Civil War

Full-Throttle Thursday


The Studebaker name was been tossed around the transportation industry from the early 1850's into the mid-1960's.  For over one hundred years, they were on the sides of vehicles.  First, wagons. They founded their company in South Bend, Indiana (a museum is dedicated to them in the area to this day) in 1852.  The Civil War proved a boon to the brothers Studebaker, Henry and Clement, when they provided all sorts of wagons for the Union Army. In 1902 they introduced their first electric car, their first gas-powered car in 1904. They expanded from there, buying out Pierce Arrow in the late-1920's, expanding business just in time for the Great Depression.  In 1933, they declared bankruptcy.  New management helped revive the struggling company, but they could never effectively match the big three - Ford, GM, and Chrysler.  By the mid-50's, they merged with Packard, but it wasn't enough to save them.  They closed their Indiana factory at the end of 1963.

The 1958 Scotsman model Studebaker, available in car, wagon, and pick-up models, was one of their last major effort to compete in the American vehicle market.  It was an economical vehicle, bare bones at an extremely affordable price: the two-door Scotsman was only $1,776! They sold well, but ultimately proved unable to pull the company out of the hole.  We at the American Treasure Tour blog are not entirely sure what the moral of this story is, but we're glad to have some Studebaker vehicles in our Toy Box - and many more available to check out at the affiliated Classic Auto Mall in Morgantown, Pennsylvania.

Monday at the Museum

Cat tails.jpg

Spring has finally arrived, which means it's time to thaw out the family, pile them in the car, and get them out of the house. The first stop on any family road trip should always be the American Treasure Tour Museum in. Oaks, Pennsylvania.  Hopefully, that's pretty obvious to everyone by now. But we at the ATT are fully aware that there are plenty of other places to experience in this amazing country of ours, and we want to make sure you know about them.

If you're heading west after your stop at the Treasure Tour, and Gettysburg, Pennsylvania happens to be in your way, there are a few destinations in that lovely town that simply must be on your itinerary.  We'll tell you about other destinations in future blogs, but today we are going to bring to your attention one of the best non-battlefield Civil War sites in Gettysburg.  It's called Civil War Tails, and it will bring the horrific fighting of the Civil War years to life for you - with cats.  Three-dimensional dioramas depicting battles throughout the course of the War Between the States, with tiny little cats instead of miniature humans.  Honestly, it makes the gruesomeness of the battlefield easier to take, which means this is a great destination if you want to introduce younger visitors to what the Civil War was all about.  Fun, fascinating and informed, Civil War Tails definitely takes history into an unusual direction.

Monday at the Museum

The American Treasure Tour Museum is located in the town of Oaks, Pennsylvania, right along Pennsylvania Route 422 just west of Valley Forge National Historical Park and a little east of the Boyertown Motor Vehicle Museum.  To be honest, there are many, many fascinating and wonderful places in this section of the world. Southeast Pennsylvania has so many awesome destinations, we encourage you to visit every one of them - understanding that we want you to visit the ATT often in the process. But we would be doing an injustice to some of the others by overlooking them. So, here's a quick list of destinations within a relatively short driving distance from Oaks (understanding that a downside of being located in the Philadelphia area is dealing with the traffic):


The James Buchanan home in Lancaster, PA.  Yes, the only Pennsylvanian to serve as President of the United States also happens to be one of the most heavily criticized, as he was in office just prior to Abraham Lincoln and watched the country fall apart during his term. That said, his home is absolutely gorgeous, and his story quite fascinating.

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Another site we simply must recommend is on the exact opposite side of Philadelphia - a recreation of Pennsbury Manor. Built in the twentieth century, it honors the life and times of the founder of Pennsylvania - William Penn. The beautiful home reminds us of the vision Penn had for his colony, named after his father. The Quaker leader arrived on the shores of America in 1683, an advocate for peaceful co-existence with the Native tribes and other residents of this largely untamed land, and yet he also owned enslaved Africans. A fascinating founder, Penn's story is truly worth learning.



