31 March 2013

Happy Resurrection Sunday From Old Virginia

Me, Mama and some of the grandchildren - Easter Sunday, 2013.

30 March 2013

Metal Detecting Post #100 - Colonial Spigot Key

I returned to a colonial site here in the Shenandoah Valley yesterday to enjoy some sunshine and commune with history. ;-)

Didn't find much besides the bottom of a 19th century iron kettle and this interesting piece. It's a shut off key for a colonial spigot (circa 1780-1810), from a keg or barrel which most like held spirits.

Front Porch Pickin' #32 - Yeah, Virginia

As always, get your culture here . . .

Buy this young man's music here.

28 March 2013

Kevin Levin Gets It Wrong - Again

Update: Kevin responds to my response - kinda. His criticism is that I didn't respond to the content of his post. Guilty - what's the point? Of course, he didn't respond to the fact he was wrong about what I wrote. He leaves others to be the judge. Gee, thanks. Absolutely surreal. I feel like I'm reading the thoughts of a 3rd grader.

First of all, I must admit that I am flattered and honored beyond words that Kevin Levin criticized me in the same sentence with Bud Robertson. It is a badge of honor I don't deserve, but one which I enthusiastically embrace. Thank you Kevin - you've bestowed an honor upon me which I will cherish all my life.

Levin's recent post isn't the first time he criticized my book. He wrote similar comments when the book was published in 2006. I believe he originally criticized it, later admitting he hadn't read it, then saying he'd read part of it. (I saved those posts, maybe I'll share them.) Whatever. I expect such treatment from those who hold perspectives and advance agendas like Levin, but now he's writing utter falsehoods. In his recent post he makes the following comment:

The whole premise of Williams’s book is fundamentally flawed as it is weighed down by example after example of presentism. The most obvious example is Jackson’s Sunday School for slaves, which Williams interprets without any understanding of how religious education following Nat Turner’s Rebellion was intended to stabilize race relations and reinforce in the African American community that slavery was their natural position.  [Emphasis mine.]

My Lord, talk about projecting! That is quite amazing. But beyond Kevin's fantasy world regarding my presentism, here's what I actually wrote, in part, about Nat Turner's impact on the education of slaves and free blacks in the South:

When reflecting on the efforts of Jackson and other Southern Christians to reach slaves and free blacks with the good news of the gospel, it is necessary to understand that many modern scholars view their motives with cynicism. A superficial study of the subject could easily conclude that teaching the slaves simple gospel messages was nothing more than an effort to make them more obedient and submissive. Admittedly, there are ample Bible verses that admonish obedience to authority that the spiritually shallow used to accomplish this task while at the same time ignoring the slaves’ spiritual needs.

Yet a serious and objective look at the facts shows that, although this element was present in the motives of some, most sincere Southern Christians had a heartfelt desire to see blacks turn to Christ and embrace the eternal truths of the Bible. The Presbyterian Synod of Texas issued a statement that reflected the attitude of many Southern Christians: “We recognize the hand of God in placing this benighted race in our midst, and heartily accept the duty of pointing them to Christ.” Stonewall Jackson House graduate fellow E. Lynn Pearson’s observation confirms this attitude: “The religious world-view of Stonewall Jackson and his antebellum peers was greatly influenced by the contemporary evangelical vision to build Christ’s kingdom on earth, and the Southern belief that bringing salvation to slaves was part and parcel of that mission. Lexington’s Christians took great pride in their acceptance of Christ’s call to stewardship.”
Historians often look to a single pivotal event when analyzing antebellum efforts to evangelize Southern blacks: Nat Turner’s slave insurrection . . . 
Edward D. Smith noted the impact of the Nat Turner rebellion on Southern Christian attitudes in Climbing Jacob’s Ladder: The Rise of Black Churches in Eastern American Cities:

