Farewell, Dear Readers!

May 30, 2015 (Saturday)

may30musteredout

On this date I bid you, dear readers, a very fond farewell. For the past (nearly) five years, I have sat myself down each day, researching and composing, detailing in writing whichever given day of the Civil War, 150 years prior. It has been a hell of a ride and, though trying, difficult and, if I’m being honest, at times incredibly weird, I do not regret a day of it.

I started this project in August of 2010. Then, having an interest in the Civil War, I had convinced myself of a few common and understandable misconceptions. First, I believed that the war was not really about slavery. I believed that there could have been multitudes of black Confederates. I thought Lincoln a tyrant, and his Emancipation Proclamation meaningless. I held that while some slaves were treated poorly, that many more were not in such bad conditions as our history books tell us. I believed, in short, that the South was right.

I was so very wrong.

It did not take long for me to change my thoughts on all of these matters. Even before the first shot was fired at Fort Sumter, after reading the declarations of secession, which state slavery as the main and ultimate cause of the Southern rebellion, I had begun to reconsider my position. And since that time, my opinions have evolved with the study of such primary sources.

Across these nearly five years, I’ve been accused of ‘Yankee sympathies’ by a small minority of readers still clinging to the idea that the South should have won. I quickly began to understand just how preposterous my ideas been when I was among their number. It is not unlike rooting for a football team to win a Super Bowl that they had lost 150 years ago. It’s absurd, pointless, and a disgrace to the memory of those who fought – whichever side they had taken.

What is neither absurd nor pointless is the study of the Civil War. To all, from the Southern diehards to the Yankees in Massachusetts, I urge you to study history by first breaking the chains that bind you to your heritage. History should not be concerned whatsoever with our sentiments, our likes and dislikes. It does not care who our favorite general is or to which regiment our great-great grandfather belonged. And while you can certainly honor your ancestors and your country and states with all your heart, I have found that history is best studied with your head.

Be willing to let go of your prejudices and your notions as to what you believed happened (or should have happened). Shy away from so-called scholars whose ax to grind is writ large even on the back cover of their vanity press paperback. Seek instead timely primary sources as much as possible, and learn from historians who do likewise. We owe this to ourselves and our collective heritage.

These past five years have been wonderfully difficult. Much has happened in my own life across that span. While getting engaged and married were the obvious, there was much other change as well. We moved into Seattle proper. I took up the hobby of film photography. We traveled across the country a few times. I’ve made new friends, reconnected with old ones, and still work at the same place as I did when I started (I’m a screen printer).

I’ve been asked what I planned to do after this project is complete. In all honesty, I say ‘nothing’. I’ve worked about two hours each day on this blog, and I think I’ll simply enjoy the summer. For those interested, I publish a blog for my film photography as well as one for my J.R.R. Tolkien studies. I’ve done both for the past couple of years, and with the closing of this work, I don’t plan to really expand either, and will probably take a break from both. Free time it is, then!

And so, dear ones, it’s my pleasure to thank you for following this project, and to effectively muster you out. May you make as good of citizens as you made readers. I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve, etc. Still, give yourselves three cheers and a tiger!

Hugs & Kisses,
Eric

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83 thoughts on “Farewell, Dear Readers!

    1. And thank you for reading! The 5th Minn project that you’re doing – I wish I would have known before now! It looks like great fun! If I were ever to go back to a project similar to this one, I’d pick a brigade or division and follow them. It’s much more personal.

  1. I have to say I will miss your daily work more than you can possibly know. You have done an excellent job with this and I have learned so very much . You deserve a break. It is well earned. We’ve never met, but I feel as though I’m losing a friend. I hope at least the site remains on the web and we can go back to revisit it.
    Enjoy your summer.

    1. Thank you! Thank you so much! With this project ending, it really feels … weird. I definitely need the break, but I have no idea what I’ll do with all my time! That’s not entirely a bad thing, of course. .. πŸ™‚

  2. What a great site this has been for the last several years. I have been waking up,every morning and reading the daily posts. You have a great knack of telling a really good story through the actual words of the participants. I am really going to miss the morning stories…..A job well done….best to all your future endeavors….Ed Sargus.

    1. Thank you !And extra thanks for the comment on the writing itself. I know that sometimes it suffered (and sometimes I totally phoned it in), but 95% of the time, I was really trying to push myself to be a better writer.

