When do we fail our history? – a perspective on an event, from Long Branch

December 31, 2013
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This isn’t the way I planned on introducing my thoughts on Long Branch. I think the place is amazing, and under the new director, Nicholas Redding, has shown growth and incredible potential as a historic site… perhaps even reaching the status as the premier historic site of Clarke County, Virginia. As I’m only about fifteen […]

The Civil War, “Puritan influence” and Alexis de Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America”

December 30, 2013
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First, I sincerely hope everyone had a pleasant Christmas and holiday season. I meant to post prior to Christmas, but time got away from me. So, back at it, then… This is a different sort of post, but… I’m in a discussion elsewhere, and this is the result. I’ve heard, on more than one occasion, where […]

Boyd reaches Harrisonburg, while another command of Federal cavalry reaches Luray

December 23, 2013
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The date… is December 23, 1863… and quite a lot transpired since my last coverage of events which lead up to December 17, 1863. Not only had the stalled Federal advanced picked-up, by the 23rd, there was another force of Union cavalry arriving at Luray, in Page County. First things first, however… Wells and Boyd […]

Bad weather, a slow advance, and Gilmor’s “raid” on Burner’s

December 17, 2013
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By the 17th of December, 1863, Federal progress was… not very progressive. William Beach, of the 1st New York remembered that “it was raining hard and freezing”. Despite the weather, Boyd’s main body moved up the pike, with the 1st taking the Back Road, to Columbia Furnace. There’s an anecdote in Beach’s book that mentions […]

Wells reaches Strasburg, and Valley civilians react to Lincoln’s (other) proclamation

December 14, 2013
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On December 13, Col. Wells’ advance had reached Strasburg… I have the honor to report some slight skirmishing in our front to-day with the pickets. The First New York went into Woodstock to-day, and captured 12 prisoners – 7 (infantry) of Ewell’s corps, who report themselves as having been sent into the valley on detached […]

“I would much like a guide” – Shenandoah Sesqui, December 12, 1863

December 12, 2013
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By the morning of December 12, Col. Wells’ reported that his command had reached Winchester, on the night prior… I have the honor to report my command here last night. All well. Eighteen miles from here to Strasburg, making the whole distance 48 miles. Have not seen Colonel Boyd, but learn that he is ahead. […]

Shenandoah Sesqui… the Federals on the march, and resentment among the Valley’s own… December 11, 1863

December 11, 2013
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From the Federal perspective, there doesn’t seem to be a great deal to comment on, regarding the Federal line of march as of December 11, 1863. Writing (apparently in the morning) from Burmach (regretfully, no… I haven’t figured out where this us just yet), just three miles from Berryville, Wells  noted that he had arrived […]

To keep Confederates busy – the beginning of an active December in the Shenandoah

December 10, 2013
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“Stonewall” was gone and Gettysburg was over five months in the past… and, despite being overshadowed by other things in other places, the Shenandoah Valley was still an active arena. While Union Gen. William W. Averell pressed on the rail head of the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad, at Salem, his commanding officer, Brig. Gen. Benjamin […]

Thanksgiving…a Sesqui moment, and giving credit where credit is due

November 28, 2013
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Yes, I know… a lot of people issued proclamations of thanksgiving before President Abraham Lincoln. I’ve seen several posting tidbits about it on Facebook. I don’t know how many have noted that the claim belongs to… Lincoln… and, yes, he was a person in power who could and did put the wheels in motion to […]

Does the South have more ties to New England-focused Thanksgiving than realized?

November 26, 2013
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"Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor," by William Halsall, 1882 at Pilgrim Hall Museum, Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Plimoth (Plymouth)… or Jamestown… or Berkeley Hundred? A few years ago, I covered the complexities behind “who had the first Thanksgiving”, but there’s something else worth noting. Despite a mindset among some that seems to distance both the Massachusetts Bay colonists from the Virginia Colony colonists, the lines that seem to have only been blurred over time, […]

A daring, Federal scouting party rides into Confederate-held Berryville

November 24, 2013
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Modern view of the Union Hotel, just one week ago.

As I promised, yesterday, there is this one Sesqui moment tied to another that came and went last month without observation. While many of the men in Col. Simpson’s 9th Maryland Infantry were captured at Charles Town, on October 18, 1863, others took extreme risks to make sure Simpson, as well as the Harpers Ferry […]

The 9th Maryland, at Charles Town – Col. Simpson’s folly?

November 23, 2013
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About the time folks were talking about Bristoe Station, last month, other things were happening on the Sesqui calendar of events. It just so happens I’m a little late in marking the dates. On October 18, 1863, for example (as a Sesqui reflection of “meanwhile, here in the Shenandoah Valley…”), John D. Imboden’s command closed-in […]

How can “historical memory” be made a more palatable dish?

