Tag Archives: Civil War

Playing tourist here at home

We had a fun time last weekend. My sister, Maggie and her next door neighbors, Mac and Candy drove down from Greenville, S.C. for a “history weekend.” Maggie’s husband has taken a new job in New England, so he was out of the picture for this trip.

My sister is very lucky that she has just great friends living right next door to her. Over the years, we have gotten to know Mac and Cindy fairly well. At one point a few years ago, Mac and I were comparing notes and we discovered we had very similar interests in Civil War and World War II history.

Cindy joined my friends and me on our tour of the Louvre during our first trip to Paris in March 2012.

 And the whole gang of us piled into the car for a history trip to Gettysburg in 2010.

We have been talking about doing a “history weekend” here in Savannah for several years. I’m glad we were able to finally pull it off.

We started with a tour of the National Museum of the Eighth Air Force. This is a cool museum with a focus on the WWII air war over Europe.

Mac and me at the 8th Air Force Museum.

Mac and me at the 8th Air Force Museum.

On Saturday, we did a walking tour of downtown Savannah. I played tour guide, and although I’m not as professional as the experts, everyone seemed to enjoy it.

Maggie, Mrs. P and Cindy waiting for the guys to get back to them.

Maggie, Mrs. P and Cindy waiting for the guys to get back to them.

Myself, Mrs. Poolman and sister Maggie at Colonial Cemetary.

Myself, Mrs. Poolman and sister Maggie at Colonial Cemetary.

After a seafood lunch at Tubby’s on River Street, we dropped Mrs. P and Maggie off at our house. Mac, Cindy and I headed out towards the beach and Fort Pulaski. The fort is run by the National Park Service. They do a great job. We stayed only a fairly short time, since it was late and the weather was starting to look ugly, but it seemed like our guests really enjoyed it.

Mac and Cindy at Ft. Pulasi

Mac and Cindy at Ft. Pulasi

We finished the weekend off with a low country boil at our house. I think everyone had a good time. If they did not, they sure faked it well. We need to start planning our next “history weekend.” Charleston, anyone?

Here’s a rational thought

I don’t want to keep harping on gun control, but I had to laugh when I heard about this proposal coming from a politician, Phillip Lowe, in South Carolina. Ever since they started the Civil War, you can always count on the good folks north or the Savannah River to promote nutty political ideas.

The new supply closet?

The new supply closet?

In response to the Newtown, Connecticut shooting last week, one senator has a solution to school shootings – arm all the teachers, janitors and cafeteria workers. There seem to be two polar opposites about what to do about rampant gun violence. One side wants to eliminate (oops, I mean “restrict”) all firearms. The other side wants to just give everyone a gun. I guess the thought is that if someone came into a school and started shooting, all those kindergarten teachers and librarians would pull out their Glocks and blow him away.

I have two thoughts on that. The first is that the idea of a bunch of arming a bunch of amateurs with deadly weapons and encouraging them to use them in a building full of children, is a real scary thought. It’s not as easy as it looks on television or in a video game. Supposedly trained professionals mess it up all the time. Just last August, a handful of NYPD cops took on a bad guy and they got their man. But they also managed to wound nine innocent bystanders in the process. And these guys were supposed to know what they were doing. Imagine if they were school nurses!

The second, and equally scary thought is this; if you let and encourage guns in schools, how are you going to ensure those weapons away from the children? What happens when some junior psychopath-wannabe knows that Mrs. English Teacher keeps her gun in her desk drawer. After a playground encounter with the bully d’ jour, he decides to show his classmates how crazy he really is. Never happen? And who would have thought a 20-year-old son of a kindergarten teacher would take an AR-15, break into a school, and shoot up a class of six year-olds?  Hmmm.

This and that

It’s been about a month since I last posted. After our trip to France, I needed a bit of a “blogacation.” I’m back with a mixed bag of thoughts.

The hot news out there this past week has been the sex scandal surrounding David Petraeus.

David and Paula Broadwell in happier times.

What a waste! It is interesting to note the double standards our society has for those in the public eye. If Petraeus were a Hollywood celebrity or a professional athlete, the entire episode might not even be worth a mention in People Magazine. I think we, as a society, tend to be a little sanctimonious when it comes to a good scandal. I’m not justifying marital infidelity, but I don’t understand why today that activity needs to ruin a good career. In the not-to-distant past, many great and admired leaders had a little, or a lot, action on the side. (Hello, FDR, Ike, JFK, Teddy K, etc.)

