18 April 2018

Relic Hunting Post #173 - British Cartridge Box Plate: Circa 1775

Just a tease for a longer post/video coming up later . . . I recently recovered this Revolutionary War era British brass cartridge box plate with the GR cypher for George III from a site here in the Shenandoah Valley. This image is right after I recovered it and before I cleaned it up. Though known primarily for its Civil War history, the Shenandoah Valley has a fair amount of history related to America's War of Independence as well. More to come later.

Some of these box plates are stamped brass but others,  like this one, are the rarer cast version. I'm hoping that the other part of this one is in the vicinity and I can locate it at some point in the future. Below is what a complete one looks like.

Don Troiani

13 April 2018

Leading a Tour Today

**Update: This event went very well! A beautiful day and over 30 people showed up for the tour! I'll have a more detailed "report from the field" with some photos coming up soon.

Sorry, this slipped my mind and is a bit late . . .

For immediate release—April 9, 2018

Contact: Terry Heder/SVBF (540-740-4545 office or 540-333-2545 cell)

Battlefields Foundations Offers “Fridays at the Front” Civil War Tours

Free Series of Tours Led by SVBF CEO Keven Walker Kicks off With Waynesboro Tour on Friday, April 13

Following Tours to Include McDowell, Port Republic, Harrisonburg, Page Valley, and Fisher’s Hill

NEW MARKET, Va.— Join the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation on the front lines of history with “Fridays at the Front” tours. The 2018 schedule kicks off this Friday, April 13, from 10am-Noon, with a tour of Waynesboro battlefield sites.

"Fridays at the Front” are special complementary tours of Civil War battlefields and historic sites in the Shenandoah Valley. Led by historian and SVBF Chief Executive Officer Keven Walker, the tours visit well-known sites and little-known hidden jewels, and cover stories great and small, from the accounts of huge armies moving across the landscape to the individual stories of loyalty, determination, and sacrifice involving soldiers and civilians alike. This year, some of the tours will be co-led by eminent historians and authors such as Ed Bearss, Bill Miller, and Richard Williams.

This tours are free and open to everyone. Register by calling the SVBF at 540-750-4545 or by going to www.ShenandoahAtWar.org. The tours will include:

"The last fight of the Shenandoah": The Battle of Waynesboro

(Friday, April 13, 2018, 10am-Noon)
Car caravan tour of sites related to the last significant Civil War battle in the Shenandoah Valley, fought on March 2, 1865. A smaller battle with a big impact, it was the site of Jubal Early's "last stand," saw the destruction of the last sizeable Confederate force in the Valley, and allowed Philip Sheridan and his troops to head east to play pivotal roles in the Appomattox campaign. Tour led by Richard Williams, historian and author of The Battle of Waynesboro, and SVBF CEO Keven Walker

As authorized by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation serves as the non-profit manager of the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields National Historic District, partnering with local, regional, and national organizations and governments to preserve the Valley’s battlefields and interpret and promote the region’s Civil War story.
Created by Congress in 1996, the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields National Historic District encompasses Augusta, Clarke, Frederick, Highland, Page, Rockingham, Shenandoah, and Warren counties in Virginia and the cities of Harrisonburg, Staunton, Waynesboro, and Winchester. The legislation authorizes federal funding for the protection of ten battlefields in the District: Second Winchester, Third Winchester, Second Kernstown, Cedar Creek, Fisher’s Hill, Tom’s Brook, New Market, Cross Keys, Port Republic, and McDowell.
Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation and Shenandoah Valley Battlefields National Historic District: www.ShenandoahAtWar.org

National Park Service 1992 study of the Shenandoah Valley’s Civil War battlefields:

11 April 2018

75%+ Want to Keep Confederate Names on Schools . . .

In Hanover County, Virginia. And the school board voted the will of their constituents.
The Hanover School Board voted 5-2 on Tuesday night to keep the names and mascots of Lee-Davis High School (Confederates) and Stonewall Jackson Middle School (Rebels) after a months long process in which the majority of county residents urged the board to leave the names undisturbed.
More here.

06 April 2018

Did Robert E. Lee Commit Treason?

Why would the U.S. Government use the image of a "traitor" to recruit U.S. Sailors during WWII?