"As the reaction against Christianized blacks developed [after Nat Turner’s rebellion], a number of southern churchmen began a quiet campaign to bring about the Christianization of even more blacks. This campaign was begun partially as a reaction to the growing abolitionist movement in the North, which denounced slave-owners as anti-Christian. . . . Some churchmen hoped to prove that when placed solely under white control, religious instruction could be used to make slaves more obedient, docile, and well behaved."
It is with this sentiment of making slaves “more obedient, docile, and well behaved” with the influence of Christianity that many cynics charge Jackson and others. While this attitude indeed existed among some Southern believers and unbelievers alike, it is incorrect to interpret such control as Jackson’s motive.
Of course, I believe additional evidence pointed out in the book supports that last statement. One can explore that evidence and come to their own conclusion. (I'm not quite sure how Jackson's teaching slaves to read in defiance of Virginia law could be construed as reinforcing "in the African American community that slavery was their natural position", but I suppose that's what happens to your analysis when you let your biases get in the way.)

Beyond that, Levin's statement about my understanding of Nat Turner's impact is simply false. It would appear to me that he either knows this and intentionally distorted my views or, he was so busy looking for a "gotcha" excerpt, that he overlooked the whole context of what I wrote. How's that for scholarship?

This proves, once again, that Levin is the one who actually "lacks understanding." It is Levin who ignores facts in promoting his "analysis" and perspective while falling prey to "presentism." The other comments about the topic are so full of red herrings and straw men that they're not worth addressing.

Freedom In America - The Freest States

Academia's utopian worldview often looks good in a classroom setting but, as real life has demonstrated over and over again, the laws of nature and nature's God still rule the universe - chaotic as it seems at times. America's "freedom labratories" - the states - demonstrate this in very practical ways:

. . . the freest states tended to be conservative "red" states, while the least free were liberal "blue" states.

The freest state overall, the researchers concluded, was North Dakota, followed by South Dakota, Tennessee, New Hampshire and Oklahoma. The least free state by far was New York, followed by California, New Jersey, Hawaii and Rhode Island.

Americans are gravitating toward states that have less-intrusive governments.

More here.

27 March 2013

Metal Detecting Post #99 - Saving History In Culpeper, Virginia

After making the last two spring hunts in 2011 and 2012, I really missed not being there this year. Some amazing relics were rescued from obscurity . . .

26 March 2013

Update On Stomping Jesus' Name

*Update: The "professor" is Vice Chairman of the Palm Beach County Democratic Party. Man, I'm sure glad our college classrooms haven't been politicized and aren't being used to indoctrinate students with leftist dogma. I'm so grateful for the academics who constrantly reassure us all that such talk is just nonsense - a boogie-man created by right-wingers. But, I suppose we should be grateful that at least the professor wasn't using any of David Barton's material and that neo-Confederates aren't in control of the class.

Oh, this is just becoming way too easy. Here's the latest.

End of update.

In an earlier post, I pointed readers to an article and video about a university in Florida and their attempt at indoctrination which was resisted by a student. (How dare he!) After being exposed, the school seemed to back off and apologize. But now they're doubling down on the student who dared object to being brainwashed in the classroom inquisition. Here's the latest:

“We believe the university punished him in retaliation for him exposing the class assignment to the public,” Sasser said. “Sadly, it is a testimony to the indoctrination that some of the public schools and universities are engaging in – to demonize anything that was valuable in the culture.”
And . . .

“The textbook reveals the agenda,” he said. “So-called intellectual enlightenment is stomping on everything that has held western civilization together for the past 2,000 years.”
And . . .

“These are the new secular disciples of ‘diversity’ and ‘tolerance’ – empty buzzwords that make liberals and progressives feel good while they often refuse to tolerate and sometimes even assault traditional Christian and conservative beliefs,” Kengor said.
And . . .

“It also reflects the rising confidence and aggression of the new secularists and atheists, especially at our sick and surreal modern universities,” he said.

The part highlighted above is just some of what I (and many others) have been pointing out for years and which certain academics and educators used to come here and challenge. That was before the "anecdotal" evidence became a bit overwhelming. I guess those folks now realize I'm right and they're too ashamed to admit it. Or maybe they knew the truth all along and are just complicit?

