21 March 2018

Another Civil War Name Causing Offense

Image source.
A Massachusetts state lawmaker wants to remove a sign at a door entrance that’s named after Union Army General Joseph Hooker — because the word “hooker” is offensive to women. That’s right. General Hooker may have fought against the Confederacy, and not for it, but apparently, honoring him is still too offensive.
Ah yes, the slippery (and silly) slope I, along with so many others, warned against. How long before the perpetually puckered Civil War bloggers jump on this bandwagon? Since it doesn't involve a Confederate name, I suppose they'll ignore this offense. Probably doesn't fit their agenda.

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.

10 February 2018

2018 Civil War Seminar Liberty University

It looks like LU has some great speakers lined up for this year's seminar. I hope to make it this year. I've attended quite a few times over the years (and have spoken at several) and I've always enjoyed myself, met lots of interesting people and learned quite a bit as well. If you're in the area, I would highly recommend. Note that admission is free.

Free Civil War Seminar - Civil War Legacies
Presented by the Liberty University Department of History

Join us in exploring Civil War Legacies with honored guest speakers

Civil War Seminar Schedule

    April 14, 2018
    9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
    Seminar is free
    Located at the Hancock Welcome Center
    Door prizes will be awarded at the end
    Civil War-themed books for sale

Guest Speakers

  •         R. David Cox, “Robert E. Lee as Peacemaker.”
  •         Paul Dakin, “Hymns of the Civil War.”
  •         Doug Wicklund, “The Legacy of Firearms Advancements During the Civil War.”
  •         Alan Farley and Lloyd Sprinkle, “The Legacy of the Printing and Dissemination
                  Advancement of Religious Publications During the Civil War.”
  •         Carey Roberts, “Civil War Monuments and the Legacy of Memory.”   
More here.

I'm particularly interested in hearing Professor Cox's talk on Lee and Dr. Roberts's talk on Civil War monuments.

09 February 2018

Josey Wales Continues To Drive Leftists Up The Wall

Update: National Review has a great review posted about this film. I found this quote reminded me of a lot of modern historians: 
New generations of performers — particularly comic actors — created a vogue that corroded the idea of military heroism and instead celebrated sarcasm and rebellion. . . . Cagey Eastwood and screenwriter Dorothy Blyskal present school authorities as self-centered egotists, which implicitly satirizes the liberal pop psychology commonly associated with big-city, union-activist teachers [and many academic historians].
More here.

But tonight, I'll be streaming Darkest Hour. Eastwood's new film will have to wait until it's out on DVD and streaming. 

End of update.
"Clint Eastwood’s “15:17 to Paris” Is An Eclectic Mix of Patriotic, Christian, and Cutting Edge — And Will Resonate in the Heartland."
Don’t believe the mixed or bad reviews coming in early for Clint Eastwood’s “15:17 to Paris.” I saw it tonight, and like A.O. Scott in the New York Times, I found it fascinating and much more complicated than a snarky dismissal.

But I'd be willing to bet that a lot of elites will dismiss it nonetheless. We still love heroes. I can't wait to see it when it's released on DVD.

08 February 2018

Relic Hunting On ebay

As I hope to wrap up filming the 1st episode of my new vlog this evening, I thought I'd share the first page of my latest article in Western and Eastern Treasures Magazine. For those interested in collecting, relics and treasure hunting, W&E T is a great publication. There are a number of other publications on this topic as well and we'll be discussing them in an upcoming episode of the vlog. (You can enlarge the image below to read if interested. If you have questions about any of the items, feel free to ask them in the comment section and I'll address them in one of the vlog episodes.)

06 February 2018

VLOG Update & The First 7 Episodes

UPDATE: I may have to delay the launch of the new VLOG Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Relics and it's first episode one  more week. Understand that I am doing all the research, writing, filming and editing and it is labor intensive. No excuses here, just being transparent as to the reason for the delays. But I've written the rough outlines for what the first few episodes will be about and have done some test filming of the first episode. I then hope to quickly film and edit most of the remaining episodes and release at least one a month, but hopefully get to two a month ASAP.

I also have an important announcement about the future of my blogging and the long-promised new platform coming very soon. I know it's difficult to get excited about something you've not yet seen, so allow me to at least give you some idea and some hints. The following are the wide-ranging (but all related), topics for the first tentatively planned seven episodes of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Relics.