31 January 2008

If Daddy Only Knew

Ah, the memories. My Dad had a 1965 Ford pick up with “3 on the tree” just like this one when I was a boy. Ours was a half ton, short bed and dark green. Wet behind the ears, heavy in the foot, but proud of a new driver’s license, I couldn’t wait to get off the school bus every day so I could take it for a spin before Dad got home. Teaching myself to drive a straight drive, I cringed at every grind and kept forgetting she wouldn’t gear down to first unless you brought it to a complete stop. And man, was that clutch ever rough!

Nonetheless, I’ll never forget those times driving the back dirt roads of Augusta County, grinding gears, throwing gravel, dust boiling behind me with the windows rolled all the way down and the AM radio blasting. Ah yes, those were the days. No seat belts, no air bags, and you could pile your buddies in the bed of the truck without the nanny-state mothering over you. We all had our own Mamas to do that.

The old girl finally gave up the ghost . . . too many trips over Afton mountain hauling flagstone from the quarry in Schuyler (Remember the "Waltons?"). Dad would load the bed until she squatted low and off we'd go, blowing blue exhaust all the way. That last trip was just more than she could handle, God rest her drivetrain.

Sometimes I think I’ve lived too long or maybe I was just born too late. If Dad can read this, I know he's smiling. (I told you she was loaded too heavy.)

Project Update

For those who’ve asked and for those who care, I’ve recently written two history related pieces for Christian publications that will be published in the spring. I am currently trying my darnedest to finish the companion book to The Maxims of Robert E. Lee for Young Gentlemen which is, titled appropriately, The Maxims of Mrs. Robert E. Lee for Young Ladies. I also intend to query a very popular and well respected national magazine this evening about a piece concerning some local history near my home and I'm working on a couple of book reviews too.

At the same time, I continue to gather research materials for my next book which will be a history of the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery. I’ve already completed much of the outline for that work and hope to be able to get into the serious writing stage by the end of the summer.

I’m also in discussion about screenings of Still Standing – The Stonewall Jackson Story for two different preservation efforts—possibly one at Gettysburg. These will likely take place some time this summer. Work continues with the Chaplain’s Museum and some other projects I’m involved in as well. Several speaking engagements have been scheduled for the near future and those will be posted later on my website. Lots of other ideas and projects rolling around in my head, just not enough time to tackle them all right now. I need a personal assistant willing to work with a promise for reward (maybe) in the future—any takers?

29 January 2008

Blogs That Are Right

I'm honored to be counted among this eclectic group compiled by George Mason's History News Network. I posted this comment in response to Mr. Luker's list:

Hello Ralph - thanks for the honor of listing me with those that are right. BTW, why not a list of those who blog from the left, i.e., those that are wrong?



28 January 2008

Local Event & A Worthy Cause

The Paxton House Historical Society will present "General E. Frank Paxton, CSA: A Brief Heroic Life" on Tuesday, January 29 at the Stone Church of the Brethren at 7:00 p.m. The church is located at Forest Avenue and 22nd Street in Buena Vista.

Francis Lynn, Historian for the society will be the speaker, assisted by the PMHS Interact Club in a power point presentation.

A Rockbridge County native, General Paxton was the personal choice of his fellow Lexington townsman, General Stonewall Jackson, to lead the famous Stonewall Brigade. After a distinguished military career, Paxton died leading the brigade at the Battle of Chancellorsville, May 2, 1863.

Elisha Franklin "Frank" Paxton lived from infancy in the Paxton House at Glen Maury until he married and began his career as a lawyer in Lexington in 1854. His birth actually took place in a very modest log house in 1828, while his father was erecting the beautiful brick mansion. The exact location of the original Elisha Paxton log house has only recently been confirmed, and Lynn will show remnants of the house.

Young Frank Paxton began his formal education at age 13 at the classical school of his cousin, Col. James Hays Paxton, at the ancestral home of the Paxton’s, Mountain View (opposite Ben Salem Presbyterian Church). Entering the junior class at Washington College two years later, he graduated in 1846. He then completed a two-year graduate program at Yale, and then completed a law course at the University of Virginia, graduating first in his class at age twenty-one.

The Paxton House Historical Society intends to dedicate space at the restored house as a museum to honor its most famous resident.

The program is free and open to the public. From the Rockbridge Weekly.

