D W Orr Photography: Blog https://dworr.zenfolio.com/blog en-us (C) D W Orr (D W Orr Photography) Fri, 16 Feb 2018 15:18:00 GMT Fri, 16 Feb 2018 15:18:00 GMT https://dworr.zenfolio.com/img/s/v-5/u604665792-o754689910-50.jpg D W Orr Photography: Blog https://dworr.zenfolio.com/blog 120 90 The Corruption of Beauty https://dworr.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/2/the-corruption-of-beauty The celebrated and renowned 13th century, Catholic theologian, Thomas Aquinas, pontificated that the “Characteristics which define beauty are wholeness, harmony and radiance.”  Seven centuries later, the American poet/environmentalist, Robinson Jeffers, eloquently chanted that "The greatest beauty is organic wholeness, the wholeness of life and things, the divine beauty of the universe".

The first three pictures below were created in our back yard at different seasons of the year and under different weather conditions.  I was motivated to capture the beauty of this scene by the natural rich colors, black and white tonal range of light, and the harmony of the very weathered, wooden structures situated peacefully amongst the undisturbed vegetation, and foliage of the trees.

These scenes will never be captured and interpreted again by photographer or painter. For a larger, more obtrusive, modern style, synthetic outbuilding has been erected nearby the long standing white shed.  More disturbingly, some of the background trees have been removed and cleared for the construction of a new home in an area once inhabited by deer and foxes (see last two images), an outcome of the continued greed by local politicians and land developers to destroy our natural environment.  This unique scene of "divine beauty" shall be, Nevermore.

 - Still grieving over the Lost Woodland of the Bread & Cheese Branch.


D W Orr

Environmentalist, Historic Preservationist, Weimaraner/Dachshund Companion, Blogger, and Photographer

Harford County, Maryland

February 1, 2018, Birthday of Maddie

Fence Corner View ReduxFence Corner View Redux


Foggy MorningFoggy Morning

 Foggy Morning

Fall and Fence 1Fall and Fence 1


Watching the ManWatching the Man Visitors at the White Shed

More of the Three GuestsMore of the Three Guests Two Deer and a Fox Near the White Shed

(D W Orr Photography) development environment forest harford county nature preservation robinson jeffers thomas aquinas wildlife woodland https://dworr.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/2/the-corruption-of-beauty Thu, 01 Feb 2018 19:20:40 GMT
Light In August https://dworr.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/8/light-in-august As a photographer, I have always appreciated good light.  But exposure to a copious amount of light is also soothing to the soul.  When we are outdoors, communing with our natural surroundings, I am not certain that out of all the ways our senses are being stimulated, that we fully understand how important exposure to sunlight is to our joyful mood.  I have been more keenly made aware of this effect after the addition of a sunroom to our homestead.  Our new glass-walled room overlooks a treed lot, a northern sky, and the adjacent deck is populated with four bird feeders and potted plants.  Spending time daily in this sunlit room allows for me to more acutely observe the dancing nuances of nature's subtle light progressions, the wildlife activity, and seems to elevate my spirit.  When the days eventually grow shorter as we approach late fall, it will be revealing to see if maximizing sunroom attendance will compensate for the somewhat depressing effect this foreshortening has on one's overall disposition.

The sunroom motif is Coastal Cottage, to which much folk art has been added.  Our home is located not too far from where the Susquehanna River empties into the Chesapeake Bay.  At that point lies the town of Havre de Grace, the self-proclaimed Decoy Capital of the World and where a museum was founded in 1986 for exhibiting the works of the region's master decoy carvers and to tell the history of water fowling.  One of the founding fathers of that museum was Jim Pierce, himself a master decoy carver who studied and apprenticed under the renowned R. Madison Mitchell.  Another celebrated carver from the bay region was Charlie Bryan, from Wilson Point on the Middle River, whose likeness is portrayed through a wax figure at the museum.  Charlie was a protege under Charles "Speed" Joiner, who lived across the bay in Betterton.  Mr. Bryan was a close friend of George Schaub, my father-in-law, who was a master decoy maker in his own right.  Samples of Jim, Charlie, and George's folk art can be found throughout the shelves and tables of the Orr sunroom.  All the pieces are made to be used as working decoys for hunting ducks and geese, but have so much appeal as works of art that they now have become sought after collector items.

Chain saw produced art pieces have recently become popular and prevalent around homes.  The artist, Todd Lynd of South Carolina, focuses on marine mammals and fish.  A three dimensional relief of a mother Humpback Whale and her calf rise gracefully in unison toward the ocean's surface on our tongue and groove pine wall.  Canadian cement sculptor, Gordon Hare, has created detailed reliefs of mammals including one of a Humpback Whale also adorning our sunroom wall.

Through my walls of screen and glass, I watch the day unfold as the cumulus clouds glide, the Ruby Throated Hummingbirds hover, and the vultures soar.  I observe the Nuthatch feeding, listen as the Cardinal chirps, and feel the cool northerly breeze.  The natural light in August bathes the room.  Surrounded by and inspired by oceanic and bay wildlife artwork, my spirit is lifted as I tune out the man-made distractions of the year 2017 and commune as one with my natural environment.

Jim Pierce and the HdG Decoy Museum

D W Orr

Environmentalist, Historic Preservationist, Weimaraner/Dachshund Companion, Blogger, and Photographer

Harford County, Maryland

August 26, 2017

 Photo from Upper Chesapeake Bay Decoys And Their Makers by David and Joan Hagan

A rare feeding goose decoy by Jim Pierce

Mallard Decoy (center) body by Charlie Bryan, paint by G. Schaub.  All other decoys and birds by George Schaub.

George Schaub (Photo by the Baltimore Sun)

Mother Humpback Whale and Calf, by Todd Lynd

Humpback Whale Cement Relief by Gordon Hare

(D W Orr Photography) chainsaw artist charles joiner charlie bryan chesapeake bay decoy museum decoys george schaub gordon hare havre de grace hummingbird humpback whale jim pierce r. madison mitchell sculpture sunroom todd lynd https://dworr.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/8/light-in-august Sat, 26 Aug 2017 18:23:32 GMT
The Influence of Ansel Adams https://dworr.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/10/ansel-adams Many nature and landscape photographers of today have been influenced by the images of the American West created by Ansel Adams (1902-1984).  I too have drawn inspiration from Adams' works taken of the Sierra Nevada Mountain range and the Yosemite Valley.  Adams most famous is an image taken in 1941 titled "Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico", known to some as "Moonrise Over Hernandez".  As Adams tells it, the capture of this image was very fortuitous and helped by years of technique development. "The values here are very intense.  I think there's an interesting narrative about it. It shows that sometimes we really do have the Lord with us.  I had been working in the Chama Valley and struggling with a tree stump.  The stump won.  I got disgusted and said, 'Let's go home' - back to Santa Fe.  Driving down, I looked out of the window and saw this extraordinary subject.  The reactions were immediate.  I practically ran the car into a ditch, got out my tripod, camera, etc.  I could not find my exposure meter, but I recognized one value.  I knew the moon was about 250 candles per square foot luminance and I placed this on Zone VI of the exposure scale and exposed accordingly.  I made the one exposure, on an 8x10 Isopan film.  I then wanted to duplicate it.  While turning the film holder around and pulling out the slide, the light went completely off the crosses!  This is probably my best known photograph.  I've made more prints of it than any other subject I have.  I got it by a 12-second grace.  Now, if the stump had been more tractable or if I had been a little slower or faster, I might have completely missed this moonrise event!  So, it points to the fact that contrivance in photography is sometimes a rather questionable approach.  You have to recognize what happens out there, and you have to be ready for it.  That's the great advantage to having a technique - an instant command of camera control, exposure control - in other words you know what you're doing.  At least you hope you do.  As Pasteur said, 'Chance favors the prepared man'."

This past September, while I was preparing to capture (what Adams termed as pre-visualization) the image shown below, "Moonrise Over Corolla", I was immediately struck by some similarities to Adams iconic photo.  Motivated by the beauty of the Hernandez photo, I carefully set the exposure so that the gibbous moon's detail would be in proper luminescent harmony with both the low level clouds forming over the ocean and the setting sun-lit seaside homes.  I hope that you find as much enjoyment from viewing my image as I had in taking it.

I have also included two other well known photos by Adams.  "Winter Sunrise" was taken in the Lone Pine Valley and shows the daunting peak of Mt. Whitney (highest mountain in the continental USA) in the background.  To understand what it is like to hike up to the peak of Mt. Whitney at 14,505 feet, read my blog here.  For scale, take note of the horse on the valley floor in the foreground.  "Clearing Winter Storm" captures the wonder of the beautiful Yosemite Valley with its El Capitan granite monolith and Bridalveil Falls.


D W Orr

Environmentalist, Historic Preservationist, Weimaraner/Dachshund Companion, Blogger, and Photographer

Harford County, Maryland

October 23, 2016

"Moonrise Over Hernandez", 1941, by Ansel Adams

Moonrise Over CorollaMoonrise Over CorollaInspiration from Ansel Adams

"Moonrise Over Corolla", 2016, by D W Orr

76577032, Thu Apr 23, 2009, 4:43:51 PM, 8C, 7500x9598, (0+38), 125%, Various_16x20, 1/30 s, R33.8, G22.6, B31.3

"Winter Sunrise", 1944, by Ansel Adams.  See Mt. Whitney in far right background.  Refer to my Mt. Whitney Blog.

"Clearing Winter Storm", 1937, by Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams, taken between 1947-1950, and colorized by Loredana Crupi

(D W Orr Photography) Ansel Adams Bridalveil Clearing Winter Storm Corolla, NC El Capitan Moonrise Over Hernandez Mt. Whitney Sierra Nevada Winter Sunrise Yosemite https://dworr.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/10/ansel-adams Sun, 23 Oct 2016 13:06:56 GMT
The Ascent to Mt. Whitney https://dworr.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/9/the-ascent "The best camera is the one that you have with you" are words of photographic wisdom that were never more true than on Labor Day weekend, 1970. On that bright Saturday, I was ascending the Sierra Nevada Mountain range on my way to the top of Mt. Whitney at 14,505 feet, the tallest mountain in the continental USA. 
                                                                                              Mt. Whitney (Source cannot be attributed)
This is no easy hiking excursion.  Of the tens of thousands of hikers who yearly plan the adventure, only about one-third actually make it to the peak.  Many succumb to altitude sickness, to which I can attest is quite overcoming to even a healthy and fit 23-year old man.  Somewhere around the 13,700 foot altitude, I was struck with the sickness and could barely shuffle my feet up the sloping pathway to achievement.  There was I, plodding along as though I was a very old man, one slow agonizing step at a time. Right foot forward ... then the slow and deliberate advancement of the left foot. Repeat. One foot ... at ... a ... time.  And hallucinating through it all like it was an out-of-body experience.  I'm thinking of telling my hiking companion, Ed Wetzel, that I can't make it; go on without me.  Damn it!  I've come this far.  I must find a way to continue!  It was only through the encouraging words of Ed, that I was able to overcome the pain and press onward.  When Ed exclaimed, "I can see the top!",                                                                                       View of Summit from Trail Crest - Ed: "I can see the top!"
I was motivated to carry on at a much faster clip through probably a sudden rush of adrenalin.  And to the top Ed and I made our way, and landed our tired aching bodies.
                                                                                             Doug & Ed Celebrate Their Achievement
This adventure all began on our arrival Friday evening at Whitney Portal, a 8,360 foot elevated base camp where we spent the night trying to get acclimated to the high altitude.  Up early the next morning, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, we registered our names as hikers who intended to camp overnight at 12,000 feet, make our way to the peak by lunchtime the following day, and return to base camp by dusk on Sunday. 
                                                                                   Ed & Doug Registering Hike at 8,360 Feet - Photo Bombed!
Before us lay a 22-mile round trip excursion up and down the side of a mountain flush with the beautiful scenery of the Sierra Nevada's.  We would be traversing a trail with an elevation gain of over 6,100 feet.  The route crosses the west side of the eastern Sierras at 8.2 miles, displaying endless peaks and a lake-strewn granite basin to the west, and then traverses the remaining 2.5 miles along the mountain crest to the summit, with stunning views all the way. 
                                                                                                                The Route to the Top
I was outfitted with a loaded backpack provided by Ed and an old summer sleeping bag that I used back in my days of outdoor camping with my buddies from Junior High School.  That bag would prove to be totally inadequate for what would lie ahead that night at 12,000 feet. 
                                                               Doug arrives at high camp with his totally inadequate sleeping bag, 12,000 Feet
Ed and I constructed a lean-to with a tarp anchored against a boulder that lay along flat ground adjacent to a mountain lake. 
                                                                                          Doug & Ed Stand Proudly Before Their High Camp
We ate dinner, and as the sun settled and the wind kicked up, we hunkered down for a long night bundled side by side to gather some rest before departing to the summit in the morning.  Oh my, what a cold, bone-chilling night it was.  Using a layered approach, I still was not prepared with proper clothing gear to weather the wintry-like, high altitude temperatures.  I remember having a long sleeve undershirt, sweater and thin windbreaker to wear, plus a heavy wool green-plaid shirt with me.  Of course the sleeping bag was not down filled.  I shivered through the entire night and needless to say did not gather any sleep.  This would not help me the next day when I hit the proverbial wall of thin air at 13,700 feet as I described earlier. 
                                                       Ed & Doug Return to Base Camp where the Ladies, Charlie, and Scamp the Cat greet them
The pictures below document our excursion up to and through the mountainside tree line, along the rocky switchback trail, and up the long, challenging summit crest trail to the mountain peak.  Ed was the photographer with his Kodak five-and-dime camera.  He loaded it with one roll of slide film and took a total of 34 images including one by his wife Diane.  It is astonishing what a somewhat primitive 70's film camera can deliver with a little help from modern day post processing applications.  Yes, the images are grainy, have streaks and other strange artifacts visible in the shots.  But 46 years later, the images bring Ed and I much joy and fond memories of a different time and place where we decided to test our manhood up the slopes of the California Sierra's.

Ed & Diane's son, Charlie, fishing at base camp.

