Tag Archives: Virginia

Update on Excavations in the Great Dismal Swamp

New archaeological excavations at the Great Dismal Swamp, near my hometown in Virginia, continue to yield fascinating finds, highlighting the world of run-away slaves and the Underground Railroad.

I have written about the excavations in two previous posts: “Archaeology in the Great Dismal Swamp” and “Continued Excavations in the Great Dismal Swamp.”

This month’s Archaeology Magazine highlights the season’s findings including solid evidence of human occupation (to support earlier historical documentation of the events) including postholes for housing, rubbish pits, and interesting portable human artifacts.

To read more about these findings, see the article “Letters from Virginia – American Refugees” in this month’s Archaeology Magazine.

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The Battle of Bull Run

This month’s Smithsonian Magazine highlights the Battle of Bull Run (or as my kin would call it, the Battle of Manassas). The battle was the first significant skirmish of the American Civil War and highlighted the realities that the war would not be quick won or easily fought.

Initially in the presence of cheering crowds that had gathered for the ‘entertainment,’ the spectators quickly realized the horrors they witnessed.

Read the story of Bull-Run and the beginnings of America’s bloodiest war in the Smithsonian Magazine Article: “The Battle of Bull Run: the End of Illusions.”

Museum Restoring USS Monitor’s Engine

The Battle of the USS Monitor & the CSS Virginia

The Mariner’s Museum in Newport News, Virginia is currently working to restore and reconstruct the innovative engines of the USS Monitor. The USS Monitor was one of the first ironclad naval vessels in the United States and was constructed to confront new Confederate naval technologies that were being employed to break the Union blockade. Most famously, the USS Monitor clashed with the CSS Virginia (formerly USS Merrimack) in the first battle involving ironclad ships in Hampton Roads, Virginia. While officially the battle was a standstill, the Monitor was successful in that it prevented the CSS Virginia from breaching the Union blockade.

In a brutal storm in 1862, the Monitor sunk off the coast of Cape Hatteras in the notorious “Graveyard of the Atlantic.” The wreck was rediscovered in 1973 and declared a protected national landmark in 1983. You can read about that expedition in National Geographic’s article: “Civil War Wreck Rises Again: Restoring the Monitor.” This month’s National Geographic highlights the efforts of the Mariner’s Museum to reconstruct and restore the innovative engines of the ill-fated ship in this article: “Monitor’s Innovative Engine Being Restored at Virginia Museum.”

Archaeology in the Great Dismal Swamp

Archaeologists in the Great Dismal Swamp (right where I grew up) are researching and exploring the swamp area that served as a refuge for run away slaves and those operating on the underground railroad.

The swamp, originally 2,000 square miles of wetland, was the ideal hiding place for those looking to escape slavery or life outside of the norms of society.

Since 2001, Sayers has been researching and exploring the presence of maroons (African-Americans who permanently escaped enslavement) and other communities in the swamp’s approximately 200 square miles of undeveloped, densely wooded wetlands in southeast Virginia and northeast North Carolina.

Read more about the research in this Science Daily article