Connecting a signed book with an actor, the Alamo, the Shenandoah… and Lincoln

March 5, 2015
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The actor portraying Hackett, in The Alamo (2004), bids "good evening" to Billy Bob Thornton portraying Crockett.

With what has become an unintentional series of “every other year” posts (see here from 2011, and here, from 2013) about the Alamo, since 2011… the timing seemed right for this post… Just this past year, I was looking to add a book to my collection… one written by John Pendleton Kennedy (1795-1870) that might also […]

“Be Kind”

February 11, 2015
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I really need to get back to J.K. Paulding, and hope to do so soon, but in the meantime… Lacking in my knowledge of the Crusades (apart from the romantic efforts of antebellum Virginians to recapture a little of that), I spent some time recently (thanks to a recent event that made news), looking at a […]

James Kirke Paulding provides a window to the early nineteenth century Shenandoah

January 26, 2015
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PauldingJamesKirkeSmaller

In digging backwards from the Civil War, through the literature that mentions the Shenandoah Valley, I came upon a great work written by James Kirke Paulding. In 1816, Paulding ventured into the Valley and apparently stuck around a bit, providing some details as to what he encountered. So, what is the value of reading experiences […]

An Antebellum snapshot of “The Tuleyries”

January 3, 2015
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Note to the reader: Please, if visiting the Virginia Arboretum, remember… “The Tuleyries” is private property and the grounds are not open for visits. All of the photos you see in this post were taken from a distance. Thanks. Following up from my walk this past Sunday… For starters… let’s get the name issue cleared […]

A walk at “Tuleyries”

December 28, 2014
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Looking at the west wing of "the quarters", which was the actual portion which served as slave quarters. The central and west wing were built in the 1940s.

Earlier today, circumstances were such that I had an opportunity to catch a glimpse at a sunrise. Granted, it was overcast, but watching the dawning of a new day can still be pleasant enough. My destination… the Virginia Arboretum (aka, Blandy Experimental Farm). Why? For one, it’s free… and open, literally, from dawn to dusk. […]

“Marion Harland’s” Civil War

December 27, 2014
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Mary Virginia Hawes Terhune

Though not a Shenandoah Valley author, Mary Virginia Hawes Terhune (aka… “Marion Harland”) is still someone who caught my attention. Yes… Virginia-born, but… she comes with a particular twist when dealing with the Civil War. Here’s what the entry in Encyclopedia Virginia has to say about her and the war… Harland’s novels were written over […]

“Papers and books were scattered everywhere…”: A Day at The Briars

December 26, 2014
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A photo of The Briars... taken just last week, by yours truly...

In speaking with someone just the other day, I mentioned how I’ve had an incredibly enjoyable time working through the nineteenth century literature of the Shenandoah Valley… meaning, the literature generated by those who lived here, and by those from without who wrote about the Valley and its people. In fact, I’m still working through […]

Revisiting the movie,”Field of Lost Shoes”… and the portrayal of “Old Judge”

December 19, 2014
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It’s no mystery that I cared little for the movie the Field of Lost Shoes. Folks can go to Keith Harris’ online journal, The Americanist Independent (access is free now), to see the review that I wrote. In short, the story of the VMI cadets and their New Market experience deserves thoughtful consideration… and a film worthy of […]

One account of Christmas, as described in a piece from 1857

December 15, 2014
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One of the things that I find fascinating is “reading between the lines” of novels and poetry of the 19th century, and finding tidbits regarding life (whether real or exaggerated) at that time. For example, consider this extract from John Esten Cooke’s “Our Christmas at The Pines”, which appeared in the December, 1857 issue of […]

Charles T. O’Ferrall remembers the trial of Southern Unionist, Col. John Strother

December 8, 2014
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Charles T O'Ferrall

Something I ran across again, just recently… and, a pleasant “revisit” of a couple of my favorite topics (Southern Unionism and David Hunter Strother). As some may recall, I have mentioned the incident relating to the capture and trial of Col. John Strother in a previous post… as remembered by his son, David Hunter Strother. No […]

Stonewall Jackson’s sister-in-law on… Thanksgiving.