  3. Eric. Magnificent job. Kudos and thanks for your final post. It was all about slavery. Thanks again and sit on the beach for a while and take it easy. Cheers. SR

    1. Ahh the beach! Hopefully this summer. I’m on the West Coast, so the beaches aren’t nearly as fun as, say, New Jersey or Maryland. But a beach of some kind is definitely needed!

  4. Sir. As a most frequent reader of you posts and commentary, I beg to differ with yout opinion that you should resign this matter and no longer published.

    As you stated…Quote.. I have found that history is best studied with your head. un-=quote.

    Without such stimulating and informative posts, how can anyone do such?

    Please reconsider.

    Thank you and God Bless

    1. Thank you so very much! Your objection is noted and… overruled! πŸ™‚ I would really love to continue all through reconstruction, but a) it’s a tangled mess that I really don’t fully understand and b) I’m utterly exhausted. This project was like sprinting in writing form. I loved it, but gracious, it was tiring!

  5. Thank you again for all of the time and effort you put into this series. I (along with many others) will miss waking up and running to read your latest dispatch. While the New York Times had a similar offering (Disunion), it did not match the depth and breadth of yours. Take a well deserved break, though there is a part of me that would’ve liked to have you do a similar series on WWI which took place a mere 100 years ago today.
    Thanks and good luck on your other ventures.

  6. You will be missed. Yours was what I read first thing when I got home and opened my computer. I feel like you have been reading the news to me each day. Too bad we never met. I live just north of Seattle and grew up on the eastside. Steve in Burlington, WA

    1. Thank you! I would always write as soon as I got home from work. Even before eating dinner. When I wrapped up the writing portion (a month or so ago), I had no idea what to do with my time, and even now I just sort of wander around aimlessly. I most certainly need another project. It’s great to hear from another PNW’r. There were a small handful reading along, but we were certainly in the minority!

  7. Thank you so much for your herculean efforts over the past years! This has truly been a daily delight for me. Enjoy a well-earned respite!

  8. Thank you for your incredible devotion to this blog. To do this every day for five years straight is amazing. I will miss these entries in my feed every morning.

    1. Thank you! And believe it or not, I already miss writing and researching. I have a feeling that I’ll really miss this.

  9. Wow! For the last four-plus years, I wake, stretch, check the weather and check CWDG.
    Because of you I think about the War more, more deeply and differently than I did before Lincoln’s election.
    Your posts would make a great publication, like E.B. Long’s “Civil War Day by Day” but personal, longer and with humorous (attempts at?) captions of photos.
    I will be looking for you to renew and update your great work come the bicentennial commemoration in 2060.
    Can’t thank you enough – Joe

  10. I’ve been reading this blog since day one! Haven’t missed a day. Maybe American Revolution next. By the way the final sea battle was on June 22, 1865, by the Confederate raider CSS Shenandoah, in the Bering Strait, more than two months after General Robert E. Lee’s surrender of the Confederate Army.

    1. Thanks for sticking around! Sometimes it feels as if I’ve not even been reading/writing since the beginning. So much has changed.

      I would have loved to have covered the Shenandoah – and the whole of the Navy better. I really wish I could have.

  11. As a grandson of a CW Vet, I’ve always enjoyed studying the war. Every morning I read your latest entry while having my coffee. I made it to five 150th celebrations of battles the 16th WI was involved in. Four years later I feel a little of what the soldiers must have felt. Tired from the daily activity and all the travel, but knowing I’ll really miss it now that it’s over! Your daily posts have added immensely to my knowledge and enjoyment of studying the conflict. You, and your posts, will be missed. Enjoy your rest, you’ve earned it!

    Jim

    1. Thank you so very much!

      A huge regret of mine is that I wasn’t able to make it to any of the 150th events. Living in Seattle, we don’t exactly have readily available CW sites. Sure, we’ve got a CW-era fort or two (I’ve been to both), but nothing more. I really wish I could have made it to something – even something small.

