I come from a small town in Alabama with a population of less than two thousand. Most people don’t have any idea where Munford is (right between Talladega and Oxford) and probably haven’t even heard of it. At best, they might have seen the Munford/Coldwater exit on I-20. We only have one stop light, and I can easily list every business. There are a gas station/grocery store, Munford Foodmart; a Jack’s; a Dollar General; a Shell station; two local restaurants, Big Daddy’s BBQ and Chubbie Chicks; a bakery, Clark’s Catering & Bakery; an auto shop, Dabb’s Auto; and a hardware store, Carter’s Hardware. We also have a school system, which is actually one of the best in the region, thanks in large part to partnerships with the U.S. Forestry Service. So, our town is not exactly a big tourist destination. It does, however, have one claim to fame: a little-known Civil War historical site.
The American Civil War is a topic that schools cover in depth in the United States. There is, however, a detail that many history textbooks omit. Thousands of Confederates did not, in fact, resign themselves to life in the Union after the war; they went to Brazil instead.
In my time at the University of Alabama, I’ve seen many, many tour groups strolling across the quad, each led by a cheerful tour guide walking backwards and telling stories. I’ve encountered these groups so often that I know several of the tales and jokes by heart (“Isn’t it funny that the Women’s Studies classes are held in Manly Hall?”), but there’s a certain story that has always stood out to me as especially impressive. It’s the story of the university president’s wife during the attack on the campus at the end of the Civil War, which is actually only a small part of a few very interesting days in Tuscaloosa.
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