26 January 2008

Book Review - Moses Ezekiel

"I hope you will be an artist, as it seems to me you are cut out for one. But, whatever you do, try to prove to the world that if we did not succeed in our struggle, we are worthy of success, and do earn a reputation in whatever profession you undertake," Robert E. Lee told a young Moses Ezekiel. Although mostly forgotten by moderns, Moses J. Ezekiel was one of the most renowned artists of the 19th century. Ezekiel was an ardent American patriot and, at the same time . . ."

If you'd be interested in reading a review I wrote of Colonel Keith Gibson's & Stan Cohen's most recent book about Moses Ezekiel, click here.

Permissible Bigotry

"You can tell we’re debating a gun bill today. Half the cast of 'Deliverance' is in town." ~ Virginia State Senator Richard Saslaw, D-Fairfax

"I believe that Sen. Saslaw and many of those who oppose gun ownership truly believe that those who believe in the right to keep and bear arms, those who hunt, those who come from a rural background, are somehow less deserving of respect than the elite urbanites that they consider themselves and their peers to be." ~ John Pierce

(Saslaw is, appropriately, the man pictured here on the far left. Full story here. I was struck at how closely Saslaw's *profile resembles the priest who oversaw William Wallace's guts being ripped out in the film Braveheart.)

*Double entendre intended.

25 January 2008

Opposing Spirits

As my interest and research in the War Between the States is primarily regarding the influence of faith and Christianity, I am now reading two books in this genre: Kent Dollar’s Soldiers of the Cross: Confederate Soldier-Christians and the Impact of War on Their Faith and John Wesley Brinsfield Jr.’s The Spirit Divided – Memoirs of Civil War Chaplains – The Confederacy.

Thus far, I am impressed by how each author is handling the subject—objectively and respectfully. So many historians, writers, and commentators today seem to be on a crusade to mock, impugn, and otherwise ridicule the faith of Americans, particularly the faith of Southern Americans. Many pooh-pooh the fact that slaveholders and those who fought for the Confederacy could, in fact—as many noted scholars have written—be “friends” to their enslaved brethren and attempt to uplift their spiritual condition despite the evils of slavery.

As Dr. Brinsfield writes in the preface of his book:

“Even as I was compiling and editing these records, new insights began to emerge. Many of the Confederate chaplains wrote that they opposed secession and submitted to it only when was inevitable. At least two of these memoirs date from 1861 to 1864, before the war ended. Moreover, some of the ministers who became chaplains were active in ministry to slaves. They spoke out both before and during the war against the neglect and abuse of those held in bondage. For example, Rev. John L. Girardeau formed a large mission church for slaves in Charleston, South Carolina, before the war; Rev. Isaac Tichenor criticized the abuses of the slave system before the Alabama Legislature in 1863, and Chaplain Charles Oliver preached to black laborers in the Army of Northern Virginia in 1864 and believed more needed to be done for them. While these efforts may appear trivial in the face of the enormity of the entire slave system, they do reflect that a social conscience was not completely lacking among the Southern chaplains.” (My emphasis)

Brinsfield experienced the same thing that I did while researching my book about Stonewall Jackson’s Christian faith and his black Sunday school. Unfortunately, a strange, vehement hatred of anything associated with the Confederacy (and even Christianity) clouds the objectivity of many modern historians. This is unfortunate as it tends to destroy their credibility when they might otherwise have something worthy to contribute to the topic.

Brinsfield concludes his preface with this paragraph:

“It has been a privilege to compile and edit these memoirs as some of the best written by eyewitnesses during or after the war. The chaplains who wrote them deserve to be remembered. They should be counted among the finest clergy America has produced, for they were not only heroes on the battlefield, but also heroes of the faith. That is why their biographies and their memoirs are included in these pages.”

Additionally, along these same lines, many secular historians and writers sneer at the concept of “heroes”—even though they often speak glowingly of some of the baser elements of modern society; revealing that they too have heroes, but not the ones that traditionalists would admire. The Washingtons, Jeffersons, Madisons, Lees, and Jacksons are all Eurocentric demons who oppressed the masses while any person who tends to have an anti-Western culture philosophy or position can be counted on to receive their flowery accolades.