  12. Eric. Thank you for completing this project. I started off every day with the CWDG and loved the emphasis on primary sources. I thought your description and telling of the assassination of Lincoln was innovative and one of your many high points. Thank you for listening to my revisionist opinions about Benjamin Butler. I am also a Tolkien fan and am happy to hear about your other blog. I’m checking into it. I hope when you and your wife undertake another cross country trek you will visit us in Belfast, Maine. You can learn about our project at http://www.thegameloft.org. Finally, to pick up on Bilbo’s comments, we think we would like to know you better!

    1. Thank you! Especially thanks for the props on the Lincoln death. I struggled for a long time to figure out how to write it. The best put version of it that I’ve come across is from Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter (seriously – check out at least that section of the book). I wanted to do something like that, but obviously not that. The day before writing it, I noticed that Robert Lincoln had a mostly-forgotten and very small role in the whole thing. And what’s better, John Hay did as well – so there was a good primary source! I was thrilled!

      I really need to start digging back into my Tolkien blog. I’m taking the Silmarillion page-by-page, two or three times a week. At least, I was until I wandered away and summer distracted me greatly.

      If we ever get to Maine (next year or the next?), the Game Loft really seems like a worthy stop. I read what you’re doing there and it really is important and amazing.

      Oh! and you might want to check out my Gettysburg posts if you haven’t already. I’m pretty sure I blatantly swiped a few of Tolkien’s lines. I was reading some of the battle scenes from Unfinished Tales at the time and I was a bit more than influenced. I wouldn’t exactly call it plagurism.. but then, why would I? πŸ™‚

  13. Eric, thank you very much. I have learned so very much these past four plus years and never have I enjoyed it more. I’m a great grandson of a 6th Mich volunteer, but have lived most of my adult life in the South. It has given me a great perspective on the different viewpoint of the two very different parts of our beloved country and has made this experience all the more fun. BTW, I had noticed the metamorphosis in you as it was happening. I give you credit for being very big about telling us, your devoted readers. Your fan and friend forever, RL McBride Foat Wuth, Texas

    1. Thanks so much! And thanks for noticing. If I would have started the blog a few years prior to 2010, my rebel colors would certainly have shown. Fortunately, in the build up to the start of the project, I became convinced that primary sources would a) be the best way to go and b) support my opinion. I was half right!

  14. Thank you so much for this intimate day by day reenactment of a war still being debated and occasionally fought 150 years after. It was so enlightening and my first read every morning. I find it sad that many still cling to the fiction that the war was about “state’s right” rather than about wanting the right to enslave a race. I’m sorry you can’t delve into the mess that was Reconstruction.
    Thank you again for your very successful diary. Enjoy your hard earned rest!

    1. Thank you so much! I think people cling to it because it’s really a nice idea. Nobody wants to believe that their great-grandfather fought, killed and maybe even died to preserve slavery. It would be much nicer to believe that it was political or a “rich man’s war/poor man’s fight”. Sadly, the historical evidence for such an idea simply isn’t there. It’s a real shame, too.

  15. One of your long-time readers just put me onto your blog and I’m looking forward to reading, so consider this: you may have finished writing today, but the blog still has a life ahead of it. Now I’m off back to post one.

  16. Thanks so much, I first found your blog while I was deployed to Iraq in 2011 and it has carried me through another deployment in Afghanistan last year.This was one of the best ways I was able to, at least for a few moments, get away from the everyday responsibilities and just enjoy a straight-forward daily dose of the civil war. Take care and best wishes for your future.

  17. Thank you so much for all of the well researched and wonderfully written articles. When you first began the Gazette, I think I expected each day to offer a few borrowed headlines and a copied-and-pasted paragraph or two. I realized very quickly that such was not the case and then I feared you had bitten off more than any man could chew and that the Gazette would cease publication long before war’s end. It wasn’t long, however, before I was feeling guilty for ever doubting you. Your daily posts not only reported the events of the day but often tied together far flung actions in a way that showed their interrelationship. You did the same with sequences of events whose connections were not always obvious. Insight without craft can be wasted and craft without insight can leave the reader entertained but not the least bit informed. Your combination of both craft and insight continued right through this final post. I send three cheers and a whole ambush of tigers your way.

    1. Denny! You and me both! Originally, that was the plan. Just a few blurbs and we’re done. But then it just went insane. Don’t feel bad about doubting. I really doubted too. And I nearly gave it up several times.

      Thank you so much for the craft/insight compliment. I really really tried to give both.

