31 March 2007


Is this the future of the Museum of the Confederacy?

30 March 2007

New Link

Southern Festivals
This photo is one I took 2 years ago at Natural Chimneys in northwest Augusta County, Virginia. This is an annual bluegrass gospel event held every August and just one of the many great festivals held throughout the South.

Stonewall Jackson's famous mapmaker, Jedediah Hotchkiss, lived and taught school at Mossy Creek at the Loch Willow Academy for boys, just a few miles from where this photo was taken. Though born in New York, Hotchkiss became one of Jackson's most trusted counsellors.

Hotchkiss died in 1899 and is buried in historic Thornrose Cemetery in Staunton, Virginia.

29 March 2007

The Stonewall Procession - From Rail to Water - Lynchburg's Tribute to a Fallen Hero

For the history of the packet boat Marshall, click here.

The following is an excerpt regarding Jackson's funeral from Stonewall Jackson ~ The Black Man's Friend:

’s funeral train departed Richmond on May 13 for Lynchburg. All along the way, grief-stricken Virginians paid their last respects as they tearfully lined the tracks, the train winding its way through the hamlets and villages of Virginia’s war-ravaged countryside. Inside the train, in addition to Jackson’s immediate family, rode Sandie Pendleton, Hunter McGuire, Governor John Letcher, James Power Smith, Senator G. A. Henry of Tennessee, and the ever-present Jim Lewis. Arriving at Lynchburg at six-thirty that same evening, the funeral party met other dignitaries and made their way to the wharf on the James River. Here, Jackson’s casket was loaded onto the packet boat The Marshall, which arrived at Lexington the next day, Thursday, May 14, as the sun was setting below the Allegheny Mountains. The vessel was met by the corps of cadets, and the young men bore their professor back to the institute. His body was placed in his old lecture room, where it laid in state throughout the remainder of the night. Just as it had in Richmond, sadness gripped the hearts of all present. One man observed, “It was a touching scene and brought tears to many eyes. When the body was deposited just in front of the favourite chair from which the lectures were delivered, professors, students, visitors, all, were deeply moved by the sad, solemn occasion, and gazed in mute sorrow . . . an air of gloom was visible on every face.”

Mort Kunstler's latest painting, Going Home, depicts the funeral cortege being transferred to the Marshall at Lynchburg. This new painting will be unveiled at the Lynchburg event in May.

28 March 2007

Update 2 - The Documentary

The documentary - Stonewall Jackson ~ His Fight Before the War - is on schedule to be released some time this Summer. I am pleased to be able to announce that a number of nationally recognized scholars and authors have been interviewed on camera for the project including Dr. James I. Robertson, Jr., Dr. George Grant, and Colonel Keith Gibson. Others are being considered as well. The project is entering its final stages as most of the filming for the project is complete.

The film is exceptional in professionalism and quality as well as stunning in its clarity as it is being done in high definition. Locations for premiers are currently being considered. Stay tuned . . .

(As a footnote, on this date in 1851, Virginia Military Institute's board of visitors selected Thomas J. Jackson as a professor at VMI by unanimous acclamation.)

27 March 2007


As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, the seminar at Liberty University was excellent. Dr. Cline Hall, Associate Professor of History at Liberty and Kenny Rowlette, Associate Professor of English at Liberty, were kind and gracious hosts and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The ride over Brent's Mountain and down through Piner River en route to Lynchburg is always beautiful. My wife and I stopped and snapped this photo of a classic Blue Ridge Mountain cabin. Pure Appalachia. One can easily imagine the barefooted children who once played in the front yard of this now abandonded homeplace while Mama snapped beans on the front porch.

