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Exploring Civil War history in the Neck

Posted on Wednesday, June 14, 2017 at 9:55 am

A crowd of more than 75 people came to the Northumberland Public Library in Heathsville Sunday afternoon to learn about the Northern Neck during the War Between the States, also called the Civil War although there was, as an old lady once noted, “nothing civil about it.”

Jim Russell, Reeves Hardy and John Frye talked about why the men of the Northern Neck enlisted in Confedrate service, what they enlisted in and where the enlistments took them and how they subsited during the conflict.

Russell, who has an abiding interest in the war, brought a saber that a great uncle had taken from a Yankee to the colloquium. He pointed out that by the time the war erupted in 1861 the Northern Neck had little use for slaves, the land having played out, and, although the war may have been over slavery, the men of the Northern Neck didn’t go to war to protect slavery. They went out of “a fear of loss of independence…They were steeped in independence,” Russell said. He noted that the first and last presidents of the Continental Congress were from the Northern Neck as were three of the first five presidents of the United States. The people of the Northern Neck “feared a strong central government.”

In fact, Russell noted, Virginia was torn nearly 50-50 on whether to secede and didn’t until after President Abraham Lincoln following the secession of more southerly states, put up a blockade, including on the Potomac River.

For full story pick up a copy of the June 14 edition of the Northumberland Echo