26 November 2011


Is a beautiful place.

The trip to and from West Virginia has reminded me of something very important. There are a lot of places in this country (and world) that I'd really love to go see.

But they're way over there.

On a side note, my brothers-in-law and I are all in for this.
The wife and I are both history nerds, she with the degree to back it up. We live in between areas where a lot of history was made, both in the American War for Independence and the U.S. Civil War. As a bonus, we even threw in the War of 1812.

The latter of these wars was the only one that had the decency to take place here in the Democratic People's Republic. In the Revolution, I know of no significant battlefields here. The Civil War really only left us with the Battle of Antietam Creek (Sharpsburg for those of you coming from the other side of the Potomac). I'll grant you, as battles go, Antietam was certainly an infamous one.

But Gettysburg's almost closer to home.

Not actually relevant, but...Flamethrowers, man!
The War of 1812 is where Maryland gets to shine, thanks to William Eustis and John Armstrong Jr. That said, if you've been to more than one fort like Fort McHenry, you probably notice there's not much to differentiate them. The story of what led to the Battle of Baltimore and the Siege of Fort McHenry is far more fascinating than the actual locations.

To wit:

  • Secretary of War John Armstrong Jr. actually thought the British would ignore Washington D.C. because it lacked military value. This is especially intriguing in the light of us sacking York (Toronto), then the capital of Canada.
  • Heat stroke was more deadly than the U.S. militia at the Battle of Bladensburg.
  • Thirty Brits were killed by a gun powder explosion from gun powder barrels they were trying to destroy in their destruction of D.C.
  • The British occupation of D.C. was shortened by an Atlantic hurricane that dropped sudden tornadoes into D.C. and killed yet more Brits.
  • The commander of the British ground force at North Point was shot and killed by an American sniper before the battle began. The sniper was summarily shot to death by the Brits. We don't know this sniper's name (Baltimore legend has them as Daniel Wells and Henry McComas, aged 18 and 19).

And all of that is more fascinating than Fort McHenry itself.

Also, Flamethrowers.
But I didn't come here to talk about that.

What I came here to talk about is all the historic places I want to see, but just can't be bothered to go to. Mostly, they suffer from having Washington D.C. in between them and me.

If you've driven it, you understand.

On the way to West Virginia, we passed Manassas National Battlefield Park (which Google tells me is closer than Antietam or Gettysburg, but doesn't factor the emotional toll of having to take the Beltway) and the Stonewall Jackson Memorial down in Lexington, VA. We have frequently passed Fredericksburg Battlefield (the name of which is actually too long/ridiculous) and Petersburg National Battlefield while going to visit the family in Florida. And recently on the way to an SCA event I passed through both Chancellorsville and the Battle of the Wilderness battlefields. I really want to check these places out.

But they're all way over there.

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