Lee’s Greatest Victory

During three days in May 1863, the Confederate leader took astonishing risks to win one of the most skillfully conducted battles in history. But the cost turned out to be too steep.

The ability of Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. (“Stonewall”) Jackson never showed itself more vividly than during three days of battle in May 1863 around a rustic crossroads called Chancellorsville. At the battle’s denouement, which might be considered the highest tide of the Confederacy, the two Virginians capped a reversal of fortunes as dramatic as any recorded in more than three centuries of American military affairs. Read more »

The Fires Of Norfolk

At war’s outbreak a frightened commander was ready to give away the Union’s greatest navy yard

The calamity was already full blown when Abraham Lincoln took office on March 4, 1861. South Carolina had left the Union three months back, and six states had followed her out. By early February a secessionist congress had convened in Montgomery, Alabama, declared a provisional government, and voted Jefferson Davis president of the Confederate States of America. Lincoln was facing the gravest presidential crisis in the nation’s history: the collapse of the Republic. Read more »

The Best Of Georgian

The pilasters and pediments of an architecture perfectly suited to our eighteenth-century aristocracy flourish in today’s skyline and suburb

 

 
Read more »

Traveling With A Sense Of History

From Fort Ticonderoga to the Plaza Hotel, from Appomattox Courthouse to Bugsy Siegel’s weird rose garden in Las Vegas, the present-day scene is enriched by knowledge of the American past

To grow up in New England is to grow up with an inescapable sense of history, a heritage that a New Englander carries with him wherever he goes. Read more »

Good Fences

The first settlers marked the borders of their lives with simple fences that grew ever more elaborate over the centuries

Good fences make good neighbors,” wrote Robert Frost, and he meant that fences did more than just enclose space; like his woods and roads, they bounded a social and psychological landscape. That fences also form a kind of historical document is suggested by the photographs on these pages. Read more »

“I’ll Call This Land Virginia”

A pictorial history of the state from discovery to the Revolution

 

Oscar De Mejo, like an artist of the Renaissance, creates series of paintings on historical themes. For the Bicentennial he painted a sequence on the Revolution. In 1985 he was commissioned bv John W. Kluse. founder of Metromedia and a resident of Albemarle County, to paint this series on Virginia to celebrate Mrs. Kluge’s naturalization.Read more »

Triumph At Yorktown

Two hundred years ago everything depended on a French fleet leaving the Indies on time; two American armies meeting in Virginia on time; a French fleet beating a British fleet; a French army getting along with an American one; and a British general staying put.

Long after midnight, October 23, 1781, hoofbeats broke the silence of slumbering Philadelphia’s empty streets. Reeling in the saddle from exhaustion and shaking with malarial chills, Lieutenant Colonel Tench Tilghman, aide to General George Washington, pulled up to ask an elderly German night watchman how to get to the home of Thomas McKean, president of the Continental Congress. Read more »

“my Gawd, They’ve Sold The Town”

How the happy combination of a millionaire and, a parson gave us Colonial Williamsburg, a place of surpassing loveliness—and a continuing reminder of what a truly bold enterprise our Revolution was

Colonial Williamsburg, as everybody knows, is the monumental historic re-creation of the onetime capital of colonial Virginia, the place where young Thomas Jefferson listened at the door of the House of Burgesses while Patrick Henry denounced the Stamp Act, the place where Virginia patriots took giant strides toward revolution at an inn called the Raleigh Tavern, the place where George Washington mustered America’s multinational forces for the final battle at Yorktown, eleven miles to the southeast. Read more »

Consider The Oyster

It saved the early Colonists from starvation, it has caused men to murder each other, it used to be our most democratic food—in short, an extraordinary bivalve

The oyster is an ancient species, and one that has evolved little over millions of years. It is found in the tidal waters of every continent but Antarctica, on the shores of every sea but the Caspian. It flourishes best in the bays and estuaries where salt- and fresh water mix and people build resorts. And despite the saying that it was a bold man who first ate one, the oyster has been consumed by humans since before the oldest certifiable man-made artifact. Read more »

“A Gentlemen’s Fight”

Nobody was murdered or maimed, but nobody backed down for twenty years in the struggle over school integration in Prince Edward County, Virginia. Who finally won?

The Reverend L. Francis Griffin sat in a metal folding chair in the basement assembly hall of the First Baptist Church in Farmville, Virginia. His modified Afro, bushy eyebrows, and Vandyke beard were flecked with gray. Behind horn-rimmed glasses, his brown eyes seemed to suggest a mixture of attentiveness and fatigue, of serenity and sadness. Read more »