Monday, June 30, 2014

Problems with James Loewen's Confederate Reader

Another New England author attempts to prove it was good versus evil

       I recently ordered a book online not having a clue what the book was about. I have only read ninety pages, but the author lets you know what he is attempting in the introduction. The Civil War was about slavery and  slavery only. The "most holy north" invaded the "evil" south because everyone in the south are racists, etc. I quickly searched the back cover to find out what I could about the author. James W. Loewen is a retired professor from the University of Vermont. How could I have ever imagined he was another of those New England elitists. 

       Loewen does more to prove the south correct than he actually intends to. He tells us that the south seceded because the north was not obeying the constitution. According to him, the northern states had a moral right to not obey the fugitive slave law. Although, slavery was legal at the time (don't take what I'm saying as I support slavery, just bear with me), and the fugitive slave law was indeed law, Mr. Loewen insists the north was correct in disobeying the law. When the south seceded because of breach of contract (the northern states not obeying the laws of the constitution) according to Mr. Loewen, the south was wrong. Now you'd have to be a Yankee to think that way in the first place. Any good lawyer will tell you that if one party breaks a contract, the contract is worthless. 

       I then decided to learn what I could about Mr. Loewen's history classes, but wait, I was in for another surprise. Loewen was not a history professor (imagine that if you will). He was a professor of sociology. Now everything he writes begins to reveal itself. Mr. Loewen has attempted to write about a subject he is 150 years removed from, by making the same mistake as many other modern day historians. He is attempting to look at that time period through today's eyes. He has forgotten that to study a time period, one must place himself in that time period and view it through the eyes of those who lived at the time. 

       Was America the only part of the world to own slaves in 1860? Let's take a look. Various parts of Africa owned slaves up until 1900. Ethiopia had over 8 million people in slavery in 1930. China didn't outlaw slavery until 1910. Others include Korea, Thailand, Burma, and Japan. Saudi Arabia had over 300,000 slaves in 1960, that is correct, 1960. Where were all these New England elitists while all that was going on? That's a good question. 

       Could it be that there was no money to be made or power to be gained from freeing the Saudi slaves? As John C. Calhoun stated in a speech in Mr. Loewen's book, the New England states want the slaves freed, given the right to vote, to swing power into New England's favor because of course the freed slaves will vote for the people that gave them their freedom. New England had been losing power in this country ever since we began to expand. During the Mexican War, it was the New England states that threatened to secede because more territory meant less power for their section. 

       Mr. Loewen even attempts to persuade us that General Robert E. Lee was a racist. I agree with  Mr. Loewen on this point one hundred percent. As a matter of fact, 99.9% of all people during that time period were racists. All you have to do is listen to Abraham Lincoln's speeches to see what a racist he was, but Mr. Loewen chooses to ignore these. I'm not a racist, but I do have some serious questions I'd like answered. During the 1860's, Americans thought they were better than Africans, Irish, Polish, Germans, Latinos, Native Americans, and Italians. The Irish were looked down upon as the scum of the earth in 1860 (my red hair gives me away here). Yet, today, it is perfectly fine to insult any of these except those of African descent. Why? The answer lies in John Calhoun's speech. The politicians are still counting on all those votes from those of African descent to remain in power. 

       Mr. Loewen believes he has solved the argument of what the war was over, yet he refuses to believe that northern greed had anything to do with it. That would mean that his part of the nation could be just as guilty as the south. Nor does he mention the ships owned by the cities of New York, Philadelphia, Boston, and Chicago that made millions of dollars bringing African slaves to America to sell to the southern states. Do yourself a favor and skip this book. By using various documents of his choosing and ignoring others, he attempts to sell you on the fact that the war was about slavery and slavery only. Maybe he should just stick to sociology and leave the history to historians. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

May I quote you Mr. Lincoln

       Last Friday, our Sons of Confederate Veterans camp had Carl Jones speaking to us about the constitution and what it had to do with the War Between the States. For anyone who hasn't heard Carl talk, you have missed out. The man understands the U.S. Constitution better than most constitutional lawyers or supreme court justice's. During the course of the talk, we got on the topic of Ole Abe Lincoln and what he truly believed. It inspired me to write a blog using a few of his quotes to come to a conclusion of what the war was truly about. 
       We'll begin with dear Abraham speaking on the floor of congress on January 12, 1848. All italics in these quotes are mine.