Update (Sept 18, 2016): My fellow Mt. Whitney companion, Ed Wetzel, reminded me of an amusing anecdote associated with the ascent of this remarkable mountain.  While Ed and I were slumped over with nausea from altitude sickness, an elderly trekker clad in shorts and a red plaid shirt trotted passed us (yes, trotted).  We both cursed him under our reduced and heavy breath, and in a fit of schadenfreude, we vowed to uncaringly pass by his prone body on the way up to the peak. About an hour later, as we were still ascending and wrestling with sickness, as Ed describes it, the fellow passed by us again "skipping down the trail".  With a proud smirk on his face, the fit old man says to us, "Hang in there boys, it's not much further".  At that moment, I think if either one of us had an ounce of energy, we would have extended our leg before his "skipping" gait and watched in amusement as he tumbled down the trail. :-)

D W Orr
Environmentalist, Historic Preservationist, Weimaraner/Dachshund Companion, Blogger, and Photographer
Harford County, Maryland
September 3, 2016

First view of Mt. Whitney hiding among the clouds along the tree line trail

Doug at Tree Line - About 10,000 Feet

Doug Above Tree Line

Doug at High Camp With Summit in Background

Doug resting on his cheap sleeping bag roll before setting up high camp

View of Wotan's Throne from High Camp
From high camp, Doug looks on incredulously at hikers along switchback trail.  Where did all these people materialize from overnight?

Next Day, Sunday, On the Way to the Summit - Snowfields!

On the Way to the Summit a Snowmelt Pond - View from Switchback Trail

View of Summit from Switchback Trail

Doug At The Peak - Between my feet is the round USGS brass elevation benchmark disk.  I am drinking a canned Mai-Tai cocktail mix and flashing the victory/peace sign.  On my left hip, a box of crackers; right hip, sunglass case holder. About 11,000 feet below me is the flat, arid Owens Valley.

The USGS Elevation Benchmark Disk (Source cannot be attributed)

Ed's Record of the Adventure

Aerial View of Mt. Whitney - Far Left Pinnacle (Source cannot be attributed)

Aerial View of the Peak at Mt. Whitney (Source cannot be attributed)

Aerial View of Mt. Whitney, Second Peak from Right (Source cannot be attributed)


(D W Orr Photography) Mount Whitney Mountaineering Mt Whitney Mt. Whitney Owens Valley Sierra Nevada Whitney Portal https://dworr.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/9/the-ascent Sat, 03 Sep 2016 11:23:23 GMT
Maddie, Sweet and Loyal Companion https://dworr.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/6/maddie-sweet-and-loyal-companion She had me as soon as she flashed those beautiful baby blue eyes at me while curled up in my lap as a 6-week old pup.  In two more weeks, I would soon begin a 14-plus year relationship with a special canine that only a few dog owners ever will truly understand. After decades of Weimaraner ownership, I knew instinctively that this pup had a very peaceful and serene nature about her that I detected while she lay in my lap. 

WARNING: The following is a loving tribute to a very special dog, from a human companion who intensely appreciates the individuality, character, and soul of Weimaraners.  Many readers may find this tribute too tedious.  Weim lovers perhaps, not so much.

This girl, who we named Maddie, would be easy going - quite unlike your typical Weimaraner.  Shortly after arriving at her newly chosen household (for she chose me), she developed a debilitating disease diagnosed as HOD - a type of intense inflammation of the joints that some believe is related to vaccinations.  She could not stand or walk.  We were very concerned that she would not make it to her 3-month birthday.  My darling wife and I nursed her back to health through this very trying period.  This nurturing resulted in a lifelong, intense devotion from Maddie to my wife.  Miraculously, she ended up living the longest of any of our Weims - almost 14 1/2 years.  In that lifetime, she was pals with a English Springer Spaniel for 9 years and another Weim for 5 years.  She got along with both of her household buddies. 

When the Spaniel needed to serve a timeout in her crate, Maddie would often come over to the crate and express her sympathies and concern for her buddy.  Particularly when "Mom" (my wife) was heard to come home (giveaway - garage door opening), the Spaniel and Maddie would begin their howling routine.  Maddie would jump on top of the dining room table, and the Spaniel would begin the chorus standing on the floor.  The Spaniel was the first to start the practice of howling on Mom's arrival.  Maddie joined in some months later and the two continued it together from that point forward.  A more domesticated primordial sound has never been heard.

After family supper, Maddie and the Spaniel together were usually given "flip" chips (named in honor of the Spaniel flipping her chips in the air upon receiving).  Maddie would consume her treat well in advance of the Spaniel.  Of course, in her greed Maddie would then want to finish off her buddy's treat.  The Spaniel was the ever vigilant dog.  She would react to outside "disturbances" by barking incessantly and sometimes rushing the front window by jumping on the adjacent couch.  In fact, on one occasion a joint rush by Maddie led to a broken window that needed replacement.  Fortunately, no dog was injured.  Like most Weimaraners, Maddie's power of observation was keen, and she would soon use this skill to her tactical advantage.  After many observations of this behavioral reaction from the Spaniel, Maddie knew that the Spaniel's dedication to home vigilance dominated her desire for treats.  With this knowledge in hand, Maddie would stand near her buddy while she was chewing her gummy flip chip and then use her "be on the alert" bark to agitate and distract her friend to react.  On queue, the Spaniel would immediately begin barking and leave her flip chip unguarded to investigate the unknown, feigned intrusion.  Maddie would then grab the unprotected possession and finish it off during her rival's absence.  After investigating the false alarm, the Spaniel would return to discover that her treat had been stolen.  She would look up at me with those sad eyes and bark, "Dad, I have been had!"  Feeling sorry but amused, I would always succumb to her plea and go get a new flip chip for my "Little Buddy".  Maddie used this ruse many times on the gullible Spaniel.  I feel that it was probably the most intelligent preconceived scheme ever witnessed by me from my many loyal canines.

Like most Weims, Maddie would move in a tight circle two times before plopping down to rest; she would rub her front shoulder in a odorous substance when discovered outside; she would steal away my wife's shoes as comfort toys to take and hide in her crate; a chronic warm seat stealer, while you were away to the bathroom, you found that she had furtively repositioned herself from one side of the room to your favorite spot on the couch; during neighborhood walks, she would periodically sniff out and retrieve dead birds which she would carry back to the house - usually much effort was required to coerce her to give up such a prize.  Maddie liked to give me multiple kisses on the face before settling into bed.  Especially in her early years, she would sit her 65-pound body in my lap while waiting for my wife to complete her Saturday shopping.  For some reason, female Weims seem to limit this honor to the alpha male person of the family.

But Maddie had many unique traits to call all her own.  Those baby blue eyes would turn an amber color by nine months of age (typical), but by her senior years her pupils would enlarge, giving her a pleasant, soulful look.  When outside, she liked to sit her haunch on the high back-porch deck with her front feet on the top step, and watch the world go by while gazing between the deck rails (see image below).  She was very regimented in her family routines and somehow was accurately aware of what time it was. She expected her dinner to be served on time.  If it was getting past that time, she would approach you, sit, and begin the stare-down.  If that got no reaction from you, she began to bark at you.  If that failed, she would begin jumping on you as you sat there unresponsive with your lazy butt on the couch.  Commanding her away to the other room to be patient was to no avail.  For I could see out of the corner of my eye that she would return and begin to stalk me like a bird of prey.  I could not help but smile and to let her stealthily approach me.  Finally, after arising and giving in submissively to her desires, she would do her happy 360 degree dance spin on the floor.  After I retired, I witnessed how she expected my wife to arrive home from work on time.  She expected us to go to bed on time; and if late for any of these milestones, she would sit down and stare at you and began a series of barks.  I suppose that this trait is all about the stereotypical Weimaraner stubbornness.  But Maddie had a unique slant to this whole intensity of focus.

With that internal clock of hers indicating a 15-minute countdown, Maddie would begin the lookout for the Mom watch by sitting on one of the chairs and gazing out the front window for the arrival of the blue van.  When my wife did arrive home from work, Maddie would usually retrieve one of her cached shoes, and approach her with it in her mouth, tail wagging, and with what one can best describe as "boner ears", that is with her floppy ears almost sticking straight out from the side.  I have never seen any Weim do this before or since the arrival of Maddie.  Another unique physical trait was the sound of her teeth chattering in the anticipation of receiving a wonderful morsel of food.  This would sometimes occur during the dinner badgering routine described in the previous paragraph.  It was with the hearing of this chattering that you knew it was getting serious and you owed the poor dog her dinner now and then.

Maddie had this prim and proper attitude about her.  The family sometimes referred to her as "Princess Maddie".  To her, things must be done a certain way and you just did not deviate from these highest standards of protocol.  She liked her water bowl to be fresh from the tap.  Yogurt, especially vanilla, was a delicacy not to be shared with her buddies.  It was only proper that a dog of her character start her day with a small treat from the "goodie drawer".  And when camped beside said drawer, with nose pointed to contents inside, you, her servant are expected to reward this distinguished behavior with further treats throughout the day.  In her mind, a fine dog of her social standing was not bred to be wet, even though the Weimaraner breed is a sporting dog that can instinctively swim.  To relieve herself even in a fine rain drizzle was a total indignity.  If you insist on this mockery of civil behavior, then you must provide the humiliated girl a raincoat for her troubles.  And this is what my wife and daughter did for her on such weather events.  When she was nine years of age, we introduced her to a swimming pool while on vacation.  By then she was too set in her ways - she was not agreeable to learn how to swim.  But she trusted Mom enough to let her hold her head and half her body above the water.  There is an image below that captures this tender moment.  The image exemplifies the loving trust between a dog and its human.  Look at that sweetness in Maddie's face.  I love this image.  But even the Princess has her moments.  Stuffed toys and boxes are fair game for shredding.  Sloppy dinner manners are acceptable - canned dog food and leftovers should be scarfed down hastily and food spillage from the plate to the floor and adjacent water bowl is tolerated.

Then there was the flap ear, semaphore signaling.  At nightime, Maddie used the flapping ears as her wakeup signal. It told us that one of us needed to wakeup and let her out to do her business.  She would kindly give us about three to four flapping sequences to respond.  If this had no effect, then it was time to escalate to barking, which usually did the trick.  After being let out to relieve herself, Maddie enjoyed taking long midnight strolls around the fenced-in yard.  During these early and mid-summer evening strolls, she would search out toads (she would never bother them, seemingly to know better) and sometimes would disappointingly eat dirt.  When Maddie reached the age of nine, a new canine buddy arrived to fill the void after the loss of our beloved Spaniel.  Our new Junior Weimaraner puppy pestered Maddie to accept her into the family.  At first, Maddie would hardly look at her new partner.  But that quickly faded when Junior insisted that Maddie acquiesce.  Maddie was very tolerant of Junior's high energy and shenanigans.  Maddie led by example to help Junior settle down and become a good house dog.  At some point after Junior's arrival, a new dinner ritual was born.  Maddie was now spending more time relaxing in her open crate, no doubt to get some uninterrupted rest from the ever spirited Junior.  As the dinner hour approached, Maddie would arise and emerge from her girl-cave, flap her ears, and begin the badgering routine.  On hearing the ear flap semaphore, Junior would reply with her own ear flap as acknowledgement of message received, rush into our bedroom, retrieve my pillow, and begin her happy showing off waltz around the house, tail wagging, large fluffy pillow drooping from her mouth, with eyes uplifted.  This Big Dinner Show occurred till the very end, and how or why it ever began is beyond me.  It just happened.  With Maddie's passing, Junior does not have a start-the-big-show signal to trigger off of anymore and now just patiently lies and waits for me, whenever I am ready to serve her dinner.  No longer are there Big Dinner Shows for me to enjoy.  On June 20th, the first morning of this 2016 Summer, my beloved sweet girl crossed the rainbow bridge.  Oh how I, the family, and Junior miss her.

Afterthought: The full moon was visible low in the southwestern night sky as Cindy and I left the house that morning to go say our tearful goodbyes to our dear friend.  The moon set shortly later at approximately the exact time that Maddie crossed the rainbow bridge.  I will forever remember it as Maddie's Summer Moon.

Many images of this wonderful soul can be found in the first seven photos and later half of the gallery at http://dworr.zenfolio.com/weimaraner.

See my blog post from September 2015: Canines, Weimaraners, and Me


D W Orr

Environmentalist, Historic Preservationist, Weimaraner Companion, Blogger, and Photographer

Harford County, Maryland

June 21, 2016

A Senior Beauty ReduxA Senior Beauty Redux

Maddie at Age 13

Senior Gal GazeSenior Gal Gaze Maddie on the back Porch Deck

2011 - Tender Moment with Mom2011 - Tender Moment with Mom Maddie at age 9 learning to swim with Mom

Mentor & ProtegeMentor & Protege Maddie teaching Junior how to behave

Friends on a StepFriends on a Step  Maddie with her Spaniel buddy

Are we gone to take a walk, or what?Are we gone to take a walk, or what? Maddie with Dad's shoes and "Boner Ears"

RIP My Sweet Girl - Taken One Week Prior to Crossing the Rainbow BridgeRIP My Sweet Girl - Taken One Week Prior to Crossing the Rainbow Bridge Junior (kissing Dad) and Maddie one week before crossing the Rainbow Bridge


(D W Orr Photography) Weimaraner https://dworr.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/6/maddie-sweet-and-loyal-companion Tue, 21 Jun 2016 23:47:01 GMT
The Consecration at Gettysburg https://dworr.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/6/the-consecration-at-gettysburg On that crisp March day of 1967, as he looked up from the heavily wooded battleground of which he was traversing, a precocious college student, William Frassanito, could not believe what he saw.  After five hard years of dedicated searching, the split rock he longed to locate stood unmistakably before him.  This discovery would soon unlock an 104 year-old mystery of the exact location of Confederate corpses photographed by Alexander Gardner on the Gettysburg battlefield [see photo below].  Frassanito's relentless research would lead to a new appreciation on how to view 19th century photography.  No longer would we approach these images only as aesthetic fine art but also as documentary historical evidence to help unfold the veracity of image identification by the photographer.  For Frassanito's methods revealed not only that the location of the corpse images were misidentified by Gardner, but that he had staged several images by moving some of the bodies 50 yards from their actual site of demise to a more photogenic acceptable background.  In addition, rifles were moved and used as props to further enhance the image.

Although inferred, Lincoln's famous address did not directly indicate that only the Union dead consecrated the Gettysburg battleground.  I therefore am comfortable to take the liberty to discuss momentarily the memory of the "Confederate Dead" from Semmes' Brigade, as photographed by Gardner.  Semmes' Georgia Brigade had counterattacked Union troops from Caldwell's Division in the famous Wheatfield fighting late in the day of July 2nd.  Brooke's Brigade of that Division inflicted some heavy casualties to the Georgians just west of the woods on the Rose Farm.  Some visitors comment on the Gettysburg National Military Park (GNMP) setting as not inducing a solemn feeling while walking the grounds, due to the pristine, nature park-like atmosphere.  I have found that the only way to circumvent this recreational reaction is to utilize Frassanito's 1975 seminal book, "Gettysburg: A Journey In Time", as a conduit to transcend time and space.  His "then and now" shots facilitate the visitor's ability to evoke an emotional connection to the carnage that actually took place in the spot in which they stand and ponder that moment over 150 years ago.  Using an artistic rendering of a recent photograph of the split rock that I captured near Rose Woods, I have super imposed the 1863 corpse photo taken by Alexander Gardner at the same location a few days after the battle [see image below].  This image is located at a spot seldom visited by tourists.  Knowing its significance will elicit eerie inner feelings and awaken your spirituality when you are standing at that isolated spot adjacent to the Rose Woods.  You too can locate this secluded area by watching this four minute video, "Exploring the Rose Woods in Gettysburg", or reviewing the two aerial maps that I have constructed below.

