Today’s issue of the Culpeper Star-Exponent contains an article about the purchase contract to save Fleetwood Hill that I discussed here yesterday. That article contains a statement by Tony Troilo that I find really perplexing: “[Troilo] credited Brandy Station Foundation President Joe McKinney as being instrumental to the sale. ‘He kept the CWPT in the mix,’ Troilo said.”
Those of us who make up the board in exile of the Brandy Station Foundation have been in constant communication with Bud Hall about this. And Bud has been in constant communication with the Civil War Trust about this, and NOBODY has said a word about either the BSF or Useless Joe McKinney and his Board of Appeasers doing anything whatsoever about this. Indeed, this happened in spite of Useless Joe and his useless gang, not because of anything that they did. Indeed, when you do nothing, it’s hard to claim credit for doing something.
And so, I ask: What did you do, Useless Joe? What role did you play in preserving Fleetwood Hill? Pray tell. We would all like to know.
For the record, I would like nothing more than to be proved wrong, and if Useless Joe and the Board of Appeasers demonstrate to me that I am wrong, then I will gladly apologize. However, knowing what I know about this situation, I am not the least bit concerned about having to do so….
UPDATE, DECEMBER 24, 2012: As of today, there has not been even so much as a mention of the contract for the preservation of Fleetwood Hill on the Brandy Station Foundation’s website. This is, perhaps, the single most important land preservation deal yet signed, and certainly is the key acquisition of the Brandy Station battlefield. One would think that the BSF, allegedly the steward of the battlefield, would say something about such a critical transaction, but there is nary a word. This is yet more evidence of the fact that this organization is NOT interested in battlefield preservation. Either lead, follow, or step aside, Useless Joe and the Board of Appeasers.Scridb filter
You can’t make this stuff up, folks.
From Sunday’s edition of the Culpeper Star-Exponent:
By: Vincent Vala | Culpeper Star Exponent
Published: October 28, 2012
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The Halloween spirit visited Brandy Station this weekend as the Brandy Station Foundation offered up its annual “Spirits of the Graffiti House” event at the historic facility off U.S. 29 North Saturday evening.
Between 6 and 9 p.m., the former Civil War hospital facility was open to the public for tours, treats and tales of the unnatural that have been reported at the Graffiti House over the years.
Visitors could mix history, All Hallows Eve and having fun, all it the good spirit of the harvest season.
“We kind of combine a lot of different things for the evening,” said Helen Geisler, a member of the BSF board of directors. “It’s just intended as a fun evening for the children – and for the adults.”
Geisler said this is the fifth year for the event.
“Last year, we had well over 100 people turn out,” she said. “So this year we’ve prepared for at least that many.”
Throughout Saturday evening, tour guides talked to visitors about the graffiti in the upstairs rooms of the house, while Transcend Paranormal Investigators gave talks in a downstairs room.
A video produced by the R.I.P. Files about their overnight stay in the house was played in the house’s entry room and BSF President Joe McKinney offered up stories of the supernatural to those seated around a campfire in the back yard as they roasted and snacked on marshmallows.
“We’ve had at least three or four different paranormal investigative groups here,” Geisler said. “I’ve had experiences in this house myself.”
The photo is of the BSF’s intrepid leader, Joe McKinney, telling ghost stories.
Now, I enjoy fun as much as the next guy, and I don’t mean to come across as a funkiller. However, how is this an appropriate activity for a supposedly serious preservation organization? This is the stuff that McKinney and the Board of Appeasers brag about in the BSF’s annual report, not the success of their efforts to preserve and maintain the battlefield. Apparently, the board’s major accomplishment this year has been toasting marshmallows with ghosts. It most assuredly was NOT preventing the destruction of core battlefield land by a landowner.
And then there’s this gem: Geisler said. “I’ve had experiences in this house myself.”
The BSF has made itself entirely irrelevant by engaging in such activities that have substantially less than nothing to do with the core mission of the organization, which is the preservation and stewardship of the battlefield. Please allow me to suggest that by engaging in such frivolous and undignified activities at a place where men suffered and died for a cause that they believed in dishonors them and their sacrifices. For shame.Scridb filter
The Civil War Trust has announced a campaign to raise funds to pay for 964 acres of core battlefield land at Kelly’s Ford, near Brandy Station. This represents almost 50% of the battlefield from the important March 17, 1863 cavalry battle between William Woods Averell and Fitz Lee’s troopers. The map shows where this particular parcel may be found. The land in yellow is the land in question. It was the scene of the most severe fighting of the battle. Click on the map to see a larger version of it.
