It was now three years ago that I spent my birthday weekend at the 150th Appomattox commemoration. You can read about it here, here, here, and here. History friend Mel and I spent four days touring both the historical village of Appomattox Court House and the local industrial complex with the more vigorous reenactments and a much larger cadre of living historians. This included saying farewell to Al Stone as General Lee of Lee’s Lieutenant’s, a Confederate officer reenacting group I had seen for years around the Northern Virginia battlefields. Mr. Stone was the best incarnation of Lee I’ve seen in person or in cinema and it was sad, yet fitting, that he was going to officially retire after the 150th Appomattox.
Al Stone at the Appomattox 150th in 2015.
Anyway. Fast forward two weeks from then.
My Civil War discussion group wanted to trace Lee’s retreat through Virginia to the final surrender at Appomattox, so we planned to start in Richmond and hit all of the stops on the way to Appomattox.
It’s been kind of slow over here in Domer/in/DC-land, at least in regards to history-related things. In non-history related things, I’ve learned what the turbo in my car’s engine is, that is, how it’s not good when it leaks oil …
But despite that, I was able to make it to a local historical society’s Monthly Meeting of History Things. This month’s topic was on local Civil War Generals. There are several dozen Civil War Generals buried in a single cemetery outside of Philadelphia, Laurel Hill Cemetery, and there are probably a dozen buried elsewhere in the area. This particular talk covered four specific generals, but there are many, many more to research.
From the event description:
During the Civil War, Philadelphia raised over 50 infantry and cavalry regiments, and its manufacturers made uniforms, weapons and warships for the war effort. The city also hosted the two largest military hospitals in the country to care for the sick and wounded. And Philadelphia sent at least twelve generals off to fight for the Union (and one who chose to fight for the Confederacy!) The most famous of these generals, George Gordon Meade, was given command of the Army of the Potomac on Sunday, June 28, 1863, and three days later led his army to victory in the largest, and most decisive, battle of the war – Gettysburg. Fellow Philadelphia generals Winfield Scott Hancock and John Gibbon turned back Pickett’s Charge during that battle. The other Philadelphia generals served with varying degrees of success.
Sometimes I look back at my life and wonder how I took this particular path and not another one that I would have also (probably) enjoyed. These bouts of introspection are usually caused by running across people who are passionate about something and are getting paid for that passion. If they’re having that much fun doing something, maybe I made the wrong choice by taking a different route? Case in point: material culture.
From Wikipedia:”Material culture is the physical aspect of culture in the objects and architecture that surround people. It includes usage, consumption, creation and trade of objects, and the behaviors, norms and rituals these objects create or take part in. The term is commonly used in archaeological and anthropological studies, specifically focusing on the material evidence which can be attributed to culture, in the past or present. Material culture studies is an interdisciplinary field telling of relationships between people and their things: the making, history, preservation, and interpretation of objects.”
As evidenced by things like the Art of Revolutions conference I went to, I love it when different fields intersect, or when something is presented in a totally and completely new way that blows the mind.
This video is one of those things. Dies Irae is a medieval piece, describing the Final Judgement. The direct translation of dies irae from Latin is “Day of Wrath” so it seems fitting that it appears in both the Catholic funeral Mass setting as well as all sorts of doom and gloom situations throughout musical and cinematic history.
Seriously, watch this video and be amazed.
A prominent museum in Philadelphia, The Franklin Institute, “is one of the oldest and premier centers of science education and development in the country”. That makes sense – Franklin himself was a more than just a thinker. He was a curious tinkerer and creative problem solver. So I was intrigued when I heard that several of the Terracotta Warriors from China would be on exhibit there because, to me, they seem more like a subject of history. Perhaps I’m biased, being a history nerd and all that.
This was a traveling exhibit, spending the first six months of its life at the Pacific Science Center (PSC) in Seattle, Washington, before spending the last six months of its life at the Franklin. Knowing that, it was interesting to see how the pieces of the exhibit fit into the space. I would have liked to go visit it at the PSC just to see the layout choices between two very different floor plans.
Anyway, back to the Terracotta Warriors themselves …
The standing figure is an acrobat while the kneeling figure is an archer.
Technically, this still counts since it falls before Epiphany, right? (In the Catholic tradition, Epiphany – the feast of the Three Kings on January 6 – is the official end of the twelve days of Christmas.)
Anyway, technicalities aside, I recently attended a Living History event at Fort Mott State Park in New Jersey called Soldiers’ Christmas. Maybe it was Soldier’s Christmas. Soldiers Christmas? Whatever.
It was my first time attending this event, although I’ve heard about it for a number of years. There were groups from a number of different eras, although the majority were from World War 2. It was great to see a lot of familiar faces from the Living History scene, and I even learned a thing or two along the way!
Christmas the American GI way