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tv   American Artifacts  CSPAN  May 17, 2015 6:00pm-6:31pm EDT

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tv, 40 hours -- 48 hours of american history tv programming every weekend on c-span3. go to twitter for a schedule of our latest programs and to keep up with history news. >> ♪ so here am i in a tin can far above the world planet earth is blue and there's nothing left to do ♪ >> tonight on c-span's q&a veteran canadian astronaut chris ashfield reported many videos while in space. >> the only time i felt a shiver
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of fear was on the dark side of earth, looking at eastern australia in the darkness and watching a shooting star come between me and the earth. everest i have the standard reaction of wishing upon a star and then i had the reaction that this was a huge, dumb rock from the universe going at 20 miles a second that missed us. if it hit us, it was a big enough one, that you could see it. if it would have hit us, we would have been dead. >> tonight on c-span's q&a. -- c-span's q&a. >> to mark the anniversary of the surrender of general lead to general grant, the parks service
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hosted an event. when we stopped by, the blacksmith was just starting a fire. >> no, no. that's good. >> my name is john baronich. i live in spring hill, new york. this is a replica of the
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traveling forges that the artillery and the cavalry would have them. our basic purpose is to repair items that would break, such break, such as handles and chains. also the farriers would use the forged to re-shoe the horses. i left to tell people our job back here is very similar to a nascar pit crew -- i like to tell people our job back here is very similar to a nascar pit crew. we were the nascar pit crew of the 1860's. we would take care of the canon wheels -- cannon wheels, wagon wheels. the coopers, the ones who would work on barrels, fixing and repairing barrels. we also had a harness makers. and of course, the blacksmith,
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whose primary job, as i said, was to repair items. the biggest example would be the farriers. for example in our artillery battery, we have approximately 150 horses, so there are more forces than men. so, they have a really big job. so, i have heated up this metal so i'm going to forge it to a point on the anvil using a three-pound hammer. i'm looking for a nice orange color. we come underneath, and i kind of get in the shade, you can see the aren't color. -- the orange color. i just want to bring this to a point.
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so, i hammer a few times on one side, than a few times on the other. -- then a few times on the other. as you may see, it is beginning to taper to a point. as i get that orange color, i have to -- as i lose that orange color, i have to put it in the forge and heated up so the material -- heat it up so the material becomes soft again. we will work a little faster. a good blacksmith has a real good pair of tongs. now this lever is operating a pair of bellows in the back of the forge, and you can see the gray leather bag going up and
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down, that is filling up with a air and the air comes out of the top of the forge into the fire pits. then the forge is also -- you will notice it says "forge l." it would be attached to an artillery battery, battery l. here are drawers for storage. drawer number three has all of our metal. different sizes, different shapes. drawer number one has all of our tools andin it, and our gloves, our files, our chisels. and then drawer number two would really have our tongs in it. i do have some modern day things here. first aid kit, etc. that would be where we would store our tongs, some of the
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tools to put an back of the anvil to shape the metal. on the back of the forge is this box, and this would ride up here . in here, we have about 250 pounds of coal. we are very self-sufficient. all in all this weighs about 2000 pounds and it would be pulled by -- and 6 mules. i will go back in here and finish forging. thank you. was it hot? >> it was really hot. john baronich: blacksmiths would do a lot of their work at night. basically so they could see the color of the metal. the sun is starting to come up
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so i would have to be careful. i would burn up my piece of metal. there we go. a nice orange color. now, rounding my corners on here and bringing this metal to a point, and then in a minute, i will show you how to bend the point over and what i'm working on is what i call the pigtail. now you can see we would round this off -- so if you were to hang your hat or coat, it would not rip. also it's kind of decorative. kind of looks pretty with that pigtail in the back, and gives
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you a place to put your things when you are eating, too. now i have this to a point. i will heat it back up and roll it. it's always good to have a good apprentice. keep comping -- keep pumping. >> tell is about your wagon. how did you determine the size? john baronich: i was a metal and wood shop teacher for number of years, and being a reenactor, we needed a forge for our artillery group. i wrote to the national archives in washington, d.c., and about two months later i received a plan book of about 135 pages with all of the details on how to make the forge. i did make this forge everything here except the wheels and the vice.
