Virginia Iliad

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The full title of this work on the Old Dominion is Virginia Iliad The Death and Destruction of “The Mother of States and Statesmen.”

The author, through his associates listed in his book, is clearly of a Southern persuasion, but his view is that peculiarly Virginian approach that Robert E. Lee wrestled with as war came to our sad land. South Carolinians, for the most part, WANTED out of the Union and had been toying with the possibility for 30 years.

Virginians, generally, loved the Union and wanted to stay in it, until, in the view of the majority of those voting in convention, President Lincoln’s call for them to provide troops to suppress the rebellion was simply too much to ask from another Southern state, albeit it one very different from the cotton South.

Mr. Traywick’s book is a collection of snippets of Virginia life and attitudes with a brief nod to the Founders, with an emphasis on Virginia’s Patrick Henry, followed by stories and reminiscences regarding events ranging from just before the war all the way through Reconstruction.

These pieces are authored by people from an earlier time, largely people who lived during the war.

Former Confederate soldier and first president of the Virginia Historical Society George Bagby wrote some amazingly detailed and homey descriptions of life in Virginia in the 1800’s, with much discussion of bacon and greens (and cabbage) as well as his love of trees, almost to the point of humanizing them.

John Wise, a delightful writer and young Confederate soldier who was the son of a former governor, is another contributor to this volume, and his description of a wartime wedding with details regarding the limited food, less than hoped for dancing partner, and outrageous fancy dress costumes cobbled together by folks who simply no longer had good clothes to wear has got to be the funniest and best piece in the book.

Constance Cary, one of the famous and beautiful Cary girls who were top belles in society, adds her piece as well, but she is more serious--discusses the fear of living in a society where trust of the many black slaves is questionable and there’s an unsaid fear on the plantations.

Some of John M. Daniel’s reports for his Richmond Examiner are included.

The Reconstruction material includes the typical derision in which white Confederates held their new black and Yankee representatives in the state legislature, with unflattering descriptions of the members’ speeches, including a description by one of the black members at the constitutional convention regarding construction of pig pens in Massachusetts.

Apparently, no amendment passed on the subject as Florida is apparently the only state that currently has a pig pen amendment in its constitution.

If, in our politically correct world, one can take the contributing authors’ words as they would have been taken at the time they were written--and this gets harder and harder to do as time goes on and the past recedes further into the dark, this is a delightful book.

It definitely sheds some light on what “Old Virginia” seemed to be to those whites who were writing these accounts long, long ago

Title : Virginia Iliad

Author: H.V Traywick, Jr.

Publisher: Dementi Milestone Publishing, Inc.

Pages: 294

Price: $20

Soft Cover