While I am certainly no scholar, it does not take a genius to see this rather transparent attack on Western culture and, more specifically, America’s Judeo-Christian heritage. I don’t think that some of these historians realize how obvious their bias is. Christian readers will understand the spiritual implications and reasons behind this phenomenon, but it is nonetheless—at least for me—a curious thing to observe.

24 January 2008

Historical Highway Markers

If you'd like to watch an interesting video of how historical highway markers are made, click here.
For more pics, click here.

Laugh Out Loud

Every once in a while the good folks over at Civil War Interactive interject something in their weekly blog reviews that cause me to chuckle out loud. Today was one of those instances. They referred to my national "journalist" contact (see post below) as an "ink-stained wretch."

Since CWI is an internet based publication, I suppose that was a tongue in cheek jab at the print media, but it just struck me as very funny for some reason. I appreciate their well-intended humor!

Contextualizing History

Earlier this week, I received the following email inquiry from a correspondent of a well-respected national publication:

“Hello Mr. Williams:

I stumbled upon your blog, and was glad I did. I’m a reporter with the _______, and I’m working on a story about states and the federal government looking harder at whether or not to rewrite statue and monument plaques to more accurately reflect history as we know it today, not as we saw it back then. The current debate in Columbia is whether or not to “contextualize” the plaque describing the statue of **Ben “Pitchfork” Tillman to not just reflect on his achievements as a SC Senator, but his virulent racism. (This all comes a few years after Strom Thurmond’s monument was altered to list the illegitimate daughter he had with a black mistress.) I’d love your thoughts on this trend. My big question is: Doesn’t everyone have enough information to contextualize these monuments themselves? Clearly, just about every American, by now, has to be able to rationalize chiseled sentiments against the age of the monument, or is that, in fact, too much to ask? I’m also curious if you have heard of other similar anecdotes? Thanks in advance for your help. My deadline is Wed a.m.” (Emphasis mine.)

This gentleman called me Wednesday morning and we had a very interesting conversation. Originally from Sweden, he was a little perplexed by the issue. Basically, we agreed that “contextualizing” plaques on monuments is rather silly. The place for a full explanation of the views of 18th, 19th, and early 20th century Americans is the classroom, books, and articles. To be consistent, we would have to contextualize ALL statues and monuments; including comments regarding Abraham Lincoln’s views on race, Washington & Jefferson as slaveowners, etc., etc. There are very few historical figures, especially those of the 18th & 19th century, whose views today would not be considered racist. If this kind of thing catches on, plaque makers are going to be very busy.

This is nothing more than political correctness run amok. Proponents of this type of thing either believe that most Americans are too stupid to know these things themselves, or their real purpose is to diminish the contribution that these persons made to our nation’s history. (I speak here specifically of men like Washington, Jefferson, Lee, etc. Tillman would not be included in that description as he is a rather extreme case.) The other problem with efforts like this is the fact that many (though not all) of these monuments were privately funded. The PC police at Vanderbilt found out that some courts just won't allow you to alter the property of others without compensation and/or permission. This isn't the old Soviet Union - yet.

I’ll link to the article once it’s published—next week I believe.

** Just to clarify - Ben "Pitchfork" Tillman was by all standards a despicable racist who hated African-Americans. Nonetheless, this is the proverbial slippery slope and again, to be consistent, would require the contextualizing of just about every statue in the United States. That would be a very divisive, distracting, and expensive undertaking. Perhaps a better and more positive way to address the issue would be a new memorial or monument to those who suffered from Tillman's actions.

23 January 2008

Liberty University's 12th Annual CW Seminar

“The Day is Ours”
by Dale Gallon

Image courtesy of Gallon Historical Art, Gettysburg, PA

Reaping the Whirlwind:
The Battle of Gettysburg

2008 Liberty University Civil War Seminar

March 28 – 30, 2008

On March 28-30, 2008 Liberty University will present its 12th annual Civil War Seminar. This year's program is titled Reaping the Whirlwind: The Battle of Gettysburg. Featured speakers and performers include:

Dr. Brenda Ayres is a Professor of English at Liberty University who founded its Victorian Society and whose publications include Dissenting Women in Dickens' Novels; Miss Gusta, or, the Victorian Mobilian; The Life and Works of Augusta Jane Evans Wilson; Silence Voices: Forgotten Novels by Victorian Women Writers; and The Social Problem Novels of Frances Trollope.

