Stonewall Jackson’s 1862 Valley Campaign by Jonathan A. Noyalas

stonewall-jacksons-1862-valley-campaign-by-jonathan-a-noyalasIn Stonewall Jackson’s 1862 Valley Campaign, Jonathan A. Noyalas traces Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson’s 1862 Valley Campaign during the American Civil War. Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley was known as the “Breadbasket of the Confederacy” due to its ample harvests and transportation centers. The region became a magnet for both Union and Confederate armies during the Civil War, and nearly half of the thirteen major battles fought in the Valley occurred during this campaign.

Through diaries, letters, and battlefield accounts, Noyalas shows how those victories brought hope to an infant Confederate nation, transformed the lives of the Shenandoah Valley’s civilians, and emerged as Stonewall Jackson’s defining moment.

In March 1862, a 35,000-strong Union army led by Major General Nathanial P. Banks invaded the Shenandoah Valley from the north. General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson initially opposed him with just 3,500 men. By June 10, Jackson had driven the Yankees back into Maryland. The story of how he accomplished this is incredible. Professor Noyalas does an adequate job telling this story, but while he paints an interesting picture of the campaign’s impact on civilians, his military history falls short.

How the war affected civilians is a perspective you rarely read, especially when it comes to Union loyalists vs. Confederates in the Valley. Not every Virginian seethed at Major General Banks’ blue ranks marching through the streets. Some even cheered. Their neighbors, however, were happy to later point them out to Jackson’s men. I was surprised to read just how virulent the hatred was for Yankees. In an effort to scare the invaders, one resident of Winchester told a Union officer that after the Battle of Bull Run they collected Northern skulls and sold them for ten dollars!

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First Impressions of IT

I watched It (2017), the latest film adaptation of Stephen King’s 1986 novel of the same name, in a packed theater this weekend. I’m not a Stephen King fan and I don’t get the fascination with clowns, but I have to admit there is a lot of genuine excitement surrounding this movie.

I never read the novel or saw the 1990 TV mini series staring Tim Curry, so I came to the theater without any preconceptions aside from bits and pieces of things I’ve heard about It over the years. Here are some of my first impressions:

  • A good horror movie is also a good movie. This was a good movie–it was genuinely scary, but also at times heartfelt, funny, and sincere.
  • It was set in 1989, so there are nostalgic elements, but It doesn’t bash you over the head with nostalgia.
  • In one scene, there are posters advertising A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child, which came out in 1989. I thought it was fitting to make reference to that franchise because many of the effects in It are reminiscent of A Nightmare on Elm Street, especially when the hair comes out of the sink and pulls Beverly Marsh (Sophia Lillis) toward the drain.
  • All the child actors in this movie are great. In a film that pits children against adults, the children are funny, relatable, and courageous, while the adults are creepy, sadistic, and often indifferent.
  • That being said… There are almost too many protagonists. I realize the film is just copying the number of characters in the book, but it’s difficult to become attached to the characters when there are so many. I don’t even remember their names. There’s the fat kid, the black kid, the girl, the stutterer, the one with asthma, the Jewish one, and the pervy one. There’s seven altogether… I think.
  • I’m not sure what to think about Bill Skarsgård‘s performance as Pennywise the Clown. Again, I’m not afraid of clowns and don’t think they’re creepy or funny. But Skarsgård pulled off a performance that was at the same time creepy, threatening, and maintained a weird air of innocence.
  • I’m not sure if this was a malfunctioning projector or what, but everything in the movie seemed really blurry.

Look for a more complete review on Monday! One last thing: This movie is the first of what I assume will be two parts. My understanding is that the book and mini series shows the protagonists as kids and again as adults. It (2017) only covers the period when the protagonists are kids.

All-American Diner Tour: Flo’s Diner in Canastota, New York

Located along State Route 31 (Lake Road) near Oneida Lake’s southeastern shore, Flo’s is a country-style diner serving up 10-cent coffee to sportsmen, boaters, and tourists visiting nearby Sylvan Beach. You know you’ve arrived when you see a giant rooster statue. Flo’s has a Canastota address, but is actually located five miles north of town.

I’m not a big coffee drinker, so the 10-cent coffee wasn’t a draw for me. I do appreciate the affordable food and fast service. Flo’s offers an “open menu,” meaning you can order anything on the menu at any time. You don’t have to wait to be seated, but it is cash only. They don’t even take debit cards. While you’re eating, you can enjoy a free copy of The Patriot, an independent conspiracy newspaper detailing things like the Rothschild Globalists’ international pedophile ring.

