On Thursday, September 20, I spoke to the Powhatan Civil War Roundtable. We were supposed to tie the speaking engagement to a visit with some Virginia friends, but the visit had to be postponed. That meant that Susan and I had to run-and-gun the trip. We drove out on Thursday and back on Friday. On the way back, we made a brief visit to the battlefield at White Sulphur Springs, where I paid my respects to Capt. Paul Freiherr von Koenig of William Woods Averell’s staff, who was killed while leading a flank attach on the afternoon of the first day of the battle. Susan took the photo that appears here. I am standing next to the monument to von Koenig that marks the spot where he fell. This monument was erected by Bvt. Brig. Gen. James M. Schoonmaker in 1914 (at Schoonmaker’s own expense) and occupies the sport where the German adventurer fell. Sadly, much of the White Sulphur Springs battlefield has been destroyed by the development of a shopping center on the spot. The monument to von Koenig rests just outside a Hardee’s fast food restaurant, and if one did not know that this shopping center sits in the middle of a battlefield, there is no way to know.
Uncovering the facts von Koenig’s life story-and the story of how he died–and telling it in an appendix to my book on the Battle of White Sulphur Springs is, perhaps, the single piece of my historical work of which I am most proud (it turns out that Paul von Koenig became good personal friends with future President of the United States, Brig. Gen. James A. Garfield, which is one of the things that got me interested in Garfield’s service in the Civil War). I owe a great debt to the current Baron von Koenig, whose name is Dominik, and his son Florian, for helping me to put meat on the bones of this otherwise forgotten soldier.
We also stopped at the Old Stone Presbyterian Church in the lovely old town of Lewisburg, West Virginia. The church and its cemetery are pictured here. For those unfamiliar with the Battle of White Sulphur Springs, the law library in the Greenbrier County Courthouse in Lewisburg was the object of Averell’s unsuccessful raid at the end of August 1863. There was one grave that I wanted to visit there, of an officer of the 22nd Virginia Infantry, who was killed during the fight at White Sulphur Springs. Along the way, we found the grave of another officer of the 22nd Virginia who played a significant role in the Confederate victory at White Sulphur Springs.
This is the grave of Maj. Robert Augustus Bailey, who was a Lewisburg native. Nicknamed “Gus,” Bailey was born in Lewisburg in 1839. He was the son of prominent Circuit Judge Edward P. Bailey, which made his defense of the law library all the more notable. Gus Bailey became a lawyer himself and was practicing his trade in Fayette County in what became West Virginia when war came. Prior to the outbreak of the Civil War, he served as a captain In the 142nd Regiment Virginia Militia, 27th Brigade, 5th Division. With the coming of war, Bailey became captain of the Fayetteville Riflemen in Charleston on June 6, 1861. The Fayetteville Riflemen eventually became Company K, 22nd Virginia Infantry. The regiment was commanded by Col. George S. Patton, a prominent attorney from Charleston.
On August 26,1861, Bailey led a small scouting party to determine the feasibility of placing artillery to shell the Federal camps at and near Gauley River Bridge. Confederate Brig. Gen. John B. Floyd implemented Bailey’s plan during the fight at Gauley River Bridge in November 1861. Bailey was promoted to major on November 23,1861, and often commanded the 22nd Virginia (or elements of it) in various battles, receiving particular notice for his bravery at Fayetteville, (West) Virginia, September 10,1862. On March 1, 1863, he was major in command of the Department at Lewisburg, (West) Virginia. He led a battalion of the 22nd Virginia at White Sulphur Springs, and played an important role in the Confederate victory there.
Bailey was trying to rally his defeated men at the November 6, 1863 Battle of Droop Mountain when he was mortally wounded. After saving the regimental colors, he was waving the flag when struck by the ball that took his life. He lingered for five days before dying, and was then buried in the Old Stone Church cemetery in his hometown of Lewisburg. Bailey played an important role in the story of the Confederate victory at White Sulphur Springs, and I just happened upon his grave serendipitously. I’m glad I found it and was able to pay tribute to a gallant Southern soldier who received his mortal wound while doing his duty.
Lt. John Gay Carr served in Co. H of the 22nd Virginia Infantry. He was known as “Gay Carr” to friends and family. Carr was born in Albemarle County, Va. in 1830, but had lived in Kanawha County (in what became West Virginia) for many years before the war. He joined Patton’s Kanawha Riflemen as a private in May 1861, and was promoted to lieutenant. He served gallantly in all of the battles of the 22nd Virginia–an active, hard-fighting regiment–until he was killed in action at the age of 31 at White Sulphur Springs on August 26, 1863. He was described as “a promising young man, had exhibited the noblest qualities of a soldier both in the ranks and as an officer, and his death was deeply mourned by his comrades and the people of his home county.”
