Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Some Odds and Ends

Life has been a bit hectic recently, meaning I haven't had as much time for research and writing about the war. This week I will be taking a mini-vacation, which translates into even fewer chances to blog. However, before leaving my keyboard behind, I wanted to share at least a few odds and ends:

*The City of Fairfax Museum & Visitor Center is running a Sesquicentennial exhibition entitled Civil War Fairfax 1863 from now through January 2014. According to the city's website, the exhibition "examines the events and personalities that defined life in Fairfax Court House in 1863. Themes include the emancipation of slaves, the growing Union Army presence, daring raids by Confederate John S. Mosby and his partisan rangers, the unsettled lives of Fairfax’s civilians, and the complicated romance between southerner Antonia Ford and Union Army Major Joseph C. Willard." I look forward to visiting this one at some point in the near future. Incidentally, the museum consulted with me on Fairfax's contraband camps when the exhibit was under development, so I will be interested to see how the displays address this interesting and important topic. For more details, see here.

*Civil War Railroad Buff Alert! I recently discovered that the Fairfax Station Railroad Museum is offering a couple of Civil War-related forums. On August 14 at 7:30 pm, Civil War historian Ron McAnaw will discuss "Military Actions Around the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, 1862-64." Later this fall, on November 13 at 7:30 pm, the museum will feature a lecture on the "Use of the Orange and Alexandria Railroad in Support of the Army of the Potomac, 1862-64" by railroad historian Ron Beavers. Both programs are free to the public. For more information on the upcoming Fairfax Station Forums, see here. The museum also offers Civil War tours of the area. The next one is tentatively scheduled for October 2013, but further details are not yet available. The museum itself features items on Civil War history, as well as model railroad exhibits. But be warned -- opening hours are usually limited to Sundays from 1 pm to 4 pm.

The Fairfax Station Railroad Museum, housed in a post-Civil War station. I blogged about the Civil War history of the site here.

*Whenever you travel this summer, whether near or far, don't forget about the Historical Marker Database ( Before going somewhere, I tend to research the local historical sites by doing searches on HMDB. This often catches some obscure but interesting places that normally don't show up in the glossy brochures. In fact, I used HMDB a few years ago to pull together a Civil War-related tour of Roanoke Island. Once arriving at my destination, I use HMDB's mobile app on my iPhone to pick up nearby markers that I may have missed. Of course, I am always on the prowl for new markers to add to the database. Most recently, I contributed entries for two Judah P. Benjamin-related sites in Sarasota, Florida. (See here and here.) I suppose you could say I am a "Marker Hunter," but not like Craig Swain, the original one! Head to Craig's blog, To the Sound of the Guns, if you want to explore battlefields by marker. He has done an amazing job of cataloguing and mapping the markers and monuments on various key battlefields, including Antietam and Gettysburg. (See here.)

*I hope to return soon to the topic of the contraband camps in present-day McLean. I just need to get out and take some pictures in my neighborhood to show what the area looks like today. I also plan to blog a little more about the war's impact on civilians as we head into the late summer and early fall. These stories have been in the pipeline for quite some time, and I look forward to sharing them.

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