Kent Masterson Brown is a practicing attorney with law offices in Lexington, KY, and Washington, DC, whose books include Retreat From Gettysburg: Lee, Logistics and the Pennsylvania Campaign, Cushing of Gettysburg: The Story of a Union Artillery Commander, and The Civil War in Kentucky: Battle for the Bluegrass State.

Dr. Tom Desjardin served as the historical advisor for Jeff Daniels who portrayed Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain in the motion picture Gettysburg. His books include Stand Firm Ye Boys from Maine: The 20th Maine and the Gettysburg Campaign, Joshua L. Chamberlain: A Handbook, and These Honored Dead: How the Story of Gettysburg Shaped American Memory.

Reverend Alan Farley is a co-founder and the director of Reenactor’s Mission for Jesus Christ and appears all over the nation portraying a CSA chaplain at Civil War reenactments and living histories and is the co-founder and member of the Board of Directors of the National Civil War Chaplains Research Center and Museum.

Dr. Brad Gottfried has had a long career in higher education, beginning as a faculty member and is the current president of The College of Southern Maryland. His books include The Maps of Gettysburg, Brigades to Gettysburg, The Roads to Gettysburg, and The Battle of Gettysburg: A Guided Tour. He has also published numerous magazine articles on the battle.

Drs. Darlene and Michael Graves are Professors of Communication at Liberty University. In addition to their teaching in the M. A. program at Liberty, they have respectively written for and co-edited Precious Memories: The Rhetoric of Southern Gospel Music. For the 2006 LU Civil War Seminar they produced a dramatic reading of excerpts from Rod Gregg’s From Fields of Fire and Glory: Letters of the Civil War.

Troy Harman has been a park ranger at Gettysburg National Military Park since 1989 and has served at numerous national parks such as Appomattox Court House National Historic Park and Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park. His works include Lee’s Real Plan at Gettysburg and Cemetery Hill: The General Plan was Unchanged.

Jerry Markham is a veteran Civil War reenactor who is the captain of the 11th VA, Company G, The Lynchburg Home Guard reenacting group, and is a historian whose works include The Botetourt Artillery, Confederate Veterans Buried in Hollywood Cemetery from Camp Lee Soldiers Home 1894-1946, and the Diuguid Records 1861–1865 and Biographical Sketches.

Ben Maryniak is a Civil War artifacts collector and authority on Union chaplains during the Civil War who lives in Buffalo, NY.

Dr. Brian Melton is an Assistant Professor of History at Liberty University and the author of Sherman’s Forgotten General: Henry W. Slocum and a number of scholarly articles and reviews that have appeared in professional journals and magazines. He has presented his research at various conferences, including the prestigious Southern Historical Association.

Dr. Ethan Rafuse is a member of the Department of Military History at the US Army Command and General Staff College whose works include McClellan's War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union, George Gordon Meade and the War in the East, and A Single Grand Victory: The First Campaign and Battle of Manassas. He is also the author of two books that will appear later this year:

Antietam: A Battlefield Guide and Robert E. Lee and the Fall of the Confederacy, 1863-1865.

David Rider is a veteran Civil War reenactor who is the secretary of Company C 2nd Regiment U.S. Sharpshooters, based out of Gettysburg, PA, and is also captain of Huckstep's 1st Fluvanna artillery of the

Longstreet’s Corps reenacting organization. In addition to doing volunteer work for the NPS at Gettysburg, he is also involved in the business side of his unit and maintains the Company’s Website at www.BerdanSharpshooters.com.

Delanie Stephenson is a veteran reenactor and a history teacher at Hopewell High School who wrote “Robert E. Lee Behind Closed Doors for The Citizen’s Companion.” In addition to these accomplishments, she has spoken to UDC, SCV, and community organizations on the life of Mildred Childe Lee.

The 2nd South Carolina String Band is a nationally renowned Civil War era musical group which uses authentic instruments and has appeared in Gods and Generals and on the soundtracks of Ken Burns’ PBS productions Jazz and Mark Twain. The band’s CD’s include Dulcem Melodies, High Cotton, and The Southern Soldier.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. is an author and a regular contributor to the Washington Times’ Civil War column whose works include Stonewall Jackson: The Black Man’s Friend, The Maxims of Robert E. Lee for Young Gentlemen, and Christian Business Legends. He is also a co-producer of the recently released video Still Standing: The Stonewall Jackson Story and hosts the Old Virginia Blog.

