(July 6 to August 31, 2009)

You can click on "photos" to get directly to the first photo page, which has a connector to the second page (if there is one).

After visiting Gettysburg and spending three weeks visiting family and friends in the Hudson Valley we started heading back to the south. This travelog documents our travels as we visited Civil War and American Revolution sites along the way, mostly in Virginia. Our path did not follow the chronology of the Civil War so the following descriptions are not in their order of occurrence. There are volumes that have been written about each of the battles so I have only attempted to summarize them in this travelog to provide some background for the areas we visited.

I should probably mention up front that this is a long travelog.

July 6: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (183 miles)

I-84; US 209; PA 33; US 22; I-78; I-81; I-83

Campground:  Onan CoachCare parking lot

I misjudged a hill while going up to the Elks Lodge in Middletown and damaged the mud guard and tailpipe on the motorhome. We made it to an Onan CoachCare shop in Harrisburg with no problem to get it fixed. They did a good job of getting a new tailpipe and getting it installed the day after we got there. That was a $200 mistake.  Sigh.

July 7: Frederick, Maryland (80 miles)

Route:  I-83; PA 581; US 15

Campground:  WalMart parking lot

This was just an overnight stop.

July 8 to July 9: Brunswick, Maryland (16 miles)

Route:  US 15; MD 17; local roads

Campground:  Brunswick Family Campground  The good thing about this campground was the price: $23 senior discounted rate. The road into the campground was almost a mile of dirt which, of course, got the back of the motorhome and the car filthy. It also took a while to find a site that was fairly level. We did drive out separately when we left and hooked up after the dirt road. There weren't many good campground options in the area. The only other option was a KOA in Harpers Ferry. We avoid KOAs because we have found them to be overpriced and usually tight wooded sites.

Harpers Ferry

Harpers Ferry, West Virginia is best known for the raid that was led by John Brown in 1859. The United States Armory and Arsenal was established there in the 1790s. Brown attempted to seize the 100,000 arms that were stored there as a first step in his revolutionary scheme to rid the nation of slavery. However, Harpers Ferry played a role in many other historical situations. Thomas Jefferson passed through the area while on his way to attend the Continental Congress in Philadelphia. George Washington worked for years as a surveyor in the area. In 1803, Meriwether Lewis was supplied in Harpers Ferry with items needed for his upcoming expedition with William Clark.

John Brown's raid failed when local militia and a contingent of marines led by then Lt. Col. Robert E. Lee along with Lt. J.E.B. Stuart, both of whom were to become famous Confederate leaders, killed or captured all of the raiders. Although Brown's raid failed and he was hung, his actions further divided the nation over the issue of slavery. His last message proved to be prophetic: "I John Brown am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with Blood." Two years later the nation was embroiled in a civil war.

When the Civil War started Harpers Ferry found itself on the border between North and South. The town changed hands during the war. Some other names associated with Harpers Ferry included Thomas Jonathan Jackson (who would become known as Stonewall Jackson during the war); Union Generals McClellan, Sheridan, and Custer; and John Wilkes Booth.

Diane and I got to Harpers Ferry just as a bus and walking tour was starting. We hopped on the bus and spent an hour and a half touring a site overlooking the town while a ranger explained the history of the area. When we got back to the visitor center we got on one of the buses that run continuously to the town. Our impressions were that it was mostly a tourist area with shops and restaurants plus a few museums. We went into the John Brown Museum and found it to be interesting. We walked around the town and then out towards the railroad tunnel where we could get a good look at the where the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers met.


We spent our second day in the area visiting the national battlefield at Sharpsburg, Maryland. The final phase of the battle took place along a creek named Antietam.
We started off with two movies.  The first was a 26 minute highlight film.  The second was a new one hour documentary narrated by James Earl Jones.  It was excellent.  Then we took the driving tour around the battlefield.  It was the bloodiest single day battle in American history.  Some 23,000 Americans were killed, wounded, or captured buy other Americans.

After his victory at the Battle of Second Manassas (Bull Run), Confederate General Robert E. Lee decided to move his Army of Northern Virginia north out of war-torn Virginia and take the fight on to Union territory. On September 4, 1862, Lee led his 40,000 Confederate soldiers across the Potomac River to Frederick, Maryland. Union General George McClellan learned of Lee's movements and took his Army of the Potomac in pursuit. They arrived in Frederick on September 12 just as the last Confederate soldiers were leaving. As luck would have it, on September 13 a Union soldier found a copy of Lee's plan of operation for his current campaign. This Special Order 191 came to be known as the "Lost Order." McClellan knew he had stumbled on a great opportunity to strike Lee's forces which were divided along a 1,000 mile front. On September 15 Lee learned that his forces that held Harpers Ferry had been defeated. He reevaluated his plans and decided to make a stand on Union ground at Sharpsburg, Maryland which, at the time, was a quiet 100-year old community of 1,200 residents.

The 12-hour battle began at dawn on September 17 and ended about 6 p.m. Of nearly 100,000 soldiers engaged in the battle, about 23,000 were killed, wounded, or missing. Late on September 18, Lee forded the Potomac back to Virginia. The Union Army had held the field.

The aftermath of Antietam had lasting affects on Sharpsburg and its citizens. Burying all the dead challenged the survivors. Antietam National Cemetery that was created as a burial ground became a national remembrance of the battle. Clara Barton was there to assist injured soldiers on both sides. As a result of her efforts at Antietam she was called "The Angel of the Battlefield." She went on to found the American Red Cross in 1881.

President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation after Antietam. It reshaped the war by freeing slaves in states in rebellion, as well as giving the Union war effort two goals: preserve the Union and end slavery.

