Things old that are new again…

October 14, 2014
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Old books, new to my library

I’ve come into some unusually good deals lately and have added significantly to the “old wing” of my library… hence old things are indeed new again. The majority of these (in fact, all but the two on the top) date prior to the Civil War. Essentially, all that you see here have connections to the […]

Thoughts on the opening days of “the Burning”

September 27, 2014
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In a rare opportunity (at least it’s been rather rare, for me, in these past two months) this morning, I had the chance to sit in my study… a window open… and enjoy a cup of coffee while I took in all that I could on this early Autumn day. The cool air (a brisk […]

Thinking about the Sesqui of Strother’s farewell from the army

August 9, 2014
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strother

Around 1:30 p.m. (I’m almost to the very minute when posting this), 150 years ago on this day, David Hunter Strother boarded a train at Harper’s Ferry, bound for Baltimore. He was just taking 20 days leave of absence… but ultimately, it sure appears as if he had had his fill of war. Was it […]

Dissecting a battlefield: on the Sesquicentenial of the Battle of Cool Spring

July 19, 2014
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I attended the first half of the Sesqui commemorative tour at Cool Spring yesterday… and a well-attended event it was (see Craig’s post about it, here). While I enjoyed hearing about the battle that unfolded along the Shenandoah River, I have to say… the infatuation I have with the cultural (pre-war and wartime) settings of […]

One narrow vision… followed by a more remarkable set of 19th century observations by Brantz Mayer

July 11, 2014
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Brantz Mayer

I read, somewhere recently, about how someone holds such low regard for Harper’s Ferry… because… as this person sees things… the site interprets John Brown as a hero. It’s actually odd, but John Brown only crosses my mind a couple of times when I visit (which, as regular readers know, is often) Harper’s Ferry, and when he […]

Valley men rush to the defense of… Washington?

July 8, 2014
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This past weekend, I spent a little time enjoying the “Invasion Stalled” program at Harper’s Ferry. While it did indeed stall… Gen. Jubal Early bypassed Harper’s Ferry, and continued his press toward Washington. Gen. Ulysses Grant, however, didn’t hesitate, and by July 6 had dispatched more troops to deal with Early’s advance. Those extra troops […]

D.H. Strother observes… “negro servants bearing arms”

June 29, 2014
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This afternoon, I spent some time revisiting Strother’s recollections of the early war. As always, “Porte Crayon” never disappoints… Still a civilian at the time, Strother made various notes regarding what he saw on Saturday, June 15, 1861 (153 years ago this month), as Joseph E. Johnston’s Confederates marched through Charles Town, Virginia… Looking along […]

A follow-up on Faulkner and his thoughts on slavery

June 22, 2014
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Faulkner

I happened to be passing through Hagerstown yesterday, and had the chance to slip in to the public library for about 2 hours, to browse through older editions of the newspapers. One of my objectives… to look-up articles about Faulkner. What I found didn’t disappoint, including one particular piece that gave a hint as to […]

What might we learn from C.J. Faulkner’s speech of Jan. 1832?

June 19, 2014
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FaulknerFace

For years, I’ve thought an argument was extremely weak. Descendants defending Confederate ancestors…. that they did not fight for slavery. A lot of folks base it simply on the fact that an ancestor did not own slaves. It’s a poor foundation for an argument, and I don’t recommend it. On the other hand, we have […]

A Father’s Day story with a Sesqui tie-in

June 15, 2014
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Angus W. McDonald

It’s ironic, but today is the 150th anniversary of an event that is unique… it’s about fathers… and it happens to fall on Father’s Day. That said, I wish I could say it will leave you with a warm feeling, but… June 15, 1864 was a Wednesday. Of that day, David Hunter Strother remembered Early […]

Strother and the 1st New York Cavalry on African-American Conscripts in Winchester

June 14, 2014
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Strother, the soldier.