My lecture on Lee Chapel was well received as we noted that 2007 marks the 140th anniversary of the Chapel's construction. We also met some new friends, sold some books, and got our first sneak peek at the National Civil War Chaplain’s Museum - the only one of its kind in the United States. Take time to visit the link to the site. Their list of trustees and advisors is quite impressive, as are the goals they've set for the museum. Should you have items to donate or loan for this effort, please consider doing so. I was able to donate a couple of items related to John Jasper’s ministry to this new endeavor. The church Jasper founded, Sixth Mount Zion Baptist in Richmond, is also celebrating its 140th anniversary this year. During the Civil War Jasper, though enslaved, requested and received permission from Richmond authorities to minister to the wounded Confederate soldiers at Chimborazo Hospital. My own great-great grandfather, John Meredith Crutchfield, was at Chimborazo during the closing days of the war.

The Chaplain's Museum will be kicking off a national fund-raising effort (The Stonewall Procession) the weekend of May 11th - 13th with special guest, Mort Kunstler. Kunstler will be unveiling his latest work about the funeral procession of Stonewall Jackson from Lynchburg aboard the packet boat The Marshall. Civil War author and historian, Rod Gragg will be speaking as well. I've been asked by Kenny Rowlette to set up a book table as my book has a chapter about Jackson's funeral. We will be posting more information about this event and the Chaplain's museum in the near future.

This coming weekend, I will be speaking at the annual Natural Bridge Civil War Living History and encampment. There will be a few lectures on Saturday, an evening camp service, some new Confederate headstone dedications in the church cemetery, music around the campfires, and another service Sunday morning at Natural Bridge Baptist Church. Please contact me if you are in the area and would like more information.

26 March 2007

Lee: No Legend

Just a quick "hit & run" post here . . . the Liberty University seminar was excellent. Gordon Rhea, Holt Merchant, and Robert K. Krick brought particularly interesting presentations. Unfortunately, I was unable to sit in on Jeff Wert's lecture. I especially liked Krick's take on current "psycho-babble" history. Krick very masterfully dissected--and then destroyed--the politically correct, but ridiculous notion that Lee's reputation as a soldier and Christian hero was a result of "lost cause sympathies" and nostalgia created by Southerners after the war.

I think most see that silly, shallow opinion for what it is: an inability for so many moderns to identify with someone whose moral character is superior to their own and who have been thoroughly beguiled by popular culture and a morally and intellectually bankrupt educational system.

More later . . .

(Image is by John Paul Strain - Onward Christian Soldiers)

23 March 2007

Off to Lynchburg

I will not be posting until Monday as my wife and I are off to Lynchburg this evening where I'll be speaking tomorrow afternoon at Liberty University's annual Civil War Seminar. This is my second appearance and I'm really looking forward to it. My topic will be Lee Chapel, which celebrates its 140th anniversary this year. This year's seminar theme is Rober E. Lee in Life & Legend and promises to be quite an exciting event. I hope to come back with some interesting comments, pictures, and stories as there will be a diverse group of nationally known authors and speakers giving lectures. If any of you attend, please come by and introduce yourselves and say hello!

22 March 2007

Rockbridge County Civil War Roundtable

Last night I had the honor and privilege of being the guest speaker at the Rockbridge County Civil War Roundtable. The RCCWRT holds their monthly meetings in the Preston Library on the campus of Virginia Military Institute. This was a most fitting venue as my talk centered around the friendships that impacted Stonewall Jackson, including John Thomas Lewis Preston, for which the building is named. There were about 60 in attendance and I was told that they had 5 new members join!

I also met many new friends, including Mr. Frank Grizzard, Jr. Frank is currently digitizing all of the Lee family letters and correspondence in a project for Washington & Lee University.

PRESTON is one of the most fascinating and most overlooked influences both in Jackson’s life and in regards to Jackson's black Sunday-school class. He was Jackson’s “most intimate colleague at the Institute.” Preston was a brilliant man educated at Washington College, the University of Virginia, and Yale University. He was born into an affluent Virginia family on April 28, 1811, “descended from the aristocracy of both the Valley and Tidewater Virginia,” and is credited with founding the Virginia Military Institute.

