Sign up for the Civil War… it is Virginia

Robert E. Lee is still being dragged down by America’s divisions. It may be 2017, some 153 years after the end of the Civil War but the South’s dashing and brilliant Civil War commander is currently being pulled this way and that as liberals look to tear down his statue in Virginia and locals fight to protect it.

Just which way to turn?

It was a dilemma that Lee himself wrestled with when he had to choose whether to defend the Union or protect his native Virginia back in 1861.

After much soul-searching in his study right here in Arlington House he came to the only decision he could, he could not bear arms against his own family and his fellow Virginians, and reluctantly had to resign his commission and turn down Abraham Lincoln’s offer to lead the Union forces.

And what was just as heart-wrenching for his wife Mary to turn his back on their beloved Arlington House.

Lee’s house is the ideal place to start with Virginia. It has been immaculately restored and is at the heart of the American story.

Lee married into American royalty, or as close to royalty as America gets, in Mary Washington Custis, a direct descendant of the Father of the Nation, George Washington, himself a Virginian, whose own majestic home Mount Vernon is a must visit, as is Thomas Jefferson’s beloved Monticello, both of which should be taken on a Virginia History tour.

In Virginia, you really do feel part of history which is why I’m heading here, to the South, to enlist.

Ben Lomond is an interactive restored Civil War hospital where you can play dress up and are encouraged to touch, smell and listen to the cries of the injured and lame.

I must write home to reassure my loved ones that all will be well.

I must confess at this juncture that drink had been taken, Virginian craft beer, brave Civil War soldiers would have done the same.

The difference is that I am on a Battlefields and Brews tour out of Washington.

I don my uniform, cap, those old wire spectacles and the air of a Civil War soldier and sit down at the bureau.

Dear Sarah,

I write home to inform you that I have enlisted.

I will send on my renumeration.

Look after the children until I return.

And trust in God and our just cause,

Your devoted husband,

James Joseph

I pick up my rifle and take aim. The only shots here are for the camera.

On Manassas battlefield, the shots were real and maimed and killed.

At the first Battle of Manassas, the first of the four-yea war, there were nearly 5,000 casualties and losses, half the number for the Patriots over the entire Revolutionary War, Over the entire Civil War three-quarter of a million died.

The American Civil War is often considered to be the first modern war, the first war where long lines of trenches were dug, a precursor of The Great War.

A war is still being fought in Virginia today 153 years after the last shot but now it’s a war of words.

Virginians treasure their warriors and their statues. I stand with two ‘Confederate soldiers’ on Manassas battlefield next to commander ‘Stonewall’ Jackson.

And I get the feeling that neither he, nor his friends are for moving.