I’ve been enjoying myself much this morning by reading through David Hunter Strother’s coverage of events from March to June 1864. Whenever I read Strother, I’m never disappointed at his observations and what he is thinking. That said, I’m pretty sure if I actually had the opportunity, this guy would be at the top of […]

A Confederate’s lament over the death of Thackeray

June 7, 2014
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Thackeray

I was recently thumbing through the editions from the last year (1864) of the Southern Literary Messenger, trying to find any traces that might be lingering… evidence of a passion for literature… among Southerners. Not surprisingly, there were the normal pieces associated with the war… not so much literature, in the Scott/Dickens/Irving sense… but… more along the lines of […]

Reflections on D-Day’s 70th

June 6, 2014
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USS Meredith (DD-726)

I recall, years ago, asking my grandfather to document his WW2 service in the Navy, and one of the things that stuck out… not only to myself, but clearly to him… was where he was on June 6, 1944. Though he wasn’t off the coast of Normandy, he was on a convoy in the Red […]

“Porte Crayon” in Harrisonburg, June 2, 1864

June 2, 2014
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SwallowBarn3

It’s been an extraordinarily busy past few months, and postings here have suffered mightily for it. That said, last night I happened to “catch-up” with David Hunter Strother, as the Federal army advanced up the Shenandoah Valley toward Staunton. As of June 2, Strother awoke (near New Market) to find his “fine bay horse” gone… […]

A Valley man returns to the Wilderness

May 6, 2014
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James Huffman

Thinking still of the fighting in the Wilderness this week, I recall a passage in a book of mine (Ups and Downs of a Confederate Soldier) in which a Valley man (James Huffman) reflected on his youth and one of his passages through the Wilderness, around 1854. When I was about fourteen, I began to […]

Memory of an ancestor in the Wilderness

May 5, 2014
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It’s been a while since I last posted from a battlefield, but felt today was a good time. I’m sitting within the lines of what was the left flank of the Stonewall Brigade (as of this very hour, 150 years ago). I’m within the area in which the 33rd Virginia stood… and to my right, […]

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Confederates by choice… or by circumstance?

May 3, 2014
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Here were are again… on the eve of a major period of Sesqui events. Just to the east, there is the Overland Campaign… and closer to home, here in the Shenandoah Valley… there is Sigel’s advance up the Valley. Yet, to me, there are more than troop movements and battles, especially when May of 1864 […]

Confederate History Month – a disservice to Antebellum Southern history?

April 2, 2014
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I know… I’ve been incredibly quiet for well over a month, but I’ve been considering various things regarding directions in which to go with writing history. Another topic for another day, perhaps. For now, however, since “Confederate History Month” (as I was reminded by a post I saw on Facebook this morning) is now underway, it […]

Cole vs. Mosby: The end to a “rivalry”(?)

February 21, 2014
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Flag of Cole's Cavalry, 1st Potomac Home Brigade (Maryland) Cavalry

February 21, 1864 was a Sunday. A good day, it seems, for an ending. Mosby had ordered his command to assemble at Piedmont to attend the funeral of Ranger Joseph McCobb (a rather elusive person to find in records, by the way), who had been killed (by a fall from his horse) in the fight, the day […]

From Belle Isle to warmer climate

February 19, 2014
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Prisoners being loaded on the cars. From the movie "Andersonville".

After experiencing life at Belle Isle (even after just a few months), the thought of heading south, to a new POW camp in Georgia may have had its perks. Warmer weather and healthier conditions may have come to the minds of Union prisoners of war, though the thought of being farther from home may have […]

The men lost on the USS Housatonic

February 17, 2014
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The USS Housatonic

Update, 2/20/14: Please see the additional data gathered about three of the men lost, at the end of the post. While outside my normal “theater of operations”, I felt a bit obligated to write something about the Hunley, today.  Obviously, today marks the 150th anniversary of the Confederacy’s great achievement in submarine history… but also the […]

The panic of the Confederate Congress(?): a call for the conscription of free blacks

February 9, 2014
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Early in February, 1864, there was a small piece in one of the Staunton newspapers about the Confederate Congress considering the conscription of free blacks. No, not as armed soldiers, but as “teamsters, cooks, & etc.” Understand, however, the objection was not because they were “people of color”, but because conscripting these folks would have […]

News in the Valley: The Army of Northern Virginia’s need for shoes

February 3, 2014
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Ever since Craig posted about shoes last week, I’ve been thinking about posting something that might add another perspective on the need for shoes within the Army of Northern Virginia.  As Craig’s post points out, Lee was in need of leather, and if he could get the amount he needed, he could employ 500 from […]

Confederate deserters… gone bad: Shenandoah, January, 1864.

January 30, 2014
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A little something to consider, regarding how some Confederates had turned lawless, even by this time, 150 years ago, in the Shenandoah Valley. From the Daily Dispatch (Richmond), January 25, 1864: Along the Shenandoah river, in Jefferson and Clarke counties, a regular band of robbers has been organized, composed of deserters from our army. This […]