November 27, 2014
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Margaret Junkin Preston

For a number of years I’ve posted different perspectives on Thanksgiving (here, here, and here, for example), and usually related to “Southern memory”. Ultimately, there seems to be a tug of war between traditional and historic firsts. Yet, while there are those who stand resistant to the tradition inspired by Massachusetts Bay’s Puritans, perhaps they shouldn’t […]

To find a cavalry battlefield… on the back roads of Frederick County, pt 3

November 15, 2014
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James Harvey Mayes, ca. 1880

Alright… so where is the portion of the battlefield, of November 12, 1864, where the 7th Virginia saw their heaviest fighting of the day? As I mentioned yesterday… after coming to the aid of the 11th Virginia Cavalry, on the south bank of Cedar Creek, the 7th and the 12th moved to Middle Road to […]

To find a cavalry battlefield… on the back roads of Frederick County, part 2

November 13, 2014
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At Lebanon Church, looking north, down Back Road.

Continuing in my effort to figure out the site of the cavalry fight of November 12, I turned again to Pennington’s report… knowing he had provided estimated distances from Mount Zion to Cedar Creek, and beyond Lebanon Church. Pennington wrote: I moved out with the whole brigade and attacked the enemy… succeeded in driving him […]

To find a cavalry battlefield… on the back roads of Frederick County, pt. 1

November 12, 2014
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While I’ve known for many years that one of my great-great grandfathers was grievously wounded, on November 12, 1864, I’ve never given the location much thought. It just seemed that, given the information available in his service record, Pvt. James Harvey Mayes was wounded in a fight at the little village of Nineveh, just north […]

Happy 239th, Marines! Here’s to “Chesty”… and with a Civil War tie-in.

November 10, 2014
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Ask any Marine, and he/she will know the significance of Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller… period. Likewise, it should be no surprise that the legend of “Chesty” finds its way to the kids of Marines. And, so it goes with me. I don’t know when, exactly, but… it was probably before I was nine, when I thumbed my […]

Literary musings on the Valley… November

November 7, 2014
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When the chill winds of November admonished me to depart, I prepared to travel alone on horseback. My simple preparations being soon completed, I bade a sorrowful adieu to my friends and to the homestead of my youth, where every object was pleasant and dear to my soul. Never had I felt so melancholy. My previous […]

The other Jimmy Stewart and a “Shenandoah”/”It’s a Wonderful Life” twist

November 5, 2014
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In many ways, the dust is starting to settle on the Sesqui of the Civil War in the Shenandoah Valley. That’s not to say, however, that with the Battle of Cedar Creek, there’s nothing more worth noting. Just as an example, next week, I’ll be marking the anniversary of one engagement that won’t otherwise get […]

A New York publication on the contributions of Southern writers (1860)

November 3, 2014
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One of those occasional morsels worth noting (and sharing), encountered in the course of my research… From the New York Journal of Commerce (via my source… the Fayetteville Weekly Observer (Fayetteville, North Carolina), January 9, 1860: SOUTHERN WRITERS A few days since we called the attention of our readers to the fact that a large number of books […]

Henry Ruffner’s Ghost Story (“A Screech”)

October 31, 2014
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A Screech Amongst the earliest settlers in the Kanawha valley was george Alderson, who had been a man of the woods from his youth. Though not much of a scholar, yet he could read, write, and cast up accounts, which, altogether was more than the majority of his sylvan contemporaries could do. He was a […]

Ruffner’s thoughts on writing for recreation

October 31, 2014
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In an article in the July, 1856 edition of the Southern Literary Messenger, Dr. Henry Ruffner wrote: A few months before Alderson’s death, my father and uncle had purchased the land on which he lived near the old salt lick above Charleston, with the view of experimenting for salt water upon it. A few months […]

When Dr. Henry Ruffner gave his “bah, humbug” to German superstitions

October 30, 2014
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Since it’s Halloween Eve, I figured I would fall back on an article that I read in the past year, which was written by a Shenandoah Valley author. I’ve mentioned Henry Ruffner in this blog before, mostly because of the famous “Ruffner Pamphlet” and how it pertained to slavery in antebellum Virginia. Yet, as with all […]

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 […]