11 April 2011

Refocusing This Blog

From Mort Kunstler's
"There Stands Jackson Like A Stone Wall
Anyone who has followed this blog for any period of time understands that the topics I write about can be rather diverse; though I'd argue the vast majority of them are history related - to one degree or another (over the last month, probably 90%). And of the history related posts, the vast majority are related to the WBTS. Yes, I've had quite a few political posts here as well - more at certain times than others, for obvious reasons. But even these posts are, in a sense, history related. Many believe that our nation has never been more polarized and divided since the Civil War. Left and Right are so far apart on so many issues, reconciliation and accomplishing anything of real value appears almost impossible. Politicians from both parties are focused primarily on their careers rather than what's ultimately good for the United States. While that's always been true to one extent or another, I believe it is far worse today than at any time in recent history. Very few statesmen exist today. Naturally, a student of American history is going to observe and notice this state of affairs and only the most disciplined will be able to keep from discussing these observations and views on a blog. Some even claim to be doing that while they attempt to disguise their political views behind a history related post, using the post to drive home a political point all the while claiming to be totally objective and neutral. Most of those behaving in this fashion are apparently unaware that readers can see right through that charade.

Yet I believe I've always been honest and open about my philosophical and political leanings - I don't pretend to hide my perspective, as some other bloggers attempt to do. My banner/headmast reveals what this blog is about:

"Historical musings, wandering thoughts, & book comments from Southern writer Richard G. Williams, Jr."

And . . .

"From Virginia sprung the Southern Mind, a mind which favoured the local community, Burkean conservatism, the folkways of ancestors, an unwavering orthodox Christian faith." ~ Alphonse Vinh

So, again, I'm very open about how I approach the study of history. The vast majority of my writing outside of this blog has focused on the War Between the States and Virginia history, as have my posts here. I also post quite a bit about academia and have a lot of fun poking at their silly, immature embracing of political correctness (while they embarrassingly deny PC even exists), and their laughable claim of objectivity. But that is germane to the subject matter of this blog - academics naturally write and teach the vast majority of Civil War and American history, so they are in the arena where it sometimes gets a bit bloody - figuratively speaking of course.

All that being said, I recently took some news to heart about a certain Civil War blog, news site, and forum which ostensibly dropped Old Virginia Blog from their blog roll due to my *"political posts." I found that a bit strange, given what I've noted here in this post, but that's ok. I have no right to demand or even expect to be recommended/linked by other Civil War blogs - I intentionally don't link to a few myself. However, I have decided nonetheless, to refocus my blog on the War Between the States and Virginia history. This is due in part to the "political posts" comment, as well as the fact we are now into the Sesquicentennial and there will be plenty to blog about. It also does me service to remember part of the inspiration for the name of this blog: 

“Up men, and to your posts! Don’t forget today that you are from Old Virginia!” ~ Maj. Gen. George E. Pickett

In addition, I'm working on a new book about the Civil War in Lexington, Virginia which is to be released some time next year and am also working on another writing project that I'm excited about. Also, my relic hunting and metal detecting activities have rekindled a fresh passion for history within me and I'll be having lots of posts about my hunts and digs here in the Cradle of American History and the Breadbasket of the old Confederacy, my beloved Shenandoah Valley.

I will still be putting up posts related to what I observe going on in academia, but will attempt to make sure the posts are related to some aspect of history and/or the WBTS. Also, I will occasionally put up a political post, but I will do my best to keep those at a minimum or, perhaps, create a special page for those posts so that the squeamish may avoid reality.

And now, I must get to my posts. After all, I am from Old Virginia.

*I have noticed that my page views from academic institutions go up quite a bit when I post something political or something critical of academia. Maybe I'm getting through to some of them. ;o)


Lindsay Horne said...

Well, for what it's worth, I enjoy ALL your posts, including those regarding politics of the past and present. I understand the premise of your blog, but I agree that pointing out the politics of today is correlated with the politics of two-hundred years ago. And it takes a brave person to point out just where we are headed.

Don't you find it ironic that the minute you start critiquing the "other side" you start being dropped off blog rolls, out of certain "circles" and people begin to talk about you like you have the plague.

That being said, I am truly amazed at just how many conservative people there still are out there...and God bless each and every one of them.

Brock Townsend said...

