Civil War Ballads: Death of Jenny Wade

David Matthews (no, not that one) wrote and recorded this song for his 1994 album Shades of Blue & Gray: Songs From The Civil War, released by Delta, and re-released on various alternatively-titled albums over the years. It heavily romanticizes the alleged love between Jennie (Ginnie) Wade, the only direct civilian casualty of the Battle of Gettysburg, and Corporal Johnston Hastings “Jack” Skelly of the 87th Pennsylvania.

Mary Virginia “Ginnie” Wade

As they said their goodbyes
He looked in her eyes
He said, Jenny, my love, I will return.
She held his hands to her breast
Said even though we’re apart,
I will hold you inside
like the light in my heart.

Always together, for now and forever
Love is the armor that keeps us alive
Always together, for now and forever
I love you, fair Jenny
Fair Jenny, my wife

With the fighting and dying
Raging outside her door
Jenny wondered where John was tonight
And although she could not know
John lay dyin’ alone
In the land of Virginia,
Away from their home.

Continue reading “Civil War Ballads: Death of Jenny Wade”

Battle of Carillon Reenactment at Fort Ticonderoga, New York

Last weekend, Fort Ticonderoga commemorated the 259th anniversary of the Battle of Carillon with a series of events called “Montcalm’s Cross,” after French General Louis-Joseph de Montcalm. The battle was fought on July 8, 1758, during the French and Indian War. It was the bloodiest battle of the Seven Years War fought in North America, with over 3,000 casualties. French losses were about 400, while more than 2,000 were British. Music is the “March Du Regiment Saintonge” by Middlesex County Volunteers Fifes & Drums. Watch in HD for full effect.

The Copper Queen’s Lady Julia, and Other Unearthly Guests

The Copper Queen is a popular jewel nestled in the picturesque town of Bisbee, Arizona, but do guests share their rooms with something unseen?

  • Copper Queen Mining Company owner Phelps Dodge built the hotel in 1902 to attract investors.
  • According to eyewitnesses, three ghosts stalk its halls: “Billy,” “Howard,” and Julia Lowell.
  • Julia, a former prostitute, is the most famous ghost whisking her way through the halls of the Copper Queen.
  • The Copper Queen has appeared on both Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures.

Rising above the colorful tapestry of tightly clustered homes and businesses blanketing the Mule Mountains in southeastern Arizona, the Copper Queen Hotel stands as a gilded monument. For over 100 years, it has served as a social anchor for the former mining town of old Bisbee. I first stayed at the Copper Queen Hotel in 2009 while visiting friends from Phoenix.

I had heard rumors that the hotel was haunted, but it wasn’t until I returned a few years later that I discover just how much. In the interim, the hotel had published its logbook of ghostly encounters from 2000 to 2008, and the book contains many interesting gems.

Phelps Dodge, owner of the Copper Queen Mining Company, built the grand hotel in a bid to lure investors to the area. It took four years to complete the hotel, and it opened on February 22, 1902. When the copper mines closed in 1975, Bisbee had to find a new focus. It became a cultural destination for artists and tourists.

All the while, the copper queen hotel continued to provide a luxury accommodations. Sitting on the balcony, guests can still enjoy a sip of wine while looking out over the town of Old Bisbee nestled in the picturesque mountains. The chill on the back of your neck may be the mountain breeze, or it might be something else…

According to various eyewitness accounts, there are three ghosts stalking the halls. One, only known as “Billy,” is an adolescent boy who was said to have drowned in the San Pedro River. He is drawn to the hotel because his mother was a former employee. “Billy” has rarely been seen, but he is accused of stealing and moving guests’ personal items. Others have heard him laugh or cry.

Continue reading “The Copper Queen’s Lady Julia, and Other Unearthly Guests”

Artillery Demonstration at Fort Ticonderoga, New York

Alternatively held by the French, British, and Americans, today Fort Ticonderoga is a premier museum of eighteenth and early nineteenth century military history. French engineer Michel Chartier de Lotbinière, Marquis de Lotbinière constructed the fort between 1755 and 1757 during the French and Indian War.

Daily artillery demonstrations educate visitors on eighteenth century artillery drills. Artillerists were trained to keep firing for up to 24 hours! I took this video on my recent trip to see the annual Battle of Carillon reenactment.

