Friday, January 21, 2011

Final Day in Richmond

When we attempted to visit Richmond National Battlefield Park only to find out that the “park” is not one single place but, instead, is an approximately 50 mile driving tour around Richmond that takes you each site where a battle was fought in or around Richmond.  Since Wednesday was our last day in Richmond, we opted out of the driving tour and visited the nearby Iron Works center instead.  The Tredegar Iron Works became the industrial hub of Richmond and produced nearly 75% of the materials that sustained the Confederate war machine from 1861 to 1865. 

The James River runs along the course of the iron works and provided waterpower to run the milling equipment.  This site was the perfect ending to our time in Richmond.

We have safely arrived home and are looking forward to a restful weekend.  Goodnight to all.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Berkeley, Shirley and Appomattox Court House

For our fourth day in Richmond, we actually went way outside the city limits to explore even more history for this amazing trip through the Old South. Our only stop for the day was the old town of Appomattox Court House. We learned that this is, in fact, the town name and there is also a court house within the town named the Appomattox Courthouse; and then there is the McLean house in which Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant agreed upon a Lee's surrender of his army. All of the buildings except for the McLean house and one other are the original buildings from the Civil War era. These two buildings are reconstructed, though, so tourists can get a feel for what the town actually looked like 150 years ago. No one actually knows what the inside of the house looked like, but there were written inventories of what type furniture was included, each room was reconstructed to mimick the original house as close as possible. This was a really neat place to visit because the dirt highway that ran from Lynchburg to Richmond was still a dirt highway that included the courthouse in the direct center so that people coming through had to go around the building. Also, very near to the center of Appomattox Court House was the three story jail house. This only included two offices on the ground level and four more buildings for prisoners to stay in (and we thought todays' prisons were bad). This was the only place we visited yesterday because it was two hours outside Richmod.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Yesterday we visited the second White House of the Confederacy (the first was in Montgomery) and the Museum of the Confederacy.  Unfortunately, the White House is closed every year during the month of January for cleaning and restoration projects, but the museum is now housed in a separate so we were still able to view the collections.  Still, the White House is impressive from the outside and the museum made for an over two hour tour with its three levels of exhibits.  The museum only has enough room to display about one-tenth of their entire collection- the remaining items are stored in vaults in the basement of the museum.  For this reason, they are in the process of building a second museum in Appomattox (which we are visiting this afternoon) and they currently alternate the collections on the lower level every few months. 

On the main level of the museum a self-guided tour takes you through the lives of Lee and his generals- right down to their actual shell jackets, boots, guns and even toothbrushes that were saved by their families and later given over to the museum. 

The upper level focuses on the lives of the soldiers when they were not in battle- actual letters written home, songbooks, “mess” containers and pans where they cooked food, and their outfits and clothing. 
With the largest collection of Confederate personal belongings and the most comprehensive assortment of Civil War artifacts, the Museum of the Confederacy displays authentic pieces in the heart of the historic district in Richmond, Virginia.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Richmond (2nd day)

Today we visited two of our most highly anticipated sites of the trip: The Hollywood Cemetery and Monument Avenue. I've visited Arglington National Cemetery in Washington D. C. and I was still very overwhelmed by the size of the Hollywood Cemetery here in Richmond.

There are thousands of people buried here with two of the most important being Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederate States of America and John Tyler, the tenth president of the United States. These gravesites were extravagant and the center pieces of the plot in which they were located. It is easy to mention these two men, but it is important to also remember the thousands of soldiers that lost their lives in the Civil War. There are sections that are memorials for those that lost their lives in the Battle of Gettysburg as well as sections where soldiers were actually buried after the war. Located near the entrance to the cemetery is a 90-foot pyramid erected in 1869 in memoriam of the soldiers that lost their lives. This cemetery is named the "Hollywood Cemetery" because of the holly trees that cover the grounds. This cemetery includes over 25 Confederate generals include Gen. George Picket and J.E.B. Stuart. This is more than any other cemetery in the world.

We noticed that many families have their own personal mausoleums where several members are buried in one building. This is just one more example of the way southerners show their social hierarchy even in death.

Monument Avenue also proved to be interesting because of the celebration taking place during the weekend of Lee-Jackson Day. At the monument of Robert E. Lee there were 5 men that were standing guard dressed in Confederate uniforms and they have been doing this for over 25 years. Only about 3 blocks away was the monument of Stonewall Jackson which was a good bit smaller than Robert E. Lee's. Other monuments on Monument Avenue include Jefferson Davis, J. E. B. Stuart, Arthur Ashe (a famous tennis player and Richmond native), Matthew Fontaine Maury (oceanographer) and others.