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it took about two years. i cut down my own oak tree and asked three -- ash tree and cut to those dimensions at all of the rivets are things that i forged and fabricated. ok i aim going to bend the pigtail. so, i hold this over the anvil. just very carefully hit it. and there is the pigtail at this point. now i'm making a little hook. it looks like this, called the teardrop hook. now the next step is to make the actual hook itself. once again, i have to heat it back up.
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in making the forge, i have come to find out there's only five or six of these in the entire country and they do have an original one, which i did go and see down in chickamauga chattanooga battlefield. i did take some pictures to get the finer details of the chains on the hooks so this forge is a very, very accurate. now, i do not want to ruin my pigtail, so i have to cool it off in water to harden it. ok? you can see this as black and this is still orange. this will be very easy now to bend. i put it over the war and of the annville -- over the horn of the
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anvil. straightened it out. and there is my curve. now cut this off here and i will make the top and, called the teardrop. ok. >> ready to heat it up again boss? john baronich: yep heat it back up. i use a tool called a cut off hardy, which is a chisel with a square shank on it. just put that back on the and bowl. i will take the metal and i will be hitting this and then i will -- just put that back on the
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anvil. i will take the metal and i will be hitting this and then i will break it off. a little more. now the hooks that i am making called the tear drop hook was a hook that soldiers would have locksmiths make -- blacksmiths make. i don't want to cut that all the way through, because i will ruin the sharp edge. so, i cut it about halfway. then all i do is twist it right off. now put this in. and i will shape the back end into the shape of a teardrop. >> [indiscernible] john baronich: yep.
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the soldiers -- these soldiers would be marching along, and they might find a piece of chain -- not too much -- they might find a piece of chain or a square nail and they would take that to the blacksmith and ask the blacksmith to make them this hook, the teardrop hook. i will make the teardrop end r ight now. and i just hold the metal in one spot, just pounded to make it wide. -- pound it to make it wide. you can see here. now bring this to a point.
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and i will put it over the horn and just curl it a little bit. as you can see, it looks like a teardrop. when the soldiers had the blacksmith make the teardrop hook, they would go back to their tents and they would write a love letter home to their wife or girlfriend, and they would put the date on the top of the letter and they would mail this home. when the wife got the teardrop hook it told her two things. one, the husband missed her, wanted to be home. it was a symbol of love.
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so, she would take the to drop hook and hang it on the wall and she could hang her aprons or maybe her hat or handbag over this. the letter also, because it was dated, told the wife her husband was still alive on this day on april 12. unfortunately there is a sad side to this story. the soldier, the husband the next day was killed in battle. so, the sergeant or the lieutenant would go out and clean his body, maybe take of a wedding ring and send it back to his wife. when she then got that letter with his personal effects, she would take her items off there hanging his items on here and then take her wedding ring off and hang it over here. that was now a memorial to her following husband.
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that is the story that took me from the forge and the teardrop hook. >> this is a lot of trouble for you to do all this. what is the value of it? john baronich: the value is spectators really get into what we are doing and teach people about the history of our country. being a former shop teacher i became a principal, and teaching kids about history is very important for me. most of the items you see in the blacksmith shop called the boxes -- the table, the stove, the desk -- are all items i have made from old barn wood. so, it keeps me busy because i like to do this kind of hobby. i like to work with my hands. if i could sum up the last five years with this 150th anniversary period we have been
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going through, i would say it has been very emotional. we have been out in the field with our cannons because we are an artillery unit. and i can honestly say, once you get into what is going on around you, you really believe you were there at that particular moment in time. gettysburg was very, very emotional for so many all. we were just at cedar creek in the fall. again, very emotional for us, and we are a second artillery group. we came down here at appomattox the forge, and became a confederate group because general robert e. lee surrendered a battery forge and they asked if we could be part of that demonstration. i know the group we belong to or i belong to is about 80 people and we really like the living
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history piece. most of us are educators are former educators and like to interact with people. that's why i do what i do. i never served in the military so this is my way of paying back those people that have gone before us and served our country. >> are there any stories you can remember from the past four years? john baronich: you know, there's a couple things that happen at every single event. i think -- my favorite -- not necessarily one particular thing , but at every event we seem to connect with the local people. like yesterday, for example, we had some chickens do and a couple ladies came by and we offered them, hey, you want some chicken stew? and they ate stew with us, two days ago, and yesterday they
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came back and -- well, let me show you. they came back with lemon pound cake and cookies for us yesterday for dessert. we just have a lot of fun with them. at gettysburg, we were on cemetery ridge doing blacksmithing, and people were coming by offering food, and a gentleman came back with a porcelain basket of vegetables from his garden. and that is what we do. that is so much fun for us. those are the things that i like. not one particular situation but at every event there is just that connection with the local people. these are the tools the blacksmith would have in the
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forge wagon. this tool is called a flatter and after you forge or metal there are bumps in it from the edge of the hammers. you would put this on the and fall and hit it here and it would make a real flat surface on your piece of metal. it's almost like an iron, but you would have to hit it with a hammer. oh, this is pretty cool. this is -- we do not know if this is confederate. one of the guys was telling me, this is really an old piece. but the handle is made from an old wagon spoke, wagon wheel spoke. this is one of the punches. a can, you heat the metal up and when the metal -- again, you heat the metal up and when the metal is hot, it will punch a hole in here, versus drilling it.
