Month:

July, 2011

26 Jul 2011, by

Threads

My fellow blogger Harry Smeltzer is fond of pulling threads and examining family ties. And no, I am not referring to the popular Michael J. Fox television show from the 1980’s. Instead, the idea is to choose a personality and see what family ties can be found by pulling on a few threads. Harry has done some excellent thread pulling with respect to Judson Kilpatrick.

I got the new issue of Patriots of the American Revolution yesterday (in the interest of full disclosure: Patriots is a sponsor of this blog). The cover story is about General Hugh Mercer, who was mortally wounded in action at the Battle of Princeton. That was a very fortuitous thing, as it ties into my current project and, if I pull the threads, it leads directly to one of my very favorite military figures of all time, General George S. Patton, Jr. This will be one of a couple threads that I intend to pull about General Patton.

Hugh Mercer was born in Scotland on January 17, 1726. At the young age of 15, he graduated from college and became a physician. He was present at the 1746 Battle of Culloden, serving as a physician in Bonny Prince Charlie’s army, which suffered a crushing defeat. Forced to flee Scotland as a result, the young doctor immigrated to America, settling near Mercersburg, PA, where he practiced medicine for eight years (the town was not known as Mercersburg then, but the name was changed to honor General Mercer).

In 1755, and appalled by the butchering of Brig. Gen. Edward Braddock’s army in its unsuccessful attempt to capture Fort Duquesne, Mercer went to aid the wounded. By 1756, he had been commissioned a captain in a Pennsylvania regiment, and was promoted to colonel. Along the way, he forged a warm, lifelong friendship with another colonial colonel, George Washington of Virginia. Both then served under General John Forbes during the second attempt to capture Fort Duquesne. At the end of the successful campaign, Forbes’ ill health forced him to return to Philadelphia, leaving Mercer in command of the fort and the settlement that grew up around it, Pittsburgh.

In 1760, Mercer settled in Fredericksburg, Virginia, where he established a medical practice and apothecary. He purchased Ferry Farm–George Washington’s childhood home–from Washington. Mercer was involved in patriot affairs, and was appointed colonel of the 3rd Virginia Regiment in January 1776. Six months later, he was appointed a brigadier general in the Continental Army. Mercer originated the plan that led to the successful Battle of Trenton, and was mortally wounded at the Battle of Princeton on January 3, 1777. He died on January 12, with these as his last words: “What is to be, is to be! Goodbye, dear native land! Farewell, adopted country! I have done my best for you! Into thy care, O America, I commit my fatherless family! May God prosper our righteous cause! Amen!” He rests in Philadelphia’s Laurel Hill Cemetery. A photo that I took of General Mercer’s grave on a prior visit to Laurel Hill Cemetery can be found here.

One of Mercer’s grandsons was Col. George Smith Patton, who was the victorious commander in the August 26-27, 1863 Battle of White Sulphur Springs, which is the subject of the book manuscript that I will finish up in the next week or so.

Patton was born in Federicksburg, Virginia in 1833. He was tall and slender, like his mother, and had dark, curly hair and dark eyes. Colonel Patton graduated from the Virginia Military Institute in 1852, and then helped to found a private school in Richmond, where he served as assistant principal and taught mathematics and English, all the while studying law in the hope of joining the Virginia bar.

He married in 1856 and relocated his new family to Charleston, the eventual capital of West Virginia, where he started a law practice with a partner. He soon founded a volunteer militia company known as the Kanawha Riflemen.

When war came in the spring of 1861, the Kanawha Riflemen became Co. H of the 22nd Virginia Infantry. Patton was commissioned lieutenant colonel of the regiment and was ordered to report to Brig. Gen. Henry Wise’s Army of the Kanawha. Patton was badly wounded in action during the July 1861 Battle of Scary Creek, where he was left behind as too badly hurt to be moved.

After being exchanged, he eventually returned to duty and received a second serious combat wound near Giles Court House, in southwestern Virginia in May 1862. He was shot in the belly, and in those days, most gut shots were fatal. Patton himself believed that the wound was mortal, but a gold coin in his pocket saved his life by preventing the bullet from fully entering his abdominal cavity. However, he developed blood poisoning and had to go home to recuperate from his second serious combat wound. He also learned that his exchange had never been formally completed, meaning that he could have been shot if captured again for violating his parole. Nevertheless, when Patton returned to duty, he was commissioned colonel of the 22nd Virginia. Interestingly, three of his brothers also served as colonels of Confederate regiments.

