Sgt. Major Christian Fleetwood: USCT Member, Medal of Honor Recipient, Diary Keeper

Sgt. Major Christian Fleetwood: USCT Member, Medal of Honor Recipient, Diary Keeper

Few first-person accounts by USCT are known, which is why the diary of Sgt. Major Christian Fleetwood caught my interest.

Read More
Comment
Print Friendly and PDF

National Book Festival: At the Virginia Booth

National Book Festival: At the Virginia Booth

i got to volunteer at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities' booth at the National Book Festival.

Read More
Comment
Print Friendly and PDF

The Athenaeum in Old Town Alexandria

The Athenaeum in Old Town Alexandria

Meredith Barber on the history of the Athenaeum building in Old Town Alexandria.

Read More
Comment
Print Friendly and PDF

Point Lookout, Maryland: A Confederate POW Camp, a Union Fort, and a Place to Fish

Point Lookout, Maryland: A Confederate POW Camp, a Union Fort, and a Place to Fish

Point Lookout's location marked it for many things during the Civil War, including a large Confederate POW camp. 

Read More
Comment
Print Friendly and PDF

Update--Appomattox Statue, Then and Now

Update--Appomattox Statue, Then and Now

The Confederate veteran has stood on Alexandria's main north-south thoroughfare for more than 100 years. What should happen to it now?

Read More
Comment
Print Friendly and PDF

Solar Eclipse 1860

Solar Eclipse 1860

Julia Wilbur found an eclipse had a "baleful" effect on her mood.

Read More
Comment
Print Friendly and PDF

The Harriet Tubman Byway on the Eastern Shore

The Harriet Tubman Byway on the Eastern Shore

A trip along the Harriet Tubman Byway is a good reminder of injustice and bravery.

Read More
Comment
Print Friendly and PDF

Charles County, Maryland: Two Stops on a Summer Saturday

Charles County, Maryland: Two Stops on a Summer Saturday

A visit to the Thomas Stone Historic Site and Port Tobacco on a summer Saturday.

Read More
Comment
Print Friendly and PDF

Tough Choices for a New Monument

Tough Choices for a New Monument

How to choose 8 people to recognize at the base of a monument to honor emancipation and freedom? With difficulty.

Read More
Comment
Print Friendly and PDF

Q-and-A with Pamela Toler, author of Heroines of Mercy Street

Q-and-A with Pamela Toler, author of Heroines of Mercy Street

Historian and author Pamela Toler posed some questions to me about Julia Wilbur and Civil War Alexandria.

Read More
Comment
Print Friendly and PDF

Society for Women in the Civil War: A Range of Topics

Society for Women in the Civil War: A Range of Topics

From a variety of primary sources, and from Mount Vernon to the Far West and back again.

Read More

An Exciting Day

An Exciting Day

in which I meet my book, bound, for the first time!

Read More
Comment
Print Friendly and PDF

Susan Ireland's Boarding House on Seventh Street

Susan Ireland's Boarding House on Seventh Street

Among Susan Ireland's investments was the building where Clara Barton lived in the 1860s. But how did Ireland get her money, and how could she invest as a woman in that era?

Read More
Comment
Print Friendly and PDF

Costumes from Mercy Street at the Lyceum

Costumes from Mercy Street at the Lyceum

Check out four costumes used on the PBS series Mercy Street--worn by Alice Green, Emma Green, Mary Phinney, and Jed Foster. 

Read More
Comment
Print Friendly and PDF

"What an Immense City": Julia Wilbur Visits New York in July 1863

"What an Immense City": Julia Wilbur Visits New York in July 1863

Julia Wilbur does New York City--early July 1863. I follow her footsteps--late June 2017.

Read More
Comment
Print Friendly and PDF

Bon Voyage to the Ship (for now)

Bon Voyage to the Ship (for now)

More than 200 pieces of an 18th century ship, each triple-wrapped and on its way to Texas A&M for conservation. A good event in Alexandria, the day after the shootings at Simpson Field.

Read More
Comment
Print Friendly and PDF

Mason's Island: or A Bully Little Island in the Potomac*

Mason's Island: or A Bully Little Island in the Potomac*

Notes from a talk about Theodore Roosevelt Island by NPS expert Brad Krueger, who also spurred my visit there last weekend.

Read More

For Mainers and Maine-Lovers: Amy Bradley in Alexandria

For Mainers and Maine-Lovers: Amy Bradley in Alexandria

A Maine woman made life less miserable for thousands of soldiers in Alexandria, VA.

Read More

Decoration Day at Arlington Cemetery, 1868

Three years after the Civil War ended, the Union veterans group, called the Grand Army of the Republic proposed May 30 as Decoration Day, a day to decorate the graves of military dead. A large observance took place at Arlington Cemetery.

1873 Ceremony at Arlington Cemetery. Stereograph in the Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Collection.

1873 Ceremony at Arlington Cemetery. Stereograph in the Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Collection.

Flowers, Prayers, Song

May 30, 1868, fell on a Saturday. Julia recorded the afternoon across four pages of her diary. Here are a few excepts.

In Washington that morning, Julia Wilbur joined a "Ladies Committee" to make wreaths, crosses, and bouquets out of flowers. True to form,

A basket full of flowers from the Ex. Mansion I made into bouquets & brought one away to decorate if opportunity offered some Colored Soldier’s grave.

With some friends, she rode in a carriage across the river, joining thousands of others. By the time they arrived,

It was 2 P.M. & Gen. Garfield had begun to speak from a platform extending from the Piazza. Here in front of the Platform were seats for a great many. Many drove up as near as possible & remained in their carriages & thousands stood or strolled around. The Piazza was decorated with flags, & badges of the different Corps. were suspended on a rope extending from the Flag staff to the roof of the Mansion

In addition to speeches, sad music, prayers, poetry, and a reading "Lincoln's address at Gettysburg, Nov. 1863," there were--

Seated in front were Gen. Grant & staff & gen. Long, & Gens. Howard & Hancock & Ekin & other invited guests, including 54 orphans of soldiers & sailors...

A procession led by the children strew flowers on graves.

Nothing happened to mar the solemnity & beauty of the scene. It was unlike anything I ever witnessed before. Many a tear fell on those graves. There was no unseemly noise or mirth in all that vast crowd, 5,000.

An Unofficial Remembrance

Yet (why should this be a surprise?), the official ceremony only passed by white soldiers' graves. Julia went to the what she said was the northeastern part of the property (now called Section 27) where U.S. Colored Troops lay:

The programme did not seem to apply to this portion of the Cemetery but I understood that a few persons white & colored had been there with flowers & a prayed been offered. I was not satisfied to leave without going there. We drove there & entered. The grass had not been cut, & it is very tall. A small part seemed to be allotted to colored soldiers & flags & flowers were on all these graves.Here I left a bouquet from the White House on the grave of an “Unknown” & a few others, separating it for this purpose. It seems a pity that a part of the Cem. must be detached from the rest.

Julia commemorated Decoration Day many more times, but the first time probably meant the most to her.

Comment
Print Friendly and PDF

Creating & Testing a "Julia Wilbur in Civil War Alexandria" Walking Tour

Creating & Testing a "Julia Wilbur in Civil War Alexandria" Walking Tour

I created a Julia Wilbur Walking Tour. Here's how. (And I will do it again, now that I have road-tested it!)

Read More
Comment
Print Friendly and PDF