July 10 to July 14: Harrisonburg, Virginia (108 miles)

Route:  MD 478; US 340; WV 51; I-81; US 33; local roads

Campground:  Elks Lodge

Fuel:  Flying J in Clear Brook, VA for $2.469

We arrived on Friday at the Elks Lodge in Harrisonburg and proceeded to park and get set up away from the building and towards the back.  There were some trees in the area so we had to jockey the rig a bit to get a satellite signal.  No problem on Friday, Saturday, and all day on Sunday. On Monday morning at 1:10 a.m. I awoke to someone pounding on the front door. That was the first time that had happened and it was a bit frightening. There have been isolated incidents of RVers being hurt and killed because they opened the door to a stranger. I looked out the window and saw a security vehicle and then looked out the door and saw a guy in a uniform. I opened the window and asked him what was going on. When I was sure he was, indeed, a security guy, I went out to talk to him.

Apparently, the lot we were in belonged to hospital staff although it was attached to the Elks Lodge lot. The hospital was a block away, but some old houses had been turned into offices and labs. We didn't see a small sign saying it was permit parking only. The thing was the Elks and hospital lots were connected and none of the three Elks guys I spoke to on Friday told me we were parked in the wrong lot. The security guy said we would have to move the motorhome to the Elks lot (about 100 feet) and be gone by 5 a.m. I politely indicated to him that that wasn't going to happen and we'd move it as soon as we got up. Our sleep was broken and it was a long time before we could get back to sleep.

Now those of you who know me would know that I never accept no for an answer until the "no" comes from someone where I know that "no" means "no". I went out to find my USA Today and saw folks walking over to the buildings, one of which was the business office.  So I walked over and turned on my "charming" personality and asked who I could talk to so we could get a two day permit until Wednesday when we were planning to leave. A nice office manager came out and made a call that got her routed twice and finally to the parking guru. She gave me the phone and I explained the situation, what happened, and what I was asking for.  He reiterated that we were in the wrong lot. I told him we could move it but we would have to break it down and make it road ready. I may have exaggerated how much work it would be to move the rig 100 feet.  ;-)  

I also told him I'd be honest and that I may have a problem getting the satellite dish to work and "The Closer" was on tonight. He laughed and said "10-4" and said there should be no problem leaving it where it was until Wednesday morning.

One should never take no for an answer until it comes from the person where "no" means "no".  :-)  But it always has to be done calmly and respectfully.

Our purpose in going to Harrisonburg was so that Diane could visit with her long time friend, Emilie Herzberg. Emilie and her husband, Ed, were at their time share unit in Massanutten. We had several nice visits with them, plus Diane and Emilie were able to spend a lot of time together catching up.   

July 15 to July 21: Haymarket, Virginia (102 miles)

Route: local roads; I-81; I-66; US 15; VA 234; local roads

Campground:   Greenville Farm Family Campground  We stayed at this campground back in 2002. It really is a farm with a campground out in the back. Sites are either wooded or open. We had a 50-amp site that was fairly level, although I had to raise the front enough to warrant a step stool to aid in getting to the first step on the rig. We've been in worse.

We visited the Manassas area in 2002 when we were still pretty new on the road. Former colleague, Jim Hollis, lives here so this was an opportunity to visit with him and Joann again. Our last visit was short as Jim and JoAnn were still both working. They have since retired and moved to Bristow, which is not far from Manassas, so this time we got to spend a lot more time together and enjoyed all of our visits. We got to see their new home, get out to eat, and we all went to see the new Harry Potter movie one day at the nice Regal theater in Manassas. Jim was one of the first people I worked with when I started a new job assignment in 1993 and we've managed to stay in touch.

We visited the Manassas National Battlefield in 2002, but we only stopped in the visitor center and did not walk around the field. This time we wanted to spend more time at the battlefield.

There were two Battles of Manassas that are known as the Battle of First Manassass (July 1861) and the Battle of Second Manassas (August 1862). Both battles resulted in Confederate victories. The 1861 battle was the first large scale fighting of the war. It was thought by many that this battle would be the only battle of a short war between the states with both sides feeling confident of victory. In the end, some 900 soldiers were killed in a bloody battle that indicated the war would neither be short nor without many casualties.

After First Manassas, Gen. George B. McClellan took command of the Federal forces and organized them into the Army of the Potomac. In March 1862, McClellan moved his army to within 100 miles southeast of the Confederate capital at Richmond. Southerners under the command of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston left Manassas to meet the Union Army in the Battle of Seven Pines. After Johnston was wounded Confederate President Jefferson Davis placed Gen. Robert E. Lee in command of the Army of Northern Virginia. In a series of bloody battles, Lee pushed the Union Army back from the edge of Richmond. 

In August 1862, Union and Confederate armies once again converged for a second time in Manassas. This time there wasn't the same optimism about an easy fight. Soldiers were now seasoned by First Manassas and other skirmishes since the first battle. It was during this battle that Confederate Gen. Thomas J. Jackson got his nickname of "Stonewall" thanks to efforts during the battle. The Union Army was led by Gen. John Pope whose overconfidence eventually led to the Union defeat at the Battle of Second Manassas. He totally misread Lee's movements around Manassas. In the end, Pope's army was faced with annihilation. A heroic stand by northern troops bought time for Pope's forces which, under the cover of darkness, allowed the defeated Union Army to withdraw across Bull Run toward the defenses of Washington.

In the end, Second Manassas lasted three days and resulted in 3,300 dead soldiers. The Confederate victory brought it to the height of its power. It emboldened Lee to further believe he could take the war into the northern states and eventually led him to a little town in Pennsylvania named Gettysburg. However, the battle loss did not weaken Northern resolve. It only served to harden Northerners to fight to preserve the union.

Diane and I did the walking tour around the First Manassas battlefield and then did the driving tour around the Second Manassas battlefield.

July 22: Alexandria, Virginia (43 miles)

Route: local roads; US 15; I-66; I-495; local roads to US 1

Campground:  Walmart parking lot

Our plans changed after we arrived in Alexandria. We planned to spend five days at an Elks Lodge in Alexandria to visit DC and surrounding areas. We got there and saw an old dilapidated building with an old dilapidated parking lot. I walked around it and there was no way to find a spot where the rig could fit and be leveled. They advertise RV parking and the guy I spoke to said, "sure, come on in." So we went up the road to the Walmart (not a super) and at least got to satisfy our BBQ urge at a Famous Dave's BBQ.

