Tag Archives: Virginia

3-D Richmond Slave Trade

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 1.58.51 PMGreetings all – as someone who gets very excited at the prospect of connecting history with twenty-first century technology, I’ll just say that this 3-D animated MAP of Richmond from the University of Richmond Digital Scholarship Lab is worthy of several fist bumps. This super-cool map features narration, period buildings, and fly overs of the city. The crew who put this together are certainly deserving of all their accolades. Huzzah!

With compliments,


Possible Scenarios for Future Point of Honor Episodes – The Series Continues…

Screen Shot 2015-02-01 at 11.30.56 AM

Still no word on whether or not Point of Honor will be picked up for future episodes…but just in case, I am going to keep going with possible scenarios, in hope that the series writers stumble upon this blog. To keep up with the story, you might want to read the first installment of the series HERE.

Anyway…as war drama unfolds at home and on the battlefield, things really heat up in Lynchburg…

Episode 2 – PHCT

Incensed by General McClellan’s slow but steady advance toward Richmond in May 1862, the prosperous, wage-earning, free African-Confederate-Americans Virgil and Adolphus – citizens of Lynchburg – pool their ever-growing wages to form and equip a black Confederate regiment. When christened the Point of Honor Colored Troops (PHCT) at a Lynchburg abolitionist jubilee, the very sight of armed blacks standing firm in defense of their southern rights so inspires other Lynchburg slaveholders, that they too reject slavery and free their slaves, who in turn join the swelling negro ranks. Now brigade strength, the PHCT march out of town to face the invading Yankee hordes and with great resolve sing a medley of  Follow the Drinkin’ Gourd and Bonnie Blue Flag – putting forever to rest academic revisionists’ foolish notion that black Confederates are merely a figment of the white southern imagination.

Meanwhile…the drunk (though charming) quadruple amputee Rhodes brother (paroled by his Yankee captors who thought him harmless, as well as charmingly drunk) makes his way to Richmond via ambulance to serve the Confederacy as Lynchburg’s representative in the Virginia State legislature. Rumors fly that he is in contact – though West Point connections – with his brother John, who is still held prisoner in Boston. He is, in fact, plotting with John to beat the Lincoln administration in the freedom game by proposing a Confederate Emancipation Proclamation of their own. The audience knows through a series of pan left – pan right stock footage landscape scenes and voice-overs that correspondence between the Rhodes brothers, Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and an irascible Irishman named Patrick Cleburne underscores great support for emancipation among the upper echelons of Rebel leadership. Though there will certainly be resistance to such a revolutionary turn of events – they hope that white southerners will change their tunes once they witness the martial prowess of the thousands fighting under the PHCT banner.

Back at the Point of Honor plantation…times are tough as there is now absolutely no one to work the fields. Not a single person. The womenfolk thus subsist entirely on handouts from the elderly and infirm free black Confederate citizens who are unfit to serve in anything but a motley home guard/Confederate Invalid Corps d’Afrique, and the Confederate money sent home by their drunk (though charming) brother in Richmond and the PHCT soldiers in the field. Pistol packin’ Estella Rhodes, the most incorrigible of the Rhodes sisters, has been behaving strangely. Her constant vomiting, cravings, and irritable behavior provokes suspicion among her sisters. Could she be…..?

In the final scene, Estella sits by the fire writing a letter – addressed to the Richmond front c/o commanding officer, PHCT, Confederate States Army. Cue Dixie and extremely affected southern accent voice-over – “My Dearest Virgil….”

Hoping for the call from Amazon entertainment…fingers crossed!!!


PS – See another future scenario HERE.


Virginia’s Private War by William Blair

Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 9.34.42 AMI re-read one of my favorite books this week: William Blair’s Virginia’s Private War: Feeding Body and Soul in the Confederacy, 1861-1865. Let me tell you why I really really love this book.

There is a school of thought in Civil War scholarship that suggests the Confederates did themselves in…that dissension at home and in the ranks meant that Confederate soldiers as well as the the white southern populace were never that on board with Confederate nationalism. The second things got a little rough for the southern cause people abandoned it wholesale.

Naturally , I think this is a load of malarkey. Rebels stuck it out as long as they possibly could – both on and behind the lines. They were – for the most part – completely in tune with the notion of Confederate independence…despite the hardships that they had to endure.

William Blair drives this point home. His book – a wonderful piece of scholarship that I would recommend to anyone – suggests that Confederates – actually in this case, Virginians – did not lose the war because of failed nationalism or internal conflicts.

Neither of these things work as a simple explanation for Confederate defeat – dissent existed and functioned as a catalyst for change in the Confederacy. And here’s the real zinger – Confederates still supported the cause even though they often lost faith in the government. Their “sense of purpose” remained strong until finally in the winter 0f 64-65 the Union army took its toll.

The point – it was wartime. Yes people were pissed because of shortages, conscription, and all of the other things that can just make a wartime society mad –  but did they want to abandon the Confederate experiment, or did they just want a fair shake? That, I suppose is the key. You can still support your cause even if you think it is being run poorly.

Virginia’s Private War focuses on three counties: Albemarle (Charlottesville), Augusta (Staunton) and Campbell (Lynchburg). These counties contained a range of plantation (slave) and grain farming – representing a wide spectrum of Virginian Confederates.  Plus, C’ville was an intellectual center, which means they were doing a lot of thinking about important issues in the vicinity of the University of Virginia (OK, Bill….lets not get carried away).

In the end, Blair credits the Union Army with victory…something that has been curiously overlooked by scholars seeking the ways the Confederates defeated themselves. As it turns out…the Rebs were defeated on the battlefield. Imagine that. Remember, even the storied Confederate George Pickett once said of defeat…”I think the Union Army had something to do with it.”

With compliments,