29 April 2015

The Cement That Holds Us Together: Historical Consciousness

That cement is cracking. From The Imaginative Conservative:
A culture without memory will necessarily be barbarous . . . In our day, even the academic study of history has begun to yield to such barbarism. For an increasing number of younger historians, the whole point of studying the past is to “prove” that all our inherited institutions, beliefs, conventions, and normative values are arbitrary—mere “social constructions” in the service of ignoble power—and are therefore utterly without legitimacy or authority. In this view, it is absurd to imagine that the study of the past could have any purpose beyond serving the immediate needs of the present . . .
Another twist on Gordon S. Wood's "condemning the past for not being more like the present." Worth the read.

27 April 2015

Did Robert E. Lee Bring Slavery To An Early End?

By rejecting Lincoln's offer to command the Union forces? According to the Virginia Historical Society, he did:
Had Robert E. Lee taken command of Union forces in spring 1861, the war would probably have come to an end more quickly and slavery would most likely have survived it. Lee would have been the hero of the nation, and he could easily have become the eighth president from Virginia. This was in his grasp, but he let it go to preserve his personal honor and to defend his home and his family. Those who argue that he chose to fight for slavery rather than against it, and that this is all one needs to know about Lee, lose sight of the extent of the sacrifice that he made. His decision was not about defending slavery; it was about doing what he thought was right. ~ Virginia Historical Society [Emphasis mine.]
Well put, but no doubt unsettling to those who are preoccupied with "condemning the past for not being more like the present" and who wish to tarnish Lee's good name and status as an American hero and icon. 

So, could one argue that Lee's decision to support the Confederacy ended slavery sooner than it would have had he done what President Lincoln had wanted him to?

How ironic is that?

Where Is Hate, Intolerance & Violence Gaining Ground?

While many academic historians and academic oriented Civil War bloggers are busy chasing inconsequential "neo-Confederates" and the evil Founding Fathers all over the internet, they are ignoring a real problem right under their noses. Why?
The campus is only the latest to be troubled by antisemitic vandalism, and the second in California recently. Three months ago, swastikas were discovered on a Jewish fraternity house at UC Davis, just after that campus voted to divest from Israel.
Story here. As I posed the question in a somewhat related post, I ask again: From where and from whom are students acquiring these attitudes and belief systems? The very institution that claims to be the most tolerant seems to becoming increasingly intolerant - and violent. Surreal, isn't it? Not to mention quite revealing.

26 April 2015

Africa, A.W. Tozer & Robert E. Lee

About seven or eight years ago, a good friend of mine surrendered to a call to Africa to become a missionary. Our church gave him, his wife and their three children a going away party. Many church members gave gifts of all kinds. I gave this preacher several books including Richard Ellsworth Day's Rhapsody in Black: the Life Story of John Jasper. Like Jasper, my friend hails originally from Fluvanna County, Virginia. I thought the obvious connections were fitting. I also gave him a copy of the first book I wrote, The Maxims of Robert E. Lee for Young Gentlemen.

I've not heard from him in years, but early this morning, I received the following message from this missionary:
I wanted to let you know that I am reading,"The Maxims of Robert E. Lee for Young Gentlemen". I had misplaced the book and recently found it while here in ______, Africa and God has revealed it to me at the perfect time! My greatest work as a Shepherd is to disciple and I have been studying feverishly Discipleship and THIS book that YOU gave me is timely, powerful, and greatly enjoyable! Thank you so much for your gifts for me and my boys so many years ago!
Wow. What an encouragement. As most history related writers know today, you don't make a whole lot of money from your books. Some, yes, but not a lot. I think most of us do it for the passion that we have and the desire to share our knowledge and interest and preserve the history discovered in our research. But you never really know what kind of impact your books have on folks. 

When I first read this message from my friend, I was immediately reminded of something A.W. Tozer wrote and which hangs on my office wall as a daily reminder:
The printed word may lie unnoticed like a seed through a long winter, only to burst out when a favorable time comes and produce an abundant crop in belief and practice. ~ A. W. Tozer
I've had enough encouragement today to begin thinking seriously about my next project(s).

