Posts tagged ‘Virginia’

On this date in Civil War history: August 2, 1861

Friday August 2, 1861

The Federal Congress passed the first national income tax measure, calling for 3 percent on incomes over $800. The bill also provided for new and stiffer tariffs.

Northern forces abandoned Fort Stanton, New Mexico Territory, in the face of the Confederate invasion of the Southwest. At Dug Springs, Missouri, not far from Springfield, a skirmish showed Federals that opposition forces of Missourians and Confederates were in the area. In southeastern Missouri there was a Federal reconnaissance from Ironton to Centreville.

While General Nathaniel Lyon was expecting serious trouble in southwestern Missouri, the department commander, General John C. Fremont, was steaming down the Mississippi from St. Louis with eight boats and reinforcements, which were enthusiastically welcomed at Cairo, Illinois.

At Fort Monroe, Virginia, General Benjamin Butler banned the sale of intoxicating liquors, but soldiers found ways of evading the order. Whiskey was found in the gun barrels of pickets and in hair oil bottles.


Actor, studio founder Tim Reid named to board of Virginia Civil War center

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar has added some star power to its board.

The Richmond attraction says Norfolk native Tim Reid is among four new members named to its board.

Tim Reid as "Venus Flytrap" on WKRP in Cincinnati

Reid is probably best known for his role as “Venus Flytrap” on the 1970s television show “WKRP in Cincinnati.” Since then, he and his wife, Daphne Maxell Reid, have founded their own production studio, New Millennium Studios in Petersburg, where they produce films, TV series and other entertainment.

Reid joins on the Tredegar board architect Rachel O. Flynn, urban planner Anne Joline Wilkes and Richmond attorney O. Randolph “Randy” Rollins.

Tredegar is located along the James River in Richmond. It strives to interpret the Civil War from three perspectives: Union, Confederate and African American.

On this date in Civil War history: August 1, 1861

Thursday August 1, 1861

General Robert E. Lee, C.S.A.

General Robert E. Lee, C.S.A. Army, and adviser to President Davis, arrived in western Virginia on an uncertain mission to coordinate an inspect the various Confederate force there. However, the mission soon developed into his taking command, replacing W. W. Loring, who had succeeded slain Gen. Garnett.

Way to the southwest in New Mexico Territory, John R. Baylor, with his “buffalo hunters” who were really Confederate soldiers, proclaimed in the name of the Confederacy the possession of all New Mexico and Arizona south of the 34th parallel. Pro-unionists of New Mexico, however, considered it more of a “Texas invasion.” There was a slight skirmish at Endina, Mo. Brazil recognized the Confederate States of America as a belligerent.

President Davis wrote from Richmond to Gen. Joseph E. Johnston at Manassas on military matters and said, “We must be prompt to avail ourselves of the weakness resulting” from the moral effect produced by the Bull Run defeat of the Federals. The U.S. Senate debated a bill to suppress insurrection and sedition. The Onandaga County, N.Y. , Cavalry, eighty strong, left for war with a young bride, Mrs. Cook, accompanying her husband as “daughter of the regiment.” President Lincoln appointed Gustavus Vasa Fox Assistant Secretary of the Navy. Fox had been chief clerk of the department and already had a prominent role in the administration of thing naval.

[Source: Long, E.B. with Barbara Long, The Civil War Day by Day: An Almanac 1861-1865]

Eight Civil War battlefields get government grants

By Linda Wheeler, Washington Post Blogs 

More than $1.2 million in grants from the National Park Service’sAmerican Battlefield Protection Program were awarded this week to a variety of national battlefield projects including eight Civil War sites in six states: Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, South Carolina and Virginia.

Virginia was the only state to get more than one. A $30,000 grant went to the Bull Run Preserve, Inc. for a series of workshops to teach the public how to respond to the threat of road widens, railroad expansions and cell towers in battlefield areas.

A second grant for $55,000 was acquired by Citizens for Fauquier County for the creation of digital maps and associated GIS data at nine battlefields. The third grant was given to Radford University for $67,000 to develop digital technologies to interpret the battlefields at Saltsville.


Exec. director of National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Md. is myth-buster, works on shows

STAN GOLDBERG  The Frederick News-Post

FREDERICK, Md. — Actress Ashley Judd learned the truth about her great-great-great-grandfather from George Wunderlich, executive director of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Frederick.

Ashley Judd

She thought her ancestor had lost a leg as a Union soldier in the Civil War.

“He supposedly lost his leg at the prison camp in Andersonville, that’s all that she knew,” said Wunderlich. “What we found out was that he never was a prisoner of war in Andersonville, Ga. He lost the leg in the Battle of Saltville, Va.”