Monument Avenue and Hollywood Cemetery are prime examples of how The South glorifies fallen heroes of the Confederacy even though we lost the war. These two sites make it seem that, even though we lost, these men will always be held in high standards because of their leadership during the war.

Join us tomorrow in Appomattox Court House at the McLean house where Lee and Grant agreed on terms of the Confederacy surrendering.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


Our first full day in Richmond, Virginia proved to be more than overwhelming.  We traveled scenic Route 5 which runs parallel to the James River.  Route 5 features over 30 historical markers, from churches to extravagant plantations, several of which we visited, many of which we will try to catch on the journey back to Birmingham.
Salem Church- If the church was still standing it would be one of the oldest Methodist churches in the United States.  Salem Church was used as a hospital for both the Confederate Army and the Union soldiers in 1864 and the grounds later served as a cemetery for many Confederate soldiers- some buried alongside their wives or nurses. 
Westover Plantation- The Westover, built in 1730 by William Byrd II (founder of Richmond), is surrounded by tulip poplars that are over 150 years old.  The front door is just steps from the James River and there is even a “secret” underground passageway that runs from beneath the right side of the home to the left most end of the home near the riverbank.  Today, Westover is still a fully functioning farm producing mostly corn instead of their original money maker tobacco.  The Byrds were very proud of their name and reputation and they displayed it in various ways on the grounds- usually through the image of an eagle or a bird’s wings on an ornate background. 

Sherwood Forest Plantation-  The main home of John Tyler, the 10th president of the United States, is found on the grounds of the Sherwood plantation, along with several original outbuildings dating from 1680 to 1850.  When President Tyler retired from the White House in 1845 to Sherwood Plantation the self-sufficient community of over 100 people he continued to “practice law” in the Gray Room, amateur architecture in the Drawing Room, and leisure reading in the Colonnade.  President Tyler even created a pet cemetery for his many dogs, horses, and a goat that a buried among the 3,500 acres that comprise the plantation.

Evelynton Plantation-  With one of the most grand entrances we’ve encountered thus far, the original Evelynton Plantation was badly damaged during McClellan’s 1862 Peninsula Campaign and the mansion was rebuilt in 1935 on its original foundation.  Generals J.E.B. Stuart and James Longstreet led the Confederate troops to defend Richmond though neither of them had extensive military operations training. 

Join us tomorrow for a look at the Hollywood Cemetery and Monument Avenue.  Happy Lee-Jackson (Lee-Jackson Day, January 14, 2011) week!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Virginia Beach (continued) 11/14

Today we continue our journey through Virginia Beach to visit more houses that were once working farmhouses, but today, they are surrounded by modernity as clothing stores and fast food restaurants quickly close in around them. We've noticed in these houses that they are much smaller than the ones in Savannah and Charleston; however, the tour guides usually say these families were rather "well to do" for that time.

The Lynn-Haven house is one of the smaller houses that we have visited thus far and the Thelabal family that built this house only owned 8 slaves that they had close relationships with and they also worked the farm alongside these slaves. This house only contains four large rooms with the kitchen inside the house, unlike all of the previous houses. This was because they were middle class and also, before that time, insurance did not require houses to have a separate kitchen house in case of fire. Unfortunately, we were unable to take pictures in the houses in Virginia Beach because of security reasoning, but in the Lynn-Haven house, the most interesting thing was the original writing on the parlor ceiling. Mr. Thelabal numbered the boards to line them up and his writing still showed vividly on the boards from the late 1600s. Mr. Thelabal was a ship's carpenter, so this house had many architectural themes that most middle class houses during that time did not. Also, the master bed was made out of mahogany and was considered a show piece for this family since other beds were hand made from the trees found in the area.

After visiting the Lynn-Haven house, it is easy to see where southern folklore of relationships between families and their slaves come from. This family allowed the slaves to sleep in the same house, even on the same floor as their children. After the Mr. Thelabal died soon after the construction of the house, his wife felt much safer with her salves and servants close by in stead of risking theft from pirates that were often near by in the bay and inlets behind the home.

The other house located only four miles from the Lynn-Haven house was built by Adam Thoroughgood. The thoroughgood family were also middle class immigrants so these house are very similar looking in shape and size. However, according to the historians who continue to study these houses, the Thoroughgood family was slightly better off making this house a little larger with more rooms on the inside. This is important to note because it would have allowed for a private bed chamber, unlike the Lynn-Haven house in which the living room and the bed cnahmber were one in the same. Also, Mr. Thoroughgood owned more land and more slaves which was very important in determining the social status for that point in time. Other than those differences, these houses were very similar in purpose since they were built close together and during the same time.

Join us tomorrow as we continue our journey into Richmond.