       "Any people, anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up, and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable, a most sacred right, a right, which we hope and believe, is to liberate the world. Nor is this right confined to cases in which a whole people of an existing government, may choose to exercise it. Any portion of such people that can, may revolutionize, and make their own, of so much of the territory as they inhabit."

       As far as Lincoln waging war on the South because of his love for the African slaves, let's see what he says about them on September 18, 1858, just two years before the conflict begins. 

       "I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in anyway the social or political equality of the white and black races, that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negro's, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people." 

       What does he say just before the war begins in a speech a group of northerners who opposed slavery. This was stated by Lincoln on February 27, 1860 in New York City. 

       "Wrong as we think slavery is, we can yet afford to let it alone where it is, because that much is due to the necessity arising from its actual presence in the nation."

       What did he mean by the necessity of is presence in the nation. Lincoln was no idiot. He understood that if he freed the slaves upon taking office, he would ruin half the nations economy and that half was the one paying eighty-five percent of the Federal taxes at the time. 
       Let's take a look at a few quotes from his first inaugural address and see what we can learn about Abe Lincoln and his views on freeing the slaves.

       "I have no purpose, directly or indirectly to interfere with the institution of slavery in the states where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so."

       So Mr. Lincoln what exactly would lead to war if your not invading the South over slavery?

       "The power confided to me will be used to hold, occupy, and possess the property and places belonging to the government and to collect the duties and imposts (taxes); but beyond what may be necessary for these objects, there will be no invasion, no using of force against or among the people anywhere."

       Now we get a better understanding. You will have 700,000 of your countrymen slain and many more disabled for the love of money. Can you tell what you your reply was when suggested by a member of your own cabinet to just allow the South to leave in peace?

       "Let the South go? Where then would we get our revenue?"

       Let us look at a speech that Mr. Lincoln gave to a group of freed blacks on August 14, 1862 so we can understand how you truly view the black race.

       "You and we are different races. We have between us a broader difference than exists between almost any other two races. Whether it is right or wrong I need not discuss, but this physical difference is a great disadvantage to us both, as I think your race suffer very greatly, many of them by living among us, while ours suffer from your presence. In a word we suffer on each side. If this is admitted, it affords a reason at least why we should be separated."

       Eight days following this speech, what exactly did you write and say to Horace Greeley the New York newspaper editor. 

       "My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could do by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that."

       This last quote I am posting is not by Mr. Lincoln, but by that newspaper editor that Lincoln was writing to above. 

       "If the Declaration of Independence justified the secession of 3,000,000 colonists in 1776, why did it not justify the secession of 5,000,000 Southerners from the Union in 1861?"

       That's a very good question. It's too bad ole Abe's not around to explain it to us. Wait, I believe he can. I refer you to the reply he gave to his cabinet member earlier in this post. "Where would we get our revenue?"




Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Ultimate Civil Wargasm Part V

Jerry and myself inspecting the entrance to the Crater mine

       Before I begin this blog, I would like to correct a mistake I made in the last one. I mentioned that Brigadier General Samuel Garland was buried in Hollywood Cemetery. In fact, we visited the grave of General Garland in Lynchburg as you will see in this part of the story. The general buried in Richmond is Brigadier General William Edwin Starke who was killed at Antietam two days after General Garland died. 
       We arrived in Petersburg with plenty of time to visit the national battlefield there. The place is neat and one of the few major battlegrounds that I had yet to visit. I have several books on the Battle of the Crater and had been looking forward to this trip for years. Confederate Brigadier General Edward Porter Alexander visited Elliott's Salient and reported to General Lee that he believed the Federal's were mining there to explode the position and break through Confederate lines. A visiting British engineer laughed at Alexander and informed him there had never been a mine dug that far in history and that it was impossible. Alexander informed the British guest that these were Pennsylvania miners and they could accomplish such a feat, and they did. 

