29 March 2015

What Have You Done To Commemorate The Civil War Sesquicentennial?

That's not a question I'm asking readers. That is a question I recently asked myself as I considered the fact that the end of the 150th anniversary and commemoration of the War Between the States is quickly approaching. I must admit, I was feeling guilty and thinking I'd not done anywhere near enough to commemorate that epic event. Obviously, events like this come only once in our lifetimes and I felt like I should have done so much more. Adding to this feeling of guilt was the fact that I have 3 great-great grandfathers who fought for the Confederacy. All 3 were wounded (one twice) and two of them spent time in yankee prisons. Don't I owe an all out participation in commemorating the struggle that they were committed to and to which they gave so much? It may seem odd to some, but I was really feeling a sense of lost opportunity and shame in not doing more.

But as I took inventory, I realized I'd done more than I thought:
  • I've written 3 essays for the Sesquicentennial project at Virginia Tech's Virginia Center for Civil War Studies. My essay on Civil War Chaplains comes up at #2 when doing a Google search on "Civil War Chaplains." The third essay is in the process of review now, but should be posted soon. These essays are a contribution which I'm very proud of and feel privileged to have been a part of. I've also written several reviews and articles related to the WBTS for different websites.
  • I've authored two books about the Civil War in the Shenandoah Valley. Both were published by The History Press. The first one, Lexington, Virginia and the Civil War was released in March of 2013 and the most recent one, The Battle of Waynesboro, was released last fall. I'm proud to note that the latter was part of the History Press's Sesquicentennial Series.
  • I've maintained this blog (10 year anniversary coming up in May) posting often on the Sesquicentennial and other WBTS topics.
  • I've spoken numerous times for various organizations - Civil War Roundtables, SCV camps, local museums, civic groups, etc. - including having the honor of speaking at the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Battle of McDowell; McDowell being the battle many consider to be the beginning of Stonewall Jackson's now legendary Valley Campaign.
  • I've served on 2 museum boards and another historical committee all involving various commemoration efforts surrounding the CW's 150th.
  • I've advised other authors and students about various aspects of WBTS history, including one graduate student working on a thesis about Stonewall Jackson.
  • I've explored Civil War battlefields here in Virginia and recovered Civil War relics (on private property) on several of them - including a musket ball I recovered on the very day of the 150th anniversary of the Battle of McDowell.
  • And, one of the most memorable things I did was to conduct a tour of the Battle of Waynesboro on March 2 of this year - the very day of the 150th anniversary of that battle - for the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation. That tour was significant for a number of reasons: It was the last in a series of "on this day" tours sponsored by the SVBF. It was also significant because my wife, oldest daughter and several of my granddaughters were able to accompany me. Waynesboro is my hometown and I as I conducted the tour, I was walking on ground that I roamed almost daily growing up and on the same ground that 2 of my ancestor's units defended during the battle.
  • I am currently working with the SVBF in developing a self-guided walking/driving tour for the Battle of Waynesboro which they will publish and make available to the public.
  • And I've got several more significant posts which will cap off my efforts here at Old Virginia Blog in regards to the Sesquicentennial. One in particular is quite unique.
    This is simply a personal inventory for posterity and, more importantly, for my children and grandchildren. I realize many others have done as much and many have done so much more. Of course, not everyone is a writer or a blogger. There a myriad of ways one could have commemorated this event. My dentist made an effort to visit every major battlefield that the Army of Northern Virginia fought on over the last four years and read books on every one of those battles. And I met a couple of folks on the BoW tour who had been on every SVBF tour here in the Valley since 2011.

    In regards to more commemoration events, April will be busy as well as I will be participating in yet one more invitational Civil War relic hunt which will commence the week of the surrender at Appomattox. I'll also be uploading a speech given by Douglas Southall Freeman at Appomattox on the 85th anniversary of the surrender and the dedication of the McLean House as a "national shrine". That recording will be posted, fittingly, on April 9. You can hear an introduction I posted last year below:

    6 comments:

    E.J. DAgrosa said...

    I hope interest in Civil War history doesn't wane now that the Sesquicentennial is over. I hope people continue to visit battlefields, read/write books, and do all the other things to keep our history alive.

    Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

    Oh, I don't think interest at the current level will wane any time soon. I do believe, however, the sesquicentennial and interest has been lessened due to the emphasis on political correctness. And despite the naysayers, there are a number of respected historians who, I believe, would agree with that opinion.

    Thanks for reading and commenting EJ.

    Jubilo said...

    Dear Old Dom.,

    You've done more than your share and thank you for it.

    Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

    Thank you David. I know you have as well.

    Michael Simons said...

    I adopted CW era Graves to maintain , Attended events around Texas and Pushing and supporting Flags across the South and our State Car Plates.

    Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

    Good job sir.