The Piedmont Virginian's Blog

Serving and Celebrating America's Historic Heart

Category: History and Historic Places (page 1 of 25)

Acclaimed PBS Civil War Miniseries Stars Piedmont Actress

In the above photo, Emma Green (Hannah James), the beautiful Southern belle and daughter of James Green, Sr. (Gary Cole), owner of the Mansion House, a luxury hotel now turned into a Civil War hospital, Mansion House Hospital, watches as Dr. Jedidiah Foster. (Josh Radnor) helps a patient. Dr. Foster is the son of a slave-owning tobacco plantation owner in Maryland. His loyalties are with the Union. He is a contract surgeon who will decide to wear the blue as a military surgeon.

In the above photo, Emma Green (Hannah James), the beautiful Southern belle and daughter of James Green, Sr. (Gary Cole), owner of the Mansion House, a luxury hotel now turned into a Civil War hospital, Mansion House Hospital, watches as Dr. Jedidiah Foster. (Josh Radnor) helps a patient. Dr. Foster is the son of a slave-owning tobacco plantation owner in Maryland. His loyalties are with the Union. He is a contract surgeon who will decide to wear the blue as a military surgeon.

Depictions of the Civil War are often limited to the frontlines and generals’ quarters. However, much of the bloodshed and drama occurred off the battlefields, in hospitals such as the Mansion House Hospital in Alexandria, the setting of PBS’s new six-episode miniseries Mercy Street.

The period-drama, PBS’s first series set in America in nearly a decade, subverts traditional war narratives, generally told by male soldiers, and instead casts the spotlight on two female nurses, one on each side of the conflict.

Executive Producer and Co-creator Lisa Wolfinger conceived of the Civil War medical drama five years ago. She portrays the nurses that the series highlights as “strong female protagonists, feisty ladies.” In an interview with Nancy Olds for Civil War News, she described her brainchild as “M.A.S.H meets Gone with the Wind” and all-encompassing: “[Mercy Street] is about love, about war, about medicine . . . It’s about how the experience of war brings out the very best and the very worst in people.”

MERCY-ST.-ALEX.46 – L-R: -Sandra Wilson is a member of FREED (Female RE-Enactors of Distinction) a group of African American women representing distinguished African American women from the Civil War. Wilson has portrayed Dr. Rebecca Davis Lee Cumpler, the first African American woman to earn a medical degree in the United States. Cumpler became a physician who also served freed slaves in Richmond, Va. She wrote Book of Medical Discourses about at home medical and health care for women and their families -Hannah James, the actress who portrays Emma Green, the lovely 19 year-old daughter of Alexandria’s prominent family who owns the Mansion House and the girlfriend of Frank Stringfellow, a Confederate scout. James is a native Virginian who grew up in Charlottesville.

Hannah James with Sandra Wilson, a member of FREED (Female RE-Enactors of Distinction), a group of African American women representing distinguished African, American women from the Civil War.

Mary Phinney (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is a recent widow and ardent abolitionist who has come down to Alexandria, a Union-occupied city in a Confederate state, to disseminate modern medical knowledge as well as her then-liberal beliefs. Her foil is Emma Green (Hannah James), a Southern belle and advocate for wounded Confederates. Dr. Jedediah Foster (How I Met Your Mother‘s Josh Radnor), a progressive physician with a morphine habit and mixed feelings regarding slavery, serves as a catalyst for drama while Samuel Diggs (McKinley Belcher III), a free black man with extensive medical knowledge, helps to move medical science and racial expectations forward simultaneously, and perhaps, inextricably.

The dazzling Hannah James grew up in Madison County, Virginia. A recent graduate of the Guilford School of Acting in England, the young actress masterfully handles the difficult role of a Confederate sympathizer with a profound sense of empathy. Understanding historical dramas requires a suspension of disbelief, as it’s easy to forget that what we view as commonsense human rights were once borderline radical. I look forward to watching her character’s development.

If the aim of historical potboilers is to highlight how far society has progressed, and yet how much the human condition has stayed the same (often questioning whether our nature is at all mutable), then the new series succeeds admirably, if not boldly considering the strong feminine characters and points of view. Whether you are a armchair historian, Civil War buff, period-piece fanatic, or maybe even just a little too tired to change the channel after Downton Abbey, you do not want to miss Mercy Street which premieres this Sunday, January 17th at 10 p.m. on PBS-WETA.

Also, see http://www.pbs.org/mercy-street/home/ for preview and trailers

1796573_10202889919310186_4960203201090092007_nMorgan Hensley is a recent graduate of William & Mary where he studied English and creative writing with an emphasis on poetry. He is the Assistant Editor of the Piedmont Virginian and enjoys writing about music and the arts.

Throw-back Thursday…History and a bit of the paranormal for Halloween!

These Walls Do Talk

The aptly named Graffiti House attracts Civil War and other history buffs as well as paranormal-believing “ghost hunters.”

Article by Richard Deardoff
Photos by Jan Kamphuis

“The Dancing Lady” During the five month winter encampment following the Gettysburg campaign, families of officers were allowed to come to camp.  Here a female visitor carefully picks her way through the mud between the Graffiti House and the railroad tracks

“The Dancing Lady”

A few miles south of the Rappahannock River in Culpeper County lays one of the nation’s historical treasures – the Graffiti House on the Brandy Station Battlefield. Built in 1858 as an adjunct to the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, it served both sides during the Civil War. For the Confederates it was a field hospital, while the Federals used it as a divisional headquarters for the five months they wintered over in 1863-1864.

It was because of this utilitarian value that the small frame house escaped the destruction visited upon many other buildings as soldiers from both sides searched for material to use in constructing shelters, or simply for firewood.

IMG_6713 blog

The Graffiti House
before & after
restoration

Nearby Fleetwood Hill may be the most fought over piece of real estate in American warfare: opposing armies either sought to defend or gain this valuable high ground for use as an artillery platform. After each clash of arms, the wounded and prisoners would be brought to this house either for medical help or to be transported to distant hospitals or POW camps.

During the five month winter encampment following the Gettysburg campaign, families of officers were allowed to come to camp.  In the above drawing “Dancing Lady,” a female visitor carefully picks her way through the mud between the Graffiti House and the railroad tracks

IMG_6706 blog

Period photograph
of Michael Bowman

In addition to its historical value, the building has also proved to be of interest to a variety of paranormal groups, who have described it as one of the most active sites for research in the area. These investigators have spent numerous nights at the house tracing spirits and tape recording conversations from beyond. A DVD of their experiences is available for viewing at the Graffiti House. At left is the “Ghost Room,” where most of the paranormal activity has been detected.

Michael Bowman was a confederate private who was paid $11 a month. He spent $2 to have his picture taken. His portrait (pictured) – and perhaps his presence – remains in the Graffiti House.

Click here to read the full story

Visit the Graffiti House website and don’t miss their Holiday Open House on Sat. Dec. 12.


About the author: Richard Deardoff is a docent at the Graffiti House and has served on the Board of Directors for the Brandy Station Foundation, has been named Teacher of the Year for Fauquier County Public Schools twice, and is a former Civil War Trust Teacher of the Year.  He and his wife, Suzanne, live in Culpeper County; he is currently teaching at Kettle Run High school.

 

Our spring issue is out-and it’s a good one!

Subscribers should have theirs already, and I am in the process of delivering to newsstands.

pea soup for webThis issue features a section of beautiful Piedmont home profiles, an article with about veterans who return from service and take up farming by Marian Burros, and a photo essay by Doug Graham, photographer from Capitol Hill who found joy in photography again in photographing the local area around his home in Bluemont.

Also featured are the Poetry of Perry Epes about restoring a historical house in Loudoun County by our new writer, Morgan Hensley. Adopting ducklings and homesteading, native flowers, and helpful gardening gadgets by Carla Hogue are also explored. For wildlife, we have an article by Glenda Booth about the Snakehead fish which is spreading through Piedmont rivers, and our food section covers local spring foods, with recipes from Brian Lichorowic and Laurie Beth Gills. Our vineyard this issue is Glen Manor Vineyards by Kit Johnston. And for art, we have delicate handmade lace by the Piedmont Lace Guild.

And two articles from Walter Nicklin, founder of the Piedmont Virginian, round out the issue: “Where Have All the Hitchhikers Gone?” previously published online, and his regular Letter from Amissville, a reflection on our love for the Piedmont, especially in the springtime!

Oh….and our photo contest is coming up again…details coming soon on www.piedmontvirginian.com

We are now hard at work on the summer issue, which I am very excited about. We will have a large section on Farm to Table in the Piedmont, a photo essay on rivers in the Piedmont (perfect for summer!), some history about Suffragists and a memorial going up in Prince William to honor them, a profile of Larry Keel, Piedmont bluegrass musician, by Eric Wallace, and, of course, all our regular writers featuring poetry, art, the environment, recipes….covering everything that is special in our Piedmont.

You can pick up a copy at one of our local newsstands (see http://www.thepiedmontonline.com/page.cfm/go/pick-up-a-copy) or subscribe online for either our print or digital editions at http://www.thepiedmontonline.com/page.cfm/go/subscribe

Of course, as always, we thank all our advertisers, readers, subscribers, newsstands, writers and everyone else who supports our magazine!

Photo: Purple Podded Heirloom Pea Soup by Laurie Beth Gills

 

The Blue Ridge to the Bay: A Rappahannock River Odyssey

As many of you probably already know, I am very partial to rivers, and I found this great Facebook page this morning.

The Blue Ridge to the Bay: A Rappahannock River Odyssey

22411_385119761685991_2117442406274474338_nVia Facebook:

In April 2015 Friends of the Rappahannock volunteer Brent Hunsinger will paddle the Rappahannock from close to the source to the mouth where it meets the Chesapeake Bay. The intent of the paddle is to raise funds for Friends of the Rappahannock and awareness of the Rappahannock Rivers past, present, and future. Along the way we will highlight the many historical, natural, and cultural aspects of the river. We will also seek to document the challenges the river faces. Stay tuned on ways you can follow along before and during the odyssey and how to donate to help protect the Rappahannock!

It looks like Brent put in close to the headwaters of the Rappahannock on Sunday. He has already posted 11 times with photos. It looks like he is planning to be out there for about 2 weeks. I am definitely following his posts! You can see his original video right before he put in and follow his journey at https://www.facebook.com/rappriverodyssey?fref=nf

The photo is the first one he posted-I’m pretty sure it’s the 647 bridge close to Orlean and Hume-been there many times. Maybe I can talk to him when he returns from his trip and see if we can feature some of his photos.

Wishing you good weather and an awesome trip, Brent! What an great time of the year to be out there on the river. Stay warm!

Oatlands Spring Gala

Spring Gala to Celebrate the Extraordinary 1965 Gift of Oatlands to the Nation

50th Anniversary Spring Gala on April 25th to Honor the Eustis Family for its Donation of Oatlands to the National Trust for Historic Preservation

 Oatlands Historic House & Gardens announced that its Spring Gala on April 25 will honor the Eustis Family for the extraordinary gift of Oatlands to the National Trust for Historic Preservation 50 years ago.  In 1965, Margaret Eustis Finley and Anne Eustis Emmet donated Oatlands including its magnificent 1804 mansion, 19th century greenhouse, terraced gardens and more than 414 acres of beautiful fields to the National Trust for future generations to explore, experience and appreciate.

Margaret Finley and Anne Emmet in the garden “It is with a special sense of deep gratitude that we honor the Eustis Family at our Spring Gala on April 25,” commented Andrea McGimsey, executive director of Oatlands.  McGimsey continued, “Because of the Eustis Family’s extraordinary gift to the nation, we in Northern Virginia have been able to enjoy a truly beautiful and remarkable place unlike any other historic property.  Fifty years later, we remain forever grateful for the generosity of the Eustis family.”

On April 25, 2015 beginning at 7pm, residents from across the National Capital Region will gather for an evening of elegance and celebration to support Oatlands Historic House & Gardens and its mission of historic preservation, land conservation research, education and community outreach. Gala Committee Co-Chairs Jill Beach and Sally Travis are leading the 50th Anniversary Spring Gala preparation efforts for the evening which will include dinner, dancing, a live and silent auction and much more.

Special corporate sponsorships are being sought to celebrate this special occasion and table and individual reservations are also available. Ticket and reservation information is available online at  www.oatlands.org/galaor contact Development Director Matt Kraycinovich at 703-777-3174 or via email at mkraycinovich@oatlands.org.

Photo: Margaret Eustis Finley and Anne Eustis Emmet in the Gardens at Oatlands, c. 1965

 About Oatlands Historic House & Gardens: Oatlands is a 414-acre self-supporting National Trust Historic Site and National Historic Landmark.  The mission of Oatlands focuses on historic preservation, land conservation, research, education, and community outreach.  The site features a stunning landscape with magnificent gardens, an 1804 mansion and 19th century brick dependencies, including the Oatlands greenhouse, the second oldest greenhouse in the nation.  For more information, visit www.oatlands.org or call 703-777-3174.  Oatlands is located six miles south of the Town of Leesburg on US Route 15.

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