Clint Schemmer, a great friend of our preservation efforts at Brandy Station and elsewhere, has a really nice piece on the preservation of Fleetwood Hill in today’s edition of the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, which I am pleased to share with you here:
A sweet victory for preservation
BY CLINT SCHEMMER / THE FREE LANCE–STAR
The heart of America’s most storied cavalry battlefield is back in one piece.
Fleetwood Hill, focus of the swirling, sprawling Battle of Brandy Station, has been bought by the Civil War Trust after a fast-paced national fundraising effort to preserve the most iconic spot on the battleground.
It’s as if Gettysburg regained Cemetery Hill after a long absence or Fredericksburg’s Sunken Road, if privately owned, was reunited with Marye’s Heights.
History-minded folks have hoped for this news for decades, and fought hard to hear it.
The 55,000-member trust and its allies now own the south end of Fleetwood Hill where Confederate Gen. J.E.B. Stuart camped before the unexpected fighting of June 9, 1863, that sorely tested his troopers.
“Fleetwood Hill is the crown jewel of the Brandy Station battlefield,” Jim Campi, the trust’s policy director, said Saturday. “Our members knew this property just had to be preserved. They stepped up in a big way, giving generously in the past three months.”
Donations poured in to the trust’s website and Washington headquarters for a $3.6 million campaign to preserve 56 acres of the best-known piece of the battlefield.
The hill’s purchase caps a decadeslong effort to protect the site of the Western Hemisphere’s biggest cavalry battle from piecemeal encroachment and large-scale development.
Since 1984, preservationists have fended off a California developer who planned a huge subdivision, and another who wanted a Formula One racetrack. They were less successful in constraining expansion of the Culpeper County airport or preventing a local resident from building what some call a “McMansion” on the Fleetwood Hill crest that Stuart made his headquarters.
The trust closed about a week ago on purchase of the latter property, owned by Tony Troilo, a philanthropist who supports the Brandy Station Volunteer Fire Department and the county’s Soap Box Derby.
Troilo ran afoul of the Army Corps of Engineers in 2011 when, without a permit, he dammed Flat Run and moved tons of earth for a lake in the stream valley below his house.
After the corps cited him with violating the federal Clean Water Act and activists criticized his actions, Troilo decided to relocate, the Civil War News reported.
Clark B. Hall, the Northern Neck historian at the forefront of the Brandy Station preservation movement, said it is ironic that the lake controversy prompted Troilo to sell to the trust, whose previous offer to buy his land he had rejected.
“The satisfaction one derives from this makes 25 years of preservation work worthwhile,” Hall said. “For us to own this part of Fleetwood Hill is precious in the extreme.”
From 1862 through 1864, more armies passed by, camped or fought upon it than any other spot in the Eastern or Western theaters of the war, he said.
“Fleetwood Hill is, without question, the most fought-over single piece of ground in the American Civil War,” Clark said in an interview. “And for Civil War cavalry actions, it is Mount Olympus, it is ground zero.”
Though Fleetwood Hill figured in many engagements, it is most famed for the 1863 battle that opened the Gettysburg campaign and proved that Union cavalry were nearly the equal of J.E.B. Stuart’s horsemen. A spur of Fleetwood Hill, not part of the Civil War Trust’s purchase, served as headquarters for Union Maj. Gen. George Gordon Meade, the victor of Gettysburg, as he and Ulysses S. Grant planned their Overland Campaign in the winter of 1863–64.
“It’s a tremendous accomplishment, and I congratulate all of the parties involved for a successful outcome,” Joe McKinney, president of the Brandy Station Foundation, a local group, said of the Troilo tract’s purchase. “The Civil War Trust and the landowner deserve great credit for pursuing this and making it happen.”
The final sum needed to make the fundraising drive succeed came Thursday when Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell announced $2.25 million in state grants for battlefield preservation. They include $700,000 for acquisition of Fleetwood Hill. The Central Virginia Battlefields Trust, based in Fredericksburg, applied for that grant.
“This is the first time that CVBT has ventured into Culpeper County, and we are quite excited to assist in the preservation of ‘the missing link’ at Brandy Station,” Jerry Brent, the trust’s executive director, said Saturday afternoon.