Eric Wittenberg is a practicing attorney from Columbus, Ohio, and a prolific author whose works include Little Phil: A Reassessment of the Civil War Leadership of Gen. Philip H. Sheridan, Protecting the Flanks: The Battles for Brinkerhoff's Ridge and East Cavalry Field, Battle of Gettysburg, July 2-3, 1863 , Plenty of Blame to Go Around: Jeb Stuart’s Controversial Ride to Gettysburg, and Gettysburg’s Forgotten Cavalry Actions.

Dr. Steven Woodworth, a two-time winner of the prestigious Fletcher Pratt Award, is Professor of History at Texas Christian University who specializes in the Civil War and Reconstruction. His books include Davis and Lee at War, Leadership and Command in the American Civil War, and Beneath a Northern Sky: A Short History of the Gettysburg Campaign.

In addition the Friday night banquet and the Saturday luncheon, both which will feature antebellum menus and entertainment, will be special door prizes and an exhibit of paintings depicting scenes from the Battle of Gettysburg.

On Saturday there will be a period ball, featuring the music of the 2nd South Carolina String Band, in the Grand Lobby of DeMoss Hall, and on Sunday morning there will be a period church service held in the Whorley Prayer Chapel.

The event will be held in Arthur S. DeMoss Learning Center on the campus of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. Everyone is encouraged to secure reservations for this seminar by Wednesday, March 26. Admission to the seminar is $55 (which includes all of the seminar sessions, the Friday night banquet, and Saturday’s luncheon). After March 26, 2008, the price for both days is $65. Admission to the Seminar for Friday only is $25; admission for Saturday only is $30.

Admission to the ball is $25/couple and $15/single. (Please note that boots or shoes with heel plates will not be permitted. This will be checked at the door. Please plan accordingly.)

Make out checks to The 2008 Liberty University Civil War Seminar and mail to the following address:

The Liberty University Civil War Seminar

c/o Dr. Cline Hall

History Department

Liberty University

Lynchburg, VA 24502

Special lodging rates at the Days Inn of Lynchburg are available for those who will be attending the seminar. For pricing and location of lodging, call 434-847-8655. For special group pricing for the seminar or more information, call 434-592-4366 or email or klburdeaux@liberty.edu. See full schedule of events here: www.liberty.edu/civilwar.

22 January 2008

Lee & the Lingering South

"What is the South?" they always ask. It's a question never answered, not completely, but invariably asked. Usually by some Northerner with a taste for literature. Or by sociology students in search of a thesis. Or by a college roommate at Harvard. (See Faulkner's "Absalom, Absalom.") I was first asked the question by a fellow graduate student at Columbia. ("What's it like, growing up in the South?") He asked it in the same tone one might inquire, "What was it like, living on Mars?"

Great piece by Paul Greenberg here.

The Year of Lee Ends

I thought some recent quotes by noted historians-some surprising-would be appropriate as the Commonwealth's Year of Lee comes to an end:

"[Lee] was probably as decent and honorable a man as a slaveholder could be. These admirable qualities made Lee an extremely powerful influence in the historical memory and popular culture of post-Civil War America. In certain circles, his influence is arguably still felt today." ~ Cynthia Kierner, Ph.D.

"Increasingly, Lee's reputation is based largely on what he did not do: win Confederate independence, and his refusal to endorse guerrilla resistance against restored federal authority after Appomattox. This transformation into an honorable, vanquished foe helped spare the nation the kind of protracted insurgency now in Iraq." ~ Historian Ervin L. Jordan, Jr.

"He was a great military leader and an honorable and good man, to boot." ~ Bland Whitley Assistant Editor, Dictionary of Virginia Biography, Library of Virginia

"Lee towers over the post-Monroe Virginians who became president. Lee was a deeply honorable and decent man, though his life is a lasting reminder that good people can lead tragic and destructive enterprises." ~ Larry Sabatos, Ph.D.

21 January 2008

Pudding Proof

Does academia lean predominantly left? Whatever gave you that idea?

"The statistics of political giving at Princeton mirror larger trends at campuses across the country."

No kidding. The writer of this piece catches on fast.

"For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."
~ Luke 12:34

18 January 2008

Happy Lee-Jackson Day

From the Code of Virginia:

§ 2.2-3300. Legal holidays.

