31 August 2013

How A Slave Saved VMI's History From Marauding Yankees

One of the more interesting stories I came across while researching and writing Lexington, Virginia and the Civil War was that of slave Robert Price. Price is little more than a forgotten footnote in the history of the Civil War and Hunter's raid on Lexington, but he provided a valuable service to the Virginia Military Institute and the family of Superintendent Francis Smith. As I tell the story in the book . . .

Robert Price
Robert Price, known simply as “Old Bob”, served the Smith family for fifty years—from the 1840’s through the post-Civil War era. Smith had “attached to his household” the slave shortly after marrying Sarah Henderson and assuming his duties at the Institute.
Very few even knew Bob’s last name. Fewer today are aware of his contribution. William Couper provides some of the details to this incident in his book, 100 Years At V.M.I. Couper footnotes one of his sources as an article which appeared in The Cadet newspaper in January of 1925 and authored by Dr. Larkin W. Glazebrook who was a grandson of Smith. As Smith was often away for long periods of time during the war, Price “assumed charge of the household as a protector and each night he would spread his pallet in the hall, in front of the bedroom of his mistress”, even though Price was, himself, the “father of a large family.” Shortly before Union General Hunter’s army fell on Lexington in June of 1864, “an old family horse died who had served faithfully for many years.” The account in the The Cadet states that “With due ceremony and affection, ‘Old Bob’ buried him in the garden to the rear of the house.” As the news spread that Hunter was headed toward Lexington, “Bob” realized at this time that his responsibility was not only for the family of his master, but for all else in which he was interested. Quietly he set to work gathering valuable papers, institute records, family silver, and other valuables in order that they might be preserved. Rumors which arrived caused him to hesitate as to where to store them, when he thought of the solitary grave. Without hesitating he set to work digging up the remains of the old comrade and placed his collection at the bottom of the grave. He then returned the horse to its resting place.

Price then recalled that there was a “supply of brandy and wines” stored in the cellar for “hospital purposes.” Apparently concerned that the Yankees would discover the spirits, get drunk, and cause “a possible menace”, he emptied out the contents. Finally, Union “hunting parties” arrived and discovered the freshly disturbed dirt. Price was immediately summoned and a suspicious yankee soldier demanded, “What’s there?” Old Bob, reasoning to himself that it was no sin to lie to the devil answered, “Nothin’ butta ole daid hoss.” Unconvinced, the soldier ordered, “Dig it up.”
If you want to know what happens next, you'll need to buy the book.

American Exceptionalism & The American Cowboy

The American Cowboy was an eclectic group of men. As noted in the PBS series, The West:
They were a mixed group: former Confederate cavalry men and immigrants who had only recently learned to ride; there were Indian cowboys and African-Americans -- and Mexican vaqueros, whose ancestors had introduced cattle to the West centuries earlier. A cowboy, one westerner observed, is "just a plain bowlegged human who smelled very horsey at times." "In person the cowboys were mostly medium-sized men... quick and wiry, and as a rule very good-natured; in fact, it did not pay to be anything else. In character, their like never was or will be again." 
The first image below is an image of my youngest son in a bull riding competition. The bull's name is "A Few Dollars More." My son was a Virginia state champion a few years ago. Thankfully, he's gotten wiser with age and no longer rides. Several broken bones also contributed to his decision to "retire." He first expressed a desire to be a cowboy when he was seven years old. That desire never left him. He, along with his wife and children, have several horses and today he works and shoes horses for a living. He's the epitome of living the American Dream and entrepreneur. American Exceptionalism personified. The second image is of him at work.

30 August 2013

American Exceptionalism & The American Dream

Mr. Phillips gets it. Listen to him. He should be teaching business classes - to progressives and the "enemies of American Exceptionalism" at the university level.

29 August 2013

Liberty University's 17th Annual Civil War Seminar


LYNCHBURG, VA — Liberty University will present its 17th annual Civil War Seminar, “1863—The Conflagration Continues,” on Friday, Sept. 13-Sunday, Sept. 15, at the Arthur S. DeMoss Learning Center, located on the main campus of LU.