My Grandfather's Desk - Circa 1976

Notice the Great Seal of the Confederacy hanging on the wall. The seal came from Virginia Metalcrafters where my grandmother worked for over 40 years. If my memory serves me correctly, the desk came from Sears & Roebuck - unpainted and disassembled. I recall my grandfather staining it and putting it together in the late '60's. I now have both the desk and the seal in my home office.

25 March 2013

One Set Of Rules For Academic Historians, Another Set For Everyone Else

This is so typical and so instructive. Some time ago Professor Brooks Simpson, along with some of his readers, pointed to a Salon Magazine article that, among other things, was described like this in the post's comments:

"contrived to fit his political views"

"[an] attempt to link today to the Civil War is really just an attack on the other people that do the same thing but write for a different political ideology."

"a clownish article."

"That article is absurd."

"the writer . . . is a moron who is totally ignorant of American History. Except to skew it his own way."

After reading the Salon piece, I made the following observation:

Frankly, I don’t see a whole lot of difference between what O’Hehir writes and what Professor David Blight has written:

“The Civil War is not only not over, it can still be lost. As the sesquicentennial ensues in publishing and conferences and on television and countless websites, one can hope that we will pursue matters of legacy and memory with one eye on the past and the other acutely on the present.”

See here.

“Why doesn’t the Confederacy just fade away? Is it because we are irresistibly fascinated by catastrophic loss? Or is it something else? Is it because the Confederacy is to this day the greatest conservative resistance to federal authority in American history?
See here.

To which an educator responded:

Those two quotes need to be read in context. They both deal with the memory and study of the war, not it’s political projections.

To which I responded:

You must be reading two different articles. The two pieces are about as political as one could get:
“And, ideologically, many of the issues of 2011 are much the same as in 1861.”

“Today, states’ rights claims are advanced by many governors and Republican-majority legislatures in the very language of “secession” and “nullification” made so infamous in antebellum America. They are aided and abetted by a conservative majority on the Supreme Court, although the justices have not justified “nullification” by name.”

“The conservative movement in America, or at least its most radical wing, seems determined to repeal much of the 20th century and even its constitutional and social roots from the transformative 1860s.”

And that’s just the first article.

I challenge anyone to read the Salon piece and Professor Blight's articles and convince me that they're not both singing from the same songbook - each serving as an echo chamber for the other.

Isn't it quite instructive that Professor Blight and Mr. O'Hehir are saying pretty much the same thing about the Civil War and modern politics, yet the Salon author is depicted as a political hack while the guru of Civil War academic historians gets a complete pass? Not only does Professor Blight get a pass, but he was the headliner at a recent conference where academic historians discussed the future of Civil War history. Oh boy, I can't wait to see what they have planned for the rest of us.

24 March 2013

The Battle Of Waynesboro & Memories

As I work on my next book about the Battle of Waynesboro, my research has included looking into the history of the battlefield after the battle, which included the development of the battlefield into what would eventually become a residential section of town known as the "Tree Streets." Designated a historic district and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002, it is a 120 acre parcel of stately, late 19th and early 20th century homes and structures. During the American Colonial and Victorian periods, it was common practice to name streets running north to south after American species of trees. As the old battlefield reverted to farmland after the war, it became part of an apple orchard and was then developed into a quintessential Southern residential neighborhood with Victorian style homes lining the streets of Oak, Cherry, Locust, Pine, Maple, Walnut, and Chestnut avenues. Also included in part of the Tree Street historic district is Wayne Avenue, named in honor of the town’s namesake—Revolutionary War General, “Mad” Anthony Wayne. 

My great-grandfather,
Charles Lockridge McGann
My great-grandfather built a home in this district in the early 1900's and my father grew up in that home. There he explored the surrounding woods and streams--daily walking over ground which held the blood of men who had fought so valiantly for the causes in which they believed. My great-grandfather's occupation was "caretaking" and farming. He worked in and tended some of the orchards in the area.  I spent many of my own childhood days in that family home as well, retracing the steps of my father and great-grandfather. Those old houses still hold secrets; like the Confederate Memorial wall hanging my father found in the attic when he bought the home at auction after my grandmother died.

