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.

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21 Objects: N.Y. Times on Fredericksburg’s Civil War Past

MORE: Read more news from Fredericksburg

Stafford County resident Norman Schools, author of “Virginia Shade,” holds some of the artifacts he’s found in and around the Moncure Conway House in Falmouth, Va. Many are from the Harvard Regiment, famed for its urban combat on the streets of Fredericksburg 150 years ago. (CLINT SCHEMMER/THE FREE LANCE-STAR)

Little more than an hour ago, The New York Times’ wonderful “Disunion” blog gave the Fredericksburg area a big, beautiful Christmas present.

In a series of posts there commemorating the Battle of Fredericksburg, fought 150 years ago this week, Disunion is publishing an essay by Virginia archaeologist Taft Kiser, who investigated the city’s new courthouse site last month, and — best of all — a 21-item photo gallery of Civil War-related artifacts and sites in the Fredericksburg area.

Such a gallery could obviously be much larger, but the Times is the first to think of it–and create one (similar to its 50-object package for New York City). Kudos to its talented and hard-working staff, and the many dedicated Virginians who toiled away to supply compelling images and words to the folks up north.

I was honored to contribute a couple of items–one on the amazing artifacts that Falmouth resident Norman Schools found in its attic at the Moncure Conway House, the other on Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside’s favorite sword, on temporary display at the Fredericksburg Battlefield Visitor Center.

The Conway House, prewar home to the South’s most outspoken abolitionist, Stafford native Moncure Daniel Conway, hosts the annual “Yankees in Falmouth!” event and is part of the National Underground Railroad Network.

Burnside’s sword will remain on view at the Visitor Center, part of Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, through late January. Its very special visit, courtesy of collector Alan Genetti, will last 77 days, the exact period that Burnside commanded the Union’s Army of the Potomac.