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Posts tagged ‘Civil War’

The Battlefield at New Market

"The

Friday is field trip day, so in spite of a brooding sky, we packed up and headed southwest into the Shenandoah Valley where many battles were fought during the War of Northern Aggression. As some call it.

"Crooked

Today, we made our way to New Market, where there is a well-presented museum which chronicles the major events and people of the Civil War and a nicely preserved and maintained battlefield.

The Battle of New Market took place on the farm of the Bushong family.  This shot shows the workmanship of their wheelwright shop joints, and the starkly beautiful outbuildings of the farm.

The Battle of New Market took place on the farm of the Bushong family. This shot shows the workmanship of their wheelwright shop joints, and the starkly beautiful outbuildings of the farm.

The Battle of New Market is notable because it was the first engagement in which the cadets of the Virginia Military Institute fought in the ranks.
And fight they did.
Ten died, out of the two hundred fifty who participated in the Confederate victory of May 15, 1864.

One way to say, 'No Parking!"

One way to say, ‘No Parking!”

The field is placid now. Wide open, with views of Massanutten Mountain and the New Market Gap to the north and east, the Shenandoah Valley and the Blue Ridge mountains to the south and west.

A classic 'disappearing point' shot.  Those are my little people up there.

A classic ‘disappearing point’ shot. Those are my little people up there.

Today, VMI administers and operates the battlefield and accompanying Museum of the Civil War.
Thankfully, they were able to preserve the property in spite of the advent of Interstate I-81, which bisects the property, rendering the eastern side of the battlefield accessible only by pedestrian walkway under the freeway.

A view of the apple orchard by way of the downspout on the slave cabin.

A view of the apple orchard by way of the downspout on the slave cabin.

Note the sloping lintel of the door on the Bushong farmhouse.

Note the sloping lintel of the door on the Bushong farmhouse.

Ignore the hum and rush of Twenty-First Century conveyances, and you are quickly transported to the mid-Nineteen Century on this well-maintained field of battle. See details of the museum and battle at http://www.vmi.edu/newmarket .

Looking out of the west parlor in the Bushoand farmhouse.  The open gate and winding road are inviting, even on a grey day.

Looking out of the west parlor in the Bushoand farmhouse. The open gate and winding road are inviting, even on a grey day.

Looking out the second story hall window of the Bushong farmhouse with a vintage spinning wheel makes wonderful lines!

Looking out the second story hall window of the Bushong farmhouse with a vintage spinning wheel makes wonderful lines!

shadows and lines front the farmhouse second story hall.

More shadows and lines in the farmhouse second story hall.

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The Battle of Rich Mountain

We were in the middle of a cloud up on Rich  Mountain.  The mist had a softening, dreamy quality.  Taken with my cell phone camera.

We were in the middle of a cloud up on Rich Mountain. The mist had a softening, dreamy quality. Taken with my cell phone camera.

A series of battles took place in what is now West Virginia during the summer of 1861. Most of them were decisive victories for the Federals, including the encounter which took place at Rich Mountain.

We were out “far afield-ing,” as my kids like to call our wandering drives to see new sights and cover unfamiliar terrain. It was a rainy, cloudy Friday, perfect weather for a long drive.

I popped “The Story of the World” into the CD-player, and we set out, meandering through Northern Virginia until we found scenic, old route 55 and crossed the border into West Virginia.

This monstrosity is a great example of why we like to take the 'old' road down below rather than the 'new' one up there.

This monstrosity is a great example of why we like to take the ‘old’ road down below rather than the ‘new’ one up there.

A potty break turned into a spontaneous caving expedition, giving the kids a chance to get muddy and wet exploring crags and crannies in the limestone cliffs.

When it was almost time to start home, I spied a little brown sign advertising the battlefield at Rich Mountain, just outside Beverly, WV. Who knew? We turned off the main road and went to investigate.

