Virginia History Part II

Zach – Okay, we’re back for a follow-up of Virginian History. There are a few more tales to be told. With me today is Anna Komemne, Byzantine princess and historian. Then we Boudica, British barbarian rebel that fought against Rome. Next we have Gaspar Correia, conquistador and “historian.”
Gaspar – Why do you always put quotation marks around my title of historian?
Zach – I don’t know what you mean.
Gaspar – Yes you do. Every time I read these posts, you do that.
Zach – I “promise” I won’t do it again.
Anna – And lastly we have Mulan, woman soldier of ancient China.
Zach – Thanks for coming, Alright, let’s get to it because we don’t have a lot of time. To begin, I have a story to tell about the Thornton family of Virginia. They were my ancestors. The Thorntons were a prominent Virginian family with strong links to George Washington, James Madison and Zachary Taylor. A Francis Thorton III (1711–1749) decided to build a house along the Rappahannock River in the land that would become Fredricksburg, VA.

Fall Hill, the mansion and grounds belonging to the Thornton family from 1790 to 2003. Not a bad run. They shoulda just willed it to me.

Zach – The story I’m about to tell isn’t strictly historical, but it is family history and so has a worth to be remembered.
Mulan – Family history is just as meaningful as any other history, regardless if its true or not. The legends that are passed down are often glimpses into the lives of our ancestors.
Anna – I wrote family history. Of course, my family ruled the Byzantine Empire.
Zach – Well, the story goes like this: The Thorntons bought a young Indian girl that had been captured up near the great lakes. In the 1700’s there were still Lakota living around there and this girl was Lakota princess given the name of Katrina. (Or so the story goes.) She was a slender little girl that grew up as one of the household and became nanny to tall the Thornton children.
Boudica – Of course, imperialists enslaving the locals. I believe I’ve heard this story before.
Zach – By all accounts she was very loving and kind and would do anything for the children. When she finally died of old age they buried her under a large boulder by the river, which was one of her favorite spots. We haven’t discovered this site yet. Over the next two hundred years, many of the Thornton children, when sleeping in Fall Hill have reported seeing a slight, dark skinned woman who would silently tuck them in or float into their room to check on them in the middle of the night. No one’s ever reported feeling frightened by her and always say she looked very warm and kind. They say this is the spirit of Katrina who still checks up on the Thornton children.
Anna – Apparently she took her duty very seriously.
Gaspar – But don’t forget the vengeful spirit that lives in Fall Hill!
Zach – There is no vengeful spirit…
Gaspar – But indeed there is!! This ghost is said to reside in the attic where she was murdered by a jealous husband. When one goes into the attic you become a part of the curse and the woman ghost crawls out at night and strangles you with her hair!

Gaspar – I swear its true! She moans and stares at you with her deathly eyes!

Anna – Apparently Gaspar has been watching too many Japanese horror movies.
Zach – As I said, its a family story and has it’s own important part to play in history.
Mulan – Now It is my turn. I return us back to the town of Henricus. (See previous post.) It was a small town in Virginia during the early days of colonization. It was founded in 1611. It also had the first hospital in the New World.

Here is Mt. Malady, the first English hospital in America. Of course, it’s wasn’t as good as our Chinese medicine, but it was all they had.

One can visit Henricus and see actors in period costume that will teach you all about the time and place.

Here is Zach’s brother at Henricus aiming a matchlock musket. You can go and learn how these settlers lived and fought. (more on that later)

Here is Zach’s brother with a large matchlock. They made guns bigger in those days. Notice the armor in the bottom left corner.

The way of warfare in the colonies was different than back in Mainland Europe. In Europe only nobles had swords or full armor. However, in Virginia, every soldier had full armor, sword and musket. This led to all soldiers being armed equally and created a more egalitarian atmosphere among the men. Perhaps this is the origin of American individualism?
Boudica – The reason for this was the native people of course! They would attack quickly and retreat. since they’d attack from all sides, every solder had to be prepared. You couldn’t line up in cute little lines. This meant every soldier had to be protected and ready for anything, with every weapon available. The colonists also had what were called “Targeteers.” This soldiers would use out dated shields and heavier armor and stand in front of the musket men. Often they’d have outdated broadswords or pistols. The large matchlocks in the pictures were also becoming outdated as Europe moved to wheelocks and flintlocks. The reason for this was, the natives fought with primative weapons and in close combat so the colonial troops didn’t need the best. They needed heavy protection, lots of firepower and the most important part…easily repaired. Yes, the old matchlock was easier to repair in the colony where resupply could take months and even years.
Mulan – Boudica, there’s something about the matchlock that I think you’d appreciate. The matchlocks, when unable to reload, could be gripped by the barrel and used as a vicious club. When the natives got their hands on these guns, they loved the club design so much they copied the basic shape and created the “gunstock club.”

See the basic matchlock shape of the club? As awesome and well balanced as it was, the Natives thought “you know what would be cooler?”
“What’s that?”
“We stick a giant freaking spike on it!”
So they did.

Zach -Here’s a modern gunstock club made by Cold Steel. I own one of these and find the weight and balance to be exceptional. When I hold it I really want to hit something…oh…that didn’t come out right.

Mulan – As you can see, they waged war in a very different manner than the Europeans. Outdated muskets, shields and heavy armor.
Gaspar – Until they found the wooly mammoths that still roamed the New World. The colonists would mount and ride the mammoths into battle and armor the mammoths like primitive tanks. That was truly how wooly mammoths became extinct.
Anna – Gaspar. It was much too hot for mammoths in Virginia. That’s of course, assuming that they hadn’t been dead for thousands of years.
Gaspar – And that’s why they died. The heat was too much for them.
Zach – So, Japanese ghosts and wooly mammoths aside, I hope you enjoyed this little tid-bit of Virginian history!


2 comments on “Virginia History Part II

  1. Steve says:

    Gaspar’s insights are priceless. I look forward to reading “The World as it Really Was” by Gaspar “The biggist liar in history” Correia.

  2. Desert Rat says:

    An old, ghostly mansion in Virginia owned by the Thorton family?

    Looks like I now have a great visual for your book, Behind the Shroud.


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