Carr’s friend, regimental adjutant Lt. Rand Noyes, wrote, “In this battle the gallant Lieutenant Gay Carr, of the Kanawha Riflemen…fell with a bullet through his brain…in whose memory I learn a monument has been erected…in Lewisburg, which was the War Home of the 22nd Virginia Regiment. There were many other brave and gallant men who fell victims of death on this severely contested battlefield and whose memories deserve the richest pandits of tongue and men.”
You can see larger versions of the four images that appear in this post by clicking upon them if you so desire.
The story of the Civil War in West Virginia has long gotten short shrift, but it was truly a civil war there, with neighbors fighting each other to the death. If you’re interested in learning more, I recommend any of Terry Lowry’s excellent works on the battles fought in the Mountain State.
Seven years ago today, September 23, 2005, I made the first post on this blog. 1,263 posts later, I’m still here. And I have no intention of going anywhere. We’ve talked about a lot of different things here, and we’ve debated a lot of issues. I’ve enjoyed every minute of that.
Thank you to each and every one of you who takes the time to visit this blog and to indulge my rantings. Although I have never met many of you in person, I’ve come to view many of you as friends. I value the relationships that I have developed with people here, and I greatly look forward to continuing those relationships as we move forward.
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.
People occasionally ask me why I have been involved in so many collaborations over the course of my writing career. I’ve done two different books with my good friend J.D. Petruzzi (one of which also included our friend Mike Nugent). Michael Aubrecht, and we have two more books in the works (one on baseball and one on football) that we’re going to do together. I recently announced an upcoming collaboration with Prof. Brooks D. Simpson on the role of future President James A. Garfield in the Civil War. I’ve also got collaborations in the works with old friend Scott Mingus, Sr. on the Second Battle of Winchester, and one with yet another old friend, Scott C. Patchan, on the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg.
This is a lot of collaborative work on a wide variety of subjects. And that’s my entire list of pending projects at the moment, and all are collaborations. Why is that? That’s a reasonable question.
There are a variety of reasons.
First, and foremost, I am not a professional historian. I’m an amateur. That gives me the luxury of working only on those projects that I want to work on, and none that I have to work on. The truth is that I have always written about what interests me. If others find those things interesting, all the better. But when I choose a topic/project, it’s because it’s what I find interesting. So, this means that I have no “publish or perish” issue to contend with. Fortunately, my friends often share an interest in those subjects, which is what makes the collaboration possible.
Second, I thoroughly enjoy the give-and-take of collaborating with a friend. I find it to be both stimulating and fun. And it gives me a new way of interacting with someone whose opinions and intellect I respect and admire.
Third, I find that the old cliche that “two heads are better than one” is absolutely a true statement. One of the beautiful things about working with these accomplished historians is that I get to discuss/debate/hash out a lot of interesting issues with people whose opinions I respect a great deal. I enjoy that immensely. And hopefully that process leads to better history.
Fourth, with 17 books in print and a couple of significant awards on the mantle, I have proven that I can research and write a decent Civil War history book. It means that I’ve earned my spurs and now have some credibility as a result. Because I do this for fun, I don’t have to write another word for the rest of my life if I choose not to, and if I never write another word, I will still be the proud author of a large body of work that people seem to like. This gives me the luxury of picking and choosing what I want to do and with whom I do it. It’s entirely possible that I may not do another solo project again the rest of my life, and if I do, it will be because something appeals to me enough to get me to invest the money, time, and effort required to write one of these books as a solo project.As I sit here now, I cannot predict whether that will happen.
So, that’s the answer as to why I’m involved in so many collaborations. For those of you who enjoy my historical work and are interested in it, please don’t be surprised by the number of collaborations that will be forthcoming, or by the lack of solo projects. And I hope that you enjoy all of those collaborations.
As you may recall, last month, I announced that I had decided to do a book on the role played by James A. Garfield in the Civil War. Before deciding to do so, I polled a number of the professional historians that I know, asking them whether they thought that the project was worthy and whether they thought that it would spark interest in the topic. I asked about 10. Nine answered me. All were unanimous in their support, which prompted me to decide to run with the project.
One of the professionals whom I polled was Prof. Brooks Simpson of Arizona State University. I’ve known Brooks for nearly 15 years now, and have long wanted to do a project with him. In fact, we’ve discussed ideas for projects previously, but never could find one that seemed appropriate. Of all of the people I polled, Brooks had the most good suggestions for me for the Garfield project, so I asked him if he might be interested in doing the project with me. To my excitement, Brooks said yes.
And so, I am pleased and proud to announce that Brooks and I are going to collaborate to do the study of Garfield in the Civil War. Brooks really understand the nuances of Garfield’s political career during the war, including his complicated relationship with U. S. Grant, and will be able to bring insight that I would not be able to bring to bear, even though I was a political science major once upon a time. I’m really looking forward to getting a chance to work with someone whom I have always respected and admired (even if he is a New York Islanders fan), and I think it’s going to make for an excellent project.
