30 April 2008

And Speaking of Reagan . . .


The newest arrival in the Williams Klan. Reagan Elizabeth Williams. Grandchild #11 checking in at 7 pounds, 7 ounces, 22 inches long and she's as pretty as her granny.

The Next Ronald Reagan?

Could Louisiana Governor, Bobby Jindal be the next Ronald Reagan? Could he be the conservative leader to lead conservatives out of the wilderness? Very possibly.

29 April 2008

Lexington Tour

This past Saturday, I had the distinct honor of conducting a tour for the men’s group—numbering 33—from Heritage Baptist Church in Woodbridge, Virginia. Many of these men were retired and/or active military. We began our tour at 10:00 am at the Lexington Visitor’s Center and concluded at 3:00 pm at the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery. Stops along the way included the Stonewall Jackson House, John Lyle’s bookstore, the Lexington Presbyterian Church, Virginia Military Institute, the Lee-Jackson House, R E Lee Memorial Church, Lee Chapel, and Lee’s home when he served as President of Washington College. The Lord blessed us with an absolutely gorgeous day and it was one of the most enjoyable times I’ve had in a great while!

I had pre-arranged for Colonel Keith Gibson to give us a short talk about Stonewall Jackson when we arrived at VMI. He didn’t do that. Instead, he escorted our group on a special 2 hour tour including Jackson Memorial Hall and museum, various buildings around the Institute, inviting us to a special event in the Courtyard/Quadrangle (it was alumni weekend), lunch in Crozet Hall, and an impromptu lecture at the Lee-Jackson House; as well as one at Lee’s Lexington home. Colonel Gibson has always been most helpful and gracious in sharing his vast knowledge of VMI and Jackson. Thank you Colonel!

A few shots from the tour: Colonel Gibson holding forth and some calling cards that Union General David Hunter left for VMI during his raid in 1864. I’ll post some more images from the tour later this week.

28 April 2008

The Scots-Irish Are Coming

According to Michael Hirsh of Newsweek, "Southernism is taking over our national dialogue. Maybe it's time for the North to secede from the Union." He introduces his piece with the following paragraph:


"In the summer of 1863, Robert E. Lee led an ill-advised incursion into Pennsylvania. His army was defeated at Gettysburg, and thence afterward Lee beat a fighting retreat until the South lost the Civil War. One hundred and forty-five years later, the South--or what has become the South-Southwest--has won another kind of Civil War. It has transformed the sensibility of the country. It is setting the agenda for our political, social and religious mores--in Pennsylvania and everywhere else."

And Mr. Hirsh is scared. Read the complete article here. The article, though poorly written, warns readers of the influence of the Scots-Irish. Yes, be afraid, be very afraid. And how about this excerpt of hubris to illustrate snobbish elitism and arrogance at its worse:

". . . the Southern frontiersmen never got over their hatred of the East Coast elites and a belief in the morality and nobility of defying them. Their champion was the Indian-fighter Andrew Jackson. The outcome was that a substantial portion of the new nation developed, over many generations, a rather savage, unsophisticated set of mores. Traditionally, it has been balanced by a more diplomatic, communitarian Yankee sensibility from the Northeast and upper Midwest. But that latter sensibility has been losing ground in population numbers--and cultural weight."

Yeah, right. That's why so many of these more "diplomatic, communitarian sensible Yankees" are fleeing the culturally decaying, high-tax, big government areas of the Northeast for the sunny south. It would seem as though they don't like the universe they've created. This man is not only arrogant, he's delusional.

If he really wants a fright, he should read Virginia Democratic Senator Jim Webb's book, Born Fighting - How the Scots-Irish Shaped America. Worth quoting from the book: “The Scots-Irish were the cultural antithesis of those who had founded *New England” and “Their answer, then as now, was to tell the Eastern Establishment to go to hell.”

I believe, however, that most Southerners would prefer that the Eastern Establishment simply repent and go to heaven.