This was printed circa 1916 and includes images of Jeff Davis, General Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and other Confederate notables. Also pictured in the center of the print is the old Waynesboro National Bank building that used to sit catty-corner to where the Waynesboro Heritage Museum building is today. The Waynesboro National Bank building was torn down many years ago. The poster also had two calendars - 1917 and 1918 - at the bottom and notes that the bank has a surplus of $5500.00 - probably more than many of the banks that sought the bailout money had; and their surplus was backed by gold! It is in remarkably good condition, considering it had been stored in that hot/cold, humid/dry attic for over 25 years and is now approaching the century mark. When my father passed away in 2000, my stepmother passed the calendar on to me. It is currently on loan with the WHM.

As I've noted before, the time spent in that old home and neighborhood was, in so many ways, an idyllic period of my life. Since my father was born in the midst of the Great Depression in 1935 and since the streets and homes--even to this day--recall other places familiar in my memory, I was reminded of a scene from one of my favorite films: To Kill A Mockingbird. Though there are aspects of that movie I didn't like, the film does capture some of what life was like in the South during the years of the Depression, including the dirt streets and architecture--much like it was in the Tree Streets when my father was growing up there. I was also reminded of how much things have changed--some things for the good, others not so good.

The scene below shows typical frame homes from the period and the dirt/gravel roads that ran in front of them--even within small towns and neighborhoods. While the film is primarily about racial issues during that period, it is also reveals how much has changed in our attitudes about how men should conduct themselves and how much more self-reliant most Americans once were. In this clip, a rabid dog threatens the Finch children and neighborhood. The Finch's housekeeper runs to the phone, but doesn't call the police or "animal control"--she calls the man of the house, Atticus Finch. Finch shows up with the local Sheriff, but the Sheriff defers the duty of dispatching the threat to Atticus. The reluctant hero takes the shot and drops the mad dog in the dust, simultaneously taking care of the threat and impressing his children. It is classic. I can see my great-grandfather or my own father doing the same thing.

23 March 2013

College Professor - Stomp On Jesus' Name

*Update - I removed the embedded video due to the "auto-play" feature which is quite annoying when trying to read other posts. But there's a new development. The school has apologized. Better late than never I suppose. Details here.

Another story in a continuing series of anecdotal evidence that colleges and universities are indoctrinating students . . .

21 March 2013

My Next Book - The Battle Of Waynesboro

Shortly after my recent book about Lexington, Virginia and the Civil War was completed, I submitted another proposal to the History Press. 

Regular readers here know that I was born (and spent most of my childhood growing up) in Waynesboro, Virginia. I was actually born in a hospital that sat on ground where the last Civil War battle in the Shenandoah Valley took place. I had a couple of ancestors that fought for the Confederacy in that battle and my great-grandfather once owned part of the battlefield (after the war) and built a home there. I spent many summer days and holidays in that home and would one day come to own it. I retain a lot of happy memories exploring the banks of (as well as swimming and fishing) in the South River that formed part of the perimeter for the battle in an area that is today known as the "Tree Streets." My grandparents' home sits on Locust Avenue, right in between the Union and Confederate lines. In so many ways, it was the idyllic childhood for a Southern boy with strong ties to the history that took place on that land.

So my next book will be about the Battle of Waynesboro which took place in March of 1865. The book will be part of the History Press's Sesquicentennial Series:

This series honors the 150th anniversary of the War Between the States. Each book is a concise illustrated history of an epic battle, a critical turning point, a pivotal campaign or a hallowed location. Authors are respected Civil War scholars who condense their research into accessible volumes of 40,000 to 50,000 words and 60 to 70 images. Successful subjects have on-site visitor centers with retail operations that support the books.
My great-great grandfather,
John McGann who fought
for the 51st Virginia.

