June 30, 2010

Feathery Water

Fountain, Winchester, VA

June 29, 2010

New Civil War Marker in Mt. Jackson, VA

This Civil War Trails marker was recently erected in Mount Jackson next to an older marker for the Confederate Hospital. This one deals with the same subject but in more detail:

Mount Jackson General Hospital, CSA

Shenandoah at War
Valley Campaigns
In September 1861, the Confederate Medical Department built a large general hospital on this site because Mt. Jackson was the western terminus of the Manassas Gap Railroad which provided access to northern Virginia battlefields. Dr. Andrew Russell Meem, a Shenandoah County resident who was a graduate of Princeton University and the University of Pennsylvania Medical College, was Surgeon-in-Charge. He resided at Harrison House, the home of local businessman Col. Levi Rinker, who owned the hospital site and a plot across the Valley Turnpike, "Our Soldiers' Cemetery," to bury those who died here.

The hospital consisted of three two-story buildings, each "a hundred and fifty feet in length, perfectly ventilated, and yet warm," and several small support structures. Accommodating 500 sick and wounded Confederates at a time, it remained in continuous service until the end of hostilities, except for six months in 1862.
Meem, two assistant surgeons (contract physicians), five stewards, ten nurses, eight cooks, and five laundresses comprised the staff. The buildings were dismantled after the war for the use of U.S. Army forces stationed at Rude's Hill during Reconstruction.

In February 1865, after falling ill,
Meem was admitted to Harrisonburg General Hospital where he died at age 41. His wife, Ann Jordan Meem, had assisted him at the Mt. Jackson hospital and in October 1861 organized the Ladies' Soldiers and Aid Organization to provide clothing, food and supplies. The Association held one of the earliest Confederate Memorial Day services at "Our Soldiers' Cemetery" on May 15, 1866.
The picture at the upper right of the marker shows a cavalry battle with the hospital in the background. See the Defeat of General Rosser illustration at the Frank Leslie site.

Doe by the Road

We see deer frequently in Bryce Resort. Hunting is not allowed here, and the deer find plenty of grass to eat along the roads. Most of the lots are wooded so there's plenty of cover for the animals.

This one's standing along Straton Way. That's a utility line marker for the cable company next to her. Deer don't mind living close to houses; in fact, they seem to appreciate our garden plants which are often tasty to them.

June 28, 2010

Apples on a Tree

Orchard in Afton, VA

In order to brighten up this picture taken on a hazy day, I used some Photoshop filters including one to bring out the edges and another to give the look of pastels.

Brief Trip to Nelson County

Last week I went on a field trip to Edible Landscaping in Afton with our local garden club. We carpooled from Mount Jackson and crossed several counties to get there. Afton is in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Mike gave us a tour of the nursery. They keep dogs to scare away deer and bears, and guns to control the squirrels.

Even though the weather was very hot, I enjoyed the trip and the friendly company.

June 27, 2010

Changing with the Times

For years I maintained a website for Spiritual Singles of the DC area. I started working for them as an independent contractor back in 1998. At the time I was still single and attended some of their events. My work for them took a few hours a week back then and included producing a monthly calendar of events which was mailed out. (Yes, I had another job to pay my bills.) I created a basic website for them and eventually the organization decided to save postage and distribute the calendar via email and the web, so every month I revised the calendar page online.

Recently the organization needed to save even more money and one way was to eliminate my monthly re-posting of the calendar in HTML and instead find a way for the organization's leader to post the calendar online himself. A member suggested the Meet-up website as a vehicle for this and it seems to be working out well.

I'm glad to see that Spiritual Singles has found ways to stay afloat in these financially-challenging times. Yes, I'm "out of a job" but it was a very minor job for I had gotten pretty adept at posting their page and could do it in just an hour a month.

In just two weeks, a hundred people signed up for their new site: Spiritual Singles of the DC Area. Congratulations to Jeff and the other volunteers on utilizing the web to stretch their resources. They are good people and I wish them well.

June 26, 2010

Down at the Llama Farm

Last week we visited the Posey Thisisit Llama Farm near Toms Brook here in Shenandoah County. We'd seen their ad in the Mountain Courier and decided to stop by.

I recall that llamas were rare in Virginia when I was growing up but now they are a popular farm animal. Not only do they produce quality wool, they also can herd sheep and help protect them. Many llamas are very friendly.