The information came to light when the two were working on “Who Do You Think You Are,” an NBC television series that traces the genealogy of celebrities such as Judd. Wunderlich was doing research for the program.

He showed her how her ancestor would have been treated and what would have happened to him after surgery.

“She was shocked when she heard how the leg was amputated and what conditions were like in the hospital,” said Wunderlich, 48. “She got rather emotional. At one point on the camera she teared up, which was … something I did not expect.”

Wunderlich began working with history-related TV programs in 1999. He and a group of people who work with him try to find out the truth about history, mostly from the 1800s.

“It’s a bit like a 19th-century myth-buster,” he said.

Wunderlich also serves as a commentator, although he rarely sees himself on television because he hasn’t owned a TV for 12 years.

He has done 17 shows over the past 2 1/2 years. Among the shows he’s worked on are “The Real Cowboys” and “Battlefield Detectives” for the History Channel, “Who Do You Think You Are” for NBC, “The History Detectives” for PBS and a tourism program for the BBC.

“I consider myself an historical windbag,” he said.

It started with his interest in banjos. Then he became interested in ballistics and medical history. Now he’s delving into more general history. His main area of expertise is from the 1830s to the 1890s.

“It’s kind of expanded expeditiously since I first started doing this back in the 1990s,” he said. “I’ve gotten a reputation for being a fairly easy person to work with. People know that I’m not a pain. People see me on film, evidently like what I did and will ask me to do different things.”

When he provides commentary he might be on the air two or three minutes for one show, much longer for another. He finds being on TV is good for the museum.

George Wunderlich speaks to a class at the National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Frederick, Md.

“Every time I’ve done a show, people arrive at the front desk (at the museum) and say, ‘We just saw your director on television and we want to see the museum,'” he said. “It brings tourists to Frederick and it helps keep our museum in the public eye.”

The exposure has also given him a public face, which has led to lecture engagements at universities throughout the country.

Many of the programs in which he is involved are filmed in Frederick County.

“If you saw the show and you see me at a gun range, the chances are very good it was the Frederick city police gun range,” he said.

And Judd isn’t the only celebrity he’s worked with. He did another “Who Do You Think You Are” episode with Brooke Shields about her Civil War ancestor. Unfortunately, his part never aired. They found out she was related to King Louis XIV of France and aired that instead.

“It was awesome meeting her,” Wunderlich said. “She was the teen heartthrob of my generation. So getting to spend an afternoon with her was quite an experience.”

Wunderlich had his first TV exposure in 1999, one year before he became the National Museum of Civil War Medicine’s director of education and three years before he became its executive director.

He was invited to appear on PBS’ “The Woodwright’s Shop” with host Roy Underhill because he had been making banjos — mostly in the style of the 19th century — since 1992.

“I was scared to death at first, but he really put me at ease,” he said. “In that show, I was actually building banjos and, at that time, it was something I could practically do in my sleep.”

From there he appeared on “History Detectives.” Soon, other offers started coming in.

He works with a research group from the museum — including his top researcher, Terry Reimer, director of research for the museum. The group will examine the smallest details. They once did a ballistic test on a ham to help determine if a cowboy was shot with a soft-tipped arrow or a rifle.

“We provide research and fact-checking and story line recommendations,” he said. “They come to me and say, ‘We are thinking of doing a show like this. What is your professional opinion?'”

His favorite show was “The Real Lonesome Dove,” on the History Channel. He spent many days in New Mexico following the exploits of Charles Goodnight and Oliver Loving, friends and cattle ranchers of the American West. He researched the type of coffin used when Goodnight brought Loving’s body back to Texas.

“He got a coffin made out of tin and soldered it closed,” Wunderlich said. “Then he put the coffin in a wooden box filled with charcoal to absorb any fluids that might come out of the body. We even put a jack rabbit in a coffin and surrounded it with ash to see if it would work.”

He still plays the banjo and put on a conference about the history of the banjo. But now he’s developed more interests.

“I tend to like all history, even if it’s something that is not my normal study,” he said. “It’s fun when I prepare for those shows to do the historical research. I’ve come from being primarily a banjo guy to being a medicine, ballistics, Civil War, history guy.”

National Park Service Director Jarvis Addresses The Value and Importance Of Maintaining Civil War Sites

Submitted by Jon Jarvis on July 25, 2011 – National Parks Traveler

Editor’s note: As the National Park Service last week commemorated the start of the Civil War 150 years ago, Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis addressed an audience at the Manassas National Battlefield and told those in attendance about the value and importance of maintaining Civil War sites in the National Park System.

It is an honor to stand with you on one of our most sacred American landscapes. Here, 150 years ago today, the nation got its first real look at civil war. This is where American democracy began its baptism by fire. Where the grueling four-year journey that shaped a nation, began in earnest.

