Petersburg, Virginia

16 09 2007

Saturday was an absolutely gorgeous day!

I took the opportunity of the pleasant weather to head down to Petersburg to take some photos.  For weeks now I’ve been wanting to get down there for that.

First, let me just say, if you read nothing else know this: If you change out the trees that line Petersburg’s Old Towne for Palmetto Trees, you would think you’re in Charleston, SC.  Petersburg has that feel to it.

Now, I went into Old Towne to photograph the area because it is a mix of old Alexandria and Charleston.  But in saying that, it’s not really fair to compare because Petersburg has her own identity that perhaps has similar traits to her sister southern cities.  Enough ryhmes and alliterations.

I am SO enthralled with Petersburg.  Walking the streets you get a real sense of the potential for this area.  I checked out some of the antique shops, got some coffee from Java Mio and walked the streets.  Taking over 30 megabytes of photos, I posted the vast majority of them on Flickr.  My family has our roots in Petersburg, VA.  The John Baird house in the city is my great-great-great-great-great-etc. Grandfather’s.  I wanted a picture of it, but the batteries died in the camera and, alas, I didn’t bring a spare set.

Folks, Petersburg’s on the verge of something big.  It could be awesome with what they want do there.  I read the report some months ago about the master plan with the marina and the river front and along with the other plans it could be an incredible place to live, work and hang out.  Being there yesterday really made me want to have a house on Grove Avenue or somewhere around there.

The people that were around Saturday were extremely friendly.  There was no hesitation to greet one another as you pass by.  Some shop owners sat out in front of their stores greeting people and were extremely helpful with some of my questions.  If you love shopping for antiques, then head down to Petersburg, they have everything!!! Seriously, I saw it.

Bottom Line: Petersburg is an excellent place.  Full of history, the longest siege in North America occurred here, the Civil War battlefields are just minutes drive away, and the architecture is phenominal.  The people were friendly, the shops interesting, the coffee awesome! 

With the increase in population looming, more and more will get a chance to see this great city, be sure you’re one of them to check it out.  Keep reading in the news about the efforts to revitalize the city and support those who are working there.

Thanks Petersburg for an enjoyable afternoon!

P.S. – I amen my earlier post about Petersburg should get Part 3 of the Museum of the Confederacy.  It would fit nicely there in town.





Richmond Battlefields Association…*sigh*

12 09 2007

I received in the mail the other day the newsletter from the Richmond Battlefields Association, a local group involved in Civil War battlefield preservation.  In it was a story about the early attempts to secure and interpret battlefields in the 1920s & 1930s.  Douglas Freeman, among others were instrumental in saving a majority of the Battlefields that the National Park Service now owns around Richmond. The story goes into the old Richmond Battlefield Parks Corporation’s efforts to preserve the sites and build roads connecting them so that Richmond’s Battlefields would attract as many as go to see Gettysburg.

Okay, fast forward 80 some years later.  We have a good amount of battlefields protected, but A LOT not protected and even more lost forever.  The writer of this newsletter called the efforts to protect certain sites north of the James an “utter failure”.

That’s a little harsh.  True, the did not succeed, but it makes it seem like they slacked off and didn’t get the job done.  I have read that they tried to secure quite a bit of property to protect, but land prices were too high (surprise) and the Great Depression hindered fundraising.  I know they wanted to protect sites that still today are left to the whim of developers.  Powhite, Dr. Gaines’ farm in Hanover is one site, but it was just too much to afford in the ’20s (even today it’s way overpriced).  Grapevine Bridge area, just too expensive.

These folks worked hard to get the ball rolling on battlefield preservation.  True I wish their dreams had come true, but unfortunately, it didn’t.  That just leaves it to us to carry out this mission.

They efforts weren’t an utter failure in terms of certain sites, it was just too much of an uphill battle.





September 11, Genesis, Confederate Flag, et al…

11 09 2007

-Today is September 11, exactly six years ago today the nation if not the world changed forever.  In fact even the days of the week fall the same as they did six years ago as today is Tuesday, September 11.  Take a moment, remember where you were when you learned of the disaster and remember what you have today and thank God.

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-I’ve been reading the book of Genesis lately.  You know reading the Bible is like any book, when you read it again and again you always find something new.  For instance, in the stories of the world pre-Noah’s Flood the people were able to craft bronze tools and the like.  It makes me wonder how advanced civilization was before they were wiped out?  There was a time I read that some Bible archaeologists think that the pre-flood world was as advanced as our 18th or 19th Century.  That would be amazing, but I don’t think there’s a way to know that until Heaven. 

But don’t get me started on who those beings were that were coming down marrying the women of man.  It was put in there so matter-of-factly, it seems there’s more to that than meets the eye.

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-The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports this morning that yet another Confederate flag argument is flaring up in town.  This time is the argument about which Confederate flag to place in the Capital Building.  The leadership is wanting to put the second national while “heritage” groups want the Battle Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia to be placed in there.

Bottom line: put the second national in there, we really should put the third national, since that was the official flag at the time of the war’s conclusion in 1865.  But this’ll be another opportunity for extremists on both sides to scream and yell and behave like children with no sense.

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-We’re getting a full service Starbucks here soon, the first on the east side of town (east of I-95).  That’ll be real convenient in the mornings, or whenever.  Looking forward to that.

Enjoy your Tuesday!





Virginia gets moving on war’s 150th

9 09 2007

This morning the Richmond Times-Dispatch debuted an article about the planning by Virginia Legislators and Historians for the Civil War’s 150th anniversary from 2011 to 2015.  While four years away, much must be planned out to commemorate a four year long struggle.  I cannot be called too cynical to say that a mountain of controversy will probably arise from this.  Never the less, for people who love history this is a memorable time.

