Tag Archive | civil war history

The Generals of Lexington, VA

Continuing our day in Lexington, Virginia, our next stop was Washington and Lee University. Nestled in the hills of Lexington, this beautiful campus sits atop the hill next to the Virginia Military Institute’s campus.


Despite the overcast skies and looming storms, this was a beautiful campus to walk around. It was founded in 1749 and was first named Augusta Academy and went through a move and several name changes, but when native son General George Washington stepped in to help save this all male school in 1796 with its first endowment, it was later renamed Washington College out of gratitude for his generosity.  By then, the College was in its present-day location of Lexington.


This private, liberal arts school sits between the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains and is the 9th oldest school of higher learning in our nation.  Virginia’s other native son, General Robert E. Lee became President of the College in 1865 and worried that his leadership in the Confederacy could bring hostility towards the school.  He said that “it was the duty of every citizen in the present condition of the Country, to do all in his power to aid in the restoration of peace and harmony.”  Following Lee’s death in 1879, the Board of Trustees voted to change the name of the college to Washington and Lee University. It wasn’t until 1972 when women were first admitted to its Law School and undergraduate women were admitted in 1985.

Lee Chapel is where General Lee and his beloved horse, Traveller are buried.  We were disappointed that photography is not allowed inside the chapel or the museum, but did enjoy the small collection that is there.  If you know in advance that you will be there, you can request express written permission from the University, but there are severe restrictions and limited allowances for use of the photos.

When you walk into the chapel’s foyer, you have an entrance on either side. Rows of white pews lining both sides, the middle and the surrounding balcony up above seats 500. It is still used today for the University’s most important events, such as concerts, lectures and other activities.  Just whispering to each other, my husband and I could tell that the acoustics are absolutely wonderful in this Chapel. (One cannot walk into this Chapel and not whisper! It just isn’t right to speak loudly in there!) General Lee’s favorite pew is marked with a plaque and shows that the General enjoyed sitting right up front!

Lexington - Lee Chapel

At the front of the chapel behind the wooden stage, nestles the monument of a reclining General Lee, without his sword at the request of his beloved wife. You may think that he is interred at this very spot, but he is not.  You have to take the narrow, winding stairs downstairs to the crypt where General Lee and several of his family members are buried. Also downstairs is a small museum and gift shop. Traveller’s grave is just outside the door as you exit.


Our last stop was for another Confederacy General, who happens to be one of my husband’s favorite civil war historical figures. He is General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. A professor at Virginia Military Institute (VMI), he is also buried here in Lexington.  Set right on the main street, leading into town, the wrought iron fence points the way to the tomb of Stonewall Jackson.


Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, Confederate General, is one of the most well-known officers of the Confederacy after General Robert E. Lee. He was considered to be one of the best tactical commanders in the history of our great nation.  He was a graduate of West Point and from there served in the Mexican-American War from 1846 to 1848. It was during that time he first met Robert E. Lee.  It was at Bull’s Run that General Jackson earned his nickname, “Stonewall”. Crumbling under heavy Union assault, the Confederate lines were lucky to have General Jackson’s brigade there to provide crucial reinforcements stoically demonstrating the discipline that he had instilled in his men. Brig. General Elliott Bee, Jr. inspired his men to re-group by shouting out that there Jackson stood like a “stone wall” and to rally behind the Virginians.  Despite the controversy that followed the intent of the statement, General Jackson was forevermore known as “Stonewall” Jackson.


We were able to take a few more photos of this serene corner of Lexington.  We didn’t walk all around the cemetery as there was a service in session.  It is a beautiful place for so many who have been laid to rest here.





Thank you, Lexington for such a nice afternoon filled with so much history!


Ordinary? We don’t do ordinary!

Lexington, Virginia is a well preserved downtown and its historical sites invite you to step back through time.  Taking the short jaunt off of I-81 into Lexington, you’ll find it is a winding path that leads to a beautiful little town tucked into the hills that make Lexington.  Our first stop was at the Visitor’s Center on East Washington Street.


Lexington is a picturesque town and the Civil War era buildings give each street so much character. Who knew so much history is tucked into these rolling hills? Driving through Downtown, you pass this ordinary door not realizing that it was the home of Stonewall Jackson! It is open daily March – December. For those of you who didn’t know, General Jackson was a professor of Natural and Experimental Philosophy in 1851.

Lexington - Stonewall Jackson Home2  Stonewall_Jackson_House

Sitting on 134 acres, 12 are designated as the Virginia Military Institute Historic District and since 1839 Virginia Military Institute has been educating and preparing cadets to lead is all aspects of their lives. It is the oldest state-supported military college in the United States. After driving through town, we decided to walk around this hilltop campus.


Some notable alumni include George S. Patton, Sr., grandfather to George Smith Patton, Jr.; Benjamin Franklin Ficklin, a founder of the Pony Express; Harry Watkey Easterly, Jr., President of the USGA and First Executive Director; Baseball player Ryan Glynn; General George Marshall, Nobel Prize winner and US Secretary of Defense (1950) as well as the Chief of Staff of the Army during World War II; Brigadier General Frank McCarthy who was also a producer of the 1970 Academy Award winning movie Patton; Pro football player Bobby Thomason who was an NFL Pro Bowl Quarterback; Basketball player Reggie Williams and actor Dabney Coleman.


Four of the Barrack’s five arched entries are named after George Washington, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, George C. Marshall ‘01, and Jonathan Daniels ‘61.


Cadet-guided tours of the campus are available and can be arranged through the VMI Museum. They are offered daily and begin at the lobby of the VMI Museum in Jackson Memorial Hall.


Here is an inside courtyard view of the barracks.


