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In case you missed it the CW 150 Legacy Project ‘s visit to the Campbell County courthouse in Rustburg was featured recently in the Richmond Times-Dispatch and on WSET-TV which covers Lynchburg, Danville, and Roanoke. See the newspaper story here and the video here. Both stories cover the project’s continuing mission to to locate Civil War-era materials held by private citizens, digitize them, and place them online.… read more »
“The indecision and the absence of energy in the convention of Virginia which does not dare proclaim itself either for or against secession have ended by making the situation intolerable for everyone,” wrote Alfred Paul, the French consul in Richmond, in March 1861. “This lack of spontaneity after the inauguration of the new administration destroys the sympathies of the two sections, North and South, toward Virginia.” Paul closed his report of 9 March thusly: “all that the convention has done up to the present can be summed up in three words or in a single word: nothing, nothing, nothing.”
This year marks the 150th anniversary of the secession crisis and the commencement of the Civil War. Among The Library of Virginia’s many collections concerning secession and the war is the Alfred Paul Reports, 8 December 1860-9 March 1861 (Accession 22992). Paul proved to be a keen observer of events in Virginia during the Winter of 1860-1861, providing the French government with valuable analysis of the state’s actions during the secession crisis. [Note: The original reports are written in French; English translations are provided by the Library.]
Southerners, Paul stated, “want secession.” South Carolina seized on the election of Abraham Lincoln to leave the Union, even though Lincoln had been “called to the presidency of the United States…in a general election, regular, legal, constitutional, in … read more »
Have you ever wondered how fragile or damaged documents are repaired or preserved? Check out this behind-the-scenes look at preservation efforts undertaken to conserve one of the documents used in the new “Union or Secession: Virginians Decide” exhibition at The Library of Virginia (LVA). Visit the innovative online classroom to see more about the people, events, and documents that were a part of this crucial time in Virginia history. The exhibition is open now until October 29, 2011. For more video created by LVA staff, see our YouTube channel.… read more »
As you may have heard from this blog and other sources, the CW 150 Legacy Project: Document Digitization and Access is an effort to locate Civil War-era materials held by private citizens, digitize them, and place them online. It is a joint project between the Library of Virginia (LVA) and the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission.
Now that the project is underway, the motto “Have Scanner, Will Travel” aptly applies to my colleague Renee Savits and me. We are the CW 150 Legacy Project archivists, often seen in the LVA building rolling large plastic travel boxes containing our scanners, loading up our vehicle for the latest event. Renee is responsible for the project’s Eastern Region, and I am responsible for the Western Region.
In September, Renee and I hit the road, beginning what will be nearly two years of traveling across the commonwealth in search of these materials. We knew people would be interested in the project, but the level of interest we are encountering is beyond our expectations. At most of our events, all appointment slots are filled. We meet wonderful people who are excited to have the opportunity to share their items with us. A story about the project in the Washington Post in November generated even more interest.
A typical scanning event is scheduled through a given locality’s Civil … read more »
Love and respect for one remarkable woman drew Civil War veterans from across the United States to Richmond during the summer of 1896. The occasion was a reunion of soldiers who spent time in the care of Captain Sally Tompkins and the staff at the Robertson Hospital.
The hospital reunion register, recently cataloged here at the Library of Virginia, records the names, signatures and, occasionally, military units of former soldiers who attended a patient reunion during the Grand Confederate Reunion of 1896. Some wives’ names are also listed. The attendees came from at least nine states, from as far away as New York and Texas, further testimony to the respect and love that soldiers on both sides felt for the care Tompkins bestowed on all. Their admiration was not one-sided; Tompkins paid for the party herself, renting a house and providing food and drink for the entire company.
Tompkins was the only female commissioned officer in the Confederate army. She was born 9 November 1833 in Poplar Grove, Mathews County, Virginia. She moved to Richmond following the death of her father before the Civil War and used her considerable inheritance to open a private hospital at the outbreak of the war in April 1861. It stood at the corner of 3rd and Main Streets at the home of Judge John Robertson, thus giving the … read more »
Next year marks the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War. The war’s effect on the people of Virginia was immense – especially to those families who lost loved ones in battle. The pain, grief, and other emotions felt by these families are witnessed by reading the letters contained in the many Civil War collections housed at the Library of Virginia.
One such collection is the Hughes-Ware Family Papers (Accession 37961). Mary Elizabeth “Bess” Hughes (1838-1912) married Cincinnatus J. Ware (1839-1864) of Gloucester County, Virginia, and they settled in Richmond. “Natus” and his brother William S. Ware, Jr. (1842-1909), or “Dinkey” as he was known, would later serve together in the 5th Virginia Cavalry.
