Tuesday, February 17, 2015


You don't have to search very far on this blog or talk to me for very long to learn that I have a passion for Civil War History. I love reading about the generals, the presidents, the spy's, the war strategies, the battles and I absolutely can't get enough of dragging my family to as many Civil War sights as possible. As I have also mentioned on numerous occasions, Virginia is full of Civil War history. And Virginia was indisputably Southern.  A few weeks ago we spent the day in Richmond. I had been wanting to visit the capital of Virginia and the Confederacy for some time. Our first stop was the Museum of the Confederacy and Jefferson Davis' Southern White House.  These two places are smack dab in the city center and in the middle of VCU's campus.  It is a diverse neighborhood ethnically, economically and educationally. In fact, I am almost 100% sure I saw Uncle Si from Duck Dynasty chatting up a very distinguished looking doctor. Anyway,  I felt a little awkward going into the museum and the Davis' home.  I caught more than a few disgusted stares focused in our direction and it made me wonder if I was projecting some sort of tolerance for the worst that the Confederacy had believed in, in my own countenance.  The stares and whispers made me completely insecure about my choice to haul my children into such a place and a little embarrassed to tell people what we did with our free day.  I have been given strange looks and reprimanding lectures regarding visiting these places before. I've been teased a little-all in good fun- I think, but in the midst of all that good-natured-fun-poking,  I have essentially been called a racist for patronizing anything Confederate. I always thought that was a pretty big leap. Maybe I am wrong. With the exception of a few places in the deep south, I have felt like most of these landmarks have presented a straight-forward and unbiased look at both sides of the war, the ugliness of slavery, and the fact that racism existed on both sides of the Mason Dixon Line. I'm not really sure our schools have attempted to portray that same image.  Atley came home last year after studying Virginia history ashamed to be a Virginian. I was infuriated by the preferential way history was being presented to him. He was later given a state wide test that asked the question. "Who invented the Cotton Gin?"  Most of us would reply Eli Whitney. However, in an effort to promote equality there most be an equal number of African American answers as white American answers.  The answer to who invented the cotton gin was Eli Whitney's slave.  Apparently, watching him work tirelessly in the fields provided Whitney with the inspiration he needed to follow through with his plans. Therefore, the slave should be credited with the invention. Say what?  Am I crazy to think that is a totally bizarre and bogus concept. I want my children to see both sides of life in 1860's America and 2015 America. I think they will realize that with the exception of Slavery in the south, both sides had good points and terrible ones, righteous men and evil men.  I feel like those principles apply to any group, religious, ethnic or otherwise in today's society as well. Am I wrong? Is there something immoral about learning about and discussing the confederacy? Finding some redeeming qualities in some of its' best leaders?   Maybe so.  Anyhow, I'm certainly being made to feel that way.

 We also visited Hollywood Cemetery where President James Monroe and John Tyler are buried along with many famous Confederate Generals including JEB Stuart.  His grave is pictured above. Below is the graveside of Jefferson Davis and his family.  The cemetery is in a lovely spot overlooking the James River.

Ever notice that children during this time period always wore dresses and long hair regardless of sex.  On this trip, I learned that boys wore dresses until they were six years old. Above is Robert E. Lee. How did you tell the difference between a boy and girl? A girl's hair was parted down the middle while a boy's hair was always parted on the side.
If you want to read an excellent book on the Civil War and its influence on the lives of southerners both black and white, even in the present day, this is my favorite book on Civil War History.
If you want to learn a little, but mostly just want to be romanced by a young Patrick Swayze, you must watch the mini-series North & South! One of my favorite moves of all time.

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