I got a chuckle out of a set of petitions that have been circulating around the Web promoting states to secede from the Union following President Obama’s re-election. What a bunch of sore losers! I’m not an Obama supporter, and, while fairly centric, lean more towards the right side of the political spectrum. (Big surprise there, huh?) This is a democracy folks. If you want someone you like in any elected office, then go out and convince enough people and get them to vote. If you can’t, then suck it up and live with it. Don’t just try to take your ball and go home. And, oh, by the way, didn’t we settle the issue of secession back in the 1860s? You would think the folks here in Georgia would remember that.

How messed up is college football? Imagine this. My Florida Gators are 10-1 and ranked #4 in the country. With just a couple of games going the “right way” this weekend, (wins by UF, USC, and Alabama) they could play for the national championship. And this, for a team with an offense so bad they would have trouble getting a first down against Sister Mary’s School for the Deaf and Blind. I love the Gators, but I do wish they would play some offense.

And if sex scandals, a replay of the Civil War and the BCS aren’t enough controversy for you, how about skydiving cats? There has been a uproar (or at least an upwhisper) over a Swedish insurance company television commercial that featured supposedly skydiving cats. I like cats. I have two of my own, one of whom is snuggled in my lap as I write this. But when I heard about this, I laughed. Jeannie Moos with CNN picked up on the story and had this tongue-in-cheek report.

The key here, folks — they didn’t really throw cats of airplanes. It’s all a joke. And besides, don’t cats always land on their feet anyway? (That’s also a joke.)

Baseball — the 1862 way

It’s been a good, but quiet holiday weekend around Casa Poolman.

Both our children and Son-in-Law came over for dinner on Saturday. I grilled ribs ahead of time and we had a splendid little feast. Good time had by all.

On Sunday, SIL was playing in a “historic, 1862 baseball game” at Fort Pulaski, a Civil War era fort near us. The story behind the game is this.

Ft. Pulaski was captured by the Union troops in April 1862 and held by the northern army throughout the war. One of the first documented baseball games was played there in 1862 and there is a fairly famous (at least in our neck of the woods) photo to document the event.

This is the way it looked in 1862.

Meanwhile, around 15 miles up river, near downtown Savannah, there is another Civil War era fort that was held by the Confederates and is also a historic site. That is Fort Jackson. A friend of our of our children’s generation, Brian, is the site manager for Ft. Jackson.

So for the Independence Day weekend, the staff at Ft. Pulaski challenged the “rebels” at Ft. Jackson to a baseball game, using 19th century equipment, rules and uniforms. Ft. Jackson’s captain, Brian, asked SIL to play for the “rebs.”

The two teams wore Civil War era clothing and played by the early baseball rules. No gloves. No walks on balls. A catch on the first bounce is also an out. And so on.

And this is 2011.

It was a nice day and a fun outing.

Mrs. Poolman had to work today (Monday.) I just hung out around the house and took care of some chores and errands. Nothing too stressful. Grilled hamburgers and corn on the cob for dinner tonight. Back to work in the AM.

Living in the past

You can always count on the folks in South Carolina to stir up the pot. They did it in 1860 and they’re back at it 150 years later. Monday night Confederate heritage-lovers staged a Secession Gala on the sesquicentennial of the state’s vote to secede from the union.

As a history lover and also a Yankee who has spent all but a few of his adult years in the South, I am chagrined by that group of Southerners who hold firmly onto their historical memory of four and a half years of bad judgment and reckless hubris under the banner, “It’s our HERITAGE!”

Some people take it seriously here. Former Georgia Governor Roy Barnes was defeated in his bid for a second term in 2002, in a large part because he would not support the use of the Confederate Army battle flag on the state’s official state flag. Groups of protestors followed him to public appearances in flag festooned pickup trucks and staged demonstrations to support their cause. I remember it well. It was really funny. But I don’t think Roy thought so.

I guess what I don’t understand is the battle cry, “It’s our heritage.” While it is a part of Southern history, it is not a big part. The Confederacy lasted only a little over four years. Besides, it is not a part of history that Southerners should be justly proud.

Taking nothing away from the soldiers who fought for the Confederate side, their cause was morally bankrupt and politically flawed.

