I took this photo of some of my bookcases a few minutes ago while sitting here at my desk to make a point.
Actually to prove my bona fides.
Look closely and you'll see - along with bottles of the world's finest bourbons; Maker's Mark, Wild Turkey Rare Breed, Old Grand-Dad, Henry McKenna, even an unopened bottle of 1966 Kentucky Nectar, along with a bottle of Macallan scotch (which snuck in) - a few hundred books. Nearly all of which are devoted to one subject.
The Civil War.
I'm not just a collector. I have absorbed a thing or two over the years offered up by the world's leading authorities on the War Between the States. Including works by James M. McPherson, Bruce Catton, Douglas Southall Freeman, Harry Pfanz, Shelby Steele, Edwin Coddington, Stephen Sears, James I. Robertson, Stephen B. Oates, and William C. Davis. I also have books written by those most in the know: Ulysses S. Grant, Jubal Early, Phil Sheridan, William T. Sherman, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, and Abner Doubleday, to name a few. I also have a host of books of lesser-known figures from the war. Including a sizable number of regimental histories. An expert? I don't claim the title.
Knowledgeable? You bet.
So when I read something in the newspaper this morning about a Civil War battle that took place in this area, with all my reading, knowledge, and understanding, and I have no idea what battle the article is referring to, there's a problem somewhere.
But a "battle" it indeed cites:
Winds of change make battlefield center of fightThe Camp Allegheny Battlefield?
By Laurence Hammack, Roanoke Times
Camp Allegheny, W. VA. -- From an alpine meadow west of Allegheny Mountain, Richard Laska gazed at a pristine landscape that has changed very little since the day Confederate soldiers defended the ridge from an onslaught by Union troops.
"If wilderness is sacred, and if American history is sacred, then there's no doubt this place is doubly sacred," Laska said.
So when ground was broken last month for a row of 400-foot-tall wind turbines along the ridge that overlooks Camp Allegheny Battlefield, it didn't just dismay Laska and other nearby property owners who have been fighting the project for years.
It also prompted a state agency to raise new questions about the wind farm's effect on a historic Civil War battlefield. [link]
My SkeptoMeter just went to Level Orange.
Let's be clear. There was/were, by anyone's reasonable measure, one - maybe two, if you call Summersville, West Virginia part of the local area - battle(s) fought in this region in all the Civil War years. That would be the Battle of Cloyd's Mountain that took place up near Dublin in Pulaski County in 1864. The second having been fought at Carnifex Ferry in 1861 (some wouldn't even categorize that as a battle since "only" 250 casualties resulted; but there were armies/divisions involved - as opposed to companies, regiments, or brigades, so ...).
Here's how the Roanoke Times lays it out:
Winter had taken hold of Allegheny Mountain when, in December 1861, Confederate forces occupied the summit to protect the nearby Staunton-Parkersburg Pike.
The stronghold was attacked by Union forces on Dec. 13. Fighting continued throughout the day before the Northern troops were eventually forced to retreat.
Of the nearly 300 soldiers killed, 146 were Confederates. Some were buried in gravesites that remain at the site, which is just across the Highland County line in West Virginia.
300 killed? 146 Confederates? That would give it more significance than Carnifex Ferry. Had I been missing something?
Well, terminology can be slippery. Just as the word "battle" can sometimes be tossed about with regard to what most historians might call a skirmish, so the word casualties can sometimes be ... misconstrued.
In truth, the Battle of Camp Allegheny resulted in there being 300 casualties. Not 300 killed. Including, yes, 146 Confederate. With 25 killed.
Note the fact that the word "casualties" included in its definition not just those killed in battle, but those wounded and missing (which generally included those who ran off - deserted - never to be seen again). In addition, many of those casualties continued to fight with only minor wounds. It's worth noting that Major General Don Carlos Buell was a "casualty" in the Battle of Perryville (Kentucky) in 1862 when he was thrown from his horse and injured.
So. I'd be careful how I bandied about words like "battle" and "killed."
Had the reporter only used the word "engagement" all would be well.
Although "Engagement at Camp Allegheny" sounds like a betrothal party, I suppose.
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Here's partly why the action at Camp Allegheny in 1861 is given more prominence than it deserves. From the article:
"A wind farm within eyesight 'will likely have a negative impact' on the battlefield, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places ..."
The wind farm won't even be on the "battlefield." It will be within eyesight. A criterion that automatically puts all of northern Virginia and most of central Virginia off limits to any kind of commercial construction, if adopted as law.
Please. Stop. You're "killing" me.
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* No, Lead Mines, Marion, Saltville, Greenbrier River, Droop Mountain, Crockett's Cove, Wytheville, don't rise to the level.
** Click on the image to enlarge it.