24 April 2015

Spring in the Shenandoah Valley - 2015

My view this fine spring mornin'. Near Natural Bridge, Virginia.

There may be a lovelier country somewhere--in the Island Vale of Avalon, at a gamble--but when the sunlight lies upon it and the wind puts white clouds racing their shadows the Shenandoah Valley is as good as anything America can show ~ Bruce Catton

23 April 2015

Who Teaches College Students To Spit On Veterans?

*Update - different and better video and report. More details here.

And to urinate on the American flag? Certainly they're not picking up those attitudes from what they're being taught in class, are they? No, of course not. Had they spit on my WWII grandfather or my WWI grandfather while they were in their prime, those cowards would have been taught something they're obviously not learning from academia.

Cooking For the Southern Gentleman

22 April 2015

Charlottesville Civil War Roundtable

Last night, I had the privilege of speaking to the Charlottesville Civil War Roundtable in Charlottesville, Virginia. The topic was, of course, my latest book on The Battle of Waynesboro. It was a delightful evening with good attendance (30-40 folks) and seemed to be enjoyed by all. I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank the CCWRT for the invitation and the meal - the crab cakes were delicious!

20 April 2015

Quote For The Week (Year, maybe?)

Most young men today are too selfish to risk life and limb for Honor, Country, and the Transnational Petrochemical Industry. They waste the best years of their lives studying history at fancy universities, when they should be creating history as tough-as-nails commandos who shoot first and ask questions never. After high school graduation Hemingway applied for the military, not some effete liberal arts college. (Ultimate proof that an English degree is worthless.)
Definitely LOL. From all places, The Huffington Post: 9 Ways To Live Like Hemingway

19 April 2015

This Day In History

Lexington Common, 19 April 1775

By artist Don Troiani.

18 April 2015

Civil War News Reviews My Latest Book: "The Battle of Waynesboro"

. . . a well-written, profusely illustrated and compelling account of the Battle of Waynesboro and the community’s life before and after the fight. . . . Williams’s masterfully constructed volume will appeal to readers interested in the Shenandoah Valley or civilians’ wartime and postwar experiences. ~ Professor Jonathan A. Noyalas
Those interested can read the complete review here.

17 April 2015

The Benefit of a College Degree

Does this attitude sound familiar?
"I'm in the news sweetheart, I will f-----g sue this place."
“That’s why I have a degree and you don't."
"That's all you care about is taking people's money…with no education, no skill set. Just wanted to clarify that."
"Why? Because I have a brain and you don't?"
"I'm on television and you're in a f-----g trailer, honey."
"Lose some weight, baby girl."
That was just part of it. What a nasty, arrogant, self-centered human being. You've probably already heard about this, but just in case you've not, go here

This is just one example of why employers are becoming less and less concerned about prospective employees having a degree. It proves very little any more.

14 April 2015

Life Goes On - Diary Entry of Joseph Waddell: 14 April 1865 (Edited)

Joseph Waddell
Joseph A. Waddell wrote a rich history of Augusta County, Annals of Augusta County, Virginia - From 1726 to 1871. Trained as a lawyer, he came to dislike the profession and eventually became co-editor and co-owner of one of the local newspapers, "The Staunton Spectator." His history of Augusta County included his diary kept during the Civil War. 150 years ago today, he made the following entry:
Staunton, VA, Friday, April 14, 1865.

We heard last night from an authentic source that Gen. Lee has certainly surrendered himself with his army. His address to his men states that the surrender was made in consequence of the immense superiority of force against him and the consequent uselessness of shedding more blood. He returned to Richmond, having been paroled with all of his officers and men. . . . A call has been made by Gen. Lilly for soldiers to meet at Lexington and Staunton to proceed South. I presume that very few will respond as the cause is generally considered useless. Arthur Spitzer has got back -- He marched three days and two nights, on the retreat from Petersburg, with nothing to eat but a can of corn. -- Says he saw men on the road side dying from hunger.
. . .
For several days past the people of this town and county have been appropriating all the public property they could find -- wagons, old iron picks, . . . -- distributing the assets of the Confederate States. What a termination! I am surprised by the general composure -- even very complacency. But while I felt an intense indignation against the North, the Confederacy never enlisted my affections or compliance. I never ceased to deplore the disruption, and never could have loved my country and government as I loved the old United States. Yet our cause seemed to be the cause of state rights and involved the question whether or no the people should choose a government for themselves, or have one imposed upon them. With our fall every vestige of State rights has disappeared, and we are at the mercy of a consolidated despotism. . . .