Flo’s has an extensive, traditional diner menu. It’s seven pages long. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There are no surprises here, except perhaps for the “Fretta” (frittata?), which they categorize into “Flo’s Slop” w/Meat and “Flo’s Slop” w/Veggies. Mmm.. For lunch, they offer Super Burgers, an 8-ounce hand-shaped ground beef patty. The most expensive item on the menu is a Seafood Platter for $15.75, but that is way outside the average. Most items are below $6. Entrees range from $7.75 to $10.95.

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Civil War Ballads: Savannah

“Savannah” was written by the heavy metal band Civil War for their album The Last Full Measure (2016), named after Jeff Shaara’s historical novel. Guitarists Oskar Montelius and Rikard Sundén, drummer Daniel Mullback, and keyboardist Daniel Mÿhr left the band Sabaton to form Civil War in 2012. Like the traditional song “Marching through Georgia,” “Savannah” recounts Major General William T. Sherman’s “March to the Sea.”

Come along now boys we’ve got so many miles to go
It has been so many fights and now it’s time to show
What a boy is really made of
What a man’s prepared to die for
Be a killer angel in the army under God

Mississippi soldiers, Army of the Tennessee
If you talk the talk you’d better walk the walk with me
It is time to play with fire, being judge without a trial
Army of Georgia set the devil in you free

We’re rolling like thunder, we burn and we plunder
The Principle of the scorched earth
Civilians are dying the children are crying
But this is the way of the world

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Cleveland’s Macabre Franklin Castle

Visitors to Cleveland’s Franklin Boulevard are likely to shudder when walking past this quintessential haunted house, even if they’ve never heard the stories.

  • German immigrant Hannes Tiedemann built this High Victorian-style home between 1881-1883.
  • After his wife passed away from liver disease in 1896, Tiedemann sold the home and since then no one has lived there long.
  • Wild stories about the home include murder, illicit affairs, hidden rooms and passageways, and even infanticide.

If you ask about a haunted house in Cleveland, you are likely to get one response: “Franklin Castle.” That is because this High Victorian style stone house is one of the most infamous haunted houses in the Rock and Roll Capital of the World, if not the state of Ohio.

Built between 1881-1883 by German immigrant Hannes Tiedemann, Franklin Castle (or the Tiedemann House as it is more properly known) is located at 4308 Franklin Boulevard in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood. Today, this neighborhood is economically depressed, but it was at one time an upscale residential avenue. It is rumored to be home to more than a few tortured souls left over from a series of gruesome murders – but are any of those stories true?

On January 15, 1891, before construction began on the home, Tiedemann’s 15-year-old daughter Emma died of diabetes, a fact which becomes important later. Hannes Tiedemann and his family lived in this house from 1883 until 1896. He sold it shortly after his wife Louise died of liver disease. From 1921 to 1968, it was the home of the German-American League for Culture and known as Eintracht Hall.

Prior to US entry in World War 2, the German-American League for Culture advocated the overthrow of Adolf Hitler’s regime. From 1968 to the present day, Franklin Castle went through a series of owners. The first, James Romano and his family, are largely responsible for the house’s reputation for being haunted. Their encounters with the unseen were widely circulated in the press, and the Northeast Ohio Psychical Research Society even conducted an investigation of the home.

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Museum Village Brings the Past Alive

Established in 1950 by Roscoe William Smith, Museum Village in Monroe, New York is a unique open-air historical museum exploring daily life in the nineteenth century through historical dress and reenactments. Visitors can not only interact with people portraying daily life in the period, but also see an extensive collection of nineteenth century material culture, including tools, carriages, fire engines, and household items. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

Roscoe William Smith founded the Orange and Rockland Electric Company and lived to be 99 years old. During his long life, he collected hundreds of artifacts, with a particular interest in historic craft tools and mechanical devices. Finally, his wife told him to do something with this stuff or get rid of it, so Smith created the Museum Village as both a way to exhibit his collection and as a window into the past.

In a way, this reminds me of a more organized and purposeful version of Wisconsin’s House on the Rock, which was also created by an obsessive collector. Smith custom built most of the buildings in Museum Village, but there is one log cabin he purchased for $10 and shipped to the site. He died in 1976, but volunteers and employees have kept his dream alive. Many grew up taking field trips to the museum before later deciding to work there.

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