing seemed amiss. they traveled fine. it was as they approached the camp that spectators noticed something wrong. hamilton's plane went into a nose dive from about 3000 feet, which turned into a tailspin. as the plane crashed on a farm
9:34 am
around 1:05 p.m. the crashed into a carnival set up where we are at right now. hamilton died at the scene and martin died a short time later at warner hospital. the accident is believed to be the result of a problem with not registering the change of altitude properly.
9:35 am
despite the tragedy, the exercises had to continue. that same day the bulk of the marines were arriving in camp. they began the education portion of their training that week. they were taking classes on military tactics, the battle of gettysburg. they would run through drills that would prepare them for the reenactments. now president harding arrived on july 1 which was a saturday. among his party besides the first lady was general pershing, charles dawes, brigadier general charles sawyer, the presidential physician and george christian. among the other guests who came out for this reenactment event
9:36 am
were the pennsylvania governor, the virginia governor, the acting secretary of the navy, senator george pepper, and general assumed was there. -- and general lejeune was there. marine general neville, brigadier general butler, senator joseph mccormick, the speaker of the house and foreign governments send representatives to watch to see how the marines conducted themselves. here are some shots from the historical side of the reenactment. it was a three-day presentation. july 1 it was probably very similar to what whether we just had. it was torrential rain area in preparation the quartermaster had given each regiment a bushel
9:37 am
of beats -- beets. they cut them up to simulate blood. they were also issued bandages to apply to the fake wounds. as the time of the battle approached it was estimated that 100,000 people had shown up. to see this historical reenactment which opened up with two confederate guns which was the signal for the opening artillery barrage. this continued for half an hour. with the marines who had been designated as confederates as they began their advance. they were preceded by a skirmish line of sharpshooters. they had flags that bore the name of their general or their
9:38 am
commanding officer created so that spectators could see who they were representing and the battle. as with -- here is another shot of the reenactment. here is a marine faking. as with weapons of the time smoke was a big problem. as the battle progressed the smoke cloud grew and grew. the haze some said it looked like ghost soldiers returning from the past. the new york tribune wrote they began to move forward through the watchers as if the ghosts once more came for victory. there were six lines of men stretching along the
9:39 am
battlefront. marines like this one felt -- who fell dead or wounded. what they would have work shotguns filled with black powder that they would shoot into the ground. these shotgun rounds simulated artillery explosions. if a marine happen to fire and the ground the other marines would be expected to fall dead or wounded. here is a shot of -- the president left after the reenactment. the next day the marines brought out their airplanes, the howitzers, the observation balloons, tanks, machine guns, antiaircraft guns, all of that modern stuff. even their big monitoring devices which look like the big
9:40 am
rca horn with the dog. this was before radar. this would allow them to hear approaching aircraft. they brought out there monitoring equipment. and they fought the battle thank -- the battle 1992 style. the only time there was a confederate air force fighting the union air force. they did it fighting around one of the hydrogen filled observation balloons which is a interesting story because as the spectators were watching the battle go on around the balloon. because they had to use blanks for fear of accidentally harming someone on the ground the only way they were going to be able to hit the balloon was have
9:41 am
someone detonate from beneath. they had a marine in a gondola who -- i do not know if it was manned or not. before he decimated -- decimated it, threwnated a dummy from the balloon. that was maybe not the best of taste with the marines who had just died before. he detonated the balloon to simulate the bullies -- the planes hitting it. you can see their is him floating down in a parachute and the remains of the balloon. multiple different variations of the story appeared in newspapers. a lot of people thought he was dead.
9:42 am
they finally got straightened out eventually. here is a shot that shows a good angle of all of that smoke generated from the fighting. this would be on the road here. so with the balloon down the fighting began at it started with a smokescreen. this new fighting commenced where they used their tanks, machine guns firing, on the ground they used live ammunition so they used tracer ammunition. fired in embankments. it was great a site -- quite a sight.
9:43 am
as the battle approached the conclusion. the confederates had stiff opposition around the farmhouse. neither the small arms fire or machine gunfire could get them out. the four tanks rolled into action. the baltimore sun said the tanks went up to the farmhouse around the barn through the backyard, up the front porch firing explosive shells through the windows. in a few moments they wobbled away and you could almost imagine them headed to the rear until there was no more killing to do. the enemy was silenced forever. only one tank became a casualty in the battle. it was when they fought the battle the modern way.