November 12, 2013
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Pardon me for being so quiet lately, but things have been a bit… busy. It doesn’t mean I stop thinking about the history… or the practice of the same. Take… “historical memory”. I’ve wondered if the practice among historians is as great as what it was a few years back. More important, I wonder if […]

“the most damnable, vraisemblable, horrible, hair-lifting, shocking…”

October 31, 2013
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… ingenious chapter of fiction that any brain ever conceived, or hands traced. So wrote Philip Pendleton Cooke (you remember… John Esten Cooke’s older brother), in August 1846, when sharing his thoughts with Edgar Allan Poe regarding Poe’s The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar The quote seems amazing to me… to think, not just that […]

To be buried alive…

October 30, 2013
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… was, of course, a very real fear in the 19th century. In fact, in “The Premature Burial” (published first in the Philadelphia Dollar Newspaper, in 1844), Edgar Allan Poe tapped into those very real fears. You can read it here… or, if you prefer… listen to it, here… I highly recommend the audio. I […]

Mark the day… June 4, 1812… as the end of the world.

October 29, 2013
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I restrained myself from titling this “Party like it’s 1812″, so, for that you can be thankful… but since it’s Halloween week… It should come as no surprise that I came upon this little piece of history about Nimrod Hughes… the man who offered a prediction of the end of the world… well, sorta… he […]

The less you know, the better the ghost story: the real Corbin Cabin of Nicholson Hollow

October 24, 2013
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Since it’s October, I figured I’d bring up a ghost story… not that I care much for it. To be honest, I see it amounting to something along the lines of the tall tales told by George Freeman Pollock. Anyway, there’s this “ghost story” about Corbin Cabin, in Shenandoah National Park, that came out and got attention a […]

What does this have to do with the Civil War?

October 19, 2013
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For one… I offer a friendly reminder to consider, again, the title of the blog. It’s not just about the Civil War… it’s more about the area, and, because who I am and because of my interests… yes, it usually comes back to the Civil War, in some way or the other. Nonetheless, I’ve actually […]

The Dixon-Maddux shooting(s), and ties (maybe not so much) to Southern Unionism

October 12, 2013
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Not Shenandoah Valley-related (but with ties to the valley), but something I happened upon a while back… On p. 202 of Lincoln’s Loyalists, there is mention of a man by the name of Henry T. Dixon. Loyalists author, Richard Nelson Current, uses Ulysses S. Grant’s words in referring to Dixon, as “a loyal Virginian who was driven […]

Immersing oneself in the early 19th century… Middleway, Jefferson Co., WV

September 29, 2013
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There’s this little village, off the beaten path, back in Jefferson County. To reach this place, I prefer taking Rt. 51 from Inwood, toward Charles Town… the old Middleway Pike. Now, there are a lot of places in the Shenandoah Valley where one can see buildings that predate the Civil War… lots. Yet, I don’t […]

Tallying agric. stats for losses during “the Burning” in the Shenandoah

September 27, 2013
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Dent corn, Antietam National Battlefield. It's unclear whether the Indian Corn listed in the census was Dent Corn or Calico Corn.

A brief detour from my posts about antebellum literacy in the Shenandoah Valley… When I transcribed the post about navigation and commerce in the Shenandoah (as of 1847), the thought was always in the back of my mind that, long before it was known as the “Breadbasket of the Confederacy”, the Valley served as a […]

More on literacy in antebellum Shenandoah – libraries, taxes and public schools

September 26, 2013
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Having spent more time tallying stats, it’s time to share a bit more regarding my thoughts on the antebellum literacy levels in the Shenandoah Valley… According to the 1850 census, at that time, the Shenandoah Valley had a total of four public libraries, with a total of 5,510 volumes. Those libraries could be found in only four out […]

With Lieutenant Rivers “on point”

September 25, 2013
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Craig has a post up today that caught my eye… quickly. Just the mention of Mosby and Rector’s Crossroads brought to mind… Cole’s Cavalry… a favorite unit of mine. Anyway, he writes about the September 1863 scrap, between Mosby’s men and Cole’s Cavalry, at Rector’s Crossroads. The officer “on point” that day, for Cole’s Cavalry, […]

On Shaking Hands (1820)

September 20, 2013
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In my research, I encounter various pieces that, though they might fall outside the scope of my work, merit attention. One of those items which I found worthy appeared (as an early 19th century re-post, if you will, from the Boston Daily Advertiser) in the September 27, 1820 issue of the Farmer’s Repository. In part, […]