We’re home safe and sound, but very, very tired.

We were up at 5:30 on Thursday morning to get the dogs to the fabulous place where we board them when we go out of town. We hit the road at 8:00. It is every bit of an eight hour drive to Pinehurst, not like the typo in my last post suggested. We got to Teej’s house about 4:15. We visited a bit, and then checked into the hotel. After dropping off our stuff, we headed out to dinner and then to the CWRT meeting.

The program chair didn’t bother to coordinate with me, so I wasn’t sure what I was expected to talk about. I figured I would do the Western Theater talk that I did in Nashville in March, but when I got there, I discovered that they were expecting me to do my Monroe’s Crossroads talk. I was able to pull it off, but if I had known that was what they expected, I would have brushed up on some of the names. It’s been a while since I’ve done that talk–at least six months–so I struggled with some of the names. Nevertheless, it went well. The highlight of the evening was that a fellow named Al Potts brought along a Confederate saber found on the battlefield, years before it was part of Fort Bragg. Tomorrow night, Susan will post a bunch of photos from the trip, including one of the saber.

After having breakfast with Teej, we headed off to see the Guilford Court House National Military Park, site of the crucial 1781 battle between Maj. Gen. Nathaniel Greene’s Army of the South and Lt. Gen. Charles Cornwallis’ army. In this action, Greene incorporated the same tactics used at Cowpens, and designed a defense in depth consisting of three distinct lines of battle. Greene’s army consisted of about 4,000 men, while the British had about 1,900. After a long and bloody fight, Greene’s army was eventually driven from the field, but not before imposing heavy losses on Cornwallis, including his second-in-command, Maj. Gen. Charles O’Hara, who was wounded twice. Cornwallis was so badly bloodied that he ended up retreating into Virginia, winding up at Yorktown. There are 32 monuments on the battlefield at Guilford, including a gorgeous equestrian monument to Greene, so we will post photos of most of them tomorrow. Sadly, only about 25% of the battlefield (about 220 acres) is within the park boundaries, while the rest of it has been lost to the suburban sprawl of Greensboro. Fortunately, the most important portion of the battlefield is preserved and protected, and it’s a beautiful park. I bought two books on Guilford Court House and one on the Battle of Camden at the park’s excellent little book store. I really would like to go back again with someone who is intimately acquainted with the battlefield and get a detailed tactical tour sometime soon.

After lunch, we headed north. We stopped at the largest winery in the Yadkin Valley, the Shelton Vineyards, which are in Dobson. The vineyards, which are quite extensive, are on the grounds of an old tobacco farm; many tobacco farms have been converted to vineyards very successfully. The vines are all young–none are older than about 13 years old–but they produce some interesting young wines. We tasted a flight of five red wines and bought a few bottles and then headed on to Mt. Airy, where we spent the night last night.

Mt. Airy is an old town, situated just a few miles south of the line dividing North Carolina and Virginia. It boasts a lot of history. Chang and Eng Bunker, the famous Siamese Twins, lived there. Jeb Stuart was born and raised a few miles away, and the family went to church there. Maj. Gen. George Stoneman’s raiders visited it during their March 1865 raid through southwestern Virginia and North Carolina. However, Mt. Airy is most famous as Andy Griffith‘s home town, and as the model for Mayberry, R.F.D. Floyd’s barbership is still there. There’s a statue to Andy and Opie at the fishing hole located at a theater named for Andy Griffith. There’s a restaurant called Aunt Bea’s. Next door to Aunt Bea’s is a restaurant called Goober’s. You get the idea. Everything is called Mayberry there, and everywhere you look, people are selling Mayberry, RFD souvenirs. Apparently, a tremendous number of tourists come every year to partake of Mayberry’s mythology. It’s really pretty amazing.

Old friend Hokie Tom Perry then took us to his hometown, nearby Ararat, VA, which, quite coincidentally, is the where Jeb Stuart was born. Tom is largely responsible for the preservation of Laurel Hill, Stuart’s birthplace. Tom showed us around–I’d never been there. The house burned over 100 years ago, but archaeologists have located it, and its footprint is clearly marked. It’s a neat site, and one I’m glad I finally got to see.

That evening, there was a fundraiser at the local country club for the Mt. Airy Museum of Regional History. Tom’s girlfriend is the curator of collections at the museum, so Tom was able to arrange tickets for us. It was a very nice dinner with talks by two novelists. Judge Martin Clark lives in Patrick County, Virginia. When not presiding on the bench, he’s a novelist of some reknown, and a very funny speaker. He led off and was then followed by David Baldacci, whose new book Simple Genius, is presently number one on the New York Times bestseller list. He’s an ex-lawyer and now is a full-time writer. He has 57,000,000 books in print in something like 41 languages. I know what they paid for him to appear there last night. Both of these guys are lawyers and writers. Martin recently sold the movie rights to his first novel. Baldacci must make astonishing amounts of money with the way his books sell; his advance for his first novel was the largest ever paid for a first-time novelist at the time. It was called Absolute Power, and it was later turned into a pretty darned good Clint Eastwood movie. Let’s just say that I am definitely in the wrong business writing Civil War history. ๐Ÿ™‚ Baldacci was also very funny, and then there was a book signing.

We then visited with Tom and his girlfriend Amy at Amy’s lovely home for a couple of hours, and by the time we got back to the hotel, it was nearly 1:00 AM. Yesterday was a very long but very fun day.

Today, we got up about 8, packed up, had breakfast, and hit the road. We were home by 4:00 this afternoon. We had dinner, and now we’re in for the night. The dogs were thrilled to see us, but I think they’re as tired as we are. I suspect it may be an early night for all five of us. ๐Ÿ™‚

Photos will post tomorrow.

Scridb filter

Comments

  1. Steve Basic
    Sat 19th May 2007 at 11:14 pm

    Eric,

    Sounds like you both had a whirlwind of a trip. Two things struck me, as the dogs spent a few days at a resort, and made me think on when the last time I had stayed at one, and still cannot remember. ๐Ÿ™‚ The other, No shout out for Otis in Mt. Airy?? Heck a jail cell oughta be named for him. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Glad you are both home safe and sound.

    Take Care.

    Steve

  2. Sun 20th May 2007 at 7:01 am

    No Otis, No Security by Fife, No Perry’s Birthplace, boyhood home, Ararat River, Dinky Railroad and most importantly, No Hokie Wine discussion. Geez! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Perry’s tour service is open for anyone wishing a Jeb/Andy/Eng&Chang tour.

    It was good to see Susan and her husband.

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