You will note that one of the corpses in the Gardner image has his knee bent in rigor mortis.  The only Gettysburg battlefield monument that depicts a corpse is the one dedicated to the 116th Pennsylvania, located on the Stony Hill near the Wheatfield.  The 116th was part of the Irish Brigade, discussed in length in my blog, "The Devotion At Gettysburg".  During a bloody struggle, the Irish Brigade swept three South Carolina regiments off the Stony Hill during a critical phase of the Wheatfield battle.  Shortly thereafter, in the same general vicinity, a series of ferocious attacks and counterattacks would take place between the troops of Semmes' and Brooke's Brigades.  The corpse in the 116th monument has both his knees bent, just like the one Rebel corpse in the Rose Woods image taken by Alexander Gardner.  The design of the monument for the 116th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment came about from the following incident told by Major St. Clair Mulholland ("Story of the 116th Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers", pages 126-127) after the Irish had driven the Confederates from the top of the Stony Hill: “... and so, on this occasion the fire of the Regiment was terrible in its effect, while the small rifle balls of the South Carolina men went whistling over the heads of the men of the One Hundred and Sixteenth.  In front, and a little to the right, stood the Rose farm house and barn.  Over the little valley in the immediate front one could see the enemy massed and preparing for another attack.  The dead of the One Hundred and Tenth Pennsylvania Volunteers lay directly in front, on the ground which that command had vacated but a half hour before, and one young boy lay outstretched on a large rock with his musket still grasped in his hand, his pale, calm face upturned to the sunny sky, the warm blood still flowing from a hole in his forehead and running in a red stream over the gray stone.  The young hero had just given his life for his country.  A sweet, childish face it was, lips parted in a smile - those still lips on which the mother’s kisses had so lately fallen, warm and tender. The writer never looked on a soldier slain without feeling that he gazed upon the relics of a saint; but the little boy lying there with his blood coloring the soil of his own State, and his young heart stilled forever, seemed more like an angel form than any of the others.”  The scene witnessed by Mulholland was the inspiration for the prone figure on the monument to the 116th Pennsylvania.  It is the only monument on the battlefield that with each and every drive-by pass, I am filled with great solemnity.

It is significant to note that Frassanito's "then and now" photos from Journey also exposed how overgrown the landscape was at the time of his revelations when compared to immediate post battlefield images.  The sight lines of the mid-20th century hid many important terrain features critical during the battle and compounded the difficulty of Frassanito's investigative quest.  Gardner's photos showed the split rock residing just outside the Rose Woods.  When Frassanito made his discovery in 1967, the rock was now part of the extended woods and remained that way well into the early part of the 21st century.  These paired century photo comparisons arranged by Frassanito inspired the GNMP to expedite their plans to restore and preserve the park back to forest and vegetation conditions as they existed at the time of the battle.  After much work spanning many years, the military park restoration effort was basically completed a few years back and one can now view the Rose Woods as it was on a hot July day in 1863 when the bodies of half a dozen Georgian soldiers laid in rest prior to burial.

Another wonderful read is Frassanito's followup book to Journey: "Early Photography at Gettysburg".

Refer to this 6-part Gettysburg Daily video on "A Journey in Time, The Story Behind the Book".  Part 4 is about the important discovery of the split rock.

This concludes my 5-part series on the "Gettysburg Address Preserved" of which I started on November 19, 2015.  I intend to publish three more blog posts covering the second day of the three-day Battle of Gettysburg with photos of the associated battlefield monuments (see Notes 1-3 below).  Please stay tuned in to my blog posts by subscribing to the RSS feed (see button below).  If you enjoyed my series on "Gettysburg Address Preserved", a like or share on Facebook is always appreciated.  Thank you.

Note1: Be sure to watch out for my upcoming blog post on The Sound and the Fury at Gettysburg (The Cannoneers at Trostle Farm).

Note2: Be sure to watch out for my upcoming blog post on The Wounded at Gettysburg (The Extraordinary Charles A. Fuller and the 61st NY at the Wheatfield).

Note3: Be sure to watch out for my upcoming blog post on The Sacrifice at Gettysburg (The 4th Michigan Seizes the Colors in the Wheatfield).

For some absorbing anecdotes concerning the Army of the Potomac, see Dr. Timothy Orr's blog: Tales from the Army of the Potomac.

My full Gettysburg gallery of photographs can be found at D.W. Orr Gettysburg Gallery.


D W Orr

Environmentalist, Historic Preservationist, Weimaraner Companion, Blogger, and Photographer

Harford County, Maryland

June 18, 2016

116th Pennsylvania Monument 1116th Pennsylvania Monument 1

The 116th Pennsylvania Monument - Is that a shadow of a cross projecting across the base of the monument?

116th Pennsylvania Monument 2116th Pennsylvania Monument 2

The 116th Pennsylvania Monument - "and one young boy lay outstretched on a large rock"

116th Pennsylvania Monument 3116th Pennsylvania Monument 3

The 116th Pennsylvania Monument - "with his musket still grasped in his hand, his pale, calm face upturned to the sunny sky"

Semmes Advance at Rose FarmSemmes Advance at Rose Farm 116th PA in the Wheatfield and Advance to the Stony Hill; Brooke's Brigade Clears the Wheatfield; Semmes Counterattack; Location of Gardner's "Confederate Dead" of Semmes Georgia Brigade (Map courtesy of the NPS)

"Confederate Dead" and Split Rock at Rose Farm"Confederate Dead" and Split Rock at Rose Farm

"Confederate Dead" from Semmes Brigade and Split Rock at Rose Farm (Photo by Alexander Gardner and courtesy of the LOC).  Note the bent knee of the last corpse in the back - similar to the 116th PA monument.

The Ghosts of Semmes' BrigadeThe Ghosts of Semmes' Brigade

"The Ghosts of Semmes' Brigade" (Artistic rendering by D. W. Orr). Using a recent photograph I captured near Rose Woods, I have super imposed a contemporary corpse photo taken at the same location a few days after the battle by Alexander Gardner.  This image is located at a spot seldom visited by tourists.  Knowing its significance will elicit eerie inner feelings and awaken your spirituality when you are standing there.  

Wider View Showing 64th NY Infantry Monument in Background; Big Roundtop can be seen in right background behind trees

View from Rose Farm Depicting Brooke's Battle Line on Stony Hill: L-R, 145 PA, 27 Conn (behind tree), 53 PA, 4th Brigade Tablet

Confederate Dead Area - Rose Farm Looking South

Land of the Confederate Dead Looking NorthLand of the Confederate Dead Looking North Confederate Dead Area - Rose Farm Looking North

Location of "Confederate Dead"Location of "Confederate Dead"

Location of "Confederate Dead"

Aerial Landscape of Day TwoAerial Landscape of Day Two

 Aerial Landscape of Day Two

Rose FarmhouseRose Farmhouse Rose Farm

(D W Orr Photography) 116th Pennsylvania A Journey In Time Brooke's Brigade Confederate Dead Gettysburg Rose Farm Rose Woods Semmes Brigade Split Rock Stony Hill William Frassanito https://dworr.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/6/the-consecration-at-gettysburg Sat, 18 Jun 2016 12:46:48 GMT
The Beginning of the End https://dworr.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/4/the-beginning-of-the-end As I am writing this, I hear off in the near distance the roar of diesel engines from heavy duty machinery and the crashing of large trees falling to the ground.  In my very first blog post, The Folly of Unchecked Development, I expressed my views on the importance of land conservation.  Well, the inevitable is happening at this moment.  The area that you see in this image, which I have designated as part of my Woodland Gallery, is now being systematically destroyed by land developers.  The big machinery has arrived and has started to build a road to this once unspoiled beauty of nature - the home of foxes and deer over many generations.  The greed of the county, banks, investors, and developers could not be stopped.  I have walked these grounds many times in solitude and I have savored the wonder of wild fern fields, discovered a unique mushroom tree, watched athletic deer leap high over brush, gazed at young fox pups as they pop out of their fox holes in the early evening, and I have approached young fawns bedded down in the early morning.  This exploitation of the wildlife and natural beauty of the land is horrific. Words alone cannot express my sorrow for the loss yet again, of virgin Eastern USA woodland and the domicile for a rich variety of four legged critters and birds of prey.  This transgression upon nature has occurred nearby every residence of ours for the past 40 plus years.  I am afraid that it will never end until it is too late.  Goodbye my Lost Woodland.

See my Woodland Image Gallery here.

D W Orr

Environmentalist, Historic Preservationist, Weimaraner Companion, Blogger, and Photographer

Harford County, Maryland

April 27, 2016

Fox HillFox Hill  



(D W Orr Photography) Bread & Cheese Branch Bread and Cheese Branch Development Environment Forest Harford County Nature Preservation Wildlife Woodland https://dworr.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/4/the-beginning-of-the-end Wed, 27 Apr 2016 15:53:25 GMT
The Bravery at Gettysburg https://dworr.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/4/the-bravery-at-gettysburg General Cadmus M. Wilcox watched with pride as his Alabaman soldiers made their way down the slope toward a dry creek bed known locally as Plum Run.  The Yankee-blue line was rapidly disintegrating before them and fleeing to Cemetery Hill where only Union artillery lay poised to defend the last stand of General Meade's Army of the Potomac (AOP). But suddenly, through the smoky gunpowder haze, emerged about three hundred brave northern soldiers, bayonets leveled and charging with a vengeance directly at the swell of men from the Southland.  These were the 1st Minnesotans!  Moments before, General Winfield Hancock had observed from horseback the retreat of General Sickles' Third Corps from the Peach Orchard salient as General Wilcox's and General Barksdale's troops rolled like an unstoppable tidal wave of butternut headed for the heights of Cemetery Ridge and victory.1  From Cemetery Ridge, Sergeant Alfred Carpenter of the 1st Minnesota watched the Third Corps fall back and observed:

"Back over the plain they came, slowly, not faster than a walk, loading as they came and every now and then turning and pouring a deadly volley into the foe.  The Rebs came in two splendid lines, firing as they advanced ... The plain was strewed with dead and wounded.  The Rebs had advanced their batteries and were  hurling death and destruction into the ranks of our retreating men ... The stragglers came rushing through the lines, whom we in vain tried to stop and at last gave it up entirely, believing they were more injury than help to us.  Now and then shells fell uncomfortably near us."

At this critical and pivotal moment of the day two Battle of Gettysburg, Hancock rode up to the Minnesotans, the only available nearby troops2, and asked Colonel William Colvill, "My God, are these all the men we have here?".  After Colvill identified his command, Hancock then pointed to the rapidly approaching Rebels and ordered Colvill to "Advance Colonel, and take those colors!".  Hancock later recalled: "I saw that in some way five minutes must be gained or we were lost."  Lieutenant William Lochran, later wrote that,

"Every man realized in an instant what that order meant -- death or wounds to us all; the sacrifice of the regiment to gain a few minutes' time and save the position, and probably the battlefield."

Colvill then commanded, "Attention, First Minnesota, right shoulder shift; Arms.  Forward, double quick march!"  The eight companies of the 1st Minnesota regiment immediately marched down the Cemetery Hill slope and then gallantly charged over about 350 yards through a wheat field stubble to Plum Run, where outnumbered by about 5 to 1, they encountered the heavy fire of Wilcox's 1,500 Alabamans.  Sergeant Alfred Carpenter wrote later that:

"Bullets whistled past us, shells screeched over us; canister and grape fell about us........Comrade after comrade dropped from the ranks; but on the line went. No one took a second look at his fallen companion. We had no time to weep."

Another regimental soldier recalled:

"It seemed as if every step was over some fallen comrade.  Yet no man wavers, every gap is closed up ... bringing down their bayonets, the boys press forward in unbroken line.  Men stumbled and fell.  Some stayed down but others got up and continued."

As Wilcox's men crossed the dry creek bed and started up the victory slope to Cemetery Hill, Corvill ordered a volley fire 30 paces from the faces of the Rebels.  Corvill then yelled "Charge!" and his men leveled their bayonets at the first line of Wilcox which recoiled back into the rear line with much confusion and disorder.3  The sudden attack by the First shocked the two lines of Alabamans and caused them to fall back across Plum Run and back some distance up the opposite slope.  One officer from the First said that "men were never made who will stand against leveled bayonets coming with such momentum and evident desperation."  Colvill, expecting a counterattack, ordered his men to take cover along the shallow banks of Plum Run.  Continuous and heavy gunfire was exchanged with the Rebs at a respectful distance for many minutes from both the front line and flanks of the First.  But the now cautious Wilcox had not yet ordered a counterattack.  The First could not hold its position much longer, but at this point, the Minnesotans had bought the AOP not only the five minutes Hancock needed, but an additional ten minutes beyond that.  With only moments to spare, the First was reinforced on the left flank with troops from the 111th NY regiment (Willard's Brigade) that were ordered in by General Hancock.  Wilcox was forced to break off any planned attack and return to the Emmitsburg Road.  The day was saved, but just barely.

This charge of "forlorn hope" bought the time needed for Hancock to send in the brigade of Colonel Willard4 to subdue the advance of Wilcox's Brigade and Barksdale's Charge.  Of the 262 Minnesotans who made this brave charge, 215 soldiers became casualties in fifteen minutes, including all of the regiment's field officers and the regimental commander, Colonel Colvill, when a bullet tore through his right foot.  The unit's regimental colors fell five times and each time were raised again. Forty-seven survivors were able to rally back to General Hancock under the senior surviving officer, Captain Nathan Messick.  This 82% casualty rate stands to this day as the largest loss by any surviving military unit in U.S. history during a single day's engagement.  This action by the 1st Minnesota is recognized as significantly contributing to the preservation of the Union defensive position on the heights of Cemetery Ridge, and possibly saving the AOP from a second day defeat.

After the war, both General Hancock and President Calvin Coolidge praised the heroics of the First.  Hancock went as far to say that their heroism was the highest in the annals of war while Coolidge ascribed "Colonel Colvill and those eight companies of the First Minnesota are entitled to rank as the saviors of their country."

The regimental monument was erected in 1893 nearby to the Pennsylvania Memorial. The right side panel of the base unit reads: "...... In self-sacrificing desperate valor this charge has no parallel in any war. The next day the regiment participated in repelling Pickett’s charge losing 17 more men killed and wounded".