A friend described Patton:

His various and accurate learning revealed talents of a high order and of unusual versatility. To concentrate his thoughts upon a subject before him was natural and easy—not a laborious and painful exercise. Rapidly scouring the page, his eye would as quickly transfer to his mind whatever value it contained. Preferring the profession of law to any other business, and the sanctities of home and family to all other pleasures, he had, nevertheless, peculiar aptitude for a soldier’s duty and a soldier’s life. He enforced discipline without exciting dislike, and commanded his men without diminishing their self-respect. No private was ever denied the pleasure of conversation with his commander, and a courteous reception awaited all who chose to visit his quarters. When duty compelled him to deny a request, it was done with such evident reluctance, or with such kindliness of manner, that refusal gave less pain than is often suffered when a favor is granted with roughness or unwillingly.

Due to the frequent ill health of his brigade commander, Brig. Gen. John Echols, Patton frequently commanded the brigade that included his 22nd Virginia Infantry Regiment. Patton led the brigade so ably that it was often called Patton’s Brigade, and not Echols’ Brigade. He commanded Echols’ brigade at White Sulphur Springs and defeated William Woods Averell’s Fourth Separate Brigade in a grinding, two-day battle. Patton was recommended for promotion to brigadier general as a result of his outstanding performance at White Sulphur Springs, but the Confederate Senate did not confirm the promotion in a timely fashion. The Senate’s failure to confirm the promotion in a timely fashion meant that notice of his promotion never reached Patton while he was still alive. Patton was mortally wounded on September 19, 1864 during the Third Battle of Winchester, and died a few days later. He was buried with his brother, Col. Waller Tazewell Patton, who was mortally wounded during Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg, in Winchester’s Stonewall Cemetery.

Four years after George Patton’s death, his 11-year-old son, originally named George William Patton, asked his mother for permission to change his name to George Smith Patton, to honor the dead war hero. His mother granted permission, and the boy changed his name. He became a renowned and prominent attorney in California, and his son, named George Smith Patton, Jr., went on to become America’s most successful battlefield commander during World War II.

George Smith Patton was the grandfather of the great World War II general, George S. Patton, Jr. Thus, there is a direct link between Hugh Mercer, Revolutionary War hero, and the great World War II hero who was his great-great grandson. I will pull together a few other threads regarding General Patton soon.

Scridb filter

Continue reading

I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention that today is a very important anniversary. 150 years ago today, the First Battle of Bull Run was fought. On July 21, 1861, the inexperienced armies of Irvin McDowell, Joseph Johnston, and P.G.T. Beauregard clashed near Manassas, Virginia, and the bloody results of that violent clash opened a lot of eyes. Suddenly, it became clear that this rebellion would not be over in 90 days, and that if the Federal government wanted to prevail, a LOT of blood would have to be shed to do so. In many ways, America lost its innocence that day.

For lots of reasons, I’ve never found the battle especially compelling, but that does not make it any less important. The sesquicentennial of that pivotal engagement is most assuredly worth commemorating, and I want to invite you, my readers, to leave comments here as to why you think that First Bull Run is worthy of commemorating.

For those interested in more on this battle, I highly recommend spending the five or six minutes that it takes to watch this excellent presentation (which features the superb maps of cartographer Steve Stanley) put together by the Civil War Trust.

I also commend to you Harry Smeltzer’s excellent blog, Bull Runnings, which is devoted primarily to Harry’s many years of study of First Bull Run.

