1999 Road Trip: The Civil War


There are several reasons we chose to do an educational Civil War road trip. First of all, is now over one year old and we figured that it was time to try something a little different. We discovered that Saugus Historical Society Vice President was going on a pilgrimage of eastern Civil War sites, and we immediately thought that it was quite appropriate for Memorial Day. Darren graciously agreed not only to let us tag along, but was willing to help us provide commentary to try and help explain what happened at the different sites.

The idea was that we would send pictures and commentary back to Saugus as the trip progressed. That way, it would be possible for viewers to check out our progress as we went along and see what we were seeing, not quite live, but within a day or so.

Our earnest hope is that the road trip will encourage others to journey out to these sites. The Civil War is an important part of our heritage; it's fortunate that it's still possible to view these sites today. Trips down to them can be entertaining, educational, and can be made fairly inexpensively by car. The various Civil War sites are today both pretty and peaceful.

Please let us know what you think of this Civil War feature. Whether or not we ever do something else like this will depend on your opinions.


To accomplish the quick feed back north we used a few different pieces of equipment. We used a digital camera, a Newton, and a laptop. We would take pictures with the digital camera, take field notes with the Newton, do web page assembly on either the Newton or the laptop, and upload everything back to Saugus through a modem on the laptop using ordinary phone lines where ever we could find them. In this manner we wouldn't have to wait for pictures to be developed but could instead send them back almost immediately along with commentary created as we went along.

Theoretically of course we shouldn't need the laptop for this and wouldn't even have to rely on phone lines. Starting back in 1997 people have been doing similar with just digital cameras and Newtons (see for example the famous Tibet / Sepu Kangri expedition) hooking the digital camera up to the Newton and the Newton up to a satellite phone to transfer images to the web. We ran into a problem with getting our particular model of Panasonic digital camera to transfer images directly to the Newton, and using land line phone lines is less expensive and more reliable when they're available in any case, so the laptop solution presented itself as being a quick and easy. The biggest disadvantages with the laptop are size (several pounds versus the Newton's less than a pound and a half), and battery life (a few hours versus over twenty four hours). Neither of these poses a big problem when travelling by car through civilized areas.


We primarily went to five different areas. While there were similarities between them all, each also had its own unique charm. It's reasonable to visit just one site in a given trip in lieu of trying to see all at once. Also, there are numerous other smaller sites in the area that the true aficionado would probably stop to see. Going just slightly further south, it is possible to see the Civil War sites in and around Richmond (Mechanicsville, the "Confederate White House", etc.) and from Richmond it's possible to follow a "radio tour" that tracks Gen. Lee along his final retreat to the eventual location of the final Confederate surrender at Appomatox Court House.

We visited: