Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Culpeper's Rebel Welcome

If you close your eyes, you can still hear the canon fire and feel the ground shake underneath. Many abandoned homes still lie along the wayside, with only the overgrown foliage to hide the tears.

Unlike any other field trip I've been on, this one was truly special. The scarred battlefields of Culpeper will forever be ingrained in my memory. Pictured above is a reenactment confederate soldier, guarding the mass confederate grave in Fairview Cemetery.

I crossed Kelly's Ford comfortably in my air-conditioned vehicle and looked below at the water. I heard the struggling horses splash as they carried the union cavalrymen across. I heard the fierce southern cavaliers yell, "CHARGE!" as they gave them a rebel welcome. It was truly surreal.

Later that day, we visited Brandy Station and the Graffiti House. The walls are covered with the soldiers names and hand drawn pictures of their loved ones. The men used pieces of coal to create the images. Those images will forever haunt me. One upstairs corner room bears the inscription, today the Yankees caught hell. It sent chills of southern pride up my spine. I can only try to imagine what my family lived through during those hellish years of the war. The homes were ransacked, the fences torn down and livestock stolen.

Major Pelham was struck by a piece of shrapnel in the base of his skull. He later died that night at the Shackelford home. The house no longer stands, but I did get to stand on the site and take a picture of the historical marker. I can't wait to get my hands on the last two boxes of letters, documents and pictures from my sister's house. They belonged to my grandmother and hopefully they will reveal even more clues to my family's past. I've never been more thankful to be a Virginian and thankful to God for allowing me the opportunity to visit these places.

As for my book, my brain is going crazy with ideas! I can't write them down fast enough. This trip was exactly what I needed to piece together the puzzle. Traveling to Culpeper this past weekend was the best Memorial Day I've ever had.

...and He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us... Acts 17:26,27