Scridb filter

Continue reading

The new issue of Blue & Gray magazine, which is one of the sponsors of this blog is out. It includes a guest editorial written by former Brandy Station Foundation board member and spokesman Mike Green and me, and addresses the Lake Troilo debacle and the complete and total abrogation of the duty to preserve and protect the Brandy Station battlefield by the current president and his board of appeasers:

Guest Editorial

Battlefield Preservation
Is A Duty to Take Seriously

by G. Michael Green and
Eric J. Wittenberg

As Americans, we have a sacred duty to preserve our past. The preservation of our Civil War battlefields is a sacred trust. Once those battlefields are destroyed, they can never be recovered. Agreeing to serve as a steward of one of those battlefields is not only a responsibility, it is a privilege. Don’t agree to do so unless you really intend to fulfill that obligation.

The Brandy Station battlefield in Virginia is a model of battlefield preservation at work. Saved from destruction twice, much of the battlefield has been saved through hard work by dedicated volunteers. Unfortunately, the new board of trustees and new president of the Brandy Station Foundation (BSF), charged with preserving that battlefield for posterity, do not take their responsibilities to preserve that battlefield seriously, and, unfortunately, have abrogated that duty in the interest of appeasing a property owner.

In the past few weeks, bulldozers appeared on the scene at Brandy Station and quickly began to severely despoil a key tract on the battlefield—southern Fleetwood Hill, a prominent ridge that witnessed the heaviest fighting in the entire battle.

In early May, a local landowner began excavating this historic acreage for the purpose of building a recreational pond. His bulldozers scraped, dug, and pushed this historic ground for several days—creating a large pond and damming up Flat Run, a perennial stream that feeds vigorously into the Rappahannock River.

Noting the destruction to Fleetwood Hill, the former president of the Brandy Station Foundation, Clark B. “Bud” Hall, notified federal, state and local authorities about the devastating construction on this battlefield property—acreage that comprises a battlefield deemed eligible by federal authorities for the National Register of Historic Places. Responding quickly, the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers issued an immediate “cease and desist” order, while finding that the non-permitted construction violated the Clean Water Act. In response, the landowner apologized and acknowledged he would work with the Corps to restore the site.

However, the BSF board and president chose not to act. Instead, they enacted a policy that suggests that the BSF should not interfere with a landowner’s private property rights. In short, they have abandoned the battlefield.

Simply put, we believe the current BSF leadership cannot be trusted to preserve and protect this hallowed battlefield. Their appeasement—if not outright support—of the landowner’s misplaced “property rights;” and his efforts to destroy a key part of Fleetwood Hill should reverberate throughout the historic preservation community. The battlefield itself, the memories of the men who struggled and died there, and our heritage all deserve MUCH better from the so-called stewards of this hallowed ground. We should not tolerate it.

G. Michael Green is a former Director and chief spokesperson for the Brandy Station Foundation. He is a federal executive and resides in northern Virginia.

Eric J. Wittenberg is a Columbus, Ohio attorney who serves as the vice president of the Buffington Island Battlefield Preservation Foundation and has been deeply involved in battlefield preservation for years.

Interested parties can contact BSF:
www.brandystationfoundation.com

For updates on this matter:
eric@civilwarcavalry.com

Other than constant vigilance, there’s not much more than can be said other than that interested members of the BSF should call for the resignation of the president and board of trustees, and if they won’t do the right thing, then VOTE THEM OUT OF OFFICE and permit the BSF to fulfill its obligation to preserve and protect the battlefield.

Scridb filter

Continue reading

As I mentioned here, I was on the program at the Retreat through Williamsport event, commemorating the retreat from Gettysburg and the pursuit by the Army of the Potomac, this past weekend. The event was a joint production by the City of Williamsport and the National Park Service C & O Canal unit there. It was a very well planned and well run event, and I very much enjoyed my visit.

Here’s the coverage from yesterday’s edition of the Hagerstown Herald-Mail:

Williamsport marks rebel retreat from Gettysburg
Civil War exhibits, speakers, music featured

By ALICIA NOTARIANNI
alnotarianni@aol.com
7:19 p.m. EDT, July 9, 2011

WILLIAMSPORT, Md.— “It wasn’t the good old days,” Joan Knode said.

Soldiers who had been injured in the Battle of Gettysburg rode in hard wagons through Williamsport en route to Virginia.

It was early July 1863, and the Confederate effort led by Gen. Robert E. Lee had been foiled by the forces of Union Maj. Gen. George Gordon Meade.