Andrew Carnegie

QUESTION:  Andrew Carnegie had a tense partnership with business tycoon Henry Clay Frick. After whom was Frick named?
A)  Cassius Clay
B)  Cassius Coolidge
C)  Clay Pigeon
D)  Henry Clay

The American Treasure Tour blog continues our examination of the men (sorry, no women) displayed on the wall of the Toy Box in reproduction lithographs.  To date, we have examined the lives of famous frontiersmen (Daniel Boone), Civil War Generals (William Sherman, George Meade and Al Johnson), and politicians (William Seward).  It stands to reason that a businessman be our next honoree. There were few more famous or powerful in the late-19th century that Mr. Andrew Carnegie. Carnegie was thirteen years old when his family moved from Dunfermline, Scotland in 1848, travelling to the United States to pursue the American Dream. They chose to settle in the industrial town of Allegheny, Pennsylvania.  There, Carnegie started his career as a bobbin boy for his uncle - working twelve hours a day, six days a week at a cotton mill the spools of thread full in the cotton machines.  Within two years, he had moved on to the Pittsburgh Office of the Ohio Telegraph Company and distinguished himself a messenger boy. He also made excellent contacts.

Carnegie gained access to the private library of an industrialist in town, where he gained access to thousands of books. He was truly a self-made man, and he was rising quickly. The knowledge he obtained through reading gave him further advantages over his peers and, in 1853, he got a job for Tom Scott of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company. Few people today know the name Tom Scott, but in his day he was one of the most powerful men in America. Scott took Carnegie under his wing and trained him in the ways of running a business, using personal influence to buy into, and influence, the stock market. When Scott was appointed by Abraham Lincoln as Assistant Secretary of War, Carnegie took control of military transportation. Carnegie ensured that troops and materials would get to where they needed to go - and proved an essential figure in the Union effort during the Civil War. Amazingly, he had only just started proving himself....

ANSWER:  D)  Henry Clay.  No offense, but if you didn't get that one on your own, we will be concerned for you.

William Seward

QUESTION:  What famous abolitionist is buried at Fort Hill Cemetery in Auburn, New York near the grave of William Seward?
A)  Lucretia Mott
B)  Harriet Tubman
C)  William Lloyd Garrison
D)  Edmund Ruffin

A tale of two Billy's.  Yesterday, we talked about William T. Sherman and his life, as inspired by an authentic copy of a genuine lithograph displayed in our Toy Box. Today, we're sticking with the Billy's and moving on to William H. Seward - another name immortalized by the story of the American Civil War.  Born to wealthy New York slaveholders Samuel Sweezy and Mary Seward in 1801, William rarely received financial assistance as he excelled at academics. He abandoned school out of protest, and at 17 found a job as principal of a new school in Georgia. Family pressure compelled him back to New York, where he pursued a career in law. Settling in Auburn, Seward fell into a political career, rising from state senator to governor of the state, and then federal senator. By 1860, Seward had established himself as a respected politician among abolitionists but hated by the slave-holding South.  He became a highly controversial candidate for the top office of the land:  President of the United States. 

The 1860 election would be regarded as one of the most substantial to ever happen in the United States. We won't get into that here, but it left Abraham Lincoln as President, William Seward as his Secretary of State, and the country broken. Seward remained in his position during the volatile 1860's - he saw the Union win the Civil War, survived an attack made against him by one of John Wilkes Booth's co-conspirators on the fateful night of Abraham Lincoln's assassination, and remained in office during the entirety of Andrew Johnson's term in office. His most notable action during the Johnson Administration was the purchase from Russia of what many thought was useless land known as Alaska. When U.S. Grant took office, Seward retired from public life and traveled the world.  When he passed away in 1871, admirers saw him as one of America's greatest heroes, while critics perceived him as a terrible villain.