July 23: Triangle, Virginia (20 miles)

US 1; I-95; local Roads

Campground:  None - visited on the way to Fredericksburg

On the way to Fredericksburg we stopped to visit the National Museum of the US Marine Corps. GREAT place. And it was free, although they did ask for a donation (via a donation box). The building was impressive. The exhibits were very good. We were there for three hours and probably could have been there longer. After the "Making a Marine" section, there were sections for each war from W.W.II to Korea to Vietnam and the Gulf Wars. The museum had planes, tanks, LSTs, guns, cannons on display. The Iwo Jima beach landing simulation was very good, as was the simulation of fighting in the freezing cold in Korea. The opening film was touching. Other short films were well done. Great museum. The entire visit was very moving. There were lots of military folks roaming around the museum.

July 23 to July 26: Fredericksburg, Virginia (21 miles)

I-95; local Roads

Campground:  Two Walmart parking lots

Fredericksburg was located about halfway between Washington, D.C., the capital of the nation, and Richmond, the capital of the state and the Confederacy. It was a quiet town until war broke out in 1861 and the town found itself directly in the path of the Union army's move to capture Richmond.

There were three ways to get to Richmond. The army could cross the Rappahannock River at Fredericksburg and take the town, which would then allow them to continue south to Richmond. Or it could sail down the Potomac River below Richmond and march back. Or it could cross the Rappahannock River north of Fredericksburg and go around the town.

Eventually, there were four battles around Fredericksburg: Fredericksburg (December 1862); Chancellorsville (April-May 1863); the Wilderness (May 1864); Spotsylvania Court House (May 1864). During our visit to the area, Diane and I visited the battlefields for Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville.


Several events led up to these battles. In July, 1861, Gen. McDowell and 35,000 Union soldiers started towards Richmond, but didn't get very far and were beaten at the Battle of First Manassas. President Lincoln was unhappy with Gen. McDowell and replaced him with Gen. McClellan who decided to try the water route down the Potomac River to Richmond. Not wanting to have his entire army go to Richmond in the event there was trouble elsewhere, President Lincoln ordered some troops to remain in Fredericksburg which, at the time, was undefended by southern forces. Union solders marched into Fredericksburg in April 1861 and stayed for four months.

At the same time, McClellan was moving on Richmond only to fail in his attempt. He moved his army north and fought two more battles: Second Manassas and Antietam. President Lincoln was again unhappy with his choice of generals and replaced McClellan, who Lincoln said had the "slows", with Gen. Ambrose Burnside. He chose to go to Richmond by way of Fredericksburg and he would try to do it quickly before the divided Confederate army could unite. His plan was to cross the Rappahannock River by building a pontoon bridge. He ordered the pontoons to be sent ahead, but they were late in arriving. By now, soldiers from the Confederate army were once again in control of Fredericksburg. Gen. Burnside delayed his crossing of the river by a couple of weeks, which was a huge mistake. The time allowed Gen. Lee and his army to settle into the hills around Fredericksburg to await the Union army's attempt to cross the river.

Although the Confederates were outnumbered two to one, they were highly motivated by having Gen. Stonewall Jackson with them. Jackson had led his troops 400 miles while fighting five battles and defeating four Union generals in thirty days.

At dawn on December 10, 1862, the Union army started blasting the town of Fredericksburg from across the river. The bombing continued for hours causing people in the town to flee. After the bombardment, the Union soldiers crossed the river on the pontoon bridge and started to destroy everything in the town. The Confederate soldiers who had been guarding the town fled, but lay in wait in the hills behind Fredericksburg.

On the morning of December 13 a hundred thousand Union soldiers marched against the hills in a section known as Marye's Heights. The Confederate soldiers were waiting behind a stone wall along a sunken road at the foot of the heights. Gen. Burnside couldn't have picked a worse place for a battle. By sunset, some 12,000 Union soldiers lay dead or wounded and the Battle of Fredericksburg was over.


After the battle, Union generals who served under Burnside argued about the way he ran the army. Gen. "Fighting Joe" Hooker was especially critical which caused President Lincoln to again change the general to command the army. Gen. Hooker took over command of the army as they settled in for the winter months. Hooker bragged about how he had the best plan to take Richmond. He would cross the Rappahannock above Fredericksburg  and go around the town via a road crossing at Chancellorsville.

In late April 1863, Hooker marched most of his army upstream and crossed the Rappahannock and Rapidan Rivers. Within three days he was at the Chancellorsville crossroads. Chancellorsville was not a town, but the name of a house at the crossroads. Hooker believed he had the upper hand because he had part of his army in Chancellorsville and the other part in Fredericksburg with Lee's army caught in the middle. Lee realized the threat to his position and rushed westward. This move caused Hooker to believe the Confederates had more men than they had, so he suddenly seem to lose his nerve and abandoned his plan and he set up a defensive line instead.

Lee did not have more men, but he and Stonewall Jackson did have a better plan. They noticed that Hooker had the left and right flanks of his army unprotected. They also saw how they could reach those flanks undetected. While Lee provided a diversion to the Union army, Jackson marched off with 30,000 soldiers. They surprised the Union army causing them to flee for their lives. Fighting went on for two more days before Hooker led his men back across the Rappahannock.

Sadly for the Confederate army, they lost one of their top generals when Jackson was mistaken for the enemy and shot by his own men. He was mortally wounded and died a week later. It was a huge loss for the Confederate army.

The people of Fredericksburg were able to return to their homes and take a break from the war. However, it would return again to their doorstep a year later.

Diane and I visited the two battlefields. We watched movies in the visitors centers about the battles. We took a short walking tour with a ranger at Chancellorsville where we stood in the area on the dirt road where Gen. Stonewall Jackson was shot.