With this large acquisition, combined with the significant portion of the battlefield owned by the Commonwealth of Virginia, nearly 75% of the entire battlefield will be safe. This is a rare and exciting preservation opportunity and one that I hope all of you will get behind.
It’s important to note that no river crossing saw more traffic during the Civil War than did Kelly’s Ford. Much of the Army of the Potomac crossed the Rappahannock River there on its way to Chancellorsville, there was an infantry fight there in November 1863, and two of the three divisions of the Army of the Potomac’s Cavalry Corps crossed there on its way to fight the Battle of Brandy Station on June 9, 1863. This was probably the most famous and most important river crossing of the war, and the opportunity to preserve it is a rare one indeed.
It bears noting that this piece of the battlefield falls squarely within the bailiwick of the Brandy Station Foundation, which proudly touts that it’s going to hold an event to commemorate the sesquicentennial of the Battle of Kelly’s Ford next March. However, the BSF did absolutely nothing whatsoever to help to arrange this deal or to help to raise awareness of it. Why? Because it’s got nothing to do with ghost hunting, relic hunting, or the Graffiti House (which are the things that the BSF bragged about in its 2011 annual report), and because President Joe McKinney and his board of appeasers have rendered the organization completely and entirely irrelevant. They’re just as irrelevant to this acquisition as they are to the ongoing efforts to acquire Fleetwood Hill–that is to say, wholly inconsequential. It is pathetic that the organization tasked with preserving the battlefield land in and around Brandy Station has been rendered so irrelevant that it probably had no idea that the Trust had made this deal before it was announced publicly on the CWT website today.
Because of that, all donations to preserve the Kelly’s Ford battlefield should be directed to the Civil War Trust and ONLY to the Civil War Trust. Send a message to McKinney and the Board of Appeasers: send them a copy of your donation check and let them know that if they were doing the job that they were sworn to do, that money would be coming to them and not to the Trust.
Thank you for your support for our efforts to save this important battlefield land.Scridb filter
Chutzpah: unmitigated effrontery or impudence; gall; audacity; nerve.
Or, this is how the great Jewish writer Leo Rosten put it: “that quality enshrined in a man who, having killed his mother and father, throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan.”
I have a new definition of chutzpah, which appears on the home page of the website of the Brandy Station Foundation. That website indicates that the “Brandy Station Foundation Fall Picnic” will be held on September 29, 2012, “ATOP HISTORIC FLEETWOOD HILL”.
Let’s recall, shall we? This is the same Brandy Station Foundation that stood by and did absolutely nothing when the bulldozers began destroying “historic Fleetwood Hill” to build Lake Troilo, despite the president of the organization having advance knowledge that this critical piece of battlefield land was about to be devastated. This is the same Brandy Station Foundation that, instead of acting to fulfill its obligation as the steward of the land, issued a policy that said that destroying portions of the battlefield is acceptable if it’s done by a landowner there. This is the same Brandy Station Foundation that, instead of finding a way to purchase Fleetwood Hill from its present owners, stepped aside and then had the unmitigated gall to criticize the Civil War Trust for not acting quickly enough. This is the same Brandy Station Foundation that filled its 2011 annual report with bragging about its participation in ghost hunting and paranormal activity and not in battlefield preservation. This is the same board of the Brandy Station Foundation that has taken a once-great preservation organization and made it wholly and entirely irrelevant. And this is the same board of the Brandy Station Foundation that refused to allow the founder and multiple-term past president of the organization to renew his membership, claiming that he is somehow detrimental to the aims of the organization.
But yet, these people think holding a picnic on land that the BSF neither owns nor controls somehow excuses the horrific breaches of fiduciary duty perpetrated by this board and somehow justifies their rampant malfeasance.
And that, my friends, provides me with a completely new definition of the word “chutzpah” to use going forward. It’s the very definition of unmitigated effrontery and nerve, and it’s a real slap in the face to those who really care about preserving this battlefield.