Answer: They wouldn't.

The question of treason was never adjudicated in a court of law, so all opinions on that question are just that, opinions. That being acknowledged, some opinions are based on emotion, others on logic and legal concepts. Still others on this particular topic are based on the faddish trend among many historians to demonize Lee and to sully his reputation and standing. 

My opinion is no, Robert E. Lee did not commit treason. One might argue Lee's decision was a foolish one or "unpatriotic", and that the results were inevitable, but treason is a very specific and narrow charge. I base my own opinion, in part, on the following:

Treason: : the offense of attempting by overt acts to overthrow the government of the state to which the offender owes allegiance or to kill or personally injure the sovereign or the sovereign's family. (Merriam-Webster)
That's a generic definition and, of course, the "legal" definition is a bit more complicated than that. So I'll delve into the question much deeper as I'm working on a rather lengthy post about the topic. I hope to have it posted over the weekend.

Stay tuned.

15 March 2018

New Essay For Essential Civil War Curriculum

Three Johnny Rebs - POWs at Gettysburg
I just finished my fourth essay for the Essential Civil War Curriculum which is a Sesquicentennial project of the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies at Virginia Tech. My latest essay is about the legacy of Johnny Reb. Once it's reviewed and the final edit is completed, I'll post a link.

I've completed about 75% of my next episode of Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Relics. Two things have caused a delay. First, I had a 12 day battle with a kidney stone. Secondly, I've been trying to interview someone closely associated with the subject matter of the next episode, but have been able to make contact. I'm going to have to proceed without that aspect of the topic.

I hope to have the next episode loaded by this weekend. Stay tuned.

02 March 2018

History You Can Touch

I assume  many readers of this blog have watched the recent Churchill film, Darkest Hour. If not, I highly recommend it. As the new vlog and website will focus a lot on relics and "history you can touch", I thought actor Gary Oldman's comments about Churchill's chair were quite timely.

01 March 2018

Relic Hunting Post #172 - Confederate Iron

An interesting video by legendary relic hunter and diver, Steve Phillips discussing some of the Confederate artillery related iron relics he's recovered and preserved over the years.

20 February 2018

Life, Liberty & The Pursuit of Relics - Episode 1 - Finally!

So episode one has finally been uploaded to my Youtube channel. Overall, I'm happy with the final product for this very first episode, though I could have tweaked it a bit more. 

This new series was my own, self-imposed "60 year old challenge." As I turned 60 last month, I wanted to take on something new and challenging and, in the process, learn something new. Starting the new vlog met all those requirements and engages my passion for history and relics. In addition to the historical research, I'm learning lots of things about Youtube and filming: LUTs (Look up tables), filters, overlays, aspect ratios, lighting, transitions, angles and on and on. It's been a lot of work, but a lot of fun as well. With each new session, I'm learning something new not only about the subject matter, but about the technology I'll be using to share that knowledge. 

Of course, I will continue to write for various publications and am also researching my next book, but this vlog will be a big part of what I do in the realm of history and research going forward. As I have now laid the foundation for the new vlog, I will soon begin the transition to the new website/blog which will compliment the vlog and discuss similar subject matter. 

I appreciate those who have supported and encouraged me along the way in this transition. You can view the new vlog introductory episode below. Please visit the channel as well and like, share and subscribe. Thanks!

19 February 2018

Being A Good Custodian & Vlog Update

Well, I have missed another deadline for the Vlog. Sigh. Sorry. After several hours of work last weekend, I looked at the finished product and was not at all happy. It was way too long (almost 20 minutes) and had way too much of me simply talking in front of the camera. So I scrapped it and started all over and worked on it all day Saturday. The goal is to keep the videos to no longer than 10-12 minutes. I'm now under 15 minutes on this one. Still a bit long but that's ok as this is the introductory video and longer than what most will need to be. I also cut back on my yapping in front of the camera. I still yap quite a bit, but I added images making the video much more interesting to watch. We have definitely become a visual culture and imagery captures and holds attention so much better than simple lectures and text these days. That's always been the case to some extent, but even more so today.

I've only got to review the video once more, render and then publish. Hopefully, that should be done some time this evening. And I've already started planning for the next two episodes and will likely film most of episode #2 this week. 