Nor would the purchase have been possible without matching grants from Virginia and the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program, Campi said.
He credited CVBT, the Journey Through Hallowed Ground and the Brandy Station Foundation for their active involvement in the preservation effort.
“The next step is to fully restore Fleetwood Hill to its wartime appearance and open it up for public visitation,” Campi said. “We are looking forward to transforming the property into a living memorial for the soldiers who struggled there.”
Clint Schemmer: 540/368-5029
Clint has been right there with us all along, and he did a great job of helping us to spread the word and to assist us in raising the funds to buy Fleetwood Hill. Thanks for your support, Clint.Scridb filter
This is a post that I have been waiting to write for a long time to write, and I cannot tell you how pleased I am to do so. I actually have known about this for some time, but it’s been hard keeping such wonderful, exciting news to myself. But now I can share it with all of you….
Today, Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia announced that the Commonwealth had conveyed a $700,000+ grant to the Civil War Trust for assistance in acquiring the 58 acres of Fleetwood Hill represented by the Troilo family’s holdings. These most-recent funds helped put us over the top. meaning that we were able to raise the entire $3.6 million, and that the closing on the property recently occurred!!!
Thanks to all of you, as of last week, the Civil War Trust owns Fleetwood Hill!!! We did it!!! We saved Fleetwood Hill!!!
Mr. Troilo is in the midst of building a new home, and until that new home is completed, he will retain tenant occupancy of the McMansion on the hill. A generous individual has already pledged the funds necessary to demolish the McMansion, meaning that once it has been vacated, the McMansion will be torn down. Expect an announcement regarding those festivities once I know the details.
This great accomplishment is the culmination of Bud Hall’s decades-long efforts to preserve the battlefield at Brandy Station, and this parcel is the crown jewel. None of this would have been possible, but for Bud’s hard work, and Bud can now proudly sit back and proudly enjoy the fruits of his labor. Bud also helped raise a great deal of the money for the acquisition.
Obviously, this also could not have happened but for the hard work of the good folks at Civil War Trust, who found the grants, engineered them, and then made all of this possible. We owe a great debt of gratitude to everyone there, but especially to the hard work done by Jim Lighthizer, Jim Campi, David Duncan, Tom Gilmore, and the others at the Trust who made this deal happen.
The biggest debt of gratitude of all is owed to the good folks who donated their hard-earned money to make this happen. $3.6m is a very large sum of money and raising that much money in a short period of time was a daunting prospect. But, as I knew you all would, people rallied to the flag and gave freely to allow us to not only meet the goal, but to close the transaction on time.
Thank you to Tony Troilo for finally doing the right thing and selling Fleetwood Hill so it could be forever preserved.
And finally, in a perverse way, we owe a debt to Useless Joe McKinney and the Board of Appeasers of the Brandy Station Foundation. But for their egregious abrogation of their duty to preserve and protect the battlefield, Lake Troilo would not have happened. And had Lake Troilo not have happened due to their horrific malfeasance, Bud Hall would not have reported the destruction of that portion of the battlefield to the Army Corps of Engineers. But for the intervention of the Army Corps of Engineers, we would still have Lake Troilo, and Mr. Troilo would not have grown so weary of fighting us that he would not have agreed to sell the property to the Civil War Trust. So, something good came out of the terrible malfeasance of Useless Joe and his Board of Appeasers, but it most assuredly does not excuse their refusal to act and their refusal to do their duty to preserve the battlefield. Shame on all of you. Nobody will soon forget your egregious failures to do your duty.
Let’s not allow BSF malfeasance to spoil this happy, momentous occasion. Instead, let’s celebrate one of the most important preservation victories to date by you and by the Civil War Trust. Well done!
Announcements regarding events to celebrate the acquisition of Fleetwood Hill will be forthcoming soon. Stand by for those.Scridb filter
J. D. Petruzzi filmed a joint interview with Tom Carhart as part of the PCN coverage of the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg this past July 3. J.D. and Carhart debated the merits of Carhart’s nonsensical theory about the fighting on East Cavalry Field – prior to the interview, J.D. and Carhart agreed that the conversation would remain civil, which it did. Each time that J.D. raised the issue that the evidence did not support his theory, Carhart’s response was to the effect of “I’m a trained soldier, and I know that this is how it was.” At one point, Carhart got so frustrated by J.D.’s insistence that the evidence does not support his theory, he held up his book Lost Triumph to the camera and stated that he was just there to promote his book. After the end of the interview, Carhart took J.D. aside and told him (quoting Carhart according to J.D.) “The reason guys like you and Wittenberg don’t know what you’re talking about is because you never served in the military.”