There is much religious interest in our Church. Meetings every afternoon for more than a week. . . .The weather is delightful.
Note that Waddell, while expressing his love for the old Republic and his disdain for the Confederate government, embraced the cause of states rights and considered a Union victory "despotism." Waddell's comments illustrate the rather complicated and nuanced (even contradictory), positions held by many white Southerners; particularly those in the upper south.

13 April 2015

Richmond's Shockhoe Bottom - A Worthy Preservation Project

Shockhoe Bottom is the area where John Jasper was converted in a tobacco warehouse.

Lee at Appomattox & Afterwards

Kevin Levin has posted a high five to Ed Ayers for his remarks at the recent festivities at Appomattox. During his speech, Ayers quoted remarks from General Grant's memoirs about his feelings regarding Lee's surrender:
I felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse. I do not question, however, the sincerity of the great mass of those who were opposed to us.
Levin then offers his perspective on both Ayers' and Grant's remarks:
Ayers correctly notes that Grant’s assessment could be and was interpreted in a way that allowed ex-Confederates to frame their bid for independence as a noble cause. It certainly did not capture Grant’s understanding of the event and Ayers forcefully encourages his audience to acknowledge that it should not color our own.
I would disagree with the notion that when it comes to our understanding of the South's "cause", Grant's assessment and understanding should not "color our own." Why not? Varying degrees of Grant's feelings and thoughts (in regards to the Southern Army's valiant struggle and Lee's character) were shared by many of Lee's former enemies. For example:
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. 
And Chamberlain also wrote:
How could we help falling on our knees, all of us together, and praying God to forgive us all. ~ Joshua Chamberlain on the surrender at Appomattox.
And . . .
He was one who, though famous, was not honeycombed with ambition or tainted with cunning or cant, and though a soldier and wearing soldier’s laurels, yet never craved or sought honors except as they bloomed on deeds done for the glory of his lawfully constituted authority; in short a soldier to whom the sense of duty was a gospel and a man of the world whose only rule in life was that life should be upright and stainless. I cannot but think Providence meant, through him, to prolong the ideal of the gentleman in the world . . . It is easy to see why Lee has become the embodiment of one of the world’s ideals, that of the soldier, the Christian, and the gentleman. And from the bottom of my heart I thank Heaven . . . for the comfort of having a character like Lee’s to look at. ~ Union General Morris Schaff referring to Lee’s surrender at which Schaff was present.
 And . . .
On a quite autumn morning, in the land he loved so well, and, as he held, served so faithfully, the spirit of Robert Edward Lee left the clay which it had so much ennobled, and traveled out of this world into the great and mysterious land. The expressions of regret which sprang from the few who surrounded the bedside of the dying soldier, on yesterday, will be swelled today into one mighty voice of sorrow, resounding throughout our country, and extending over all parts of the world where his great genius and his many virtues are known. For not to the Southern people alone shall be limited the tribute of a tear over the dead Virginian. Here in the North, forgetting that the time was when the sword of Robert Edward Lee was drawn against us—forgetting and forgiving all the years of bloodshed and agony—we have claimed him as one of ourselves; have cherished and felt proud of his military genius as belonging to us; have recounted and recorded his triumphs as our own; have extolled his virtue as reflecting upon us—for Robert Edward Lee was an American, and the great nation which gave him birth would be today unworthy of such a son if she regarded him lightly.

