The Colonel Crowther Foundation’s bus tour last Saturday, May 3, received rave reviews from all of the participants.
Traveling to Chancellorsville, Virginia on this particular day was very meaningful to many members of the tour group. The tour was on the battlefield to celebrate the 145th anniversary of what was one of the major engagements of the American Civil War. More importantly, May 3, 1863 was the day Colonel James E. Crowther was killed. His regiment, the 110th Pennsylvania Volunteers, suffered casualties equaling half their number in this battle.
The chartered 55-passenger bus left Tyrone’s new Park-and-Ride lot at 7:30 a.m. After traveling south on I-99, the tour stopped at Everett to pick up ten tour participants who lived closer to Everett than Tyrone.
Once all were on board the bus, everyone began their journey to Virginia. It would take a little over three hours to travel to the next stop in Fredericksburg, Virginia. During this time the group watched a video, “The Battle of Chancellorsville”. The hour-long video helped everyone to understand the significance of this battle where Confederates commanded by General Robert E. Lee defeated the Union Army of the Potomac.
A handout, given to each member of the tour when they boarded the bus, contained battlefield maps of Union and Confederate regiment positions during the three days the battle was fought. After the video, Colonel Crowther Foundation President Bob Hileman, Jr. talked about each map. The maps focused on the positions of the 110th Pennsylvania Volunteers.
The group stopped for lunch upon arrival in Fredericksburg. The next stop was indeed one of the highlights of the day. They traveled a short distance to the Fredericksburg National Cemetery. Colonel Crowther’s remains were moved from his grave on the Chancellorsville battlefield to the Fredericksburg National Cemetery after the war was over. He is the senior Union officer buried in the cemetery. Members of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, Camp No. 4, Irish Brigade, joined the tour group participants in laying a wreath at Colonel Crowther’s grave.
After the ceremony, the group traveled to the Chancellorsville Battlefield Visitor’s Center. Bob Roser, a volunteer guide at the battlefield, led a brief tour of the site where the Confederate Major General Thomas J. (Stonewall) Jackson was shot. The bus moved the tour group to a couple of other locations on the battlefield ending at Hazel Grove. The group then participated in a tour conducted by National Park Service Senior Historian Greg Mertz. This was a walking tour from Hazel Grove to Fairview. These two locations were open areas, small farming fields during the war. While on the tour, the group passed the area where Colonel Crowther fell. Trees and thick undergrowth cover the area where Colonel Crowther was killed as well as the majority of this battlefield. Quite different from what you see when walking the open fields at Gettysburg.
After visiting the battlefield the group had a buffet dinner in Fredericksburg before boarding the bus again for the return trip home to Pennsylvania.