June 25, 2010

Welcome to Boxerwood

I heard about Boxerwood Nature Center and Woodland Garden when a local garden club member mentioned it as a great place to teach children about plants. It's in Lexington, Virginia.
When you get there, one of the first things you notice is the variety of hand-lettered signs. Next you'll probably be drawn to the inviting children's area. Once you leave that area, don't expect the plethora of signs to keep you oriented though. Some of them are just for fun! In fact, if you lack a strong sense of direction, take a compass or GPS!

June 24, 2010

A Playful Nature Center

Boxerwood Nature Center and Woodland Garden has a serious-sounding mission: "to educate and inspire people of all ages toward becoming successful and environmentally responsible stewards of the earth." However when you go there the mood is not solumn. Sort of a combined arboretum and park, Boxerwood not only has a fun play area for children but also invites adults to play by it's joking signs and general light-heartedness.
Above: Lynn checks out a "My way" sign.
Below: Even I tried out the swings.

Woodland Fences and Furniture

wild gardenOne of the things that impressed me at Boxerwood in Lexington was the variety of rustic structures made from branches. Below we see Frank and then Lynn enjoying the imaginative landscape.

June 22, 2010

Finding Books

The internet is a great tool, but the richest sources for historical research are still old-fashioned books. But the internet is an excellent place to find out which books might help. I like using books.google.com and Amazon books. They behave differently so I use them both.

Google books will show you snippets from the books that answer your search query. Sometimes Google will show you several pages (when not restricted by copyright) so you can read text online, which is extremely helpful when the book is no longer available. Also, the excerpts will help you judge whether the book offers information that is unique and not just a duplicate of something you've already read.

Amazon books will list items that match your search, although some unrelated items will probably show up too unless you restrict your search very carefully. You can click on the titles and find additional details, including reviews of a book if it is recent.

Since I could easily buy more books than I can afford, I keep my local library's website bookmarked and go there (in a new browser window) to check for titles that I've identified as useful. Most libraries now have an online catalog, and from our county library system's site, I can reserve books and have them delivered to my local branch.

If I don't find the title I want in the library, I go back to Amazon and check the price there. I like seeing if someone is selling a used copy there (shown in a box on the right side). If both the new and used copies are expensive and I don't need the book right away, I put it on my Wish List. Not only does that mean someone might buy it for me as a gift, but it also gives me a list to check later and see if the price has changed.

June 21, 2010

Garden Sign

Frank made a charming little sign for the garden. He painted a pileated woodpecker and a hummingbird on it, since these are birds that we really enjoy watching in our yard.

Right: A columbine (aquilegia) in our garden. These flowers do well in partly-shady spots.

June 20, 2010

Interchange on WV 55

West Virginia Route 55 between Wardensville and Moorefield is a modern divided highway. A sign identifies it as the "Robert C. Byrd Appalachian Highway System." It's part of a hundred-mile-long highway project called "Corridor H."

People at the Paw Paw Tunnel

Members of our NVCC History Class, May 2010

June 19, 2010

The Paw Paw Tunnel

Our first field trip of the season ended at the Paw Paw Tunnel on the C&O Canal in Maryland. We walked slightly over a half-mile from the parking lot.

Completed in 1850, the tunnel provided a shortcut for the canal in a place where the Potomac River twisted and turned through the mountains.

June 18, 2010

Orange Lilies

Daylilies in Fairfield


June 17, 2010

A Horse is a Horse Of Course

As far as I could tell, this one is not a talking horse.

horse in barn window

June 16, 2010

Jesse McNeill

Here we see a carte-de-visite photo of Jesse McNeill, who took over the leadership of McNeill's Rangers when his father was killed near Mount Jackson in 1864. I found a 3-page biography of Jesse in Faces of the Confederacy: An Album of Southern Soldiers and Their Stories by Ronald S. Coddington.

The portrait of Jesse stands out among the pictures in the book for it's laid-back yet insolent-looking pose. But Jesse turned out to be talented and daring, successfully capturing two Union generals in a dramatic raid in Maryland.

After the Civil War, Jesse appears to have been surprisingly modest, not commenting publicly on the raid until 1907, when he credited "the brave, heroic band of men" that he had the honor to command.

Fort Mulligan, Petersburg, WV

Fort Mulligan is a well-preserved Civil War fort perched high on a hill. Originally built by Union forces to protect the South Branch Valley, it was later abandoned and then used by Confederates. Today it overlooks the Grant County Hospital and the town of Petersburg, with mountain views beyond. This is not very far from Moorefield but it was not included on our field trip there.