Note1: For more, see my previous blog post on The Struggle at Gettysburg (The 114th Pennsylvania and Barksdale's Charge through Mr. Sherfy's Peach Orchard).

Note2: The 1st Minnesota at this moment occupied the former position of Caldwell's Division, now fighting in the Wheatfield.  See my prior blog post on The Devotion at Gettysburg (A Nation of Immigrants - The Irish Brigade at Gettysburg).

Note3: See below the print - The First Minnesota by Don Troiani, depicting the 1st Minnesota's bayonet charge at Plum Run

Note4: The marker to where Willard fell can be seen in the photo below.  See The Struggle at Gettysburg.


For some absorbing anecdotes concerning the Army of the Potomac, see Dr. Timothy Orr's blog: Tales from the Army of the Potomac.

My full Gettysburg gallery of photographs can be found at D.W. Orr Gettysburg Gallery.


D W Orr

Environmentalist, Historic Preservationist, Weimaraner Companion, Blogger, and Photographer

Harford County, Maryland

April  17, 2016

1st Minnesota Monument 11st Minnesota Monument 1

1st Minnesota Monument in Early Evening - Background: George Weikert Farm, Little Roundtop, Big Roundtop.

The Stormy ChargeThe Stormy Charge

"The Stormy Charge" (Artist Rendering by D. W. Orr)

1st Minnesota Monument 41st Minnesota Monument 4

1st Minnesota Monument

1st Minnesota Monument 61st Minnesota Monument 6

1st Minnesota Monument at Mid Day - Background: George Weikert Farm, Little Roundtop

Battlefield Landscape 4Battlefield Landscape 4 Plum Run - middle foreground. To the right is where the 1st Minn charged. Left middle is marker to where Willard fell (at the base of the second tree from the left) 

1st Minnesota Charges1st Minnesota Charges As regiments from the Union Third Corps fall back from the Emmitsburg Road, the 1st Minnesota is ordered by General Hancock to stem the tide of the Rebel advance so as to bide time for the deployment of Willard's Brigade and other Union troops (Map courtesy of Wikipedia)

Hancock Wounded MonumentHancock Wounded Monument

General Hancock Wounded Monument

Devil's DenDevil's Den

The small white building in the distant background is the Phillip Snyder farmhouse. At 3:00 pm on July 2, 1863, this farm area would serve as the launching point for General Longstreet's 1st Corps attack on the Union left.  Later that day these troops would be fighting the 1st Minnesota at Plum Run near Cemetery Ridge.

Battlefield Landscape 5Battlefield Landscape 5

Center: General Hancock Wounded Monument

Right Center: 14th Vermont Monument

Middle Background: Cordori Farm

Left Background: Virginia Monument with General Robert E. Lee Equestrian Statue - Approximate center point for Day 3 "Pickett's Charge"

Left Foreground: 2nd USSS Monument - Unit in which I spent 10 years doing Civil War Reenactment & Preservation Work

The First MinnesotaThe First MinnesotaGettysburg, Pennsylvania, July 2, 1863

Among the many militia regiments that responded to President Lincoln's call for troops in April 1861 was the First Minnesota Infantry. As the first Union regiment to volunteer for three years of service, the First Minnesota fought at the Battles of Bull Run, Antietam and Fredericksburg. It was, however, during the Battle of Gettysburg that the First Minnesota played a significant role in American military history. On the morning of July 2, 1863, the First Minnesota, along with the other units of the II Corps, took its position in the center of the Union line on Cemetery Ridge. Late in the day, the Union III Corps, under heavy attack by the Confederate I Corps, collapsed creating a dangerous gap in the Union line. The advancing Confederate brigades were in position to breakthrough and then envelope the Union forces. At that critical moment, the First Minnesota was ordered to attack. Advancing at double time, the Minnesotans charged into the leading Confederate brigade with unbounded fury. Fighting against overwhelming odds, the heroic Minnesotans gained the time necessary for the Union line to reform. But the cost was great. Of the 262 members of the regiment present for duty that morning, only 47 answered the roll that evening. The regiment incurred the highest casualty rate of any unit in the Civil War. The gallant heritage of the First Minnesota is carried on by the 1st and 2nd Battalions, 135th Infantry, Minnesota Army National Guard.
The First Minnesota by Don Troiani depicting the famous charge at the Battle of Gettysburg



(D W Orr Photography) 1st Minnesota General Hancock Gettysburg Winfield Scott Hancock https://dworr.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/4/the-bravery-at-gettysburg Sun, 17 Apr 2016 04:27:47 GMT
The Struggle at Gettysburg https://dworr.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/2/the-struggle-at-gettysburg The 114th Pennsylvania Infantry, also known as the Collis Zouaves, were a distinguished Army of the Potomac (AOP) regiment with a long battle record during the American Civil War.  They fought at all the major battles in the eastern theatre: Shenandoah Valley Campaign, Cedar Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg1, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg.  The enlisted men were recruited in the summer of 1862 out of the Philadelphia region and surrounding counties.  The American Zouave (pronounced zoo-ahh-vah) military units were patterned after the fighting French Zouaves, and they were considered elite AOP units. They were known for their precision on the drill field and for their ornate and distinctive uniforms.

The 114th PA had one of the best regimental bands in the AOP; for this reason and due to their reduced size from war casualties both before and during Gettysburg, and because AOP Commander George Meade was a Philadelphian, he made the regiment his provost guard of field headquarters for the last two years of the war. At this time, I now introduce you to Thomas M. Hoyle, a Sergeant in the 114th PA and the great-great-grandfather of my second cousin. Hoyle was listed as a "Musician" in the company band for the First Delaware prior to joining the Zouaves. He most probably was a talented musician in the renowned Zouave band. I have included a daguerreotype photo of him standing at attention and outfitted in his colorful Zouave uniform consisting of white gaiters, baggy red pants, blue sash, short blue jacket with red trim, and topped off with a white turban and red fez. Quite a handsome fellow.  He was present for duty at the now famous "Peach Orchard" during the Battle of Gettysburg.  He saw and felt the full fury of one of the most fierce Confederate charges executed during the entire Civil War and lived to tell about it. It has been passed down through the ages as "Barksdale's Charge". 

As General Barksdale readied his men and peered through the trees at Pitzer's Woods, he could see that the Peach Orchard was occupied by artillery and the Pennsylvanian infantry from Graham's brigade. This was the weakest point of Major General Sickles' unauthorized salient line of battle, now vulnerable to a flank attack. At 5:30 pm, Barksdale received orders to begin the attack. Barksdale shouted, "Attention, Mississippians! Battalions, Forward! Dress to the colors and Forward to the foe! Onward, Brave Mississippians, for Glory!", and in a fashion bordering a spectacle, the brigade was launched with the Rebel Yell echoing from within the woods.  One Union colonel who witnessed it described it as "the grandest charge ever made by mortal man".  At the head of the Mississippi troops rode General Barksdale, his hat off with his long gray-white hair streaming from behind.2  The irresistible tide of the South's finest fighters rolled forward, past the Sherfy property, and crushed the Peach Orchard salient as Yankee muskets and cannon tore away at the steamrolling butternut line.  One Union soldier noted, "Nothing we could do seemed to confuse or halt Barksdale's veterans ... nothing daunted Barksdale and his men ... [they] just came on, and on, and on."  The 114th PA, positioned between the Sherfy barn and farmhouse, felt the full impact of the charge, and after fierce fighting, fell back north up the Emmitsburg Road and then east to a field just north of the Trostle Farm Lane and headed for Cemetery Ridge.  Even during this orderly retreat there was no respite. While crossing the open field, an exploding shell landed nearby two Zouaves assisting a wounded comrade.  All three were killed instantly.  Other red and blue uniformed Zouaves fled to the barn and lost their lives during close-range fighting inside and later during the conflagration of that structure. As Barksdale's charge surged, three of the four Mississippian regiments wheeled left to the northeast and pushed a Union division further back across Plum Run. "Will nothing stop them?" one Union soldier asked himself.  Another confessed that, "For the moment, I thought the day was lost."  The 21st Mississippi regiment, on Barksdale's right flank, angled off from the rest of the brigade and rampaged several Union batteries, including Bigelow's 9th Massachusetts Battery at the Trostle farm.3

"Advance, advance! Brave Mississippians, one more charge and the day is ours", Barksdale barked to his three regiments advancing toward Plum Run. But the attack slowed as the shredded, disordered lines began to fatigue.  A southern soldier recalled that his comrades in arms were "now covered with dust and blackened with the smoke of battle, with ranks depleted by shot and shell, and faint from exhaustion." After advancing almost a mile to Plum Run, Wilcox's Brigade on Barksdale's left flank, were counterattacked by the "forlorn hope" of the 1st Minnesota.4  As Major General Hancock viewed his ordered delaying action by the Minnesotans from atop Cemetery Ridge, he ordered Colonel Willard's Brigade forward to stem the seemingly inexorable tide of the Mississippi Brigade commanded by the fiery William Barksdale.  In 1862, Willard's New Yorkers had been captured at Harpers Ferry and later paroled.  They were now eager to atone for their humiliation and restore their honor.  And this they did with heavy musketry fire and the point of the bayonet as they drove the Rebels back away from Plum Run. Colonel Willard was killed during this ferocious fighting.5  As a conspicuous target mounted on his horse, Barksdale suffered a bullet hit above the left knee followed by a cannonball shot that nearly took off his left foot.  Then another musket ball struck the left side of his chest which knocked him off his horse. Left for dead by his men, he was later carried on a litter to a Union hospital, where he died before dawn the next morning. Fiery to the bitter end, as he lay dying in a field hospital, he boasted to the Union surgeons caring for him, "Hancock had better watch his back, Old Peter (Longstreet) has a surprise for you in the morning!".  As for the 114th PA, many Zouaves had been captured during the melee at the Sherfy farm and the adjacent Peach Orchard. Out of 312 engaged Zouave combatants, nearly one hundred men had been killed or wounded in action with sixty missing in action.  In the battle's aftermath, members of the 20th Maine found charred bodies and skeletons in the ruins of the burned-out Sherfy barn.  Also found on the grounds surrounding the farm were many corpses, both blue and gray.  But scattered in between, were the bright red hats and trousers of the fallen 114th.  On July 3rd, following the battle at the Peach Orchard, the 114th was deployed along side of the "Philadelphia Brigade", under command of Brigadier General Alexander Webb, at the "Angle" to help thwart the advance of another famous charge at Gettysburg - Pickett's Charge.

The 114th Pennsylvania monument, located between the Sherfy barn and farmhouse on Emmitsburg Road, depicts a bronze statue of a Zouave loading his rifle atop a seven foot tall granite base. General Sickles' Third Army Corps diamond badge is at the foot of the statue. The base of the monument was dedicated on July 2nd, 1886 by the State of Pennsylvania and the statue was dedicated on November 11, 1888, after its addition to the base. The north side of the base reads: Erected by the surviving members of 114 Regt. Penna. Vols. to mark the position held by that organization on the second day of the memorable battle fought on this field .... and in memory of that command, who here laid down their lives in defense of their country’s flag.  An epic Struggle indeed on July 2, 1863, at Mr. Sherfy's Peach Orchard, by some patriots from Philadelphia and some gallant men from Mississippi.

Note1: On December 13, 1862 at the Battle of Fredericksburg, Colonel Collis rallied his 114th PA troops by grabbing the colors at a critical moment as the Union artillery on Prospect Hill was about to be overtaken.  This action saved the guns and also won Collis the Medal of Honor. Years later Collis commissioned the German painter Carl Röchling to depict this scene in a painting.

Note2: See below the Don Trioani print, Barksdale's Charge

Note3: Be sure to watch out for my upcoming blog post on The Sound and the Fury at Gettysburg (The Cannoneers at Trostle Farm).

Note4: Be sure to watch out for my next and fourth of five blog posts on The Bravery at Gettysburg (The Gallant Charge of the 1st Minnesota at Gettysburg).

Note5: The marker to where Willard fell can be seen in the photo below. 


For some absorbing anecdotes concerning the Army of the Potomac, see Dr. Timothy Orr's blog: Tales from the Army of the Potomac.

My full Gettysburg gallery of photographs can be found at D.W. Orr Gettysburg Gallery.


D W Orr

Environmentalist, Historic Preservationist, Weimaraner Companion, Blogger, and Photographer

Harford County, Maryland

February 13, 2016

114th Pennsylvania Monument 1114th Pennsylvania Monument 1

114th Pennsylvania Infantry Monument - Background: Sherfy Farm House

114th Pennsylvania Infantry Monument114th Pennsylvania Infantry Monument114th Pennsylvania Infantry Monument

 114th Pennsylvania Infantry Monument

114th Pennsylvania Monument 4114th Pennsylvania Monument 4

114th Pennsylvania Infantry Monument

The Zouave Uniform worn by Thomas M. Hoyle - Corporal, Company E, 114 PA Infantry - Present and on duty at Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1863

Pennsylvania Memorial - "Thos M Hoyle" name engraved as Corporal under Co. E on plaque on exterior north facing wall of memorial

Battery F, Penn Light ArtilleryBattery F, Penn Light Artillery The Peach Orchard

Sherfy House & FarmSherfy House & Farm      Sherfy Farm: Barn and House - 114th Pennsylvania Monument is located in left center between the barn and house - Barksdale's Charge was over these grounds

Battlefield Landscape 16Battlefield Landscape 16

Horizon showing Barksdale's Charge: L-R, Sherfy Barn, Fire Zouaves, 15 NY Battery (foreground), Excelsior Brigade, Penn Memorial, Clark's Battery, Trostle Farm

Sherfy BarnSherfy Barn

Sherfy Barn

Battlefield Landscape 4Battlefield Landscape 4 Plum Run - middle foreground. To the right is where the 1st Minn charged. Left middle is marker to where Willard fell (at the base of the second tree from the left)

Pennsylvania Memorial MonumentPennsylvania Memorial Monument

Pennsylvania Memorial honoring those state natives who fought at the Battle of Gettysburg

72nd Pennsylvania Monument 572nd Pennsylvania Monument 5 The Philadelphia Brigade's Position on Day 3 during Pickett's Charge 

72nd Pennsylvania Monument 472nd Pennsylvania Monument 4

72nd Pennsylvania Monument - Philadelphia Brigade - Located near "The Angle" on Day 3 during Pickett's Charge 

71st Pennsylvania Monument - Located at "The Angle"71st Pennsylvania Monument - Located at "The Angle"

71st Pennsylvania Monument - Philadelphia Brigade - Located at "The Angle" on Day 3 during Pickett's Charge

Barksdale ChargesBarksdale Charges

 Barksdale's Brigade Advances - The 114 PA at Sherfy Farm (Map courtesy of NPS)

Barksdale's ChargeBarksdale's Charge

 Painting of Barksdale's Charge by Don Troiani - Left Background: Sherfy's Barn; Right Background: Sherfy's Farmhouse

Цифровая репродукция находится в интернет-музее Gallerix.ru 114th PA at the Battle of Fredericksburg.  Shows Colonel Collis rallying the troops with colors in hand. Painting by Carl Rochling.