  18. This blog of yours has captured me for the last few years. Now I need to go back and read the early entries, written before a friend introduced me to your effort. You did a fantastic job, in my opinion. I also believe that as valuable as the whole work is, your confession and explanation in this last entry is most impressive. This is the value of really studying history, turning over the stones left by those who lived the times. Like science, history is key to our hope of truly understanding our world and our place in it. Thank you. Thank you a lot.

    1. Thank you! I really started to approach history as science in that, like science, history doesn’t (or shouldn’t) care what I believe happened. I can believe that it wasn’t about slavery, etc all I want, but it doesn’t make it true.

  19. Eric–I knew this day was coming. I wish it wasn’t here so soon. Even your “three cheers and a tiger” reminds me how much I have grown to like you and yours.

    I had no idea you believed all that Confederate crap, so good job hiding that! It is just heartwarming to know that historical study is valued and validated, and I am proud of you for your journey, and its accompanying truthseeking. All your final thoughts are correct, imho. My own journey still has a thesis to write, but it is gratifying that the methods by which I learn can be repeated outside the classroom.

    Please keep in touch, dear friend. I will suggest that perhaps you could do the occasional book review–and I will send you mine when it comes out. I still plan to buy your books, so we will be in touch.

    All my love!
    Meg Thompson

    1. Meg! Thank you so much for reading and commenting and all of the encouragement!

      I totally believed all that crap. I really wanted it to be true. It’s just a nice thing to believe, really. It wasn’t about race or hatred or slavery – it was just different cultures and dreams or whatever.

      I’ve sadly never been one for classrooms. I wish that weren’t so. There’s so much I’d like to have done within academia. And definitely send along your book! I really can’t wait to read it! I’m not sure I’ll do reviews or anything. I’d like CWDG to stand on its own as it is. But, you know… we’ll see. πŸ™‚

  20. Thank you so very much for the commitment it took to put together such a great series. As someone with an MA in History specializing in the South I couldn’t agree more with what you say here. While many in the South sincerely felt they were right they just…weren’t…and history has proven that. Thank you once again for a job well done and enjoy your well earned vacation and good luck with whatever is next for you.

    1. Thank you for reading! And thanks for the comment. Not being from the South, I don’t have that in-born drive to defend it (and even so, my heart got all fluttery for “the Cause”). It’s nice to see that many have abandoned the notion without abandoning the study of history.

      Thanks!!

  21. Thank you…masterful job…you are granted amnesty provided you return to your home laptop and promise not to blog again on the Civil War…instead publish a good book for all to read
    We will miss your daily comments.

    1. I’ll take you up on the amnesty bits, but the book? Egads, no! I fear my free time will simply eat into all of my work time. Just as it should be! πŸ™‚

      Thanks so much!

  22. Hey man, nice shot….good shot man.
    I look forward to checking out your Tolkien blog. Studying Tolkien myth is like studying the Civil War, it’s a vast and formidable subject. Thanks again for the last 4 yrs of your hard work.

    1. Thanks so much for reading!

      Studying Tolkien is a lot like studying history. Especially when you delve into the rough drafts and early revisions of the Silmarillion. It’s not as rewarding as studying history, but it’s every bit as fun. (and time consuming).

  23. Eric — like the other commenters, I joined late (in 1863) and don’t have any connection to you apart from having this wonderful website as part of my morning routine. I only hope that you’re able to keep the site up for a while. It’s an amazing amount and quality of work you’ve put out. An astonishing use of the internet’s potential and if you bring this much effort and enthusiasm to your next project and family life you will be terrifically successful. All the best, Mark

    1. Thanks a bunch!

      I should be able to keep the site up pretty well indefinitely. I’d like to move it to a different host as some point, but nobody will notice that but me. So expect it to be around for a long long time.

  24. Thank you so much, Eric, for a wonderful enriching experience. I will miss my daily reading of your posts and the often illuminating articles that brought me back to events that have shaped our current world. Enjoy your rest, and be sure and let us know what’s next on your fascinating journey through history.

    1. Thanks so much! What’s next? Well.. apart from the film photography and Tolkien, not a whole lot. Been thinking about doing a travel blog, though. That would most definitely include history (since that’s pretty much why we travel). If that happens, I’ll let folks know via Facebook.

