06 January 2012 by Published in: Battlefield preservation 4 comments

The following article appears in the current issue of Civil War News. It tells some, but not all, of the Lake Troilo story:

Agreement Reached On Restoration Of Hill At Brandy Station
By Scott C. Boyd
(January 2012 Civil War News)

EDITOR’S NOTE: The resignation of nine Brandy Station Foundation directors over concerns with the leadership was featured on the July issue front page and in that issue’s Preservation News column by G. Michael Green. One of the issues was the board’s lack of response to the construction of the illegal pond discussed in the following story.

BRANDY STATION, Va. — A memorandum of agreement (MOA) removes an illegally-dug pond, restores the land and conserves 3.1 acres on private property on Fleetwood Hill at the Brandy Station Battlefield in Culpeper County. The pond construction violated state and federal law, according to the MOA.

The document, signed by the parties from August through October, resolves an issue that arose in May when landowner Tony Troilo Jr. “conducted earthmoving activities by bulldozer in and adjacent to approximately 666 linear feet of a perennial stream known as Flat Run in order to construct a private pond on his approximately 60-acre property.”

Troilo dammed the free-flowing stream to create a new pond, “an unmitigated disaster” for battlefield preservation, according to Clark B. “Bud” Hall, the former Brandy Station Foundation (BSF) president. He notified the Piedmont Environmental Council which then notified the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers of Troilo’s activities.

Flat Run is a Rappahannock River tributary protected by the federal Clean Water Act. Corps permission must be obtained prior to altering such a body of water.

Additionally, the work was done in an area eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Properties. Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act requires that the Corps consult with the Virginia State Historic Preservation Office before issuing a permit in such circumstances.

Troilo did not notify the Corps prior to beginning construction of the pond, according to the memorandum. However, the Corps “found no evidence of deliberate intent to circumvent the Section 106 process.”

Troilo told Civil War News he was surprised by the trouble he got into, “after going to the county and having a permit and permission to do it all, and trying to improve the property.”

Culpeper County Director of Development John Egertson said he did not speak with Troilo about the pond and was not aware that Troilo spoke with anyone in his office about the matter.

Hal Wiggins, with the Fredericksburg office of the Army Corps of Engineers, said that Troilo voluntarily agreed to remove the pond and restore the stream “and more importantly, worked with the Brandy Station Foundation and Virginia Department of Historic Resources to develop the memorandum of agreement where he donates 3.1 acres of land to the Foundation.”

“We put a lot of emphasis on voluntary compliance,” Wiggins said. “This way there are no fines if Mr. Troilo works with us on the final restoration plan.”

Wiggins said he was very confident that it will be resolved in a satisfactory manner given Troilo’s track record since he was informed that he was in violation of the Clean Water Act.

The 3.1 acres Troilo is donating is land where fill dirt was deposited from the pond construction and is adjacent to Brandy Station Foundation land.

The MOA also notes that Troilo deposited fill dirt on two small pieces of the BSF’s 18.9 acres on Fleetwood Hill along the banks of Flat Run. The parcels total less than one-third of an acre.

The Virginia Board of Historic Resources holds a historic preservation easement on the BSF land. “The easement specifically states that material changes to the easement property must be subject to prior review and written approval of the Board,” according to the MOA.

The memorandum says the fill was deposited without authorization and “therefore may constitute a violation of the terms of the easement.”

The MOA stipulates that Troilo undertake a stream banks restoration project, as approved by the Corps of Engineers, with an archeologist present during the fill dirt reclamation process “to ensure that the original grass root mat in the reclamation area remains undisturbed.”

Within 60 days of stream banks restoration completion, Troilo is to convey the 3.1 acres to the BSF. Troilo said completion depends on the weather. It recently has been too wet to do much work.

The impact of Troilo’s pond construction on the battlefield is uncertain. Wiggins said the excavated area was “obliterated,” therefore what of archeological significance might have been lost can never be known.

The memorandum of agreement quotes a disturbance assessment prepared by the James River Institute for Archeology as determining that “the pond construction likely had an adverse effect on prehistoric Native American and Civil War era archeological resources.”

Here are a few observations regarding this article, in no particular order:

1. Despite Appeaser in Chief Joseph McKinney’s ridiculous and indefensible claims that the damage caused by the construction of Lake Troilo could somehow be “reversed”, as he has claimed numerous times, it is abundantly clear that the area where this pond was created–critical core battlefield land that was heavily fought over–was devastated. That Hal Wiggins used as strong a word as “obliterated” to describe the harm done amply demonstrates just how wrong-headed and ill-advised the policy of appeasement pursued by McKinney and his board of appeasers truly is.

2. According to Craig Swain, Joseph McKinney admitted to Craig that he knew that Troilo was going to build this illegal pond prior to the beginning of the excavation work, and he did NOTHING about it. McKinney evidently did nothing to verify whether a permit to devastate a critical portion of the battlefield had actually been issued; had he done so, John Egertson of Culpeper County would have told him that no permit had been issued. He did nothing to notify the Civil War Trust that this core battlefield land was being obliterated. McKinney evidently did not do anything to notify the board of the BSF until after the boat began being rocked by Bud Hall. As Craig Swain points out, “McKinney advised foundation members (including me) not to make the construction an issue.” Shockingly, McKinney was not outraged that there were bulldozers tearing up critical battlefield land, which astonishes me. For someone who is supposed to be the head of a battlefield preservation advocacy organization, McKinney’s lack leadership and apparent lack of concern about a crisis is shocking, sickening, and sad, all at the same time.

In short, instead of leading the way in fighting this outrage, Joseph McKinney completely and totally abrogated his duty to protect this battlefield. In so doing, he has trivialized and made the BSF irrelevant. One can only hope that the damage he and his board of appeasers have caused can be undone.

3. Tony Troilo flagrantly lied about getting permission from Culpeper County, as noted in the article. That he continues to lie flagrantly about it demonstrates quite clearly that he was well aware of what he was doing.

I strongly encourage all of you to read Craig Swain’s recent post on this situation, and I also encourage you to read Mike Block’s very brave and principled explanation of why he resigned from the board of the BSF, which can be found here.

Once again, I call on Joseph McKinney and the Board of Appeasers to do the right thing and resign. NOW.

Scridb filter


  1. Bob
    Fri 06th Jan 2012 at 11:59 am

    Joseph McKinney never really hid his true colors. Remember back in 2009- he came out very strongly in favor of the Wilderness Walmart and lambasted the preservationists at Manassas and stated that they had it worse now compared to if they had allowed Disney to come in.

  2. Dennis
    Wed 11th Jan 2012 at 7:55 am

    Many thanks for keeping us up to date!


  3. Fri 20th Jan 2012 at 7:14 pm

    Has anyone considered encouraging people to join the BSF and vote the current leadership out of office instead? I don’t have any idea how the group is organized, so not sure if that is even an option.

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