by Don Troiani
August 6, 1763 near present day Harrison City, PA on the road to relieve besieged Fort Pitt. Scottish Highlanders of the Black Watch, led by Major Alan Campbell, counter-attack and defeat a superior number of Indian braves, effectively ending Pontiac's War. This ended French and Indian resistance in the Ohio Valley and opened it up for European settlement. Mr. Troiani is one of the foremost battlefield artists in the world. Although he is usually associated with Civil War scenes, he has taken a special interest in Bushy Run.
As a retired Marine, former school teacher and long time history buff, it's no surprise that I'm fascinated with battlefields. They are great for learning, exploring and honoring the fallen. The tactics, the terrain, the weapons, the personalities, the mistakes, the what-ifs or might-have-beens are all subjects of study, conjecture and learning for me. I've been to battlefields all over the world - Okinawa, Ie Shima, Saipan, Guam, Singapore and Narvik just to name a few. (Narvik, BTW is in Norway and was the site of Nazi Germany's first tactical defeat of WW II in 1940. It was a pitched, close quarters naval surface battle in the port and surrounding fjords. Over 20 ships were sunk. The Narvik area has some great wreck diving, but man that water is cold.)
Likewise, I've visited many in the US. I was raised in south central Pennsylvania, one of the main battlegrounds of the French and Indian War. Braddock's Defeat, Fort Ligonier, Fort Pitt, Bushy Run and Fort Necessity (where George Washington surrendered to the French and was released) were all a short drive from home. It was also the site of the Whiskey Rebellion, the only time a U.S. President (George Washington again) has personally led troops on a mission.
We've been to many of the major battle sites in the east. The big ones are a no brainer - Manassas, Gettysburg and the like. They are fascinating and interesting but we like to seek out the ones that don't get a lot of attention. They are all unique with lots of details to be learned. Jumonville Glen, where George Washington started a world war. Fort Mims, the largest Indian massacre in American history. Monocacy Creek, where a washed up general named Lew Wallace stopped a Confederate attack on Washington D.C. in the last year of the Civil War. Years later, Wallace wrote Ben Hur.
So where does geocaching come in? Simple-battlefields were made for geocaches. Most sites prohibit placing actual containers on the grounds. However, there are lots of virtual caches, where you have to find information or features that are there. There are always regular caches and letterboxes to be found in the surrounding areas.
A great alternative hunt on the battlefield grounds is benchmark hunting. This involves looking for surveyor's disks and other geographic markers placed by government agencies. Battlefields usually have a number of them. You'll find them on geocaching dot com.
If you're lucky, you might find a webcam cache. There used to be a lot of them and they were a lot of fun. In these, you find a webcam listed in the geocache description, open up the webcam's web site on your trusty smart phone and take a picture of yourself in the camera's view. Then submit the picture as proof of find. For reasons that have never been clear to anyone, the geomasters took them offline years ago but grandfathered in the existing ones. Many of them have fallen off the grid, but there's still a few around and battlefields are a good place to look. We claimed one at the Alamo a while back.Called "13 Days in 30 Seconds", it's still there.
There's one thing you can be sure of. If you go to a park or battlefield and incorporate some of these geo-activities in your visit, you'll go places and learn things that your average visitor does not. Don't be a drone. Get out there and go hunting off the beaten path.
In the following pages, you'll find battlefields that we have visited, photographed and found caches on in the last several years. We'll concentrate on little known facts or stories to hopefully pique your curiosity. There'll be lots more in the future. We hope you enjoy these brief tours and come back for more.
Semper Fi....Out here....Boris and Natasha