Never had mother nobler son. In him the military genius of America developed to a greater extent than ever before. In him all that was pure and lofty in mind and purpose found lodgment. Dignified without presumption, affable without familiarity, he united all those charms of manner which made him the idol of his friends and of his soldiers, and won for him the respect and admiration of the world. Even as, in the days of his triumph, glory did not intoxicate, so, when the dark clouds swept over him, adversity did not depress. From the hour that he surrendered his sword at Appomattox to the fatal autumn morning, he passed among men, noble in the quiet, simple dignity, displaying neither bitterness nor regret over the irrevocable past. He conquered us in misfortune by the grand manner in which he sustained himself, even as he dazzled us by his genius when the tramp of his soldiers resounded through the valleys of Virginia. And for such a man we are all tears and sorrow today. Standing beside his grave, all men of the South and men of the North can mourn with all the bitterness of four years of warfare erased by this common bereavement. May this unity of grief—this unselfish manifestation over the loss of the Bayard of America—in the season of dead leaves and withered branches which this death ushers in, bloom and blossom like the distant coming spring into the flowers of a heartier accord. ~ Editorial from the New York Herald the day after Lee’s death.
We often read that the popular images of Confederate heroes such as Robert E. Lee were created solely by "Lost Cause" sympathizers after the war and for the sole purpose to "maintain the old order." What utter nonsense. Actually, that is the new "myth." Lee was considered a hero long before "Lost Cause" ideas took root in the South.
I tell you, sir, that Robert E. Lee is the greatest soldier now living, and if he ever gets the opportunity, he will prove himself the greatest captain of history. ~ General Winfield Scott, just before the War Between the States.
Scott's assessment is correct (as history so plainly reveals) and it is why Lincoln first offered command of the Union army to Lee. I suppose we should not let that fact color our understanding either.

Apparently, Lee's undying status as a truly American icon of honor and nobility (along with the "Lost Cause") live rent free in the minds of certain historians. It's an obsession. As the New York Herald editorial noted Lee's "conquering" even in his defeat, the same still seems to hold true today, despite the efforts of some.

My advice would be to ignore the advice of those Lee continues to conquer and allow history and the understanding of Lee's former enemies to color our own.

10 April 2015

Gone History Huntin'

Somewhere near Culpeper, Virginia, just after sunrise, Nov. 2014
By the time this posts Friday, I'll be in the Culpeper, Virginia area for a three day Civil War relic hunt beginning on Friday morning. I will try to post a few pics while "in the field." For 2 (I'll only be there the first two) days and approximately 12 hours each day, I'll be walking, swinging a metal detector, and digging lots of holes. I will be plum worn out by Saturday night. This year, temperatures are predicted to be in the low 70's to low 80's - lots of sweating. But I've been preparing. I've dropped a few pounds, have been exercising more, and getting all my gear ready. I've also stocked up on the Aleve - I'm gonna need it. ;o) I've been looking forward to this event for many weeks now and hope to return Saturday night with some interesting stories, photos, and videos to share.

This particular site is rumored to be a "virgin" site when it comes to organized hunts. We shall see. This is an absolutely phenomenal way to put a cap on the Civil War Sesquicentennial. Wish me happy huntin'!

The Role of Chaplains in the War Between the States

Friends Kenny Rowlette and Alan Farley share their knowledge in this very informative video:

09 April 2015


In the spirit of the day, I offer the following.

150 years ago today, after the sacrifice of almost 750,000 American lives, our country came together for peace. What followed was the rise of the greatest nation on earth. From the crucible, rose the conquering. I had 3 great-great grandfathers who fought for the Confederacy. All 3 were wounded (one of them twice). 2 spent time in Yankee prisons. One died a couple of weeks before the war ended, alone in a Richmond hospital. Today, 150 years after Appomattox, I remember their sacrifice and the peace and great nation that they, their descendants and their new fellow citizens built. 

May God have mercy and may God Bless America.

Some readers may recall that I've been promising to post an audio recording of Douglas Southall Freeman's address at the dedication of the McLean House on 16 April 1950. I had full intention of doing that today. Unfortunately, I have not been able to complete that Youtube project. The audio is almost 45 minutes long and I want to include a montage of images to accompany the audio recording. I've started the process, but its taking me much longer than I thought it would. At present, I'm only about 10% of the way through the task. So I've moved the date to coincide with the anniversary of the address: April 16th, 65 years to the day. I think it will be worth the wait. You can get an idea of what's in store by revisiting this post. In the meantime, take a moment today and remember the sacrifice of every soldier that fought during the War Between the States.

