Two milestones…and a question for you

It’s worth noting that Mysteries and Conundrums has just passed its first anniversary, which coincided almost exactly with our 100,000th visit to the site. For the latter we are incredibly grateful. The response to M&C has astonished us all–Eric, Noel, and John–and it’s a big reason we have kept at it with as much energy as we have. We thank you for that. We have solved a few mysteries along the way, talked about some fairly profound conundrums and issues, and turned up a fair amount of material that’s new to all of us.  We’ve explored the Kirkland Story, Jackson’s arm (thoroughly), put Lincoln in the Sunken Road (yes, really), and about 100 other topics.  And many of you have made substantial contributions to those efforts. 

In case you’re curious, the five most popular posts in the history of M&C are:

1)  Images of Destruction

2)  Eric’s post on the Medal of Honor winner visible in the famous images taken at Massaponax Church (given its recent date, this has to rank as the most popular ever on a hits per-day basis).

3)  Noel’s Secret Careers of Civil War Photographers.

4)  Sherwood Forest and its Crumbling Slave Cabin

5)  The Eerie Ice House at Federal Hill

Here’s a question for YOU:  what would you like us to tackle going forward?  Any particular sites or themes? 

Many thanks for taking the time to read….

32 thoughts on “Two milestones…and a question for you

  1. Going forward with questions and or issues that interest me reminds me that I’d like to know more about the status of the Confederate Secret Service prior to the incident with the Dahlgren raid? Was it run by or only funded by Judah P. Benjamin? Have you ever written or researched the ‘intelligence gathering’ area of policy? Thanks for whatever attention you are able to focus on this.

    • Ric: Eric is actually working on a post that tangentially deals with the Confederate Secret Service. But I think we’ll readily confess it’s not a topic that falls into our sweet spot. But, let me get with Noel. He knows something about just about everything. John H.

  2. Well, I thoroughly enjoy the blog though at times it sometimes gets a big into the “weeds” although I will surely admit that real history is not for wimps.


    I very much like the maps and the geographical context that is added to many of the posts although it would be easier to do further exploring with Google is the lat/long was provided.

    A Google Map – historical mashup would be awesome.

    that would be a Google Map that shows the history geographically with each historical location having a wiki-like button to bring up the narrative.

    otherwise – there obviously is a lot of work – a labor of love in putting together the entries – and they ARE appreciated!

    thank you!

    • Congratulations on the milestones. Your blog is one of the best available. I would like to see some posts concerning Second Fredericksburg and Salem Church. I also find the posts relating to Spotsylvania very interesting.

      I look forward to another great year!

      • Dave: We have really only done a single post that deals with Salem Church, and little indeed regarding Second Fredericksburg. There are indeed some places tucked away worth talking about. Thanks for the prompt….

    • Larry: Give us a sense of what you mean by getting into the “weeds.” Too much detail? Too obscure? Not relevant? I ask this simply to help us get better at all this… Thanks.

  3. I think it would be interesting to focus for a time on Joshua Lawrence Chamberlin at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania.

  4. Congrats on the milestone! Keep up the posts on the little known sites outside of the battlefiled park boudaries. So many of these are being lost and it is so interesting to see how the local landscape has changed.

  5. This blog is, to my mind, the model for historians going forward. Allowing all the nuances of history to be shared among a global audience. Showing that history is more than just banners and glorious charges.

    Great stuff, I hope that others in the NPS will follow your lead.

    • Carolyn: Thanks much. We’ll also be doing some close looks at the town itself over at Fredericksburg Remembered. Today I started work on a series of posts about slave housing in town–especially surviving slave-related structures. There are fewer than most people think. John

  6. How about a more detailed account of Caldwell’s Brigade assault on Maryes Heights. Also what about locations of the division hospitals for the Dec 13th battle. This is a great blog, love the maps, keep up the good work!

    • Thanks B.W. We will be doing something on Chamberlain, but most people don’t realize the horrific experience of Caldwell’s brigade (worse by far than the more famous Irish Brigade). Doing something along those lines is a good idea.

    • Of all the things we have done, we have probably learned more purely new stuff from Eric’s posts about the evolution of the park than anything. We’re glad to know those posts have gone over well.

  7. Congrats on both sites. I have learned quite abit more about Fredericksburg than from anywhere else. Just last week I was passing over the RT 1 bridge, looked up and finally “saw” Clearview for the first time.

    • Stephen: Thanks for being such a regular reader and commenter. Our hope is to help people notice things they may have missed over the years, and your view of Clearview is the sort of thing that fulfills those hopes. Thanks much.