Hat tip to Southern Appeal.

*Full disclosure: I am a direct descendant (on my father's side) of New England stock: a 9th generation great-grandson of the Reverend Roger Williams, the founder of the colony of Rhode Island and of the first Baptist Church in America. So my distaste is not for New Englanders--I'm proud of that part of my ancestry--but I abhor the elitist attitude expressed by Hirsh which looks down upon Scots-Irish Southerners, from whom I am also descended.

27 April 2008

Did John Wilkes Booth Escape?

Some of his descendants believe he did. Read the story here.

25 April 2008

Planet Priestess Pelosi

“The Bible tells us in the Old Testament, ‘To minister to the needs of God’s creation is an act of worship. To ignore those needs is to dishonor the God who made us.’ On this Earth Day, and every day, let us honor the earth and our future generations with a commitment to fight climate change.” ~ Democratic Speaker of the House (and would be Planet Priestess) Nancy Pelosi.

Really your most Highness? And where does the Bible say that oh wise one? Let me answer that for you: it doesn’t. You are either delusional or you lied, and I could believe either.

But the Bible does say this:

“Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.” ~ Romans 1:25

Hmmm . . . I'm no theologian, but that would appear to be the exact opposite of what Priestess Pelosi said.

(We are, of course, to be good stewards of all we possess, but not worship what we possess - a big difference.)


Peggy Noonan Sees Clearly

Read her wisdom here.

24 April 2008

Make Love, Not War?

This guy hates war, but has no problem beating up the disabled. How courageous. Click here.

Busy, Busy, Busy

I apologize for the lack of Civil War posts this week. I'm busy preparing for a tour this weekend, as well as organizing my office. I'll be leading a group of 43 men (mostly active and retired military) on a CW related tour here in the Valley on Saturday. I'll post some photos and information by Monday.

In the meantime, may I recommend reading CWPT's latest "Most Endangered List?" Click here (PDF).

23 April 2008

The Post-Christian Era

"It was recently reported that the level of Sexually Transmitted Diseases - including syphilis, gonorrhea, and AIDS . . . has reached the level of 26% among teenage girls.This epidemic is occurring not in some pre-civilized culture but in the United States, in the 21st century. Welcome to the post-Christian era." ~ J.R. Dunn

(But don't panic, we have been able to keep the Bible and Christianity out of public schools, although we did replace the Bible with police officers patrolling the halls. Liberals call all this progress.)

21 April 2008

Condemned

I’ve been quite busy since the release of my book in September of 2006 followed by the release of the documentary one year later in October of 2007. Additional writing and speaking opportunities, interviews, etc. added to my demanding full time occupation, time for my 6 children and (soon to be, Lord willin’) 13 grandchildren, church responsibilities, and various other community and worthy historical projects have, shall we say, “taxed my time.” My office is indicative of a busy man—or so was my excuse to my wife. She’s no longer buying it and has reported me to the health department for the condition of my office. I’ve been ordered by the authorities to clean, disinfect, organize, and to kill anything that moves and which is not human (with the exception of the family cat, Gussie).

My office, along with a small portion of my library, is pictured here. (Click on the images if you really want to get a closer look at this disaster.) This is my command post; the nerve center for the most dangerous Civil War blogger in the blogoshpere. This is where I spend countless late hours reading, researching, and writing. This is only part of the mess, it’s actually much worse than it looks here, if you can believe that. (I could not show the rest of my bunker office as the rats and vagrants don’t like to be photographed.) Filled with books, papers, notes, files, historical memorabilia, flags, posters, pictures, empty coffee cups, Oreo cookie crumbs, popcorn kernels, and items yet to be identified, I decided to face the music and bow to the authorities—or face arrest and threatened bodily harm from my sweet wife.

