Georgia

Sorrel-Weed House in Savannah, Georgia

Madison Square in Savannah, Georgia is bounded by Harris Street to the north, Bull Streets to the east and west, and Charlton Street to the south. A statue commemorating Revolutionary War soldier Sgt. William Jasper stands proudly in the center. This monument marks the southern limit of British defenses during the Siege of Savannah in 1779. If the view looks familiar, it is because an aerial perspective of the park can be seen in the opening scene of Forrest Gump (1994).

The Sorrel-Weed House stands on Madison Square’s north side. Irish architect Charles B. Cluskey designed and built this majestic Greek-Revival home for Frances Sorrel, a merchant from the West Indies, in 1841. His son, Moxley Sorrel, rose to fame as Confederate Lt. General James Longstreet’s staff officer during the American Civil War.  General Robert E. Lee visited his home in late 1861 and early 1862. During the Siege of Petersburg in 1864, he was promoted to brigadier general and given command of a brigade. At 26, he was the youngest general officer in the Confederate army.

At some point in the past, a market was built along Bull Street on the mansion’s west side. The Society for the Preservation of Savannah Landmarks opened it for tours in January 1940. It was designated a state historic landmark in 1953. When it underwent renovations, the city tried to prevent the new owner from painting its exterior a gaudy orange, but he was able to prove, by pealing back 20 layers of paint, that was its original color.

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Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, Georgia

Live oak trees adorned with Spanish moss line the roadways of an old and neglected necropolis. Ferns engulf beautiful statues, while leaves and branches lay where they fell across stone-lined family plots. Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, Georgia is a setting made for dark romance and Gothic ghost tales. Its history, and its legends, have lured visitors for more than 170 years.

John Mullryne’s plantation, with its tree-lined avenues, once occupied this 160-acre site (though the plantation was a total of 600 acres). Mullryne was an English colonel who was granted the land in the 1760s. He named it “Bonaventure,” which is Italian for “good fortune.” Unfortunately for him, he was a Loyalist during the Revolutionary War, and his plantation was subsequently seized by the Georgia government.

Peter Wiltberger purchased Bonaventure in 1846, and his son William, turned it into Evergreen Cemetery 22 years later. In 1867, a man named John Muir, a Scottish-American naturalist and preservationist, camped on the former plantation and wrote, “Only a small plot of ground is occupied with graves and the old mansion is in ruins.” He admired the Long Moss, “hanging in long silvery-gray skeins.”

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National Infantry Museum in Columbus, Georgia – Video

The National Infantry Museum in Columbus, Georgia is an incredible experience dedicated to the American soldier, with state of the art dioramas, displays, and hundreds of artifacts. While in Georgia away from my computer, I decided to experiment with making travel videos entirely with my iPhone. This video was shot with my phone, edited in iMovie, and I even recorded the voiceover here. I think it turned out pretty well, do you?

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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Predictable Race a Media Conundrum

I used to love reading the news, now I can’t stand it. The national news media has become an absurd parody of itself. In the latest freakout, the news media convinced millions of people that the special election to fill Georgia’s sixth congressional district was a crucial test for Donald Trump’s presidency. Republicans have held the district since 1979.

In a result that should have shocked no one, Republican Karen Handel, Georgia’s secretary of state, defeated Democrat Jon Ossoff, a 30-year old newcomer who doesn’t even live in the district. What is surprising is how well he did–48%. Unprecedented Democratic spending made this the most expensive House race in history. We were expected to believe this election was a referendum on President Trump and a Democratic victory would be devastating to Trump’s agenda. One “expert” even predicted (hopefully, I assume) rain would keep Handel’s voters away.

Look at this NPR headline:

“Karen Handel Hopes to Win Traditionally GOP House Seat”, as though she’s the underdog! In the wake of Handel’s victory, we’re told Democrats are “despondent” and the electoral loss was a “massive blow.” “When will they [Democrats] win?” CNN, based in Atlanta, Georgia, asked. “Democratic strategists and candidates are pondering what went wrong.”

Who decided this race would be an easy win for Democrats? Why was it even important to begin with? (Even if Ossoff won, Republicans would still have a 43-seat majority in the House)

In the end, voters voted business as usual. Frank Bruni at the New York Times at least gave an honest assessment when he wrote, “Democrats were swimming against the current in Georgia. The House seat that their sights were on had been safely in Republican hands for nearly four decades. Georgia’s Sixth District is purple only if you scrunch your eyes just so. If you un-scrunch them and look at it honestly, it’s red.”

The election was actually really close. In previous elections in that district, Republican candidates have won by a landslide. Ossoff is the first Democratic candidate in that district to win over 40% of the vote since 1974. Why isn’t that a news story? Suddenly there’s “nothing to see here” because events didn’t pan out as hoped.

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