A Daybook in a Life–Days 168 &169

Civil War Battlefield Journey Continues….

Monticello, Photographed by Rufus W Holsinger via the Library of Congress.TMore


Sun.  June 17. 1984—Virginia–Had the best grits of my Southern trips.  We drove up to Monticello and did a fairly thorough tour.  The area surrounding reminded me, for some reason, of Olean though the vegetation was thicker, clustered certainly closer to the road and more “viney” than  W. New York. None-the-less,  that was an impression I got.  It was a beautiful day.  Hot, heavy sun.  I got a kick out of looking in the mirrors Jefferson looked in.  Mirrors have, after all, some spirit and image correlation.  It was interesting too, knowing Jefferson’s intense feelings about Monticello to try and imagine how peaceful and proprietary it would feel to have all that – the long terrace of gardens, the Mulberry Row of shops, the walks of flowers, the sense of satisfaction the Presidency would give.

I got a crush on a chubby little blonde girl who took tickets outside the east entrance and when she and her little skinny sister walked off down the path, something little placed in my heart sighed and will wonder forever.

We packed up and headed for Ashland, Monroe’s house, just two miles and visible from Monticello.  It had nothing of the “consequence” about it that Monticello does, but was interesting in a general way.  Peacocks (and pea hens) roamed the grounds.

Then on the road again North, via Rte. 64W and then to Staunton and Rte.11 North, the old Valley Pike.  I saw the wooden mill in Edenburg that Sheridan spared because it was the town’s only livelihood.  We stopped just short of Winchester and I took a long walk to determine the situation vis-a-vis the Battle of Kernstown.  I believe I have succeeded and will put my conclusions to test in the morning.

**Also on Rte. 64 we drove up the west side of the Blue Ridge Mountain in a gushing rain storm, and as we were just coming out of it, there galloping beside the road and alongside a “falling rock” fence was a baby fawn.  Disposition not known.

Sketch of the Battle of Kernstown, Sunday, March 23d 1862, Jedediah Hotchkiss. Via the Library of Congress Georgraphy and Maps Division.

Mon.  June 19, 1984—Virginia, Maryland and New York–Zach slept and slept while I read and wrote–a beautiful foggy morning in the Shenandoah Valley.  The very nice motherly Oriental woman who seems to own the place signaled me over for a cup of coffee and then couldn’t get the dispenser to work.  She thought Zach was my wife.  Two nights before a Pakistani motel keeper thought he was my father.

We drove a mile or so up Route 11 to the middle Road and then drove Southwest for app. 1 mile.  A ready row of trees went diagonally NW across the field.  I selected this as the sight of the stone wall of the Battle of Kernstown.  We drove the car up a farm path alongside the extended clump of trees and stopped where there was a break through.  Some older fella drove up in a station wagon. His son owned the property.  Later a real pretty lady came by named Kooce.  The owner was her husband.  She said that they were of the opinion that this was the place too and that reenactments had taken place here as well.

So we hit the road pretty well pleased and headed for Sharpsburg.  A few wrong turns later we were there, had lunch at the Red Byrd and headed out to hunt for property.  It had gotten very humid and hot.  I wasn’t feeling to extremely earnest about finding a place so after some desultory looking around, we headed back to NY.  Dropped Zach off and made it to the apartment by 8:15.  Took and abbreviated walk and made some phone calls:  Lee, Wade, Marta, Liza, Mom & Dad, read a bit and to bed.


Holsinger, Rufus W., Copyright Claimant. Monticello Cirkut. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/2007663557/>.

Hotchkiss, Jedediah. Sketch of the Battle of Kernstown, Sunday, March 23d. 1861. Map. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/2005625007/>.


A Daybook in the Life — Days 166 and 167

One of Many–A Journey to Civil War Battlefields

Seat of the War in America, Bacon & Co. — via Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.

Fri. June 15, 1984—New York and headed south—In the car at 7a.m. Down Fifth Avenue to 34th Street without a stoplight.  One of those new morning—old routine days in Manhattan.  Zach and I underway for the south at 8:30 or so.  A nice, cool, sunny day.  Gettysburg at 12 noon.  Hiked the battlefield, bought some books, watched the electric map (in exactly the reverse order that I’ve described) and generally enjoyed the afternoon.  After going northwest of town to see Reynold’s statue, we headed down Rte. 15, having a bit to eat in Leesburg then stopping for the night in a genuine fleabag near Warrenton.

Sat. June 16, 1984—Virginia—A reasonable start in the rain for Richmond.  We found a nice diner in Culpeper.  I ordered “blueberry cakes” and got some pancakes, covered with a gruesome blue smelling paste.  I ate around it and did fine.  Couldn’t find Kelley’s Ford nor the road leading to Clark Mtn. but we made it to Richmond all right.  Some cute little blonde girl screamed “stupid” at me when I was looking at the map and trying to figure out where to go but otherwise, Richmond was a bit run down and quite placid.  The downtown looked like an extended Olean with a three and four-story building kind of fading in the sun, the signs turning the weary off-color of long exposure.

The Confederate Museum was great, full of artifacts and little bits of business that everybody had been using the moment they were shot.  The presentation was in a chronological sequence and finishing the exhibit you’d pretty well worked your way through the war,  There was a distinctly southern bias to the tone, most notable in the plaque describing the battle between the Monitor and the Virginia .

We drove around a bit.  The Confederate White House was lost, very much like Thomas Wolfe’s “Old Kentucky Home”, amid the glacial looking new buildings, including the Confederate Museum itself.

We went through some real “poor” white neighborhoods in our efforts to get to Hollywood Cemetery.  There was a beautiful, clear blue-eyed girl, tough as a savage, standing looking at us as we hunted up and down the run-down streets for the entrance to the cemetery.  The cemetery itself was impressive in a lush, Southern Victorian way.  It reminded me of a swimming pool emptied out with heavy rock walls and huge Eucalyptus trees towering over the mass of grave stones and mausoleums.  We saw JEB Stuart’s, John Pegram’s, John Tyler’s , James Monroe’s, Jeff Davis’s, Geo. Pickett’s, Fitzhugh Lee’s, and a few other graves—Southall Freeman’s.

Unable to contact Tommy K..  We left Richmond and headed for Charlottesville along Rte 250.  Long straight and rolling ride to the White House Motel.

Stay tuned–the trip continues……