He prepared for his rigorous education by attending a Richmond boy’s academy where he became friends with Edgar Allan Poe. Preston’s grandfather, Edmund Randolph, was the nation’s first attorney general. As a young man, Preston traveled abroad extensively before returning to Lexington to build a successful law practice as well as several successful businesses, making him one of the wealthiest men in town. Jackson invested in some of these businesses, and the two became close friends. They also worked together closely on their church duties, with Jackson serving as a deacon and Preston an elder. So committed was Preston to his duties as ruling elder that local tradition holds he “never missed a session meeting during his fifty-year tenure.” Author and historian W. G. Bean commented on this close relationship: “Ties of family—Jackson’s first wife and Preston’s second wife were daughters of Dr. George Junkin, President of Washington College—and of friendship had bound Jackson and Preston closely together.” The combined influence of their “ties of friendship” still echoes through generations of Virginians.

(Image is from a painting of JTL Preston and hangs in the Preston Library at VMI)

21 March 2007

Speaking Event

Fellow WBTS blogger Michael Hardy will be a guest speaker at our Lexington SCV Camp on 8 May 2007. Michael is an accomplished writer and we are all looking forward to his visit. Our camp now meets at historic Col Alto in Lexington.

Col Alto: "This stately mansion was constructed in 1827, as a four-over-four classical revival structure for James McDowell, former Governor of Virginia from 1843-46, who bought the 328-acre property from his father, Colonel James McDowell. Governor McDowell did not live here during his term in office, however, he entertained many guests here before, during and after he served as Governor. His daughters often were hostesses to Thomas 'Stonewall' Jackson in the decade before the Civil War. Governor McDowell named the property 'Col Alto,' which is Italian for “on the high,” because at that time it was the only structure on the east side of Lexington and had unobstructed views of the city and the Blue Ridge Mountains."

20 March 2007

Is History Being Re-written?

“I believe no one can read the history of our country without realizing that the Good Book and the spirit of the Saviour have from the beginning been our guiding geniuses. Whether we look to the first Charter of Virginia … or to the Charter of Massachusetts Bay ... or to the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut … the same objective is present: a Christian land governed by Christian principles … I believe the entire Bill of Rights came into being because of the knowledge our forefathers had of the Bible and their express belief in it … I like to believe we are living today in the spirit of the Christian religion. I like also to believe that as long as we do so no great harm can come to our country.” ~ U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren, 1954

19 March 2007


“This is such a historic site,” Mr. Curtis said. “It’s amazing how much they focus on Robert E. Lee here.” (Click here for full story)

General Lee's last meeting at this church and his last public act:

"It was chilly after dinner and rain began to fall steadily. Lee should have stayed home to protect himself against a cold, but he did not feel he should miss the vestry meeting, which was to consider the perennial question of a new church building and was also to decide what could be done to increase the scanty salary of General Pendleton. Lee insisted on going, and took no precaution against the weather other than to put on his old military cape. He walked through the rain and went directly to the church auditorium. There was no heat in the building and no smaller room into which the vestrymen could conveniently retire. They had to sit in the pews, cold and damp.

Chatting a few minutes with his associates, the General gave an historical turn to his conversation and related several anecdotes of Chief Justice Marshall and of his old friend Bishop Meade. Then, at 4 o'clock, he called the meeting to order. The discussion was close and tedious. Sitting with his cape about him, Lee presided, but, as usual, did not attempt to influence the deliberations. When all who would do so had expressed their views, Lee 'gave his own opinion, as was his wont, briefly and without argument.'

After they had decided what should be done about the church building, the vestrymen began to subscribe a fund to raise Doctor Pendleton's salary. Lee was tired by this time, and despite the chill of the place, his face was flushed, but he waited in patience. All the vestrymen contributed; the clerk cast the total and announced how much was still needed to reach the desired sum. It was $55, considerably more than the part of one who already had contributed generously, but Lee said quietly, 'I will give that sum.'"