We also visited Chatham Manor. This was a huge house up on Stafford Heights across the Rappahannock from Fredericksburg where the Union army made its headquarters while planning the attacks on Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville.

Old Town Fredericksburg

The rest of the time in Fredericksburg was spent going into the old town and walking around to check out the shops. Diane is a tea drinker and likes to take tea in tea houses along our journey. I'm not a big tea drinker, but I'll keep her company because I know she likes the experience. Diane found two tea houses in Fredericksburg: Pinkadilly Tea; Tea Tyme and What Nots.

The first one we went to was Pinkadilly Tea. It was located in a standalone building known as Smythe's Cottage. It had very nice eye appeal as we approached. The cottage dates back to between 1830 and 1850. We were greeted by a server named Crystal Browning who seated us right away. She was very pleasant and took our order. We got to chatting with Crystal about our life on the road which she seemed to be interested in. A bit later she brought another woman to our table who turned out to be the owner, Kaye Tippett. We talked for a while with both of them about RVing and got their photos. Diane and I split a pot of tea and a quiche that was very good. Diane ordered to buy some tea to take with her, but Kaye offered it to Diane as a gift. We enjoyed our tea time at Pinkadilly Tea.

On another day while walking in town, Diane wanted to check out the other tea house, Tea Tyme and What Nots. We didn't see it on a previous walk around the town because it was inside a small mall. It seemed smaller than Pinkadilly Tea, but did have some nice period looking furniture. We assumed it was the owner who waited on us. She was pleasant, but it was a bit difficult to understand her due to a heavy Asian accent. I always let Diane order the tea and I just drink what she orders. Although it did seem like there were many more tea choices on the menu at Tea Tyme, and there were more choices for scones, the ambiance at Pindadilly Tea was much more inviting. A return visit would have us choosing Pinkadilly Tea.

Another "find" in the area was the Kolache House Bakery. I saw mention of a kolache bakery in a Fredericksburg brochure, but it didn't give the name of the bakery. After asking around we finally found out the name and went to look for it. It turned out to be in a shopping center across from one of the WalMarts. Why would I be so interested in finding this place? Well, my maternal grandmother came from what is, today, Slovakia. Kolaches are Czech pastries. Taken from the description provided by owners Janet and Doug Holm:

"The traditional Kolache (Koh-Lah-chee) is a light, slightly sweet yeast pastry topped with a dollop of Fruit, Cream Cheese, or Bavarian Cream, sprinkled with streusel and baked to perfection. Another traditional favorite on the menu are Sausage Kolaches (Klobasniky)...the Czech version of "Pigs in a Blanket"...available in Spicy or Mild, with or without cheese."

I grew up with lots of Slovak and Polish food. There seems to be different words for "pigs in a blanket" depending on where it's from and how it's made. In my family, I grew up with it as halupki, the Slovak term my grandmother used. This was a mixture of ground chuck and/or pork, rice, and wrapped in cabbage leaves. A Polish aunt called the same thing galumbkis.
It can sometimes be found in diners as "stuffed cabbage." Doesn't matter. The word to describe it is YUMMY!!!

Janet and Doug were very interested in our RV lifestyle and we talked for a while about our travels and RVing.

We very much enjoyed our four days in Fredericksburg. We got to see a lot and we met some very nice folks who we hope to see again someday.

July 27 to August 2: Williamsburg, Virginia (90 miles)

Route: I-95; I-64; local roads

Campground:  American Heritage RV Park  This was an okay RV park with its pros and cons. On the pro side was free wi-fi (I didn't use it, so I don't know if it's any good); level concrete pads, although they weren't very deep; 50-amp power was good; nice staff in the office. On the con side was not being able to use our dish although they gave us a site where they said we could see the satellite; the park used DirecTV for their cable and 10 stations were not working most of the week due to a broken receiver.

Flying J in Ruther Glen, VA for $2.469

After spending a lot of the summer visiting Civil War sites, we took a break to visit sites related to colonization and the American Revolution. The Colonial Parkway is a 23-mile scenic road that links Virginia's Historic Triangle of Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown. The area represents the beginning and the end of colonization and the beginning of a new nation. It began in 1607 at Jamestown and ended and began again at Yorktown in 1781. That 174 year period saw the country expand from a small English settlement of 104 men and boys on the James River into 13 British Colonies. It ended for Great Britain at Yorktown with  independence for the new United States.


In May 1607, three ships carrying 104 colonists, made up of men and boys, anchored in the James River to establish the colony of Virginia with a capital at Jamestown. It was chartered by King James I to the Virginia Company of London. By summer, they were dying from disease and starvation until the leadership of Capt. John Smith and help from the Powhatan indian tribes helped rescue the colonists. Times continues to be very difficult for these early colonists during what came to be known as the "starving time" during the winter of 1609-1610. Lord de la Warr arrived with supplies and new settlers in 1610. Important events at Jamestown included:

*  By 1619, the beginning of representative government in the western hemisphere was demonstrated with a meeting of burgesses in Jamestown.

*  1619 - The first African slaves arrived.

*  1620 - A ship carrying 90 unmarried women arrived.

*  1622 - 347 settlers are killed by the Powhatan as relationships break down between settlers and indians.

Life was never easy in Jamestown, but progress was made over the early decades. The people finally found a product that would establish the colony's economic future - tobacco. It was cultivated by John Rolfe, the English settler who married Pocahontas in 1614. The growth of the tobacco growers created a demand for a permanent work force which resulted in slaves being brought to the colony from the West Indies and Africa.

The original Jamestown site is now a Colonial National Historical Park. Diane and I spent several hours walking around the park to visit the areas where the first settlers came to America to establish the first colony.

The Jamestown Settlement is a living history museum that is separate from the park. We spent an afternoon visiting the settlement where there was a replica of the fort and a Powhatan Indian village, as well as replicas of the three ships: the Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery. We started in the museum with a film and then spent time visiting the fort and village, and then went aboard all three ships. As the day became hotter, we went back into the fairly large museum to look at the exhibits which were very interesting and enlightening.

