Friday, 8th June, 1866

The warmest day we have had. Ju came down early to see Mary and said Mag and Stuart were on their way down to spend the day. Mary improves hourly, and I have no doubt will soon regain her usual vivacity. Mag and Stuart came about ten o’clk. We all spent a very pleasant day together. Zac remained at home for two reasons, one to assist Bill in thinning corn, and the other was he had mashed his thumb riding for the ring yesterday, practicing with the boys.1 – – Mary and Nan walked with Mag part of the way when she started about ½ an hour by sun, and returned just before supper was ready. – – Mary made preparations to make an early start in the morning. Zac will take her over in the buggy and drive George. I fixed up a bucket of butter to sell.

  1. While Ring Tournaments first became popular in the South prior to the Civil War, their renewal after 1865 reinforced the romantic, chivalric values that underlay “The Lost Cause.” Glamorized by English writers popular in the South, most importantly Sir Walter Scott, these values were publicly displayed in costumed, stylized outdoor pageants that glorified genteel white womanhood (Queens) and white male skill and honor (Knights). For the recently defeated these public events provided an opportunity to reconstruct their self-image through the demonstration of quasi-martial horsemanship and displays of devotion, while also harkening back to idealized, if medieval, “better days.” (Unfortunately, there is also a straight line between the make-believe knights of these pageants and the Knights of the White Camelia and the Ku Klux Klan.) So popular were these events that eventually Ring Tournaments would be referred to as the “National Sport of the South.” While interest in these tournaments would wane in the late 19th-century, they remained popular along the tidewater of the Chesapeake, especially in Maryland where jousting was named the Official State Individual Sport in 1962. We will learn that the tournament Zac mashed his thumb practicing for will be held on the 4th of July at West Point. The “in-your-face” date and location are emblematic of local white resistance to the current state of affairs.  (back)

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