The battle of Manassas dispelled the myth that the war would be a quick affair. The Confederate secretary of war, LeRoy Pope Walker, suggested prior to the battle that when all was said and done, he would be able to wipe up the blood that would be spilled with his pocket handkerchief.

Historian Shelby Foote liked to point out that it would have made a good doctoral dissertation, calculating how many handkerchiefs it would have taken to clean up the blood that was actually shed.

Over 620,000 lives. That was the price exacted by the Civil War. But those were only the military deaths. The war’s impact extended much farther than the battlefield.

The Civil War’s social, political, and economic effects were equally profound as the nation divorced itself—with great violence—from an institution that reduced human beings to property.

The war transformed our conceptions of race and freedom. It changed ideas about death and religion. It remains to this day our greatest national upheaval.

The places where the war was fought are among our nation’s most sacred sites: Gettysburg, Shiloh, Antietam, Manassas. The names themselves evoke not only the great struggle, but the personalities and events of that incredible time.

Over 75 of these battlefields and related sites are now national parks. For the National Park Service, serving as the steward of these places, which occupy such a defining role in American memory, is not just a great honor, but a solemn responsibility.

Over time, individual battles have taken on a kind of historical shorthand. Chancellorsville has come to represent the intelligence and audacity of Robert E. Lee; Gettysburg: the high-water mark of the Confederacy; Vicksburg: the plodding determination of Ulysses S. Grant.

The first battle of Manassas was the first great Southern victory, a shock to the federal army, and the place where the name “Stonewall” entered the American lexicon. But deeper than that, Manassas was where the awful realization set in that this was going to be a protracted struggle, whose cost neither side had really bargained for.

Quaker Guns near Manassas, VA. During the initial stages of the Civil War, before First Manassas (Bull Run), the Confederate forces knew that the Federal troops were watching them from balloons in Alexandria. In order to fool the Federal troops that they were heavier fortified than they really were, they used "Quaker Guns" which were chopped down tree trunks, and painted them black and pretended they were cannon. (Library of Congress photo)

By nightfall on July 21, combatants and spectators alike were probably asking themselves, “What have we done?”

One of the most important questions visitors to Civil War battlefields can ask today is: “How did we get to the point of war?”

Helping them find the answer is one of the National Park Service’s most important roles as keeper and interpreter of these iconic American places. Because our mission encompasses not only preservation, but education. It is our responsibility to help visitors understand not only the war itself—its methods and mechanics, its heroes and generals—but also the circumstances that brought it on, the passions that set us against each other, and how the war set our future course as a nation.

In 1861, some four million African Americans were living in slavery. Protected under the Constitution, slavery was legal in 15 states and the District of Columbia. It was a well-established part of life in America, a powerful economic, political, and social force.

Just a few years before the outbreak of hostilities, the Supreme Court had ruled in the Dred Scott case that black Americans—whether slave or free—could not be citizens under the Constitution. By the eve of the war, slavery had become a festering issue, one that could no longer be put off. Mixed in with the debate over slavery was the nature of the states’ relationship to a central authority.

The South fiercely believed it was fighting for the survival of its way of life. Its leaders referred to the struggle as the second American Revolution.

The idea of secession is foreign to us today, but for the people of the South, where they felt the radical passion of the Founding Fathers very strongly, secession was entirely within their rights as independent states.

As a nation, we found ourselves in the peculiar position of debating whether we were, in fact, a nation. The Civil War decided, once and for all, the questions of slavery, of union or disunion.

The debate over states’ rights would continue long after Appomattox, but there would be no more argument over whether we were one nation. Before the war, people spoke of the country in the plural, saying “The United States are.” After the war, it was singular: “The United States is.”

Today our national story – of our one nation – is told in 394 national parks across America. The National Park Service has the privilege of being entrusted with this story, with its truth. We are the keeper of the American legacy in all its sweep and drama.

At every turn of this narrative, there are prescient lessons for today. These places, these national parks, have been set aside for posterity, not because they are old, but because they are timeless.

We stand on this battlefield today because we understand that in addition to celebrating our greatest achievements, we must commemorate our most somber moments. In our most trying time as a nation, both sides looked within, and found no alternative but to pay the terrible price. The result was our greatest social revolution, and our greatest evolution as a people.

Unburied Dead at the Wilderness

In the darkest days of the war, Abraham Lincoln said, “If we could first know where we are, and wither we are tending, we could then better judge what to do, and how to do it.”

That is the relevance of history.

There, also, lies the power of our Civil War sites.

These places command our reverence not only because of what happened there, but because they help us understand the monumental trial and sacrifice that shaped our nation, our government, and our society.

We can recognize the passions aroused in our own political dialogue concerning the issues of today: Freedom, race, justice, citizenship, the economy, the role of the federal government, national security.

