Brett had an authentic tintype made- it looks incredible!

We’ve also added several videos from Brett that sum up his experience- check the videos on the right of this page.

Brett’s Final Entries

Below is the handwritten journal entry for Brett Kelley’s final days on picket duty:

For larger images, see our Flickr stream on the right side of the page.

A transcript will soon follow the  images.

Days 12 and 13

Below is the handwritten journal entry for Days 12 and 13 written by Brett Kelley:

For larger images, see our Flickr stream on the right side of the page.

A transcript will soon follow the  images.

Days 10 and 11

Below is the handwritten journal entry for Days 10 and 11 written by Brett Kelley:

For larger images, see our Flickr stream on the right side of the page.

A transcript will soon follow the  images.

Life.. One Mile at a Time

We were all happy to see recent coverage of Brett’s fundraiser on 27 News, the video is available to the right of this page. Also, we’ve added video of Brett’s snow struggles, and an enlightening discussion of Civil War winter quarters life. Enjoy!

Recently posted to our YouTube channel, and available to the right on this page, is an interesting video in which Brett talks about the items he has with him for his picket duty, and a video in which Brett is given a (much needed?) cooking lesson from intern Andy Norris. Enjoy!

Days 6 and 7

Below is the handwritten journal entry for Days 6 and 7 written by Brett Kelley:

For larger images, see our Flickr stream on the right side of the page.

A transcript follows the  images.

-Saturday Feb. 13, 2010

Got up early to clean up the cabin and prepare for the museum’s free day. I was expecting a lot of visitors and was not disappointed. A constant flow of visitors from the museum kept me busy all day, and I met many good and kind supporters of the museum and thsis project. I even received additional provisions from a few patriotic citizens, including fried chicken, hand churned butter, strawberry preserves and cornbread. After a busy day, my old friend the wind picked up again and stayed with me throughout the night. This night the wind did not require the use of my door and left it in the service of the Union firmly attached to this Private’s Winter Quarters.

-Sunday Feb. 14th, 2010

Today has been a rather quiet day, but I have had many visitors including Frank Wedig who is a member of the Harrisburg Lions CLub of which I am also a member. A finer group of men and women can not be found. The Harrisburg Lions Club is the oldest in Pennsylvania, and has always been active in making their community a better place, and leading the way in their mission of supporting those who are visually impaired.

I have had so many great questions from the many people who have visited me. If anyone reading this blog has any questions for me about what I am doing, or what I am trying to accomplish, or about the National Civil War Museum in general please post it and I will answer as soon as I can.

Day 5

Below is the handwritten journal entry for Day 5 written by Brett Kelley:

For larger images, see our Flickr stream on the right side of the page.

A transcript follows the  images.

-Wednesday Feb. 10, 2010

At 2:20 am this morning I received a surprising visit from an unknown patriot of  the Union cause. I woke to a loud knock on the door and a voice calling out ” I have messages” “who are you?” I replied “I have messages” was the answer, “What is your name” “I have messages and I am loyal to the Union cause” came the reply. Convinced that friends were playing a joke on me, I went to the door and opened it a crack. Standing before me was a bearded man with what appeared to be ski poles and cross country skis, with a small back pack. Greetings were quickly exchanged and the messages delivered, in the form of beer bottles the number being six. The name affixed to each bottle read TROEGS, a name that I am not unfamiliar with. In the blink of an eye the messenger was gone, leaving no name, but his messages was clear in my mind. (good luck, and I support what you are trying to do.) By the next morning the storm was in full swing and the wind was blowing with the force of a hurricane. The day was quiet, and the museum was closed because of the snow. My only visitor was a photographer for a news agency. He was pleasant and we past a few hours discussing history and photography. Before he left he admitted that he was stalling his departure because of the extremely bad weather that seems to be amplified on top of this hill. I didn’t mind and appreciated his company. During his visit he managed to take some photographs despite the weather conditions including some of myself chasing my disobedient forage cap that refused to stay on my head in the blowing wind. My head first plunge into a snow bank will be on the blooper reel I presume. Soon I was left only with my thoughts and the howling wind. the wind blew so hard at my lofty locale, that I was sure at one point that I would awake with my cabin in Paxtang the next morning. But the cabin remained firm, at least most of it. During the night I heard the stove pipe outside shift, and went out to check on it. After verifying that all was well I headed back inside taking a wide route to avoid deep snow, I saw a large gust of wind rolling across the snow with snow flying in front of it. As I turned my back to brace against it I glanced over at the cabin just in time to see the door forcefully ripped off its hinges and flying several feet away by the wind. I quickly realized that the door could not be fixed and rehung in the high winds, my first thought was that this was going to be a cold night. Luckily for me Mr. Goodyear had invented the process of vulcanizing rubber prior to the Civil War and I had a rubber blanket that when nailed to the door frame made a fine temporary substitute for the wounded door. The night was drafty and cold despite my best efforts to shore things up, but by morning I had made it through another winter storm.

