At Butte College, students and I have begun work on a Civil War project. We’re using the University of Virginia’s digital archive collection called Valley of the Shadow. In teams of three or four, students are to put together a podcast that tells the story of just a single family who experienced America’s most bloody conflagration: the war between the states. What I have done here is to post a partial podcast, as well as the transcript that goes with it. I do so in hopes that studentsvalley of the shadow will reference this space often: learning how to cite sources, how to integrate music, how to edit primary materials to their essentials, the terrific value inherent in pauses, and for inspiration – or at least to provide a benchmark that students will want to emulate, and in doing so, outdo their prof! My daughter Sarah (age 13) plays the part of “Addie.”

PODCAST:

TRANSCRIPT:

Narrator:

Hi. This podcast was part of a project, a history project, actually. Mr. Krulder, our history teacher here at Butte College, told us on the first day of class… that he wanted all of his students to be historians, well, at least for the semester. He said that historians do three things: they ask questions, they research, and they share the results of their research. This podcast on America’s Civil War combines elements of all of this. Our group researched just one particular family, just one, and their experiences during America’s most destructive and bloody conflict, the War Between the States. Information on this family came from the University of Virginia’s digital archives called Valley of the Shadow. You can find this site yourself at valley dot lib dot Virginia dot e-d-u… From this site we were able to access census information, war records, diaries, letters, newspaper accounts, and so much more. The family we researched were from Staunton, Virginia, a small town in the Shenandoah Valley in the county of Augusta. In 1860, the Garber family farmed a little over 120 acres.[1] Here they raised mostly hogs, but the farm also included some brick works and a small foundry.[2] Albert and Mary Garber had six children: the oldest was their son Asher, a registered machinist. Asher was 26 when the Civil War began. Then there was Michael, Martha, Thomas, Katherine, and finally little Ellen at the age of seven. This story follows mostly the account of the war according to Thomas. He was 14 in the 1860 Census. So here’s our story, the Garber Family and the Civil War.

Narrator:

Initially Virginian’s in Staunton resisted the call for secession. But the shots fired at Fort Sumter in South Carolina in April of 1861, followed by President Abraham Lincoln’s call for men and arms to put down the uprising, forced Virginia’s hand. Newspapers in Augusta County quickly pledged their support to the Confederate cause.

Newspaper: Staunton Spectator

The same patriotic fires which glowed in the bosoms of their noble ancestors, in 1776, burns brightly now upon the altars of the hearts of the brave and chivalric sons of Augusta. This county, we have no doubt, will send more soldiers to the field than any county in the State… Staunton Spectator, April 23rd, 1861.[3]

Narrator:

The outbreak of hostilities at Fort Sumter had immediate affects upon the family of Albert and Mary Garber. Their three sons, Asher, age 26; Michael at age 19; and Thomas, all of 15, quickly looked to enlist on the side of the Confederates. Asher Waterman Garber enlisted on the 17th April, only days after shots were fired at Fort Sumter.[4] He joined the Staunton Artillery as a 2nd Lt. His brother Michael also joined the Staunton Artillery, becoming that company’s First Sergeant.[5] Young Thomas, however, eager to join the cause, was initially rebuffed in his efforts to find a regiment.[6] Nevertheless, only about six months into the war, the Garber family was beginning to feel its full effects. From 14-year old Katherine Garber – nicked-named “Addie” – to her brother Thomas at a remote camp still looking for a regiment to join, we have a short listing of some of the unexpected inconveniences brought about by this war between the states.

 Addie:

Tommie if you ever want those three dollars I asked you for at Xmas… send me word and you shall have them. I never intend and never so intended spending them. I only asked for them to keep you from spending them in some useless thing which you would not want. Perhaps someday you’ll need three dollars little as it now may seem.

Pa got two hogs and Ma is busy making sausage and cutting them up. Don’t it seem queer just to have two hogs at a butchering? We killed our poor little calf Friday which was a great distress to Nellie.

And now my distress is where I will get an envelope. I really cannot raise but one… and that has a United States postage stamp on it. Good bye now my dear brother please write soon to your sister.

Addie  

Jan 19th 1862: Staunton, Virginia[7]


[1] Augusta County, Virginia, 1860 Agricultural Census, Valley of the Shadow: Two Communities in the American Civil War, Virginia Center for Digital History, University of Virginia (http://valley.lib.virginia.edu/ag_record?q=db:agr_aug_60 AND id_num:849).

[2] Augusta County, Virginia, 1860 Manufacturing Census, Valley of the Shadow: Two Communities in the American Civil War, Virginia Center for Digital History, University of Virginia (http://valley.lib.virginia.edu/manu_record?db:man_aug_60 AND name:garber AND id_num:60).

[3] http://valley.lib.virginia.edu/news/ss1861/va.au.ss.1861.04.23.xml

[4] Augusta County, Virginia, Soldiers Records, Valley of the Shadow: Two Communities in the American Civil War, Virginia Center for Digital History, University of Virginia (http://valley.lib.virginia.edu/dossier_record?q=db:dossiers_augusta AND id_num:29910).

[5] Augusta County, Virginia, Soldiers Records, Valley of the Shadow: Two Communities in the American Civil War, Virginia Center for Digital History, University of Virginia (http://valley.lib.virginia.edu/dossiers_search_results.html?q=db:dossiers_augusta AND last:garber AND first:michael).

[6] We learn by letters that Thomas Garber joined a cavalry unit from Warren County, VA, but not until August of 1862. See, http://valley.lib.virginia.edu/papers/A0806.

[7] http://valley.lib.virginia.edu/papers/A0803

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