Hardwood Floors History

Been going around a few Civil War battlefields now, and thought I’d toss over a little tip or two for those of you having to study American History, but don’t want to have to do all that tedious “studying” stuff.

This, in essence, is how every Civil War battle went.

The Floors

The Confederates would line up on a long low hill called Seminary ridge. The Union soldiers would line up on a hill called Cemetery ridge.

One side would get a stone wall, the other side would get a sunken lane. There would also be a peach orchard, a trickle of water called a “run”, and a wheat field, and it didn’t really matter which side got those features, as they would trade back and forth during the battle with many heroic charges and counter charges, but ultimately mean nothing in the over all battle plan. After the battle the run would be known as “Bloody Run”

The team with the stone wall would stay behind the stone wall and shoot at the other side, while the other side ran and jumped into the sunken lane for cover and returned fire from there. After the battle, the lane would be known as “Bloody Lane.” The stone wall would be know as “Wow, wasn’t that a great place to hide behind and shoot from?!”

So when you lined up for battle and the soldiers didn’t see any stone walls nearby, this was considered a bad omen.

The Hardwood

The Confederates were shabby soldiers led by well-dressed Generals. The Union army consisted of well-dressed soldiers led by shabby Generals. Early in the war, there was a lot of confusion as some Confederates wore uniforms that were blue, and some Northerners wore grayish uniforms. Later in the war they learned that Union troops wore shoes, and Confederate troops were barefoot, and fired on each other in accordance to this simple distinction.

The Generals

The Union army was commanded, in turn, by Larry, Curly, and Moe, who worked to get their armies into position to be drubbed by Robert E Lee.

Robert E Lee was a dignified Southern gentleman who amuse himself by walking on water until the enemy army would dig itself in, then calmly administer a drubbing to it’s exposed flanks. This tactic sent most generals running, except for U.S. Grant, who was never sober enough to feel it.

The Grand Strategy

The North roamed about Virginia looking for the Confederate armies, while Confederate armies roamed about looking for shoes and food.

Who Won the Battle

Whoever started the battle with the stone wall won. Once the Confederates figured this out, they named one of their own generals “Stonewall,” a tactic that worked with great success until he was fired upon one night by his own men. Apparently, in the dark, they couldn’t tell if he was barefoot or not, and guessed wrong.

The Aftermath

After they won a battle the Union troops would run around and burn everything so that the Confederate troops couldn’t get it back. The Confederates, after one of their wins, would run around the battlefield and steal the shoes and boots off the dead Union troops, unwittingly setting themselves up for disaster in the next battle.

The Ultimate Outcome

The Union side had an inexhaustible supply of troops, while the Confederates had, like thirty guys, and when they ran out of soldiers the South surrendered, and the war ended.

Posted by Indiana Reb on: Sunday 23rd October 2005, 9:21 PM


Looking over the edge…

Ever have one of those adventures where you just can’t wait to get back out there and do it again?

Ya, well this wasn’t one of those.

This is one of those adventures where you pause in a broken exhausted slouch with sweat stinging through torn skin, and you ask yourself.  “Is THIS what heat stroke feels like?”

Or maybe it’s one of those adventures where you say to yourself, “I sure hope I’m squeezing every last drop of fun outta this, ’cause I ain’t NEVER doin’ this  again.”

So anyway, I’m feeling I gotta be a hands-on historian – none of those ivory towers for me, unless of course somebody’s knocked it over or fired a cannon through it, and then I am soooo there!  Indiana Reb, just give me a hat and a whip and I’m ready to go.

And today I’m bashing my way around Battery Dantzler, an old Confederate fort.  I’ll save the useful stuff I learned for another post, ’cause it was way wicked, but anyway, if you don’t know anything about Battery Dantzler is a bunch of old dirt way up high on a ridge.

Precipice, actually.

Call it a cliff.

Now, look at the above picture.  There’s nothing in there  Just weeds and stuff.  Ya, that’s Battery Dantzler.  All heat and underbrush.

But I want to see the James River down below, like you can see in the picture below of the battery in it’s glory days.

Battery Dantzler

The river is like, way, way down below.

But I want to see it.

But the underbrush is so thick, I can’t get a good look at it.

So I peer over the edge of the precipice.

Well, there isn’t really an edge, it just kinda slouches over the edge and drops away into green brush.

Way down below.

So I’m thinking, maybe I should go for it.

Now, I think my lack of affinity for heights is well documented on this site.  Less well known, but equally as strong is a decided lack of affinity for snakes as well.  Especially poisonous ones that like heights.  since I’m not too sure what the snakes are like around here, and every time I mention them to someone I get a hideous story about how Aunt Hazel got bit by a snake and her hips fell off, or her brains rotted out through her ears, or some such thing, so I’m understandably hesitant to plunge wildly into those legendary snake pits that lurk in Virginia every two or three feet.

A place where I had enough purchase to actually take a picture…

Now, I cautiously start going down the hill.

Did I say hill?