Current day revisionists will claim the Civil War was not fought over slavery, but rather for some vague concept of “states rights.” That may be literally true, but when taken in context, not factually so. The causes of the Civil War were complicated, but at the risk of oversimplifying them, here is what it came down to:

  1. The Civil War started because the Southern states attempted to secede from the Union and form their own separate and hostile nation.
  2. The alleged reason they attempted to secede was to defend their “state’s rights.”
  3. However, the only “state’s right” they were really willing to fight for was the right to own slaves.

Many modern revisionists like to cite the first two reasons, but they stop before they get to #3.

There were economic issues in dispute, but if it were not for slavery, there would have been no secession and no war. Slavery, along with its related issues like expansion to new territories, was single hottest political issue of the decade leading up the Civil War. It was the overarching issue of debate. The current debate over legalized abortions pales by comparison.

You cannot separate the Civil War from the issue of slavery.  Lincoln figured that out. While he has been quoted as saying he would accept slavery if it would preserve the union, he also knew by tying the Northern war effort to a fight against slavery, he could strengthen his political position, gain additional support for the war and isolate the Confederacy from potential European allies. By 1863, slavery was most definitely a central issue for the north.

You will hear Southern apologist claim, “My great grandfather didn’t own any slaves, and neither did most of the soldiers who fought for the South!” So what? The key decisions that led to the war were not made by lower aand middle class farmers and shopkeepers. The decisions were made, as usual, by the rich and powerful, and they were overwhelmingly slave owners.

It is interesting to note that the Southern politicians did a complete turn when it came to writing their own Constitution. On one hand, they claimed that while part of the national union, the states had the rights to secede and to determine the status of slavery within their borders. Yet when it came time to write the rules for the Confederacy, they specifically prohibited both those rights to their member states. Any future secession was disallowed, and states were not allowed to outlaw slavery within their borders.

What’s good for the goose isn’t necessarily good for the gander.

A well-spent Friday

We had an interesting day today. It started off with a meeting with our county legislative delegation. My boss was the main speaker, but I went along to carry his spear. We aren’t looking for anything special from the legislature in the session that will begin in January, but we need to hold on to the funding we have. Mostly we were there just to keep us on their radar screen.

After that, I spent the rest of the day out on the water and hiking around a couple of the local inner barrier islands.

It was a very nice day!

The project is a joint effort between our institute and the state DNR archaeology division.  We are trying to identify significant archaeological sites that may be threatened by erosion in the foreseeable future. A reporter from the Savannah newspaper went along to do a story. I joined the group to liaison with her and to take pictures for her. Not a bad way to spend a fall Friday.

It was a beautiful day, with temperatures ranging from the low 70s to the low 80s. Nice break from the office. As Mrs. Poolman said, “And you get paid for that?”

A salt marsh

We saw some nature and a couple of pretty cool archaeological sites, including a Civil War era earthen artillery battery and a 19th century bricked walled grave yard.

The graveyard

It’s weird seeing something like that on an otherwise deserted island.

I am not the most coordinated person in the world, which I demonstrated once again. As we were walking along, we came to a fallen tree across our path. Holding on to my camera, I straddled the log, sitting on it. The log was on a slant, with the downhill side to my back. Before I could swing my trailing leg over and hop off the other side, I felt myself falling backwards. Sure enough – down I went. It was like, well, falling off a log. I had dirt and leaves in my hair, but no damage except to my dignity. I fall a lot, and have gotten pretty good at it.

We did see a little wildlife. I was standing and talking with the reporter, when I saw feral hog. It was a mama with about ten little piglets. Mama was fairly large, about the size of my Labrador retriever. She heavily engaged snuffling around looking for food or whatever they do and didn’t notice us until she was about 40 feet away. I raised my arm to try to get a picture and that caught her attention. You could just see what went through her little porcine brain.

“Ohay, itshay!” (That’s pig latin for “Oh, sh_t!)

Off she went, running all the way home. We didn’t hear her, but she must have sent a message for the little pigs, because they also scurried after her.”

All together, it was a good day.

Mrs. Poolman and I are having an early dinner (Spare ribs. How appropriate?) and to bed early. The Gators have an “exhibition game” tomorrow against Florida International. Mrs. P is staying home, so I’m taking two of my Gator-fan friends to the game. We’ll be out the door at 5 am. That’s criminal for a Saturday morning, but you gotta do what you gotta do.”