Once again, I call for the resignation of Joseph McKinney and the Board of Appeasers before they further marginalize the BSF and render it completely and totally irrelevant.Scridb filter
Part of what I’ve been trying to accomplish has been to shame the useless board of the Brandy Station Foundation into doing something to try to preserve Fleetwood Hill, because it’s quite clear that without it, Joseph McKinney and the board of appeasers weren’t about to do anything.
The following statement now appears on the BSF website:
Dear Members and Friends of the Brandy Station Foundation,
If you have driven on Highway 29 north of Brandy Station recently, you may have noticed the large “FOR SALE” sign on the southern slope of Fleetwood Hill. I believe it is now appropriate for us to share with you what is going on and the role that we are playing. Up until yesterday, this was not our story to tell; it was between the landowner and the Civil War Trust. However, yesterday the landowner, Mr. Tony Troilo, urged that I inform you of events. While it is the Civil War Trust’s long-standing policy to not discuss private negotiations with landowners, we have advised the Trust’s staff that we are sharing the following information with you.
On November 29, 2011, Tony asked that I come by his house and speak with him. Tony is a long-time member of the BSF and his father, Joe Troilo, Sr., was one of our founding members. Tony and his family own the most fought-upon portion of Fleetwood Hill—a priority for preservationists everywhere. At our meeting that morning, Tony informed me that he and his wife had decided to sell their Fleetwood Hill property and build a new home on land they own elsewhere in Culpeper County. Their asking price for the entire Fleetwood Hill property—fifty-seven acres, two homes, and a Morton-type equipment building—was approximately $5 million. Tony said that he would wait thirty days before putting the property on the market to allow us time to prepare an offer.
I told Tony that his asking price was beyond the means of the BSF. For comparison purposes, our largest land purchase was in December 2005 when we bought 18.9 acres from Golden Oaks Development for $560,000—and I can tell you that it was very difficult for us to raise that amount. However, I informed Tony that I would immediately contact the Civil War Trust and relay to them the terms he was asking. I also emphasized that we, the BSF, would support the Trust in any way that we could to complete this sale. Later that morning I called my point-of-contact at the Trust and notified him of developments. I followed-up that day with an email. I also notified the BSF board of directors of what had taken place and that there was a possibility that Fleetwood might be brought under protection.
The Trust, which has been interested in Fleetwood Hill for many years, immediately began working the issue and conducting necessary due diligence. However, agreement on the terms of the sale was not reached and on January 11, 2012, the main house and fifteen acres were listed with a local real estate agent. The listing price is $2,450,000. Despite this initial inability to reach an agreement, both the Trust and BSF remain in communication with the landowner. That is where we stand today. You may find out more information about the house by going to http://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/20370-Fleetwood-Heights-Rd_Brandy-Station_VA_22714_M58347-90378?ex=VA549371810&source=web. The second home on its parcel, and three unimproved parcels may be sold either with the main home and its fifteen acres, or separately after the main home sells.
Our long-term goal has always been—and remains—to bring all of Fleetwood Hill under protection. We will continue to work diligently with the Trust to reach a mutually acceptable agreement with Mr. Troilo. We at BSF are continuing to monitor events closely, and stand ready to assist the Trust in any way whatsoever. We and the Trust fully understand the historical importance of Fleetwood Hill, and that we have been presented an opportunity that may not come again. I pledge to you that we will do everything we can to ensure that this opportunity does not slip away.
Joseph W. McKinney
President, Brandy Station Foundation
Talk about a wishy-washy statement filled with lies and misrepresentations….
The BSF is charged with preserving this battlefield, and it’s certainly supposed to be its steward. So far, and per the express admission of its president, its sole role has been to have coffee with Mr. Troilo and hand the matter off to the Civil War Trust. And then, McKinney, who has amply demonstrated that he’s no leader, has the unmitigated gall to criticize the Trust. No definition of leadership that I have ever seen says that it’s good leadership to shift the responsibility of stewardship, which should be held on the local level, to a national organization and then just sit back and do nothing as McKinney and the BSF have done.