Soon, the road turned from asphalt to the sticky, muddy dirt of a mountain road on a wet day. The road twisted for miles, and I began to wonder how the armies could have possibly dragged artillery way up there. And on period roads! We wound our way up into the hills, passing hunters, dogs, and a quarry before we rounded a corner and pulled up in a pass.

Thick, heavy clouds laid their tired weight around us as I gingerly turned the van around in the little used and very soft dirt parking area. “The last thing we need is to be stuck in the mud way up here,” I thought. It seemed a remote place for a farm, let alone a battle.

Imagine dragging artillery up here!

Imagine dragging artillery up here!

Some investigation revealed a wooded battlefield in the coll between two peaks at the site of what was, in 1851, a farm belonging to the grandson of a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Hart, was the family name. Apparently, the Confederates had about 200 men and a single piece of artillery (ah-hah! It WAS too much trouble to get any more up there!) stationed in what must have seemed like an unconquerable location.

The farmhouse and stable around which the battle raged on July 11, 1861, are gone now, but the huge boulders and foundation stones are still there, and -amazingly- you can still see the bullet holes and gouges from various forms of weaponry on the rocks! (plus plenty of impact craters in the signs from more modern ammunition…)

You can still see the 150-year-old bullet hole in the rock, just above and right of the grey lichen on the rock.

You can still see the 150-year-old bullet hole in the rock, just above and right of the grey lichen on the rock.

The Confederates took shelter behind the rocks and the stable when the Federals surprised them from behind, having surreptitiously marched uphill in the pouring rain under the guidance of a young man from the farm.

Today, with the heavy, damp, clinging fog, and soaked ground, it was easy to imagine how uncomfortable it must have been to make a surprise, uphill assault in bad weather!

It had been a Federal victory, the swarming onslaught overcoming the cannon and sending the Confederates fleeing over the mountaintop pastures among the cows. It’s all forest, now.

All those trees the settlers labored to clear have grown back again, including this one that looks like it's sitting down on the rock to rest.

All those trees the settlers labored to clear have grown back again, including this one that looks like it’s sitting down on the rock to rest.

Every once in a while, a pick up truck would swish by us, its tires kicking up a plume of tacky mud, hunters in bright colors in the cab. One shuddered to a halt, and I heard a rich, southern accent calling out to us.

“Y’all got to look over there on ta-other side of the road, there’s a path thetcha folla, an’ if ya look atta rocks, you kin see some carvings. Some a th’soldiers carved their names intada rocks.”

Cool!

And sure enough, under the moss and lichen in every shade of green (in December!), we saw several carvings. A sign posted by the private organization which maintains the site said alumni from the battle had returned after the war and engraved their names on the rocks which had sheltered them that day.

See the carving?  They ask you not to touch it so it won't fade any faster.  It says: "Clay Jackson was killed here in 1861."  According to the signs, he was a Confederate soldier taking shelter behind this rock who died in the very first volley.  His friend carved this on a visit after The War.

See the carving? They ask you not to touch it so it won’t fade any faster. It says: “Clay Jackson was killed here in 1861.” According to the signs, he was a Confederate soldier taking shelter behind this rock who died in the very first volley. His friend carved this on a visit after The War.

We make a point to say the St. Gertrude prayer at every battlefield we visit. And a prayer for the healing of our Land.

The mist must provide all the moisture this healthy growth of moss and lichen need.  I love the textures in this photo.  Taken with my cell phone camera.

The mist must provide all the moisture this healthy growth of moss and lichen need. I love the textures in this photo. Taken with my cell phone camera.

Although the Destination Is the Same…

Sunshine dapples the brick face of Old Salem Church like bullets did in May, 1862.
The church was used as a field hospital, amputated limbs stacked in corners higher than a man’s height, blood running out the doors.
The building is resting quietly after all the drama.
Taken on my cell phone camera


…there are all manner of entrances, depending on who you are.