The Crater (for scale, that is me standing on the other side)

        Colonel Pleasants, who engineered the mine requested 12,000 pounds of powder, but General Meade only allowed the use of 8,000 pounds. Out of just over 300 South Carolina troops stationed in the small fort, 278 were killed when the explosion occurred. The Federal's charged the crater, yet the walls were almost 30 feet high and there was nowhere to go. Confederate soldiers converged on the scene and gathered around the top of the crater. It was like shooting fish in a barrel. One Confederate referred to it as a turkey shoot. The Battle of the Crater was a giant failure. The only results were 3,798 Union casualties and 1,491 Confederate. On our trip, I wanted to go down into the mine, but after visiting Shy's Hill last summer and getting eaten alive by chiggers, I decided it just wasn't worth it. Maybe I'll go back some day in the winter. 
       We left the battlefield and visited Blandford Cemetery to get three more generals. One problem, we forgot about General Cullen Andrews Battle of Alabama. I'm ashamed to admit that today. How does one forget a general from his own home state. (It had been a long trip is my excuse and I'm sticking with it.) To be honest, upon arrival, I thought this is gonna be easy. Blandford is a small church built in 1735 and is very deceiving. It looks like an extremely small cemetery until you pass the church. You can look across the field for almost a mile and there seem to be thousands of graves. It appears to be three times bigger than Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond. I said, "We're gonna be here a while." 

Mel in Blandford Cemetery with our Museum of the Confederacy stickers all over her back. It's a good thing she is a good sport.

       Melanie quickly located Brigadier General David Addison Weisiger which made me feel much better. We then located the grave of Major General William Mahone, the hero of the Battle of the Crater. The Confederacy could have fallen much earlier had it not been for the quick work of Mahone and his division.
       The next morning, we left Petersburg and headed toward Appomattox. We arrived and toured the new Museum of the Confederacy there and headed on over to Appomattox National Park. We got out of the car and started up the hill toward the courthouse. Melanie immediately passed us all. (According to her, she can only walk up hill if she walks at a very fast pace.) As she sped by me, Jerry said, "Look at that. Looks just like a Missouri saddle horse headed up the road."
       "Shut up," Melanie replied, "you like to ride it."
       It was the first time I saw Mel get the best of the Ole Man.
       Appomattox is a very sad place. To think of what all those brave boys went through for four long weary years and then be forced to march in and surrender is tormenting to us Southerners. Poor Jerry got choked up at Appomattox thinking of what occurred there. Jerry and I normally cut up all the time and this was one of those times when neither of us found any humor in the moment. 

The McLean House at Appomattox

       We left the sadness at Appomattox and headed to Lynchburg where we got the graves of Jubal Early, James Dearing, Robert Rodes, and of course Brigadier General Samuel Garland. We then headed home. It was the ultimate Civil Wargasm. Jerry still says he thinks about that trip daily and can't wait for the next one. I tell him I can't promise it will be that good next time. I have asked my wife several times and am asking her again just now. "What are the odds of me finding someone as interested and loves the Confederacy and its soldiers as much as I do in my own home town?" That is how I feel about my best "Civil War buddy" Jerry Smith. I truly hope you enjoyed the trip ole buddy.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Ultimate Civil Wargasm Part IV

The Monument to the Confederate Dead

       While in Hollywood Cemetery, we stopped by the monument to the Confederate dead. All those stones reminded me of my rock climbing days and I began to climb the monument. I got about fifteen feet off the ground when I thought about the caretakers. I was afraid they would toss us from the cemetery before we finished the job at hand, so I came back down. 
       We found Brigadier General Joseph Reid Anderson (Virginia), James Jay Archer (Maryland), Robert Chilton (Virginia), John Pegram (Virginia and killed at Hatcher's run), Samuel Garland (Virginia and killed at Fox's Gap), John Rogers Cooke (Virginia), and Major General Henry Heth (Virginia). We then ran into a snag. We couldn't find Brigadier General Philip St. George Cocke (Virginia). He was an early casualty, not from enemy fire, but from depression. The day after Christmas of 1861, he committed suicide. We were forced to spread out and comb the area around where he is marked on the map. It took us awhile and the temperature had really heated up at this point. Jerry finally found the hard to find grave. 