The parade grounds are impressive! Here is an awesome view from the end of the field by Stonewall Jackson’s statute.


Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson looks over the parade grounds above the cannons.  He’s quite the impressive statute!



Couldn’t leave the VMI Post without seeing their football field! For college football fans everywhere, a football field is always a must-see!


Even though we were leaving the VMI Post, our visit in Lexington was not over. Stay tuned for more….

Smile, You’re on Jeffery Camera–Gettysburg

Enjoy a few more of our photos from Gettysburg National Military Park.  If you’ve never been there, this is a great time to go! 


Beautiful monuments are everywhere.  You cannot see them all in just one day.


Winding roads and hills where all the different skirmishes took place are dotted with monuments in tribute to the men who fought and died in these exact spots.


Part of historic downtown Gettysburg.  This is across the street from a really good ice cream shop which is also a historic home!



Standing near the stacked rock fence that was here since the War.


Tree-lined roads make for a picturesque afternoon in the Park.


So many monuments and statutes to choose to photograph!


Once stroke of luck, we came around a bend and there was a re-enactor and a couple of photographers.  It didn’t take long for the Park Rangers to swoop in and send them on their way.


From the top of Little Round Top.  What a view! It is quite sobering to realize what happened on that rocky hill.


Gorgeous sunset view from behind the fence that represents the fence that was there during the War.


Gettysburg National Military Park

From his earliest memories, my husband has always wanted to see Gettysburg National Military Park.  And I have always had an interest in American History.  Years went by and neither one of us had ever made it to Gettysburg.  Recently we changed that. We decided it was time to go. So we packed up the car and headed out towards this little town made famous by one of the most horrible moments in American history. The accounts in history tell us that those first few days of July 1863 were ones that changed the little town of Gettysburg and forever marked it as some of the bloodiest days in the Civil War.


My husband and I have watched movies, historical documentaries and the Ken Burn’s Civil War series for PBS. But nothing can prepare you for the massiveness of Gettysburg Battlefields until you are standing there.

Next year, 2013, marks the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg and the Gettysburg National Military Park is preparing for the commemoration.  We decided to make the journey and see the infamous Battlefield for ourselves.  We actually took about 1,000 photos but can only share a small portion of those here.  So following is a brief pictorial tour of our stay.  I hope you enjoy them and if these help encourage you to delve deeper into our great country’s history and see these places for yourself, then we would be ecstatic.


Your first stop should be at the new Visitor’s Center. Here you will be able to find a map of the park and purchase any number of tours available. Auto-Tours, Bus-Tours, and Ranger Tours, and Tours to the Eisenhower Historic Site are all offered to provide the best possible experience at the Park. Also at the Visitor’s Center is the Cyclorama, Museum and a 20-minute Movie presentation narrated by Morgan Freeman. We purchased this ticket package and highly recommend it. The Parks offers several different types of discounts including AAA, Senior and Military discounts.


Our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln, the Great Emancipator is honored throughout the Park. This wonderful statute of him is at the Visitor’s Center.  Be prepared for a line, though.  He is one popular feature and there always seems to be a line for a photograph!


Scattered about the Park in every corner where skirmishes and battles took place, there are monuments honoring those who fought in that spot.  The detail and beauty of these monuments is breathtaking in many cases.


The thing that struck us most was the fact that these hills were much steeper in person than they appeared in the movies, documentaries and photographs. It touched me how much the soldiers, both Confederate and Federal, endured all those years ago.


These fields are massive, nearly 2-3 miles wide and without any cover or protection in many areas. The men who were engaged in Pickett’s Charge came from the tree line and charged over field, fences and more field approaching High Water Mark at the peak of that hill. This is the spot where General Armistead fell during the Charge.


This is the view of the field that General Longstreet’s men had to cross in the Charge from the vantage point at High Water Mark.


This is the view from the tree line where the Confederate Divisions under Longstreet began Pickett’s Charge.



My mind kept whirling around with amazement that so many lives survived these rocky, boulder filled hills and fields.  I was humbled realizing the number of men, 50,000 total, who were lost July 1st, 2nd and 3rd, 1863.  Walking around carrying only a camera, I could only imagine what it was like to carry everything you needed to stay alive: ammunition, rifle, knife, canteen, and whatever else was needed…and in the July heat.  I’m sure in 1863 it was as hot a summer, too. I cannot begin to fathom the stench of the dead and dying, both human and animal.












The 20th Maine at Little Round Top was a story presented in the movie, Gettysburg, with the role of Colonel Chamberlain played by Jeff Daniels.  For me, walking the same paths that these men defended and died on was almost overwhelming.  I didn’t even want to speak while standing in the spot where so many perished.





Just across from Little Round Top is Devil’s Den – standing there dwarfed by these rocks, it is unbelievable to me just how the soldier’s kept fighting up these hills.



“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here have consecrated it far about our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that this government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.” -President Abraham Lincoln, November 19, 1863 in the dedication of this Battlefield.


Smile, You’re on Jeffery Camera!

Enjoy these photos from Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, TN. What a great place to spend an afternoon while learning about the history that surrounds this Scenic City.

Whether it’s just for a picnic, some hiking or taking in a history lesson, Chattanooga is a great place for it all. Over the past 25 years, there has been a revitalization of the downtown Riverfront area.  There is so much shopping to do, things to see and places to eat.

The next time you’re in Chattanooga, stop and visit for a while!

First stop – The Chattanooga Choo-Choo




Next stop: Point Park, Lookout Mountain








There’s so much to do around the Scenic City including shopping, wonderful places to eat and there’s always a Lookouts game, the IMAX and Science Museum, Ruby Falls, Rock City and so much more!