So tonight I ordered a new desk from Staples and have begun the task of sorting through the stacks of books, files, etc. I've purchased poison to get rid of the rats and served eviction notices on the vagrants who have have taken up residence in a closet and have been living off of the cookie crumbs I leave behind. This was not easy. We've become rather close. Upon completion of this monumental task (assuming I survive), I plan to record a video tour of my newly organized office, complete with commentary and post it on YouTube. I’m sure y’all can’t wait to see it. I have to go now. Some of the vagrants have organized and are picketing in the hall. This could get ugly.

Families of the Wounded Fund




Families of the Wounded Fund - click here.

Dave Barry's Wisdom

"This year, taxpayers will receive an Economic Stimulus Payment. This is a very exciting new program that I will explain using the Q and A format:

"Q. What is an Economic Stimulus Payment?
"A. It is money that the federal government will send to taxpayers.

"Q. Where will the government get this money?
"A. From taxpayers.

"Q. So the government is giving me back my own money?
"A. Only a smidgen.

"Q. What is the purpose of this payment?
"A. The plan is that you will use the money to purchase a high-definition TV set, thus stimulating the economy.

"Q. But isn't that stimulating the economy of China?
"A. Shut up."

(Which is what those in power always say when you're on to them.)

17 April 2008

12th Biennial Stonewall Jackson Symposium

The Stonewall Jackson House in Lexington, Virginia will be sponsoring their 12th biennial Stonewall Jackson Symposium this weekend, April 18-19. I would love to attend, but have other commitments (a little pricey for me as well). One of the speakers for the event will be Susan Church. Susan is a wonderful and gracious lady from West Virginia and one of the historians who appeared in our Still Standing documentary. Susan was also instrumental in organizing my book release event and dinner at Jackson's Mill in 2006 and in arranging filming at Jackson's Mill for the documentary. She is very knowledgeable about Jackson and I'm sure her presentation will add much to the event this year.

Homework Assignment

Yesterday, I received the following email from a homeschooled student who is also enrolled in college:

***********************************************************************

Dear Mr. Williams,

My name is C_____ M_____, and I am a 17-year-old high school junior from __________, Washington (near Seattle). I have a humble request to make of you regarding a school assignment of mine.

Although I am a high school junior, I am currently enrolled full-time in a local community college as part of a dual-enrollment program (prior to joining this program, I was homeschooled for my entire academic career). For this academic quarter, I am enrolled in an online English class titled "English 201: The Research Paper". Of course, the overall goal of this class is to write an 8-10 page paper that will not only educate the reader regarding a certain topic, but also persuade the reader to adopt the writer's viewpoint regarding the topic. Due to my passion for American history, especially for the history of the Civil War, I knew I wanted to write a paper that dealt with an issue from the War Between the States. . . Specifically, I will focus on Jackson's involvement in an African-American Sunday school, as well as his interactions with Jim Lewis.

As I was formulating my thesis, the title of your book--"Stonewall Jackson: The Black Man's Friend"--suddenly jumped to my mind. I am not able to recall where I first heard of your book--I believe it may have been mentioned on The Michael Medved Show--but I am grateful that the Lord brought it to my remembrance, as I know that it will be the most crucial source of information regarding my topic. I immediately placed an interlibrary loan request for your book, and am eagerly awaiting its arrival.

This is where I would humbly request your assistance. Although I am completely responsible for researching and gathering all of the information needed for my topic, (information which will come from a variety of print and media sources), and although I am sure that your book will greatly assist me in my research, I may find myself in a situation where none of the available resources provide me with the information I seek. In this situation, would you be available to answer questions from me by e-mail? I understand that you have many obligations in life, and thus may not be able to help me at this time. However, I would greatly appreciate any assistance you could offer. A prospectus containing my thesis for this research paper is attached to this e-mail, so that you can get a clear idea of what I am attempting to accomplish through my paper.

Any assistance that you would offer me will, of course, be properly credited and cited in my paper. You would also receive a copy of my paper once the final draft is completed.

