September 15, 2019 by Mel
Today was another spontaneous change to our original plans. Instead of driving straight through to Middletown, we decided to go to Winchester. Lee knew he already wanted to go to the George Washington museum but we first went to the Visitor Centre to get our bearings. I’m really glad we did as we found out a lot more of what we could see.
After talking with the guide we drove into Winchester centre and parked up. It was a short walk to the Old Town Mall which housed many different shops and eateries. We hadn’t yet had breakfast and stopped for a spot of brunch before heading to our first location.
We decided to go to the furthest location and work our way back. Furthest out was the Headquarters of Stonewall Jackson. Out of respect, we were not able to take photos in the house so we cannot show you this amazing location from inside. We can only show it from the outside.
The house is steeped in history and had such an atmosphere it was somewhat overwhelming. I can honestly say we were all a bit emotional. The house contained all original furniture and many original artifacts. The tour guide who took us around the house was amazing and there wasn’t anything he didn’t know about the life of Stonewall Jackson. We were shown the actual dinner table and chairs where Stonewall ate with his aids and with his family.
The next room contained various artifacts including a lock of Stonewalls own hair and that of his horse. The room also has many of his own books including the famous bible he carried with him all of the time and his prayer stand. Through this room the guide told us a lot about Stonewalls upbringing and his marriages and the tragedy of the death of his first wife. He told us of the dedication of his second wife and his surviving child.
Across from this room, which would have been the women’s parlour was the main front room. This room was the first room to the right of the front door. In this room was again various artifacts and furnishings, notably a table and chair where Stonewall Jackson sat to write his orders to his men and to his wife. He committed in one letter to his wife that the wallpaper keeps changing colour and she had to come and see it.
We then continued upstairs to the bedroom where he slept and the actual 4 poster bed where he slept and had famously commented that his feet hung out of the end. The first time his wife came to stay in the house Stonewall Jackson was pleased to tell her in a letter he had hung the mirror in the bedroom. When she arrived and seen the mirror she was not impressed as again he kept on hanging the mirrors in the places they stayed too high for her.
We then went into a second bedroom. In here we had one of the biggest surprises. The room housed the very rug that Robert E Lee has paced upon and the sofa where he had taken rest. It felt a privilege to have had contact with these very items.
We then went back down to the kitchen which was an amazingly small area. The original stove was still there along with many utensils and pans etc.
The one main fact we learned was that Thomas J Jackson despised the nickname Stonewall and as anyone should know once you tell somebody you despised something it can become a permanent fixture.
I have to say we were all totally in awe by both the actual items kept and the whole atmosphere of the house. I can not recommend enough going to visit this iconic location. You will definitely not regret it.
Next we went to the George Washington Museum. This was the location where young George had learned life’s lesson. It was again amazing to find the knowledge kept alive through amazing guides and relics. We learned all about his travels and how he went from one position to another by both design and by accident. The actual location was the office Washington had procured in order to fulfil his duties as a surveyor for Lord Fairfax, surveying his immense land ownership. This is where the young George learned his skill as a Surveyor. He kept this property up to and including the French and Indian Wars where he procured other properties in Winchester as well as him having Mount Vernon. George Washington became a very shrewd businessman from the French and Indian Wars and the American War of Independence.
Not far from the town is the area of Kernstown which saw 2 major battles during the civil war. The first in 1862 and the second in 1864. This was the location in 1862, which Stonewall Jackson as a Corps commander saw his only defeat in battle in the American Civil War. Hence the confederate forces withdrew under pressure of a larger union force. The second battle of Kernstown in 1864 saw the Confederate forces under Jubel Early defeat the Union garrison. Although the Union garrison outnumbered the Confederates they believed they were being attacked by a superior force and withdrew back through Winchester. The historical link of the house and the land at Kernstown is that it had been owned by the Fairfax family and surveyed by a young George Washington.
There are many other sites to visit in and around Winchester namely the Patsy Cline house, the Civil War museum, the museum of the Shenandoah valley and the Abrams delight (the oldest house in Winchester) with its own original log cabin.
So there goes another day, we are now chilled, listening to a Country and Western band in the Wayside Inn at Middletown (supposed to be one of the top 10 most haunted hotels in America)…..hopefully we will continue the blog tomorrow……👻
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