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We’ll Picnic in the Park before Reliving the Battle of Falling Waters - Event Reminder!

By Wendy Swanson

Washington D.C.

Thursday, September 2, 2021

The above image shows the gallant charge of the Sixth Michigan cavalry over the enemy's breastworks, near Falling Waters, Md., July 14th, 1863. (Source; Frank Leslie, Famous Leaders and Battle Scenes of the Civil War (New York, NY: Mrs. Frank Leslie, 1896)

Reminder: The Lincoln Group Annual Picnic/Tour is Less than a Month Away and Your RSVP is Requested and Required. Deadline for RSVPs: Sunday, September 19.

The Lincoln Group is resuming its annual picnic/tour this September. This is our first in-person event since early 2020! Our tour director, Craig Howell, has organized a tour focusing on the final days of the Gettysburg Campaign as they played out near Williamsport, MD, where Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia was seemingly trapped and unable to cross a rain-swollen Potomac River for several days.

The tour also spotlights Lincoln’s role as commander-in-chief. President Lincoln and many of his closest advisors were convinced that one last push by George Meade's Army of the Potomac would crush Lee once and for all and end the Rebellion. But that one last push never happened, Lee's army escaped to fight another day, and Lincoln was deeply hurt by what he considered a failure of nerve by Meade and his lieutenants. Historians have been arguing about all this ever since.

For you to decide: Who was right - Lincoln or Meade? Was Lincoln justified to feel betrayed by timidity in the Union high command, or was Meade right to resist pressure from Washington to launch a potentially suicidal assault on Lee's entrenchments at Williamsport? Also, did Meade fail to exploit other opportunities for forcing Lee's surrender, opportunities that did not entail a frontal assault on Lee's lines?

Here's everything you need to know about this event:

Date: Saturday, September 25

Meeting place and time: 10:00 a.m. at Devils Backbone County Park on the banks of Antietam Creek near Boonsboro, MD. Here we will picnic (participants will bring their own) and our tour director, Craig Howell, will give an interpretive background talk. We have a park pavilion reserved for our lunch/talk.

Locations, locations, locations:

St. James School – where a climactic battle could have taken place but didn’t – what happened?

Cushwa Basin in Williamsport, now a C&O Canal Visitor Center, then the site of a critical ford and Rebel escape route across the Potomac

An on-site tour of the final action of the entire Gettysburg Campaign, the Battle of Falling Waters. The tour will be led by George Franks who owns the property where the battle was fought and where Confederate General J. J. Pettigrew was mortally wounded

Cost: No cost for the tour itself. Mr. Franks is asking for a $5 donation for the preservation and maintenance of the critical and privately-owned battlefield of Falling Waters.

Ending time: 4 p.m. at Falling Waters

Important requirement: Since we'll often be in close quarters, every participant should be fully vaccinated.

RSVP required - Call Craig at (202) 462-0535, or email him at: To the extent possible, Craig will be working with participants to maximize carpooling. Deadline for RSVPs: Sunday, September 19.

Why carpools? Please note that we need to do everything possible to maximize carpooling and to minimize the number of cars participating in this tour, because parking is very limited at most of our stops. Limited parking also explains why we are gathering at the relatively early hour of 10 a.m. at Devils Backbone, hopefully before the parking lot fills up; the park's dramatic and beautiful setting alongside Antietam Creek helps make it extremely popular. That early start will give everyone plenty of time to walk around the park and to take advantage of the many photo ops there before we commence the picnic. Craig will try to arrange our carpools, so he'll ask you where you live, if you can be a driver or if you will need a ride with someone else.

Picturesque Devil's Backbone State Park where we'll start our day and picnic. Bring your camera - there are many opportunities for photo ops and well as a chance to visit with other members and participants.

(Note: The Lincoln Group previously announced this event on this website on July 17. That post contained an article by Lincoln Group Tour Director Craig Howell, an article which provides much of the material contained herein.)

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