Thank you for your work in educating me and the American people in regards to our national history. It will be a privilege to read your work regarding Stonewall Jackson.

Sincerely,


CM

****************************************************************************

Of course, I agreed to assist this young person and consider it an honor to be asked for my input and help. I will keep readers posted as the project develops. My own daughter won best in the state in 2006 among homeschooled and private school students for an essay contest sponsored by the Lee-Jackson Foundation. The prize was a $2000 scholarship.


16 April 2008

Exciting New History Site

The Circa History Guild. I would highly recommend that readers keep an eye on this site (in Beta) and the work they will be doing. I personally know the curator, Bill Potter, and have appeared at several conferences with him. He's a brilliant historian as well as an excellent (and very entertaining) speaker and writer. Take the time to click on the images of Andrew Jackson and Douglas MaCarthur and watch the videos. What a great way to grab someone's attention and whet their appetite for history in an increasingly media addicted age! It appears that Circa will be employing some great interactive tools as well as allowing readers to participate in projects - I can't wait to see what they have in store.

I hope to visit their physical site one day, but will be keeping a sharp eye on this site as it develops. You can read a great magazine article about Circa and its founding here (PDF). Congratulations Bill!

Gospel Grass Radio - 24/7


For those of you who appreciate the finer things in life - like Gospel Bluegrass Music - I offer this link: Gospel Grass Radio.

For those of you who don't - I can't help you.

15 April 2008

Encouraging Words

I just received the nicest email from author Virginia Morton about the recent Still Standing screening in Culpeper:

"First, please let me extend my belated thanks for your visit to Culpeper and your support of the Friends of Cedar Mt. Battlefield. Everyone enjoyed the event and left very inspired. It was a total delight to become acquainted with you and Diane, and I sense that this is just the beginning of an important friendship. I finished your fabulous book today and I must admit that I had tears in my eyes. You did a phenomenal job of picturing the vital Christian atmosphere of antebellum Lexington. I’ve always felt that it was a special town, and I now feel God has blessed it in countless ways."

Thank you Virginia - I just happened to need a little encouragement this evening!

14 April 2008

Real Man Poll #1 Results

There is hope for the Republic. Results for our first "Real Man Poll" question: Do you carry a pocket knife?

Always: 69%
Never: 4%
Occasionally: 27%
Knives Scare Me: 0% (Anyone answering yes to that one is probably reading the wrong blog.)

Of course, these are scientific results and can be applied to the male population nation wide. The poll question was the result of a previous post. I am in the "Always" category. A new "Real Man" poll question will be posted some time tomorrow. Suggestions for future poll questions welcome. You get the theme.

Standing Against the Storm

I was in the Lexington area on Saturday for a speaking engagement and dropped by the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery. Old cemeteries are beautiful places—especially in spring. I had heard that the severe wind storm the Valley experienced on 10 February this year had broken off a large tree branch which damaged the fence around the Stonewall Jackson statue. As you can see from the photos I snapped, the rumors proved true. Fortunately, Stonewall Jackson is Still Standing. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

Click on the images to see more details - notice the lemons? Lemons were NOT Jackson's favorite fruit. Peaches were. Psssttt . . . there never have been any lemon groves in Virginia.


11 April 2008

Fundraising Opportunity

Any readers who are involved with a non-profit and would like to discuss hosting a screening of Still Standing - The Stonewall Jackson Story, for fund-raising purposes, please let me know. The screenings of the 48 minute documentary works very well for preservationist efforts, Christian schools, homeschooling groups, and churches. I've been involved in 4 of these screenings so far and they were all very successful. I can provide references, if desired. Please contact via email - see addresses in the sidebar. You may also contact me by calling 800-526-0690.

Thanks,
RGW

10 April 2008

Spring in the Shenandoah Valley

Spring has finally arrived in the Shenandoah Valley. My business travels offer many opportunities to explore the byways and backroads of the Valley.