Colonial Williamsburg

The area in which Williamsburg was established was wooded and part of land owned by the Powhatan Indians. English settlements had gradually pushed the Powhatan inland away from the shores of the rivers. The area was settled in 1638 and named Middle Plantation after its location about half-way across the Virginia Peninsula on high ground. When the original capital at Jamestown was burned down in 1676 during the Bacon's Rebellion, temporary headquarters for the government was moved to Middle Plantation while the State house at Jamestown was rebuilt. However, the members of the House of Burgesses, which was the government in force at the time, decided that Williamsburg was safer and more pleasant than Jamestown. By 1699, after the State house again burned down in Jamestown, the temporary headquarters was permanently moved to Middle Plantation. The village was eventually renamed Williamsburg in honor of King William III. The capital was eventually moved to Richmond during the Revolutionary War and it remained in Richmond.

Colonial Williamsburg is the historic area of the city that has been restored to resemble life in 18th century Williamsburg. It was in this city that the roots of our democracy took hold. People such as Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, James Monroe, and James Madison made their voices heard by speaking out against British rule. Restoring Colonial Williamsburg was started in the early 20th century and has been one of the largest historic restorations ever undertaken. Much of the restoration was due to the largesse of John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

You can tour a restoration of the Capitol and the Governor's Palace, as well as taverns, shops, and the Bruton Parish Church, all of which have been restored to their original 18th century specifications.


By the spring of 1781 the American War of Independence was entering its seventh year. The British had just about given up their efforts to reconquer the northern states, but still had hopes of keeping the southern states under British rule. In May, British Gen. Charles Lord Cornwallis moved his army into Virginia from North Carolina believing that if Virginia could be subdued the states to the south would return to British allegiance. Cornwallis received orders to establish a naval base somewhere in the lower Chesapeake Bay area. On the advice of his engineers, Cornwallis chose the port of Yorktown for his base.

A large French fleet sailed up from the West Indies and proceeded to set up a blockade at the mouth of the bay that cut off Cornwallis from help or escape by sea. He was essentially trapped. At the same time, Gen. George Washington began moving his 17,000 man army from New York City to Virginia to attack Cornwallis by land and gathered at Williamsburg. On September 28 the army marched to Yorktown to face Cornwallis' 8,300 man garrison. After laying out camps and siege lines, the bombardment started on October 9.

After nine days of continuous bombardment that destroyed the town, and a failed attempt to escape across the York River, Cornwallis requested a cease-fire to discuss surrender terms. Two days later, on October 19, he formally surrendered his army. Although the war would continued for two more years, the Siege of Yorktown was the final major battle of the American Revolution and secured independence for the United States. Washington kept the army intact for two more years until the Treaty of Paris officially ended the war in 1783.

Diane and I visited the Yorktown Victory Center and drove around the Yorktown Colonial National Historical Park. The Victory Center offered a film about the siege, as well as a museum and outdoor exhibits that included a Continental Army Encampment and a 1780s farm. The drive around the park gave us an idea of the size of the area where U.S. and French troops were staged; the area where Washington set up his headquarters; and Moore House where surrender negotiations were held.


When we got to Williamsburg it hit me that I had a cousin, Bobby, who lived in Gloucester. I got his address to see where Goucester was located and saw that we were only about 30 miles away. Although we had lost touch with each other, we were close in age and reasonably close to each other when we lived in New York City as young boys. I got his phone number and called expecting to be able to tell him we were in the area and would like to come visit with him and his wife, Jean. Needless to say I was shocked when Jean answered and told me that Bobby had died in 2008 from congestive heart failure after suffering a couple of strokes. The news was very sad for me to hear.

Bobby and Jean had two children, Michael and Teri, who would be my second cousins. Another cousin, Irene, who needs assistance lived with Bobby and Jean. We made plans to get together on our last day in that area and drove over to Jean's house. Michael and Teri also lived in the area and we all had a very nice visit reminiscing and catching up.

August 3 to August 9: Glen Allen, Virginia (54 miles)

Route: I-64; I-295; local roads

Campground:  Elks Lodge

Glen Allen is a suburb of Richmond and afforded us a base to visit the area. This Elks Lodge provided us with 30-amp electric and water which was welcomed in the heat of August in Virginia. We were always able to run one air conditioner.

In May 1861, Richmond was established as the capital of the Confederacy which assured that Virginia would become the center of the Civil War in the South. It was a focal point during the war due to its many important features, such as its strategic location on the James River that provided an important commercial, manufacturing, and transportation infrastructure. The Tredegar Iron Works located on the riverbank was an important munitions factory. It is now the site of the main visitor center out of the 10 areas that make up the Richmond battlefield. In addition, five railroads radiated from the city directly connecting Richmond with every part of the state. Four rivers provided lines of resistance to attacks by Union armies: Rappahannock, North Anna, Pamunkey, and Chickahominy.

A massive Union operation known as the Peninsula Campaign started in March 1862 and ended five months later. The battles became known as the Seven Days' Battles starting with the Battle of Seven Pines. It was here that Gen. Joseph E. Johnston was wounded and command of the Army of Northern Virginia went to Gen. Robert E. Lee. His successful defense of Richmond gave the Confederates confidence and enthusiasm that they were destined to be victorious. Lee took the war north to encounter Union forces on their territory starting with the Battle of Second Manassas, Antietam, and Gettysburg. While Lee was fighting in the north, Richmonders, using mostly slave labor, built dozens of earthen fortifications to protect the city.