In the meantime, I thought I'd share a book review that my friend  and fellow Virginian, Bill Dancy, sent me yesterday. As I previously posted, I wrote a review for Bill's recent book for the February issue of Western & Eastern Treasures Magazine. Here's an excerpt from my review:
In addition to a wealth of practical information on colonial artifact recovery, the book is also chocked full of historical tidbits; such as a brief history of colonial copper and silver coinage. The close up color photographs (nearly 1000) of the artifacts (the vast majority the author’s own finds) are among the most detailed I’ve ever seen and stunningly beautiful. Every page overflows with eye candy for the relic hunter and collector. The quality of the images rivals anything you’ll see in academic archeology textbooks or high quality magazines. . . . There is one more thing that I really like about this book. This effort proves, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that “amateur” archaeologists and historians are making serious and dramatic contributions to the study of history and archeology. Dancy’s work is a textbook example of how passion and practice can lead to expertise in almost any field without formal training.

 American autodidacts have contributed some of the most respected works in the fields of archeology and history. Shelby Foote, a college dropout, wrote one of the definitive works on the American Civil War. Bruce Catton, another renowned Civil War historian, was also a college drop out.

Dancy notes in his acknowledgements that Ivor Noël Hume “had a big influence” on him and is one of his mentors. Most readers may not be familiar with Mr. Hume but I, too, am a fan. I mention Hume because he is the epitome of an autodidact who turned passion and practice into renowned expertise in the field of archeology. He was a prolific writer and, for 30 years, worked for Colonial Williamsburg where he became that organization’s director of archaeological research.
This latest review was published in the March 2018 issue of Civil War News. What's interesting is that the very positive review was written by an academic archeologist. You can read the review below.

The money quote from the review:
The book alleviated my concerns for just about everything I'd long been taught [about metal detectorists] but since come to see as overly restrictive.
If ever there was a quote that could be characterized as "a mouthful", that one makes the cut.

15 February 2018

Confederate Gold!

Coming soon to Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Relics
Since one of my upcoming episodes on Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Relics™ will be about some Confederate gold discovered by two young boys decades ago, this story naturally caught my attention.

The Curse of Civil War Gold: New treasure-hunting show coming to History

More here.

14 February 2018

Inspired By Robert E. Lee

I received this email from a young man yesterday. What an encouragement. We never fully comprehend the impact we can have on others.
Mr. Williams, 

I received a signed copy of your published book, The Maxims of Robert E. Lee for Young Gentlemen, from my stepfather a couple of years ago for Christmas. Being a young man on the eve of my college career, I thought little of the gift. Little did I know that day that I would cherish the book and read it cover to cover more times than I can even count. Now, it sits worn on my desk with cherished letters from my friends and family in its pages. The inspiration and moral fortitude I have found in this book has been unmatched.

While growing up in Waynesboro and dating a lot of girls from Lexington and Rockbridge County throughout high school, I took the area and its deeply sewn history and values for granted. It was not until my junior year of college here at Hampden-Sydney that I began to pick up the book and realize that these morals are timeless. It has created an indescribable change in me, and for that I thank you. 

12 February 2018

More Celebratory American Exceptionalism From Josey Wales

Eastwood is the ultimate non-conformist. The last of a dying breed. While the rest of Hollywood follows academia's lead (Or is it the other way around? It's becoming difficult to distinguish between the two.), Eastwood continues to boldly make films that celebrate America's unique greatness and culture. It's interesting to note that Eastwood states in the video above that "it hasn't been a conscious choice to make movies about heroes." That makes this and other Eastwood films all the more intriguing. One does not have to "make a conscious choice" to notice and be drawn to stories about heroes. It's human nature. It comes naturally. I would say that one does have to "make a conscious choice" to debase heroes. And I believe there is something darkly unnatural about that. And we see the results of those choices all around us today.
From the opening attack against bureaucrats and their Ritalin, to watching boys playing in the woods with their toy guns, to the opportunities to become your own man in our military, to the selflessness of the Christian faith, to their proud masculinity, Eastwood is saying one thing above all — that if you will just let American boys be American boys, there is a very good chance they will grow up to be extraordinary men.
More here.