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 Posted: Tue Nov 7th, 2006 12:39 pm
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Widow
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Joined: Tue Sep 19th, 2006
Location: Oakton, Fairfax County, VA
Posts: 321
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Howdy from Northern Virginia, everybody.  I'm Patty Wheeler, and I'm new to this discussion board.  Sure am glad to visit with other folks interested in the Civil War, both here and in Shotgun's chatroom.

Although I've lived in Fairfax County (suburb of Washington, DC) for more than 40 years, I'd never paid attention to the Civil War history here.  Until August 2005, when I attended a living-history event at a county park.  There were uniformed reenactors as infantry, artillery, and even four cavalrymen.  Some civilians also in period clothing.

I got hooked, lined, and sinkered, right then and there.  Wow, what have I been missing?  Since then, I've bankrupted myself by buying books and traveling to battlefields.  I can't get enough, and I'll never get all of it.

I live 15 miles from the Manassas National Battlefield Park, and within easy driving distance of Antietam, Gettysburg, Fredericksburg, Richmond, Petersburg, Harpers Ferry, and of course the Shenandoah Valley.

I've joined two round tables and several other groups, mostly so I can receive the newsletters and learn of upcoming programs and tours.  I'm active in the Bull Run RT, which meets in Centreville.

As far as I know, none of my ancestors fought in the war.  There is no information on Mom's side.  Dad's ancestors were homesteaders in Nebraska Territory during the war.  I have no information about my husband's family either, except that they lived in Illinois.  I figure that if any of our ancestors had been in the war, there would have been family stories.

I love going to reenactments, living-history days, museums, and battlefields.  It's fun to go with a group, it's fun to go alone.  I cannot stay out of bookstores, though, and I'm worried about that.

Locally, I'm interested in battlefield preservation.  Fairfax County was the first to be occupied in 1861 and the last to be unoccupied in 1865.  The Federals and Confederates camped and fought here over the four years.  The county now has more than a million people, so you can imagine what's become of those historic campsites and battlefields.  There's not much left.

The more I read about the armies, battles, campaigns, soldiers, weapons, and other military aspects of the war, the more I learn HOW they fought.

I also want to learn WHY they fought.  That, perhaps, is an even more fundamental question.  So I've extended my reading to cover the period from the Missouri Compromise of 1820 through the end of Reconstruction.  I even re-read the Constitution's treatment of slavery.  All the conflicting and changing viewpoints during that time certainly must have left many citizens confused and doubtful.  I get confused too, trying to grasp this complicated subject.

Look forward to chatting with you good folks.

Widow

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