Sat. February 4, 2012
Civil War Northern Virginia 1861
By William S. Connery
In the mid-nineteenth century, Arlington was an eleven-hundred-acre estate managed by U.S. Colonel and Mrs. Robert E. Lee; Fairfax, Prince William and Loudoun Counties consisted of rolling farmland and tiny villages. This peaceful region was thrown into chaos as South Carolina seceded from the Union in December 1860 and other slave states followed until Virginia finally joined the Confederacy in April and May 1861. The "invasion" of Northern Virginia on May 24, 1861, created a no-man's land between Yankee and Rebel armies. Some citizens joined Confederate forces, while others stayed to face uncertainty. William S. Connery offers new insights into this most important time in American history.
The front cover of his book is the first hint at something good. The image is a painting ("First Battle Flags") by Don Troiani, whose realistic portrayals of the war have earned him accolades and high regard among historians and re-enactors. Depicted is the presentation of these battle flags to the Confederate troops at Centreville on November 28, 1861. Keen observers will note the lack of uniformity of the red colors. The author explains this. During the First Battle of Manassas that summer, soldiers found it difficult to distinguish between the Stars and Stripes and the Stars and Bars. The Cary Sisters of Baltimore and Alexandria were tasked with sewing to come up with battle flags. The supply of red silk in Richmond had to be supplemented with red-like colors.
This book is excellent in terms of digging further into the history of that first year of conflict in Northern Virginia. Civil War buffs surely know about the "Marshall House Incident" that took place at the corner of S. Pitt and King Street (now the Monaco Hotel) in Old Town Alexandria on May 24, 1861. The City commemorated the event this past summer, so there's more knowledge now of the killing there of Colonel Ellsworth and James W. Jackson, the war's first two martyrs.
But wait, there's more on Mr. Jackson. In the Introduction to his book, Connery writes about The ""Occoquan Flag Incident,"
," one that demonstrated the increasing tensions between south and north, and in some ways, foreshadowed the Marshall House killings. Today, this charming town about 15 miles south of Washington whose leafy hills overlook the Occoquan River, is as peaceful a place as you will find. 150 years ago, anger burned when Lincoln supporters, who were few and far between south of Washington, displayed a banner in support of Lincoln and Hannibal Hamlin in their campaign bid for the Presidency. Three weeks later, the Prince William County Militia from Brentsville arrived at the Rockledge property and surrounded the flagpole. Given the signal, Jackson, who is immortalized with a commemorative marker at the southeast corner of S. Royal and King Street, walked up to the flag pole with axe in hand and took the first cut. Minutes later the troops marched out of town with the U.S. flag, the Lincoln campaign banner and the splintered remains of the pole.
The book's ten chapters can't cover everything that took place in the region in 1861, but residents of places like Mount Vernon, Falls Church, Woodlawn, Fairfax City, Dranesville, Leesburg and others will enjoy reading about the action in their neck of the woods. For those already familiar with the topic, little nuggets of info and insights are to be found.
"Occoquan Flag Incident,"
The Southern Nation: The New Rise of the Old South
By R. Gordon Thornton
List Price: $19.95
SHNV/SWR Price: $9.97
Blending both historical and contemporary social observations with stubborn activism, this book is the definitive primer on Southern nationalism -- the political drive to preserve the social, religious, political, and cultural traditions of the Southern people. Southern nationhood is practical, as well as possible. This important new book explores hoe to reclaim the Southern birthright by developing Southern nationalism in the community and the four principles that Southerners must realise and embrace before they can fulfil their destiny as an independent people.
The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government, Volume I (Rise & Fall of the Confederate Government)
By Jefferson Davis
List Price: $25.95
SHNV/SWR Price: $21.99
A decade after his release from federal prison, the 67-year-old Jefferson Davis?ex-president of the Confederacy, the ”Southern Lincoln,” popularly regarded as a martyr to the Confederate cause?began work on his monumental Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government. Motivated partially by his deep-rooted antagonism toward his enemies (both the Northern victors and his Southern detractors), partially by his continuing obsession with the ?cause,” and partially by his desperate pecuniary and physical condition, Davis devoted three years and extensive research to the writing of what he termed ”an historical sketch of the events which preceded and attended the struggle of the Southern states to maintain their existence and their rights as sovereign communities.” The result was a perceptive two-volume chronicle, covering the birth, life, and death of the Confederacy, from the Missouri Compromise in 1820, through the tumultuous events of the Civil War, to the readmission of the Southern states to the U.S. Congress in the late 1860s. Supplemented with a new historical foreword by the Pulitzer Prize?winning James M. McPherson, The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government, Volume I belongs in the library of anyone interested in the root causes, the personalities, and the events of America’s greatest war.
Send Me a Pair of Old Boots & Kiss My Little Girls:
The Civil War Letters of Richard and Mary Watkins, 1861-1865
"The letters of Richard and Mary Watkins are a treasure. A rare perspective offering tremendous insight into the daily life of both as they struggle with the hardships of war, farm operations and family concerns. A must read." - Neal Wixson, editor, Echoes from the Boys of Company H
Between 1861 and 1865, Confederate Captain Richard Watkins and his wife Mary exchanged detailed and heartfelt letters. Richard had enlisted with Company K of the 3rd Virginia Calvary after Virginia seceded from the Union. Mary remained living near Meherrin, Virginia raising their three daughters and managing the farm. Sharing their letters with future generations was likely something the pair never envisioned.
Editor Jeff Toalson, however, discovered, transcribed and annotated this extraordinarily rare collection of more than 300 unpublished letters. Held by the Virginia Historical Society, the letters convey detailed information about the war and daily life during a critical time in our nation's history. Unlike military accounts of Civil War maneuvers and battles, the letters bring a clear sense of humanity to the conflict and its affects on those who lived through the time.
Richard and Mary's letters are touching and intriguing, weaving both a love story and an intense eyewitness account of the war. All of the major campaigns in Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania are covered. Jeff's editing and attention to detail bring this heart-warming and engaging story to life. Despite the hardships, fears, disease and separation, you'll be fascinated by the humor, depth and the stark realities of the Watkins's lives.