Month:

August, 2013

I_bales2One of my favorite events is coming up soon and I wanted to spread the word about it a bit.

Each year, the Mosby Area Heritage Association puts on its annual Middleburg Conference on the Art of Command in the Civil War. Childs Burden and the rest of the MHAA folks put on a tremendous program every year, and it’s always my pleasure to attend this event when asked. I actually assisted Childs with assembling the slate of speakers for this year’s program, and the tours are always first-rate. If you’re interested in such things, this event is a first-class program every year, and it benefits a great cause.

This year’s program is titled Prelude to Gettysburg: The Armies Move North. The schedule is below:

Friday, October 4
4:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Registration, Reception and Book Browsing

5:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Speaker: Horace Mewborn “Mosby’s Intelligence to Stuart: June 16 – 24, 1863”

6:15 pm – 7:15 pm
Speaker: Eric Wittenberg
“A Study in Controversy: The Historiography of Jeb Stuart’s Ride to Gettyburg”

Dinner on your own

Saturday, October 5
8:00 am
Registration, Coffee and Snacks

8:30 am – 9:30 am
Speaker: Clark B. Hall
“The Army is Moving – Lee’s March Toward the Potomac – The Gettysburg Campaign Begins!”

9:45 am – 10:45 am
Speaker: Scott Patchan “Milroy’s Boys and the Long Shadow of the Second Battle of Winchester”

11:00 am – 12 noon
Speaker: Robert K. Krick “‘The Forlorn Attempt to Find Another Jackson: Reorganizing the Army of Northern Virginia in the Spring of 1863”

12:00 noon – 12:30 pm
Lunch Served

Speaker: Robert O’Neill, Jr. “‘The Michigan Brigade Before Custer: From Michigan to Gettysburg”
12:30-1:30 pm

Speaker: Chris S. Stowe, Ph.D. “The Entente Cordiale is Destroyed Between Us: Joseph Hooker, George Meade, and the Politics of Commanding the Army of the Potomac”
1:45-2:45 pm

Speaker: Scott L. Mingus, Sr. “Flames Beyond Gettysburg: The Confederate Expedition to the Susquehanna River, June 1863”
3:00-4:00 pm

Panel discussion and book signing
4:00-4:45 pm

Cash bar opens upstairs at the Red Fox Inn
6:15 pm

Banquet dinner upstairs at the Red Fox Inn
7:00 pm

Sunday, October 6

8:00 am
Buses depart behind the Middleburg Community Center as we follow Lee’s army north into Pennsylvania (box lunches will be served)

5:00 pm

Buses return to Middleburg

I thoroughly enjoy this event, and will be assisting with leading the tour on Sunday. Unfortunately, I will not be there on Saturday, as I have another event that day that I will discuss in another post.

I hope to see some of you there!

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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

cschemmer@freelancestar.com

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.

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LighthizerThis 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.

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