(D W Orr Photography) 114th Pennsylvania Barksdale's Charge Collis First Delaware Gettysburg Mississippi Peach Orchard Philadelphia Plum Run Willard's Brigade Zouave https://dworr.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/2/the-struggle-at-gettysburg Sat, 13 Feb 2016 13:50:34 GMT
The Honored Dead at Gettysburg https://dworr.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/1/the-honored-dead-at-gettysburg Make no mistake, the Civil War era is filled with many fascinating military characters.  The most gifted fictional writers could not have invented a more colorful character than the Confederate General, Stonewall Jackson.  But for the Union, not many, if any, are more intriguing and compelling than the grim warrior, Edward E. Cross, Colonel of the 5th New Hampshire regiment and brigade commander at the Battle of Gettysburg.

Cross crammed much 19th century adventure in a short time span.  He was well traveled for his young age. Early on he was a newspaper reporter and editor in Cincinnati.  Then he moved out West and worked in the mining business, became a trapper, buffalo hunter, explorer, and part-time Indian scout and fighter.  He fought two duels, one involving rifles and the other with swords, with people who had differences with some of his editorial opinions.  All of this accomplished before the age of 27.  He was 31 years old while leading an Army of the Potomac brigade at Gettysburg.

At 6'3" tall, he projected a commanding presence. He was energetic, tenacious, outspoken, demanding, abrupt, impulsive, non-conforming, possessed a quick temper and showed favoritism.  What's not to like about this guy? These traits resulted in many of his soldiers abhorring him and probably affected his absence of a military promotion.  As evidence, prior to Chancellorsville, he was appointed to command the First Brigade of Winfield Scott Hancock's old division , but he was not honored with a brigadier general's star.  And the soldiers of the 148th PA considered him a tyrant when he sacked their regiment's Colonel a day prior to the battle.

Cross was at one time a member of the anti-immigration American Party (formerly the Know-Nothing Party).  He believed in the superiority of the white Protestants over Irish Catholics, Mexicans, and American Indians.  He loathed abolitionists and blacks alike.  At some point however, he must have gotten past his prejudices when ordered to advance his brigade behind the Irish Brigade (see my blog on The Devotion at Gettysburg) up the hill to the formidably held stone wall at Marye's Heights, during the Battle of Fredericksburg.  One Second Corps biographer stated "that the bodies found nearest at the stone wall were those of the Sixty-ninth New York, Fifth New Hampshire, and Fifty-third Pennsylvania."

Cross was known by his men as a grim warrior who was brave and cool under fire.  He was wounded thirteen times during the regiment's heavy campaigning from 1861-1863.  His first wound at the Battle of Fair Oaks kept him out of action for two months in 1862.  After suffering wound numbers 6-11 at the Battle of Fredericksburg, Cross was laid low for three months prior to returning to the fight at Chancellorsville. "If all the colonels in the army had been like him we should never have lost a battle," said one of his men.  By the end of the war, the New Hampshire regiment had more battle deaths than any of the other 2,000 some Union Army regiments.

In the feverish climax at the Bloody Lane fighting at Antietam, Cross, recalling his Indian fighting days, exhorted his men to "Put on the war paint!".  With his red bandana customarily affixed to his head (evidently for easy identification of the commander during the heat of battle), the wounded Cross then smeared his bloody face with gunpowder from a nearby torn cartridge.  "Give 'em the war whoop boys!" Cross exclaimed.  His men obediently smeared black powder on their own sweaty faces, gave out an Apache war cry and defiantly stood their ground in the face of an attempted Rebel flanking maneuver. From that moment onward, they became known as the Fighting Fifth.  Oh my, you just can't make this stuff up.  With all of his character faults, this man was a born warrior and leader of men.  Prior to his mortal wounding at the Bloody Lane at Antietam, Major General Israel Richardson is quoted as saying, "If I was going to take Hell, I should want the 5th for skirmishers".

On June 28th, preceding the Battle of Gettysburg, Cross told his aide, Major Charles A Hale, "It will be my last battle".  Per Hale, later in the day of June 28 - "At last he said to me; "Mr. Hale, I wish you to attend to my books and papers; that private box of mine in the headquarters wagon; you helped me re-pack it the other day. After the campaign is over, get it at once, dry the contents if damp, and then turn it over to my brother Richard."  At 3pm on July 2nd, Cross's premonition of death carried over to his selection of the color of his normally worn battle bandana.  Per Hale: "The Colonel had for some time been walking back and forth in his quick nervous way, his hands clasped behind his back, a habit that was usual with him. Presently, stopping short where I was standing, he drew out from an inside pocket a large new black silk handkerchief; arranging it in folds on his lifted knee, then handing me his hat to hold, he quickly swathed his head with it in turban fashion, tying the two ends behind. We had seen him do this on other fields with a red bandanna and it then amused me somewhat, but under the peculiar circumstances of the few days previous that black handkerchief was appalling. Again he took off his hat, saying "please tie it tighter Mr. Hale"; my hands were trembling as I picked at the knot; "draw it tighter still" he said impatiently, and finally I adjusted it to suit him. By this time the firing was working up towards the right from the Peach Orchard1 while south by the Round tops there was a struggle going on that seemed to be working to our rear."  Shortly thereafter, per Hale: "About this time General Hancock came riding up from the left accompanied by his staff, and for a moment he drew up where Colonel Cross was standing at his horse's head. "Colonel Cross, this day will bring you a star," he said in his measured suave manner but the Colonel gravely shook his head as he replied, "No General, this is my last battle;" he spoke calmly, with no apparent emotion, and as the General rode on, turned his attention out in the direction of the Peach Orchard, where the battle was now raging at a white heat."  The four regimental units of the First Brigade led by Cross departed the Trostle Woods and advanced though the Wheatfield and the eastern woods bordering the field.  After dismounting from his horse near the right flank of the 148th PA, Cross stood in the wheatfield, looked ahead into the tree canopy of the Rose Woods and Stony Hill, and gave his final instructions to his officers "to be ready to charge when the order is given". He then made his way to his left into the trees where the remainder of the Fifth NH was positioned so that he could lead the First Brigade attack.  As he neared his old regiment, he was shot through the lower abdomen.  A sniper located in a boulder cleft some forty yards southwest from Cross’s position brought him down.  Lt. Colonel Hapgood, who witnessed the shooting, ordered Sergeant Charles Phelps to kill the Confederate sniper.  Phelps provides retribution by taking down the sniper with a crack first shot as ordered by the regimental commander.  Phelps was later felled with a mortal wound to the back.  As Cross lay dying in the woods, Frank Butler, a captain in the 5th, stated in a July 5th letter that "Cross begged for chloroform". Per Butler, “Blow my brains out,” Cross screamed. “Shoot me. How long must I live in such pain?”.  Caldwell is aware that the First Brigade is under heavy fire and relieves most of the brigade (the Fifth holds their position until Brooke's Brigade retreats) by committing the reserve troops under Brooke, which eventually sweeps across the Wheatfield maelstrom and momentarily drives the Rebels off the Stony Hill.  The First Brigade retires to Cemetery Hill under their succeeding commander, Colonel McKeen.

Cross was taken to a field hospital, very likely the William Patterson Farm (about a mile northeast of the Wheatfield) where he died the next day about six hours after being struck in the gut by a minie ball.  His last words were, "I think the boys will miss me." From a local New Hampshire Newspaper Obituary: "As an officer, he was a strict and unswerving disciplinarian, punishing with severity any shirking or neglect of duty....He never asked his men to go where he would not go, and they did well if they followed closely where he led......He was a kind friend, a good son and brother, a brave and chivalric soldier. Devoting his life to his country, he yielded it up in its prime, and passed away while the nation is yet convoluted with the throes of rebellion." In 1866, Winfield Scott Hancock said, "What a magnificent fighter Cross was."  Known by his Army colleagues as Hancock "the Superb", that is quite a complement to receive.

The monument to the 5th New Hampshire regiment was dedicated on July 2nd, 1886, 23 years to the day after the noted struggle in the Wheatfield. It is one of the most unassuming structures at the Gettysburg National Military Park (GNMP) but yet probably the most unique. Three field boulders from Gettysburg form the base of the unit with an octagonal shaped white Concord, New Hampshire granite sandwiched between another field boulder on top.  With the Colonel's name being engraved on one of the plaques, 30 additional "honored dead" (Lincoln) names are listed as having given their "last full measure of devotion" (Lincoln).  This monument is one of the few at the GNMP which identify the names of those soldiers who were killed or mortally wounded during battle.  The six and a half-foot tall monument symbolizes the “hard, enduring, patient, and unmovable” men of the Granite State.  Originally the large monument to the 5th New Hampshire did not have any bronze plaques around the side, which were added in 1901.  At the monument's dedication in 1886, we can see below a view of it with its light-colored Concord granite octagon.  It is worthy to note that although Cross may have ruffled the feathers of many a soldier who had to answer to him, these war-tested veterans respected him enough to erect a monument at the spot where he fell and to dedicate his memory solely to one of the eight plaques surrounding the structure.  His portrait hangs prominently on the first floor of the Statehouse of New Hampshire as one of the finest heroes in the history of that state.

Note1: Be sure to watch out for my next blog post on The Struggle at Gettysburg (The 114th Pennsylvania and Barksdale's Charge through Mr. Sherfy's Peach Orchard).

Note2: Recommended reading, My Brave Boys, by Mike Pride and Mark Travis

Note3: For more about Colonel Cross, see, Mike Pride - Our War Blog

Note4: For more about Colonel Cross and the 5th New Hampshire at Gettysburg, see, Gettysburg Daily

Note5: Be sure to watch out for my upcoming blog post on The Wounded at Gettysburg (The Extraordinary Charles A. Fuller and the 61st NY at the Wheatfield).

Note6: Be sure to watch out for my upcoming blog post on The Sacrifice at Gettysburg (The 4th Michigan Seizes the Colors in the Wheatfield).


For some absorbing anecdotes concerning the Army of the Potomac, see Dr. Timothy Orr's blog: Tales from the Army of the Potomac.

My full Gettysburg gallery of photographs can be found at D.W. Orr Gettysburg Gallery.


D W Orr

Environmentalist, Historic Preservationist, Weimaraner Companion, Blogger, and Photographer

Harford County, Maryland

January 9, 2016

Courtesy of Lancaster Historical SocietyCourtesy of Lancaster Historical Society

Colonel Edward E. Cross (Courtesy of the Lancaster Historical Society)

Edward E CrossEdward E Cross

 Colonel Edward E. Cross (Courtesy of the Lancaster Historical Society) 

Charles HaleCharles Hale

Charles A. Hale, as a Corporal in the 5th; Later aide to Cross; provided memoirs of time with Cross (Courtesy Mike Pride)

 Charles A. Hale, as a Captain in the 5th (Courtesy Mike Pride)

Lt. Colonel Hapgood - Commander of 5th NH at Gettysburg and who ordered Phelps to shoot the Rebel sniper (Courtesy Mike Pride)

Charles PhelpsCharles Phelps

 Charles Phelps, the soldier who took down the Rebel sniper who mortally wounded Cross (Courtesy Mike Pride)

Sergeant Charles H. Phelps - A Fallen Soldier

5th New Hampshire Monument 15th New Hampshire Monument 1 Foreground - The 5th New Hampshire Monument and location where Colonel Cross was shot in the abdomen; Background - Boulder from which a Rebel sniper fired and mortally wounded Colonel Cross

5th New Hampshire Monument 25th New Hampshire Monument 2

 The 5th New Hampshire Monument - Cross Plaque

5th New Hampshire Monument 35th New Hampshire Monument 3

 The 5th New Hampshire Monument - The Honored Dead Plaques

5th New Hampshire Monument 45th New Hampshire Monument 4

 The 5th New Hampshire Monument - Commemoration Plaque

5th New Hampshire Monument 55th New Hampshire Monument 5

 The 5th New Hampshire Monument - Regiment Plaque

1886 View of 5 NH Monument1886 View of 5 NH Monument

 1886 View of 5th NH Monument - Note absence of bronze plaques later installed in 1901 (courtesy of Gettysburg Daily)

 Monument Dedication in 1886 - Charles Hapgood, Commander of the 5th at Gettysburg is on the far left (Courtesy Mike Pride)

Original Marker Where Cross FellOriginal Marker Where Cross Fell 5th NH veterans (L-to-R, Charles Hapgood, Isaac Hammond, Augustus Sanborn) at the original marker where Cross fell - A few yards behind (east) existing monument (courtesy of Gettysburg Daily)

Modern view showing location of original marker relative to the monument.  Four notches on stone match above photo

The Omnipresent HancockThe Omnipresent Hancock

 The Omnipresent General Hancock at Cemetery Hill - "Colonel Cross, this day will bring you a star"

Cross's Brigade Battle Line - Modern View

61st NY Monument View 161st NY Monument View 1 The Gleam of Bayonets - 61st NY Point of View of Cross Brigade Battle Line

Battlefield Landscape 11Battlefield Landscape 11 Middle area is the northern  part of the Wheatfield. Stony Hill is off view to the left.

Battlefield Landscape 13Battlefield Landscape 13 Behind the middle row of trees is most of the Wheatfield. Stony Hill is behind the loop road on the left - 5th NH monument is in the trees at the very edge of frame.

Barksdale ChargesBarksdale Charges

 The 5th NH in the Wheatfield Protecting the Left Flank of Caldwell's Division (map courtesy of the NPS)

(D W Orr Photography) 5th New Hampshire Edward E. Cross Gettysburg https://dworr.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/1/the-honored-dead-at-gettysburg Sat, 09 Jan 2016 09:17:18 GMT
The Devotion at Gettysburg https://dworr.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/12/the-devotion-at-gettysburg Nineteenth century America was a nation of immigrants.  This first installment of my five-part serial blog essay begins with the story of one of those ethnic groups - the Irish Americans.  Orr is an Irish surname.  My ancestor James Orr emigrated to the colonies in about 1758.  At least three of my great-grand uncles and multiple cousins with that surname served under the star-spangled flag with West Virginia regiments.  Thus my interest in the Northern Irish of the Civil War.  But the famous Irish Brigade was recruited from the boroughs of New York city. At the start of the war, the brigade was comprised of three New York regiments (63rd, 69th, 88th) of which 2,500 men enlisted. Afterwards, the non-Irish 29th Massachusetts joined (to be replaced later by the Irish 28th Massachusetts) the brigade along with the Irish 116th Pennsylvania regiment (more to come on them in a later blog). 