Ummm….no. While I may not have the formal military training, like Carhart does, I have a license to practice law, and I know and understand evidence, weighing that evidence, and evaluating its credibility. And I know an intellectual fraud when I see one.
I give J.D. a great deal of credit for being civil to this poseur and for not doing a “Jane, you ignorant slut” with him like the old Saturday Night Live bit. I’m not at all persuaded that I would have been able to show the same level of restraint. I would have found it all but impossible not to describe his book as the festering pile of turds that it is. And I would have found it all but impossible not to tell him to his face that he and his book are nothing but an intellectual fraud. Kudos go to J.D. for not doing so. In fact, after viewing that interview, many mutual friends later told J.D. that Carhart looked pathetic, frustrated, nonsensical, and that J.D. must have had infinite patience in dealing with Carhart’s silliness. The interviewer was also obviously increasingly frustrated with Carhart and kept signaling J.D. to move the discussion along as Carhart kept trying to dominate the conversation.
I had a chance to discuss all of this with J.D. at the Williamsport event last weekend, and yesterday, while driving, I had a sudden realization.
The gist of Carhart’s theory is that Stuart’s presence on East Cavalry Field was a coordinated thrust with Pickett’s Charge (one “prong” in a supposed “two “prong” attack), and that it represented a major component of Robert E. Lee’s plan for the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg. I’ve already dealt with the bulk of this stupidity in Appendix C to the new edition of Protecting the Flank. But last night, I had an epiphany about it.
Let’s assume, just for the sake of discussion, that Carhart’s theory is correct (we need to first, of course, throw out all of the definitive evidence that refutes Carhart’s theory). If that’s the case, wouldn’t Stuart have committed all of his troopers to an all-out attack on East Cavalry Field? And would he have just called it a day after the repulse of one large-scale attack, as he did that day, if his orders were to make a coordinated attack with Pickett’s Charge? If he truly was to take the offensive, after that charge was repulsed, wouldn’t he have committed his entire command and tried again? The uncontroverted fact is that he did not do so. Instead, Stuart called it a day after the repulse of the charge of Hampton’s and Fitz Lee’s brigades at the climax of the fighting on East Cavalry Field.
The evidence shows that when he was on the offensive, Stuart was quite aggressive and quite persistent. A study of Stuart’s taking the offensive to the Union cavalry during the retreat from Gettysburg and keeping it tied up for days at a time by constantly attacking it demonstrates this beyond a doubt. Just take a good look at the battle of Boonsboro (July 8, 1863) and the battle of Funkstown (July 10, 1863) for examples of what I mean here. By taking the fight to the Union cavalry and being unrelenting about it, Stuart kept two full divisions of cavalry tied up and away from the defensive position being built by the Army of Northern Virginia. In short, Stuart’s aggressiveness bought Lee the time he needed to forge a largely impregnable defensive position along the banks of the Potomac River at Williamsport. Stuart committed his entire force on each occasion, and launched attack after attack in the process.
By contrast, on East Cavalry Field, Stuart tried once, and then with only a portion of his command. The charge by the brigades of Lee and Hampton that was the climax of the fighting on East Cavalry was only by a portion of his command. Stuart watched and saw his command was repulsed by a vastly outnumbered force scraped together from the brigades of McIntosh and Custer and he called it a day after that. If Stuart’s orders were to reach the Union rear at all costs, would he really have just quit after committing only a portion of his force? And wouldn’t Stuart have known the repercussions of withdrawing from further attempts, if his “offensive” action were indeed a vitally important prong of a “two prong” attack coordinated with the infantry assault? If, as Carhart and others have posited, Stuart was so embarrassed by his performance during the week of June 25 – July 2, and was chastised by Robert E. Lee for it, why would he run the risk of further chastisement and disappointment by Lee by not making an all-out attempt to fulfill his “coordinated mission”?