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this looks like a hammer but the back part is rounded, so if i wanted to make a 90-degree bend in my metal i would just hit this along it line and then i could hit it up straight. if her hammers. these are the basics. the balky hammer -- the ballpeen hammer. then we have several different kinds of punches. my favorite thing -- kids say hey, you become a really good blacksmith when you can drill a square hole. of course, you can't drill a square hole, but you can punch a square hole. if you heat the metal you can
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get a punch. you can see them think, drill a square hole? their parents catch onto it. of course, i will show you how these soldiers may be bullets. this is a bullet mold where we would heat the lead, then pour the lead into the two holes. it would cool off, you open it up, and then you have the bullets. that would be in there like that. like that. i'm sorry. there we go. there would be two of them here. >> you are from buffalo, but you are playing a confederate. does that bother you? john baronich: does not bother me at all. we have a lot of fun being confederates.
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it is all about meeting people all over the country and getting to know them better. being an educator, i think for the younger generation coming up, the most important thing for them is to get involved with their community, get involved with some type of hobby that you can learn. i've been doing this for over 10 years and every day i learned something. our young people cannot forget our history. in high school they have trouble with history and then after high school when they are college age or whatever, they start to get into it because they can come to places like appomattox and learn about what happened. they become involved with it. sitting back is one thing and kind of watching, but actually do it and experience it and immerse yourself in it -- i think that is what is really
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important for our young generation to not forget. >> near the camp of the traveling blacksmith forge, civil war reenactors pretrade the gun stacking ceremony that took place when lee surrendered to grant in 1865. [drumroll] >> shoulder. shoulder. arms! to the rear! to faces!
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march! stand! forward! >> [indiscernible] accouterments. >> brigade! forward! march! >> my name is chris roberts and i'm from weaverville, north carolina.
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i am portraying the commander of the 26 north carolina infantry. at the moment, i'm commanding the first battalion. this is my 30th year of reenacting. i have been through the one 25th -- 125th anniversary ceremony. who knows if i will be around for the 175th, but it is on that course i suppose. >> how has reenacting changed the last 30 years? chris roberts: with the internet, it's easier to find information, quartermaster records, images. in the days before that it was difficult to find that information. now it's much easier to communicate with folks.
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the specificity has increased immensely, down to minute details of buttons being reproduced and blankets. there are many pieces now that would be difficult to tell from the original. the good thing about living history is that when you read the books and you sort of try to picture the moment, there are so many blanks. it is such a failed moment. even with the greatest imagination, you still fail. when you wear the uniforms, you have the sites, the sounds, the smells the same as they were then, all of these nuances, and you begin to realize all of the small details you missed before. a good example -- when i first began to reenact -- i was
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alongside and a soldier pointed out, that would get in the way of your cartridge box. that is something that would never have occurred to me. but with all of the same actions, that becomes clear. [drumroll] [flute playing lively tune]
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>> with love coverage of the u.s. house on c-span and the senate on c-span2, here on c-span3, complement that coverage by showing you public hearings and public affairs events. on the weekends, c-span3 is the home to american history tv including six unique series. the civil war's 150th anniversary. american artifacts, touring museums and historic site. history bookshelf, with the best-known american history writers. the presidency looking at the policies and legacies of our nation's commanders in chief. lectures in history, top college professors delving into america fell past. and our new series reel america, looking a


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