A number of interpretative signs present the fort's story. Don't miss the three-part sign on the wall between the flagpoles.

Since I've been following the history of McNeill's Rangers, I was interested in the markers dealing with their exploits. A detailed story of the rangers is on one of the markers (see yesterday's post on Fort Mulligan). Here's a much shorter version from a section called Civil War comes to Hardy County.
"McNeill’s Rangers was a company of Confederates who operated with impunity in the area and did much to thwart Federal efforts to protect the B&O Railroad. Their many small actions, along with larger scale incursions by regular Confederate cavalry resulted in a more determined effort on the part of Federal forces to hold the South Branch Valley."
Grant County, by the way, was once part of Hardy County. When it split off in 1866, it was named after U.S. Grant.

In 2008, I flew in to Petersburg Airport in a small plane with our friend Gordon. Petersburg WV is a much smaller city than Petersburg VA.

June 15, 2010

Story of McNeill's Rangers told at Fort Mulligan

At Fort Mulligan in West Virginia you can read the story of John "Hanse" McNeill on a marker under the flag pole. It shares a panel with The Irish Brigade and Union General James A. Mulligan.

"Captain John H. McNeill, CSA John Hanson McNeill was born June 12, 1815, a short distance from Moorefield. In April of 1861, he was commissioned by Missouri Governor Jackson to raise a company of militia and join General Price. Twice commended for bravery, McNeill was wounded at Lexington and later captured, along with his son Jesse. After a daring escape from prison, McNeill and his son returned to Hardy County and once again tool up the cause of the Confederacy.
Captain McNeill’s company of 1st Virginia Partisan Rangers was accepted into Confederate service on September 24, 1862. It was merged into the 18th Virginia Cavalry, and then part of McNeill’s command was reassigned in February of 1863. The other section remained under McNeill’s personal command. Few groups were more effective that the some 210 men of the McNeill Rangers. Hardy County served as their main base of operations. The McNeill Rangers were considered “bushwhackers” by many Union generals as they pursued their objectives—creating general havoc among the Federal troops, disrupting traffic and communications on the B&O Railroad, and foraging for beef cattle to supply the Confederate armies.
On October 3, 1863, having learned of a wagon train bringing supplies to Union troops around Harrisonburg, the McNeill Rangers attacked a force of Federals guarding the bridge over the Shenandoah. They captured the bridge and some 60 Union prisoners, but in the confusion McNeill was mortally wounded. He was taken to the home of a Methodist minister where, knowing they were in danger of capture, he said “Goodbye, my boys, leave he to my fate. I can do no more for my country.” He was later smuggled to Harrisonburg where he died November 10, 1864. The McNeill Rangers continued under the leadership of his son Jesse, who never forgot what his father taught him—in leading a raid, one should always look well for a getting-out-place before going in."

[View all the markers using their Next link]
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June 14, 2010

McNeill's Cumberland Raid

McNeill's Rangers, led by Jesse McNeill, pulled off a daring raid in which they captured two Union generals in Cumberland, Maryland. Our class traveled to Cumberland to see where this took place. The town has changed since 1865, of course, and the hotels where the generals were taken prisoner are no longer there. woman hold chart

Below we see an old historical marker that was originally mounted on the former Revere Hotel. It was torn down in 1965 and the site is now a parking lot and fast food restaurant.

Capture of Generals B.F. Kelly and George Crook
— Nights, February 21–22, 1865 —
A company of Confederates, young men from Cumberland, Maryland, Hampshire and Hardy Counties, West Virginia, captured several picket posts, obtained the countersign “Bulls Gap,” rode into the city, captured two commanding Union Generals, Kelly and Crook, and Adj. General Thayer Melvin, and sent them to Richmond, Virginia, as prisoners of war, without firing a shot.
General Crook was captured in this building, then known as “Revere House.” Generals Kelly and Melvin were taken from the “Barnum House,” (now Windsor Hotel).
General Lew Wallace was stationed here, in command of a large body of Indiana Zouaves; also Brig. General Hayes, later President of the United States.
This most daring episode of the Civil War created a great sensation all over the country, as at the time several thousand Union troops were stationed in Cumberland.
(The Kenneweg Building—formerly old
Revere House—was located on
this site. Razed in 1964.)

Click to see a more recent interpretative sign for McNeill's Raid which was erected nearby.