The entire hill has been for sale since January 2012, and McKinney has only now deigned it important enough to tell his membership about it 7 months later, and had we not shamed him into doing so, I would guess that he would not have said a single word about it publicly. This most assuredly is NOT a new opportunity to try to preserve Fleetwood Hill, and it’s a lie to claim it is.
His release also falsely states that there was some agreement with the Trust not to discuss this. I can tell you that there was no such agreement whatsoever, and that he would have been free to say something about trying to save Fleetwood Hill the moment that the “for sale” sign went up. How could it have been a secret since, as the photo (click on the photo to see a larger version of it) from early February shows, there has been a “for sale” sign on the property since January? This is a lie by McKinney, pure and simple, intended to cover up his malfeasance. Don’t believe it for even a second.
Let’s also observe this man’s outrageous hypocrisy. He states, “Tony and his family own the most fought-upon portion of Fleetwood Hill—a priority for preservationists everywhere.” If what says is true–that preserving the fought-over portion of Fleetwood Hill should be a priority for preservationists everywhere,–then where was he when Tony and his family devastated Fleetwood Hill with bulldozers to build the illegal Lake Troilo???? The hypocrisy is absolutely staggering.
Please see this lame statement for what it is, friends: a lame attempt to justify the failure of McKinney and the board of appeasers to do anything to preserve Fleetwood Hill that implicitly criticizes the Trust for not making a deal after they passed the buck and abrogated their duty. And that’s not just wrong, it’s cowardly.
Mr. McKinney and your do-nothing board: either lead, follow, or get out of the way. This very lame statement of yours plainly admits that you are incapable of leading in your own words, and you refuse to follow. Do us all a favor and get out of the way before you render the BSF even more irrelevant and impotent than you already have. There is more to your stewardship of the battlefield than the Graffiti House, relic hunting, and the ghost hunting that you bragged about in your 2011 report.Scridb filter
Reader Tim Ferry took my call to action to save Fleetwood Hill to heart, for which I am extremely grateful. Tim has left several comments on my last post, which I present in the order received. The last one’s a doozie….
I have not posted here in a long time, but do follow your blog more than most sites. You have been a strong and consistent part of bringing this battlefield to the forefront in many preservationists and Civil War enthusiast’s minds. I am very greatful I had the opportunity to tour all parts of this battlefield with you a few years back. I am a member of the CWT and have been a member since the days of the defunct APCWS. I’m a native Virginian and value our historic sites to a high degree. Brandy Station means so much for Culpeper County, Virginia, the Mid-Atlantic, the United States and in all it pertains, educates and brings to life.
You have honored us all Eric in giving this property the good fight. “The Lake” issue was an embarassment to all Americans who value, cherish and honor our past. If this property is truly for purchase and can be reasoned to exist as a real addition to the existing Brandy Station battlefield property as a saved central part, then it should be purchased and saved! The Brandy Station Foundation should have started and lead a charge already. I will gladly be in the charge with you Eric and give out of my wallet with healthy donation.
Let’s get this right! This is “good ground”, the right ground, the centrally important ground! Let’s make this saved ground!!
I want to make it quite clear that I am not doing any of this for accolades such as those stated by Tim above. Seeing that McMansion demolished will be all of the reward I ever want or need. I appreciate Tim’s sentiment, but it’s not necessary, and it’s definitely not why I’m fighting so hard to save the sacred ground at Fleetwood Hill.
Here’s the second comment:
One other item. I have read about, listen on the radio and seen on local TV the attacks to this historic property going on more than twenty years. My grandmother lived in Culpeper for several years back in the late 80?s early 90?s, escaping the crowds of her native Arlington, VA outside the DC metro area. Everytime I visited her, I’d watch TV, pick up the local news and some corporation or yahoo was trying to build a race track or something on these wonderful historic, vistic views. For the life of me I cannot understand why the BSF has not been more envolved on this issue and made the charge to protect this central part of the battle. I have had the opportunity to walk and drive this battlefield land for over twenty years. The major parts are saved thanks to people like Bud Hall and many others. It is both wonderful and thrilling to walk this land, vision what transpired across those fields and try to identify with the tumult, acts of humanity and desperation that gave way in events that unfolded here. Goose bumps!
Brandy Station means allot to me. It needs people that care. It seems the BSF and it’s leadership doesn’t care. This is not a local heritage issue, but an American issue. Let’s save this place to the last blade of grass!
