A Yankee in Confederate Country

I’m a Yankee through and through, a northerner by geography and philosophy. Nearly 150 years ago, I would’ve been a Union wife, an enemy of the Confederacy and Kimmer likely a member of the Union army. Perhaps he would be marching south with Lancaster, Ohio’s General William Tecumseh Sherman on his march to Savannah.

It’s amazing how much I’ve learned about our country’s history.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis... always portrayed from the right side because he had a disgusting eye disease. True.

Today, on a visit to the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, VA, I learned some of the basics of the Civil War, not from the winner’s spoils, but from the Southerners perspective. The museum offers a comprehensive look at the events leading to secession and a year-by-year examination of the key battles of the war. It also contains one of the largest collections of Confederate memorabilia including a restored encampment of General Robert E. Lee that features many original items like his boots, his cot and more.

In addition, I learned that the Confederacy appointed a president in Jefferson Davis who lived in the Confederate “White House” – which by the way was not white – a stately, donated southern estate offered up by a confederate sympathizer.

The Washington Post has written that the White House of the Confederacy “is a meticulously restored neoclassical masterpiece that, in terms of quality, historical associations and authenticity, probably is second only to Mount Vernon among restorations of historic American dwellings.” And I agree. The public space on the ground floor, where the beautiful green dining room was used as a make-shift war room and meeting space, and the two-room living space, which was used for lavish entertaining during the war, are only part of a masterfully restored home. The second floor was no less impressive and acted as home to the Davis family and contained his private office as well.

Original paintings of George Washington can be found in almost every room as Confederate leaders believed Washington would support the separation of the south – our tour guide heartily disagrees, and thinks these leaders silly. More likely, he thinks Washington would, even as a slaveholder, be in favor of preserving the union he fought so hard to create.

Once again, we were lucky enough to have a wonderful, knowledgeable tour guide to help us through our journey into the past. And, though the South’s secession was almost entirely due to their support of slavery, it must be noted that few of the men fighting in the war had this as their primary objective. Most fought to protect their land and their families from what they perceived as Union invaders as many didn’t own slaves and many were indentured themselves. It’s interesting how where you’re born can have such an effect on your destiny.

No matter your perspective on war, on the meaning of the Confederacy or your own ideals, it’s important to see things from other perspectives in order to get a clearer picture of the results of any conflict.

For more information, or to plan your visit, click here.