There are by current count 1,328 monuments/memorials/tablets/markers at Gettysburg National Military Park (GNMP).  Of these, the Irish Brigade monument is arguably the most beautiful one at the GNMP.  It was erected on the Stony Hill in 1888 to commemorate only the three NY regiments1.  The monument consists of a polished granite shaft which top has been carved into a Celtic Cross, the iconic symbol of Ireland.  It has a bronze inset of five medallions: the three regimental numbers, New York state seal, and the seal of Ireland.  At the base of the shaft lies a life-size bronze sculpture of a Irish Wolf Hound.  It is one of only two Gettysburg monuments depicting a dog.  The Wolf Hound represents faith, devotion, and loyalty.  In Lincoln's Gettysburg address, he refers to the battlefield dead as giving their "last full measure of devotion".  Is there any living creature that is more devoted to its master than a dog?

The founder of the brigade, Thomas Meagher, was a steadfast Irish Nationalist.  Consequently, most of the brigade's leadership were known fellow Irish revolutionaries.  Meagher believed it was important for the Irish-born to fight for the Union. Even with its influence dwindling since 1855, the anti-immigrant policies of the Know-Nothing party were still a powerful political force, with some former party members having infiltrated Lincoln's Republican Party. Meagher promoted military service as a way for Irishmen to overcome the Nativist indoctrination and to demonstrate their loyalty to the nation.  In addition, Meagher was convinced that British sympathy lay with the Secessionists, which much evidence suggests to be true.

Why did the Northern Irish fight? This is a complex question with a complex answer.  Foremost, one cannot understand the answer unless one has an understanding of mid-nineteenth western European history2.  My own opinion is that a display of loyalty on the part of the northern Irish was driven by both the need to gain ethnic acceptance from the majority status quo and their disenchantment with previous European strife in the early and mid-nineteenth century.  These immigrants not only wanted to belong to this young nation, but they wanted to settle this division between the North and South once and for all so that their descendants and future immigrants could live in both peace and harmony in a United States.  However, there is another angle. In 1861, James McKay Rorty, of the 69th New York regiment, wrote to his father that he enlisted for the sake of his homeland, saying that he hoped “that the military knowledge or skill that I acquire might thereafter be turned to account in the sacred cause of my native land.” Rorty also said he fought for future immigrants, writing that a Southern victory would “close forever the wide portals through which the pilgrims of liberty from every European clime have sought and found it. Why, because at the North the prejudice springing from the hateful and dominant spirit of Puritanism, and at the South, the haughty exclusiveness of an Oligarchy would be equally repulsive and despotic…Our only guarantee is the Constitution, our only safety is the Union.”

In summary, the Irish did not want war, and favored the cause of neither side, North or South.  Their cause was primarily driven by their love of their native motherland. As an oppressed minority, they may have had some empathy for the slave only due to their hatred of the South's slaveholding oligarchy, which reminded them of the privileged Protestant landowners that they had fled from in Ireland3.  And they resented the Puritanical bigotry of the Northern status quo against their ethnic group.  Thus they had no shared interest with either the abolitionists nor the secessionists.  But as a refuge for fellow future Irish immigrants, a free, undivided America offered hope, and as both Rorty and Meagher documented, a future for the next fight against the British Empire.  Consequently, some will question whether the Irish Brigade's devotion was to the Union, or toward the overthrow of British rule in Ireland (Some of these soldiers were in fact members of the Fenian Brotherhood, an organization committed to securing Ireland's freedom). Some Irish-American soldiers no doubt may have thus seen the Union Army as a necessary evil to another end, and viewed himself as more of an ally of the Army of the Potomac rather than as a member of it.  But far more Irish-American volunteers likely wished to preserve the union as an end to itself.  Playing on themes of gratitude and obligation, Irish-born recruitment methods stressed to the immigrant that it was the United States that gave the nation-less Irish “liberty, a shelter and a home."4

After the devastating Battle of Fredericksburg in December of 1862, General Meagher requested the government to recruit the brigade back to full strength, to which his request was denied. Five months later, when the brigade sustained further casualties at the Battle of Chancellorsville, Meagher repeated his request to recruit replacements and was denied.  In protest he resigned his commission as leader over the Irish Brigade and was replaced by Colonel Patrick Kelly.  Prior to the Battle of Gettysburg, the brigade was able to field about 530 men under the Division command of John Caldwell.  This brigade number is a foretelling war casualty rate in that it represents about a normal half-strength regiment.  Days prior to the battle, a soldier asked a fellow soldier the name of the regiment marching past. The soldier replied, “that’s not a regiment, that’s the Irish Brigade.”

Late afternoon on July 2nd, 1863, day two of the Battle of Gettysburg, General Winfield Scott Hancock, the charismatic field general on day one of the battle, and who had resumed Second Corps leadership, ordered Caldwell's division to relieve Sickles' troops at the Wheatfield.  Prior to the orders, Caldwell's troops had been waiting for ten hours at a reserve position behind Cemetery Ridge.  The brigade head chaplain was Father Corby, who offered a prayer for the many soon to be troop casualties, prior to their deployment.  He reminded the men that the "Catholic church refuses Christian burial to the soldier who turns his back upon the foe or deserts his flag."  He then raised his right hand and pronounced the Latin words of general absolution. Per Corby's memoirs, even the cantankerous and profane Second Corps commander exhibited piety: "Even Major-General Hancock removed his hat, and, as far as compatible with this situation, bowed in reverential devotion."  Colonel Mulholland of the 116th Pennsylvania wrote, "I do not think there was a man who did not offer up a heartfelt prayer.  For some, it was their last; they knelt in their grave clothes." See more about Father Corby's absolution and monument at the GNMP here.

The Wheatfield battle ground covers the Rose family owned 20-acre wheatfield plus an adjacent wooded, rocky knoll, now known as the Stony Hill.  The Wheatfield fighting was intense, chaotic, close range, and included hand-to-hand combat.  The Irish Brigade fought mostly on the Stony Hill west of the Wheatfield.  There were several attacks and counterattacks by thirteen brigades in a 3-hour period of which field control changed hands at least a half dozen times.  At about 5:30 p.m., Caldwell's division arrived for the fight and three of his four brigades, under Colonels Kelly (the Irish Brigade), Zook, and Cross5 moved forward.  Zook and Kelly drove the Confederates off of Stony Hill while Cross cleared the Wheatfield.  Both Zook and Cross were mortally wounded in leading their brigades through these assaults.  Described as a whirlpool by some veterans of the conflict, one Union soldier recalled "how the ears of wheat flew in the air all over the field as they were cut off by the enemy's bullets".  At one point, the two sides blazed away at each other at less than 30 paces for about ten minutes.  Then Colonel Kelly ordered his brigade to charge three South Carolina regiments and swept them off the hill.  Later, surrounded by new advancing Rebel troops at the nearby Peach Orchard6, Kelly ordered his five regiments to fall back to Cemetery Ridge.  Brooke's Brigade, held in reserve, was ordered by Caldwell to sweep the Rebels clear of the Wheatfield, which they accomplished, but Semmes' Georgia Brigade7 counterattacked and regained possession of the field.  US Regular troops and the Pennsylvania Reserves (Bucktails) were called in to relieve Caldwell's Division.  Prior to sunset, after more heavy Wheatfield fighting, the Pennsylvania Reserves drove out the Confederates and took control of the eastern stone wall of this hotly contested land of wheat.  For the rest of the second day battle, the bloody Wheatfield would remain relatively quiet, but not so for Cemetery Ridge8.  A heavy toll was paid by both sides for the back-and-forth trading of field possession. The Confederates had fought four brigades against nine smaller Federal brigades, and of the 20,000 men engaged, there were about 30% casualties. For the Irish Brigade, the Wheatfield Battle cost the brigade 214 casualties out of 530 men9.

The Irish Brigade will be remembered as having made some of the most gallant charges of the Civil War: The Bloody Lane at Antietam, Marye's Heights at Fredericksburg10, and the Wheatfield at Gettysburg.  Per a well referenced book by the author William F. Fox, Regimental Losses in the American Civil War, of all Union army brigades, only the 1st Vermont Brigade and the Iron Brigade suffered more combat dead than the Irish Brigade during America's Civil War.  Eleven of the brigade's soldiers were awarded the prestigious Medal of Honor.

Note1: Father Corby was present at this dedication.

Note2: Refer to this excellent series, The Immigrants' Civil War

Note3: Although labor competition complicated that viewpoint, see the New York City Draft Riots of 1863

Note4: There were about 40,000 Irish soldiers fighting for the Confederacy, including the famous Major General Patrick Cleburne and his brigades.  Significantly fewer Irish-Americans lived in the southern states. The Union’s Irish Brigade was unique in that it was composed of mostly Irish recruits. The Confederacy was not able to consolidate its southern Irish into large military units. The Irish were distributed throughout the South’s regionally raised regiments, where some company-sized units were formed from mainly Irish volunteers. Companies with mostly Irish recruits came from South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Missouri, Alabama, and Louisiana. 

There are some who would claim that the Confederate Irish supported the South's cause since they could identify with the desire for self-determination and the right to secede from what was perceived as a repressive government.  I am not convinced of this argument at this time.  More valid research is required to support such stated claims.

Note5: More to come on the Warrior Edward E. Cross and his Fighting 5th New Hampshire Regiment in my next and second of five blog posts, The Honored Dead at Gettysburg.

Note6: Be sure to watch out for my upcoming third of five blog posts on The Struggle at Gettysburg (The 114 Pennsylvania and Barksdale's Charge through Mr. Sherfy's Peach Orchard).

Note7: Be sure to watch out for my upcoming fifth of five blog posts on The Consecration at Gettysburg (The 116th Pennsylvania and Semmes Brigade at Gettysburg).

Note8: Be sure to watch out for my upcoming fourth of five blog posts on The Bravery at Gettysburg (The Gallant Charge of the 1st Minnesota at Gettysburg).

Note9: For more detail on the Irish Brigade at Gettysburg, see the 12-part series at Gettysburg Daily.

Note10: See below the Don Trioani print, Clear the Way, depicting the famous Irish Brigade charge at Marye's Heights on December 13, 1862.


For some absorbing anecdotes concerning the Army of the Potomac, see Dr. Timothy Orr's blog: Tales from the Army of the Potomac.

My full Gettysburg gallery of photographs can be found at D.W. Orr Gettysburg Gallery.


D W Orr

Environmentalist, Historic Preservationist, Weimaraner Companion, Blogger, and Photographer

Harford County, Maryland

December 5, 2015

Celtic Cross SunsetCeltic Cross SunsetIrish Wolfhound

Irish Brigade Monument

Irish Brigade Monument 2Irish Brigade Monument 2

Irish Brigade Monument - Wolf Hound

Irish Brigade Monument 3Irish Brigade Monument 3

Irish Brigade Monument - 63rd, 69th, 88th New York Regiments

Irish Brigade Monument 6Irish Brigade Monument 6 Irish Brigade Monument - Wolf Hound: "This - in the matter of size & structure, truthfully represents the Irish Wolf-hound, a dog which has been extinct for more than a hundred years." - William Rudolf O'Donovan (Sculptor)

Irish Brigade Monument 5Irish Brigade Monument 5

Irish Brigade Monument - Celtic Cross

Irish Brigade Monument 7Irish Brigade Monument 7

Irish Brigade Monument - Back View

Irish Brigade Monument 4Irish Brigade Monument 4

Irish Brigade Monument - The Wheatfield is in the left background

Father Corby Monument 1Father Corby Monument 1 Father Corby Monument at Gettysburg

Father Corby Monument 3Father Corby Monument 3 Father Corby Monument at Gettysburg

Irish at FredericksburgIrish at Fredericksburg

Irish Brigade charges the stone wall at Marye's Heights - Battle of Fredericksburg (Clear the Way by Don Trioani courtesy of Gettysburg Daily)

Caldwell AdvancesCaldwell Advances

 Caldwell's Division Advances into The Wheatfield (Map courtesy of NPS)

Pennsylvania Bucktail MonumentPennsylvania Bucktail Monument 42nd Pennsylvania Infantry Monument on the Stony Hill (13th Pennsylvania Reserves or "The Bucktails") - Relieved Caldwell in The Wheatfield

(D W Orr Photography) Celtic Cross Father Corby Gettysburg Gettysburg National Military Park Irish Brigade Stony Hill The Wheatfield Thomas Meagher Winfield Scott Hancock Wolf Hound Wolfhound https://dworr.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/12/the-devotion-at-gettysburg Sat, 05 Dec 2015 12:40:05 GMT
The Gettysburg Address Preserved https://dworr.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/11/the-gettysburg-address-preserved On that solemn November 19th day, as he stepped down from the dedicatory platform after the delivery of his three minute address to the people at Gettysburg, Lincoln had second thoughts about the adequacy of his words. From the perspective of exactly 152 years later, we now view that address as perhaps the greatest single speech ever given in the Western world.

I have recently returned from a journey to that most famous of all American Civil War battlefields. Reflecting on Lincoln's words from that address, I directed my photography on those monuments and regions of the battlefield that best exemplify the true meaning behind the key terms and phrases from his address. Over the next several months I will be constructing a five part blog essay on Lincoln's eloquence that have been captured in the preservation of the Gettysburg National Military Park. My focus will be on day two of the three day battle.  Pickett's Charge on day three gets most of the attention from park visitors, for it perhaps being the most easily understood tactically.  But it was day two on which the Union tide of battle was in most jeopardy.  It was none other than the well respected Confederate general James Longstreet who stated that mid-day two was "the best three hours of fighting ever done by any troops on any battlefield".  The consequence was that many thousands of men from both sides lost their lives and were seriously wounded as night fell on July 2nd, 1863.

My upcoming serial blog will evaluate the following concepts/terms from Lincoln's address: The Devotion, The Honored Dead, The Bravery, The Struggle, and The Consecration.  For over 30 years, I have researched and studied American Civil War history and visited numerous Eastern USA battlefields.  My great grandfather served three years for the Union as a private and later as a Sergeant in the 4th Maryland Infantry.  He experienced the hard fighting during Grant's Overland Campaign of 1864, which yielded over 50,000 casualties for that summer. I have stood the same ground on where he fought during the Battle of the Wilderness.  That was a memorable and moving moment.  I have also felt his presence as I walked the same path that he marched across in front of the Bloody Angle at the Battle of Spotsylvania.

I hope that you will stay tuned to my upcoming thoughts on this epic nineteenth century battle in the little hamlet of Gettysburg.  The town was never the same afterward and neither was America which reemerged with "a new birth of freedom".