Things started to drastically change in the spring of 1864 when Gen. Ulysses S. Grant took command of all the Union Armies and devised a strategy that would threaten every part of the Confederacy. Grant's Overland Campaign began in May 1864 at the Battle of the Wilderness and at Spotsylvania near Fredericksburg and continued on to Petersburg south of Richmond. Unlike earlier campaigns, this one was part of a coordinated surge all across the South. Other Union armies were attacking in the Shenandoah Valley in Western Virginia, below Richmond, and against the important Confederate rail and industrial city of Atlanta. The result of these coordinated efforts severely stretched the Confederate armies' resources beyond their capability.

Richmond and Petersburg were attacked simultaneously. Grant figured that the capture of either city would ensure the surrender of the other city. On April 2, 1865, after 10 months of constant attacks, Petersburg fell, forcing the evacuation of Richmond. Union soldiers entered Richmond on April 3, but not before the Confederates burned warehouses and supplies which resulted in considerable damage to the city's business district. Sadly, that destruction of their own city was unnecessary because Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Court House on April 9. The collapse of the Confederacy collapsed quickly after the surrender and the war was just about over.

Diane and I went to visit the main visitor center at the Tredegar Iron Works site, but the GPS took us to visitor center at the site of the Civil War hospital at Chimborazo, the "hospital on the hill." The hospital was opened in 1861 and covered 40 acres. It was one of the best equipped hospitals in the Confederacy treating more than 76,000 sick and wounded soldiers. We looked at the exhibits in the small museum area and got directions to the visitor center at the iron works. We got there and spent a couple of hours watching a film about battles in the area and looking at the exhibits. We opted not to drive to the other visitor centers around Richmond as we were kind of getting Civil Warred out at this point.

One of the main reasons for visiting Richmond was to visit a manager I worked for during my last assignment in my career. Back in 1992 I was wanting to do something different and decided to interview for a job in the IBM Internal Corporate Audit function. As in other large corporations, the Audit function was large with many different types of audit departments. My background was in Information Technology, so I set up an interview with that department. That interview was with Nancy LePage who liked what she saw and heard and offered me the job. I had no idea at the time how lucky a break that was. I never had a big desire to travel abroad and found out that this job involved both domestic and international travel. So, at 49 years of age, I got my first passport. In the Spring of 1993 I took my first trip abroad to England and was immediately hooked on international travel. An eight week trip to Japan in the Fall solidified the love of international travel plus an instant love of Japan. Five trips and 23 weeks spent in Tokyo over the six years I had the traveling job secured that love of visiting Japan.

I worked for Nancy for a couple of years before she moved on to another job, but during that time frame she became one of my all-time favorite managers. I have often said that Nancy was one of the most even keeled manager for whom I ever worked. If I didn't impress her enough during my interview for her to hire me, I would maybe never have gotten a taste of international travel, not to mention that Diane also fell in love with all the travel she got to do during my time in Audit.

When I contacted Nancy I got a response from her daughter, Carolyn, who said Nancy was away at the time, but would set something up for a visit when she returned. Diane and I visited with them at Nancy's house and had a great lunch while catching up and reminiscing. Carolyn had recently completed her Master's Degree and a party and barbecue was planned for the weekend. Nancy invited us to stop by, which we did. We met several of their friends and had a great time chatting about the area and answering folks' questions of what it's like to live life on the road. We hadn't seen Nancy for many years and it was great to find ourselves parked only a few miles from her house during our stay in the Richmond area.

When possible, we like to visit state capitals, so we went into Richmond to visit the Virginia state capitol building. The first session of the Virginia Legislature took place in Jamestown in 1619. For more than 160 years it met in churches, homes, colleges, taverns, and state houses in Jamestown and Williamsburg until the capital was moved to Richmond.

Thomas Jefferson was asked to design the Virginia Capitol. However, he was two months into his tenure as Ambassador to France so he had to come up with his design from afar. He based his design on the Maison Carree in Nimes which was based on classical Roman temples. The cornerstone was laid in 1785 when Patrick Henry was the Commonwealth's seventh governor. A highlight of the capitol is the rotunda crowned by a dome and skylights that illuminate a life size statue of George Washington.

We took a tour of the capitol and got to see the house and senate chambers while getting a history of the building from our tour guide.

August 10 to August 16: Gordonsville, Virginia (51 miles)

Route:  I-295; US 33; local roads

Campground:  Shenandoah Crossing  This is a time share resort that also has a campground on the grounds. The old campground is heavily wooded, but they have built a new campground that is very nice. The sites are fairly large concrete pads, both back-in and pullthru. There is a variety of sites that have different amenities and prices. All sites have a large patio, lots of redwood furniture (although some need to be replaced), a gas grill (but not built in like the sites at The Ranchos at Val Vista Village in Mesa, Arizona). Some sites have a sink. The highest priced sites also have a hot tub on site. The campground is part of the Coast to Coast network, so we came in on our membership. The points for the sites (1 point = $1) were 1,000; 1,500; 2,000; 5,000. We chose the 2,000 point level but could have done with the 1,500 point site. The only negative for us was not being able to use our satellite dish. The campground is open so it surprised me that I couldn't get a signal. However, trees that surround the campground were interfering. Luckily, the cable TV was decent.

We like to build in some time to do nothing and just relax. Given that there isn't much around Gordonsville, this campground allowed us to do that. The only thing we wanted to do from here was to visit Montpelier.

James Madison was one of the country's Founding Fathers who brought about the creation of the U.S. Constitution and was labeled the "Father of the Constitution" by his peers. The "Federalist Papers" was a series of essays written by Madison, along with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay, that argued for ratification of the Constitution. There was a lot of opposition including in Madison's Virginia. He lobbied hard for Virginians to ratify the Constitution, which happened in 1788 when New Hampshire and Virginia ratified it and it became the law of the land.

Madison followed Thomas Jefferson and became the country's fourth president.
He led America through it's first war, the War of 1812, which showed the country that the Constitution could survive a national crisis. When James Madison's second term as president ended in 1817, he and Dolley retired to Montpelier. On June 28, 1836, James Madison died at Montpelier at the age of 85 and was buried in the Madison Family Cemetery on the mansion grounds.