Tim had no idea just how right he was when he said that the BSF and its worthless leadership don’t care, but you’ll have to wait for that. Here’s the third comment:
I just sent an e-mail to Tom Gilmore and Jim Campi on the subject. I’m sure they already know, but I also included the realtors site.
I also sent an e-mail to the realtor and asked if she could please make a deal and sell this to the CWT for historic preservation. The listing price is almost more than 2 million.
Tim’s far from the only one to contact the Civil War Trust about this in response to my posts, and I am now advised that the CWT is working on this. Thank you to Tim and everyone else for doing what was required to get the attention of the appropriate officers of the Civil War Trust. Tim’s note to the realtor, however, provided proof positive of what we all knew: that McKinney and his do nothing board have failed to do anything to try to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to save Fleetwood Hill:
I got this back in an e-mail from the realtor.
Good afternoon Tim:
Thank you for your interest in the Fleetwood Hill property at Fleetwood Heights. I agree that it would be an exceptional addition to the Civil War Trust holdings. I informed the Brandy Station chapter of its availability as soon as it was listed for sale. If you have additional contacts that you would like for me to reach please let me know and I will gladly do so right
I have a beautiful full color brochure that I can send to you if you would like. Let me know.
And again thank you for contacting me.
I added the emphasis to the quotation above, not Ms. Lindsay.
And there you have it. McKinney and the board of appeasers have quite predictably done absolutely NOTHING.
Thank you for all you have done, Tim. Your biggest contribution is probably the one you’re least aware of. We appreciate your efforts very much.
As another of my readers so appropriately put it, Mr. McKinney and the board of appeasers, it’s long past time for you to lead, follow or get out of the way. Since you’re incapable of leading and unwilling to follow, then do the right thing: resign and step aside before this opportunity is lost forever.Scridb filter
As I mentioned yesterday, there is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to purchase 50 acres of Fleetwood Hill (and to tear down the hideous McMansion that tops the hill), the site of four major cavalry battles in 1862-1863. If I was Joseph McKinney (and thank God that I’m not), the following things would have happened already:
1. I would have contacted the realtor for the sale of the 15-acre tract at the top of Fleetwood Hill and would have engaged in negotiations to conclude a contract for the purchase of the land.
2. I would have sent out a mass fundraising appeal to my membership, pointing out that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to save the most fought-over piece of ground in the United States, and I would be doing everything humanly possible to make that happen.
3. The Brandy Station Foundation’s website would prominently feature the effort to save Fleetwood Hill and would be soliciting donations to pay for the land acquisition.
4. I would have issued press releases to all of the major publications, including, but not limited to Civil War News, emphasizing the preservation effort, and soliciting funds to pay for the land acquisition.
5. I would have investigated each and every possible opportunity to find grant money in order to defray the cost of the land acquisition, as getting this done would have been my number one priority.
Sadly, neither President Joseph McKinney nor his useless board of appeasers has done any of these things. There is not even so much as a single mention of this one-time opportunity on the BSF website. There has been no fundraising appeal. There has been nothing done to marshal the troops to do battle to find a way to make this deal happen. In short, they have done what they do best: absolutely nothing. If it doesn’t have to do with ghost hunting, relic hunting, or the Graffiti House, these people simply aren’t interested. Preserving the battlefield is the very last thing on their agenda, and their lack of action in this instance plainly demonstrates the truth of that sad, unfortunate statement, just as their complete lack of action with respect to the construction of Lake Troilo did.
These people have rendered the once-great Brandy Station Foundation irrelevant, and it’s time for them to either step aside voluntarily and let people who care do this work, or they need to be shoved aside involuntarily. This window of opportunity is only going to be open for a very short time, and if the opportunity is not exploited quickly, it will probably never present itself again.
Once again, I call for the resignation of McKinney and the board of appeasers for their complete and utter failure to advance the purposes and functions of the organization.Scridb filter
It’s been a while since I have given you an update on the status of Fleetwood Hill, and I’m pleased to announce that there’s good news, better news, and an immediate challenge that issues as a result.
Should you wish to do so, you can see larger versions of the two photos included in this post by clicking on them.
