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At Ease: Once Upon a Time, I Read a Book, Visited a Battlefield, & Wrote a Report

Interested In History

We wish "interest in history" was the only thing that was contagious these days! Don't forget that it's safe to share this email or call a friend to share a story about the past. Many times, we get interested initially or find a new topic to explore because someone else shared their passion for history or preservation. Today, we are celebrating the stories of how interest in history gets started! Instead of data charts and numbers, we've got ten stories from the survey, battlefield photos, AND a special video from President Tom Van Winkle and the CVBT sharing how they got "the Civil War bug."


Survey Results = Your Stories Thank you for all the wonderful responses. Believe us, it was hard to choose just ten to highlight.

As a 13-year-old, I spent a few summers at a relative’s house in Colombia, South Carolina. I used to visit the State House & the Confederate Museum on the 2nd floor. My aunt was a member of a Book Club & she was sent “To Appomattox, Nine April Days by Burke Davis. I asked if I could borrow it & she said you can have it I spent the summer reading it & on my trip home to New Jersey, traveled up Route 1 (this was before the Interstate) & saw all the Freeman markers pointing out all the places I had just read about I was hooked & could wait to go back next summer.


Bought a house right in the middle of the 4 major battlefields. Also, I got to hear 3 of the finest Civil War historians give talks- John Hennesey, Greg Mertz, and Frank O'Riley.

Bloody Angle at Spotsylvania Courthouse Battlefield


I became fascinated by Civil War history as a ten-year-old boy living with my family in Winston-Salem NC. The initial spark came from Civil War battle scene cards included in the wrappers of my favorite bubble gum. I was captivated by the obvious bravery and courage of combatants on both sides. Many cards depicted battle sites my family visited in North Carolina, Virginia, and Georgia. I was also intrigued by the fact that there were still civil war veterans alive at the time. My interest developed into something of a hobby over the years. Now that I am retired, I feel very fortunate to be living in a community that lies in part on the Wilderness Battlefield. Almost every day I see hallowed ground that reminds me of the joy experienced by a ten-year-old boy learning about Civil War history. This is why I support CVBT’s mission.

Rodes-Doles Tract, CVBT Property at Chancellorsville Battlefield


I was in my second year at Grammar School (a British equivalent of High School), when the school held a book fair. It was the time of the American Civil War Centennial and one of the books for sale was 'The Penguin Book of the American Civil War'. Being interested in military history, I was mesmerised by the many images in the book from a time gone by and I was intrigued to learn more about what was clearly a momentous period in American history. I still have that book today and it proved to be the start of a lifelong passion. It was the first of a collection that has grown to contain several hundred books and journals, as well as prints and relics. It also led to me crossing the Atlantic several times to visit Civil War battlefields in order to gain a greater understanding of the conflict and to reflect upon the sacrifices made by the men in blue and gray.

Po River Tracts, CVBT Properties, Spotsylvania Battlefield


My father left me with his CO from Korea, named Colonel Hershey, for two days. He dragged me around Gettysburg @ the age of 7 for two long days straight, describing the action with a heavy Pennsylvania Dutch accent I’ll never forget. Later in life, I bought a home unfortunately built on the Wilderness Battlefield and my passion inflamed.


When I was a boy I saw Audie Murphy in “The Red Badge of Courage”. Then bought the Classic comic version of the book. Been hooked ever since. I’m a Brit, by the way.


The Centennial Celebration in the 1960s. I was 10 years old. I've been hooked ever since.


I did a paper on Custer in my undergraduate program with the intent of following him through the Indian wars. At that time I didn’t realize the part he played in the Civil War and the more I read the more fascinated I became. Consequently, in the last thirty years I have hardly read any fiction at all. I am officially a Civil War bore.


How We Got Interested...

President Tom Van Winkle, Terry Rensel and Sarah Bierle share their stories in this new video:


Central Virginia Battlefields Trust's mission is to preserve, protect, and educate about Civil War hallowed ground at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, The Wilderness, and Spotsylvania.

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