Yanks and Rebs

I’m not exactly sure what triggered my sudden fascination with Civil War history, but having three weeks of vacation to spend in the Piedmont region of Virginia probably contributed. I wrote about my trip to Tredegar Iron Works in my last post, and that was definitely a neat place. I also had a chance to visit the Mannassas battlefield as well. The first and second battles of Bull Run were fought at this location and really served as the first major conflict of the Civil War. The battlefields were setup with artillery pieces positioned similarly to the actual battle, and there was a pretty big area for walking and observing the preserved buildings from that time.

I also had the chance to visit the Wilderness Civil War site when there were some demonstrations taking place. There was a Union Cavalry demonstration as well as Ulysses S. Grant discussing the Wilderness Campaign strategy with his Generals. I toured the Ellwood house which served as the Union headquarters for a time. There was a Union camp setup complete with sutler, headquarters, and sleeping tents. One of my favorite parts was hearing the story of Stonewall Jackson’s arm burial and grave. I guess this legendary Confederate general was wounded and later died due to injuries sustained in the area. It sounds like Wal-Mart had been trying to build a store on one of the Wilderness battlefields a while back, but preservation efforts prevailed.

I then drove to Chancellorsville to see the sites here. This battle proved to be another  surprise rebel victory. The Confederates were able to once-again out-maneuver the Union armies and deal a blow to them. The museum was interesting, and the tour was pretty good.

After visiting these sites, I decided to pickup a copy of Marching Through Culpeper to further learn about life during this period. While I haven’t finished the book, it does really provide insight into the time period and region where a lot of battles and maneuvering occurred. I had always imagined the North as possessing the moral high ground during the war, but from some of the stories;it seems like the Union often took advantage of situations. Regardless, I have enjoyed visiting these sites over the past few weeks.


After a brief hiatus from the blogosphere, I am back for a time. Some recent highlights include a stop at Graceland, where I discovered way more people love Elvis than I realized. It seemed that about 90% of the place was akin to an amusement park, and the other 10% was the house. Still, I guess the $50 was probably worth it to experience a part of American music history. I also stopped by Andrew Johnson’s homestead on the drive. I honestly did not remember he was the seventeenth president of the U.S. It sounds like he had a real “up from the bootstraps” ascendency from local tailor to the top elected position in the country. Still, I’m sure replacing get Licoln was no easy task. I guess some of his Reconstruction policies were questionable and led to impeachment. But you can’t please everyone, right? I actually explored some more Civil War history at the Tredegar Iron Works in Richmond, Virginia. Their Civil War Museum was pretty good, and the iron works building really great. By no means am I a Civil War buff, but I definitely enjoyed the history at this site. I guess this visit must have sparked an interest in Civil War history because I then read Gettysburg by Newt Gingrech and William Fortschein. Granted, my mind blanks after Lee, Grant, and Stonewall Jackson, but this book was pretty good. Basically, the Battle of Gettysburg is retold from each side, and the South actually wins in this alternative historical account. The Camel Club by David Baldacchi provided the background entertainment during the long drive. I do enjoy some drama in a book, and this one provided some. Like Tom Clancy with military topics and John Grisham with the law, I can appreciate the intelligence and terrorism drama of the book.