The writing is barely legible on Cocke's stone

       We then went to the graves of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, Major General Fitzhugh Lee (Virginia), Brigadier General Eppa Hunton (Virginia), David Rumph "Neighbor" Jones (South Carolina), Samuel Jones (Virginia), Thomas Muldrop Logan (South Carolina), William "Extra Billy" Smith (Virginia), Henry Wise (Virginia), Reuben Lindsay Walker (Virginia), William Richard Terry (Virginia) and Isaac Munroe St. John (Maryland). We then visited the grave of Major General Jeb Stuart (Virginia), one of the most famous cavalrymen of the war next to Forrest, but I always consider Forrest as leading mounted infantry. At this point, we kept running into cemetery tours and were getting a lot of strange looks in our jackets.

Stacie and I with Jeb and Flora Stuart

       I hope I didn't leave anybody out. That should be 27 generals if anyone wants to go back and count them. We left the cemetery, found a place to eat, and then headed to the Museum of the Confederacy and the White House of the Confederacy where Davis lived throughout the war. 

Stacie and I standing with President Jeff Davis

       Outside the museum we found the drive shaft and anchor of the Confederate ironclad C.S.S. Virginia. We also posed beside the anchor chain of one of the ships she sank, the U.S.S. Cumberland. We then hit the museum and toured the house. The museum was good, not near as nice as I remembered it back in 1996. The upstairs has been re-arranged to glorify the movie "Gettysburg." Another part of the museum is loaded with post war memorabilia that I could of skipped entirely. Jerry found a display that contained Bedford Forrest's field glasses and I thought I would have to pry him away from it. 
       We found one display that contained all of Lee's wartime things in a mock up of his tent. I told Jerry the cot needed a chicken underneath it. We then noticed that the museum staff had done the right thing and placed an egg beneath the cot. Lee had a pet hen during the war that slept beneath his cot and laid him an egg which he ate for breakfast each morning. 

Notice the egg just behind Lee's boots beneath his cot

       There were a lot of neat displays and some disappointing ones. A lot of things were removed for one reason or another. The trousers that Dorsey Pender was wearing at Gettysburg when he was mortally wounded in the thigh were removed. Jeb Stuart's memorabilia was neat, as was John Hunt Morgan's. The outfit that Jeff Davis was captured wearing is on display. If you remember, Davis was accused of wearing a dress by northern papers. This is not true at all and Davis had his photograph taken in the gray suit he was wearing to prove them wrong. Evidently, people didn't sue the newspapers back then when they reported false stories, but they did challenge editors to duels a lot. 

The gray suit Davis was captured wearing

Jeb Stuart's effects

       We left the Museum of the Confederacy and attempted to head to the battlefields of Gaines Mill, Cold Harbor, and Malvern Hill, but ran into another snag. We were using the GPS on Jerry's phone and it began to act as goofy as Melanie. I think Jerry has this effect on people and machines. I began to think we were stuck in Virginia's version of the Bermuda triangle. His phone kept sending us in circles and back to the toll road. We paid a toll to get on the road and then paid a toll to get off the road at least three times. I was growing frustrated. Unfortunately, Jerry thought I was aggravated at him. He would apologize to my wife at the hotel that night, but I was never upset with Jerry. Maybe I should have been, because since the trip, I've come to the conclusion that Jerry gets a percentage of toll money in Richmond. Why else would he keep sending me through the same toll road over and over?
       I finally got frustrated and decided enough was enough. We left Richmond for Petersburg and skipped the battlefields. I've always wanted to visit these three battlefields and thought I would while on this trip. My mom always said that the one thing the good Lord didn't provide me with was patience. We arrived in Petersburg with enough time to tour the battlefield before dark and visit Blandford Cemetery. I will post that blog another day. 

Friday, May 30, 2014

The Ultimate Civil Wargasm Part III

Home of the Richmond Vampire in Hollywood Cemetery

       We left Charlottesville, Virginia for Richmond at dark on Friday night and arrived about bedtime in Richmond. The next morning would give us a bunch of generals for our scrapbook. When Jerry and I began our hobby of getting our photographs made with Confederate generals, I wasn't sure how I would display them. A trip to Corinth, Mississippi a month ago to see my buddy Shirley McKenzie would solve that problem for me. She had a scrapbook that she made that showed pictures of her family. When we left, I told my wife that Shirley gave me an idea and we immediately went to Hobby Lobby where we purchased a scrapbook to begin my photo's of me and Confederate generals. I can't wait to show my book to Shirley the next time we meet. 