(R. E. Lee by Douglas Southall Freeman, Vol. IV, Chapter 27, page 487)

Yes, we in Virginia still focus much on Robert E. Lee - and for good reason. He remains one of our favorite sons.

17 March 2007

New Jamestown Monument

The Jamestown Children's Memorial

The north side of the monument will read:

In gratitude to the Lord our God for the mercy and kindness bestowed upon the American people and we the children of the twenty-first century, through His providential direction and care of our Jamestown forefathers.

Erected on the four hundredth anniversary of the Jamestown Settlement by the grateful children of America.

The south side of the monument will read:

Jamestown’s Legacy of Freedom:

Christian Worship

Gospel Conversions

Republican Representative Government

Bible-based Common Law

The west side of the monument will read:

“Wee shall by plantinge there inlarge the glory of the gospel, and from England plante sincere religion, and provide a safe and a sure place to receave people from all partes of the worlds that are forced to flee for the truthe of God’s worde.”

Richard Hakluyt, Visionary Founder of Jamestown

The east side of the monument will carry an inscription that reads:

Honor Your Father and Mother that Thy Days May Be Long Upon the Land which the Lord Thy God Giveth Thee.

Exodus 20:12

15 March 2007

Ssshhhh!! Jamestown & Christianity

Click here for the latest about the ongoing controversey surrounding Jamestown's 400th anniversary and political correctness.

"Without our own well-educated, informative guides from Christian Legacy Tours (Sacramento), we would have left Jamestown with the impression that these settlers were nothing more than predecessors pressed from the capitalist-greed molds of the 21st century."

(Image is John Chapman's Baptism of Pocahontas at Jamestown, Virginia, completed in 1840. The painting hangs in the Rotunda of the United States Capitol.)

14 March 2007

General Lee & Reconciliation

Last night my SCV camp in Lexington had the honor of hosting Taylor Sanders as our speaker. Taylor is a long-time history professor at Washington & Lee University. Taylor's topic was Robert E. Lee & Reconciliation. His talk was very interesting. I wrote this quote down from Taylor's comments:

"In 1865, Northern newspaper editors were accusing Lee of leading a 'training school for treason' - but by 1870, the same editors were praising Lee as a 'strong, positive, and moral influence' upon the young men of America."

I believe Lee still serves in that role. But today, there are many extremists again suggesting Lee was nothing more than a traitor. Perhaps they, too, will one day set aside emotion and what is faddish and examine Lee's character and accomplishments with intellectual honesty.

13 March 2007

To Lexington

I'm off to Lexington later this afternoon for some business, research, and a meeting tonight.

Pictured here, in front of Stonewall Jackson's statue, are "Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John" on the parade ground at Virginia Military Institute. These artillery pieces were so named by William Nelson Pendleton during the WBTS because "they spoke a powerful language." Pendleton would return to Lexington after the war as Rector of Grace Episcopal Church. There he and Robert E. Lee would worship and serve their God. Today, this church is known as "R. E. Lee Memorial Episcopal Church."

In front of the stone tablet that sits on the brick walk, is the final resting spot of Little Sorrel. This year marks the 10th anniversary of Little Sorrel's "funeral." More on that later.

10 March 2007

Defending the South

This is a fascinating article and review of Clyde Wilson's lastest book, Defending Dixie: Essays in History & Southern Culture. It offers a different perspective on the current political and cultural assault against all things Southern. The review piece is by Thomas E. Woods, Jr. Both Wilson and Woods, though often criticized by the left, are respected and accomplished scholars.Woods holds a bachelor's degree in history from Harvard and his master's, M.Phil., and Ph.D. from Columbia University. Wilson is professor emeritus of history at the University of South Carolina.

(Image is of a painting by artist Henry Kidd and is titled "Virginia's Sons.)