“Some of the men begged to be thrown off the wagon, to be thrown alongside the road,” Knode said.

To make matters worse, when Lee’s forces arrived in Williamsport, the Potomac River had flooded. They were confined in the town for about 10 days, and the Union Army had begun to encircle them.

Finally, during the night of July 13 and the morning of July 14, Lee’s forces were able to cross the river.

Knode, a Williamsport town councilwoman, worked with C&O Canal National Historical Park Ranger Curt Gaul and Williamsport resident Scott Bragunier to commemorate those events at the second annual Retreat through Williamsport: Civil War Weekend.

People gathered on the grounds of the Springfield Farm Barn in Williamsport Saturday morning to see encampments, re-enactments and demonstrations. Bands played period music and speakers lectured on the retreat.

A crowd favorite was Eric J. Wittenberg, an Ohio-based, award-winning Civil War historian and author of 16 published books.

An audience of about 75 filled the barn while Wittenberg gave an animated overview of the retreat.

“Williamsport was the hub,” Wittenberg said. “The flooding of the river made Williamsport the focus of both armies. Had the Union been able to prevent Lee from crossing here, it might have defeated his army and the war might have ended much sooner.”

Gaul said event planners conceived of the first retreat weekend last year to gear up for the 150th anniversary of the Civil War retreat in 2013.

“We had enough success last year to make us credible. We’ve got a hard-core Civil War crowd here,” Gaul said. “The challenge now will be following the great lectures we’ve had the first two years.”

Phil Wingert, 50, of Hagerstown said he is a Civil War historian who was drawn to the event by the caliber of the lecturers.

“They have some really good speakers,” Wingert said. “It’s the old, ‘What’s past is prologue.’ The battles, the politics. Those experiences are still relevant to us today.”

Joseph and Michelle Pyne of Hagerstown attended the commemoration with their grandson Micheal Miller.

They said Micheal has seen Civil War documentaries and they wanted him to learn more in person.

“It’s good that people make attempts to preserve history. As generations go on, it’s easy to let it all fall by the wayside,” Joseph Pyne said. “Even though it’s in the past, it’s not that long ago when you think about it.”

It can’t be embedded, but here’s a link to the short video that was shot at the event. It includes a small portion of my lecture that day.

Yesterday, there was a five-mile hike along the C & O Canal towpath from the Cushwa Basin in Williamsport to the location of the Confederate pontoon bridge at Falling Waters. We missed that march because we were already in Kure Beach, NC for our vacation, but it sounds like it was also an interesting event. Here’s a link to the article that appeared in yesterday’s edition of the Martinsburg Journal-News, which focuses on the role of the C & O Canal in these events.

I hope to be invited back, particularly for the 150th anniversary event in 2013. I recommend this event–whether I’m there or not–to anyone with an interest in the retreat from Gettysburg.

Scridb filter

Continue reading

Former Brandy Station Foundation board member and spokesman G. Michael Green has written an excellent op-ed piece of the Lake Troilo disaster–as well as the wrong-headed and ill-advised policy that it has promulgated–in the current issue of The Civil War News, which I commend to you:

A New “Threat” To Brandy Station Battlefield
By G. Michael Green
(July 2011 Civil War News – Preservation Column)

As our Civil War Sesquicentennial begins, we Americans are freshly focused as to how this disastrous internecine conflict transformed our nation. And quite predictably, the 150th anniversary of our private war has fostered renewed attention to the precarious nature of threatened Civil War battlefields.

One such battlefield rests outside a small Virginia hamlet in Culpeper County, and it is a fact that the largest and bloodiest cavalry engagement of the war occurred on June 9, 1863, at Brandy Station upon pristine fields that remain largely unchanged today.

Over the past 20 years, the Brandy Station battlefield has faced nearly constant threat by commercial and residential developers. At the forefront of each battle has been the local Brandy Station Foundation (BSF).

In the past two decades, the BSF and its partner, the Civil War Trust, have successfully preserved nearly 2,000 acres of battlefield lands at Brandy Station

In the past few weeks, bulldozers again appeared on the scene at Brandy Station and quickly began to severely despoil a key tract on the battlefield — southern Fleetwood Hill, a prominent ridge that witnessed the heaviest fighting in the entire battle.