Obviously, this will be a project near and dear to my heart and I've already gathered research material and begun some of the initial writing. This will be somewhat of a challenge as this battle was not a major engagement and there's not a whole lot that has been written about the battle. Nonetheless, I believe it's a worthy project and I'm excited about diving in to it. The book is to be published in late 2013 or early 2014.

Civil War Quote Of The Day

20 March 2013

What Is It That Makes Virginia Unique?

My friend and fellow Virginian, John Taylor at the Virginia Institute for Public Policy, answers that question. A great video explaining the "eternal conflict" ~ liberty vs. tyranny:

School vs. Real Life

John Randolph Of Roanoke On My Nightstand

More to come on this fascinating man and book soon . . . 

Dubbed "the most singular great man in American history" by Russell Kirk.

19 March 2013

Autodidacts Are In Good Company

I dropped out of college after one semester in the late '70's, realizing at the time I was getting more useful information and education at the local bar than I was sitting in a classroom (though I'd not recommend that option for others). As someone else once said, college simply wasn't teaching me anything that I wanted to know - or needed to know.

Though my original plan was to attend law school and practice law, I ended up getting married early, starting a family and being an entrepreneur; though I did work 12 years as a Virginia Magistrate and fulfilled part of my dream to work in the legal profession. Since dropping out of college, I've racked up many hours of technical training in business, finance, and law. I completed paralegal training and have gone back to college for some very career specific classes and continuing education. But, for the most part, I consider myself self-educated - a "lifelong learner."

Though that raises eyebrows in certain circles, I'm quite proud of that fact. As a recent article at Art of Manliness points out . . .

Many, perhaps most, of history’s greatest men were autodidacts – those who devote themselves to self-education, either in addition to or as a substitute to formal schooling. A fantastic example of this is author Louis L’Amour. L’Amour was one of America’s most prolific and manliest fiction writers. During his career he cranked out over 120 dime Western novels as well as several collections of short stories and poems. What makes Louis L’Amour’s story all the more remarkable is that he was almost entirely self-taught.
Due to family hardships, L’Amour dropped out of school when he was fifteen and spent the next eight years traveling around the American West working odd jobs on cattle ranches, farms, lumber mills, and even mines. To earn extra money L’Amour boxed in small prizefights around the country and earned a reputation as a formidable opponent. While in his twenties L’Amour became a merchant marine and traveled the globe via steamship.

During all this time, L’Amour was voraciously reading books. As soon as he set foot in a new town, he’d locate the local library. If libraries weren’t around, he’d skip meals so he’d have enough money to order books from catalogs. He was also working on his craft as a budding writer, scribbling notes in cheap notepads that he kept with him all the time.
All of his experiences while traveling, all the books he read, and all the notes he wrote laid the groundwork for his later successful career. But even after L’Amour became an established writer, his pursuit of learning continued and rewarded him greatly. He is a perfect example of the fascinating life one can create for himself when he makes the commitment to be a lifelong learner. (If you want to learn more about L’Amour’s lifelong self-education, pick up a copy of his autobiography, Education of a Wandering Man. Super inspiring read.)

The point of this post is two-fold: First of all, don't be intimidated by academics or those who are more "educated" than you are. Before becoming a magistrate, I was in awe of lawyers - even intimidated by them. They were, at least in my mind, the best educated and knowledgeable persons in America; ostensibly having a firm grasp (by necessity) on the English language, history, and an appreciation for tradition. But when I was first appointed to a four year term, my immediate supervisor - a graduate of Washington and Lee - told me that within 4 years, I'd know more about Virginia criminal law than 99% of all attorneys in the Commonwealth. He was wrong. It only took two years. It has become common knowledge that a bachelor's degree today is about the equivalent of a high school diploma in the 1950's. Big whoop. If you're well read, you can, in most cases, stand up to anyone with a college degree, even if you never finished high school.

Of course, those with advanced degrees often have very detailed and specific knowledge in their particular field, but knowledge does not necessarily equate intelligence nor wisdom. 