Me and Jerry with Lieutenant General A.P. Hill

       The next morning we struck out for the grave of Lieutenant General Ambrose Powell Hill who happens to be buried in the middle of a Richmond intersection. Jerry had promised me several times that the intersection is not very busy because he had passed through this place before. I was convinced that a Saturday morning about 8 a.m. would be the perfect time to visit a "not very busy" intersection. We arrived to find it extremely busy. I told Jerry that we would be ran over and placed in the Richmond paper obituary. Melanie refused to get out of the van. She kept saying, "This is crazy" as she watched the traffic fly by. Stacie positioned herself in the perfect position to take our picture as we darted across the road amid the traffic. It reminded me of a real life game of "Frogger" as we dashed past flying automobiles. Upon returning to the van, Melanie mentioned a guy stopped at the red light who picked up his phone to report us to someone. A.P. Hill became a corps commander under General Robert E. Lee. Legend has it that he is buried standing up in the center of the intersection. I need to do more research on General Hill to learn why.
       We left Hill's grave and went to Shockhoe Hill Cemetery where we got photographed at the grave of Brigadier General Patrick Theodore Moore. Moore was so severely wounded at Manassas that he was unable to take field command for the remainder of the war. The neighborhood around Shockhoe Hill made our wives feel very uncomfortable about getting out of the van, but of course Jerry and I pressed on. 

At least there was a police department across the street from Shockhoe Hill

       We left Shockhoe Hill and proceeded to Hollywood Cemetery which is known as the "Arlington of the Confederacy." This cemetery contains the graves of 17,000 Confederate soldiers (along with the Gettysburg dead) and possibly 27 Confederate generals. (More on the possibly 27 as we go along). 
       We entered Hollywood (named Hollywood because of all the Holly trees located there) and found the office was closed on Saturday. I was already concerned about finding all the generals, but became more so when I realized we couldn't purchase a map without the office being open. Melanie is not at all bashful and saved us on this trip. She found a lady that worked as a caretaker in the cemetery and asked her for a map. She drove back to the office and located us a small cemetery map which saved the day. On the drive up, Jerry had printed off a list of all 26 Confederate generals buried at Hollywood (notice I said possibly 27 in the prior paragraph). I told him we would get 27 generals on our visit to Hollywood, the reason being that the body of Brigadier General Richard Brooke Garnett was never found and buried alongside the rest of his troops. People often look at the paintings of generals in their dress coats leading charges, but this rarely happened during the war. General Garnett led his brigade in Pickett's Charge wearing only a plain blue coat. Therefore, when he was killed by canister fire (his body was possibly ripped to shreds) he was unidentified and buried alongside his men. When the Confederate soldiers were dug up and re-interred in Hollywood Cemetery following the war, General Garnett was most likely removed with his men and rests today in an unmarked grave there. Therefore, the only way for Jerry and I to get our pictures made with Garnett is beside the marker in his memory amid his men in Hollywood and that's what we did. 
       The first general we located was Brigadier General John Daniel Imboden who had commanded artillery at Manassas and cavalry for the remainder of the war. It was at this grave that Stacie decided the grass was too high for a quality photo. Jerry bent over pulling up weeds while I found a switch and attempted to spank him, but he moved too quickly for me. It seems he probably spent the early part of his childhood avoiding spankings by the speed in which he got away from me. 

Me trying to spank the Ole Man

       Although, I had visited Hollywood Cemetery back in 1996, I had trouble finding Garnett's stone because Melanie had to use the bathroom so bad, she couldn't wait for the woman to open the bathroom (it was locked). I had to avert my eyes and search for the grave because she was behind a small shrub with a small napkin in her hand. Luckily, Jerry found the grave for me. 

Jerry and I with the marker for Richard Brooke Garnett

       We quickly found the graves of Confederate general's Edward Johnson (Major General of Virginia), David Rumph Jones (Major General of South Carolina), and Brigadier General John Caldwell Calhoun Sanders (Brigadier General of Alabama) in the Confederate officers section. Actually, General Sanders grave site has been lost and the marker is somewhere near his actual grave. We then ran into a snag with the grave site of Brigadier General Walter Husted Stevens. The map shows him alongside of the three generals in the officers section, but he was no where to be found. At this point, I was extremely glad that Melanie had the lady unlock the bathroom doors because I had an emergency. We raced back to the office and I raced into the restroom. When I exited the bathroom, I jumped in the van and began to head back toward the cemetery. Melanie screamed at me to stop. I hadn't noticed, but my wife had gotten out of the van and went to the bathroom and I was about to leave her at the cemetery entrance. 
       We drove back down the hill and Jerry and I quickly found General Stevens. We jumped out and had our photo's taken with him before continuing our search. 