Virginia Beach

After a chilly evening in our one-bedroom cabin on the 13th, we visited the Francis Land House which was constructed in 1805 for the Land family.  The 206 year old, all brick mansion is the only surviving structure remaining from the grounds of the original plantation.  Six generations of the Land family lived in or owned the home and the grounds until the year 1950 when the grounds were sold to a man who converted it to an upscale ladies and children’s dress shop.  During this time, many renovations were done to the original structure- most importantly the transformation of a bedroom into a kitchen because the original kitchen would have been in a separate outhouse for fear of kitchen fires spreading to the rest of the house. 
When the house was sold to the city of Virginia Beach in 1975 they spent nearly ten years renovating the home, purchasing antiques to stock it with, and adding a gift shop which is the white building seen in the pictures.  Today, the main level of the home is preserved as a museum and the upper level serves as offices.
The main house is about half the size of the Hampton Mansion we visited the other day, which reinforces the idea that the Horry’s and Pinckney’s were living a more than extravagant lifestyle.  We have identified several themes or social rituals that may have guided everyday life on the plantations; these are- a family’s affair with honor and reputation, individuals falling short of the South’s expectations (or those that fulfill and exceed them), and the struggle for power in society which lies at the heart of the planter class in the Old South. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Frampton Plantation

The Frampton Plantation, originally uploaded by tgilles.marie.

Tree in Hampton garden

Tree in Hampton garden, originally uploaded by tgilles.marie.

Road towards Hampton Plantation

Road towards Hampton Plantation

Hampton Plantation

Hampton Plantation, originally uploaded by tgilles.marie.

Road towards Hampton Plantation

Hampton Plantation Kitchen House

Fire place in bedroom, Hampton

The Long Room, Hampton

The Long Room, Hampton, originally uploaded by tgilles.marie.

Fire place detail

Fire place detail, originally uploaded by tgilles.marie.

Tina in fire place, Long room

Jordan in fire place, Long room

Tina & Jordan, Hampton

Tina & Jordan, Hampton, originally uploaded by tgilles.marie.

Crouching Jordan, hidden stairwell

Tina on porch, Hampton

Tina on porch, Hampton, originally uploaded by tgilles.marie.

Jordan w/ tree, Hampton

Jordan w/ tree, Hampton, originally uploaded by tgilles.marie.

Leaving Charleston

Leaving Charleston, originally uploaded by tgilles.marie.

Secret door in the Hampton Mansion

South Carolina

As we head towards North Carolina this morning, we depart the historic town of Charleston, South Carolina- a magnificent city that could have easily taken up two to three days of our trip.  Yesterday we learned that it takes a solid three hours to tour a plantation home, and that is not including the necessary photo-ops.  The Hampton Plantation, located just outside of Charleston in McClellanville, was a once prosperous rice plantation situated in the South Carolina lowcountry.  The Georgian style mansion was home to the Horry, Pinckney and later Rutledge families and was built between the 1730’s and 1750’s by the more than 340 enslaved Africans living on the grounds. 

Archibald Rutledge, poet, owner, and resident of Hampton Plantation until 1970 when it was sold to the state, was unable to maintain the mansion in his later years.  Therefore, the mansion and gardens suffered years of wear and tear.  When the mansion was turned over to the state, they did very few renovations and, instead, removed some plaster off of the walls so that visitors could view the “insides” of history.  There are very few records about the home prior to the Civil War, and most of the recorded history is in journals and letters to and from the family.  The notes always mention the day-to-day life on the plantation, with very little talk of who was living there at the time and more talk about the amount of money they were bringing in and how much they were producing on the farms.

 We also visited the Frampton Plantation in Beaufort, SC.  In 1865 Sherman’s troops burned the mansion and surrounding gardens when the passed through the area.  Three years later, the Frampton family rebuilt the main house to only a third of the size of the original.  Today, renovations have taken place to allow the lower level of the house to act as a visitor’s center and “museum.”  This plantation was somewhat disappointing as there was little information available about the history of the plantation and we were not allowed to tour the house in its entirety- basically just the gift shop.

The Hampton Plantation reflects a time when rice and indigo as cash crops could allow a family to gain a significant amount of wealth in the New World- our tour guide compared the Horry’s and Pinckney’s wealth to that of Bill Gates.  Through the sale of these crops to some of the coastal region and exporting to England, a family could afford to build a mansion as grand as the Hampton- in addition to several summer homes and residences in Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, and even right across the street from the Hampton.  The Hampton Plantation enjoyed visitors such as George Washington… if only for breakfast one morning when he was “passing through.”

