May 31, 2010

Asians in the American Civil War

Among the pictures I took at the reenactment in New Market were two that showed a soldier who appears to be of Asian descent. When I looked at the photos I mused about this: Certainly there were some Asian-Americans who fought in the Civil War.

Yesterday I happened across confirmation in the Historical Markers Database: a marker in Ohio called Asians in the American Civil War. Sadly, many of these veterans were denied citizenship because of exclusionary laws.

May 30, 2010

Historic Mt. Zion Church

Near Aldie, Virginia

Mt. Zion has stood near Aldie and Gilbert's Corner since 1851. You might easily miss it because a traffic circle has been built at it's entrance on Route 50.

Above: Markers Commemorate Union Soldiers who were killed here in a Civil War cavalry engagement with Mosby's Rangers.

Below: Text of Historical Marker

"Mt. Zion Old School Baptist Church was founded in 1851. Just west of the church is a graveyard containing many 19th century grave markers. On July 6, 1864 nearby, Mosby's Rangers attacked and routed 150 Union cavalrymen. Over 100 Union soldiers were killed, wounded or captured. Mosby had eight men wounded, one mortally. The church is site of the annual Thomas family reunion founded 1934."

May 29, 2010

Prospect Hill

Professor Poland at Prospect Hill Cemetery
Front Royal, VA

I took this photo last weekend on a field trip with a NVCC history class. We studied guerrilla warfare in the Civil War and were in this cemetery to learn the story behind a monument to Mosby's Rangers.

Actually, I've been to this site with Dr. Poland's class twice before, in 1994 and 2003. Visit this Mosby tour page from 2003.

Squirrel on the Deck

This fellow discovered that little bits of suet fell on the deck from the feeder that we put up for woodpeckers. Those pieces also made the deck slippery, so this afternoon I moved the suet feeder. I hammered in a nail on the outside of the rail and hung it there. (Sorry, Charlie.)

May 28, 2010

Hillside by a Country Road

dairy farmSince we live in a pretty area, I like to vary the route home in order to explore the countryside. This green pasture lies near the east side of Supinlick Ridge in Shenandoah County.

Red Sky at Night

May 27, 2010

Hello Llama!

Seen at a festival

May 26, 2010

New Market Reenactment, Sunny Day

The actual Battle of New Market took place on a rainy day but the 2010 reenactment fell on a beautiful sunny day. I imagine most of the participants were happy with the nice weather. Losing your shoes in mud (as happened to many soldiers in 1864) would not be fun.
The troops with the white (and colored emblem) flag represent the VMI cadets.

May 25, 2010

Who's a Photographer?

Or should I ask, Who's not?

There are plenty of photo ops at a Civil War Reenactment, and plenty of people bring their cameras. Above we see a man dressed as a Civil War photographer taking a group portrait. On the left, a man has just taken a picture of his young son posing with Union soldiers.

And below, a woman dressed for "living history" takes a photo of her children as they rest.

Even the "soldiers" were taking pictures, including the one on the right in the above photograph and the fellow in the left-hand picture.

There were professional photographers there too with huge telephoto lenses much heavier than I would want to carry around!

I'll bet thousands of pictures were taken that day.

Young Photographers

Boys taking pictures at the Civil War Reenactment

New Market, Virginia

May 24, 2010

Why the Valley Was Vital

During the American Civil War, the Shenandoah Valley was hotly contested, turning the beautiful countryside into battlefields and buildings into hospitals. In a recent book, Professor Jonathan Noyalas gave this overview of the Valley's strategic importance:
First, the Valley supplied numerous resources to the Confederacy, particularly forces operating in Virginia — the heart of the Confederacy. The materials that Valley farmers supplied the Confederate troops earned the Valley the nickname the "Breadbasket of the Confederacy." Additionally, the Shenandoah Valley served as an avenue of invasion for Confederate armies into the North and also served as a point from which Confederate forces could threaten Washington, D.C. Due to its strategic location, Confederate war planners also utilized the valley as a place from which to create a diversion and alleviate pressure against Richmond. Union forces likewise looked to the Valley as a point from which they could protect Washington, D.C., disrupt invasion and diminish the Valley's capacity to supply food and material to the Confederate war effort.

Cavalry Picture (Filtered)

At the New Market Reenactment

I used several filters in Photoshop to make this picture look painterly. To see a larger version, click on the image.

May 23, 2010

Scene at a Reenatment

Battle of New Market

I filmed this brief video at the 2010 Reenactment in New Market, Virginia. We see Confederate artillery on the left in front of the zig-zag rail fence. The Union Cavalry charge seemed tamer than I expected, but I suppose they did not want to risk harming the horses. In any case, the action was much enjoyed by the audience.

May 22, 2010

Smoking Artillery

Confederate Reenactors

firing cannon

New Market, Virginia

smoking artillery

May 20, 2010

Beauty at the Battlefield

Reenactment 2010
New Market, Virginia

I'm sure there are times when the long dresses in styles of the 1860's become hot and uncomfortable, but these women seem to be having fun.

May 19, 2010

Dressed for History

Ladies at the New Market Reenactment

I enjoyed seeing the Civil War Era costumes at reenactments and living history events such as the one in New Market on Saturday.

Above and right: All dressed up for 1864

Below: Women dressed for everyday work on the farm.