08 April 2015

C.S. Lewis On Chrolological Snobbery

C. S. Lewis
Which applies to trendy fads in modern historiography:
…the uncritical acceptance of the intellectual climate common [groupthink] to our own age and the assumption that whatever has gone out of date is on that account discredited…
Similar to what Professor Gordon S. Wood has lately noted:
"much of their history is fragmentary and essentially anachronistic—condemning the past for not being more like the present."
Moderns: mortally infected with narcissism and intellectual blindness/dishonesty brought on by their own self-proclaimed moral superiority; and that being born of their own insecurity.

07 April 2015

The Fall of Richmond - From John Jasper's Perspective

Reverend John Jasper
John Jasper is, in my opinion, one of the greatest men in Virginia American history. He is also one of the least known. Born the 24th child of slaves, his rise to prominence while overcoming poverty, illiteracy, prejudice and personal bitterness - all motivated by his Christian faith - is an inspiring and amazing story. One of his biographers was a man by the name of Edwin Archer Randolph. Randolph was the first black man to graduate from Yale law school (1880). He was also a member of Jasper's church in Richmond (formed after the WBTS) and served as one of the church's deacons.

Randolph notes the following about Jasper during the fall of Richmond in 1865:

Haxall's Mill, Richmond in 1865
The last sermon he preached before the fall of Richmond was down at the mills, on the second day of April, 1865, and Richmond was surrendered on Monday, the third of April, 1865. At this time, when Mr. Jasper had become a free man in body as well as soul, he had seventy-three cents, and was in debt to the amount of forty-two dollars for house rent, and today he is worth over five thousand dollars.

This brings Mr. Jasper to that period in his life where the new order of things takes place, practically, in the condition of the colored people in the State of Virginia. He now must preach the Gospel, surrounded by entirely different circumstances than ever before; he must preach now to a people like himself, who have just been made free in body as well as soul; he must preach now to them alone.

This new order of things necessitated a new arrangement of them. The colored people had been holding their meetings in the houses of their masters, now they have no masters, consequently they have no meeting-houses. During the unsettled condition of affairs, from April 6th, 1865, to the 4th of July of the same year, Mr. Jasper worked on the streets of Richmond, cleaning bricks for a compensation, so much per thousand. This noble feature of his life readily reminds one of the same incident in the history of the life of the Apostle Paul, when preaching got dull with him, and before he would do nothing or wait until business got better, went to his trade--"tent making."
Another biographer (and the best known) of Jasper, was William E. Hatcher. He wrote the following account of Jasper's experience after the fall of Richmond:
At the end of the war he was left high and dry, like driftwood on the shore. He had no church; no place to preach; no occupation. His relations with the white race were shattered, and things were grim enough; but ill-fortune could not break him. A large part of Richmond was in ashes, and in some places at least the work of rebuilding commenced at once,--or rather a clearing off of the debris with a view to rebuilding. Jasper walked out and engaged himself to clean bricks. During the Egyptian bondage the Hebrews made bricks and thought they had a hard lot; but Jasper spent the first days of his freedom in the brick business,--a transient expedient for keeping soul and body together until he could get on his feet again. Little thought the eager men who were trying to lay the foundations for their future fortunes that in the tall serious negro who sat whacking hour after hour at the bricks was one of God's intellectual noblemen. Born in bondage, lowly in his liberty and yet great in the gifts with which God had endowed him, it was Jasper's nature to be almost as cheerful when squatted on a pile of bricks and tugging at their cleaning as if he had a seat in a palace and was feeding on royal dainties. He carried the contented spirit, and that too while he aspired after the highest. He did not uselessly kick against the inevitable, but he always strove for the best that was in his reach.
From the ashes, rose one of the greatest orators ever birthed by Old Virginia, John Jasper.

06 April 2015

New Historic Fiction Film Produced By Homeschoolers

Beyond the Mask, a $4 million faith-based adventure movie made primarily by 400 volunteers from the homeschooling community, will open April 6 on as many as 1,100 screens nationwide.
Opens today. More here.

Richmond, Virginia: Sitting in the Ashes - Illustrated

This is a follow up to my post the other day in regards to W.E. Hatcher's eye-witness account of the fall of Richmond, Virginia in April 1865. This image is from Main Street, looking down 14th on 8 April 1865. Note the two women in what appears to be mourning attire.

