Yesterday we drove to Richmond to play tourist and walked in the footsteps of three well known figures from the past in this wonderful old city that is so steeped in history.
Occupied for centuries by native peoples, the first European settlers came to what is now Richmond in the late 17th Century. It became an important trade and agricultural center, the capital of Virginia, and it was at Richmond’s Saint John’s Church that Patrick Henry gave his famous “Give me liberty or give me death” speech in in the months leading up to the American Revolution.
During the Civil War Richmond was the capital of the Confederacy and we started our tour yesterday at the Confederate White House, where Confederate President Jefferson Davis and his family lived during the war years.
Our guide was a wonderful gentleman named James Haymes, who has an encyclopedic knowledge of the famous old home and the Davis family. When somebody in our tour group asked how he could remember so many names, dates and details, he told them it was because he had a passion and love for the place and the people who once lived there. Mr. Haymes is a retired Army Command Sergeant Major with 32 years of service and I felt an instant kinship with the man. I was honored to have my picture taken with him.
Next door to the White House we spent a couple of hours exploring the Museum of the Confederacy, which has three floors of exhibits on the Civil War, everything from battle flags to weapons, and the stories of the soldiers and civilians of the South who sacrificed so much for their cause.
Among the items on display was this hat worn by a Confederate cavalryman from Texas. Note the bullet hole. The sign next to the hat said that a Yankee bullet struck the hat’s thick silk band, entered the man’s skull and lodged against his brain. It was extracted and the lucky soldier went on to live a full life, crediting the hat for saving him from certain death.
These field glasses have a similar story. A Confederate officer was looking through them when a Union sniper fired at him. The bullet went through the side of the left tube, exited and hit the right tube, breaking it off and lodging within half an inch of the man’s eye. He was knocked off his feet and no doubt had a heck of a headache, but he lived to tell the story. And what a story to tell!
When we left the Museum of the Confederacy we drove a short distance to the Poe Museum, housed in the oldest home in Richmond, which dates back to around 1750. Edgar Allan Poe grew up in Richmond, though he did not actually live in this house. None of the homes where he did live are still standing, but the museum has the largest collection of the famous author’s personal belongings and memorabilia in the world.
These include his writing desk and chair, the bed he slept in as a child, original manuscripts and first editions of his books.
We’ll have feature stories on the Confederate White House, the Museum of the Confederacy, and the Poe Museum in an upcoming issue of the Gypsy Journal.
Our last stop in Richmond was a couple of miles away, where we paid our respects at the statue of Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, the internationally famous actor and dancer who was the inspiration for the popular song Mr. Bojangles.
There is so much to see and do in Richmond that it would take a month to just scratch the surface. We don’t have a month, but we do plan to go back again while we’re in the area for one more taste of all it has to offer.
Have you entered our latest Free Drawing yet? This week’s prize is an audiobook of The Journals of Jacob and Hyde by my friend Randall Morris. To enter, all you have to do is click on the Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.
Thought For The Day – The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The geat teacher inspires.