Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Camp Reynolds Spared By Angel Island Fire

I had quite a reaction last week upon seeing the fires burning on Angel Island near San Francisco. We're pretty touchy about fire in SoCal to begin with, and I spent several really fun days on Angel Island when I was a kid in NorCal, not to mention it's just incredible to look at. Also, in reading about the fire, I learned something about the island that was quite a surprise.
Turns out, in September of 1863, there were concerns about the Confederate Navy making a sortie to the West Coast, ostensibly in an attempt to seize the California gold fields with the aid of local Confederate sympathizers. In reaction, Angel Island became a fortress designed to fend off enemy ships. The first of these installations was named Camp Reynolds, in memory of General John Reynolds, killed on the first day's fighting at Gettysburg just a few months before.
Now Reynolds is a most interesting officer to study, and certainly one of the bravest and most aggressive in the Army of the Potomac. He also holds a special place, because he became the subject of greatest interest for The Jess when she traveled with me to Gettysburg at the beginning of our relationship.
Thus, it was with no small amount of relief that I found out that not only was the fire quenched last week, but that Camp Reynolds was spared, even though the fire got to within several hundred feet of the parade ground. Camp McDowell, named after Gen. Irwin McDowell, who after starting the war as the Union commanding officer at First Bull Run, became head of the Department of Pacific, was likewise unharmed.
I sometimes lament that residing in California leaves me a bit detached from being able to visit Civil War battlefields and monuments; now the next time I go home, this will be a special place to visit indeed

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