A couple of weeks ago, two friends and I toured the sites associated with Garfield’s campaign in eastern Kentucky in the winter and spring of 1861-1862 in preparation for doing this project, and I will post some photos from that day soon. We saw some sites that few visit, which made it all the more interesting.
The ordeal with my parents that I related here in April has finally come to its sad but inevitable conclusion. At the end of June, and left with no choice, I had to place both of my parents in the secure dementia unit of a nursing home, and we then had the unhappy and incredibly difficult task of closing out their home of 37 years, a miserable job that we completed this past weekend. The numerous and exhausting trips to Pennsylvania are the reason for the lack of any posts here over the past month. Saying goodbye forever to the last remaining vestige of one’s childhood is not a fun thing to do, but it’s now behind me and I can move forward now with the knowledge that they are safe and being well cared for by some truly remarkable angels on earth. Give me a few more days to regain my perspective and get some rest, and I will be ready to get back to work. I’m looking forward to starting this next chapter in my life, and getting back to the research and writing work that means so much to me.
I will keep you advised as to the progress of our Garfield project as it proceeds. And I thank you for your support and patience with me as I weathered this ordeal.
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.
I’ve long been known as the “cavalry guy” due to my ongoing fascination with the horse soldiers of the Civil War. That will always be my niche and my favorite milieu. I’m comfortable with that, because it’s what I love.
At the same time, I have lots of other interests. Some of them are passing fancies. Some get pursued. Some don’t. One of my longtime fascinations is with the Battle of Monocacy. J.D. Petruzzi and I were well into researching a book on the topic, but a barrage of four books were published in a short period of time about this important campaign, and any potential market for such a project dried up. That was the end of that. However, I continue to be fascinated by this battle, and I still gobble up everything that I can on it.
I have other projects where I have invested substantial time, money, and effort and then lost interest. I have gathered a vast amount of material on the Wilson-Kautz Raid of 1864–much of it rare and never seen before–certainly enough to do a book-length study of it, but I’ve just lost interest in it. It doesn’t interest me enough to invest the time and energy into actually writing a full campaign study on it, and I doubt I will ever do so. So, I’ve got tons of files on it that I doubt I will ever use. The Jenkins-Imboden incursion into Pennsylvania before Gettysburg is another good example of the same thing. Again, I have tons of material that I doubt will ever get used by me in any substantive project.
All of this is part and parcel of my ongoing struggles with ADD. I just have a short attention span, and things either grab it or they don’t. I write about what interests me, so whatever project I tackle has to REALLY interest me, or I won’t bother with it.
I grew up a few blocks away from a street called Garfield Avenue. There were two streets named for former presidents in our neighborhood, Garfield Avenue and Cleveland Avenue. I knew Grover Cleveland had served two terms as president and was known for his girth. I knew almost nothing about James A. Garfield other than that he was assassinated a scant few months into his presidency, so I set out to learn a few things about him.
Along the way, I learned that he was a veteran of the Civil War. After researching him a bit, I determined that was really a unique guy–he was a battlefield veteran who resigned his commission to become a very powerful and influential Radical Republican Congressman. I knew that he had a great deal of influence of Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecrans’ ill-advised decision to leave the battlefield at Chickamauga.
Finally, Garfield was an Ohioan. He was born here, he lived here, and he is buried here. That makes researching his career a bit easier because the resources are nearby. The Middle Creek battlefield, where Garfield won a critical early 1862 battle that cleared Confederate forces out of eastern Kentucky, is only a couple of hours away.
After reading the very good book Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President, I looked and saw that there really has been no monograph that focuses exclusively on Garfield’s very unique role in the Civil War, which surprised me. A volume of his letters to his wife Lucretia during the Civil War was published in the early 1960′s, and his diaries were published in the late 1970′s, but that’s it. All other books–understandably–focus on his unusual election to the presidency, the tragedy of his wounding at the hands of a lunatic, and his unnecessary death due to medical malpractice of the worst variety.
By contrast, two other Ohioans who occupied the White House who were Civil War veterans–Rutherford B. Hayes and William McKinley–have had books written about their service in the Civil War. Hence, the lack of any monograph about Garfield’s important and unique service in the Civil War seems to me to be a gaping hole in the historiography of the war.
Consequently, after much thought and after discussing the idea with a number of professional historians to get their input, I have decided to tackle this project. It is something very different for me, but the deeper I get into it, the more fascinating I find the project. Consequently, I have begun gathering material and intend to pursue this. I will keep everyone posted as the project proceeds, but I’m more excited about this project than any other history project that I’ve tackled in quite a while.
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.
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.
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.