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 Posted: Mon Dec 11th, 2006 09:22 am
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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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Susan,

What a delightful account of how you got hooked on the Civil War.  And, wow, I'm impressed by your two-month trip to see as many sights as you could.

My story is quite the opposite of yours.  I've lived in Fairfax County since 1965, and never paid any attention to the many Civil War sites around here.  Driving along the interstates, I ignored the exit signs to Manassas, Chancellorsville, the Stonewall Jackson Shrine at Guinea Station, etc.  Yes, I've always loved history, but my focus was international history, not American.  I knew more Russian history than US history!

Many years ago I videotaped the TV miniseries "North and South."  Later I transferred all 12 episodes to DVD, and watched it over and over.  In one scene there was a close-up of a map of Northern Virginia.  All of the roads and place names were familiar to me, and I could see exactly the location of my community of Oakton, right in the middle!  In another scene, a Confederate officer ordered a man to "Ride north around Centreville" to scout the enemy.  Again, right here in Fairfax County.  But still, my interest was simply the passive pleasure of watching the movie, rather than in actively going to any of those places.

Then in August 2005, just out of idle curiosity, I went to a living-history event at a Fairfax County park.  For the first time, I saw reenactors, both civilians and soldiers.  The program included live-firing demonstrations of muskets and artillery, and two skirmishes, but they weren't to commemorate a particular battle.

I talked to a Confederate artilleryman, who answered my questions and let me touch the gun, a 3" ordnance rifle.  I talked to an infantryman dressed in gray, who noticed that there weren't enough Yankees there that day to make a good skirmish for the spectators, so he was going to change into Federal blue.  I chatted with women in period clothing, fascinated by all of it.  Also the four Union cavalry riders let us pet their horses and answered our questions.

I got hooked, lined, and sinkered on the spot.  You know the feeling.  The more I got interested, the more I wanted to learn.  And it was exactly what I was looking for to restructure my life after my husband died.  My physical health and mental outlook have improved enormously, my doctor is astonished.

Through the Bull Run Civil War Round Table, I've gotten interested in battlefield preservation.  There isn't much left here in Fairfax County, and Loudoun County (Leesburg) and Prince William County (Manassas) also face similar pressures from growth and development.

So here I am, living in the 19th century, with occasional visits to the 21st.

Patty

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