In early May, a local landowner began excavating this historic acreage for the purpose of building a recreational pond. His bulldozers scraped, dug and pushed this historic ground for several days – creating a large pond and damming up Flat Run, a perennial stream that feeds vigorously into the Rappahannock River.

Noting the destruction to Fleetwood Hill, Clark B. Hall, the former president of the Brandy Station Foundation, notified federal, state and local authorities about the devastating construction on this battlefield property — acreage that comprises a battlefield deemed eligible by federal authorities for the National Register of Historic Places.

Responding quickly, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued an immediate “cease and desist” order, while finding that the non-permitted construction violated the Clean Water Act. In response, the landowner apologized and acknowledged he would work with the Corps to restore the site.

With excavation on Fleetwood Hill now halted, one is left with a disturbing question.

Where was the Brandy Station Foundation when it became evident the battlefield was in peril? Several BSF supporters contacted the newly-installed BSF President asking for assistance and support in stopping the excavation — only to be met with obfuscation and bizarre defensiveness.

The BSF president’s curious reaction included assertions that this issue has been blown out of proportion, and that BSF could not interfere with a landowner’s private property rights.

He also disclosed knowledge of the excavation plans since late April, but yet did nothing to prevent the destruction or alert others as to its potential impact.

I visited the site on May 15 and was appalled at the destruction. How could the destruction these bulldozers inflicted on this historic hillside not sicken anyone, much less the leader of a distinguished, highly successful 20-year-old preservation organization?

In a personal communication to the president, I urged aggressive action by the BSF, but BSF did absolutely nothing.

BSF finally issued, however, a confusing and illogical statement on May 19, days after the Corps “cease and desist” order.

The statement reads: “We are mindful that landowners have certain rights with regard to the property that they own. As a result, we believe that it is generally not productive to officially oppose common property improvements, particularly when those improvements are reversible. Also, we do not oppose landowners who conduct agricultural activities on battlefield property.”

After reviewing BSF’s strange statement, here is how a preservation authority responded: “While anyone may choose to view the permit process as an issue between the landowner and the agency, the law in play here — Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act — views it VERY differently.

“The law REQUIRES the permitting agency (in this case the Corps) to seek the input of the public in its review of projects. The law is written to encourage precisely the sort of public input that BSF has apparently eschewed.

“Preservation groups have very few legal tools at hand to accomplish preservation; Section 106 is by far the most useful. The idea that a preservation organization would publicly proclaim its intent NOT to use the major legal tool at its disposal might well be unprecedented.”

And by the way, how is bulldozing historic property and building a large pond on historic battlefield property reversible? Once completed, who would reverse the damage and at what additional costs? To my knowledge, this landowner is certainly not engaged in “agricultural activities.”

Simply put, I believe the current BSF leadership cannot be trusted to preserve and protect this hallowed battlefield. The BSF’s weeks of silence and ill-conceived statement on this issue convey a level of complicity in the destructive excavation on historic Fleetwood Hill.

Nine directors have resigned from the BSF board as a protest against the current president’s anti-preservation policies. The BSF’s appeasement — if not outright support — of the landowner’s misplaced “property rights” and his efforts to destroy a key part of Fleetwood Hill should reverberate throughout the historic preservation community. And, we should not tolerate it.

Mr. Green is, of course, absolutely correct about this. Once more, I call upon Joseph McKinney, who is apparently too proud and too stubborn to do the right thing, to resign as president of the Brandy Station Foundation, so that the organization can return to its mission, PRESERVATION of the Brandy Station battlefield, not supporting its destruction.

Scridb filter

Continue reading

Scott Boyd has written an insightful article on the epic failure of Joseph McKinney and the board of the Brandy Station Foundation to fulfill the BSF’s mission of preserving battlefield land. The article appears in the July issue of Civil War News.

9 Brandy Station Board Members Resign
Over Preservation Concerns
By Scott C. Boyd
(July2011 Civil War News)

BRANDY STATION, Va. – Disappointment with the leadership of the Brandy Station Foundation (BSF) recently led to nine members of the board of directors resigning.