First, here’s an update on the damage done by the construction of Lake Troilo. This photo, taken this past weekend, shows that the dam is gone, and so is the lake-to-be. Most importantly, Flat Run has returned to its original configuration. Sadly, the damage done can never be fully repaired. The ground has been disturbed, including relics and human graves, and that bell cannot be unrung. But for the intervention of Bud Hall, this damage would have become substantially worse, as neither Joseph McKinney nor the board of appeasers of the Brandy Station Foundation were about to do anything to stop it.
The better news is that the owner of Fleetwood Hill (and the hideous McMansion that sits atop it) has decided to sell the property. The photo to the right shows the “For Sale” sign (complete with the misspelling of the word “acreage’) on that property. Let’s be very clear about this: this parcel of ground is, without any doubt, the single most fought-over, most marched-over, and most camped-over piece of ground in the United States. There were four major cavalry battles fought on this very parcel of land. There is no other parcel of ground presently available anywhere in the country more important than this one. Please see Bud Hall’s excellent history of Fleetwood Hill, which can be found here, to understand what makes this piece of ground so unique and so important.
Fleetwood Hill represents the most important single historic feature on a battlefield whereupon about 1800 acres have already been saved. Should we not buy this 50 acre parcel that would serve as the preservation capstone to more than two decades of blood, sweat, and tears expended to save existing Brandy Station?
While the fact that the owner is ready to sell the property is extraordinarily good news, it presents a real challenge. I have heard absolutely nothing about McKinney or the board of appeasers of the Brandy Station Foundation doing the job they were elected to do by trying to put together some creative financing deal to purchase what constitutes “ground zero” of the Brandy Station battlefield and remove that hideous eyesore that sits on the crest of the hill. Given the fact that neither McKinney nor his board care a whit about preserving the battlefield–their track record, or, more accurately, lack of a track record amply demonstrates this fact–we have no reason to expect that they will do anything at all to put together a plan to buy and preserve this piece of ground. Maybe they will surprise me, but I’m most assuredly not holding my breath while sitting by waiting for them to fulfill the sacred duty they swore to perform.
And I have not heard anything about the Civil War Trust engaging to negotiate a contract to purchase this piece of land. This is not to criticize the CWT–my record of supporting its efforts for nearly two decades speaks for itself, and there is no organization doing a better job of preserving battlefields than it has. However, it is not moving with any alacrity, and the threat exists that this parcel of ground could be lost before it gets something in motion.
Therefore, I issue a challenge to all of you: who will help me to develop a plan to purchase Fleetwood Hill and preserve the most fought-over piece of land in the United States? This window of opportunity will not remain open for long, and we need to move quickly to take advantage of it. I welcome any and all suggestions and contributions that any of you may wish to offer.Scridb filter
John A. Miller and the folks from the Friends of the Monterey Pass Battlefield are doing some phenomenal work to try to preserve what’s left of the second largest battle fought in Pennsylvania during the Civil War. Sadly, the battle itself is little known (although thoroughly documented in our book One Continuous Fight: The Retreat from Gettysburg and the Pursuit of Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia and also in John’s booklet), and the efforts to preserve this important battlefield are even less well known.
John and his organization are trying to raise $200,000 to purchase some important battlefield land. For more about this fundraising campaign, please click here. And, if you can, please contribute, as the opportunity to save this ground will probably never come back around again.Scridb filter
We’ve amply pointed out the fact that Joseph McKinney refused to speak to take a stand against the construction of Lake Troilo here, thereby rendering the Brandy Station Foundation irrelevant as a battlefield preservation organization. That’s well documented.
Then, when he finally does open his yap, stupidity pours out…..
From today’s edition of the Culpeper Star Exponent, we have this prize:
Remembering Battle of Brandy Station heroes
By: Rhonda Simmons | Culpeper Star Exponent
Published: June 11, 2012
» Comments | Post a Comment
About 50 people took part in Sunday’s fourth annual commemorative religious service at the historic site of St. James Church in a wooded area near the intersection of Beverly Ford and St. James Church roads to mark the 149th anniversary of the Battle of Brandy Station.
Shielded by several towering trees, the congregation — a few dressed in period clothing — sat on folding chairs and wooden benches for the 45-minute outdoor service, featuring lots of prayer, spiritual hymns and tributes for those who died during this particular battle.