09 March 2007

My publisher is re-publishing William Davis's Breckenridge biography

"William C. Davis gives new prominence to a man who served his country as congressman, vice president, and senator before casting his lot with the Confederacy....a first-rate biography."—Journal of Southern History

(Available June 2007)

Why Intellectuals Loathe the Military

By an intellectual soldier.

"No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier." ~
2Timothy 2:4

08 March 2007

Jamestown's 400th Not Worthy of "Celebration"

This image is an old photo of the ruins of the old Jamestown Church. It appears that history itself is in ruins these days at Jamestown. Every historical event is now being turned into some kind of policital statement by revisionists - especially if the event is in any way related to Chrisitianity . . .

"For America's 400th birthday, what should be a celebration of gratitude to the Lord is fast becoming an homage to revisionist historiography and political correctness."

How fashionable.

Read article here.

And then this relevant survey is most enlightening.

07 March 2007

Why Valley Residents Fear Yankees with Matches

Lieut.-Gen. GRANT:


October 1, 1864--10 a. m.
(Received 3d.)

I have ordered Gen. Wilson to report to Sherman. He is the best man for the position. I have devastated the Valley from Staunton down to Mount Crawford, and will continue. The destruction of mills, grain, forage, foundries, &c., is very great. The cavalry report to me that they have collected 3,000 head of cattle and sheep between Staunton and Mount Crawford. The difficulty of transporting this army through the mountain passes onto the railroad at Charlottesville is such that I regard at as impracticable, with my present means of transportation. The rebels have given up the Valley, excepting Waynesborough, which has been occupied by them since my cavalry was there. I think that the best policy will be to let the burning of the crops of the Valley be the end of this campaign, and let some of this army go somewhere else.


Bibliographic Information : Letter Reproduced from The War of The Rebellion: Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series 1, Volume 43, Serial No. 91, Pages 249, Broadfoot Publishing Company, Wilmington, NC, 1997.

05 March 2007

The Battle of Waynesboro

The Battle of Waynesboro occurred in my hometown on 2 March, 1865. In an area today known as the "Tree Streets", (Upper left of this image) Confederate forces were defeated in what is considered the last Civil War battle in the Shenandoah Valley.

Having been born in 1958 in a hospital that was built upon ground that had served as the battle of Waynesboro, I grew up with a natural admiration for my ancestors who willingly sacrificed all they possessed to defend hearth and home. I had two great-great grandfathers who fought in that battle, both serving with the 51st Virginia infantry. My great-great-grandfather, John W. McGann, defended land during this battle that his son, Charles L. McGann, my great-grandfather, would come to own. That land first became apple orchards and, later, the residential area known as the Tree Streets. Charlie McGann's home - located in the center of the battlefield - would pass to my grandmother, then to my father, and then to my brother and me.
As a young boy, my father fed the horse of an old Confederate veteran who lived nearby and who taught at Fishburne Military School in Waynesboro. That is how close our generation is to the Civil War. Like my father before me, I spent many hours playing and roaming the ground that held the blood of those brave soldiers; the blood of my ancestors. My great-grandfather is buried on a portion of that battlefield. Today, John McGann rests in a family plot on top of a wind-swept ridge in the Blue Ridge mountains - his grave marked with only a simple field stone. None of these ancestors owned slaves. They were poor dirt farmers and, for the most part, they died paupers. Part of my family's oral tradition, and local lore, is that the McGann's donated a portion of their old farmstead for burial plots for Nelson County blacks after the war, though no one seems to be able to locate this graveyard.

My interest in the WBTS has a real and, at times, emotional connection. Those of us who have this connection have heard many of these stories from our fathers and grandfathers who knew those veterans, who saw their wounds, touched their old uniforms, gazed upon their medals. Persons with no such attachment are studying the conflict from the outside and are sometimes puzzled at this emotional connection. Those who have a direct attachment to the bloodiest and most unfortunate episode in American history have much to add to the war's study.

“A man that would not love his father's grave is worse than a wild animal.” ~ Chief Joseph