Knowing Stuart’s tenacity and aggressiveness as well as I do, the fact that Stuart did not press the issue indicates the following to me:
1. He knew his command was in wretched shape from its ordeal on the way to Gettysburg and that his mounts probably could not stand more hard fighting.
2. His orders truly were to guard the flank against what he knew was the presence of two full divisions of cavalry—four of the Army of the Potomac’s eight brigades of cavalry—from the attacks of July 2, and were not to execute some grand, coordinated assault as part of the Pickett’s Charge scenario. This protection of the ANV left flank is, of course, all that Robert E. Lee claimed himself as Stuart’s mission on July 3 in his own official report of the campaign. Nothing more, nothing less.
3. The single mounted charge represented Stuart at his opportunistic best—given the opportunity to break through and make some mischief in the Union rear, he would have done so. He was probing to see whether he could get through, and the repulse persuaded him that he should simply be content with guarding the flank effectually, as he did, and as he was ordered to do.
These observations are the only ones that make any sense. Any other interpretation of these events is neither logical nor supported by the evidence.
But, then again, Carhart’s comments to J.D. demonstrate quite plainly that this man is not one to allow the facts to get in the way of a good story.Scridb filter
Time for a good afternoon chuckle.
Famed Columbus humorist James Thurber wrote a whimsical article lampooning so-called “alternative history” (I call it fiction, but that’s just me) in 1930 that was published in Scribner’s Magazine. This little gem is titled “If Grant Had Been Drinking at Appomattox”. Enjoy!
IF GRANT HAD BEEN DRINKING AT APPOMATTOX -James Thurber
The morning of the ninth of April, 1865, dawned beautifully. General Meade was up with the first streaks of crimson in the sky. General Hooker and General Burnside were up and had breakfasted, by a quarter after eight. The day continued beautiful. It drew on. toward eleven o’clock. General Ulysses S. Grant was still not up. He was asleep in his famous old navy hammock, swung high above the floor of his headquarters’ bedroom. Headquarters was distressingly disarranged: papers were strewn on the floor; confidential notes from spies scurried here and there in the breeze from an open window; the dregs of an overturned bottle of wine flowed pinkly across an important military map.
Corporal Shultz, of the Sixty-fifth Ohio Volunteer Infantry, aide to General Grant, came into the outer room, looked around him, and sighed. He entered the bedroom and shook the General’s hammock roughly. General Ulysses S. Grant opened one eye.
“Pardon, sir,” said Corporal Shultz, “but this is the day of surrender. You ought to be up, sir.”
“Don’t swing me,” said Grant, sharply, for his aide was making the hammock sway gently. “I feel terrible,” he added, and he turned over and closed his eye again.
“General Lee will be here any minute now,” said the Corporal firmly, swinging the hammock again.
“Will you cut that out?” roared Grant. “D’ya want to make me sick, or what?” Shultz clicked his heels and saluted. “What’s he coming here for?” asked the General.
“This is the day of surrender, sir,” said Shultz. Grant grunted bitterly.
“Three hundred and fifty generals in the Northern armies,” said Grant, “and he has to come to me about this. What time is it?”. “You’re the Commander-in-Chief, that’s why,” said Corporal Shultz. “It’s eleven twenty, sir.”
“Don’t be crazy,” said Grant. “Lincoln is the Commander-in-Chief. Nobody in the history of the world ever surrendered before lunch. Doesn’t he know that an army surrenders on its stomach?” He pulled a blanket up over his head and settled himself again.
“The generals of the Confederacy will be here any minute now,” said the Corporal. “You really ought to be up, sir.” Grant stretched his arms above his head and yawned. “All right, all right,” he said. He rose to a sitting position and stared about the room. “This place looks awful,” he growled. “You must have had quite a time of it last night, sir,” ventured Shultz. “Yeh,” said General Grant, looking around for his clothes. “I was wrassling some general. Some general with a beard.”