04 April 2015

2015 Speaker's Roster For the Rockbridge Civil War Roundtable

Engraving of Lexington, Virginia by Casimir Bohn showing the campus of Virginia Military Institute circa 1857.

The Rockbridge (County) Civil War Roundtable is probably one of the best and most active
Civil War related organizations in Virginia. Their meetings - held on the VMI Campus - are always well-attended with lively audience participation. I've had the pleasure of speaking to the group twice thus far. Here's the lineup for the 2015 Speaker's Schedule:

  • January 21- Dr. Barton Myers- "Partisan Rangers- The Confederacy's Authorized Guerilla Service"
  • February 18- Meeting Cancelled due to inclement weather
  • March 18- Dennis Wood- "The Irish in the Civil War"
  • April 15- Dr. Holt Merchant-" Laurence H. Keitt0South Carolina Fire Eater"
  • May 20- Dr. Irvin Hess-" The Impact of 'The Burning' on Shenandoah Families
  • June 17- Richard Williams- "The Battle of Waynesboro"
  • July/August- On Summer Furlough
  • September 16-Bob O'Connor- "James E. Hanger-First Confederate Amputee and his Prosthetic Legacy"
  • October 21- Brian Wills- "Nathan Bedford Forrest"
  • November 18-John V. Quarstein- "The Capture of Fort Fisher"
  • December 16-"Col. Keith Gibson-"175 Years of VMI History"
As you'll notice, I'll be speaking in June on the Battle of Waynesboro. Several of the other topics intrigue me and I hope to attend those as well, including: Dr. Hess's talk on Sheridan's burning of the Shenandoah Valley, Professor Wills' talk on Nathan Bedford Forrest and Colonel Gibson's talk on VMI. I'm sure all of the talks would be well worth taking the time to attend.

For more details, email Mr. Leon Johenning, President of the RCWT  @ lcjmfg@aol.com

Relic Hunting Post #128 - Charles Garrett, R.I.P.

A legend in relic hunting and metal detecting has passed. 
Charles L. Garrett —inventor, entrepreneur, treasure hunter, patriot, husband, and father—died on April 3, 2015. A native Texan and resident of Garland, Dr. Garrett and his wife Eleanor in 1964 founded Garrett Electronics which grew to become the world’s largest manufacturer of metal detection equipment. . . . Garrett detectors have discovered some of the world’s most valuable buried treasures, and its security equipment has protected millions of travelers and others, including Olympic athletes and spectators at the Games since 1984. Dr. Garrett was born in Houston on April 1, 1932, and grew up in Lufkin. After four years of service in the U.S. Navy during the Korean conflict on board the USS Bottineau (APA-235), he graduated from Lamar University in Beaumont with a degree in electrical engineering. A lifelong treasure-hunting hobbyist, Dr. Garrett first developed a metal detector for his own use and because it was so much superior to others, he and his wife founded a company to sell it. . . .

He authored some 20 books and wrote literally scores of articles about metal detectors, treasure hunting on both land and under water and security. Many of his books remain in print. . . .

Dr. Garrett was an Eagle Scout and an inductee into Eta Kappa Nu, the national Electrical and Computer Engineering honor society. In 2004, Governor Rick Perry commissioned Charles Garrett as an honorary Admiral in the Texas Navy. He was also a member of the Sons of the Republic of Texas and was a Distinguished Alumni of both Lufkin High School and Lamar University.

I own 5 Garrett products. Complete obituary hereA video telling the story of the Garrett company, featuring Mr. Garrett, can be viewed below.

Civil War Domain Names For Sale

I have the following Civil War domain names available, if anyone is interested. Make a reasonable offer:

02 April 2015

The Fall of Richmond: "Sitting in the Ashes"

William Eldridge Hatcher, LL.D., L.H.D. (1834-1912) is best known for his  biography of  the great slave  preacher, John Jasper. (Jasper also became the pastor of Sixth Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia after the Civil War.) Hatcher was a godly Christian, Pastor, author and was the epitome of the Virginia Gentleman. Born in 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 only 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. 

