Wanderlust… The call of the open road… Mid-life crisis… Insanity.

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Jimmy Carter NHS, Plains, GA

January 6, 2022

Plains High School and Jimmy Carter NHS Visitor Center

Most National Park sites represent “old” history, i.e., events that happened before I was born. The Jimmy Carter National Historic Site is different. I was old enough to vote in the presidential election that pitted Jimmy Carter (D) against Gerald Ford (R). I remember many of the key events, both good and bad, that happened during the Carter administration – OPEC-caused gas shortages, the Egyptian-Israeli peace agreement, and the Iran hostage crisis.

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Andersonville NHS, Andersonville, GA

December 31, 2021

The day we visited was cloudy and dozens of vultures circled above us. While that felt eerie it also seemed fitting.

The Andersonville National Historic Site encompasses a portion of the notorious Civil War Andersonville prison camp. A road winds around the prison’s perimeter. As you walk the site make sure you listen to the audio recordings that describe the prison, the prisoners, their captors, life and death in the camp, and the good and evil that existed side-by-side here.

Only a few remnants of the original prison camp remain. But there’s enough left that you can imagine what it must have been like to be a prisoner here.

Map of Prison Camp

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National Prisoner of War Museum, Andersonville, GA

December 31, 2021

Every war-related museum – from the Revolutionary War to Iraq and Afghanistan – that I have visited celebrates our armed forces strength, power, bravery, and perseverance.

Except this one.

The National Prisoner of War Museum, part of the Andersonville National Historic Site, focuses on and commemorates American prisoners of war, both military and civilian.

This one brings you face to face with those men and women who fought on or were caught behind the front lines and were captured by the enemy. This museum tells their story poignantly and well.

Memorial to American Prisoners of War

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Allatoona Pass Battlefield State Park, Georgia

December 20, 2021

Commander: Brig. Gen John M. Corse
Troops: 2,000
Casualties: 706 (35%)

Commander: Gen Samuel French
Troops: 3,200
Casualties: 897 (28%)

The Battle of Allatoona Pass was fought on October 5, 1864. While the battle was small by Civil War standards, the casualty rate was much higher. Its location tells you why.

The Western & Atlantic Railroad ran from Chattanooga, Tennessee to Atlanta, Georgia. As the Union army fought its way from Chattanooga to Atlanta in 1864, this railroad was its lifeline. Protecting the railroad was critical to the Union army’s success. One chokepoint was at Allatoona Pass where the railroad traveled through a very steep, narrow gorge.

Union troops were determined to defend their tenuous supply line. The Confederates were equally determined to sever it.

Allatoona Pass

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Chattahoochee River NRA and Old Mill Park

December 16, 2021

Chattahoochee River NRA

The Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area protects most of a 48-mile stretch of this historic river. We spent the morning wandering the Island Ford Visitor Center and taking a nice stroll along this scenic river.

Island Ford Visitor Center

While small, the visitor center provided a lot of information. A very helpful park ranger also pointed out the best places to visit. Sadly, we did not have the time to see them all.

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Kennesaw Mountain NBP

December 14, 2021

I really liked this visitor center’s museum and gift shop/bookstore. Unfortunately, the theater was closed so, no film. I drooled over and could have spent a lot of money on books but…I already owned about half of them and, living in a small motorhome, buying physical books is a no-no. So I saved a lot of money.

On the wall just before the museum entrance is a Civil War timeline prior to the start of the Atlanta campaign in the summer of 1864. Once inside you get both sides of the story as to why the Civil War was fought. Being a presidential election year, you’ll learn why President Lincoln wanted a clear victory to help ensure his chances for reelection. The war had entered its fourth year and the Union appeared to be no closer to victory. Confederate President Jefferson Davis believed that if his armies could just hold on, the Union would sue for an end to the war.

Setting the Stage – Union Perspective

Setting the Stage – Confederate Perspective

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South Carolina State Museum

December 4-5, 2021

South Carolina Science Museum

What we thought would be a one day event, turned into two very full days. And we still had to hurry. I took hundreds of pictures to capture as many of the exhibits as I could. Sadly, all the pictures I took on the second day “disappeared.” I’m not sure if that was due to technical difficulties or user error. But there were still plenty left for this post.

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Congaree National Park

December 2, 2021

The Congaree National Park was formerly known as the Congaree Swamp National Monument. But, repeat after me…Congaree is not a swamp, it’s a floodplain.

That’s the first thing I learned.

The gift shop at the visitor center was open, but the museum portion was not. The restrooms were, thankfully, also open.

Before you head out to explore the park, make sure you check the Mosquito Meter…

Mosquito Meter

As you can see, we visited on the rare All Clear day. Woohoo!!

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Guildford Courthouse NMP, North Carolina

November, 26, 2021

There are several ways to enjoy this park. One is to attend a ranger-led walking tour. Another is to take the driving tour or to walk the trails along which the fighting occurred. Finally, you can spend some time in the visitor center and museum. As usual, we did everything, spending much of the day there.

Shortly after we arrived a ranger-led walking tour was about to begin. The tour took about an hour and covered much of the battlefield.

The battle took place on March 15, 1781. Although outnumbered by more than two to one, at the end of the day the British Army under General Cornwallis held the field while the American Army under General Nathaniel Greene had retreated 15 miles. Because they held the field this was, technically, a British victory, but a very costly one. A little over six months later, Cornwallis would find himself trapped at Yorktown, VA.

General Nathaniel Greene’s Statue

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Colonial Fredericksburg, VA

November 21-22, 2021

I lived in Fredericksburg, VA from 1974 until 1978. But at that time, as a newly minted enginerd, I wasn’t too interested in its history. Forty-three years later, I spent a week exploring the town and the surrounding area, enjoying its restaurants, and learning quite a bit about its Colonial and Civil War history. This post focuses on the Colonial period.

Hugh Mercer Apothecary

Hugh Mercer Apothecary

Want to learn about the latest advances in Colonial medicine? Want to learn more about Scotsman Hugh Mercer and his descendants? Then this living history spot is the place to go. Two staffers dressed in period costume spent quite a bit of time talking about Colonial era medicine, surgery, and dentistry.

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