  25. Eric, thank you so very much for all your hard work on this blog. For the past three years, this has been the first thing I read every morning. What a great way to start each day! I now feel that I understand the Civil War and its pivotal place in American history much better than I ever did before (although it would take a lifetime of study in order to understand it fully) and your writing has been a big part of that. I wish you a restful and relaxing summer, and the best of luck in all your future endeavours.

    1. Thank you so much. That really means a lot to me. I like to pretend that I wrote all of this just for my own general fund of knowledge, but also, I did it in the hopes that some folks would read it and like it a bit. So thank you!

  26. Eric,
    Thank you so very much for this effort. I will greatly miss your efforts on this. It has been part of my daily computer and reading life from near the beginning. It has added greatly to my understanding of the Civil War. I can only imagine the hours and effort you have put into this for our benefit. Best wishes from here on. You deserve enjoying a well-earned vacation.

  27. Like all the others reading your work has been an important part of my day for several years. At age 72 I thought I knew enough concerning the C.W. How wrong I was. Thank you for your Herculean effort.
    Judy

  28. Thank you for all the effort and hard work. Your blog is one I will miss. It is with much disappointment and sadness that I accept your news. I wish nothing but the best for you and can’t thank you enough for what you have accomplished. Take care, enjoy some free time but please, come back to us. Much love and appreciation from one of your biggest fans.

    1. Thank you! I will definitely miss it too. It was such a huge part of my life, and now there’s a CWDG-shaped hole in my heart!

  29. Eric- Bavo! Bravo! Bravo! I began reading your posts in the summer of 2012 while living in Mississippi and exploring the Vicksburg battlefield. It began a daily ritual that continued through to my move to California where I read your posts every morning on the subway to work. You brought such a rhythm to the war. Not only to the battles but to the connective tissue that tied it all together. You did a masterful job of bringing out the humanity of the war-the good and horrific sides. The majesty and the foibles. I am not a CW buff although I love history in general. I think I have gained an understanding of the CW that is beyond its battles and encompasses much of the intricacy and complexity of this tragic period of our history. So, thank you, Eric, for the insight and the entertainment. PS I intend on reading all of the earlier posts that I missed.

  30. What you’ve done is amazing, especially so to a slipshod ADHD handicapped historian like myself who would never have finished the first year, or month. You’ve not only taught yourself (and us) what the Civil War was all about, but you’ve taught yourself the fundamentals of good history: use primary sources, let them tell you the story they’re trying to tell, and write with your head, not your heart (but your heart has to care about being a truthful, truth-full and full-truth historian).

    You certainly deserve a rest, but it would be great if you’d now walk us through Reconstruction day by day. It’s a period about which Americans know much less and have even more misconceptions than the Civil War. Recently I read that the Civil War was not even declared officially over until 1871. The same author suggested that Reconstruction was the continuation of the Civil War by other means–as indeed it has continued until the present day with no end in sight. Sure you won’t reconsider?

    With best wishes,

    Michael Bates

  31. Like the others, of course… Thank you so much! If you go back and review the material you collected, and hire a good editor, there are several books in there, and money to be made. You really should be in contact with an editor, and perhaps a publisher, or be investigating the self-publishing options. Best of luck in your future endevours! A damn good job!

  32. Thank you Eric. I followed along everyday although rarely commenting. It was a wonderful learning experience for all of us. Know that your efforts were much appreciated.

  33. Thank you so much for all the work you have done and presented to us in such a unique way! Like so many others I can’t even begin to tell you how much I will miss CWDG. It seems wrong to think that anyone could be sad because the war is over especially since it’s been over for 150 years… but it was an amazing learning experience and I truly appreciate your dedication! (Still wish you were tackling Reconstruction!)

  34. I will greatly miss my early morning visit to your blog site. I always found something there that I usually didn’t find at any of the other CW blogs I read each day. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with all of us. Good luck as you follow new pursuits.

  35. I am a history (and particularly ACW) nerd who happens to teach senior-level college business students about corporate social responsibility (but I really believe my responsibility is to prepare them for “The Real World”). I just want to say that your final post perfectly encapsulates the themes of many of my business lectures: always be aware of and learn from history, but also always be aware of “source bias” in looking for “true” facts, not just historic statements characterized as facts. You’ve provided many with a great “life lesson” during your journey. Enjoy you time away from time-constrained learning.