9:44 am
after the reenactment the marines began breaking down their camp the following day. here is another shot of the modern reenactment you can see with the guns set up. so they hiked back on the same route they came from. with one change they had sent to night on the way back. on the way up frederick maryland had been so eager to spend another night that the marines decided they would spend two nights at frederick. it is a shot of the in canada
9:45 am
encampment at the fairgrounds. here they saw the president for a third time. they had seen him with the presidential review, then when he came to the historical reenactment, this time he was on his way back after he left the marines and they went on to do their fighting and started to march home. he went on to a vacation. he was on his way back and heard the marines were at the fairgrounds. he stopped in just a impromptu stop. a lot of the generals and the commanding officers were not around when he came in. the marines that were there through together a band and serenaded the president and first lady. the president talk to them for about half an hour and then he headed back down to washington dc. the marines then headed back.
9:46 am
and a couple of our days they made the return to kournikova. -- the return to quantico. that is the story of the 90's -- of the 1922 marine march. because of the two marines who were killed in the aircraft were active duty at the time the crash occurred at the battlefield they are considered the last death here on the battle of gettysburg. even though marines did not fight in the civil war they are the last official debts on the battlefield. there is going to be a monument dedicated next year to their service and to their sacrifice. it will be done right out back here.
9:47 am
would you like some more information on it? hear me all right? can you put up the slides again? we thought it would be appropriate to memorialize these guys think we got a group together and we went to the farm where they crashed. the president of the heritage center donated the land. the most important, the marine corps league has been raising money for this. it is going to be a 4 x 3. something that you will see in the national park. all of the information will -- about these two fires.
9:48 am
-- two fliers. so far we have raised $4500. if we can get $7,500 we can put a nice patio in. once we have enough money we will put it up. if you would like to donate please go to our gofundme page. look under hamilton. hamilton and martin you will be able to donate their generously agreed we would appreciate anything you can do. if you have any more questions i can show you what it will look like out in the lobby. james: thank you. does anybody have any questions or would like to see anymore slides again? >> actually winning over the north in that exercise? james: when they did the reenactment it was dictated by historical events.
9:49 am
when they were fighting the war in the 1922 style it was open to whatever tactic they could use. the south of the better tactics going on and were able to pull off a victory. had that been thought again fought again maybe it would have turned out differently. it was not planned that way. it was just how things worked out with the attacking and fighting. it is fun to try and find pictures of the event. i know my co-author has a interesting shot that we put in the book, he said it was identified as the battle of gettysburg and it was pretty dramatic. it showed a lot of bodies pile d on one another. the problem is if you look at the picture you can see the monuments in the back. and tourists. being a sharp guy he was able to figure out that was not from the civil war it was from the 1922 battle.
9:50 am
the historical reenactment is one of the earliest remembrance -- reenactment on the battlefield. this was before this stuff like they are doing this weekend with the reenactments of the battle that they do every year. this was well before that was being done. -- it is not a well-known occurrence. how did you first discover the reenactment? but people came at both came across it different ways. my co-author and it was kathy who found it -- his wife had come across this with the research of another topic. i knew a marine who was part of the marine historical company.
