by Frank Cirillo | | Tuesday, November 12, 2019 - 20:33


In December of 1915, the black community of Jefferson County, Arkansas gathered to bury the esteemed black Virginian in blue Mathew Gardner (alias Berry). Gardner had been born a slave in Albemarle County. Forced by the slave trade to move to Arkansas on the eve of the Civil War, Gardner fled bondage during the conflict, enlisting as a member of the United States Colored Troops (USCT).

by Frank Cirillo | | Tuesday, October 8, 2019 - 13:44


In 1915, a prominent African-American newspaper, The Chicago Defender, reported on a memorial gathering of the St. John’s A.M.E. Sunday school in Cleveland, Ohio. The current school superintendent, the article noted, began by invoking an address given fifteen years earlier by his predecessor, Frank Lee. Born into slavery in Albemarle County, Lee had escaped bondage and entered the Union ranks during the Civil War. In the decades after his service, he established himself as one of the leading members of Cleveland’s black elite.

by Lily Snodgrass | | Wednesday, August 14, 2019 - 16:28


In the 1860 presidential election, only one person in all of Fauquier County, Virginia, voted for President Abraham Lincoln: a wealthy slaveholder named Henry Thomas Dixon. Five years later, after serving as a paymaster in the Union army, he was gunned down in a duel with a former Confederate surgeon on the streets of Alexandria. Dixon, a former student of the University of Virginia, a Southern “gentleman,” and a Unionist, was, like many men of his time, driven by the concept of honor. Historian Joanne B.

by Sarah E. Gardner | | Monday, July 1, 2019 - 10:58


In late summer 1861, Sallie Strickler confessed her befuddlement at recent events. “Wars seem so strange to me,” she recorded in her diary, “although I’ve been reading about them all my life.”[1] Strickler, who lived in Madison County, Virginia, wrote this entry four months shy of her sixteenth birthday and only four weeks after the Confederate victory at Manassas. All of her life she had read of war. All fifteen long years of it. Yet, although she might have stretched a point, it turns out that she had read of war.

by Brian Neumann | | Thursday, June 6, 2019 - 10:27


Every evening, students recalled, the hills around antebellum UVA resounded with the music of La Marseillaise, the anthem of the French Revolution. Joseph d’Alfonce, the university’s gymnastics instructor, began the call to arms in his “splendid baritone,” and soon hundreds of students’ voices filled the air. For d’Alfonce, the anthem’s promise of “cherished liberty” triumphing over tyranny carried special meaning. He had fought in one revolution and lived through another, and twice he had been forced to flee from arrest.