The Madison family owned Montpelier for more than 120 years - from 1723 until 1844 when James' wife, Dolly Madison, sold the property. It was the lifelong home of James Madison. The house was built in three phases from 1764 to 1812. The first phase was built  by his father. James continued construction between 1797 and 1812. There were many owners of the property with the last owners being the duPont family who owned it from 1901 to 1983. They made significant changes to the house. When Marion duPont died in 1983 she willed the property to the National Trust for Historic Preservation which took ownership in 1984.

In October 2003, the Foundation officially announced that the Montpelier mansion would be restored to the home of the Madisons. It has been undergoing restoration since that time. The restoration of the outside was completed in 2008. We took a tour of the house and grounds and learned that the restoration never really ends. The walls take much time to cure, about two years, before they can be painted or papered. There was very little furniture at this point, but the plan is to fully furnish the house with items from the period that the Madisons lived in it.

In the lobby of the visitor center was a timeline of James Madison's life and events that occurred during that time. Here are a couple of tidbits we learned.

1751 - The British Parliament changes the calendar, making January 1 the first day of the year instead of March 15. The American colonies follow suit and changed their calendars.

1790 - Benjamin Franklin dies in Philadelphia at the age of 84. He is the only man to sign the four most important Revolutionary documents: Declaration of Independence; Alliance with France; Treaty of Paris; U.S. Constitution.

1812 - James Madison takes to the field as Commander in Chief for a short time during the battle for Washington, making him the only president to command troops on the battlefield.

August 17 to August 20: Charlottesville, Virginia (27 miles)

Route:  US 33; US 15; I-64; US 250; VA 20

Campground:  Elks Lodge  They advertise two sites, but they were very unlevel grass sites with 15-amp outlets and water. We opted to boondock in the parking lot.

Our main purpose in going to Charlottesville was to visit Thomas Jefferson's home at Monticello. When we found out the University of Virginia was in Charlottesville we decided to visit that as well.


Whereas Montpelier was undergoing restoration to make it look as it did when the Madisons lived there, Monticello was furnished and the grounds, including the huge vegetable gardens, were still maintained. Arrival is also at a visitor center where we saw a film, "Thomas Jefferson's World", and viewed several exhibits. We were then shuttled up to the house, although it was possible to walk the roughly 1.5 miles uphill. Given the 90 degree heat, we passed on the walk and took the shuttle. We had planned to walk down, but the rains came and that took care of those plans.

Thomas Jefferson defeated John Adams and became the third president of the United States, as well as the author of the Declaration of Independence and founder of the University of Virginia.

He was a self-taught architect and designed Monticello in the Roman neoclassicism style. Construction started in 1769 using Jefferson's design and was completed before he left for Europe in 1784. A new design was used for remodeling and enlarging the house. That work began in 1796 and was completed in 1809. The house ended up with 43 rooms. The furnishings included some original pieces, but most were replicas of period pieces and gave a great perspective as to how the Jeffersons lived.

Jefferson's wife, Martha, died in 1782 and he never remarried. However, it was always rumored that he fathered children with Sally Hemming, a slave at Monticello. In 1998, DNA test results indicated a genetic link between the Jefferson and Hemming families.
Jefferson considered slavery an abominable crime. He inherited slaves from his father and father-in-law and owned about 200 slaves, almost half of them under the age of sixteen. About 80 slaves lived at Monticello with the others living on plantations and his Poplar Forest estate. He freed only two slaves in his lifetime and five more in his will. He also chose not to pursue two slaves who ran away. All of these were members of the Hemmings family.

Jefferson died on July 4, 1826, just hours before his close friend John Adams, on the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. He was eighty-three years old.
When Jefferson died he was more than $107,000 in debt causing his daughter to first sell nearly all the contents of Monticello and then to sell the plantation. The new owner couldn't make it work and sold it two years later, in 1834, to Uriah P. Levy who admired Jefferson's views on religious tolerance. When Levy died in 1862 he bequeathed Monticello to the government with conditions which the government declined. Levy's nephew, Jefferson Monroe Levy, took possession and strove to preserve Monticello as a memorial to Jefferson. In 1923, Levy sold the estate to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation which owns Monticello today.

University of Virginia

There was a free trolley that went from downtown (which is a very nice pedestrian mall area) to the university, so we hopped on and got off to tour the Rotunda. It's a very impressive building and open for touring. We walked around all three floors while following the self-guided tour brochure.

Jefferson created an Academical Village spreading out from the Rotunda to house faculty and students. Of course, with 20,000 students enrolled, the campus is huge today. We toured the Rotunda and walked out along the village. Although the bulk of the students were scheduled to arrive on the coming weekend, there were some students already on campus and we could see some students in their rooms (all ground level). A faculty member came by and we chatted with him about the school and asked what the deal was with the few students living in the Academical Village. He said they had to be fourth year honor students.

Now get this.  There is no air conditioning in these rooms, and no heat other than a space heater.  AND.....NO BATHROOM.  Students who live in the village have to use the public bathrooms and showers.  Not so bad in spring and fall, but it must be really cold to have to put on a bathrobe and slippers and go shower in the winter months.   Brrrrrrr.   But, he said, every student who is accepted to live in the village considers it a huge honor.

Having gone to a small state school in New York with a total enrollment of about 3,000 students when I was there in the 60s, it's a treat to walk around, or drive around, a big university campus.  We saw many groups of 30-40 students walking around which I figured was some kind of orientation.  We noticed that about 95% of them were Asian.  We found out the reason was because it was international student orientation day.  It brought back all kinds of memories of my time in college, even if it was just a small college town.  I wouldn't mind reliving the college years, but I would like to do it at a big university. Although, the thought of having to do all that studying and writing papers wouldn't be too thrilling. Been there, done that.

August 21 to August 25: Lynchburg, Virginia (75 miles)

Route:  US 33; US 29; US 501; local roads

Campground:  Elks Lodge This lodge provided a 30-amp outlet.