Precipice then.  If there wasn’t underbrush, I’d be going down this thing all in one go.  It’s steep.  Not straight up and down steep.  Oh no, the kind of steep where you start to slide and pick up speed and bounce every 30 or 60 feet as you plummet to the bottom.  Spreads the damage all around that way.

Fortunately, the underbrush is so dense I can’t see too far.  Of course, this has a down side.


Did I mention Virginia is the world’s leading exporter of thorns?

And not only quantity, but the variety of thorns.  Great stout ones, all the way to little tiny ones on thin flexible wire vines that catch you like a net.  Which is kinda good, kinda not.

At one place, there are no footholds.  I’m stuck.

I think to myself, “What would Danny do?”

Of course, Danny has ropes and safety gear and a helmet.  I’m a little short in that department, although I do have a microfibre towel in my pocket.


I grab some viney rooty things, hold on tight, and jump.


It worked.  I’m able to wedge a foot into some little plant thing growing out of the sheer wall, and I’m good to go.  I figure I’m making these plants’ day – I’ll bet they’ve never seen a human before!

Ha!  Check it OUT!  An old wreck!  Am I the Man or what?!

Half way down, I find a clear spot where I can stop and look out and my heart jumps.

An old wreck!

Sure, it’s not from the Civil War, but who cares?  It’s an old wreck!  Already this journey is worth it!

Ok, so it’s not exactly a clear spot.  It’s a spot where a tree pulled out of the wall and headed crashing off somewhere below.  And frankly,  the dirt”s not too stable, so I start moving again.

At the bottom

About twenty feet above the surface of the water I get stuck.  No way down, so I think “What Would Danny Do?”  I move laterally along the cliff face, and find a spot where if I lie on my back I can slide under the underbrush, and scoot the last little ways on my butt down to the water.

And look, see the picture?  I made it.

Looking up

Now, take a look at the picture above.  Grab your monitor on both sides, and lift it over your head.  Keep looking at the picture.

That’s how I held the camera.

Look up.  Look WAY up.

And don’t kid yourself, you aren’t seeing the whole cliff here.  This is just the bottom thirty of forty feet.

OK, put the monitor down now.  My neck is starting to hurt.

James River

Now, I’m down here, and the heat is remarkably intrusive.

Almost as much as the smell.

Pungent, even.

Did I mention the stench?

Yes, good old Battery Dantzler was built on a meandering river, which means lots of smelly, swampy water.

Nice beach isn’t it?  Slimy rocks for three feet, then straight up.  I don’t think God spent to much time polishing this river on the third day.

It occurs to me that this could be a good place for relics.  Think about it, boats were shelling battery Dantzler up above my head, and some of those shells could have dug into the bank, to slowly work their way out and slide down to the river.

Whole cannon balls.

Big ones too.  Twelve pounders.  24 pounders.  Hey, they put some big cannons on those boats.

I start to break into a cold sweat.  What if I find a 12 round ball of iron?  I can’t carry that back up this cliff.  my camera will be challenge enough.  And a 24 pounder?  Time to stop looking at the ground, or in the water.

Ok, so it’s time to start heading back up.

Not quite a cul de sac…

The way up is easier.  For one thing, I’m lighter.  Most of my exposed skin has been torn off.  I’ve got blood flowing down both arms.  Ok, so it’s not copious, but blood is blood.

And I’m motivated to move fast.  Sweat flowing into open wounds, now that gets ya moving.

Also on the plus side, I’m not worried about snakes anymore.

Ha.  Snakes.  Like I could care. Kill me now.

I come to this one place, there’s no way I can get up there.  I’m looking at it, and I promise myself that if I get past it, and I’m still alive, I’m gonna take it’s picture.  Since most of the stuff I grab to pull myself up with gives way – and not at first pull, but only after I’ve committed ALL my weight to it – I make a climbing stick, jam it into the dirt, and work my way across with that.

Scramble… dirt sliding everywhere… then I reach a stable spot.

I look back, and take the picture above.  But it’s not the right spot, it’s a little farther on, after I could get purchase, but I’m not going back to try again.  It occurs to me I might drop my camera, and have to go back down for it.

I am amazed at the false handholds.  They look strong, they feel strong, but they snap off, or pull out of the shallow dirt too easily.Check out this one – my hand’s got a bit of dirt on it, it’s not some nasty disease, btw.

That tree’s looking good and strong!

Ok, not so strong.  A little thinner here.
Hmmmmm…. less good here.  Nasty split, a little weaker than I wanted.
Ack what’s this?!  Hanging on by a thread?  Not good.Still, Not a whole lot of choices.  I try it anyway.

Turns out to be one of the better handholds yet.

And then, at last, I’m up.  I see the land start to flatten out, and I can stand up without my hands touching the ground in front of me.It was cool, but no way I’m climbing down there ever again.

Unless one of you guys wants to go with me…


Posted by Indiana Reb on: Monday 28th August 2006, 10:07 PM