Shultz helped the commander of the Northern armies in the field to find his clothes. “Where’s my other sock?” demanded Grant. Shultz began to look around for it. The General walked uncertainly to a table and poured a drink from a bottle. “I don’t think it wise to drink, sir,” said Shultz. Nev’ mind about me,” said Grant, helping himself to a second, “I can take it or let it alone. Didn’ ya ever hear the story about the fella went to. Lincoln to complain about me drinking too much? ‘So-and-So says Grant drinks too much,’ this fella said. ‘So-and-So is a fool,’ said Lincoln. So this fella went to What’s-His-Name and told him what Lincoln said and he came roarin’ to Lincoln about it. ‘Did you tell So-and-So was a fool?’ he said. ‘No,’ said Lincoln, ‘I thought he knew it.’” The’General smiled, reminiscently, and had another drink. “”That’s how I stand with Lincoln,” he said, proudly,
The soft thudding sound of horses’ hooves came through the open window. Shultz hurriedly walked over and looked out. “Hoof steps,” said Grant, with a curious chortle. “It is General Lee and his staff,” said Shultz. “Show him in,” said the General, taking another drink. “And see what the boys in the back room will have.” Shultz walked smartly over to the door, opened it, saluted, and stood aside.
General Lee, dignified against the blue of the April sky, magnificent in his dress uniform, stood for a moment framed in the doorway. He walked in, followed by his staff. They bowed, and stood silent. General Grant stared at them. He only had one boot on and his jacket was unbuttoned.
“I know who you are,” said Grant.’You’re Robert Browning, the poet.” “This is General Robert E. Lee,” said one of his staff, coldly. “Oh,” said Grant. “I thought he was Robert Browning. He certainly looks like Robert Browning. There was a poet for you. Lee: Browning. Did ya ever read ‘How They Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix’? ‘Up Derek, to saddle, up Derek, away; up Dunder, up Blitzen, up, Prancer, up Dancer, up Bouncer, up Vixen, up -’”.
“Shall we proceed at once to the matter in hand?” asked General Lee, his eyes disdainfully taking in the disordered room. “Some of the boys was wrassling here last night,” explained Grant. “I threw Sherman, or some general a whole lot like Sherman. It was pretty dark.” He handed a bottle of Scotch to the commanding officer of the Southern armies, who stood holding it, in amazement and discomfiture. “Get a glass, somebody,” said Grant, .looking straight at General Longstreet. “Didn’t I meet you at Cold Harbor?” he asked. General Longstreet did not answer.
“I should like to have this over with as soon as possible,” said Lee. Grant looked vaguely at Shultz, who walked up close to him , frowning. “The surrender, sir, the surrender,” said Corporal Shultz in a whisper. “Oh sure, sure,” said Grant. He took another drink. “All right,” he said. “Here we go.” Slowly, sadly, he unbuckled his sword. Then he handed it to the astonished Lee. “There you are. General,” said Grant. “We dam’ near licked you. If I’d been feeling better we would of licked you.”
For those of you who find Sherman’s 1865 Carolinas Campaign as fascinating as I do, please check out this excellent program at Bentonville on September 14-15, 2013. There are some really good speakers, and a bus tour with Mark Bradley and Ed Bearss. How can you possibly go wrong?
Ticket sales are brisk, so please sign up if you’re at all interested in attending. I hope to see some of you there.Scridb filter
I’ve agreed to participate in what promises to be a really fun event. More than a dozen Savas-Beatie authors are going to assemble in Gettysburg from July 28-30 for what Ted Savas is calling the “author conclave.” The idea is that we authors will assemble there for an opportunity to interact with–and lead tours for–our readers. It will be a chance for many of us to get together for the first time as a group. Ted will be there, as well the Savas-Beatie marketing director, Sarah Keeney.