The Friday preceding the third Monday in January - Lee-Jackson Day to honor Robert Edward Lee (1807-1870) and Thomas Jonathan (Stonewall) Jackson (1824-1863), defenders of causes.

The Commonwealth's Attorney General, Bob McDonnell, released the following statement regarding today’s Lee-Jackson official state holiday in Virginia:

“Today, the Commonwealth commemorates the lives of two great Virginia military leaders, General Robert E. Lee and General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson. Lee and Jackson were men of principle, dignity, courage, and humility.”

“They were good men and outstanding generals who lived in a different and tumultuous time when our nation was torn asunder. Their lives and accomplishments are worthy of remembrance by all Virginians. Generations of Americans have studied Lee and Jackson for their military prowess. Both received their training at the United States Military Academy at West Point. Lee would later serve as Superintendent of the school. Together, they embodied the best qualities of the American soldier. But those who are also aware of their personal attributes have taken their true measure. Perhaps Robert E. Lee’s greatest legacy is found not on the battlefields, but in the classrooms of the great Virginia university that bears his name and reflects his character. And Stonewall Jackson’s life, though cut short in the tragedy of war, is remarkable not just for the renowned Valley Campaign, but for how he valued faith and family foremost. The memories of these two leaders still echo across Virginia, and we can learn much from their lives. It is fitting that today we pause to remember these two outstanding Virginians, General Robert E. Lee and General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson.”

So honored they are.

More Confirmation of Biblical Accuracy

"One cannot help being astonished by the credibility of the biblical source as seen by the archaeological find." Full story in the Jerusalem Post here.

This is absolutely fascinating if you, like me, have a passion for history. Archeology continues to confirm the amazing historical accuracy of the Scriptures. Food for thought for skeptics.

17 January 2008

Exciting Announcement

At our meeting last week, the board of directors of the National Civil War Chaplains Research Center and Museum Foundation voted unanimously to accept the nomination of Chaplain (Colonel) John Wesley Brinsfield, Jr., Retired, as a member of our board. Col. Brinsifeld is the Chaplain Corps Historian at the Army Chaplain School, Ft. Jackson, South Carolina.

We are delighted to have Colonel Brinsfield as a board member and know he will bring an added level of expertise to our efforts. He is a true scholar and brings with him quite an impressive resume. His background and experience is listed here and includes the following:

He is a native of Atlanta, Georgia, and a member of the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church. He graduated from Georgia Military Academy summa cum laude in 1962. He has a B.A. degree from Vanderbilt University, a Master of Divinity degree from Yale Divinity School, a Ph.D. in Church History from Emory University, and a D.Min. in Ethics from Drew University. From 1972-73 he held a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship at Mansfield College, Oxford, and a Leopold Schepp Fellowship at Wesley House, Cambridge.

Dr. Brinsfield served on active duty for 28 years as an Army Chaplain. He served in the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment at Fort Bliss, Texas in 1974, and then subsequently in the Republic of Turkey, West Germany, Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan and for two years in the Office of the Chief of Chaplains at the Pentagon. He taught history, ethics and world religions at the US Army Aviation School, the Army Chaplain School, in the Department of History at the United States Military Academy at West Point, and at the U.S. Army War College as Director of Ethical Program Development. During Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm he served in the Army Central Command Headquarters in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

His military awards include a Bronze Star, a Legion of Merit with one oak leaf cluster, six Meritorious Service Medals, two Army Commendation Medals, one Army Achievement Medal, and numerous service ribbons.

Chaplain Brinsfield served two tours at U.S. Army Forces Command in Atlanta, the last as Deputy FORSCOM Chaplain from 1999-2002. He is the author or co-author of seven books including Religion and Politics in Colonial South Carolina; Encouraging Faith, Supporting Soldiers: A History of the Army Chaplain Corps, 1975-1995; Faith in the Fight: Civil War Chaplains; The Spirit Divided: Memoirs of Civil War Chaplains—The Confederacy and the Union; Courageous in Spirit, Compassionate in Service: The Gunhus Years 1999-2003; and A History of the Army Chaplaincy: The Hicks Years, 2003-2007 as well as numerous articles and editorials for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the New York Times. He is a member of the Society of Mayflower Descendents in New York and the Atlanta Civil War Roundtable.

