Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Times Past and Present

As we drove back from Charlottesville today, where we had picked up my husband’s  new custom-made molded shoes, I realized we were in the heart of Civil War country.  Signs for Grant’s headquarters and the place where Jackson was wounded bespoke what a crossroads the area along the “Constitution Highway” was. 

The only reminder of the Civil War in the small town of Wilderness was the word “Battlefield” as a prefix to many business names. 

As I looked out at all those snow-covered fields, I couldn’t help but imagine them running red with the blood of both Blues and Grays.  What a sorry sad time that was in the history of this country.

Today the modest homes and the preponderance of mobile homes reflect an area that probably thinks a lot more about where the next meal is coming from than the fact that battles for freedom took place here a century and a half ago.

My husband’s iPod played “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose” as we left the Civil War battlefields to fight our way up I-95 on our way home.


Blogger Cyndy said...

Sorry, way too many typos in my first attempt at a comment!

If you'd taken a more westerly route and hit a few back roads along the way, you might have seen a porch or two with confederate flags hanging from them. That's really how much the spirit of those times linger on in certain people. It's almost as if the blood from those battlefields has oozed up and redeposited itself on the backs of the necks of certain individuals. The Civil War really did change everything for an awful lot of people, both black and white, and some are apparently still recovering from it. When I was a "Yankee" in college in South Carolina, I found the cultural differences to be rather fascinating. There's definitely a different vibe down there in many parts of the south, even now.

7:41 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Sometimes, I imagine those battles in snow with threadbare uniforms and hungry soldiers. Or no uniforms at all. Or wool in the summer and men who just wanted to go home.

Most of the time, though, I try not to imagine at all. It just makes me sad.

10:56 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Cyndy -- I was tempted to stop at the "Civil War relics" store just to see what sorts of things they had found. I'm guessing buttons, bullets, maybe coins.

Kristin -- I wondered if they might have taken a break from fighting over Christmas, like they reportedly did in WWI.

11:34 PM  
Blogger media concepts said...

As one follows the political goings-on of the past several decades, including the so-called "Southern strategy," it feels like the Civil War is still being fought, except with bucks and bytes rather than bullets.

2:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A thought-provoking post. The top photo sums up so much with its silent white blanket (covering time, bodies, and history) and with its deep, stark, beautiful simplicity.


3:58 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

MC -- As you well know, that part of Virginia is like a fault-line between north and south. It's been that way for a long time.

Anon -- I just kept snapping pictures of fields of white.

8:47 AM  
Blogger bulletholes said...

Wilderness was Grant and Lee's first meeting. And for the first time the Army of the Potomac did not retreat after the battle. One of the more horrible events during the War occurred at the Wilderness A brushfire broke out after the battle. That evening men who were wounded were burned to death in the fire. (about 1000)

I'm a southernor, and while I am firmly against Seccesion and even more firmly bent towards the truth that all men are created equal, I would just like to say
"Hooray for Dixie, Hooray!"
The South is very funny about that war...

11:08 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Bulletholes -- Man, you do know your Civil War history! I can only imagine that Grant and Lee had a sort of reverence for each other, as odd as that sounds.

12:35 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

Sometimes the Civil War seems so strange to me. And yet we still see great cultural differences between some regions of our country, so it's not entirely surprising that we came to blows over them, I suppose!

7:10 AM  
Blogger bulletholes said...

As the story goes barb, the was an incident of particular valor at Appomatox afetr Lee surrendered. As the Confederate Genral Gordn and his staff were leaving the courthouse, the union general Chamberlain had his men line the road and salute Gordon.
As Gordon approached Chamberlain on horseback, he reigned in his horse, causing the horse to rear back and wheel around one time. Then he reighned the horse in again in a fashion as to have the horse bow to Chamberlain...and as the horse did so, Gordan took his sabre in his right hand and touched the tip to his left toe so as to salute Chamberlain.
The line of Union soldiers broke their salute and cheered the Confederate General Gordon.
God I would have loved to witness that!

3:15 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

BH -- That story really warms my heart!

7:52 PM  

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