“We remember before God today those soldiers who perished in the fields and woods of our region 149 years ago at the Battle of Brandy Station,” stated the Rev. Peter Way, of Scottsville. “We pray that time will not erase the memory of the devastation of this day, and that we will not forget the lessons it may teach us. As we remember the sacrifice made by these soldiers so long ago, may we resolve to work for justice, freedom, and unity in our own way, and to pray for that day when war shall end forever.”
Warrenton-based musicians the Cabin Raiders — Jason Ashby, Steve Hickman and Kevin Roop — provided traditional Appalachian-style music during Sunday’s service.
Built in 1840, St. James Church suffered total destruction during the winter encampment of Union troops in 1863-64.
Joe McKinney, president of the Brandy Station Foundation, shared some insightful history about that fateful battle on June 9, 1863.
Dubbed the largest cavalry battle of the American Civil War (Battle Between the States) and the start of the engagement of the Gettysburg Campaign, the Battle of Brandy Station begin that morning when Union cavalry launched a surprise attack on Confederate soldiers stationed in the church.
“Under orders to move on Brandy Station, Union soldiers needed to drive the Confederates from their position here at the church and penetrate the confederate line and move forward,” McKinney explained. “The Reserve Brigade, probably the hardest fighting brigade in the Union cavalry, was ordered to attack St. James Church.”
Armed with lances, however, it was five companies within the Sixth Pennsylvania Cavalry that actually tried to attack the Confederates that day, according to McKinney.
“At about 400 yards out, they launched their charge and came under a terrible [round] of artillery fire,” he said. “The men here manning the guns were in awe at how the soldiers kept advancing through the artillery.”
Quoting a Union captain, McKinney repeated those words… “What had been a glorious charge became a race for life as the men from Pennsylvania outnumbered and suffering heavy casualties turned and attempted to escape.”
McKinney said the Sixth Pennsylvania suffered the highest rate of casualties of any regiment on June 9, 1863.
“Prior to this battle, because of their distinctive lances, the sixth Pennsylvania had not been considered much of a regiment. In fact, other infantrymen would make fun of them. But the Sixth Pennsylvania men showed on this day that they were hard fighters and considered one of the elite members of the Union Army from this time forward.”
Toward the end of Sunday’s ceremony, BSF member Bob Jones shared his condolences for the fallen soldiers.
“We join together today to honor those who gave their lives here at St. James Church and in the fields around us during that eventful spring day 149 years ago,” he said.
Jones also concluded the ceremony with the poem “Listen.”
“As the sun begins to go down, as the day comes to a close, please rise. Please rise and listen with me to one final sound. A sound in honor of those who fought and died for all of us on that beautiful spring day of June 9, 1863,” stated Jones, prompting the lone drummer to generate a loud bang, startling a parishioner.
Organized by members of Christ Episcopal Church and Brandy Station Foundation, both groups invited guests to the Graffiti House for a reception featuring refreshments.
For the record, there were no reports of snakebites or bee stings during Sunday’s outdoor service. However, there may have been a few bug bites.
The emphasis in the quote is mine.
The last two companies of the Sixth Pennsylvania Cavalry (E & I) turned in their lances on May 5, 1863. As of that date, just over a month before the Battle of Brandy Station, not a single member of the Sixth Pennsylvania Cavalry still had a single lance. In fact, a member of the regiment wrote home and lamented to his mother the fact that they did NOT have the lances at Brandy Station, as that might have made a difference in the outcome of the battle.
Let’s remember that this guy wrote and published a very expensive book on the battle that he presumably spent some time researching, and he can’t even get a major detail like the fact that the Sixth Pennsylvania Cavalry didn’t have lances at the Battle of Brandy Station correct. One would think that the president of a battlefield preservation organization might know a little something about the battle for which he is charged with protecting the field of honor where that battle was fought. And you would think that this would especially be true after writing an overpriced book about that battle. Apparently not. Wow. I’m stunned by the staggering level of incompetence.
Nice work, Mr. McKinney. You were better off to keep your mouth shut and have people think you are a fool than to have opened it and to have removed all doubt (with apologies to Abraham Lincoln). Don’t you think it’s time to resign?Scridb filter