Lynchburg is about half way between Appomattox and Bedford, so we decided to use it as a base to visit both of those places.

Appomattox and Appomattox Court House

Appomattox is usually associated with the surrender of Robert E. Lee to Ulysses S. Grant during the Civil War. However, the actual surrender took place
a few miles away in a small village named Appomattox Court House. The village was known as Clover Hill, but was renamed after the county of Appomattox was formed in 1845 and Clover Hill was chosen to be the county seat. The county courthouse was built in 1846. Today it is the Appomattox Court House National Historical Park which has been restored to look as it did in April 1865.

After four long years of war, the southern armies were being worn down and losing battles. Richmond and Petersburg had fallen to the Union forces. During the last year of the Civil War, the two famous generals, Lee and Grant, led their armies against each other. The final battles for these armies were going on around the Appomattox area. Lee finally realized that he was no longer able to supply his troops and continue the war. He sent an emissary to Grant to request a meeting to discuss surrender terms. Appomattox Court House was a quiet village away from the fronts and a house was selected in which the generals could meet. That house was owned by Wilmer McLean. He took his family away from the fighting in Manassas and went south to avoid the war. Actually, we learned he was a despicable person who profited from the war. It has been said that the war followed the McLeans as the first big battle was in  Manassas and the surrender was in Appomattox Court House.

Lee and Grant met on April 9, 1865 to discuss the surrender of Lee's Army of Northern Virginia to Grant's Army of the Potomac. The only thing Grant asked of Lee was that the Confederates pledge not to take up arms against the United States. Grant was generous in his terms and allowed officers to keep their side arms and any Confederate soldier who owned a horse was allowed to take it home with him. The actual surrender documents were prepared and signed on April 10 by officers from both armies.

So that Confederate soldiers could get to their homes without being treated as deserters, parole passes were created indicating that the holder of the pass was a surrendered soldier and free to return to his home. Some 30,000 passes were printed and by April 11 were passed out to all Confederate troops in Lee's army.

The only thing Grant insisted on was that Lee's soldiers formally lay down their arms. So on April 12, 1865, exactly four years after the war started with the firing on Fort Sumpter, Lee's soldiers marched into Appomattox Court House and laid down their arms while Union troops stood at attention along both sides of the road. The war in Virginia was over.

However, the end of the Civil War was still a couple of months away as fighting by other armies continued on other fronts. The final surrenders took place on April 16 by Gen. Joseph E. Johnston's army in North Carolina, on May 4 by Gen. Richard Taylor's army in Alabama, and on June 2 by Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith's army in Texas. All were surrendered on the same terms set by Lee and Grant at Appomattox Court House. The Confederacy ceased to exist and the Civil War was over.

Diane and I visited the court house, which is now the visitor center for the park and watched the two audio/visual displays and looked at the exhibits. It was a Saturday when we were there and several talks were scheduled. We went along to hear a talk by a Confederate solider who "survived" the war and was in the area at the time of the surrender. It was very interesting as the talk was done totally in character. We were even told by the ranger who took us over to meet Mr. Tibbs that he wouldn't know anything past April 1865. So if we wanted to take his "picture" we should ask if we could make his "image" because taking his picture could mean we were going to go to his house and take pictures off the walls.

Unfortunately, a storm came in and the rain never stopped. So we decided to go into Appomattox and get something to eat at Granny Bee's. It was a price performer restaurant with decent food. We didn't get the chance to walk around the village to see the McLean House and other buildings, so we came back a second day to complete our visit to Appomattox Court House.


Early Europeans settled in the area in 1782 and established a community that became the town of Liberty in 1839. The town prospered as a center for the distribution of various products, such at tobacco, corn, and wool. But it was the areas natural beauty that brought people to the area. Thomas Jefferson built a family retreat amidst the poplar trees and called it Poplar Forest.

Today, one of the draws to the town is the D-Day Memorial. There has long been a desire to put up a memorial to those soldiers who were part of the invasion of Europe on June 6, 1944. Congress chose Bedford as the site of the memorial due to its distinction as the town that sustained the highest per capita loss of lives on D-Day in Normandy, France. The population of Bedford at that time was about 3,200. On June 6, Bedford lost 21 out of 35 of its citizen soldiers from the 29th Infantry Division of the National Guard. The memorial is dedicated to the 150,000 men who participated in the D-Day invasion which left more than 4,000 dead and more than 10,000 casualties.

The memorial was dedicated on June 6, 2001. It covers many acres and is set up such that one can tour it in a sort of chronological order of the events leading up to D-Day. Both walking tours and cart tours are offered. We decided to take a walking tour. It wasn't crowded when we were there so it was just us and the tour guide for a roughly 45 minute tour. Afterwards we walked around the grounds a bit slower so we could get some photos and read some of the plaques.

August 26 Roanoke, Virginia (58 miles)

Route:  US 460; US 221; US 11; local roads

Campground:  WalMart parking lot

Just an overnight stop.

August 27 to August 31: Ft. Chiswell, Virginia (67 miles)

Route:  local roads to I-81

Campground:  Ft. Chiswell RV Park  This is a nice park just down the road from the Flying J. Sites are pullthru, gravel, and level. Some trees could interfere with satellite reception, but there were lots of open sites. Power was 30/50 amp. Cable TV.

Fuel:  Flying J in Ft. Chiswell, VA for $2.569

Our tour of Virginia was at an end. We entered the state on July 10, so we've been in the state for a little over seven weeks. We decided to park the rig for a few days so I could try and finish this travelog and to just sit around and do nothing for a few days. From here we will go to the Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg area which we have never visited. Then probably to Chattanooga for a few days before heading to Douglasville for several weeks to visit kids and grandkids, and take care of medical visits with our doctors and dentist. After that we'll start moving south to Port St. Lucie, Florida for the winter months.

I know this was one of the longer travelogs, but I wanted to keep all of Virginia in one place.

Until next time, safe travels.....

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