 Read the article………….





Museum of the Confederacy split & move

8 09 2007

Well the news broke this week that the Museum of the Confederacy, the largest holder of Confederate artifacts, is splitting into three museums and moving from Richmond.  One museum will be at the Appomattox Courthouse National Battlefield Park, the second at the Chancllorsville National Battlefield Park and the third and a yet to be announced location.  The library and documents part will remain in Richmond and the plans to move the White House of the Confederacy have been abandoned.

Okay, the reason for all this is due to the fact that attendence has dropped off significantly in the last decade.  The Museum was attracting nearly 100,000 people a year in the mid ’90s, but now is barely welcoming 40,000 visitors a year.  This is due to the expansion of the VCU Medical Center which has engulfed the Museum site, made parking horrible and their present facility only allows them to show 10% of their holdings.

When news came out months ago that a new site was being considered, I instantly thought of two potential sites, one: the old Henrico County Courthouse on Main Street in Shockoe Bottom.  two: any site in the surrounding counties, Chesterfield, Hanover & Henrico all were scenes of most of the fighting around Richmond.

Okay, since this announcement has been made, let me throw in my two cents about the third site:  Petersburg.  Petersburg is a logical choice due to the siege, the importance it had during the war, and the fact that it is in the genesis of an urban renewal.  Downtown Petersburg is beginning to be transformed to a very cool place.  If you haven’t been there, you should visit and get a sense of the potential there for unique place to live, work and have fun.

I sincerly hope the Museum of the Confederacy is smart about what they’re doing.  Atleast the holdings will now be able to be seen by people across the Commonwealth.  Let’s hope it is in everyone’s favor to do this.





Bermuda Hundred

26 03 2007

Federal lines at Bermuda Hundred, 1864Bermuda Hundred, the oldest incorporated English town in North America, has finally been designated a historic area by the United States Government.  Bermuda Hundred is located in Chesterfield County on the James River and looks out over the James towards Charles City County and Shirley Plantation.  Bermuda Hundred was so named (even though it wasn’t exactly describe in the Time-Dispatch article) because the group of settlers headed for Virginia were wrecked for a while in Bermuda.  When they finally landed in present day Chesterfield, the area they landed in reminded them of Bermuda with the open flat land, the tall grasses, etc.  Bermuda Hundred was a thriving port since it is on deep water.  Ocean going ships could come up to Bermuda Hundred and supply the plantations and farms before moving on to Richmond.

The Civil War found Bermuda Hundred in its cross-hairs, the Federal ironclad USS Monitorsailed past Bermuda Hundred on its way to Drewry’s Bluff for the battle in May, 1862.  In 1864, General Butler and his Army of the James landed at Bermuda Hundred at what was the largest amphibious landing of United States Troops until the landing at Normandy in 1944.  The battles that took place in Bermuda Hundred are so numerous that in the 1930s when the National Park Service was taking over the Richmond Battlefields, they planned to incorporate all or as much as possible of the land that is east of Jefferson Davis Highway (US 1 & 301) to the where the James and Appomattox Rivers converge.  That’s a lot of real estate.  Unfortunately it was also during the Great Depression so the plans were never realized.  There are today protected sites scattered throughout eastern Chesterfield County.  But even going back further, there was a Revolutionary War naval battle just upriver from Bermuda Hundred at Obsornes (now an extinct village).  The Chesterfield County Historical Society is working to preserve what they can, with help from various groups and individuals.  The problem is the land is worth so much because it is the industrial area of the county.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch published an article about Bermuda Hundred, but left out the Civil War part.  That article can be found here

Update March 29: The Chester Village News has published an article about Bermuda Hundred which can be found here.





Battle of Williamsburg Reenactment

18 03 2007

Civil War at Endview PlantationThis weekend was the annual reenactment at Endview Plantation in Newport News.  The 145th Anniversary of the Battle of Williamsburg was the theme this year.  Going down today, the weather was blustery but clear.  The cold may have cut the attendance numbers a bit, but those putting on the event went on ahead and did an excellent job.  With reenactors dressed in period clothing, both military and civilians, it was a great look at life in 1862.  We were addressed by Major General John Bankhead Magruder (portrayed by Ron Furqueron) about the importance of the Virginia Peninsula and his efforts to keep at bay General McClellan’s Army of the Potomac which was disembarking ships at Fortress Monroe.  Learning how General Magruder deployed a series of Redoubts along several lines on the Peninsula plus how his request for more troops (he was outnumbered 10 to 1) was answered by the sending of General Joseph E. Johnson.  General Johnson took command and abandoned the Peninsula.  He took the Confederate Army west towards Richmond.  The Federal Army met up with the Confederates at Seven Pines/Fair Oaks (present day Richmond International Airport).  Following the talk by General Magruder, sutlers were open to sell their wares to reenactors and visitors alike.  At 2:00 pm the Battle of Williamsburg took place.  The half hour battle was extremely loud, but just a fraction of a fraction of the men, armament and noise that really took place 145 years ago.  Once the battle concluded, the army camps were open for visitors to walk around.  The men and woman who take part in the reenactment live as if in the 19th Century. No evidence of 21st century life was in sight.  This was another excellent Civil War Day done by Endview Plantation.    If you have the opportunity to tour Endview, make sure you do.  Plus check out Lee Hall Mansion and the other area Civil War battlefields.