Natus was wounded in action at Newtown, in Frederick County, Virginia, on 12 November 1864, and died a short time later. The collection contains various poignant letters written by his brother and their father, as well as a comrade, to Bess. The first letter, written by another member of the 5th Virginia Cavalry, tells of his hopes for Natus’ recovery after being shot. The second letter, written by William, informs Bess of the death of his brother. The third letter is written by their father, William S. Ware, Sr., and reveals the difficulty he is having accepting his son’s death.
These letters tell the emotional side … read more »
John Salling of Slant, Virginia, in Scott County, was long recognized as Virginia’s last surviving Confederate veteran. In recognition of his service, the state of Virginia issued him a pension from 1933 until his death in 1959, at which time Salling claimed to be 112 years old. Doubt was first cast on Salling’s credibility upon his application for a state pension. When Pension Clerk John H. Johnson was unable to find evidence of Salling’s war record at the Virginia State Library (now the Library of Virginia) which maintained the records of the Department of Confederate Military Records, he required Salling to provide a sworn statement of his service to the Pension Office. Salling submitted an affidavit before a notary public of Scott County certifying that he enlisted in Company D, 25th Virginia Regiment, under Capt. James R. Collins. Salling also stated that he was detailed throughout the war to work in the saltpeter mines in the Dekalb District of Scott County. Salling’s application was approved in April 1933 and he received a monthly pension of twenty-one dollars. In his February 1991 article “The Great Imposters” in Blue and Gray Magazine, Civil War historian William Marvel invalidates John Salling’s claim using census records which place his birth in 1858, not 1846 as Salling long maintained. Additionally, Life Magazine ran an article in 1953 featuring Salling … read more »
In May 1863, a team of Confederate topographical engineers surveying and mapping Louisa County were surprised by Union cavalry. All but one of the team were captured. B. Lewis Blackford managed to escape, despite losing everything except his horse. “Among his losses,” his brother Charles Minor Blackford later stated, “was his note book, in which he kept copies of poems and other clever things he had written to various girls, all of which were published in full subsequently in the New York Herald, to whom they were furnished by their captor. His note book was very handsomely illustrated also, as he was a good sketcher and drew exquisite caricatures.”
Seemingly undaunted by the loss of his notebook, Blackford in June 1863 began a new sketchbook, which eventually found its way into the Personal Papers Collection at the Library of Virginia (Accession 22177c). The small (4”x 6 ½”) book contains 20 pencil and ink sketches. Some are outlines and rough sketches of people and landscapes, while others are more polished. The finished sketches of members of Blackford’s company catch their personalities. Blackford also captured the poignancy of war in his sketches titled “Fredericksburg” and “Chancellorsville.” The first simply depicts a skull and bone and the second the ruins at the tiny crossroads.
Benjamin Lewis Blackford was born 5 August 1835 in Fredericksburg, to William Mathews … read more »
Sometimes an archivist must be a detective looking for things everyone else missed.
As part of an appraisal project in local records, I reviewed blank volumes sent to the Library of Virginia from county courthouses searching for entries that may have been overlooked in their initial description. Several volumes that were described as blank actually contained information, most notably a large bond book from Frederick County.
The book was in pieces, tied together with string, with only one of its leather covers remaining. The pages printed with executors bonds—outlining the obligations of individuals carrying out the directions and requests in wills—were completely blank. However, the back of some of the pages were filled with faint, but legible, writing.
The book was used not for its original purpose, but instead was used to record loyalty oaths after the Civil War. These oaths, dated 1865–1866, consisted of statements signed by residents of Frederick County in which they promised to “support the Constitution of the United States and the laws made in pursuance thereof as the supreme law of the land.” Each oath recorded the individual’s name, age, and sometimes his profession (for example, Henry Brent was a cashier at the Bank of the Valley of Virginia, and C. Lewis Brent was a lawyer). The volume also contains an alphabetical index that the record keeper crafted by tracing … read more »
Staff from the Library of Virginia (LVA), including Laura Drake Davis of the CW150 Legacy Project — Western Region, Senior Finding Aids Archivist Trenton Hizer, and myself, recently compiled and manned a display for the biennial meeting of the Society of Civil War Historians, held in Richmond. The Society is co-sponsored by Florida Atlantic University and Penn State University’s Richards Civil War Era Center.
The conference was a good opportunity to share the scope of our collections with the public. LVA’s Photographic and Digital Imaging Department Manager Mark Fagerburg and his staff created beautiful dry mount boards with images of fifteen manuscripts from the Library’s Local, Private, and State Records collections, including a sketchbook kept by Benjamin Lewis Blackford (Acc. 22177c), Franklin County Reports of Indigent Soldiers’ Families (Barcodes 1145465, 1145468), and a letter of the Black Band of New York to Governor Henry A. Wise (Acc. 36710).
Over the course of the three-day conference, we spoke to a number of participants to drum up interest in the Library and the CW 150 Legacy Project. The project, a joint venture of the Library of Virginia and the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission, is an effort to scour the state to locate and scan privately-held manuscript items relating to the Civil War, for eventual availability online.
LVA’s display at the conference included some … read more »