  8. John, Eric, and all the Staff:
    A very close friend of mine who for me is the Yoda of the Civil War told me about your sight back in January of this year and since then I have become a Psycho on visiting it!! Every time a new post comes out I find myself dropping whatever I am doing and going to the site to see what is new!! Early on I wondered what the significance was of the home page picture and this past weekend “Yoda” took me on a walking tour of the Battle of Fredericksburg and he took me to the site of the Ice House (kinda made me shiver now that I know why the picture is so significant)!! I really enjoy the site and please keep the great material coming!! Thank all the staff for their superior efforts!!

  9. Thanks for the great work. Would Kelly’s Ford be too far for you all to investigate? I think it would be nice to learn a bit more on this famous crossing.

    Again, thanks for the effort.

    Eddie Koebke

    • Eddie: I have had had in my brain for quite a while an intermittent series of posts on the river crossings of the Rappahannock and Rapidan, starting at Rappahannock Bridge and moving downstream to Fredericksburg. Your comments suggests that maybe it’s an idea worth pursuing…. Many thanks. John H.

  10. I also would be really interested in some detail on Caldwell’s assault as well as a closer look on the strategies of all the assaults. For example, most maps show a drastic angle when they advanced to the stone wall. Keep up the great work. Love the attention to detail.

  11. I am new to this blog and thoroughly enjoy it. The amount of information presented and knowledge of the subject matter from both the authors and commenters is outstanding.

    I would like to see future posts cover the following:

    1. The breakthrough on the Confederate right at Fredericksburg.

    2. Jackson’s wounding site.

    3. More coverage on wartime Falmouth.

    4. Widow Tapp farm

    5. Kenmore during the battle of Fredericksburg. The 124th New York was stationed there and it would be interesting to see an in-depth account.

    6. The fighting on May 18th at Spotsylvania.

    Keep up the great work. Looking forward to another year of enjoyable reading.

    Martin Husk
    Cary, NC

    • Martin: thanks for the suggestions–all of them good, and several of them in our brains already (though that makes it sound like we have this planned out, which we do not. We do what comes to mind or hand). Falmouth is certainly on the list for exploration, as is Kenmore and, more importantly, the images of Union dead near Kenmore. The certitude with which we place Jackson’s wounding is also a great topic for a post. Thanks again.

      • I’d like to add to my list, if that’s allowed.

        7. Site of burials on the Beverly Farm, with a detailed review of the photo of the Beverly house which served as Warren’s Headquarters. Not sure if the are the same as there were two Beverly farms in the area.

        8. II Corps fight at the Po River on May 10th.

        9. Field hospital and burial sites from the battle of the Wilderness.

        That’s it…for now.

        Martin Husk

  12. John,

    You’all are doing great work here, Congrats on your first year.

    One little tidbit that I’d like to know more about is the railroad spur track that the Yankees layed down Princess Anne st. to the foundry (?). What was so important that they needed to do this? What happened to it?


  13. I am new to M&C but love the information. Keep up the excellent work.

    And now my suggestion for a future blog. When I first moved to Fredericksburg, I lived in an apartment at 303 Hanover Street. 303, along with its neighbor 301, is clearly visible in the left background of a photograph taken of Confederates on a demolished railroad tressle sometime in 1862. (The photographer took the shot from across the river; the Presbyterian church is also visible in the shot as well.) The building dates back to the 1820s. I would love to see what information you could dig up on it (pun intended).

    • Jennifer. Are you speaking of the image we covered in this post?
      In any event, the house was the Episcopal Parsonage during the war, and presumably the home of the church Rector Alfred M. Randolph. I know very little more about it than that, I am sorry to say, though I also confess I haven’t done a lot of digging on it either…. What can you tell us about the house from living there? Thanks. John H.

      • I read the Civil War Journal of Spencer Bonsall (he was a hospital steward in the 81st Pennsylvania Inf) and he mentions sleeping in the home of Rev. Alfred Randolph on the night of Dec 13. In fact he says he slept on one of the pianos, and also that the sofas and floors were covered with wounded. The complete name of the book is:”Well Satisfied with My Position, the Civil War Journal of Spencer Bonsall.” edited by Michael A. Flannery and Katherine H. Oomens. Great Book. He also mentions that he and asst surgeon John Houston set up a dressing station close to the battle field in the office of a Dr. A.S. Mason. They would dress wounds there and “send them around the corner to a large dwelling house”. I dont know if The parsonage was that “large dwelling house” or not. The 81st Regiment interests me as I have an ancestor who served in it and was mortally wounded at Fredericksburg on the 13th.

      • Thanks John and BW for the information….great stuff! The house does appear to be in that photo…the one with four chimneys beyond St. Mary’s Church. I fear I know very little about its history however. The inside of it doesn’t give one much of a feel for the history either, as it has been broken up into apartments. The Presbyterian Church purchased it in 2002/2003 and still owns it.

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