Here's a shot I took this afternoon - it was a great day at the office!

These old iron truss bridges, most of them built in the early 1900's, have seen many a horse-drawn wagon cross them, not to mention all the bikes, cars, and pick-ups. I find them charming and ruggedly beautiful and, unlike the ugly, no-character, concrete ones that replace them, they allow you to actually see the river or stream below! If my memory serves me correctly, Augusta County still has 7 or 8 of these bridges in service. We recently lost one near Waynesboro. It was replaced by. . . you guessed it: an ugly concrete bridge with no character from which you can't see the South River below. Ahh, the wonder of progress.

If you'll click on the image, you will be able to see a lot more detail. The building in the background is a 100-year+ old mill. This bridge spans the Middle River in western Augusta County. The Middle River, along with the South and North Rivers, come together to form the historic Shenandoah which, of course, meets the Potomac at Harper's Ferry. Most readers recall that the Shenandoah River, along with the Massanutten Mountain Range, were used strategically by Stonewall Jackson to avoid and deceive those pesky Yankees during his legendary Valley campaign.

And that's your history and geography lesson for today class.

09 April 2008

Chamberlain on Lee

Today is the 143rd anniversary of Lee's surrender at Appomattox. Most readers will recall that General Joshua Chamberlain was chosen by Union General Ulysses S. Grant to receive the first flag of surrender at Appomattox Court House. The defeated Confederates, under the command of General John B. Gordon, dreaded this ultimate humiliation. But instead, they were met with a soldier's due honor by Chamberlain. For his conduct, Gordon would remember the Union general in his memoirs as "one of the knightliest soldiers of the Federal Army." I would most certainly agree with Gordon's assessment of Chamberlain.

Chamberlain would later write this fitting description of Lee at Appomattox:

“I turned about, and there behind me, riding between my two lines, appeared a commanding form, superbly mounted, richly accoutered, of imposing bearing, noble countenance, with expression of deep sadness overmastered by deeper strength. It is none other than Robert E. Lee! … I sat immovable, with a certain awe and admiration.” ~ Union General Joshua Chamberlain at Appomattox.

(Just another sappy, sentimental lost-causer I suppose.)

:)

Print by Mort Kunstler.

08 April 2008

Culpeper Screening

This past Friday, my wife and I attended a screening of the film, Still Standing – The Stonewall Jackson Story in Culpeper, Virginia. The screening was well attended and was sponsored by the Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield and the event was for the benefit of their preservationist efforts. I was delighted to see several educators there, representing both public and private schools. The film has been shown in several local Christian schools. After the screening, one of the public school teachers inquired about offering it to the local public schools as well. I think that would be great and I’ve heard that has already occurred in some areas around the state.

The screening was held at historic St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, which has a very interesting history:

“In the winter of 1863, when General J. E. B. Stuart and his staff were quartered in Culpeper, the General and his aide regularly attended services at St. Stephen’s. Later the rector’s daughter, Fannie Cole, afraid the Yankees would steal the metal church bell, climbed to the belfry, draped the bell in black cloth so it could not be seen, cut the bell rope, and thus saved the bell.”

The images here include a picture with local historian and author Virginia Morton, yours truly holding forth during the Q & A, and a shot of the church. Mrs. Morton organized the whole event and was a most gracious hostess.

05 April 2008

Cedar Mountain Event

I attended a screening of the Still Standing - The Stonewall Jackson Story last night in Culpeper for the benefit of the Friends of Cedar Mountain preservation group. It was a great event with around 200 in attendance! I'll have some details and photos by Monday, but right now I'm busy working on a piece for a CW publication and I'm up against a deadline. More on that later as well.