Dr. Brinsfield is married to Pat Tallon Brinsfield, formerly of Chattanooga, Tennessee, who works in the Missions Mobilization Group of the South Carolina Baptist Convention. They have three grown children, Casey, Cindee, and Ben.

The Civil War Chaplains Museum has already received a number of donations; both in monetary and artifact form, and is currently in talks with Liberty University regarding a permanent location. We hope to have definite news on that issue soon. We have a pending grant application under review and others in the works and look forward to a formal opening some time later this year.

(Providentially, I received a copy of Dr. Brinsfield's book, Civil War Chaplains; The Spirit Divided: Memoirs of Civil War Chaplains—The Confederacy yesterday to review and will be posting about in in the near future.)

15 January 2008

An End & A Beginning

The "Year of Lee" is coming to an end, the "Year of Davis" is beginning.

14 January 2008

Lee-Jackson Day in Lexington

Click here for an interesting history of the annual Lee-Jackson Day celebration in Lexington, Virginia.

Relentless Encroachment

More bad news for Virginia's historic heritage and Civil War Battlefields, not to mention the environment, pristine farm land, and the way of life in the Shenandoah Valley.

". . . the Virginia Department of Transportation has a controversial proposal on the table – the I-81 Corridor Improvement Study – that calls for widening the 325-mile stretch of Interstate 81 – which cuts through Augusta County – to four lanes going both north and south. It also has called for tolls to be established to help pay for the widening. Federal funds would also be used to pay for the I-81 work.

The tolls, as well as the potential widening to an eight-lane highway, would impact the Shenandoah Valley negatively in numerous ways, critics say.

They say it would adversely affect the region’s rich historical value by cutting through Civil War battlefields."

Full story here.

More on this to come . . . More info. here.

12 January 2008

Selective Criticism?

"No other American story is so enduring. No other American story is so comforting. No other American story is so false." ~ Lerone Bennett, Jr.

Why have so many academics (for the most part) ignored this book, written by an African-American social historian and former executive editor of Ebony magazine, which excoriates Lincoln? Most modern critics of Lincoln are dismissed as "neo-confederates." Certainly, Mr. Bennett could not be labeled such. I'd be interested in some "scholarly" opinions. Be gentlemen. We enforce a civility code here.

I've not read it, so won't offer an opinion--yet.

Here's one opinion:

"The most systematic, best-researched, and compelling critique of Lincoln's [beliefs about race] that I know of." ~ Journal of Blacks in Higher Education

Here's another:

"He describes it as a 'political' history, and indeed it is -- a 'politically correct' history. By selecting Lincoln's words carefully and placing his own interpretation on their meaning, Mr. Bennett is able to weave an ugly view of Abraham Lincoln that turns history on its ear and furthers the latest revisionist theory that the slaves freed themselves." ~ Edward Steers, Jr.

The book, originally published in 1999, has recently been released in a paperback edition - 662 pages.

10 January 2008

More Mystery in Lexington

More mystery in Lexington: "Human remains are found in Lexington . . . " Story here. Seems like the town has a history of being rather careless with corpses.

Favorite Quote of the Week

"I like my sushi Southern fried"
~ Alan Jackson

(A true poet: saying so much with so little.)

A Talented Artist

Tuesday evening I had the privilege of meeting—and visiting the studio office of—Mr. Gary Casteel in Lexington, Virginia. Mr. Casteel is an acclaimed, nationally recognized historical sculptor and artist. He specializes almost exclusively in Civil War subjects. His work is beautiful, realistic, and historically accurate. I, along with another friend, was there to talk to Gary about another privately commissioned project. Gary was most gracious to take the time to show us around and to explain what goes into sculpting a life-size statue, such as this Longstreet statue, which is located in the Gettysburg National Park, and for which he is well known. It really is a fascinating and labor intensive process. Gary also does quite a bit of work for the National Park Service, including repair work in addition to his commissions.

You can click here and watch Gary as he works on his most recent project—a statue for the Point Lookout memorial.