They are not quite the same as the issues that brought millions of men to arms in 1861, but we continue to cherish—and debate—the principles that brought bloodshed.

The Civil War holds vital lessons for all of us: That civil discourse and mutual understanding are essential to a democracy. That we are defined not by what divides us, but by what joins us together. That a nation that lays claims to greatness, must look within itself and be willing to pay the price of standing by its high ideals.

Here at Manassas, and at hundreds of other places like this, the nation got a sobering lesson in how costly that can be. The National Park Service is proud to be the steward of that legacy.

I can promise you that we will be here every day of every year watching over this place, to keep it and protect it; to pass its story on to future generations of Americans. For it is not simply a battlefield that we preserve here. It is our birthright as a nation, purchased at an unimaginable cost, and one that we will care for with all the reverence it demands.

Civil War comes back to life on Virginia battlefield

By Fabienne Faur (AFP)

Reenactors gather to reenact the 1st Bull Run/1st Manassas Battle in Virginia on July 23, 2011(AFP, Karen Bleier)

MANASSAS, Virginia — The cannons boomed and the guns flared as the mists of times parted, and north and south squared off again on a Virginia field in a living reminder of the first major battle of the Civil War.

“We know the war is over,” said Ron Miller, proudly attired in the uniform of the southern Confederacy, which went on to win this battle 150 years ago, though not ultimately the war.

But he said “it’s important that our country remembers its heritage and its history. I do this to teach our history to our children.”

This weekend, under baking hot temperatures, thousands of spectators were gathering to watch a re-enactment of the Battle of First Manassas/Bull Run, fought on July 21, 1861 at Manassas, in the southern state of Virginia.

Miller, whose great-grandfather and great-great grandfather fought in the four-year Civil War, is one of hundreds of history fans who at weekends don the uniforms of their forefathers and reenact battles from the war that forged modern-day America.

With their red wool shirts and black trousers, 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry reenactors prepare to do battle at the 150th anniversary of 1st Bull Run on July 23, 2011(AFP, Karen Bleier)

“Look how they load the cannon,” Miller, 60, told children watching him intently as more than 8,700 reenactors as well as some 375 cavalry horses from the US, Canada and Europe were Saturday and Sunday recreating history here.

The re-enactment of the battle is just one of hundreds of events being held around the United States to mark the 150th anniversary of the start of the 1861-1865 war.

“I’ve always been fond of history,” Miller told AFP, saying he was inspired by the tales handed down by his relatives. His great grandfather had even enlisted at 14 and fought in every major engagement.

Across the vast site outside Manassas, white tents were erected to serve as bivouacs and give historical insights into life in this corner of the South, 150 years ago.

A man dressed in the style of a French Zouave soldier was taking a nap, as lone violinists played softly nearby.

Despite the baking sun, Kevin Zepp, 60, stood tall in his simple gray wool trousers marked with the colors of his Alabama regiment.

“If you were a farmer or a worker in a factory, you had these trousers. It’s like the modern jeans, you put the military stripes on it,” he explained.

Sheltering under a tree, Karen Quanbeck, 52, explained that she was playing the role of Catherine Barbara Broune, a peasant woman who had worked with her brother, a priest, to transport the wounded and find medicines.

And while this weekend’s events hold a special historical significance, there are hundreds of volunteers who dress up in costumes throughout the year to bring the Civil War back to life across the country.

“We meet once a month,” said retired teacher Nancy Anwyll, from Springfield, Virginia. “I’ve had an ancestor in the Civil War on both sides. I’m trying to learn more what they had to endure, I have to learn what they went through.”

War broke out in April 1861 soon after 11 southern states formed the Confederate States of America. While the exact causes of the war are still hotly debated, there is no doubt that an over-riding issue was slavery.

The agricultural South relied heavily on slaves to work their rich cotton plantations and feared the new US president, Abraham Lincoln, would eventually set them free.

Federal cavalrymen prepare to clash at the 150th Anniversary of 1st Bull Run Reenactment on July 23, 2011(AFP, Karen Bleier)

While Lincoln declared an end to slavery in 1863, race relations remain one of the nation’s most divisive issues.

“A lot of differences we had during the civil war do exist today — the state rights, the race relations — there’s a lot of things we can still work out today,” said Dennis Rabida, 46, from New Jersey.

Retired soldier Dan Byers said he had come to “honor his ancestors,” recalling that the northerners had “invaded our country,” the South.

The clashes in Manassas were ferocious, pitting a northern Union army of some 30,000 against a slightly smaller Confederate force.

In the end, the Confederates won the battle, although they were to go on to lose the war. About 5,000 troops on both sides died on the Manassas battlefield that day, but by the end of the war, the toll was 600,000 lives lost.

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