Wednesday, August 26, 2009

History Defeated by Walmart

ABC News reported that Walmart had won its bid to build a new store near the Wilderness Battlefield.

The Orange County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 early Tuesday to grant the special permit after a majority of more than 100 speakers said they favored bringing the Walmart to Locust Grove, near the Wilderness Battlefield.

Residents cited three reasons for supporting the Walmart proposal: jobs, tax revenue and a cheap shopping option for the 32,000 residents of Locust Grove.

Once again mindless development takes precedence over historic preservation.

However disappointing the result, my main reason for this posting is to criticize ABC for their reporting. Quite simply, I wonder how any credible news service can talk about the fight to preserve the Wilderness battlefield without interviewing or mentioning the efforts of Jim Lighthizer and his team at the Civil War Preservation Trust. This group has been at the vanguard of the fight and ABC failed to mention their fine work in this engagement with runaway development or the victories they achieved in other preservation efforts.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Army Names Are the Definite Article

It's hard to keep track of the different Civil War armies especially when battles may take place between the Army of Tennessee and the Army of the Tennessee or the Army of Mississippi and the Army of the Mississippi.

They key of course is in the definite article "the." "The" is a rather special word and is uniquely classified as a definite article. Civil War students will find the "the" important because its use helps to distinguish Union armies from closely named Confederate units. The "the" refers to a river, namely the Tennessee River or Mississippi or Potomac River. Union armies were generally named for rivers in much the same way that the Federals named battles. Confederates named their armies using states or geographic regions. Examples here are the Army of Northern Virginia and the Army of Tennessee.

So when you see the "the" you can bet that it is a Yankee unit.

For more on the subject, please see Armies of the Civil War.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Vicksburg Guided Tours

We visited Vicksburg National Military Park last Friday and gained new insight into the battle thanks to our guide, Gary Millett. Vicksburg tours are provided through the center which has a booth in the visitor center. Gary gave us a two hour tour of the battlefield filled with annecotes and insights about the battle and its participants. As a native son of Vicksburg, he had a unique perspective of the national park and city. We complimented our battlefield tour with a driving tour of the city.

The tours are two hours long and can be arranged for individuals, families and larger groups. Guides drive or ride in the visitor's vehicle. Please make your reservation by calling 601-636-3827. The battlefield and city tours provide an excellent introduction to the various historic sites.

Gary recommends the following books:

> Warren Grabau's Ninety-Eight Days which provides considerable insight as to the decisions that had to be made by both Union and Confederate generals during the campaign. This book is required study for West Point cadets.
> Winston Groom's Vicksburg 1863 is a very concise, easy-reading account of the Vicksburg siege
> Gordon Cotton's, the last curator of Vicksburg's Old Courthouse Museum, Yankee Bullets, Rebel Rations presents the diaries of several of Vicksburg's citizens who weathered the seige. This book humanizes their experiences quite well and presents very surprising anticdotes of relations with Union and Confederate officers, slaves, and camp followers (sutlers) during the campaign.

Please click on the following links to learn more:

> Vicksburg, MS Site - Civil War Journeys
> Vicksburg National Military Park - National Park Service
> Vicksburg Guided Tours - National Park Service - ask for Gary Millett