The following nationally renowned speakers will cover key topics of 1863:

Rod Gragg—“Gettysburg: An Eyewitness History" (Key Note Address)
                          “The 26th North Carolina at Gettysburg”

Dr. John Brinsfield—“Chaplains at Gettysburg”

Hunter Lesser—"Lincoln's Odd Trick:  Heroes, Rascals & Rogues of West Virginia Statehood" 

Major John Plaster—“Sharpshooters of the Civil War”
                                           “The Rifles of Gettysburg”

Michael Leavy—“Railroads of the Civil War: An Illustrated History”

In addition to the lectures, papers will be presented by scholars from around the country.

Numerous exhibits of Civil War artifacts and memorabilia will be on display for the public and vendors will have various Civil War items for sale.

Special tours of the National Civil War Chaplains Museum on Liberty’s campus will be conducted in the afternoon each day.

The seminar will conclude with a special period church service at Liberty’s prayer chapel on Sunday, September 15, led by the Rev. Alan Farley of Re-enactor’s Missions for Jesus Christ.

A special banquet will be held Friday night; admission is $25. The cost for Saturday’s lectures is $25/person or $35/family.

A silent auction will be held at the banquet to raise funds for the National Civil War Chaplains Museum’s purchase of the only known surviving US Christian Commission flag.

For more information about the seminar, including times, go to www.liberty.edu/civilwar or call 434-592-4366.

Everyone is encouraged to secure reservations for the seminar by Monday, Sept. 9.  Go to www.liberty.edu/tickets or call (434) 582-SEAT (7328).

Special lodging rates at the Wingate by Wyndham of Lynchburg are available for seminar attendees. For information, call (434) 845-1700 or go to Wingate’s website.

For a map of Lynchburg, click here.cid:image005.png@01CE77EE.0C7F6380 
Continuing Education (CEU) credits are available. For more information, call Liberty’s Center for Professional and Continuing Education at (434) 592-4718, email cpce@liberty.edu, or visit www.liberty.edu/cpce.

27 August 2013

I Must Toot My Own Horn . . .

*Update: Just received this follow up email from the attorney in NC:
I just reviewed your blog today. I try to every couple of days. I didn’t realize that my emails on Monday might have served to supply some modicum of inspiration to soldier on with it. Soldier on you must do, sir. That is your duty. You have no idea the hearts and minds you touch. In this way you are preserving a way of life that, sadly, is being swept away at an alarming rate. Keep up the good work.
End of update.

. . . at least every once in a while. I've been thinking (again), about mothballing the Old Virginia Blog. I'll finish my 4th WBTS related book this fall and while I haven't lost my zeal for our Nation's history, I have other projects I'd like to work on - including another blog. I also have a couple of other books waiting in the wings and it's becoming increasingly difficult to find the time to do it all. However, I recently some emails in one day from different folks which gives me just enough inspiration to soldier on:
And this from an attorney in North Carolina who asked a question about my recent post concerning Douglas Southall Freeman's use of tobacco:
I’m glad that I’m not the only one who finds it [Freeman's use of tobacco] ironic. To say that I’m stunned is to put it mildly. Honestly, I have a lost a bit of the respect that I had for him given what all I have read and been told about him.

BTW, you have a great blog and I find it very interesting.

(Name withheld)

And then this one from a member of the Rockbridge Civil War Roundtable:
You have many friends and admirers in Lexington and we always enjoy your presentations and books. 
I think I'll keep at it for a bit longer.

26 August 2013

The Educational Establishment Might Want To Refocus

A number of Civil War bloggers who are also professional educators spend a lot of their time chasing neo-Confederates and Facebook posts all over the internet. They often lament that they must do so to correct the errors of those they're chasing. They tend to go after the low-hanging fruit - anything else would probably prove too much of a challenge for them. Recent revelations about the industrial educational complex indicate these folks might want to refocus their energies.

Quoting from an NBC News Report:
Just a quarter of this year's high school graduates who took the ACT tests have the reading, math, English and science skills they need to succeed in college or a career, according to the testing company.

The numbers are even worse for black high school graduates: Only 5 percent are fully ready for life after high school. 
As the report notes, this information comes from the non-profit educational research organization, ACT. You can read the dismal report here. It borders on the criminal.

