US Civil War

Idea Bank #1: My favorite present I’ve ever received…

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Guess it’s been awhile since I mentioned the Idea Bank. Since I’m in the middle of 2 books right now, I decided that it’s as good a time as any to tackle one of these. I have no intention of going in order or even of using each idea only once, but this one seems like a good place to start.

My favorite present is the Christmas gift that my boyfriend gave me last year (2014): a walk.

I like to walk. I think it’s the best form of exercise. He on the other hand isn’t a walker especially since hot weather aggravates his heart condition as well as his vertigo (he’s falling apart). He doesn’t have much spending money and I despise thoughtless gifts, so we’ve mutually agreed to limit presents.

Anyway, since we live in southeastern Virginia, there’s about a dozen historic forts within an hours drive (probably more). While out for a drive one afternoon last summer, we saw a couple signs pointing the way to Fort Huger. We drove around a while, but just couldn’t figure out where it was and thought it might be one of those hills with a fence around it that’s only open one or two weekends a year for reenactments.

Over the months, we made our way to that area a few more times and each time we looked for the Fort with no success. Then, in late November/early December he got a tow that took him the area, but from a different direction. Low and behold, he found the Fort! I was excited to see it, but I’ll admit that working 40 hours a week has left me less than excited to walk long distances, so I didn’t push him to take me there, even though the weather wasn’t horrible.

The weekend before Christmas we hopped in the car. I expected us to be running errands so I brought my book, just in case. We weren’t far from the house when I mentioned my book for whatever reason (he might have brought it up, I’m not sure) and he said “It’ll be hard to read while walking”. Awww!! I hate surprises (which he knows), but on the grand scale of surprises, this one was wonderful!

Unfortunately, we were about halfway to the Fort when his dad called to say that he’d fallen, so we had to immediately turn around and drive to his dad’s house. I didn’t mind one bit. Walks can wait, especially since his dad had been sick for months (he ultimately passed away January 9, 2015).

I’m not sure when we tried again for our walk. It was either the weekend after Christmas or the first weekend of January (it was definitely before the 9th). The weather was beautiful–we only needed to wear jackets, which is perfect for walking. It turns out that we’d almost made it to the Fort on most of our previous excursions because there are large cement barriers blocking about 100 yards of road right before the entrance if you come in via the “Civil War Trails” signs. We’d found our way to the opposite side of the road block on at least one occasion (in which case you turn left and you’re there), but BF admitted that he wasn’t 100% positive how we got there that time (this was before he got a modern GPS). So anyway…there was mud, but we made it to the Fort :-).

The Fort itself can easily be described as cute. It’s small, but well done (I’d say well preserved, but for the most part, forts were abandoned and forgotten about until someone did some research and re-built it). It looks more like a fort than most of the ones I’ve seen.

Alas. Those cannons? Plastic.

If I had to use a few words to describe Fort Huger, it’d be “Boy Scout Camp” simply because it’s very neat and tidy with a cute walking path and neat and tidy fences to keep you away from the wilderness. Yes, this looks the most fort-like of the forts I’ve seen, but it’s also the most unrealistic I’ve ever seen. Shiny green grass (even in winter because this is Virginia), well groomed hills and nice new platforms for the plastic cannons. Whenever I visit Yorktown Battlefield, the grass is at least calf height and the hills (which would be the actual fort “walls”) are losing the battle against erosion. At the very least, when Fort Huger was in use there wouldn’t have been much grass what with men walking and sleeping all over it. It reminds me a lot of the Jamestown Settlement–Shiny! Not that that’s a bad thing! It’s just not very accurate.

Anyway, if you just want a nice pleasant (but short) walk, this fort is lovely. You can kind of see the Ghost Fleet (if the trees aren’t too thick). It’s an excellent place for a picnic.

General Sherman’s Christmas: Savannah 1864

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“The quiet grace at tea with Mrs. Cornwell; the “cordial” overnight invitation to Howard; the “kindly” offer of a guard, while nearby residences reportedly burned wholesale; the Cornwell plantation itself confiscated of everything edible and on the hoof, and then ruined; the family left nearly without food for days; and the house threatened with burning, yet protected; the return of household goods–all these juxtapose contradictions not easily reconciled, yet integral to the surreality of the march to the sea.”

A really good read on Sherman’s march. I’m still desperate to read one of the many books written by southerner’s shortly after the war which claimed to tell “the real story”. I ran across a bunch of these as I played around with what my college thesis would be on.

In terms of the depravity that happened in GA during the march, this book seems to make the most sense from what I’ve read. I think that what happened in Baltimore a few weeks ago is a good place to start in deciding where the truth was in the past, if that makes any sense.

Remember the ladies fainting in Portsmouth!

General Sherman and His Staff -- Border Poster
General Sherman and His Staff — Border Poster by parrow1978
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Gen Sherman 'Heat a Peach' Tour 1864 Mug
Gen Sherman ‘Heat a Peach’ Tour 1864 Mug by ThenWear
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