See my image gallery at

D W Orr
Environmentalist, Historic Preservationist, and Photographer
Harford County, Maryland
November 19, 2015

Cemetery Hill 3Cemetery Hill 3         Cemetery Hill - In the left middle background is the Cemetery Gatehouse whose grounds upon which Lincoln gave his famous address.

Cemetery Hill 5Cemetery Hill 5 Cemetery Hill - Foreground is the 4th Ohio Infantry Monument; Background is the General Hancock Monument. Hancock figures predominately in my forthcoming Gettysburg Essay Blog. 

(D W Orr Photography) Abraham Lincoln Cemetery Hill Civil War Gettysburg Gettysburg Address Winfield Scott Hancock https://dworr.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/11/the-gettysburg-address-preserved Thu, 19 Nov 2015 18:05:53 GMT
Fall in The Woodland https://dworr.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/10/fall-in-the-woodland I have spent the last several weeks exploring the banks of the Bread and Cheese Branch, a small stream that meanders through an eastern woodland here in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States.  My trek begins as a walk from the back of my home towards a grove of trees leading toward an area that I have earmarked as The Woodland.  See my previous blog, The Folly of Unchecked Development, http://dworr.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/7/the-folly-of-unchecked-development.  From there I traverse through a clearing often populated by deer that flee before my presence.  A pass through another clearing and by a man-made pond leads across a mostly dry waterway bed that I now call the Red Wine Branch.  Following the bank of the Red Wine leads me to the Bread and Cheese, a creek that flows over two miles from the west to the northeast. My excursions to capture the fall foliage of The Woodland follow about 3/4 of a mile along the banks of the Bread and Cheese.

In the Folly blog, I encountered and photographed the "Mushroom Tree".  A new icon now emerges from the Bread and Cheese: The Whale Rock.  Appearing like a Sperm Whale breeching from the deep sea, a boulder the size of a young whale has planted itself in the middle of the B&C.  During this journey, I felt challenged on how to adequately capture the beautiful fall foliage of the deciduous trees and the slow moving water of the creek bed.  I wanted to capture the serene beauty of this deep woodland that is seldom visited by humans.  So I experimented with different photographic techniques and settled on a new photographic process to capture the mood and colorization of this eastern woodland region.  I am pleased with the results and I hope you will be too. See the tail end images in http://dworr.zenfolio.com/p359124334.  I am dedicating these eighty some images to my late mother-in-law, Regina Schaub, who just recently passed away at the age of 97 years.  She was a Grand Lady, just like her daughter is.

D W Orr
Environmentalist, Historic Preservationist, and Photographer
Harford County, Maryland
October 29, 2015

In Memory of ReginaIn Memory of Regina                                                                In Memory of Regina

Kaleidoscope of ColorKaleidoscope of Color                                                                Kaleidoscope of Color

Leaning TreeLeaning Tree                                                                       Leaning Tree

Reflections in the Deep WoodsReflections in the Deep Woods                                                            Reflections in the Deep Woods

Around the BendAround the Bend                                                                    Around the Bend

Steep BanksSteep Banks                                                                        Steep Banks

The Banks of the Bread and Cheese BranchThe Banks of the Bread and Cheese Branch                                                   The Banks of the Bread and Cheese Branch

Colorful FoliageColorful Foliage                                                                   Colorful Foliage

Old Fallen TreeOld Fallen Tree                                                                         Old Fallen Tree

Bridge Across the Bread and CheeseBridge Across the Bread and Cheese                                                        Bridge Across the Bread and Cheese

Sunstar ReflectionSunstar Reflection                                                                    Sunstar Reflection

(D W Orr Photography) Bread & Cheese Branch Bread and Cheese Branch Fall Foliage Forest Harford County Nature Regina Schaub Woodland https://dworr.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/10/fall-in-the-woodland Thu, 29 Oct 2015 21:20:52 GMT
That's a Big Twinkie https://dworr.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/10/thats-a-big-twinkie During my impressionable years, the colorful, astronomical photographs from the pages of National Geographic Magazine, fed my keen interest into the mysteries of the cosmos.  Just look at the deep space picture below.  It has been described as the most important photographic image ever.  It was taken using multiple exposures from the Hubble Space Telescope during the period of 2003-2004.  Count the number of galaxies before you.  This view, known as the Ultra Deep Field (UDF), is one of the deepest visible light images of the cosmos, with nearly 10,000 galaxies, per NASA/ESA.  In photographic parlance, the depth of field view here is more than 90% of the way to the edge of the universe.  It represents a deep core sample of the universe, cutting across billions of light years.

Note that there are only a handful of obvious Milky Way galaxy stars (bright points of light with cross hair lines called diffraction spikes) in this image.  This was with deliberate intention by the cosmologists to peer into the darkest zones of the universe, unobstructed by the clutter of the Milky Way.  Many of the galaxies in this picture are over 12.7 billion light years away from our planet. Our solar system had not yet formed when the light we see now had left most of these galaxies. And this image only represents one narrow, deep slice of the cosmos located in the constellation Fornax. The patch of sky in which these galaxies reside in the UDF photo is just one-tenth the diameter of the full Moon as seen from the ground.  There are actually about 500 faint red points in the UDF of young, distant galaxies that were formed less than one billion years after the Big Bang. These dwarf galaxies, ablaze with star birth, appear red due to the galaxies’ tremendous distance from Earth. The blue light from their young stars was shifted to red light due to the expansion of space. Twenty-eight of those 500 are isolated in the second UDF image shown below.

During Hubble's 2009 servicing mission, a new infrared instrument was installed, enhancing its capability for even deeper space photography.  An image (not shown), dubbed the eXtreme Deep Field (XDF), was assembled in 2012 by combining 10 years of Hubble photographs taken of a smaller patch of sky embedded in the center of the original UDF field of view.  An additional 5,500 galaxies were located beyond what UDF indicated.  The XDF field of view relative to the size of the moon is shown in the photo below.

Whereas the UDF goes back to about 12.7 billion years, the XDF image reveals galaxies that span back as far as 13.2 billion years in time. For a universe that is 13.7 billion years old, the depth of field for the XDF view is to the outer fringes of the universe.  For the first time, we can now view the actual forms and shapes of galaxies when they were young and impetuous.  The XDF image is like a time tunnel into the past with the light from colliding galaxies just now arriving here on Earth.  Yes, that's right.  You are viewing galaxies and stars as they existed and looked eons ago.  One of the galaxies on the XDF image existed just 450 million years after the Big Bang's creation of the universe. 

But Wait!  There's more!  NASA/ESA already have plans to penetrate deeper into space.  After its launch in 2018, the James Webb Space Telescope will be aimed at the XDF to locate even fainter galaxies, a couple of hundred million years old after Big Bang.  See the photo below, Hubble Probes the Early Universe.  This will takes us back into a time shortly after the Big Bang, when the first stars and nascent galaxies were formed to finally light up and reheat the dark age period of the cold, dim universe's evolution.  This reheating period evidently took place over a few hundred million years.  Refer to the photo below, Age of the Universe.

The area of the sky observed in the UDF has been compared to the view you would see through an eight foot long soda straw.  So imagine for a moment that you possess super visionary power, one with extreme magnification and light sensitivity levels. You peer through this straw and count over 15,000 galaxies, each one containing over tens to hundreds of billions of stars, planets, gas clouds, and space dust. Now move the straw the distance of one straw diameter and count the next 15,000 celestial wonders.  Now repeat your super power skills 30 million more times until you have completed your sweep of the sky.  You, with your super-vision powers, just viewed over 450 billion galaxies of our universe. 

A deeper cut of pizza slice, deeper than XDF is awaiting our viewing in three years.  Unfolding before our eyes, like a time machine, we will witness the evolution of the universe.  Think about it.  And to blow your minds even further, the universe is expanding, in some cases, faster than the speed of light, ultimately to a distance of 47 billion light years.  From the immortal words of Winston in the movie, Ghostbusters, "That's a big Twinkie".

The most important photographic image ever, indeed.

For more incredible deep space images, see:

D W Orr
Environmentalist, Historic Preservationist, and Photographer
Harford County, Maryland
October 14, 2015

Deep Space-UDFDeep Space-UDF                                              Ultra Deep Field Photo of Cosmos, courtesy of NASA/ESA

Oldest GalaxiesOldest Galaxies

              Ultra Deep Field Photo of Cosmos with 28 Isolated Young Galaxies, courtesy of NASA/ESA


XDF Angle of ViewXDF Angle of View

                           XDF Field of View Relative to the Size of the Moon, courtesy of NASA/ESA

Time Map of Deep Space PhotographyTime Map of Deep Space Photography

                           Hubble Space Telescope Penetrates Deep Space, courtesy of NASA/ESA

Age of UniverseAge of Universe                                            Age of the Universe, courtesy of NASA/ESA

Note: For the image directly above, the reference HDF = My Blog's UDF, and HUDF = XDF.  Unfortunately, NASA has interchanged their language over time.

(D W Orr Photography) Big Bang Deep Space Extreme Deep Field Galaxy Hubble Milky Way NASA Ultra Deep Field https://dworr.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/10/thats-a-big-twinkie Wed, 14 Oct 2015 19:08:00 GMT
Supermoon & Coastal Storm Collide! https://dworr.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/10/supermoon-and-coastal-storm-collide In a previous blog, Shooting the Stars, I learned to always expect the unexpected.  This was validated once again while on recent travel to the Outer Banks of North Carolina and anticipating the forthcoming lunar eclipse. Mother nature waits for no one and gives what it wants.  As a landscape photographer, one must be prepared for anything that nature provides at any given moment.

I have always believed that the most compelling images are those in which the composition provides context.  A closeup photo of a wild animal is usually uninspiring.  But an image of wildlife in the context of its natural environment can invoke curiosity and wonder.  The same holds true for celestial bodies.  To avoid the equivalent of a tired cliche, I realized that an image of an early evening moonlit ocean in combination with a supermoon would provide a better chance for compositional success than just an isolated shot of a lunar eclipse.  This would not only be a more interesting contextual image, but the narrow dynamic range of light would yield a pleasing light exposure across the entire frame of the photograph.

But the coup-de-grace for that evening would be the remnants of a near tropical storm depression that was churning large oceanic waves off of most of the USA east coast.  This powerful storm hovered over the coast for many days, being stalled by a dominant high pressure system up north off the New England coastline.  High winds were additionally fed by hurricane Joaquin, further east in the Atlantic ocean.  How epic a storm was all this?  Parts of the state of South Carolina suffered through two feet of rainfall in several days, causing catastrophic flooding conditions, and purportedly the most continual rainfall in that state since a thousand years.

The winning compositional formula in this dire situation was Large Waves + Supermoon + Early Moonrise (7:00pm, EST) = Photogenic Opportunity.  I took advantage of this rare natural phenomenon through systematic preparation and by snapping off many images to capture the unusual wave action, cloud cover, moon phasing, and dramatic lighting conditions.  I believe I was successful.

Ten oceanic, moonlit images are available for your review at the tail end of my Sky Gallery, one of which was taken during the early phase of the lunar eclipse at 9:12pm, EST, September 27th.  I have also included an image taken on the following evening, of the supermoon juxtapositioned with the brightly lit beacon from the nearby Currituck lighthouse.  Enjoy.

See my image gallery at http://dworr.zenfolio.com/sky

D W Orr
Environmentalist, Historic Preservationist, and Photographer
Harford County, Maryland
October 7, 2015

Corolla Moonrise 1Corolla Moonrise 1                                          Supermoon at 7:07 pm, September 27, 2015, Corolla, NC 

Moonlit Waves 4Moonlit Waves 4                                          Supermoon at 7:19 pm, September 27, 2015, Corolla, NC  

Pre-Eclipse Supermoon 1Pre-Eclipse Supermoon 1                                          Supermoon at 8:24 pm, September 27, 2015, Corolla, NC  

Ocean Lunar EclipseOcean Lunar Eclipse                                Supermoon at 9:12 pm, September 27, 2015, Corolla, NC - Partial Eclipse

(D W Orr Photography) Coastal Storm Corolla NC Lunar Eclipse Supermoon https://dworr.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/10/supermoon-and-coastal-storm-collide Thu, 08 Oct 2015 02:14:28 GMT
Canines, Weimaraners, and Me https://dworr.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/9/canines-weimaraners-and-me You cannot understand a Weimaraner unless you have cohabitated with one for at least several months, even years.  They are a breed of the canine family that is very special.  Let me say from the outright that they are compatible with very few people.  One must have great patience and forgiveness to share their domain with a Weimaraner.  But in the end, it is well worth the trip.

I have had the privilege to live with Weimaraners for most of my life, since the age of twelve.  That is when I became a devotee of the breed.  I have lived with seven different Weims (all females) in my 68 years.  Each has had a unique personality but each also shares many of the same characteristic behaviors.  You may know them already - circle twice before lying down, rub shoulder on any discovered odorous substance, lie their 70+ pounds of dog in your lap, jump on you on your arrival home, don't dare trim their nails, very stubborn, very observant, yawning (gosh, this repetitive trick request is boring), very expressive of their feelings, lick your face, etc.  My youngest Weim is very engaging with all family members - more so than any other that I can recall. My senior Weim is now over thirteen and half years old.  God bless her.  What a sweetie.  Don't be late one minute in serving her dinner though, or you will be badgered into final submission.

Weims will bring out the mother instinct in any woman.  They are so expressive of their feelings that you just naturally want to caress them.  They were originally bred to sleep side by side with their master and to share your domicile.  As the master of the household, to do otherwise is tantamount to sin.  They want to be with you always and share your ups and downs.  They suffer from separation anxiety.  Be careful leaving them alone. They can totally destroy your home.  But do not berate them afterwards, they are highly sensitive to scolding. You do not want to break their spirit.  That is what makes them so special.  Lose that from your Weim, and it will break your heart.  On your deathbed, you will not remember that destroyed couch.  But you will remember that devoted, spirited Weim.

I suppose you could iterate much of what I have said above about any canine breed.  For what do I know? I have only been a companion to one other dog breed - an English Springer Spaniel.  But some things you just know, and that is the Weimaraner is a special kind of dog.  In their presence, you do not feel that you are with just a dog.  Known as the velcro dog, they follow you everywhere.  I share a small bathroom with junior many times. No, they are not human-like as once touted in the 1950's.  In fact, they are somewhat schizophrentic.  Indoors, yeah, maybe somewhat human-like.  But outdoors, the hunter instinct kicks in, and watch out all you varmints and critters.

The Weimaraner: Full of devotion, love, energy, zest for life, and intelligence.  They are athletic, engaging, and wear their heart and soul on their face.  Watch their ears - they tell you everything about how they feel at the moment.  If you had the time, I could tell you so many stories about each one of my Weims that would amuse you to no end.  But I will not linger on how much that they have enriched my life. They have been my companions for over 55 years.  They are special.