May 18, 2010

Battle Weary

On the Day of the Reenactment

New Market, Virginia

Relaxing at the Bushong Farm

New Market Battlefield State Historical Site

Living History, May 2010

May 17, 2010


Reenactment , Battle of New Market

May 16, 2010

Another Diet Disappointment

It's been a while since I tried dieting but the doctor said I was my A1C test shows I am at risk for diabetes. The nutritionist gave me lists of the glycemic value of foods and said that following the plan should help me lose a few pounds and keep my blood sugar down. She tried to make it sound easy but I knew it wasn't. I was already on a restricted diet for multiple food allergies.

Still, I tried hard to follow her advice. At her suggestion, I tried hemp protein and chia fiber, but they both made me ill. I read two books on low-glycemic diets and a third book on blood glucose levels. Although I've followed a fairly low-carb diet for many years, I tightened it up by cutting out white rice and baked potatoes, and I added in a little more protein.

So I did the homework but failed the exam. In the first two weeks, I gained two pounds. My energy levels dropped and I started having episodes that felt like low blood sugar, and my already-low blood pressure dropped a couple of points. Just walking up the driveway left me dizzy. The nutritionist recommended some supplements that didn't seem to help much.

Another two months passed and I gained two more pounds. I admit that I am snacking a bit when those weak and dizzy spells hit me. And now my energy is finally coming back, but I don't know whether it's because of the snacks or because I'm getting to bed earlier.

The only reducing diet that resulted in weight loss for me was Atkins. Unfortunately it had digestive side-effects that made it unhealthy for me.

Years ago I went on a 1600 calorie diet and gained weight. I cut back to 1400 calories and stopped gaining but did not lose even though I was careful and wrote down the calories in everything I ate. Then I cut back even further and finally lost 4 pounds... but it took 4 months. By then I felt exhausted and my skin was so dry from cutting out fat that it was cracking. A visit to the doctor and a blood test set me straight. The doctor said I wasn't getting enough protein and needed to get off the diet. I did, of course. But I often wonder if that severe dieting might have caused some permanent damage since my food allergies and sensitivities really started multiplying after that.
[Foods I actually test "allergic" to include wheat, baker's yeast, brewer's yeast, black pepper, black tea, white beans, and white fish. I won't bore you here with the list of additional foods that I cannot digest without severe symptoms.]

May 15, 2010


Sculpture of a Stag

Iris in Our Yard

These are blooming right now. We've planted a nice selection of iris over the past few years because the deer don't eat them like they do many flowers.

We bought them at local stores, yard sales, and from Exline Iris Gardens which we visited a year ago.

May 14, 2010

Photo Tour of Lee's Retreat

I've finally posted a series of pages on my Civil War Field Trips site covering last year's tour following Lee's Retreat to Appomattox. They replace a page of photos from our 1998 version of the same tour.

I posted many of the 2009 tour photographs on this blog a year ago. It was time to get them duplicated on the other site because this year's field trips start a week from today!

May 13, 2010

This Weekend at New Market

The Civil War Battle of New Market
and Living History

May 15 and 16, 2010
in the Beautiful Shenandoah Valley

The View from Packsaddle Ridge

On Sunday we took a ride in the country and found ourself near Packsaddle Ridge Golf Course so we stopped there and looked around. It's on the western slope of Massanutten Mountain near Keezletown.

It's pretty country there, with mountain scenery like we have here in Shenandoah County.

May 12, 2010

Notes on Naming Files

Recently I have had a couple of requests for digital photos that I took a few years ago. They took a while to find because at the time I filed them chronologically but didn't have a consistent system for naming them. Thus it took me longer than I would have liked to find them.

They were "filed" before I worked out a system of renaming every picture as I downloaded it from the camera. Now I do this using Adobe® Bridge and I'll describe the process in case you need a system for doing this.

I copy files off the camera frequently, often the same day as I take the photographs. This way I minimize the chance of losing them, plus I can keep my blog up to date with fresh images.
Above: Here I've inserted a memory card from a camera and navigated to it in Adobe Bridge. I've highlighted the pictures that are of the same place because I can give them the same name followed by a number.

Adobe Bridge, which comes bundled with Photoshop, has a tool called Batch Rename. This is my key to the system because it allows me to quickly rename multiple photos as I copy them to the computer.

On the memory card the images were named with a code and series of consecutive numbers. For any pictures worth saving on my computer, I want names that help identify them so I can easily find them later.
The eight photos that I selected above were all taken at Packsaddle Ridge Golf Course. Therefore I gave them all the name "packsaddle" on the next pop-up screen. Clicking the plus sign provided me with another line which I use to assign a starting number for the series of images. Personally I like to use the last three numbers that were assigned by the camera.

In this case, I put them in a folder on my computer that I created for the current month. If they were for a particular website other than my blog, I would use a special folder for that site.

After I've saved all the new photos with appropriate names, I can open this month's working folder in Bridge and click on an image to open in Photoshop. Usually I brighten the photo and crop if needed.

Since I process a fair number of photos this way, I've create another folder for the files that I've worked on this month and I save them there as Photoshop (PSD) files. I also have a folder for pictures that are ready to print, but that's another story.
Every day or so I back up my computer, an easy process because of an Apple® program called Time Machine. Even if I change computers, I'll be able to find photos on the storage device by searching by name or date.

P.S. You can search from Bridge and see a display of pictures found.