Brigadier General Walter Husted Stevens

       Things began to get even more goofy from here on out for our visit to Hollywood Cemetery. We then began to search for the grave of one of my personal hero's Brigadier General William Edwin Starke who was killed at the battle of Antietam while serving under Stonewall Jackson. We approached the area where Starke is buried and found the ghost dog of Hollywood Cemetery. This dog is supposed to come alive at night as it guards the grave of a girl who died during the Civil War at a very young age. We got pictures of both Stacie and Melanie petting the dog. Both said they almost cried as they put their hands on the dogs head. 

Mel with the ghost dog

Stacie with the ghost dog

       Jerry and I quickly located the grave of General Starke and had our picture made. It was when we returned to the van that we had a moment of disbelief. Melanie's maiden name is Turpin and she found a man buried in the cemetery that was a Turpin. When we returned, she was busy pushing buttons on her phone. The following is what I heard her saying:

Melanie: "That's the strangest phone number I've ever seen, but I gotta call him and see if we are related. One eight zero seven dash one eight seven four."
Me: "What are you doing Melanie?"
Melanie: "Trying to find out if I'm related to this man."
Jerry: "Do you see what I have to put up with every day?"
Tim: "Mel, that is not his cell number, it's his birth and death dates."
Melanie: "Well, no wonder he won't answer his phone."
Jerry (shaking his head as usual): "I told you I didn't have very far to drive when I drove her crazy."
Tim: "Mel, how were you going to call a dead guy and expect him to answer the phone?"
Melanie: "I don't want to hear no more from you or you brother, just shut up."

Ole Man and me with General William E. Starke

       The rest of Hollywood Cemetery coming up tomorrow...

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Ultimate Civil Wargasm Part II

Me and Jerry with Brigadier General John Echols

       The ultimate Civil Wargasm would hit its first snag at Thornrose Cemetery in Staunton, Virginia. We pulled into this huge cemetery and immediately found the grave of Brigadier General John Echols. We jumped from the van and had our pictures made in front of the vault that contained the remains of General Echols. If you look at the photograph above, General Echols is in a vault that is about even with the second block from the bottom and on my side of the mausoleum. Following us taking this photograph, Jerry and I began our search for the other Confederate general in this cemetery.
       Brigadier General Robert Doak Lilley commanded a brigade in Early's raid on Washington where he was wounded in the arm and was disabled following amputation. Now, I have narcolepsy and I get ill very easily when I haven't had much sleep. I had gone to sleep about 5 a.m. the morning of this trip and slept about an hour and a half. Jerry, Melanie, Stacie, and myself had crossed this entire cemetery about 123 times and none of us were able to find General Lilley. I was hot, exhausted, and frustrated, yet none of us were able to find Lilley. I resorted to asking the locals if they knew where he was buried. A woman told me she thought she had seen the name somewhere before and a man told me the general location. Jerry, being much smarter than me when it comes to slowing down and paying attention noticed something that I never would have. In the book we use to find graves, it said that General Lilley is buried very close to Major Jedediah Hotchkiss's grave. He found the grave and off we went searching for Lilley. We never found him. I decided that Lilley's tombstone must have been damaged by vandals and been removed. Stacie proved us all wrong by contacting the woman that oversee's the cemetery. Stacie left a message on her answering machine and she later replied that she could take us directly to General Lilley's grave. We were in Richmond at this point and will have to return on a later date. 
       I was frustrated when we left Staunton and we struck out for Charlottesville, Virginia. I figured we wouldn't have time to get all the generals there, but hoped we would. We went first to the University of Virginia Cemetery and Jerry found Brigadier General Carnot Posey before I could. General Posey was wounded in the thigh at the Battle of Bristoe Station and died a month after being struck by artillery fire. 