Here is the schedule:
Sunday, July 28: Gettysburg
Morning (time TBD): Lance Herdegen Tour – Gettysburg: July 1, 1863: The failure of Archer’s Attack on McPherson’s Ridge
1:30 – 3:00 pm: Lance Herdegen Tour – Gettysburg: In the Bloody Railroad Cut: The Charge of the 6th Wisconsin
3:30 – 5:00 pm: George Newton Tour – Gettysburg: Confederate cannonade and Union artillery on July 3, 1863
7:00 pm: Informal gathering at Reliance Mine Saloon
Monday, July 29: Gettysburg
8:30 – 10:00 am: J. David Petruzzi Tour – Gettysburg: Buford on Day 1
10:30 am – 12:00 pm: Eric Wittenberg Tour – Gettysburg: Farnsworth’s Charge, July 3, 1863
1:30 – 3:00 pm: David Shultz Tour – Gettysburg: Attack and Defense of the Union Center July Second – Pitzer Woods’ Cause and Effect: The “Little Fight” that Changed it All
3:30 – 5:00 pm: Eric Wittenberg and J. David Petruzzi Tour – Gettysburg: East Cavalry Field
Tuesday, July 30: South Mountain, Antietam, and Ball’s Bluff
8:30 – 11:00 am: Tom Clemens Tour – South Mountain: Fox’s Gap, the Struggle for Key Terrain on South Mountain
12:00 – 2:00 pm: Tom Clemens Tour – Antietam: West Woods, Crisis on the Confederate Left
3:30 – 5:00 pm: Jim Morgan Tour – Loudoun County, VA: The Battle of Ball’s Bluff
And the best part of all: IT’S FREE!!!
I will be there Sunday night and on Monday. I won’t be there for the Tuesday tours, as I must get back to work. However, having toured Ball’s Bluff with Jim Morgan and all of the 1862 Maryland Campaign sites with Tom Clemens, I can tell you that you cannot possibly do better than to have either of them lead you on a tour of their respective favorite battlefields. Among the authors expected to be there are J. D. Petruzzi, Dave Shultz, Tom Clemens, Jim Morgan, Lance Herdegen, George Newton, Dave Powell, and others. It’s a great opportunity to meet some of my favorite Civil War authors, to get your books signed, and to hang out with us.
To sign up, click here.Scridb filter
Some of you may recall that in May 2010, I found a headless statue of William T. Sherman in nearby Pickerington, Ohio, and set about trying to solve the mystery. A few weeks later, I spoke to Headless Billy’s owner, who assured me that a fix was in the works. I am pleased to say that Headless Billy is headless no more! Sadly, though, he remains handless Billy. Hopefully that will also be rectified soon.
Thanks to my friend Mike Peters for the photo of No Longer Headless Billy that graces this post. All’s well that ends well. Click on the image to see a larger version of it.
The following article appeared in last Friday’s edition of Columbus Dispatch:
Sherman statue headed for completion
By Ken Gordon
The Columbus Dispatch Friday June 7, 2013 6:43 AM
William T. Sherman has waited 45 years to get a good head on his shoulders — so what’s a few more days?
Rain yesterday kept sculptor Oro Ray King from securing a 60-pound sandstone head to the statue of the Civil War general, which was decapitated by vandals in 1968.
King and a friend, Mike Ancona, positioned the head to check the fit, but the rain kept King from applying the epoxy that will lock it in place.
He plans to finish the job on Tuesday.
King was hired by Columbus real-estate developer Walter Reiner, who purchased the vandalized statue at a 2008 auction in Muskingum County and moved it to a vacant grassy lot in a Pickerington shopping center that he owns.
Reiner wanted the statue of Sherman, a Lancaster native, to stand in Fairfield County.
The 7-foot statue, carved in 1918, originally stood among dozens of other statues of prominent historical figures on the Frazeysburg property of sculptor Daniel Brice Baughman.
Reiner bought it for $2,800 and paid $5,000 to move the 8½-ton rock to the shopping center.
He then began a long search for a sculptor.
A November story in The Dispatch about the headless statue, Reiner said, “brought people out of the woodwork.”
He settled on King, a Buckeye Lake resident who has been sculpting for 45 years and has done a lot of work for museums and historical sites.
Reiner would not disclose how much he paid King, except to say that it was more than the $4,000 he had originally hoped to spend but less than a $20,000 estimate he received.
King, 75, said he first made a clay bust after looking at various photos of Sherman, then obtained a 400-pound block of sandstone from Dresden, Ohio.
In April, he started carving the sandstone to the final, 16-inch-tall head.
“It feels pretty good to get it over with,” King said. “I have arthritis pretty bad, and sometimes I have to stop and let my hands rest a little bit.”
After fitting the head yesterday, King and Ancona removed it for safekeeping until King finishes the job.
“I think it looks better than the original,” Reiner said. “This will honor Gen. Sherman properly.
“I certainly meant no disrespect; it just took a little while to do the job right.”
Well done, Mr. Reiner. And well done Mr. King.Scridb filter
I’m proud and pleased to welcome two new sponsors to this blog.
First, I’d like to welcome the fine magazine The Civil War Monitor aboard as a sponsor. My old friend Terry Johnston, who is the editor and publisher, is doing a fine job of it, and I’m proud to have Terry and his excellent publication aboard.
The other new sponsor is a favorite organization of mine, the Chambersburg Civil War Seminars, as a sponsor. My pal Ted Alexander, the chief historian of the Antietam National Battlefield, runs these programs for the Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce, and Ted does a great job of it. These are some of my favorite programs each year, and I hope you will check them out.
Welcome aboard, and thanks for sponsoring this blog!Scridb filter
For Clint Schemmer’s excellent article on the Brandy Station Sesquicentennial tour that appeared in today’s edition of the Fredericksburg Free Lance Star newspaper, please click here. Clint has some excellent photographs in his article, which is why I’m not just repeating it here. It’s definitely worth a read.
Nice job, Clint!
And here’s Scott Manning’s take on the tour. Thanks for the kind words, Scott!Scridb filter
I made the banzai run to Culpeper, Virginia for the sesquicentennial tour of the Battle of Brandy Station on Friday, which is a 7+ hour drive. This was a once-in-a-lifetime tour of the battlefield that featured several stops on private property. I’ve been to the battlefield literally dozens of times, including any number of times with Bud Hall, but we visited some sites that I had never seen before. Bud also announced that this would be his final tour of the battlefield, so the moment represented a passing of the torch.
More than 200 people attended. I had some very serious misgivings about the logistics of moving so many people from place to place without the benefits of buses, but the folks from the Loudoun County Civil War Roundtable, ably led by the CWRT president, Cecil Jones, did an absolutely superb job of managing the logistics. Cecil and Craig Swain deserve the bulk of the credit for putting together this event and for managing logistics that otherwise could have gotten out of control very quickly and very easily.
Our rallying point was at the artillery park for Maj. Robert F. Beckham’s horse artillery on the Civil War Trust’s property, where everyone gathered, and Bud gave an overview of the run-up to the battle. The first photo is of Bud giving that overview.
From there, we went to Buford’s Knoll and Bud laid out much of the morning’s action. I gave a biographical sketch of John Buford’s life, and we got a spectacular vista of the Union position. In the second photo, I’m giving the overview of Buford’s life. Seated in the chair on the right side of the photograph is our distinguished guest for the day, Col. (Retired) J.E.B. Stuart, IV, the great-great grandson of the great Confederate cavalry chieftain. From there, we went on to the site of the Richard Hoopes Cunningham house (long ago demolished) to examine a Union artillery position. From there, we moved onto private property to get a look at Beverly Ford, where Buford’s command crossed the Rappahannock River. This was also a position held by Rooney Lee’s Confederate cavalry in the early phases of the battle.
The next stop was a place where no tour group had ever been, Rooney Lee’s main line of battle on a knoll on Beauregard Farm. Beauregard Farm is a massive, 6000 acre farm that abuts and includes a significant portion of the battlefield. Fortunately, the owners are friends of our preservation efforts, and this position has been forever protected from development via a preservation easement. This was the first time that Bud ever took a tour group there. The third photograph is of the very long line of automobiles making their way to Rooney’s Knoll, as Bud calls it. The sight of the cars snaking along was very reminiscent of the final scene of the movie Field of Dreams, which was the first thought I had upon seeing it. I’ve never been there before, and it was a spectacular spot.
From there, we went to St. James Church, where we had lunch and an excellent demonstration by Trooper Todd Kern and his living history group, the Valley Light Horse. That’s Todd on the left side of the photograph. Afterward, I led a discussion of the charge of five companies of the 6th Pennsylvania Cavalry into the teeth of Confederate artillery, taking flanking fire the whole way.
From there, we addressed the fighting at Fleetwood Hill. We did so on the north side of the hill, where we had a spectacular view of the McMansion atop Fleetwood Hill that will soon be coming down. Bud led a lively discussion there, and we enjoyed a spot that does not see much visitation.
Sadly, there were torrential rains in the area on Thursday and early Friday from a tropical storm, and the road to Farley, at the northern end of Fleetwood Hill, was too badly damaged by the rains to permit the passage of so many vehicles. That, unfortunately, meant that that portion of the tour had to be canceled, which is too bad. Few groups ever get up there, and few groups get to see Farley, which is private property.
The final stop was at Rose Hill Game Preserve, a historic plantation house in Stevensburg that was the starting point of the Kilpatrick-Dahlgren Raid. We discussed the Stevensburg portion of the battle there and did a wrap-up of the battle and tour, heard the history of the property, and then some lovely refreshments were enjoyed by all. Thanks to Dr. John Covington for his hospitality there.
All in all, it was a spectacular tour that covered some ground never before seen by a tour group of any size. It also marked a passing of the torch from Bud Hall to the rest of us of the BSF Board in Exile. It’s a challenge that we have gratefully accepted. This photo–the final one–is of the teacher and his student, atop Buford’s Knoll. The student does not know if he’s ready to take the passage of that torch, but he will do his level best to carry on the legacy.
It was a pleasure to be a part of this wonderful program. It was an honor to be asked to do so, and it was a privilege to stand there and help Bud Hall to present this material to a large tour group for the last time. Thanks also to everyone who attended, and to everyone who made things run so smoothly.
Thank you to Debra Naylor for the photo of Bud Hall and me, and thank you to David Kinsella for the photo of him and me. I appreciate your allowing me to use your images here. To see larger versions of any of these images, simply click on them.
The only thing marring the tour was the ridiculous, immature and grossly unprofessional conduct of the Brandy Station Foundation. Our original plan was to interpret the fighting at Fleetwood Hill from the BSF property to the north of Fleetwood Hill. When Cecil Jones gave the BSF the courtesy of telling them that, Useless Joe McKinney demanded that he be entitled to speak to our group and that we not use the BSF porta-potties there as a condition of our taking the tour group onto the BSF property (which, I might add, Bud Hall helped to pay for). The issue with the porta-potties was simply being chintzy. However, the demand that he be permitted to address our group was an astoundingly nervy thing for him to do, given that he and his board of appeasers have stood in the way of our efforts to preserve that ground. There was NO way that that was going to happen, now, or ever. We decided to move to the north side of Fleetwood Hill instead.
Then, on Friday night, while at dinner with some friends, former BSF president Bob Luddy–whom I’ve known for 15+ years–and his wife came in and were seated at the next table over from us. He spent the entire meal giving us the stink eye, and then when they got up to leave, I stood up, greeted him, and offered a hand to shake, and he very childishly refused to shake my hand, much like a two-year old child throwing a temper tantrum. He quite rudely and unprofessionally turned on his heel and stomped away. It left all of us shaking our heads, wondering what sort of an adult acts that way.
The final element of this little drama was the most comical. This was a reservations-only event. Only those who registered were welcome. When we got to Rose Hill, a guy nobody recognized showed up who had not been with the tour group over the course of the day. He started prying for information about where we went on the tour and which parcels we visited that were private property. Without any prompting, this uninvited party crasher admitted that he is a volunteer for the BSF, and when pressed about it by Craig Swain, he became very defensive about the whole thing before leaving unceremoniously. It’s bad enough that McKinney and his wife badmouth us to everyone who will listen–yes, we do know what you’re saying–but to act so childishly because you feel threatened? Please. Grow up, already!
Are we really that much of a threat to the BSF that they have to stoop to such childish and unprofessional conduct? Apparently, we are. We’re doing the work that they refuse to do because they’re too busy currying favor with landowners and tending to the Graffiti House. They should change their name to Friends of the Graffiti House and just step aside and let those of us who are serious about saving this battlefield do this important work. Instead, they act like babies. Perhaps that explains the outrageous conduct.
Despite the ridiculous, puerile conduct of the BSF and its people, we nevertheless had a superb day and a truly magnificent event. Thank you again to all who attended and especially to those who handled the logistics of this program. We could not have done so without you.
Finally, the Civil War Trust announced last week that we are 42% of the way to the goal for the purchase of Fleetwood Hill. To donate, please click here. Thank you for your support of our efforts to save the single most-fought over piece of ground of the American Civil War.Scridb filter