In the first installment of this new travel series I told you about the first leg of my trip to Chattanooga. We got as far as the Nantahala Outdoor Center on US 74, which is several miles south of Bryson City.

I continued south along 74 towards my next destination, the town of Murphy. A few miles past the Outdoor Center the two-lane highway ceased to hug the Nantahala River and began to straighten out into gently rolling country.

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As I left the Petersburg National Battlefield, about which I wrote last week, I turned right onto Crater Road. I did not have far to go before I found another site of historic interest – Blandford Church.

I pulled right onto the grounds of the extensive cemetery, drove around a bit, then parked near the church in order to get a photo. Unfortunately the photo turned out rather dark. (I am definitely getting a digital camera before my next trip.) It was evening time and the building was closed for tours for the day, but I later looked up the church on the internet and found some information.

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For four years in the 1980’s I lived within a few miles of the Petersburg National Battlefield Park in Petersburg, Virginia. Being a Civil War enthusiast, I naturally visited it many times during that period. Or so one would think.

Actually, I visited the battlefield only once during all that time, and even on that one occasion I visited only the visitor center.

I decided to remedy that deficiency in my Civil War touring this past February when I took a trip to Baltimore to help my mother celebrate her 90th birthday.

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“Oh, the humanity!” exclaimed news correspondent Herbert Morrison as he watched the conflagration that consumed the airship Hindenburg on May 6, 1937, at the Lakehurst Naval Air Station in Lakehurst, New Jersey.

Morrison was recording a radio broadcast of the landing of the Hindenburg for WLS, a radio station in Chicago. Other news organizations were filming the landing for newsreels. While those who were in attendance anticipated viewing a very rare event, the landing of an airship, no one could have in the least expected that they would be witness to one of the most shocking and dramatic news stories of the 20th century.

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Yes, it is true. I know it is hard to believe, especially since just a few short weeks ago I wrapped up a series of travel articles telling you about my adventures on a trip to Missouri and Tennessee. To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, “There I go again.”

Yes, I am “on the road again,” to quote still another well-known individual. And yes, my gas tank is full and my coffee mug is brimming, and I am raring to hit the road. So let’s go, shall we?

It was back in late September that I started out on my yearly week’s vacation. My destination was Maryland to visit with family, but, as many of you already know, I don’t always take the shortest route to my eventual destination. This time around I decided to amble up the Blue Ridge Parkway and take it as far north as I could before nightfall.

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Over the years as I have traveled to many states and driven thousands of miles, I have visited so many interesting sites that I have even seen fit to pay a second and even a third visit to some of them – places such as the battlefields of Shiloh and Spotsylvania Courthouse.

In the last several travel articles I have been recounting a trip I took this past August to southern Tennessee and southeastern Missouri. As I began heading back toward South Carolina I decided to revisit a few places that I first visited 12 years earlier, on a trip I took in 1997.

One of those places was the small town of Cairo (pronounced Kay-ro), Illinois, which is located at the southernmost tip of the long state of Illinois.

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The graves of Buford Pusser and his wife, Pauline. He walked tall. ~ Photo by Terry M. Thacker
On April 6-7, 1862, tens of thousands of soldiers, both Union and Confederate, fought bravely on the field of battle at a place called Pittsburg Landing, a point on the Tennessee River in southwestern Tennessee. That altercation came to be known as the battle of Shiloh.

In the last installment of this travel series I told you of my most recent visit to Shiloh. This week I would like to tell you about another conflict that took place in the same vicinity a century later.

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General Albert Sidney Johnston, leader of the Confederate forces at the battle of Shiloh, died at this spot on the afternoon of April 6, 1862. - Photo by Terry M. Thacker
If asked to name a Civil War battle off the top of their heads, most people would probably say Gettysburg. Some people might respond with Antietam (aka Sharpsburg), or Bull Run (Manassas) or perhaps even Vicksburg or Atlanta.

The battle of Shiloh would probably not be the first one to come to mind, but it was still one of the most important battles of the war, especially in the western theater. The fighting produced over 23,000 casualties and was the largest battle in the Mississippi River region during the war.

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Birthplace of Robert E. Lee, Stratford Hall, Northumberland County, Virginia.
Although I was born and raised in Maryland, my roots on my mother’s side go way back to early colonial Virginia. I am not a member of the FFV (First Families of Virginia) club, but I am pretty close.

I fell in love with Virginia from an early age, having visited relatives there on a number of occasions while growing up. And, from an early age, I became acquainted with the rich heritage of the Old Dominion state.

In my previous article I was telling you about my visit to two early and very historic colonial brick churches in the eastern part of Virginia. Everywhere you turn, it seems, history lurks about, just waiting to pounce upon the unsuspecting traveler.

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The inside of Christ Church in  Lancaster County, Virgina. - Photo By Terry Thacker
Chesty Puller, about whom I wrote last week, shares a final resting place with some of the earliest inhabitants of colonial Virginia. The graveyard at Christ Church in Saluda, Virginia, contains graves not only on the outside grounds surrounding the building, but also underneath the center aisle of the church as well.

As I mentioned in my previous article, Christ Church is one of the oldest continually operating churches in America. As I was traveling through Virginia on my way to Maryland to celebrate my mother’s birthday, I happened upon an historical marker directing me to the grave of the famous Korean War general, which in turn led me to a fascinating church with a fascinating story, which was provided to me by the rector of the church.

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Lt. Gen. Chesty Puller, USMCAfter awaking the next morning I left the motel and drove to the nearby Shoney’s (Yes, Shoney’s is still in business, just not in the Greenville area.) where I enjoyed the breakfast bar.

After breakfast I headed east along Virginia 10, crossed the James River on I-295 (a magnificent view of the James and surrounding environs) and then hit I-64. When I drove on to the entrance ramp I noticed a curious sight for an Interstate – a closure arm. Yes, it was in the open position, but, if for some reason the authorities wished to close the Interstate to traffic, they could do so. Perhaps its purpose is to close I-64 to eastbound traffic in case a hurricane were to necessitate the use of all four lanes for westbound traffic.

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