14 September 2009 by Published in: Battlefield preservation No comments yet

We’re home from our banzai run. We left on Friday, headed for my home town of Reading, PA. My mother’s 85th birthday is tomorrow–happy birthday, mom!–so we went in to celebrate the occasion a little early. Yesterday morning, we took off for Culpeper County, VA for the 20th anniversary picnic commemorating the founding of the Brandy Station Foundation. It had rained hard the whole time we were in Pennsylvania, and I was scared that the weather would not cooperate for the picnic. Fortunately, my fears turned out to be groundless, because it was a gorgeous day in central Virginia, about 80 degrees, not humid, and gentle breezes. The weather was just ideal.

The picnic was held on the grounds of Berry Hill Farm, which is south of the village of Brandy Station proper. The ford over Mountain Run where Col. Sir Percy Wyndham’s brigade of David M. Gregg’s Third Cavalry Division crossed while on the way to Fleetwood Hill is on the property. The house was destroyed by John Pope’s soldiers in 1862 and was rebuilt in 1866, and it’s a real show place.

More than 150 people attended, including all of the past presidents and most of the past and present board members of the BSF. Fellow blogger Craig Swain attended, so I finally got to meet him in person, and my friend Prof. Chris Stowe of the Army Command and General Staff College branch at Fort Lee in Petersburg, Virginia also made the trek and attended. As always, it was good to see and visit with Chris.

It was a well-done event that turned into an excellent fundraiser for the BSF’s good work. My role was to deliver a 15 minute talk on the history of the preservation of the Brandy Station, battlefield, a great but mostly unknown story that I intend to tell in book-length form. For the local newspaper’s coverage of the story, click here.

Eight of us–including Bud, Susan, me, Jens and Mary Tholand (Mary is a board member of the BSF), Mike and Caryn Block (Mike is also a board member), and old friend and cavalry nut Todd Kern–then had a wonderful meal at Pelham’s Pub at the Inn at Kelly’s Ford after the event, watching the horses and cows grazing in the fields by Kelly’s Ford that saw so much violence and bloodshed during the course of the war. Then, Susan and I spent the night in the General Hooker Suite at the Inn. We then drove home today, making a very brief stop at the Fort Necessity National Battlefield on the way home. We put 1000 miles on Susan’s car this weekend. No wonder I’m tired tonight….

Here are some images from the weekend for your perusal…

Clark B. (Bud) Hall

This is Clark B. “Bud” Hall, the guiding light behind the preservation of the battlefield at Brandy Station, addressing the crowd.

Eric speaking to the crowd

Me, addressing the crowd during my short speech.

Bud Hall, Eric Wittenberg, and Mike Block

Bud, BSF board member and fellow Phillies fan Mike Block, and me.

A Great Group of Friends

A great group of friends after the picnic: Todd Kern, Bud Hall, Kimberly Abe, me, Susan, Mike Block, and Caryn Block. A good time was had by all.

Berryhill House

The house at Berry Hill Farm. It’s a beautiful home.

The Inn at Kelly's Ford

The main house at the Inn at Kelly’s Ford, taken by Susan this morning. The front portion of the house is the original house, which was there at the time of the March 17, 1863 Battle of Kelly’s Ford. I am advised that there is battle damage to the house from the many actions that occurred at Kelly’s Ford during the Civil War. The Inn itself is spectacular.

It was a great trip, and it was my honor and pleasure to help advance the cause of preserving a battlefield that means as much to me as this one does.

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