Saturday, March 28, 2009

saturday road notes

Lucked out on the rain again today, making for some fine touring. It's a powerful thing to see for the first time the results of preservation efforts you participated in from afar, years ago. The Third Winchester tracts are impressive. Likewise Fisher's Hill. This second, chock-full day wrapped up at Toms Brook. If I'm not mistaken, we walked through part of a dedicated frisbee-golf course to get to the marker. Scott Patchan regaled the attendees this evening with a detailed examination of the life of Phil Sheridan. Many folks are heading home in the morning, but about 20 of us will spend four hours at Cedar Creek with Scott. Shoot -- I forgot to go to bed again.

friday road notes

Two experiences in Virginia Civil War history on the same day illustrate two ends of a spectrum. We got out our box lunches near some markers at the heart of the Rutherford's Farm/Stephenson's Depot battlefield. These markers are on an island between the highway and the new Lowe's parking lot. It is a sea of striped blacktop now. By contrast, the visit to the Cool Spring battlefield was a bucolic walk through a pristine pasture, to the banks of the Shenandoah. Favorite stop of the day: the 1854 Pritchard House on the Kernstown battlefield. All praise due to the Kernstown Battlefield Association. Photos to follow. The evening was capped off nicely with a very entertaining and informative talk by Stevan Meserve on Tom Rosser.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

thursday road notes

A rainy day in Winchester and environs. At noon, about 20 of us carpooled over to Charles Town, West Virginia for a stop at the Jefferson County Museum -- they've got quite an impressive collection, including some nice Civil War material, and John Brown-related artifacts. Perhaps most impressive is the wagon that carried Brown to the gallows.
Following historian Steve Meserve, we walked past the prosecuting attorney's home to a slightly newer iteration of the old court house where Brown was tried. Then we drove to the gallows site, and finally passed through lovely forlorn Harpers Ferry to the Kennedy Farm, where Brown gathered his weaponry and plotted his holy insurrection.

Back at Winchester it was time to greet old friends and meet some new ones in the Lord Fairfax Room. Guide and speaker Scott Patchan made his appearance, and after all enjoyed a hearty repast, Scott set the stage for the next two days of tours, helping us get our minds around the expansive, overlapping operations of that bloody 1864 Shenandoah summer.

Time to get some zzz's now. The trouble with flying from the West Coast to the East -- for night owls like me -- is that even if you go to bed early, it's still way too late. It was worth it, though. As I was typing this I got to see the Baby Ruth scene from Caddyshack one more time.

John Hope Franklin, R.I.P.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

13th Civil War Forum Battlefield Conference


We have 43 people signed up for what promises to be another deeply informative and memorable series of tours and talks later this month, headquartered in Winchester. There are still several seats available, if you're interested in attended. It's a fun group of peoplemany who have been to most or all of the past conferences, some who signed on in recent years, and always a handful of welcome first-timers.

It's a great deal: $275 for two full days of bus tours (with box lunches), two half days of tours by carpool, and three evening buffet dinners with after-dinner presentations by our historians Scott Patchan and Stevan Meserve. The Civil War Forum continues to sponsor the best tours, with the best guides, for as low a cost as possible. Anything left over goes to The Civil War Preservation Trust.

Among other sites, we'll spend much of our two days of bus tours with Scott visiting Cool Spring/Snickers Gapincluding a walk down to the river and a visit to the Parker House; 2nd Kernstown Battlefield, 3rd Winchester Battlefield, Fisher’s Hill and Tom's Brook. On Sunday morning we'll finish up with four hours at Cedar Creek.

For early arrivals, we have an optional 4-hour outing planned for Thursday afternoon to Charles Town, WV to visit John Brown-related sites, including the Kennedy Farm, where Brown and his men hid out while preparing their raid, the Jefferson County Museumwhose collection includes the Stuart Horse Artillery flag, John Brown pikes and memorabilia, and the wagon that took Brown to the gallowsthe courthouse where Brown was tried, and the gallows site, plus a walking tour of the town. Our guide for Thursday will be Stevan Meserve, whose stellar research isn't limited to Loudoun County, the subject of a nice Civil War history he published last year.

For registration information and updates, click here.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

finger-lickin' dead

"It's about the torment of a
southern officer who lost everything"

Mel Gibson discusses trailer for his new
Civil War movie on the Jimmy Kimmel show

(sent to me by Nita)

Monday, March 02, 2009

The Onion on the The Kindle

(click on image to enlarge)

Yale without the homework

I bookmarked this site some time agomaybe after seeing notice on Kevin Levin's blogand tonight I took a little time to investigate. Yale is offering this free, introductory course from Professor David Blight spanning the entire Civil War era, antebellum through Reconstruction. I am intrigued by how various top-flight historians choose to condense such a monstrous topic into a series of distinct lectures, each with a beginning and an end. In this case I have high hopes for many succinct summaries of Blight's unique analysis, but will settle for an utterly masterful synthesis of the work of others. Short of that, I'll give thanks for a series of refreshing naps. It's a win-win, and the price is right.

Someday I'll check out the 48-part lecture series by Gary Gallagher, on sale at the teaching company for $250 (audio download) or DVD ($519), but if I had a few hundred extra bucks in my pocket today, I'd have bought a
Kindle by now.

In the meantime, this series of lectures by Professor Blight is just what the doctor ordered.
Back in October of 2007, I posted a blog entry on iTunes U, highlighting the selection of complimentary downloads from various prominent universities giving something back to the community. I'm sure the offerings have grown considerably by now, and the "Open Yale Courses" series is probably listed there. You can also download directly from the Yale site. I love the flexibility they offer with high bandwidth (500 MB), medium bandwidth (200 MB), and simple audio MP3's (60 MB).

Tooling down the freeway with the volume cranked up on lecture 21, "Andrew Johnson and the Radicals," is just about as nerdy as you can get with digital media, but someone's got to do it. If not you, then who? If not now, then when? [click on the image below for a more readable view]

From the Yale site:

About Professor David Blight

David W. Blight is the Class of 1954 Professor of American History and Director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition at Yale University. He is the author of numerous books, including A Slave No More: Two Men Who Escaped to Freedom, Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory (for which he received the Bancroft, Abraham Lincoln, and Frederick Douglass prizes), and Beyond the Battlefield: Race, Memory, and the American Civil War. He is also the co-author of the bestselling American history textbook, A People and a Nation.