We asked our tour guide if, at the time, she thought the Horry’s were living outside of their means when they built this immense project, and she truly believed that they were not.  The rice industry gave the Horry’s and Pinckney’s a life one could only dream about. 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Reflection During the Sesquicentennial...

After arriving safely in Savannah, Georgia we anxiously await the true beginning of our journey through the South in the morning.  We will travel to the historic district in downtown Savannah and visit the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, the Mercer Williams House, and participate in the "Civil War Generals Tour" that takes visitors to the homes of generals who served major roles in the great conflict.  We hope to learn more about the day-to-day activities in and around these historic homes in order to compare those truths to the ways historians are portraying them today.

Due to the severe winter storm that is encompassing the South, we have altered our itinerary slightly.  We will now visit Montgomery, Alabama on the return trip instead of today. 

The year 2011 marks the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, which began July 21, 1861.  The sites visited during our survey of the Old South are representative of the colonial period through the Civil War.  The sites reflect various cultural aspects of the region from plantation homes to battlefields.  We will concentrate on what historians have said about the significance of southern culture in the specific areas that we visit.  Our guiding questions when visiting these sites are: 1) what message about the past are they emphasizing; 2) who are the people they include, or exclude; and 3) how does the visual narrative compare to the analyses of historians of the Old South.

We look forward to sharing our journey through the South with our family, friends, and college community.  Thank you for joining us for the ride.

-Scarlett and Melanie

Boone's Creek National Battlefield 1/12

Today has been mainly a day of driving with only one stop between us and the great state of Virginia: Moore’s Creek National Battlefield located in Currie, NC. We woke up early so we could have plenty of time to roam the trails of this battlefield. This battlefield served in the Revolutionary War and was a pivotal part of our nation’s independence. The battle that took place here only lasted approximately five minutes but according to the park ranger, “If this battle hadn’t taken place, we would probably be sitting around drinking tea and eating crumpets.”
The trail of Moore’s Creek National Battlefield consisted of a circular trail that had many monuments erected in honor of fallen heroes and even recognized the importance of women during the war. The bridge along the trail had been reconstructed to replicate the original bridge that the Patriots used to trap the Red Coats in order to complete the possession of the southern colonies forcing the Red Coats to retreat and only try to force northern colonies to stay loyal to the crown.
Aside from this singular stop, our day has only consisted of driving and filling up the tank so that we can ultimately make it to Richmond in a few days. We’re enjoying the ride and the many things we’ve learned thus far. Tune in again tomorrow.


After waking up to another day of nasty weather, we knew immediately that our Confederate Generals walking tour would not be in the itinerary for the day. Instead, we decided to visit the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist that has been in Savannah since 1896 but was founded in 1700 by the first colonists in Savannah. After roughing it in the rain for a few blocks, we came upon the Colonial Cemetery that includes many of the state’s most important figures. These people range from the first newspaper printer to many army generals of the 1800s. Last on our schedule for the day was Fort Pulaski. This site was most applicable to our journey because it served as a Confederate fort during the Civil War and was soon seized by the Patriots and became a refuge for escaping slaves.
Our first stop of the day proved to be the most entertaining of the three. Unbeknownst to us, the Cathedral holds mass daily at 6 AM and noon and we were lucky enough to walk in at 11:55 AM unaware that we would be there for the next hour and a half. This time allowed us to reflect on the importance of religion in the South throughout history and realize that religion was a vital reason for the discovery of America.
The Colonial Cemetery was much bigger than we expected and there were several graves that were marked as family vaults. The size of these graves exemplified the pride and honor families in the South had during the 1700s and 1800s. Even in death, it was important to display your level of wealth because that was a big part of your reputation. Other than that, it was difficult to read a lot of the smaller tomb stones because they were so old and made of limestone.
Our last stop was Fort Pulaski which served as a fort during the Civil War. It was initially a Confederate fort but it was eventually seized by the Yankees and used as a refuge for escaping slaves as well as a starting point for black regiments. Fort Pulaski is officially recognized as part of the Underground Railroad because of this refuge for ex-slaves. Also, it was very interesting to see the inside of the fort where the soldiers slept, ate, and worshiped. There were individual rooms for each of these purposes and even a large room for prisoners of war (If only walls could talk!). The last room on this side of the fort was reserved for the army general and had much nicer furniture as well as a larger fire place. The sign said that the general’s wife used confiscated furniture from southern homes to furnish his large room in the fort so it would have a “woman’s touch during the war.” This was interesting because, even though women were not publicly recognized as being influential, they obviously had a large affect on many men before and during the Civil War.
These are only the first stops of our long journey up the Southeast Coast and we hope to learn much more about the Old South after visiting so many important places from this incredible time in our nation’s history.
Thanks again for joining us for the ride.
-Generals Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee