Updated 12/16/10

In Podcast #38 the Trekkers take you to Appomattox Court House, where Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to U.S. General Ulysses S. Grant on April 9, 1865 and ended the Civil War.  Find out why he surrendered in someone’s home instead of the actual courthouse. Since we were filming on Veterans Day (November 11th), we also stopped by the National D-Day Memorial in nearby Bedford, Virginia.  Discover why the small town of Bedford was chosen for the location of this memorial which honors the soldiers who died on June 6, 1944 in a key World War II battle.  Finally, watch the fantastic fourth grade students at Leesville Road Elementary School in Lynchburg perform a special intro and sing a remix of the Trekkers song!  Come on, let’s go trekkin’!

Appomattox Court House is where a famous banjo player, Joel Sweeney, lived and was buried.  Joel Sweeney popularized banjo music and is credited with inventing the modern 5-string banjo.  African-American slaves created the 4-string “banjar” based on similar instruments their griots (storytellers) played in Africa.  Joel learned how to play the banjo from local slaves and he added the 5th string. He went on to form a famous entertainment group called the “Virginia Minstrels” that toured the United States and Europe! His brother, Sam, was General J.E.B. Stewart’s musician during the Civil War.  It was said that “Stuart's feet would shuffle whenever he was in Sweeney's presence.” (Source) So the banjo, the only musical instrument invented in the United States, is a great example of the contributions of different cultural groups.(Source)

SOL Correlation:

1.12 The student will recognize that communities in Virginia include people who have diverse ethnic origins, customs, and traditions, who make contributions to their communities, and who are united as Americans by common principles.

2.12 The student will understand that the United States is a land of people who have diverse origins, customs, and traditions, who make contributions to their communities, and who are united as Americans by common principles.

3.11c The student will explain the importance of the basic principles that form the foundation of a republican form of government by c) recognizing that Veterans Day and Memorial Day honor people who have served to protect the country’s freedoms.

VS.7b The student will demonstrate knowledge of the issues that divided our nation and led to the Civil War by b) describing Virginia’s role in the war, including identifying major battles that took place in Virginia.

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Piedmont Region

In this 1862 newspaper illustration, Sam Sweeney plays the banjo in Gen. J.E.B. Stewart’s headquarters. (Credits)

Joel Sweeney

(1810-1860)

Sam Sweeney

(1832-1864)