Seven of them left immediately before or after new president Joseph W. McKinney was elected at the group’s April 8 annual meeting.

The eighth resigned on May 19 after the board released a position statement titled “Landowner Improvements and Agricultural Activities.” It is online at www.brandystationfoundation.com

This member told Civil War News he saw the statement as “reneging on” the BSF strategic goals of preserving the historic rural character of Culpeper County and protecting the Brandy Station and Kelly’s Ford battlefields.

The ninth member resigned on June 1 over philosophical differences with the direction the board was taking.

McKinney’s selection by the BSF Nominating Committee as its preferred candidate for president was announced at the board’s March 5 meeting.

His nomination became controversial after a newspaper photo submitted by McKinney, and published on April 1, was interpreted by some to indicate he supported relic hunting — a major taboo in some preservationist circles.

Next, background research on McKinney by skeptics turned up some seemingly anti-preservation sentiments in a 2009 op-ed.

The concern some had about McKinney reached a fever pitch after construction of a pond on a privately owned part of the battlefield.

Relic Hunt Photo

The “Diggin’ in Virginia” 17th annual relic hunt was held at the Beauregard Farm on March 31-April 2. It is privately owned land on the Brandy Station Battlefield.

McKinney’s photo, which was published in the Culpeper Star-Exponent, showed a boy receiving instructions on how to fire a cannon to signal the start of the event.

“This was merely my effort to document an 11-year-old boy having the biggest day of his life,” McKinney said.

McKinney said he was not there in any official capacity, nor did he participate in the relic hunt. He said his sole interest was the original cannon, which was at Brandy Station Battlefield in 1863.

He convinced the owner to bring it from Michigan for the event and asked him to return for the 150th battle anniversary.

The photo struck a raw nerve with some preservationists. A former BSF president wrote McKinney: “BSF must never be seen as supporters of relic hunting. People choose to do it on private property and that’s okay for them. But preservationists abhor the practice.”

Eric Wittenberg’s “Rantings of a Civil War Historian” blog on April 11 claimed McKinney “participated in a relic hunt on the Beauregard farm.”

A board member who resigned said his resignation was “a direct result of Joe McKinney’s involvement in the relic-hunting on hallowed ground,” and one other issue.

McKinney agreed with the suggestion that there may be a “cultural clash” in the BSF between those who oppose relic hunting on privately owned battlefield land and those who don’t.

The Op-Ed

McKinney’s critics often cite an Aug. 6, 2009, op-ed in The Washington Post. In it he observed that in place of the aborted Walt Disney Company plan of 1993 for a historical theme park near Manassas Battlefield there is now a great deal of commercial and residential development.

“Instead of tourists, the roads — including those running through the Manassas battlefield — are choked with commuters,” he wrote. “Sometimes, as I sit in traffic on the way to Leesburg, I think we might have been better off with the theme park instead of the houses.”

“That leads me to wonder: If Wal-Mart is not acceptable near the Wilderness battlefield, what is? Is a strip mall better than a Wal-Mart? What about 500 single-family dwellings?” he wrote.

McKinney’s op-ed was seen in some quarters as a slap in the face to preservationists, according to background interviews and emails shared with Civil War News.

Pond Excavation

Tony Troilo owns land on Fleetwood Hill, scene of some of the fiercest fighting during the battle. Until recently, three generations of the Troilo family lived in the mansion on the hill, built in 2007.

In early May, Troilo had bulldozers dig some of his land to put in a pond. He also dammed Flat Run to redirect the water.

The bulldozers and water diversion on Fleetwood Hill caused alarm among some in the preservation community.

While this was going on, Troilo’s father, Joe, who lived in the mansion, died on May 6 and his funeral was May 12.

The BSF, then led by McKinney, did not make any public statement about what Troilo was doing. This brought the scorn of many in the preservation community, including BSF members.

The blog “To the Sound of the Guns” on May 16 posted: “In my view, this should have been a no-brainer. The foundation HAD to say something when the president first gained knowledge of the situation. At a minimum the foundation should have issued a statement of concern and called public attention to the matter. That is what the organization was formed to do.”

Blog author Craig Swain is a retired BSF board member who ended up renouncing his BSF membership altogether on May 18.