Then again, maybe there are better things to do with one's time than prepare for a traditional college education:
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that only 20 percent of U.S. jobs require a bachelor's degree or more. About another 10 percent require some post-high school instruction, including an associate's degree. Against this need, the United States is already producing a workforce with about 30 percent holding a bachelor's degree and another 10 percent with an associate's degree.
The BLS breakdown for 2010 shows: 3.1 percent of jobs required a professional degree (law, medicine) or a Ph.D.; 1.4 percent, a master's degree; 15.5 percent, a bachelor's degree; 5.6 percent, an associate's degree; and 5.2 percent, some schooling beyond high school, including some college.
 And . . .
With an increase in the number of bachelor's degrees comes a decline in their value. This will have adverse effects on the future of colleges because many students may decide to opt out of higher education altogether.

The good news is that there are an increasing number of alternatives to the traditional college. With more online education and independent certification of competencies, people will be evaluated on the basis of their actual knowledge and skills and not on their paper credentials. [What a novel idea.] Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban encourages students to take online courses. He says, "I want the best and brightest, not a piece of paper."
More here from the American Thinker.

25 August 2013

Douglas Southall Freeman - Not Your Typical Academic

Freeman was, during those days, a heavy user of tobacco, both cigarettes and chewing tobacco. His technique of chewing while lecturing was an inviting target for humorous critique. "The Doctor shifted his quid from right to left," it was reported, "and gave a demonstration of his well known maxim, that the moment of expectoration must synchronize with the completion of a sentence." ~ From David Johnson's Douglas Southall Freeman

22 August 2013

It's Not About Right Or Left, It's About Us

Community Organizing For First-Graders

Here's the latest installment of how our schools are pushing "social justice" and "community organizing" toward a particular political slant using "Common Core."

*As always,I realize there are good teachers in public education who oppose this kind of social engineering and object to it as much as I do.

19 August 2013

Confederate Gold & Talking Trees

The talking trees are ones that appear to have seemingly random marks and symbols, as well as words and numbers, believed to be written by Civil War soldiers. A huge tree in Danville’s National Cemetery is one of those talking trees, Atwell says, that — once the symbols are decoded, an effort that has taken a lifetime — point to the hiding place of maps that will reveal the 58 locations where the Confederate gold and silver are buried. He also believes the various caches of gold and silver began long before the Civil War, collected by a secret society called the Knights of the Golden Circle.
Story here.

This is a great book for those interested in this topic.

15 August 2013

Blast From The Past

Paul Harvey predicted the future . . . from 1965:

The Recovery Of The Quenn Anne's Revenge

Blackbeard's Queen Anne's Revenge sunk in 1718
Archaeologists have unearthed a treasure trove in the wreck of the Queen Anne's Revenge, which is the flagship in the dread pirate Blackbeard's fleet.

The sunken treasure, weapons, all the bits of the ship, all the personal items, is lying 25 feet beneath the sea off North Carolina.
More here and here.

Today In History - The Swamp Fox

Today in 1780 Lieutenant Colonel Francis Marion aka, the "Swamp Fox", routed a party of Loyalists at Port's Ferry, South Carolina.
From the days before the enemies of American Exceptionalism held sway:

14 August 2013

The Greatest Generation . . .

Is most assuredly not the present one.

I wonder how many college graduates could pass this 8th grade exam from 100 years ago? The arrogance and ignorance of moderns is so obvious. When your product is an epic fail, you simply redefine "success" to cover your own idiocy.
So teachers participate in their own degradation, and celebrate sending children cool but ignorant into a dangerous world.
True dat.


10 August 2013

Thoughts On The Lord's Day

The first image below is a scanned copy of some more poetry written by my great-grandfather. The second one is scanned from his 1882 edition of Scribner's Log & Lumber Book. Notice the entries on the "Business Law" page about transactions on Sunday being void. My, how times have changed. Of course, some of that change has been positive. However, the fact many Americans no longer hold the Lord's Day as sacred is not.

06 August 2013

Natural Bridge: The "Bridge of God" Or The Bridge Of The Political Class?

Native Virginian and Jurist, John Marshall called the Shenandoah Valley's Natural Bridge, "God's greatest miracle in stone."