02 April 2008

Every Man Should Carry a Pocket Knife

I do. My knife of choice, at least for the moment, is a Kershaw. I currently carry the Chive 1600. Kershaw knives carry a lifetime warranty. The Chive is a tough, slender, practical knife with a blade that holds an edge fairly well and comes with Kershaw's patented SpeedSafe opening system - almost switch-blade like in ease and speed. It retails for $53, but I bought this one used for $10. It's in perfect condition. I've carried a pocket knife since I was a very young boy, probably around 7 years old. My first knife, which I still have, was an Old Timer given to me by my grandfather.

Growing up in Western Virginia, a pocket knife was considered "standard equipment" for every boy. I can remember playing mumbly-peg (or "mumblety-peg"), comparing knives with other boys, and "whittlin' sticks" together. Playing mumbly-peg today in a government school would get a boy expelled and require that some shrink psycho-analyze the poor kid. Funny, we never had school shootings when Bibles and pocket-knives were allowed in schools. In our modern age of "homeland security" (a joke), the feminization of American males, and boys who prefer video games to the great outdoors, carrying a pocket knife is seen by many as quaint and old-fashioned. Not so, not so!

Read the excellent article from one of my favorite sites here if you doubt me. This is a great piece and gives a little history of the pocket knife as well as why every real man should carry one. :)

Here's an excerpt:

"Pocket knives have been an essential tool for soldiers throughout American history. New York and New Hampshire required their militias to carry pocket knives during the American Revolution. Even George Washington toted one around as he led his troops. The U.S. Navy began issuing pocket knives to sailors during the Civil War. During WWII, the pocket knife was standard issue for American GIs."

One well known incident involving the use of a pocket knife by a Civil War soldier involved Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest. Forrest stabbed his adversary in the abdomen with his pen knife after the man had shot Forrest in the gut during an argument. Forrest is alleged to have said: "No damned man kills me and lives!" Forrest did live. His adversary did not.

One version of the incident can be read here. A better version is in Andrew Neslon Lytle's Bedford Forrest and His Critter Company.

01 April 2008

Chaplain's Museum News

Earlier today, I, along with fellow board members Alan Farley and Kenny Rowlette, traveled to a "super secret" location in the Shenandoah Valley to consider an acquisition for the National Civil War Chaplains Museum. What a trip! After being satisfied of its authenticity and negotiating a little bit on the price, we put a deposit down on this "Gettysburg Laptop." Actually, this is a lapdesk that belonged to Union Chaplain Reverend John Thomas, an Englishmen who we've confirmed was a Presbyterian minister associated with the 84th & 100th Pennsylvania. He was at Gettysburg and, since the lapdesk was given to him in 1861, we would have to assume it was there with him.
We would be very interested if any readers know of any correspondence written by Chaplain Thomas. Thomas is mentioned in Faith in the Fight - Civil War Chaplains, which was written by John W. Brinsfield, William C. Davis, Benedict Maryniak, and James I. Robertson, Jr. The piece has a split in the top, as you can see, but otherwise is in mint condition. Despite the crack, it is a solid piece and makes a very nice addition to the museum's growing collection. We are delighted to have found it. Anyone having items related to the museum's mission that they wish to donate, loan, or sell, please feel free to shoot me an email. There will be more details in a new release soon. (Click on any image to see a larger, detailed version of the photo.)










The Utter Nerve of These Fools!

"Top executives of the five biggest U.S. oil companies were pressed Tuesday to explain the soaring fuel prices amid huge industry profits and why they weren't investing more to develop renewable energy source such as wind and solar. . . On April Fool's Day, the biggest joke of all is being played on American families by Big Oil, Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., said as his committee began hearing from the oil company executives." Complete story joke here.

The nerve of these buffoons in Congress! They won't let oil companies drill in Anwar, or allow new offshore exploration, regulations stifle investment for new refineries and they have the audacity to blame oil companies. What about the federal gas tax Mr. Markey? What about the government's market stifling regulations? You, sir, are a laughing-stock and an an utter fool. April Fool's Day indeed!