9:51 am
he told me about this story. it caught my attention. it seemed fascinating, he had some of the pictures that we used in the book. he showed me these battle pictures, and i thought it was pretty impressive. i thought i would write a book. rick and i used to work together so we just happened dead weight we just happened -- we had the same story going and we decided to combine our efforts to do it. it is the only book that we have discovered that was written on the subject. in fact during the day it was in all the newspapers. they had all of these reporters giving daily reports about the march and how things were going on. there has been a few articles within sense then. -- that have been written since
9:52 am
then. we were able to bring it together for the book. questions?e have a any other pictures you might want to see? it'seculate if, interesting to speculate that if the bad feelings between north and south had simmered for another50 50 years or so or maybe more, the confrontation between them would have been exactly with the modern types of military equipment. james: there is actually a whole of science fiction called alternative history. and one of the things that has been explored in some of those series is, and one i read was the original civil war was fought to a standstill so there was a confederate states of america established. that eventually escalated into a second civil war right around world war i. and you had the, and i think it
9:53 am
was wilson was president of the confederate states and roosevelt was president of the united states. they were the commanders in chief fighting this war, kind of like you are envisioning there. yeah, it's interesting to see how different it would have been fought if you had tanks and machine guns. one of the things, the marines defending the -- representing the union troops. union veterans let them shoot the confederates -- [inaudible] ok, anyone else? yes? >> you had mentioned how you found -- first of all, it was civil war but then it was the monuments. did any mind them and by the live ammunition? james: not that we ever came across. the machine with
9:54 am
guns, like i said, they had berms set up because, obviously, they still did not want to hit anybody. they just wanted to be able to see where the tracer fire. you had to have live ammunition for the tracer fire. so, even though they had tracer fire, it really looks they were bad shots because they were just shooting into berms. >> you could not fire blanks. the machine guns to not fire blanks. -- did not fire blanks. >> the park service, i guess i'm. assuming there was a park service james: there was but the war department was in charge of the military sites. so, gettysburg, antietam, harpers ferry, those were sites under the war department at the time. so, that is why there were able to use it. if the park service had been in control, i'm sure they would of said no. but if you do find a machine gun bullet on the battlefield you know where it came from.
9:55 am
come seen people who have up to me after talks and said, i found a plate that had 1922 on it. i've always wondered why it was on the battlefield. and that's why. that theare and china marine officers used was inscribed the u.s. marine corps insignia and the date. there's relics still floating around that pop up every once in a while that people all of a sudden realize why they avhave this world war i era artifact from the marine corps on the gettysburg battlefield. hey, thank you. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] >> we have a facebook question from peter.
9:56 am
are there any historical resources on the people who died in detroit? >> well, there's one particular, the detroit free press did a piece -- >> you can be featured during our program. join the conversation on facebook at history and on twitter @c-span history. that one is going to deny melgin gave senator menendez always trips on his private jet or the campaign contributions were made and no one is really going to deny that senator menendez did lobby with various executive branch officials on melvin's behalf. why did it happen? the government is alleging it was because of this corrupt relationship, so menendez was acting in exchange for gifts . the senator is claiming it was because the doctor was his friend. >> tonight on q&a, randall
9:57 am
eliason talks about the trial of democratic senator bob menendez tonight at 8 p.m. eastern on c-span's q&a. on american history tv, photojournalist frank johnson who worked for united press international in the 1960's and for "the washington post" for 35 years. the interview is from the briscoe center for american history at the university of texas at austin. here is a preview. the minister of information decided no one was going to go. well, it turned out they knew charlie was in the room and all the reporters said, this m,an's one of the only survivors. please let him go up there along with a photographer, still photographer. theso, we all drew straws,
9:58 am
photographers in the room, and i drew the short straw. so charlie and i flew from georgetown up to port -- we get off the airplane and there is a huey helicopter sitting on the side. we ran to the chopper. there was a soldier that jumped into the chopper and i jumped into what was the gunner seat on the side. the door was open. as we took off, we took off fairly well. off, we were maybe 500 feet off the ground. and flew into over the compound and as we started to approach the compound, we saw all these people outside this pavilion. . outside birhgright colors. i'm shooting and the closer i am getting to the scene as we come overhead, i began to realize there was no one moving. no one at all on the ground. we walked inwn and and i walked into the compound. there were dead people outside
9:59 am
all over the place. the church group i came upon, a group of six people with a child between them. they were all facedown, arm in arm. the childhood sneakers on. they were dead. this first people i photographed got into the compound and there was just a sea of bodies on the inside and i looked to my left. and there was a throne. and there was a sign where jones would sit and it said, "those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it." >> watch the entire program sunday at 7 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. on american history tv. only on c-span 3. where history unfolds daily. in 1979, c-span was created as a public service by america's
10:00 am
cable television companies and is brought to you today by your cable or satellite provider. >> author steven la barred talks about the cavalry in the civil war and describes the background of the soldiers and the action they saw and lives after the war. he also shares his personal connection to the regiment. the gettysburg heritage center hosted this 50-minute talk. >> good afternoon and welcome to the gettysburg heritage center. i'm tammy myers and president at the center. a little bit about our next presenter, steven labarre and hold a degree in sociology and history and he is currently pursuing his masters in history through the university of nebraska-kearney. he serves as a public service librarian at e


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on