Mists of Tongass IX: Putting it all Together

Over the past eight weeks, we have explored RPG Maker MV, a program that allows you to quickly and easily (in theory…) design your own computer role playing game. We created a game called Mists of Tongass and learned how to create realistic interiors, design characters and enemies, and craft missions. Now it’s time to put it all together.

In case this is your first visit, here are links to previous articles and a summery of what each article explained:

If you correctly followed all instructions, your game should be ready to export. Exporting a game creates an executable file that allows it to be played on other computers. This edition of RPG Maker also comes with Smart Phone capabilities. Pretty cool!

Continue reading “Mists of Tongass IX: Putting it all Together”

Happy Valley Ghost Town Cemeteries

Happy Valley Wildlife Management Area in Oswego County, New York holds a secret: in the 1800s, this area was home to a hamlet called Happy Valley. Little remains of this once thriving community. During the Great Depression, the government bought up foreclosed farms to form the basis of this game reserve.

The area is covered in marshy terrain and pine forest. In summer, biting flies and mosquitoes swarm the lowlands. Several unimproved, dirt roads travel through the area. A few wells, foundations, and stone walls remain.

Most commonly, the curious visit Fraicheur Cemetery, established in 1850 and christened after the original French name for the area. Headstones date from the mid-to-late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Preservationists have preserved and repaired over a dozen headstones.

Continue reading “Happy Valley Ghost Town Cemeteries”

Shades of Gray: Specter of the Past

The following is an excerpt of a short story from my book Shades of Gray: Strange Tales from the Old Dominion, now available exclusively on Amazon Kindle. Order it today for only $2.99.

English had been spoken in Hampton Roads for four hundred years, ever since the first British colonists arrived in 1607 on the Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery. During the Civil War, the tranquil water of this natural harbor was the scene of a skirmish between the first American ironclads, the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia. Late in 1862, Union General George McClellan seized control of the natural ports at the mouth of the James River with an army of over 100,000 men, not very far from where Rita Mae presently walked.

Rita Mae, however, knew nothing about those historic events. Her mind wandered to thoughts of college in the fall and the fun she would have when she finally moved away from home. Both her parents were employed at the nearby Naval Station Norfolk, the largest naval base in the world. They had moved out to the suburbs to escape the congestion around the base.

That particular weekend, her parents were away at a conference and Rita Mae was on her way to pick up beef fried rice from a Chinese takeout in a strip mall not far from the subdivision where she lived. The driver of a gray Bronco honked as he drove by, and she smiled politely in return. It was a boy she had met at a party several nights before, but she did not remember his name.

None of the buildings she passed had been there before she was born. Eighteen years earlier, farmland had stretched for miles around Hampton Roads. Then the sprawl came. Land that had been owned by one Virginian family for centuries disappeared under parking lots and model homes. No evidence remained of the dirt roads once trod on by hundreds of thousands of Union and Confederate soldiers between the mouth of the James River and Richmond. Every once and a while, however, a tobacco plant poked through the dirt in an undeveloped lot—it was all that remained of the rich tobacco fields that had fed the area’s economy for centuries.

A giant Willow Oak stood behind the strip mall. Rita Mae had walked or driven past it a least two dozen times in her life, but she never noticed it until that day. That particular day, a neon orange ribbon was tied tightly around the circumference of the tree, which must have been nine to ten feet at its base. It had been there a long time, and Rita Mae suddenly remembered playing near it as a child. She felt drawn to it. Her stomach churned and a tear streamed down her face. Startled, she quickly wiped the tear from her cheek and looked around to see if anyone had noticed.

She was alone.

The feeling became more intense as she stepped closer to the tree, but that feeling seemed to be pulling her toward it. Her shoes pushed aside the gravel, twigs, and broken glass at the edge of the sidewalk. Something twisted deep in her stomach and she had to brace herself against the rutted bark. As her fingers explored the deep crevices in the Willow Oak’s skin, a bright flash enveloped her mind. She wondered if she was dying as the sky grew white and the breeze melted away.

* * *

Continue reading “Shades of Gray: Specter of the Past”