Especially at this 19th century Baptist Church which was the site of Civil War battle.

Nearly 4000 people were killed here. The same loss as one day of abortion.

The door in the foreground was for slaves. It leads to a set of tiny stairs completely partitioned off from the interior of the church. The stairs lead to the upper gallery – a three-sided balcony where slaves could participate in the service without mixing with the congregation below.

The near door on the left was for men.

The far door for women.

Everyone inside segregated from one another.

Maybe these doors are an indication of the architectural influence held by the social convention of the time, but they make me think of “The Narrow Gate” of Gospel fame whose way is hard but leads to life. Or the Eye of the Needle Gate, through which camels could pass only on their knees when all their baggage was removed. Or the first Mark of the Church: One.

We are one. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free. We are One in Christ Jesus. Members of his body, the Church.

These different doors lead to the same sanctuary, but when each person is carried out in their casket, their souls will have to find the single gate to the Heavenly sheepfold: Jesus.

What was in the Second Envelope

I thought I had it figured out when I was standing in line to check in. A map of the area on the counter shows me there are two significant Civil War battlefields very near by.

Ah hah! My astute husband, knowing I have a Civil War craving smiled last night when I went out the door to a lecture on the leadership styles of various Civil War Generals. Now I understand!

I went upstairs to my room and took a bath -not a shower, mind you. Today, there is time to bathe.

I debated whether to answer the phone when it rang, and am glad I did, because a friend was involved in a car accident while stopping by the roadside to offer a ride to my daughter, who was waiting for the bus to work.

When we were done talking, I picked up Envelope Number 2.

It read, open by 5:00 PM Friday.

Inside were more Mapquest directions, this time to a local church. Report time, 6:30 PM.

I went to a local consignment store and bought a new-to-me outfit, because there is time for that today. Then I found an authentic Afghani Kabob restaurant and watched ‘Dora the Explorer’ in Arabic while they prepared my food.

I took it to one of the Civil War sites and walked around before sitting in the car to eat. It’s perched on a small rise in the heart of a very commercial area and surrounded by raging traffic and high density housing. Hard to imagine the 4000 soldiers who died here 149 years ago this month.

Three crows screamed at me while I prayed the “Eternal Father” prayer for the souls who perished there. There is a heaviness there. I will post pictures when I get home.

Went back to the hotel to get copies of The Book of Names, as Hubby indicated I would need them.

I arrived at the church at 6:17 and sat listening to a TimeLife “Southern Songs” CD until 6:24 when I followed two ladies into the foyer of the church.

A sign on a bulletin board announced a talk by Ken Ham, an Austrailian who teaches about earth origins from a Biblical point of view.

“Ah hah!” I chortled. “He sent me to a Biblical Creation conference!” And I was excited, because the topic is fascinating.

Then, on another table, I saw his picture.

Not Ken Ham’s.

Michael Card’s.

Michael Card, whose music has provided the soundtrack to our 19-year marriage, whose sang (via cassette) to my babies in utero, to whom we still dance around the kitchen with wild abandon.

This same Michael Card is teaching a conference about “Biblical Imagination” and the Gospel of St. Mark.

And I am here for it!!!!

And just because that wasn’t enough for the moment, I walked into the auditorium, and the man in jeans with a bald pate and greying beard chatting at the front of the room turns to me and gives a friendly, “hi!”

It’s Michael Card.

I tried not to be too obvious as I snatched a picture and sent it flying through cyberspace to Hubby. Subject: NO WAY!!!

He sang to us! That voice! The warm mellow tenor which thins to reach higher tones! The quiet capability of the accomplished hands wiping songs off the keyboard like a waiter attending to bread crumbs.

Enchanting!

And afterward, like a normal guy, he lets me effuse to him, takes my book, a photo of our kids, and my sincere thanks with the humility of a man who genuinely recognizes his place before God.

I aspire.

Thank you, Lord!

And thank you, Hubby!!!!!

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