Happy Birthday, West Virginia!
My home state’s 150th birthday was on June 20, but I don’t write a column for Thursday’s paper, so this had to wait.
Also, I’m supposed to talk for half an hour today about Mineral County in the Civil War, and some of those who attend might actually read this. No previews here.
It’s at 2 p.m. in the American Legion post on Main Street in Keyser. Call this shameless self-promotion if you wish, but one or two of you may say, “Where? When? Idiot didn’t tell us,” and I hate to leave people hanging.
However, I will do that in one regard: West Virginia became the 35th state less than two weeks before the battle of Gettysburg. Did any of the Union regiments have a 35-star American flag? Answer this afternoon or next week.
A tour guide who usually ignores Capt. Gary and me stopped with his charges and stood beside me.
“Who are you impersonating?” he asked me.
I told him I represent First Sergeant Theodore Field of Battery C, 1st West Virginia Volunteer Artillery, which was at Cemetery Hill and put fire down on Pickett’s Charge ... and went on from there.
At the same time, the 1st West Virginia Cavalry was at South Cavalry Field, leading the assault that turned back a Confederate cavalry attack that might have broken the Union line.
The 1st West Virginia Cavalry’s soldiers received more Medals of Honor than those of any other regiment in the Civil War — 14.
While all of the above was going on, the 7th West Virginia Infantry — which had been the 7th Virginia Infantry of the Union Army two weeks earlier — was fighting hand-to-hand against the 7th Virginia Infantry of the Confederate Army. They captured a nephew of their own regimental commander, and the fighting was especially vicious.
It would be interesting to ask those men why they tried so hard to kill other men they knew were from their home state ... men who may have been their friends or even family.
There was great misery and suffering, but also a surprising amount of humanity.
When the situation allowed, Union and Confederate units who had members of the same family sometimes called a truce to allow them a chance to meet and maybe trade coffee and tobacco.
After the reunion was over, they’d call out to each other, “Keep yer heads down, boys! We got to start shootin’ agin!”
The thing about the Civil War is that much of what’s been passed down is contradictory or confusing and subject to argument. Everything you learn leads you to something else.
My late friend Jack Sanders probably knew more about the Civil War in our area than anyone else did. I wish he were still around for a variety of reasons, including those of picking his brain.
Jack said his favorite Psalm was the West Virginia (121st) Psalm, which goes, “I will lift up mine unto the hills, from whence cometh my help ... .”
Capt. Gary and I wear Yankee uniforms and talk to tourists at Little Round Top on the Gettysburg battlefield.
He has little patience with people he says “became experts after reading one book” and leaves me to deal with them.
Having spent 20 years covering the court house and watching lawyers at work, I enjoy this. I don’t know how many of them I convince, but I know how to confuse them.
Gary has read at least 200 books. One of many I’ve read is my high school American History book, which goes only to about 1960 — but for thoroughness up to that point I would put it up against any American History book used in our schools today.
I also refer to my old Encyclopedia Americana, which was sold one volume at a time at the A&P grocery store.
Both were written less than 100 years after the Civil War, before anyone knew what it was to be politically correct.
A few weeks ago, The Charleston Gazette ran an editorial about West Virginia and slavery that was informative and interesting, but said some things my friends and I would disagree with.
It said West Virginia would never have become a state if Virginia hadn’t joined the rebellion to preserve slavery.
That is not only wrong, it oversimplifies a complicated situation. Maryland, Delaware, Missouri, Kentucky and what became West Virginia were slave states, but did not secede. Virginia and North Carolina were reluctant to secede.
The western counties of Virginia wanted to get away from the rest of the state for the same reasons the western counties of Maryland probably would like to escape from their state government in Annapolis today.
Slavery wasn’t abolished in Maryland until November 1864, almost two years after Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. West Virginia didn’t abolish slavery until two months before the war ended.
The Gazette also said it was ironic that Confederate Lt. Gen. Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson was born in Clarksburg, but fought to preserve slavery.
Jackson never said much about slavery, but when asked what he thought about the Yankees said, “Just kill them. Kill them all.”