See my image gallery at http://dworr.zenfolio.com/weimaraner.

Update, June 21, 2016: "Maddie, Sweet and Loyal Companion"

D W Orr
Environmentalist, Historic Preservationist, Photographer, and Weimaraner Companion
Harford County, Maryland
September 19, 2015

WeimaranerWeimaraner                                                                           Junior

13 years & 3 months13 years & 3 months                                                                            Senior

(D W Orr Photography) Weimaraner https://dworr.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/9/canines-weimaraners-and-me Sun, 20 Sep 2015 00:43:55 GMT
You Can Go Home Again https://dworr.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/9/you-can-go-home-again Usually, the only gorging I become preoccupied with is that involving food.  But this late August found us trekking through some of the most beautiful naturally carved gorges to be found in the eastern USA.  Thirty-two years ago, after the birth of my first two children, we left the Finger Lakes region of New York state to begin a new life in Mason-Dixon land.  Our final day in Ithaca was spent meditating along the shores of the peaceful Cayuga Lake.

Certainly the most memorable moment of our recent excursion was the dramatic and sudden entryway from the woodland into the Upper Glen of Robert H. Treman Park, with its tunnel view toward a beautiful stone bridge archway.  Carving its way down through the glen corridor is the powerful Enfield Creek, as it meanders onward to the impressive Lucifer Falls.  As we headed downward, we exited the corridor into a wide amphitheater with an eye catching mini-falls, before the steep decline down toward Lucifer Falls.  And oh my, what a decline!  You become one with the falls as the trail immerses you only yards away from the 115' vertical drop of Lucifer Falls.

We trekked the ever popular Watkins Glen Park, with its narrow, winding gorge of 19 waterfalls, including the impressive Cavern Cascade, Rainbow Falls, Triple Cascade, Pluto Falls, and Central Cascade.  Although lesser known, we followed the gorge trail along Buttermilk Falls Park, which has many small, secluded falls emptying into colorful pools of water.  While in town, the roaring and partially sunlit Ithaca Falls greeted us with a fortuitous photogenic moment.  The towering Taughannock Falls impressed us once again with its chiseled sandstone and shale side walls and the steep 215' waterfall drop (tallest single-drop waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains).  Finally a short, casual, level walk took us through tranquil Sapsucker Woods, a Cornell wildlife bird sanctuary of 230 acres, with a spacious pond and expansive wetlands (images at the end of the "Trees" gallery), providing a stark contrast to the steep gorge trekking experienced earlier.

Three decades may have passed, but the peacefulness still lingers along the shores of Cayuga Lake, as evidenced by the witnessing of the Kayaking German Shepherd (see below).

I invite you to view all the images from our return visit to the Finger Lakes region at my photo gallery titled, "Gorges and Waterfalls".  I can assure you that it will be well worth your time.  Enjoy.

See my image gallery at http://dworr.zenfolio.com/p862779778

D W Orr
Environmentalist, Historic Preservationist, and Photographer
Harford County, Maryland
September 6, 2015

Pools Above Pluto Falls - Watkins Glen ParkPools Above Pluto Falls - Watkins Glen Park                                                            Watkins Glen State Park

Upper Glen - Robert H Treman ParkUpper Glen - Robert H Treman Park                                                                Robert H Treman Park

Taughannock FallsTaughannock Falls                                                                  Taughannock Falls

Ithaca FallsIthaca Falls                                                                      Ithaca Falls

Buttermilk Falls ParkButtermilk Falls Park                                                                Buttermilk Falls Park

Sapsucker Woods - Ithaca NYSapsucker Woods - Ithaca NY                                                           Sapsucker Woods Sanctuary

A Sunday at Cayuga LakeA Sunday at Cayuga Lake                                                                       Cayuga Lake

                                                               Cindy & Doug at Cayuga Lake


(D W Orr Photography) Buttermilk Falls State Park Cavern Cascade Cayuga Lake Central Cascade Finger Lakes Gorge Ithaca Ithaca Falls Lucifer Falls Pluto Falls Rainbow Falls Robert H Treman State Park Sapsucker Woods Taughannock Falls Waterfalls Watkins Glen State Park https://dworr.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/9/you-can-go-home-again Sun, 06 Sep 2015 17:09:48 GMT
We've Come a Long Way Baby https://dworr.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/8/weve-come-a-long-way-baby Digital photography really took off sometime at the turn of this century.  My own personal foray into the digital arena came in 2004 with the purchase of a 8mp Canon 20D, a DSLR camera body with a cropped sensor and kit lens.
1) DSLR - Digital Single Lens Reflex
2) mp - mega pixels; the resolution of digital cameras is measured in mega (million) pixels; images are made up of these tiny picture elements.

3) A cropped sensor is smaller than what use to be known as 35mm sized film, now referred to as a "full frame sensor".  A full frame is about 2.5 times larger in area than an APSC, cropped sensor.  See Sensor Size Comparison below for more detail.

Sensor SizesSensor Sizes
                                                             Relative Sensor Size Comparison (dimensions in mm) with Crop Factor Conversions.

Later, advanced mirrorless cameras appeared around 2009. Olympus introduced their well received EP1 model and, along with Panasonic, led the way with their micro 4/3 sensors.  These two manufacturers demonstrated that reduced camera system size and weight could be achieved with the removal of the mirror mechanism and pentaprism, found in DSLR cameras, while retaining good image quality at low light levels.

Fujifilm went even further in 2010 and achieved excellent image quality combined with small body size, tactile controls, classic design, and superb lenses using a slightly larger, cropped APSC, 12mp sensor.  They listened to their customers and released free, recurring, camera body and lens firmware updates, employing the practice of Kaizen, continuous product improvement.

After using digital camera technology now for at least the past 11 years, I can fairly say that I sure wish this had been available 40 years ago when I discovered my passion for creating images.  Darkroom processing with the handling of nasty chemicals has now been replaced by the digital darkroom on a computer or tablet.  Days of waiting for film and print processing has been replaced with instantaneous results providing real-time feedback on what you did wrong, or sometimes, what you did right.

I am what is known today in photographic forum parlance as a dedicated Fujifilm "fanboy".  I now use a rangefinder body style camera from Fujifilm, the X-E2, with three different zoom lenses that cover focal lengths ranging from extreme wide angle to telephoto.  The sensor is a 16mp, cropped APSC format.  See below.
Fujifilm X-E2Fujifilm X-E2
My Camera: Fujifilm X-E2, 18-55mm lens.  Outfitted with an original Fujifilm handgrip, Mr. Tay soft release shutter button, Lensmate thumb rest, and a Gordy's leather wrist strap.

At this time, I do not shoot raw image files that require more extensive "developing" time and the resultant desktop computer processing.  I shoot exclusively high resolution "jpg" files with post processing done on a tablet using a device app called Snapseed.  This post process methodology gets the job done just right for me.  It allows for fine tuning of images along with creative control.  I find that I enjoy working on a tablet much more than at a desktop computer.

D W Orr
Environmentalist, Historic Preservationist, and Photographer
Harford County, Maryland
August 19, 2015


(D W Orr Photography) Camera Sensor Canon Fujifilm Fujifilm X-E2 Gordy's Strap Lensmate Thumb Rest Olympus Panasonic Snapseed soft release shutter button https://dworr.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/8/weve-come-a-long-way-baby Wed, 19 Aug 2015 19:36:10 GMT
Shooting the Stars https://dworr.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/8/shooting-the-stars You never know what you may uncover when shooting the night sky.  Case in point - On August 12th I started to prepare for an evening of photographing the annual Perseid meteor showers.  I knew that the best view for observing the showers was in the northeast sky and that the best time for possibly catching a few meteor glimpses was well after midnight.  So at about 9:45 pm I set up my tripod on our house deck and began taking some test shots.  The evening began with some very cloudy conditions with a small storm passing to the north of us.  The wind kicked up a little and the temperature dropped a few degrees.  At that moment I was not too hopeful of being able to catch a falling star.  But I carried on.  Then the cloud cover started to break around midnight, the slight wind abated, the temperature rose, all of which lifted my spirits.  An owl hooting off in the distance further eased my soul and sensitized me to the staccato rhythms of nature as I awaited the bewitching hour for meteors to fall.  At 1:00 am, I finally did have the fortune to view a handful of meteors pass overhead under a clear sky.  As quickly as it started, however, the meteor show stopped.  So no meteor images were captured. The frequency of observable meteors in a highly polluted light area as in our community is just not that conducive for image captures.

But all was not lost!  That earlier evening of partly cloudy coverage did avail itself for an interesting photogenic opportunity.  The upper atmosphere of a black starry night juxtaposition against a lower atmosphere of dimly lit, drifting clouds, framed by a horizon of tall hardwoods was just the right compositional arrangement for a pleasing image.  To illustrate this, of the several test shots taken, I have included two that are shown below.  The first image is perhaps the more satisfying of the two. It reveals a dark sky peppered with a myriad of stars, orange glowing wispy clouds, barely detailed tree tops, and the passing of two streaking aircraft, wing lights blinking.

But here is the revelation.  The second image, similar in composition, has one solid bold streak of light across the lower horizon.  It is not an aircraft - the streak does not indicate intermittent blinking.  Could it be that I fortuitously captured a meteor streak during my setup of test shooting?  Oh, hallelujah!  But wait, this is not a characteristic meteor streak.  So what is it?  Well I will cut the suspense and get to the conclusion.  With the help of some ingenious tablet device apps, and good detective work by yours truly days later, that UFO is none other than the International Space Station!  That little bugger station completes 15.7 orbits during a twenty-four hour period and lasts for the most, ten minutes above the horizon, night or day.  So there you have it.  No meteor streaks.  Just aircraft and ISS image streaks captured on a partly cloudy, starry night.  I think the "test" images are more aesthetically pleasing than whatever I may have captured with a meteor on a cloudless backdrop.  You never know what you may uncover .......
See my Sky image gallery at http://dworr.zenfolio.com/sky

D W Orr
Environmentalist, Historic Preservationist, and Photographer
Harford County, Maryland
August 15, 2015

Busy Early Evening SkyBusy Early Evening SkyTwo steaks are definitely aircraft; Aug 12, 2015 9:59 pm EST

          Two Aircraft at Night (8/12/15, 9:59pm) - Exposure Info: FL18mm, 20 secs, f2.8, ISO 800

International Space Station FlybyInternational Space Station FlybyAug 12, 2015 10:09 pm EST

     International Space Station at Night (8/12/15, 10:09pm) - Exposure Info: FL18mm, 20 secs, f2.8, ISO 400

(D W Orr Photography) International Space Station Meteor Night Photography Perseid Stars UFO https://dworr.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/8/shooting-the-stars Sat, 15 Aug 2015 15:22:27 GMT
Land and Wildlife Conservation - OBX https://dworr.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/8/land-wildlife-conservation---obx-style-corolla-nc Last September, while vacationing on North Carolina's Outer Banks, my darling wife and I rode our bikes from the rental property where we were staying over to the Whalehead Club island.  We then walked the self-guided tour trail along the marshland adjacent to the Club.  One of the informational panels along the trail mentioned that during the early twentieth century, when flocks of waterfowl took flight off the water, their numbers would completely blacken the sky.  Of course today, one is fortunate to glimpse any sign of waterfowl in the Currituck Sound area.  On our bike ride over, we also had a chance encounter with an employee of the Corolla Wild Horse Fund.  That morning she had just completed a helicopter ride over the refuge area to conduct a headcount of the wild horses.  One quote of hers struck me.  Something to the fact that she was surprised that the OBX barrier reef has not yet sunk into the sea due to the level of land overdevelopment. 

Now for some very abbreviated history and background of Corolla, NC.  Native Americans from the mainland used the northern area of the barrier island as their hunting and fishing grounds.  They gave it the moniker Currituck, meaning "land of the wild goose".  Europeans settled into the area during the 17th century.  On the first of December, 1875, the beacon from the red-bricked tower known as the Currituck Beach Lighthouse made its debut and filled the night skies of Corolla.  By 1890, some 200 self-reliant people lived in the Corolla village.  It was in the roaring 1920's that wealthy industrialist Edward Knight and his wife Marie-Louise had an expansive home (known later in 1940 and now as the Whalehead Club) built on the man-made island on the sound side near Corolla Village.  During that first year of construction of the 5-chimney, sunshine-yellow home, the couple invited wealthy friends from the Northeast for sumptuous evening dinner parties followed by a morning of waterfowl hunting.  Visions of The Great Gatsby abound.  As an indication of the horn of plenty, by the end of that first season, the Knights and their guests had bagged 751 waterfowl.  This level of waterfowl hunting continued at the estate for at least the next nine years until Mr. Knight's health decline in 1934 and eventual demise in 1936.  In the 1940s, the village population had swelled to almost one thousand year-round residents.  After the war, the population dwindled to only three families during the 1950's (when electric power first became available to the village commoners - the Knights had their private generator) and peaked to fifteen people as late as the 1970's!  Since then, the village and the club have been faithfully and wonderfully restored, vacation homes built, and infrastructure developed.  So where does that bring us today and was it worth the trip?

Well first off, let me personally attest that the restored village, Knight home, and Currituck Beach lighthouse are very serene, quaint, authentic, and photogenic.  The Corolla beaches are pristine, well maintained, and void of crowds in the early fall.  Our canine companions are welcomed at many rental properties and on the beach.  There very well might not be any beach area in the world quite like Corolla with its historic village, lighthouse, Art Nouveau style mansion, estuarine nature preserve, and nearby wild horse refuge.  Not much to complain about here.  So I won't.  Yes, from the air, I am sure that the northern OBX looks way overdeveloped.  But relative to other eastern USA beach resorts, it feels on the ground to be just right.  Although, the loss of the blackened sky is most regrettable. But I am certain that more than just a gaggle of privileged guest hunters at the Knight estate decimated the waterfowl along the Atlantic Flyway.  Hopefully (there's that word again), lesson learned.

See OBX image gallery at http://dworr.zenfolio.com/corolla

D W Orr
Environmentalist, Historic Preservationist, and Photographer
Harford County, Maryland
August 12, 2015 (night of the Perseid Meteor Shower)

Currituck Lighthouse and Whalehead ClubCurrituck Lighthouse and Whalehead Club

                                                Currituck Lighthouse and Whalehead Club


                                                        Knight Mansion (The Whalehead Club)

Bridge to WhaleheadBridge to Whalehead

                                                                 Whalehead Marshland

Lighthouse ReflectionLighthouse Reflection                                                             Lighthouse, Boathouse, Mansion


(D W Orr Photography) Corolla Currituck Development Lighthouse Outer Banks Preservation Whalehead https://dworr.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/8/land-wildlife-conservation---obx-style-corolla-nc Wed, 12 Aug 2015 14:50:03 GMT