Secondly, obtaining the level of education that most bachelor degrees now offer is relatively simple. Just read good books on history, politics, finance, and whatever else interests you. Read classic literature. Ask questions. Explore the world around you. The internet has opened up the world's libraries and books to folks who once could have only dreamed of having access to such treasures. No, you won't have a piece of paper making your education "official", but you can earn the same merits and respect through accomplishments, which is really what it's all about anyway, right?

Read the rest of the excellent article on lifelong learning here at the Art of Manliness.

18 March 2013

Robert Moore Weighs In

On my latest book and his part in it . . .

Yesterday, I was very pleased to receive two copies of Richard Williams’ book, Lexington, Virginia and the Civil War, along with an additional item…
Richard was very kind in adding the gift of a very special pen, made partly from the wood of the Stonewall Jackson Prayer Tree, which once stood near Grottoes, but was fallen by strong winds, in 2011. Needless to say, an immediate family heirloom… and with family connections built in.
Sure, I was able to review the draft, but upon receipt I was quick to flip through the book to see how my contributions looked… and I thought I’d share a couple sneak-peaks…

Read Robert's complete post here.

15 March 2013

Metal Detecting Post #98 - United States Colored Troops Relics

My friend Quindy Robertson (who is a legendary relic hunter and writer), recently explored a railroad trestle that was guarded by the 15th Regiment U.S. Colored Troops during the WBTS. He and his compatriots recovered some interesting artifacts.

Great Men Nap - Even Stonewall Jackson

Stonewall Jackson was a famous napper:

Jackson, a general cut from the same cloth as Napoleon, could nap in any place—by fences, under trees, on porches–even in the stress of war. He liked longer naps but also had the reputation for taking quick, 5 minute siestas to rest his eyes. A couple of anecdotes of the General’s napping habits from A Thesaurus of Anecdotes of and Incidents in the Life of Lieut-General Thomas Jonathan Jackson by Elihu Rile . . . 

More here at the Art of Manliness.

14 March 2013

More On Heritage & History

A follow up to yesterday's post. Several academic historians have denounced certain historical perspectives as "heritage, not history." I think they're confused. Consider American Heritage Magazine:

American Heritage, the oldest, most widely known and respected popular U.S. history magazine, provides high quality writing on the American experience for its half million readers. For 60 years, the magazine has told the American story with verve, humor, compassion and, above all, authority. Edited first by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Bruce Catton, American Heritage has published the leading historians of the last half century including David McCullough, Stephen Ambrose, Joseph Ellis, Doris Kearns Goodwin, James McPherson, and David Hackett Fischer.

So, heritage is history. But most of us knew that anyway.

13 March 2013

Heritage Is History

I sometimes read other history bloggers smugly proclaim that "it's heritage, not history" when denouncing those they deem beneath them who have some attachment to our nation's history beyond the purely academic or a perspective that collides with their worldview. Of course, these same "objective historians" are often themselves more akin to sociologists than they are historians.

So with this in mind, readers should consider Hillsdale College's free 10-week online history course titled "American Heritage."

This free, ten-week, not-for-credit online course will cover topics including the development of the idea of natural rights during the late colonial period; the American Revolution, the framing of the Constitution, and the rise of political parties; the crisis of the Union and the Civil War; the growth of the United States into an industrial and global power, World Wars I and II, and the Cold War; and the rise of Progressivism and the reaction against it signaled by the election of Ronald Reagan. Lectures are delivered and Q&A sessions conducted by members of Hillsdale's history department faculty, and readings are drawn from the American Heritage Reader used in the American Heritage core course taught on Hillsdale's campus.

More than anything else, the "heritage" version of American history vs. the "sociologist" version of American history is about competing perspectives - in broad terms, the heritage version being a traditionalist view, the sociologist version being a more "social justice" view where perspective springs from a focus on "victim studies." As one historian has noted about the latter: "These areas are noted for housing radical professors who tend to negatively view America and Americans, particularly Christians and conservatives."

You can read more about Hillsdale's course and sign up here.

