Sunday, August 12, 2012


Hi all!  Sorry for the long pause but July was a busy month.  I helped guide the Moore Center's tour of the Seven Days battlefields around Richmond at the end of June.  While it was HOT, reaching 104 degrees, the tour was a success.  I noticed that the only rebel victory of the battle, Gaines' Mill, was for a long time the only one preserved.  I wonder why!  Only recently has the National Park Service preserved the final and costliest battle, Malvern Hill.  I helped keep everyone organized - we didn't lose anyone, thank goodness - and supplied with water.

August was busy too.  Aside from a trip to Washington, D.C., I spent most of my time researching and writing a paper as part of my fellowship requirements.  My essay dealt with cross-border enlistments in West Virginia.  To my great surprise, many Union soldiers accredited to the future state in fact came from neighboring states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Maryland.  This is separate and distinct from known recruitment in those states.  I concluded that more rebel support existed in West Virginia than previously thought.  I presented these findings to a small audience at Shepherd University on my last day before leaving for home. Thanks to the Center and its excellent staff for a great opportunity.

My trip home included both research and tourism.  I first went to Philadelphia.  The National Archives Mid-Atlantic Office has West Virginia's federal records.  I used one source there in 2006 while researching for my M.A. thesis. It proved so useful that I had to make a second visit.  On this trip, I took a chance of using my digital camera to photograph the records rather than make photocopies.  It worked.  Not only were the images clear, I gathered far more than I originally planned.  Let's hope it pays off like last time.  When not in the archives, I visited many of Philadelphia's historic sights.  I saw Valley Forge, Independence Hall, Benjamin Franklin's grave, the excellent National Constitution Center, and the Museum of Art.

After three days in the City of Brotherly Love, I spend three more days traveling back to Alabama.  On day 1, I went to Annapolis, Maryland to see the lovely United States Naval Academy and its great museum, and the state capital - my twenty-ninth.  I noticed something interesting at the capitol: on one side, they honor black attorney and U.S. Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall; on the other, Roger B. Taney, the Chief Justice of that same court who passed the controversial Dred Scott decision in 1857 which denied African Americans any rights at all.  After Annapolis came Dover, Delaware - my thirtieth state capitol.  I've now seen each capitol located east of the Mississippi river save for Augusta, Maine.  I also saw the U.S. Air Force's Air Mobility Command Museum at Dover Air Force Base.  A long drive down the Delmarva Peninsula to Norfolk, Virginia followed.

Day 2: I left Norfolk early for the Outer Banks of North Carolina to see the Atlantic Ocean (literally getting my feet wet!), the Wright Brothers' Memorial at Kitty Hawk, and Fort Raleigh, the site of the lost English colony of Roanoke from 1587.  I later visited Fayetteville, site of the Airborne and Special Operations Museum and the 82nd Airborne Division War Memorial Museum at Fort Bragg, before stopping in Columbia, South Carolina for the night.  Day 3 was a simple drive from Columbia to Auburn via Atlanta.  I really wanted to get home after three months away.

I don't have a lot more to report right now.  I saw "Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies," a low-budget (and it shows!) film. Aside from a well-cast actor as the president, it's forgettable.  Civil War specialists will cringe at the deliberate historical errors.  Oh well.  Spielberg's Lincoln comes out on November 9th.