Sunday, June 19, 2011

Civil War Asides!

The Civil War manifested in Sonoma County as a war between two competing newspaper editors.  The Sonoma Democrat supported the confederacy and the Petaluma Argus supported the Union.  The fierce fighting in print almost led to an actual physical battle after the news of the assassination of President Lincoln in 1865.  Several Petalumans rode to Santa Rosa to wreck the office of the Sonoma Democrat.  Legend has it that when the small invasion force reached the Washoe House Tavern, half-way between the two towns, they stopped for a drink and never did continue their mission!
Civil War in Sonoma County
Santa Rosa was the site of the only casualty when members of the Union Militia got into a skirmish with a volunteer fire company that had confederacy leanings.  Shots were fired and a bullet pierced the window of the Masonic Hall and struck a man causing him to lose sight in one eye.  The gunman was acquitted.

Good friends, Beth and Chris, have just completed an RV rally traveling to many of the Civil War battle sites  around the country, commemorating its 150th anniversary, 2011-2015.  Over our many years of RVing we have visited many locations as well,  like Gettysburg, PA, Fort Sumter near Charleston, SC, and Fort Morgan on Mobile Bay in AL.

My hometown of Durham, NC played quite a pivotal role both before and during the war, being instrumental in shaping national compromise to preserve the Union.  At the time, people here reflected a microcosm of North Carolina’s ambivalence about secession. Free blacks lived much like their white neighbors, some skilled but most just plain dirt farmers, alongside one of the largest plantations in the South.

Our recent visit to the Petaluma Historical Museum was to see the amazing Smithsonian exhibit, Beyond: Visions of Planetary Landscapes.  I'll let the video and slide-show do the talking.  Needless to say it was spectacular.  We then wandered upstairs and learned all the local Petaluma history, thus the Civil War subject!

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