Jerry and me at the grave of Brigadier General Carnot Posey

Brigadier General Carnot Posey

       We immediately left the University of Virginia, both Jerry and I both had to refrain from shouting at the students there, "Roll Tide!!!" We both are big Alabama Crimson Tide fans and love to rub that in to all other colleges. We struck out for the next cemetery on our list, Maplewood Cemetery about five minutes away. The sun was getting low in the sky, but we pressed onward. We rolled into Maplewood and found the graves of Brigadier General John Marshall Jones and Brigadier General Armistead Lindsay Long. Jones was killed at the Battle of the Wilderness in the spring of 1864 and Long served on Lee's staff. Jerry mentioned the fact that although he has never drank any alcoholic beverage, he wished we would have brought some rum to place on Jones's grave. The neighborhood where Jones's is buried made me think that the best thing to do was pour the rum on his grave or someone would come steal the beverage and drink it themselves. 

Me and Jerry with Rum Jones

       We left Maplewood Cemetery and headed to Riverside Cemetery where Brigadier General Thomas Lafayette Rosser rested. He was a cavalry commander in Virginia. We got to his grave just before dark and had our pictures made. We then struck out for the grave of Brigadier General George Wythe Randolph who rests in the Jefferson Family Cemetery at Monticello. General Randolph had spent some time as the Confederate Secretary of War and then as a brigadier general. He died in 1867 of tuberculosis. We found Monticello closed at such a late hour. Jerry was very frustrated because he said it's illegal to deny a person access to a cemetery before dark. Nevertheless, we were forced to give up on finding General Randolph until a future trip. Our fifty plus general trip was quickly falling apart. We planned to return to Alabama with 52 generals, yet we would come home with only 49. More on that in part III...

Me and Ole Man at the grave of Thomas Lafayette Rosser

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Ultimate Civil Wargasm, Part I

Me with a switch trying to whip Ole Man, but he got up too quick

       Jerry, his wife Melanie, Stacie, and I had planned a trip to get over fifty Confederate general's graves, not to mention a couple of battlefields along the way. We left home about 2:30 p.m. on Thursday and drove all the way to Abingdon, Virginia where we spent the night. The next morning, the gasm began in earnest. We drove to Sinking Spring Cemetery in Abingdon the next morning and got Brigadier General John Buchanan Floyd. Floyd is the general who was in command at Fort Donelson in February of 1862 and escaped during the night to keep from surrendering to General Grant. He would spend the rest of his life in western Virginia commanding a minor post. He fretted over how the world would remember his military career and rightly so. He is considered one of the worst generals to serve the Confederacy. 

Jerry and I with General Floyd

       We then headed up the road about fifteen miles to Old Glade Spring Presbyterian Churchyard in Glade Spring, Virginia. There we visited the grave of Brigadier General William Edmondson "Grumble" Jones. General Jones had married while serving in the old U.S. Army. He was carrying his new bride to Texas when the ship they were on sank in a hurricane. Jones attempted to save his wife, but she was pulled from his grasp and drowned. Jones became a very bitter man for the remainder of his life. He despised the fun loving Jeb Stuart who he served under during the first part of the war. Jones was killed at the Battle of Piedmont when he was shot in the head. He happens to be one of Stacie's favorite Confederate generals because of his nickname "Grumble". 

Me and Stacie with Grumble Jones

       We left Old Glade Spring and headed to Wytheville, Virginia and East End Cemetery. There we visited the graves of Brigadier General William Terry and Brigadier General James Alexander Walker. Walker was chosen by Stonewall Jackson to command the famed Stonewall Brigade. I told Jerry about the time that Walker threw a brick at Stonewall Jackson while Jackson taught at V.M.I. He narrowly missed hitting Jackson in the head. Jerry said that is a good example of keeping your friends close, but your enemies closer. 

Brigadier General William Terry

Brigadier General James Alexander Walker

       We left Wytheville and headed to Radford, Virginia. This grave worried me more than any other on our list. When I searched the Wharton Family Cemetery in Radford on google maps, it showed the cemetery behind a house in a subdivision. The area on the map was behind the pool in the backyard. I told Jerry that I doubted the directions I had were accurate. Jerry said he wasn't afraid to walk up and ask the people at the house if we could go through their backyard and visit the grave. Amazingly, we drove through someone's driveway, past the house and pool and right to the cemetery. There we found the grave of Brigadier General Gabriel Colvin Wharton beneath a large tree. 