12 March 2013

William Eldridge Hatcher - A Virginia Gentleman

William Eldridge Hatcher, LL.D., L.H.D.

W.E. Hatcher is best known for his biography of John Jasper, the great black pastor of Sixth Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia. Hatcher was a godly Christian, Pastor, author and was the epitome of the Virginia Gentleman. Born in old Bedford, Virginia in the shadow of the Peaks of Otter, his father was a rugged farmer and his mother a "fair and cultured" Presbyterian. His mother died when he was but 4 years old and she spent her dying breaths praying that William and his brother would become ministers of the Gospel. God heard and answered her prayers. W.E. Hatcher went on to pastor several churches including Grace Street Baptist church in Richmond, Virginia where he served for over 25 years.

He was a prolific writer and lecturer, editing and contributing to numerous Christian periodicals in his time. He also was the founder of Fork Union Military Academy in Fork Union, Virginia. This school is still in existence and celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1998. Hatcher was contemporaries with Charles Spurgeon and D.L. Moody and knew both of them personally. He was a close friend of Spurgeon and preached in Spurgeon's church. Moody preached a series of meetings for Grace Street Baptist. 

I took the following from a Hatcher genealogy page:

"Men of Mark in Virginia" Volume V, pages 197, 198, 199 by Lyon G. Tyler, LL.D. This book has three pages devoted to Dr. Hatcher's remarkable versatility as a lecturer, fundraiser, editor, minister and inspirational leader to the young. He founded Fork Union Academy and held several post of honor and responsibility. He was President of the Board of Trustees of Richmond College, Board of Trustees of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, President of the Virginia Baptist Orphanage, President of the Education Board of the Baptist General Association of Virginia, and President of the Baptist General Association of Virginia.

There are two biographies of Hatcher. One is an autobiography titled, Along the Trail of the Friendly Years and the other is titled simply, W.E. Hatcher. Both books are spiritual feasts, particularly Hatcher's autobiography. The books give an extraordinary insight into life in the South, particularly Virginia, right before and right after the War Between the States. What amazes me when reading these books is how pervasive and deep-rooted Christianity was in the culture at that time. It truly saddens the heart to know what we have lost.

And the following is taken from Christ in the Camp:

For more than a week a revival has been in progress among the soldiers stationed at Ashland. Services are held every night in the Baptist church, and the seats set apart for the anxious are frequently well nigh filled by the soldiers, who are asking for the prayers of God's people. Rev. W. E. Hatcher, of Manchester, preaches every night. At Aquia creek thirty have professed conversion within a few weeks, a number of whom were baptized in the Potomac by Rev. Geo. F. Bagby, a chaplain. The entire regiment with which the converts were connected turned out to witness the ceremony. Our informant says he has never looked upon a more lovely and impressive scene. We understand that a protracted meeting is in progress in Colonel Cary's regiment, and that Rev. Andrew Broaddus, of Caroline, is officiating . . .

They're Here!

From the introduction:
. . . as I experienced Lexington for the first time that day in 1968—even at such a young age—I realized there was something particularly special about that place. From the locks of George Washington’s and Robert E. Lee’s hair carefully preserved at the Lee Chapel Museum, to Stonewall Jackson’s stuffed horse Little Sorrel, proudly displayed at the VMI Museum, I began to understand the importance of preserving and studying history, especially the history of the Civil War which so dramatically impacted my home and ancestors. Of course, this was part of the reason our class visited Lexington. And it is the reason for this book. Though this work breaks no new ground, it is my hope that it will, in some small way, encourage in its readers what a ten year-old boy experienced in Lexington some forty-five years ago.

Richard G. Williams, Jr.
Huckleberry Hollow, Virginia
19 January 2013

11 March 2013

Metal Detecting Post #97 - Yankee Travelers Dig History

Ticks, Lyme disease, broken bones, snakes, mosquitoes, horseflies, danger, research, old maps, graveyard records, adventure, history - ahh, the life and times of a relic hunter! Bill Ladd and Howard Hewitt are two of the best known relic hunters in the hobby. They are very good at what they do and very professional. They get it. Both of them take the history involved seriously and treat their finds with respect, but they have a lot of fun along the way as well. And they are two of the most entertaining (and informative) men ever to record a Youtube metal detecting video.I love these boys, uh, I mean gize.