McKinney said in an interview, “At some point, I’d probably talk to Tony about the pond. But I wasn’t going to go up to his house and talk to him about the pond on the week that he’s burying his dad.”

Former BSF president Clark “Bud” Hall, however, immediately complained to authorities about what was happening on Fleetwood Hill.

“I think this was not a good thing to happen from a public relations or community relations perspective — or a common decency perspective,” McKinney said about the timing of the complaint. “I’ve been told by people in the community they were not happy about that.”

After responding to the complaint and visiting the site on May 11, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sent Troilo a cease-and-desist letter dated May 13 informing him that damming Flat Run violated Section 404 of the Clean Water Act.

The same letter also stated that the Virginia Department of Historic Resources said that the unauthorized work occurred in the Brandy Station Historic District, a property eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. It said that federal regulations prohibit work being done in U.S. waters without following procedures to protect historic properties like that.

A May 19 letter from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality informed Troilo that his unauthorized work may have violated State Water Control Law and Regulations, and could be subject to civil penalties of up to $32,500 per day of each violation, in addition to other possible fines.

A May 23 Corps letter to Troilo mentioned that he voluntarily agreed on May 16 to develop a “restoration plan” for his disturbance of Flat Run. He seemed very willing to cooperate with the state and federal authorities to correct the problem.

McKinney said Troilo told him that before starting the pond work, he asked Culpeper County officials what permits he needed and was told no additional permits were required.

“Are we supposed to jump in and say, ‘Me, too’?” McKinney said of now denouncing what Troilo did on Fleetwood Hill. “Is that going to accomplish anything substantive? Probably not. The controversy over the pond is already over.”

He acknowledges, “Some people look at this as a destruction of Fleetwood Hill, as despoiling historic property.”

“The other way of looking at that is, a property owner has certain rights for his own property. I think we as preservationists have to be very thoughtful when we approach landowners about issues that are really within the purview of the property owner,” he said.

“In fact, if this were not a Clean Water Act issue, the pond would be there right now,” according to McKinney.

Work Ahead

McKinney said upcoming issues for the Brandy Station Foundation include commemorating the battle’s 150th anniversary, participating on the Culpeper Sesquicentennial Committee, commemorating the Union Army’s six-month winter encampment nearby and “putting things in place so one day we can buy Fleetwood Hill.”

He also lists getting an easement from Troilo so visitors can walk from BSF to Civil War Trust (CWT) property, using an $80,000 federal grant before it expires on Sept. 30, and qualifying the BSF for participation in the Combined Federal Campaign where federal workers can annually select it for a charitable contribution.

In terms of preservation, McKinney said, “Other than Fleetwood Hill, the Brandy Station Battlefield is pretty much protected right now.”

Jim Campi, Civil War Trust Policy and Communications Director, commented: “It is critical for the future of Brandy Station that it have a vibrant and active advocacy group. Much of the battlefield remains unprotected and, as we have seen with the Troilo pond incident and Route 3 widening proposal, vigilance is necessary to ensure that preserved lands remain preserved.”

He added, “The recent flurry of resignations from the BSF board have many foundation friends concerned about the organization’s future.”

McKinney said he thinks that with the exception of Bud Hall, those who resigned “didn’t have any understanding or knowledge of me, and it’s not like I haven’t been working for the BSF for a number of years.”

That he doesn’t understand that the battlefield is NOT pretty much preserved now is an absolutely ignorant and appalling thing for the president of the BSF to say. While the effort to preserve the battlefield remains ongoing and has already accomplished a lot, there are still THOUSANDS of acres of battlefield land there that remain unprotected in any fashion and in private hands. It’s absolutely appalling that he would make such an inane and ignorant statement.

What’s not to understand, Mr. McKinney? Your record of not caring a whit about preserving the battlefield and your conflict of interest have already been made abundantly clear. Actually, I think we quite have the measure of you…..

Scridb filter

Continue reading

Copyright © Eric Wittenberg 2011, All Rights Reserved
Powered by WordPress

Warning: substr() expects parameter 3 to be long, string given in /home/netscrib/public_html/civilwarcavalry/wp-content/themes/wittenberg/footer.php on line 54