(The first image shown here is one of Casteel’s works located near Boonsboro, Maryland, at Fox’s Gap, on South Mountain, the life size bronze figure of a wounded confederate color barer mounted of black granite was commissioned in 1997 by the Living History Association of Mecklenburg Co., Charlotte, North Carolina and unveiled October 2003. The monument was erected to honor all the North Carolina troops who served at South Mountain during the Gettysburg Campaign.” The second image is another of Casteel's works and is part of the Kentucky State Memorial which features the figures of Presidents Davis and Lincoln, for the Vicksburg National Military Park. )

05 January 2008

The South - and the Nation - Loses a Great Man

I just read about the passing of historian Devereaux Cannon, Jr. on fellow blogger, Michael Hardy's site. I, like Michael, was shocked to hear of his sudden passing on 29 December 2007. Mr. Cannon was only 53. Also, like Michael, I did not know Mr. Cannon personally, though I own two of his books and have exchanged several emails with him and his wife about the history of the Virginia flag. They were both always most helpful with my inquiries. Mr. Cannon, a prominent Nashville attorney, historian, and anti-tax activist, was also considered an expert in vexillology. Mr. Cannon, like me, published a small book of quotes of Robert E. Lee with Pelican Publishing Company.

His own words are perhaps his best epitaph and ones which I could claim as my own heritage and "predisposition":

“I am by genetic predisposition a Rebel. Ancestors I can claim have rebelled against the likes of King Edward I, King Charles I, Oliver Cromwell, King George III, and Abraham Lincoln. I am and have always been in a constant state of rebellion against the federal government, and from time to time, against leaders of my State, county, and political party. Despite all of that rebellion, I am told that I am a very pleasant person with a genial personality and a pleasing disposition.”

The South has lost a great man. Mr. Cannon will be missed.

Still Standing Review

Fellow blogger and author Michael Aubrecht has written a nice review of Still Standing - The Stonewall Jackson Story in Fredericksburg's Free Lance Star here. I also learned recently that the Stonewall Jackson House in Lexington is carrying the DVD in their gift shop. Current broadcast opportunities are being discussed as well.

04 January 2008

Another Non-Civil War Post

To my readers - all 3 of you - I realize a lot of my posts of late have not been about the Civil War. But, as my header states, some of my posts here are sometimes "wandering thoughts" and since I turned 50 yesterday, those wanderings seem to be more frequent as of late.

So here's a little rant, a wandering thought, and some advice - unrelated to history or the WBTS. I happened to notice one of my American Express cards was showing an annual rate of 29.74%!! So I called to cancel the card and voila - the rep told me he had "good news" for me: as a "respected and good" customer, I now qualified for 14%. Interesting that I had to call and threaten to close the account to become a "respected and good" customer.

Advice - check your statements regularly as I've learned credit cards often increase rates and "notify" the customer in fine print buried in the statement somewhere. I'm going to cancel anyway as I don't trust them now and can do much better than even the 14%.

Ok, back to the WBTS and history soon.

03 January 2008

Science Finally Catches Up

Science finally catches up with the Bible. Oh well, better a few thousand years late than never.

"A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones."~ Proverbs 17:22

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A happy heart just might be a healthier one as well, new research suggests.

In a study of nearly 3,000 healthy British adults, lead by Dr. Andrew Steptoe of University College London, found that those who reported upbeat moods had lower levels of cortisol -- a "stress" hormone that, when chronically elevated, may contribute to high blood pressure, abdominal obesity and dampened immune function, among other problems.

In the study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, women who . . . (Full story here.)

Pssstt - The Bible is right about a lot of other things too!

The Amazing Skidboot

My son is a farrier and a dog-lover. This reminded me of him. You will love this video!

01 January 2008

Historic Photos of Gettysburg - Thumbs Up

Turner Publishing is well known for its series of “Historic Photos” books and the new Gettysburg version is a most welcome addition. I received Historic Photos of Gettysburg this past summer with a request to post a few comments about it on my blog and have wanted to do so since then. The holiday reprieve has allowed me to finally catch up and take a few moments to recommend this work.

The quality of the book is exceptional and contains a number of Gettysburg photos I’ve never seen. The book goes beyond just covering the war period and includes photos during the period of reconstruction and several reunion events as well. The images include landscapes, encampments, individual soldiers, monuments, and, of course, the gruesome images of Gettysburg’s devastation.

The text was written by John Salmon and his descriptions are concise, yet thorough at the same time. I highly recommend the book as an addition to the CW buff’s library, as well as for the serious historian for an excellent pictorial reference book.

Historic Photos of Gettysburg
ISBN: 978-1-59652-323-4
Price: $39.95