A few people in the crowd were also descendants of families who lived in this area during the mid-19th century. Dan Smoot's ancestor, Jacob Smoot, owned Salona at the time of the Civil War. Jacob, a Southern sympathizer, fled Salona with his family and moved to Georgetown. He was also arrested by Union authorities early in the war. Gen. "Baldy" Smith used Salona as his divisional headquarters, and the Vermont Brigade encamped on and around the Smoot property. (The present-day owner of historic Salona was also present). Doug Mackall is the descendant of William W. Mackall, a Confederate general who lived in the McLean area after the war. The home of Doug's distant relative, Dr. Richard Mackall, became brigade headquarters for Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock. The DC area is often viewed as transient, but people like Dan and Doug remind us that some families have deep roots dating back more than 150 years. Who could have imagined that in 2013 a transplant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania would be speaking about local citizens who were so deeply affected by the Civil War in front of their very descendants?
|Detail from 1862 Union Army map showing the area where the divisions of "Baldy" Smith and George McCall established Camps Griffin and Pierpont, respectively. The Mackall and Smoot properties are plainly visible in the center of the map.|
This was my second time speaking before the MHS, and I enjoyed every minute of it. I also walked away with some interesting stories and insights from those who attended. Thanks to all who came to hear about the camps!