Past is Prologue

Clint Schemmer writes about history, heritage preservation and the American Civil War.  On Facebook: Past is Prologue  On Twitter: @prologuepast  ContactEmail Clint or call 540/374-5424.

RSS feed of this blog

Fun for the history-minded

There are plenty of interesting history-themed events scheduled locally in the coming weeks.

Four of my favorites:

On Saturday, Oct, 16, at Ellwood, don’t miss Dr. Pelletier’s sweeping, matter-of-fact description of how medicine evolved during the Civil War. He’ll describe how the surgeons and field hospitals worked in the aftermath of a battle–right on the very ground where those hospitals did their difficult work.

Washington author James Swanson may have another best-seller on his hands with his newest book, “Bloody Crimes,” which I heartily recommend. Come meet the writer at a reception hosted by the Northern Neck of Virginia Historical Society.

On Sunday, Oct. 17, Paul Nasca, one of the folks at Ferry Farm who really worked his tail off to discover and delineate the Washington family’s farmstead, will discuss what the Civil War here — and its thousands of troops — meant for the archaeological site.

And on Tuesday, Oct. 19, Fredericksburg’s Scott Walker will deliver what’s sure to be a lively talk, titled “Footfalls of the Entertainers: Let Us Entertain You!” on some of the notable performers who have paid their dues here and passed through the area.

The full list:

Reception and Book Signing, Thursday, Oct. 14, 5–7 p.m., Northern Neck of Virginia Historical Society, Fredericksburg Courtyard Marriott Hotel, 620 Caroline St. James Swanson, author of “Bloody Crimes: The Chase for Jefferson Davis” and “The Death Pageant for Lincoln’s Corpse,” will speak. For reservations, e–mail

Civil War Medicine Living History, 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 16. “Doctor” John Pelletier, who portrays a Confederate physician, will set up his surgery at Ellwood in Orange County—which was the site of numerous field hospitals during the Battle of the Wilderness in 1864. Using 19th-century instruments, Pelletier demonstrates how the wounded soldiers were cared for immediately after fighting and how surgeries were performed in the battlefield hospitals, and explains how some modern-day military medical systems got their start in the Civil War.

“Lincoln’s War at Washington’s Boyhood Home,” Sunday, Oct. 17, 2 p.m., Ferry Farm, 268 Kings Highway, Stafford County. Paul Nasca, staff archaeologist with the George Washington Foundation, will talk about the Civil War and its impact on the site of the Washington family’s home on the Rappahannock River. Free. Part of this month’s archaeology lecture series at Ferry Farm, which ends with a third talk by archaeologist David Muraca on Sunday, Oct. 24. 540/370-0732;

James Monroe Lecture: “Monroe and the Communications Revolution in the Early Republic,” UMW, Great Hall, Woodard Campus Center, 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 18. Professor Richard John of Columbia University will analyze the main features of the communications revolution in the early 19th century, with a focus on the newspaper press, the postal system and the stagecoach business. Sponsored by the James Monroe Museum. Free. Discussion and reception to follow. 540/654-1043;

Evening With an Expert Lecture Series: “Footfalls of the Entertainers: Let Us Entertain You!,” Fredericksburg Area Museum and Cultural Center, 1001 Princess Anne St., 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 19. Illustrated lecture by Fredericksburg historian Scott Walker, owner of Hallowed Ground Tours. Free. Second in the museum’s “Footfalls” lectures, the companion to an exhibit at Old Town Hall. 540/371-3037, ext. 140.

Segway tours, Spotsylvania battlefield, Saturdays through Oct. 30, 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., led by a National Park Service historian. $63 per person. Reservations required. Contact Segway of Richmond at 804/343-1850 or

“Sex and the Founding Fathers: George Washington, Manhood without Issue, From Weems to Wikipedia,” UMW, Lee Hall, Room 411, 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 21. Lecture by Thomas Foster on the public memory of George Washington’s personal life. Free. 540/654-1044.