Jackson’s widow, Mary Anna, said he would have preferred to see the slaves free, but believed the Bible sanctioned slavery — which was a common view — and that slave-owners had a Christian duty to their slaves.
He taught slaves how to read in violation of the law and founded a Sunday school for blacks. Two of his students asked him to buy them, and he did. He allowed them to make enough money to eventually buy their freedom.
I’ll leave you with what Capt. Gary and 1Sgt. Goldy often tell people:
If you run across somebody who would lead you to believe he knows everything there is to know about the Civil War (or anything else), get away from him because he’s a damn fool.
That would not be me. Next week, I’ll tell you some more of what I think I know.
Happy Birthday, West Virginia!
Yates fires 804
Derek Yates led all scoring for the week ending March 28 with an 804 series featuring a 290 game at Rainbow Lanes.
Bobby Benton actually came in second and third for the week with a 748 on the House pattern at White Oaks and 742 on the USBC Open pattern in the Sport league. Steve Ravenscroft had a nice 740 at Rainbow and Darren Durbin and Teddy Inman rounded out the scoring with 737s apiece at White Oaks.
The huge woods fire in nearby Pennsylvania shows just how much devastation can take place when a blaze breaks out during early spring. In this case, 900 acres of forest — much of it public game land — became engulfed in flames.
There are an estimated 47,000 deceased veterans whose remains are unidentified and unclaimed throughout the U.S. A group of senators and congressmen hope to do something to
bring these men and women some dignity after death.
For the world’s more than 2 billion Christians, Easter is the day that defines their faith.
The exact date of Christ’s resurrection is unknown, and even the precise locations of his crucifixion and burial are uncertain. This hasn’t stopped some people from saying they know the answer to these questions and others from trying to find out for themselves, or simply arguing about it.
Odds are good that you didn’t know this
Odds or Probabilities fascinate many people. There is a special website called www.BookOfOdds.com and an accompanying location on Facebook at /BookofOdds .This website lists 400,000 odds. Three of the people who are involved in this media display have coauthored a book, “The Book of Odds” that presents some of key odds, drawing from polls and statistics published in journals. The authors are A. Shapiro, L.F. Campbell and R. Wright. This paperback was published this year by Harper Collins with ISBN 978-0-06-206085-3.
Trivial questions you don’t have to answer
Every so often in this life, my mind, all on its own, generates questions that have no real answers. So I have decided to pass them on to you. I’m tired of them. If you come up with any answers, let me know. Remember when TV jealously guarded the time zone before 9 p.m. for wholesome shows that children could watch. My gosh, how many years ago was that? It seems like another world nowadays, when you can see murders, torture and rape, or those implied, every hour on the hour, somewhere on your public screen. It might be comforting then, to remember that most children nowadays are glued to their little machines with whole different worlds on them, that they can access all day long. Except that in these different worlds they also can view murders, torture and rape on demand.
Think it’s not a small world? You’re wrong
Yes, you read that right in the paper a couple of weeks ago. I covered a wedding as a newspaper reporter. I’ve retired from doing regular stories because my primary duties lie elsewhere, and I don’t have the time or mental energy for it. But I agreed to do it for a couple of reasons, one of which goes back more than 40 years. The former proprietor of The Famous North End Tavern told me about a wedding that was to take place at the Lions Center for Rehabilitation and Extended Care, where his wife works.
No Bambi for you, Mrs. Doe
Some people want so badly for deer birth control to work that they actually think it will, even on wild populations.
I wish I had a couple bridges to sell.
A week ago on the Outdoors page we ran the deer there do what deer everywhere do. They eat the easiest food available such as gardens and ornamental plantings. They walk in front of moving cars. They give ticks and parasites a place to live.
We’re certain that Donald Rumsfeld, who served as Secretary of Defense under Presidents Gerald Ford and George W. Bush, echoes what many Americans feel about the complexity of filing income tax returns.
When he filed his return, Rumsfeld sent the following letter to the Internal Revenue Service:
Public libraries remain one of the best uses of taxpayer dollars. They are open to all. Young or old, poor or wealthy, residents can use computers and read current magazines and newspapers. Compact discs featuring a wide variety of music and
movies on DVD may be checked out in addition to novels and other books.
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