Me and Ole Man with Gabriel Colvin Wharton

       We left Radford and headed for one of the better parts of our trip. Lexington, Virginia and the graves of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson among others was awaiting us. My wife began to get excited. I watched Jerry for signs of excitement, but he was busy irritating his wife Melanie. I said, "Jerry, you have driven your wife crazy." He replied, "Yeah, but I didn't have far to drive." (More on the arguments later). 
       We arrived in Lexington and visited the home of Stonewall Jackson first. We were in a hurry and didn't tour the house (besides, I'd been through it before). We got our pictures made outside and struck out for the cemetery. It was there that we got the graves of Brigadier General William Nelson Pendleton (the general that exclaimed at First Manassas while commanding artillery, "Fire low men and may God forgive their misguided souls"), Brigadier General Edwin Gray Lee (a cousin of Robert E. Lee), Brigadier General Elisha Franklin Paxton (a friend of Stonewall Jackson and also killed at Chancellorsville), and of course Lieutenant General Stonewall Jackson. We also learned that Jerry's twin brother is buried here. (More on this later).

Friday morning found Stacie and I on the front porch of Stonewall's house

Stacie and I at Stonewall's grave

Wind had blown the flags down, so I had a good excuse to climb the fence

Me and Ole man forgot our coats for this photo with Edwin Gray Lee

Elisha Franklin "Bull" Paxton

William Nelson Pendleton

       We left Stonewall Memorial Cemetery and headed north to Lee Chapel on the grounds of Washington and Lee University. It was here that Robert E. Lee served as college president until his death. He is buried beneath the chapel that he had built on campus along with his wife, his family, along with his two sons that were Confederate generals, George Washington Custis Lee and William Henry Fitzhugh Lee. It was here that Stacie got tears in her eyes as we visited the monument to Lee. We were actually walking on top of his grave as we walked around the monument. 

Me and Stacie standing where Lee's casket sat during his funeral

Me and Ole Man with Robert E. Lee

       We then headed to V.M.I. where we toured the museum. Stacie gave me a heart attack as we approached the college when she saw the cannons Jackson commanded at First Manassas called Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. She screamed and I locked up the brakes almost throwing the Ole Man through the windshield of the van. My hands shook for thirty minutes and Ole Man's hair turned a little grayer than normal. 

Jackson's artillery, the small flowers in front marks the grave of Little Sorrel his horse

       In the museum, we got to see the rain coat Stonewall was wearing when he was killed at Chancellorsville. We also saw the amputation kit used to cut off his arm. I got to pose in front of Little Sorrel which had been mounted following his death. I didn't notice anything small about Little Sorrel, it looked like a normal sized horse to me, but what do I know about horses. 

Little Sorrel

Me with Jackson's rain coat in the background

       It was at this place that I walked around a corner and found Melanie staring at painting and rolling in laughter. I walked up and asked, "Are you o.k.?" She said, "Who does that picture look just like?" I looked at the painting of Colonel Francis Henney Smith (the commandant of V.M.I. during the war) and realized he looked just like Jerry. I said, "That looks just like Ole Man." Melanie laughed and said, "And he's a Smith too." Ole Man then proceeded to pose in front of the painting of his long lost twin brother.

Jerry Smith with Francis Henney Smith

       We soon left V.M.I. and were back on the road headed to Staunton, Virginia. Jerry and Melanie were soon back to arguing as usual. (I have a theory as to why they argue so much. They like to have make up sex later at night, so they argue all day.) Here is a typical conversation as we're driving down the interstate. 

Melanie: "Tim, do you know Little Bob who lives in Russellville?"
Tim: "Never heard of him."
Melanie: "Jerry said that you knew him is why I'm asking."
Jerry: "Woman, I ain't said no such thing."
Melanie: "Yes you did."
Jerry: "Where in the world do you get this stuff. I haven't mentioned Little Bob to Tim."
Melanie: "I heard you talking to him about Little Bob."
Jerry (shaking his head): "I tell you what, that woman don't half listen."

       And the conversation continues for about another half hour. Now you know why I have so much fun with them on trips. This blog will probably take about four parts to complete and I will try to have part II on in a few days. Stay tuned....