The following comes 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. 

Relative to the sesquicentennial commemoration of the fall of Richmond in April of 1865 is Hatcher's eyewitness account of the event. The following are two excerpts I found particularly poignant in his autobiography in the chapter titled, Sitting in the Ashes:
In passing through the streets of Richmond many of the soldiers found that the Confederate authorities had abandoned a large supply of food and clothing, and from these stores the boys helped themselves so far as they came in reach of them, and so far as they had the means of transporting them. On the bayonets of many guns hung hams or shoulders, which these needy heroes were lugging along, little knowing when Mars' Robert would ever issue another ration. Deep as my troubles were I was quite lumbered up with Confederate money. In quite a number of cases I found that by generous display of Confederate money, I could bring on a trade for some of this bacon, which same thing I actually did, although I have to confess that in some of those trades the transaction took place before midnight, and if the Sabbath day runs until midnight I have to confess that on that occasion at least I let my eagerness to get a little something to keep my soul and body from prematurely separating from each other to tempt me to infringe the Holy Day.
And then there's this . . . 
But I saw another sight in connection with Richmond's fall which I confess thrilled me a thousand times more than all the glory of the victorious armies of the Republic. It was a spectacle that broke upon me most unexpectedly; it came while the heavens were black with storm and the streets were wild with flooding rains.

What I saw was a horseman. His steed was bespattered with mud, and his head hung down as if worn by long traveling. The horseman himself sat his horse like
a master; his face was ridged with self-respecting griefs; his garments were worn in the service and stained with travel; his hat was slouched and spattered with mud and only another unknown horseman rode with him, as if for company and for love. Even in the fleeting moment of his passing by my gate, I was awed by his incomparable dignity. His majestic composure, his rectitude and his sorrow, were so wrought and blended into his visage and so beautiful and impressive to my eyes that I fell into violent weeping. To me there was only one where this one was; there could be only one that day, and that one was still my own revered and cherished leader, stainless in honor, resplendent and immortal even in defeat, my own, my peerless chieftain, Robert E. Lee.

In that lone way, in the midst of rain and mire, with no crowds to hail him, with no resounding shouts to welcome him, with no banners flapping about him, did he come back from disastrous war. But, ah! we did not know. Conquered and solitary he was, but yet he wore invisible badges of victory; he carried spoils of honor and conquest which could never fail, and in every step of his sad moving he was marching forward to take his place in the palace courts of universal fame. 

You can read the complete book here or, if you're just interested in an eye-witness and detailed personal account of the fall of Richmond, start at page 90.

01 April 2015

Battle of Waynesboro Self-Guided Tour

Early last month, I was honored to lead a tour of the Battle of Waynesboro for the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation.
Today, I had the privelege of working with Terry Heder (Director of Interpretation, Education & History) and Dan Reinhart (Resource Management Specialist) of the SVBF to begin work on developing a self-guided tour for those interested in the history of the Battle of Waynesboro. We decided on several sites and stops for the tour and will be working together on the text in the coming days.

The SVBF has done an excellent job in preserving Civil War battlefields here in the Valley and in making the history available and easily accessible to the public. The SVBF's spirit of cooperation when working with local museums, historical societies and landowners is quite welcome and refreshing and should be a model for other organizations. As already noted, I'm honored and privileged to have played a small part in their sesquicentennial commemoration.

Left to right: Dan Reinhart, Richard Williams, Terry Heder ~ photo taken at
the Waynesboro Heritage Museum.

The Confederacy No Longer Exists - Except In The Minds Of Some

Professor Brooks Simpson correctly points out that ". . . the Confederacy doesn’t actually exist any more except in the minds of people such as" - Simpson then goes on to name some exceptions. I would like to note one other exception that Simpson missed who apparently also believes the Confederacy still exists: the Guru of many progressive leaning Civil War historians, Professor David Blight, who has written:

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?
So, just to be "fair and balanced", it's not just some whacko birds in the "Confederate heritage" movement who believe the Confederacy still exists. And it's not just that same crowd who focuses on the political aspects of competing perspectives.


But, thank God, the American South does still exist. And will for the foreseeable future.