Today has been quiet as Harrisburg digs out. The museum was open, and I had visits from several hardy souls, including a team from WITF which was fun. I have passed the days by writing in my journal crushing coffee beans with the flat side of my hatchet and organizing and cleaning my equipment. It is still quite windy but hopefully the worst is over. I also repaired and rehung the door and it is a good as a 150 year old temporary door. At least I should be warm tonight.

Here are a few shots of the inside of Brett Kelley’s winter quarters..

Day 4

Below is the handwritten journal entry for Day 4 written by Brett Kelley:

For larger images, see our Flickr stream on the right side of the page.

A transcript follows the  images.

“-Tuesday Feb. 9, 2010

Today I awoke at 5:00 AM I was prepared for an interview on WGAL which was fun. I was never much one for being in the spotlight but I am doing this for the museum, so I get used to it. The cabin is holding up well I have had no problems, and have kept quite warm. I am well supplied with dry wood due to the efforts of friends and staff of the museum. I commenced a march to the site of Camp Curtin at 9:00 AM after a short delay. The route taking me around Reservoir Park which has remained as Harrisburg’s main location for its reservoir for over 100 years. I am told that there is a 30,000,000 gallon water tank under the field behind the museum, close to my cabin. There are several other large tanks on the other side of the park facing the heart of the city. Leaving the park I traveled west on State Street, the Capital dome in the distance is a wonderful sight, and I can think of no other state capital that can match its beauty. As I continue west I get the distinct feeling that I am being stared at. Perhaps people were staring at/admiring my long whiskers that I have been cultivating for several months, I think that many a soldier of the 1860s would be proud to don such a furry mantle. On my right I pass the gates of the Harrisburg Cemetery. The cemetery contains many of Harrisburg’s prominent citizens of the civil war era, including General and Pennsylvania Governor John White Geary and Senator, and Secretary of War during the first year of the Lincoln administration, Simon Cameron. Among the honored dead are the graves of approximately 20 Confederate soldiers that died in the military hospitals of Harrisburg after succumbing to their wounds sustained at Gettysburg. Their graves have remained unmolested for nearly 150 years with the much misunderstood Confederate battle flag marking each one and frequently replaced when worn out by age and weather. Allowing these veterans of their cause to rest in peace and honor so far from home is a source of pride for Harrisburg.

As I cross the State Street Bridge many of the cars and trucks sound their horns and wave. On man driving a truck shouted out his approval of my uniform, referring to my long flowing great coat complete with gilt buttons and cape, with my trusty Springfield rifle slung over my shoulder, not a word about my whiskers though. A truck of the Harrisburg Fire Department rolls by with a loud blast from its horn, I wave back and a surge of pride courses through me having been acknowledged by them. Who among us doesn’t love firetrucks, and admire firemen, especially ours, who are among the finest in the country.