Lexington Gazette publisher, John N. Snider, wrote the following about Natural Bridge which appeared in the Gazette 11 September 1819:
Beneath the noble arch men wondering stand;
Twas fashioned here, by an Almighty hand,
An Architect Divine, whose voice can call
Worlds into being-or, decree their fall.

If I had never known Jehovah's law,
This scene had taught me reverential awe;
Inspired my soul its feeble powers to raise,
Admiring nature--nature's God to praise.

Atheist! contemplate this grand scene, one hour,
And thou shalt own there is a God of power.
Another writer, Samuel Kercheval, who wrote The History of the Valley of Virginia, in 1833 penned the following verse about Natural Bridge:
Oh! thou eternal architect Divine,
All beautiful thy works do shine!
Permit me thus to sing:
Who can this towering arch explore,
And not thy sovereign power adore.
Eternal King?

Awed, at first sight, my blood was chill'd,
My trembling limbs and nerves all thrill'd
Beneath this splendid pile.
My mind, howe'er, was soon on flame
To adore the great builder's name,
Viewing the heavenly smile.

Whate'er the motive or the plan,
It far exceeds the art of man:
The grandeur of the scheme
Shows that the builder lives on high,
Beyond that blue eternal sky,
And wields a hand supreme.
And my own wife's ancestors, the Monacan Indians, also believe the bridge has Divine origins:
The Monacan Indians handed down through generations the history of how their tribe was wasted and decimated by long wars with the Shawnees and Powhatans. Worn by famine and despair they were flying, closely pursued, through strange forests when they came upon a great chasm of incredible depth, a hundred feet from brink to brink, extending for miles to the eastward and the westward. In the anguish of defeat they prostrated themselves, and called on the Great Spirit to spare his children. And when they arose and looked, behold a bridge spanned the abyss! . . . Therefore the Monacan called it the "Bridge of God" and worshiped it."
The arrogance of the political class often rises to the absurd and ridiculous. Such is the case with a recent resolution "controversy" (contrived) involving members of the Lexington, Virginia City Council - yes, the same governing body who didn't want the Museum of the Confederacy to locate in Lexington because it was "controversial and divisive."

The latest display of arrogance and stupidity arose from a simple proclamation. As the Lexington Gazette reported last week:

Do these people have to politicize everything in American life? Are every one of our traditions targets for this mindset? This is the same type of petty bickering that wants to remove "God" from the pledge of Allegiance. For hundreds, even thousands, of years this Virginia treasure has been associated with the Divine - from Native Americans to our own time, Natural Bridge has inspired all who have been blessed to gaze upon her majesty.

Yet these two Councilwomen consider themselves so much wiser, so erudite, that they felt compelled to secularize something so innocuous as a simple proclamation about the beauty and awe of a natural wonder. How petty and small-minded can you get?

04 August 2013

Here's the 2nd scanned letterhead from a collection that belonged to my great-great grandfather, Robert M. Williams. (See the first post here.) This one starts out: "S.S. Lesson, Oct. 5, 1924, Matt - 9-9" and then there are 8 verses of poetry written by my grandfather:

One day the Master passed along
Capernaum's streets, mid press and throng.

Mid wealth and squalor, age and youth
He paused beside a customs booth.

Within sat Levi, and the Lord
Spake to him a commanding word.

And gave one look of love, and lo!
The soul of Matthew was aglow.

And rising quickly, "Lord", said he
"I leave all this to follow thee."

He followed and, behold his name
Shines brightly on the scroll of fame.

Today the Master comes and see,
He utters that same word to thee!

May that same look of love enthrall
And prompt us to obey His call!

Only In Academia Is "Non-Consensual Sex" Not Rape

Earlier this summer, Alexandra Brodsky joined more than 160,000 people who signed an online petition urging Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan to get involved and “hold colleges accountable that break the law by refusing to protect students from sexual assault.”

This is also not the first time Yale has been involved in a controversy connected to sex. In 2011, a suit was filed against Yale for “failing to eliminate a hostile sexual environment on campus.” Last summer, the school managed to shut down the investigation by agreeing to some changes in the way the campus handles complaints alleging sexual misconduct.

Story here.

If you like the way they "interpret" rape, you'll love their perspective on American history.