Here’s some great news from here in East Tennessee. The Russellville home that James Longstreet used as his headquarters during the winter of 1863-64 is now a museum, thanks to the efforts of people who cared enough to make it happen:
Today’s event marks the fulfillment of the longtime dream of Lakeway Civil War Preservation Association, which organized in February 2006 to save the historic house and otherwise preserve Civil War heritage in the area.
The group’s work began after “a developer went to the (Hamblen County) planning commission and asked to rezone the property, tear down the structure and build a small retail store,” said Lakeway’s vice president, Reece Sexton.
Three businesspeople got together, discussed the issue and “we were able to get a loan and buy it,” said Sexton, editor and publisher of the Civil War Courier in nearby Morristown.
Good for them. This is how preservation happens, folks—it starts with putting our time, money, and effort where our mouths are.
A new guide map called “Appalachia: Civil War Home Front” directs visitors to historic sites across thirteen different states. You can get more information on the places featured at Visit Appalachia. Pick up a copy and pay us a visit. We’re not as ornery as we’ve been made out to be.
Speaking of Appalachia and the Civil War, a couple of young punks allegedly vandalized a cemetery and historic church in Hamblen County, TN, just down the road from my neck of the woods. James Longstreet spent some time in that area following his unsuccessful attempt to take Knoxville in late ’63. His men used the church in question as a hospital, and the cemetery includes some Civil War burials. I visited the site a few years ago; it’s a very cool place. The youths were evidently ghost-hunting, a popular vocation for people whose families dread being asked about them when they run into friends in the supermarket.
Luckily, authorities were able to track down the culprits because one of these criminal masterminds (and I’m not making this up) actually left his bicycle at the scene, seemingly oblivious to the fact that leaving your personal belongings lying around the place where you’ve committed a crime is generally not the best way to evade detection. No word yet on whether or not these kids are enrolled in any of their school district’s gifted programs; somehow I don’t think they are.
What juvenile vandals really need is just a firm but gentle push in the right direction. While standing over a pit filled with live crocodiles.