Up ahead Lynn Smolizer is crossing traffic at the west end of the bridge to join me for a few blocks. Lynn is our museum staff PR Coordinator, who has been working hard with our sponsors to ensure that I have everything I need to make this project a success, including a roof over my head and a floor under my feet. She has been following along with museum Director Janice Mullin to do short interviews and take videos of this march. Entering Downtown Harrisburg I receive many positive comments, also a few about General Lee sneaking up on me. I walked past the monument to Pennsylvania’s Mexican War dead and over to the equestrian statue of General Hartranft, who earned the Medal of Honor for his actions at the 1st Battle of Bull Run, and after the war became Governor of Pennsylvania. During the early days of the war the Capital grounds I marched down to 2nd street and started north, a school bus driver stopped at a red light asked if she could take my picture, and I was happy to oblige. A block or two later I had my photo taken with a man and woman who worked for a Harrisburg development agency, I’m afraid I can’t remember which, but I hear that they sent the photo to Lynn, and perhaps I will get to see it. Making my way again to State Street I passed near St. Patrick’s Cathedral, a very impressive church. I then turned toward Front Street, and continuing north passed several of the city’s historic mansions. I made my way to the corner of Forester Street and went east on that road until I reached 6th Street, and went north once again to the site of Camp Curtin. Along the way I was stopped by two of Harrisburg’s finest who had received a call about a man in a blue suit carrying a rifle, they rightly assumed that I was their man. After a few questions and a quick call on their radio I was on my way, much impressed with their courtesy and professionalism and leaving no doubt in my mind that they are a true representation of Harrisburg’s outstanding Police Department. Along my way up 6th Street I was received with smiles and kind words from the residents of that section of our city. Passing by the Hamilton School I was approached by a very nice elderly couple and asked to come inside and speak to the students. I replied that I didn’t think that the school rules would allow a weapon on school grounds. After going inside to speak to the principal the old Gentleman returned to confirm my assumption. Although the Principal did say that she would be happy to speak to me about giving a presentation in the future. As I passed the intersection of 6th and Maclay Streets I began to look at the contours of the land and imagine the front gate of the largest camp for receiving troops in the North during the entire war. The land is level in the center, but quickly slopes away to the left and right. Nearly every trace of Camp Curtin has vanished, and if you didn’t already know it you would most likely never realize that you were standing on the spot where 300,000 Civil War soldiers gathered to defend the Union, many never to return. A couple of blocks past where the main gate once was I came to a small church, and in the yard is a statue of Pennsylvania’s wartime Governor Andrew G. Curtin. The statue was placed there in the early 20th century to honor his service to Pennsylvania, and the Camp named for him. I walked up to the statue through the snow and reveled in the history for a few moments, and then it was time to move on. Just outside the tiny park I was approached by a gentleman who asked me if he could take my picture. He was delighted that someone was taking an interest in the history of his neighborhood, and lamented that many of its modern day residents didn’t seem to appreciate or realize the historical significance of Camp Curtin. Although it may not seem apparent, I suspect that many who live in the area of Old Camp Curtin, do indeed take great pride in its history. Churches, Schools, nad businesses bear the name of Camp Curtin in that area of Harrisburg, and the Camp Curtin Historical Society has been doing good work in preserving the memory of Camp Curtin and other local and national Civil War sites. Before leaving a woman drove up in her car and also asked to take my picture, she took one of me and one of me shaking the gentleman’s hand.

I decided that my return trip to the museum and my quarters should take me past the Pennsylvania State Farmshow Complex and by the grounds of the old Pennsylvania State Hospital campus. The State Hospital, known during the Pennsylvania State Lunatic Asylum, was where the bread for the soldiers of Camp Curtin was baked. A mile or so beyond the State Hospital grounds I came to a part of the city name Allison Hill. Located just outside of Reservoir Park to the west, Allison Hill has a reputation as a bad part of town because of its high crime rate and many abandoned buildings. But just as in every area of our city there are citizens that care deeply about their neighborhoods and look forward to a better future. As I passed through I was often greeted with smiles and words of encouragement. One man working atop the roof of a building shouted “Isn’t General Lee ever going to give you a day off” “not likely” I shouted back, returning his wave.

I was glad to see my winter quarters again and looked forward to resting my tired feet, before preparing to face the next winter storm.