ANSWER: B)  Harriet Tubman

William T. Sherman

QUESTION:  Where is William Sherman's final resting place?
A)  St. Louis, Missouri
B)  Lancaster, Ohio
C)  New York City, New York
D)  Atlanta, Georgia

Way, way back in November, our blog introduced a "new" subject for discussion - copies of historic lithographs that are displayed in the Toy Box near our collection of state flags. We would like to return to those right now, to briefly discuss one of the more controversial leaders of the Union Army during the American Civil War.  His name was William Tecumseh Sherman, and he was definitely not someone you wanted to see on the opposite side of a battlefield.  Born in 1820, his father was a successful lawyer and a huge admirer of the Native American chief Tecumseh, who died in the War of 1812 Battle of the Thames. After his father's unexpected death when he was nine, Sherman moved in with neighbors who sent him off to the United States Military Academy at West Point.  Maybe not a conventional soldier, as revealed in his disheveled appearance, Sherman saw some action in the Second Seminole War, then he accompanied the military governor of California to confirm that gold was, in fact, discovered in Coloma in 1849. He went civilian for a time after that, working in a bank, dabbled in a legal career, and became superintendent of a Louisiana-based military school. 

When southern states began seceding after Lincoln's 1860 election, Sherman re-entered the military. He fought at the first major fight of the catastrophic war, the Battle of Bull Run, before being sent to the western theater. He worked under the leadership of Ulysses Grant and proved integral to Grant's successes. He was at Fort Donelson, Shiloh, Vicksburg, Chattanooga, and numerous other sites before reaching Atlanta, Georgia. That was in 1864, and Sherman's notorious March to the Sea was next. Practicing scorched earth policy, he intended to show the South the horrors of war.  He did. When Confederate General Joseph E Johnston surrendered his troops to Sherman at Bennett Place, North Carolina on April 26, 1865, seventeen days after Lee's surrender at Appomattox Courthouse, the war was over. Sherman remained in the Army until 1884, prior to his retirement.  He passed away in 1891. Sherman was an amazingly complicated person, both hated and beloved in his lifetime and since. And we honor him with an 8" x 10" copy of a lithograph.

ANSWER:  A)  St. Louis, Missouri, in Calvary Cemetery

George Gordon Meade

QUESTION:  What was General Meade's nickname?
A)  "Falcon of Philadelphia"
B)  "Old Snapping Turtle"
C)  "Sly Fox"
D)  "Jumping Monkey"

Yesterday, we introduced a new subject to our blog - copies of lithographs displayed in our Toy Box honoring famous Americans. Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston was our first, so it seemed only natural to turn to the north today, with Union General George Gordon Meade. Twelve years younger than Johnston, Meade was born in 1815, in Cadiz, Spain to the son of a wealthy Philadelphia-based merchant. Upon returning to the United States after his father's fortunes were lost with the Napoleonic Wars, Meade entered the United States Military Academy - another West Point boy. Meade was quickly appointed to Florida, to fight in the Second Seminole War against the Native Americans. But he resigned his commission soon after to marry and get a job.  Civilian life didn't pay the bills, so he returned to service during the Mexican War, then designed lighthouses for the Corps of Topical Engineers, including those at Barnegat and Absecon in New Jersey. 

When the Civil War began, Meade was promoted to Brigadier General, fighting admirably with McClellan's Army of the Potomac. He led the only successful breakthrough at the Battle of Fredericksburg under McClellan's replacement, Ambrose Burnside.  In part because of this success, President Abraham Lincoln appointed Meade to lead the Army of the Potomac only three days before the beginning of the Battle of Gettysburg. Although Meade was praised for the Union victory there, he was also criticized for not pursuing the fleeing Confederates as they returned south of the Mason-Dixon Line. He remained in control of the Army of the Potomac for the duration of the war, but was often outshone by his boss, Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant.  After the war, Meade became commissioner of Fairmount Park in Philadelphia and remained there until his death. He is now buried in the Laurel Hill Cemetery, an outstanding destination.

ANSWER:  B)  "Old Snapping Turtle"