09 March 2013

Providence & Pirates

- Due to some technical issues with Blogger and the images in the post, I had to delete the original post of "Providence & Pirates" and re-post the text. In that process, I lost all comments. My apologies.

I've always been fascinated with pirates and shipwrecks. As a boy, I loved the old Disney movies adapted from Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island and Kidnapped, as well as Disney's adaptation of Swiss Family Robinson. Adventure, history, treasure, and pirates - what could be more captivating to the imagination of a young boy? That fascination nurtured my interest in history and has continued and become even more intriguing as I've gained yet more interest in artifact recovery and archaeology. Several trips to the Caribbean (including my recent trip to the Dominican Republic) in recent years has encouraged these interests even further, particularly an interest in 18th and 19th century maritime history. And the books I've read in recent months reveals my growing fascination with the topic. 

Among those titles are The Republic of Pirates, Lost Gold of the Republic, and the one I'm currently reading, Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea. All of these are quite fascinating books and I would highly recommend any of them for lovers of history and good stories. The Lost Gold of the Republic is my favorite and involves some Civil War history as well. At some point, I intend to write a full review of that title, though it, as well as the others, has been out for several years. 

So, with my recent trip to the DR, my current reading, my interest in maritime history and archaeology, pirates, etc. - (AND my interest in guns), the article I stumbled across this morning was (due to the fact it includes elements of all of the above), quite providential. 

The article, "The Tools of the Trade Winds: The Guns of Blackbeard", was linked from Lew Rockwell's site this morning. Here's a brief excerpt:
The archeological excavations of the Queen Ann’s Revenge continues to this day, with some believing that the bulk of the recoverable artifacts have already been found. The era of piracy primarily carried out in Caribbean waters began around 1560, but for the most part died out around the 1720s.

On November 22, 1718, Blackbeard was tracked down by the Royal Navy at Ocracoke Inlet, North Carolina and following a bloody fight was killed. It ended his career obviously, but also signaled the beginning of the end for large scale pirating activities in the Eastern Americas.

 You can read the complete piece here. Very interesting.

08 March 2013

Relaxed & Ready

Departing the Dominican Republic

On Thursday last week, I was in the highlands of western Virginia and witnessed a beautiful snowfall. The next day, I was enjoying balmy weather with the bride of my youth in the Dominican Republic. Yesterday, I left the DR and returned to the Shenandoah Valley and 20 inches of snow! But, it's good to be back. It's especially good since I returned to find the most recent issue of my favorite WBTS publication waiting for me.

Also, my most recent book, Lexington, Virginia and the Civil War is now available. I'll soon have signed copies available for anyone interested. I've begun gathering research material for my next book and I'll share some information about that tomorrow.

Leave It To The Experts?

Those familiar with this blog are well aware of my passionate faith in the homeschooling movement. I am frequently amused at the "experts" who are critical of this freedom-loving reform in education - and for good reason:

It’s an education bombshell. Nearly 80 percent of New York City high school graduates need to relearn basic skills before they can enter the City University’s community college system.

A bombshell? Perhaps
it's a bombshell to those who put their faith in academic educational "experts." Another head-on with reality.

Story here.

The "experts" spend $18 - $20 grand per year per student and produce illiterates. How sad and unnecessary. Maybe if they spent less time chasing David Barton and neo-Confederates all over the internet, they'd have time to teach students to read.

And, in a related matter, government officials are protecting public schools from dangerous cupcakes:

A 9-year-old boy’s birthday cupcakes sparked a school controversy that just keeps growing, with scores of people lining up against a school principal who found the cupcake’s topping “inappropriate.” The boy was chided, and so were his parents, for cupcakes featuring little green Army men on the top.

Horror of horrors. You can't make this stuff up.