  36. Thanks I have read your post for four years. It has been enlightening. Did you ever make it to Glorietta Pass? Later that summer I visited my brother in El Paso. He took me there and we also saw Ft Craig. Ft Craig I found more interesting.
    Larry Heiney

  37. I have read your posts first thing (almost) every morning for most of the time you have been posting. I think you may wish to find a way to get these published in a way that would enable their use in education. Your work is valuable, and appreciated. Thank you. I think some university should be offering you a position teaching history!

  38. Hi Eric,

    Thank you for this grand effort. I bounced around a few similar sites five years ago before settling on yours. I have thoroughly enjoyed the results of your work with original and near-original sources. I believe that you fairly portrayed all the good, the bad, and the ugly. I will sorely miss my daily dose of ACW history, from which I have learned a great deal. Your dedication to this task was amazing. I am glad that you will leave the site up, as I plan to read through it again. I wish you and yours the very best.

    Warm regards,
    Bob

    1. Thanks! I tried my best to stay as balanced as I could. In November, the posts will start up again with the 155th (if all goes according to plan).

  39. If only more people were willing to abandon long held beliefs in the face of clear evidence like you did. I never would have known you ever thought the south was right. Very impressive. This blog usually started the first part of my work day for most of the last 4+ years. Thanks!

  40. I enjoyed the past two years… I started following about just before the Battle of Gettysburg (July, 1863).

    You did not cover all the CW but the parts you covered were most entreating.

    Hopefully, you restart the Cycle so I can be more adverse to the conditions of 1860 and the boiling caldron of the USA just before hostilities commenced.

    I am a CW reenactor since 1988… retired in shooting but love to show off my reproduction Henry Rifle, Original CW Produced Pistols and a nice collection of CSA/Union monies from the War to the general Public

    Sincerely,

    I remain your humble and obedient Servant,

    Major Arthur Henrick
    Paymaster, Pay Department.
    Department of the Pacific.

    1. Thanks! I definitely didn’t cover as much as I would have liked. As for restarting, I hope to do that in November. Not totally sure it’ll work, but the test that I accidentally did today seemed to go okay. πŸ™‚

  41. Thank you Eric, I really enjoyed everyone of your posts. I learned more than I would imagine about the Civil War!

  42. Hi Eric,

    I’ve enjoyed the journey with you and learned much along the way. Fifty years ago, my Dad dragged me up and down the East Coast from Gettysburg to Petersburg for centennial re-enactments, and I heard a great deal about his grandfather, who served in both the Second Massachusetts and the Sixth Tennessee (Army of the Cumberland).

    I hope that forty-five years from now, your children and grandchildren will follow in your footsteps, and with the benefit of primary sources unearthed between now and then, will lead another generation along the Civil War Bicentennial history.

    Thanks,

    Kevin

  43. Going back in November for the 155th? Great! Many of us will re-up for that, and gain the benefits of what you’ve learned and how you’ve improved your style and your sources over the last 55 months.

    1. Thanks so much for the kind words!

      And YES! In November, I’ll be back for reruns. In the meantime, on Facebook I’m posting some highlights every other day or so. Mostly battles and other important things that happened on that day (regardless of which year).

  44. Eric,
    The CWDG has been my daily companion since before the Gettysburg 150th, maybe even from the Peninsula Campaign, and has really brought me a true understanding of the scope of the Great Rebellion that I only hazily knew. It was those great approximate maps! I looked at it daily when “practicable”, a word I now know about thanks to General Lee and the CWDG. I am now in general withdrawal. Here’s to a great body of work that I hope we can revisit from the beginning some day. Many thanks.

  45. Dear sir -bravo -and your goodbye -brilliant -thank you I’ve enjoyed it very much

  46. Eric,

    As a dedicated reader of Civil War history your website and daily updates were a revelation. During years of studying the Civil War and visiting many of the places where these events occurred, my views of this struggle evolved much the same way yours have. I’ve really enjoyed your work over the last 5 years and appreciate the effort and time you put into it. Your website has been a constant companion over the last few years and a wonderful educational tool. Good luck in your future endeavors and I look forward to combing through the Daily Gazette for those stories I missed.

    Michael A. Kiely
    Richmond, Virginia

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