Shenandoah 1862: Stonewall Jackson's Valley Campaign

Excellent book and speaking of "academia".........

UNC Wilmington

13thBama said...


It is your blog to do with as you choose. However, if you do NOT do as you choose, and make a change based off of something the other side has said, then they have won.

Have you stopped to think that maybe they no longer refer readers to you because they don't want to lose them?

Here is to Old Virginia, and the Heart of Dixie!

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Thanks Lindsay - that's very kind of you. It is ironic in a sense, but not all that unexpected.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Hey Brock - thanks for the link.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

13B - the tone and perspective will not change. I'll just be focusing more specifically on WBTS subjects and doing so more consistently. Again, I will still post a political comment from time to time, but attempt to keep those to a minimum or, at least, make an application that is relative to "Old Virginia." I will also still be posting on Southern culture topics as that topic is certainly part of the original reason for this blog. Thanks for the words of admonition. Please consider this a change in strategy, not a surrender of principle. ;o)

Chaps said...

You only have to look at the government in Washington City to see what 300,000 Southern soldiers died to prevent. Politics then and now.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

John Shelton Reed said the same thing about Atlanta.

Kevin said...

Hi Richard,

We agree on practically nothing, but I read your blog precisely because it reflects your background. I think the focus and content of your blog is a reflection of your personal need for self expression. For that reason alone I think it's a mistake to censor yourself. That's just my humble opinion.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Good morning Kevin.

"your blog is a reflection of your personal need for self expression. For that reason alone I think it's a mistake to censor yourself."

Very well put and true. But I really don't look at the "refocus" as censoring myself - my views will still be quite clear. That being said, even you once referred to my political posts as "silly." I simply want to try to keep my focus more on history and those topics that specifically relate.

Thanks for the comment and encouragement. How's Boston?

Michael Aubrecht said...

I think that the 'extra' topics added to the warmth and originality of your blog and allowed readers to relate or disagree with you in a more personal manner. I support your decision though and will continue to link to Old VA on mine. I do find it interesting that several of the comments here referred to the "other side" and "they." I think that in itself speaks to your statement on the current divide in our country. I find it curious that some Americans feel the need to refer to fellow Americans with differing opinions as “the other side.”

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Thanks Michael.

"I do find it interesting that several of the comments here referred to the 'other side' and 'they.'"

Those are interesting comments, but ones which are quite legitimate. I've thought about posting on this divide before, as it relates to historiography. The divide is traditionalist vs. progressive and is, despite the loud cries of denial, a reality. There was even, at one time, "progressive historians" blog. I believe Kevin Levin was one of their contributors. That's all fine, I just have to roll my eyes when others deny that there are different perspectives in the way one *approaches* their analysis of historical facts. Consider what one HNN post from the New Republic noted about Eugene Genovese's conversion and apparent change in his perspective:

"What happened? Had Genovese and Fox-Genovese switched sides?"

"Switched sides?"


This, in my mind, is quite fascinating. Which reminds me of something I wish to bring about regarding one of your recent posts. But, I'll wait for my rebuttal. ;o)

Thanks for the comment and the encouragement. Hope you are on the mends and feeling better.

Kevin said...


Are you in a hurry to see me leave Virginia? I will be here through part of the summer.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

No, but I thought you'd already moved. I've never visited, just passed through there a few times. Oddly enough, I believe one of the founders once referred to Mass. & VA as "sister commonwealths." Don't recall who or where, I just seem to remember that from somewhere.

Michael R. Bradley said...

Just remember that when Pickett's men reached the copse of trees they were looking at the backs of the Tennessee men who had gone farther! One of those Tennessee men was my g-g-grandfather, Pvt. Andrew Jackson Bradley, 1st Tennessee Volunteers.

Old Virginia Blog is the only blog I follow regularly.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Hello Michael - Hurrah for the Tennessee boys and the gallant Pvt. Andrew Jackson Bradley!!

Thanks for your loyalty. I will do my best to meet your high expectations and keep you coming back.


13thBama said...

Mr. Bradley,

Don't forget your 13th Bama brothers who left their flag at that wall too. The Pettigrew bunch seem to get left out of the discussion but they were represented well. The 13th Alabama's flag was actually mounted on a pike (another story) and one Union soldier was seen to have a "grievous" shoulder wound from it, at the high water mark.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Hurrah for the Alabama boys!!