August, 2009

Yesterday, reader Phil LeDuc left me the following comment on my post about our ongoing library project:

The space-for-books problem is kind of like taxes (and death I guess), isn’t it? You can defer it for a while, but inexorably it gets you in the end. I’ve got the same situation.

On a related note Eric, have you catalogued your collection at all? Whether manually or using a software program or similar means?

It’s something I think I need to do for insurance and other purposes, and I’d be interested to hear from you and your readers on this subject. I’d like to find something that’s user-friendly and can produce reports that can be sorted by subject or title or author, and which then can be printed.

Thanks and good luck.

Thanks for writing Phil. The answer is that I have not catalogued my books to date. I usually operate from memory when buying books, which works reasonably well. I only buy duplicates once in a blue moon. However, your point about insurance is well-taken, and my books really should be better covered than what they are.

Susan actually came up with the idea of completely cataloguing our library, and Susan being Susan, she did a great deal of research while searching for an appropriate piece of software to use. She has a large collection of her own, so she has started with her books.

She located a piece of software called Bookpedia. Bookpedia has a lot of really useful functions. If you have a webcam attached to your computer (there’s one built into this laptop), you can use it to scan the barcode for the ISBN, and it then finds the book in its online database. It will store the book by genre, author, title–however you want it to catalogue them. She has found it very easy to use, and I commend it to you.

When she finishes her library, which will occur shortly, she has offered to start on mine. With a couple of thousand books in my library, it’s going to take a while. Also, I have a complete set of the reprints of the OR’s, all 128 volumes of them, and they obviously don’t have ISBN’s. The same goes for my first edition regimentals and some of the replica reprints that I’ve collected from Ward House Books. I’m not sure how we’re going to handle that, but we will figure it out.

Thanks for asking, Phil.

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From today’s edition of the on-line version of the Culpeper Star-Exponent newspaper:

Watching history march by

Published: August 31, 2009

Behind a winding country road sits a historic house.Many would never give the little sign off Carrico’s Mills Road a second glance, and that would be a mistake. Because if you follow that road far enough, you will find a home that witnessed thousands of Union and Confederate troops marching along its property.

Very few members of the public have had an opportunity to tour Berry Hill Farm, which sits close to Stoney Ford, on Mountain Run, one of the most heavily traversed fords in the county.

Thanks to the Brandy Station Foundation’s 20th anniversary fall celebration, the public will have an opportunity to tour the home, owned by Geraldine Schneider and her late husband Jorge.

The celebration, slated for Sept. 13 from 1 to 4 p.m., will give a glimpse at the home and its surroundings while offering a speech from award-winning Civil War historian and author Eric J. Wittenberg.

The centerpiece of the celebration, however, will be the opportunity to receive a tour of the house, courtesy Mrs. Schneider.

History of the home
Alexander Thom settled the property in 1762 when he bought 300 acres from Tom Slaughter.

After his death, his son John Triplett Thom bought the property next door, already named Berry Hill, which added 1,200 acres. The home was a grand Georgian house of large proportions, sitting on a ridge with commanding views of the mountains.

By the time of the Civil War, the house had been abandoned and was left in a ruinous, neglected state.

It became a headquarters in 1862 for Confederate Gen. Dick Ewell, though both sides camped on the property at different times.

“I can’t emphasize how historic the house is,” Brandy Station Foundation board member and noted historian Clark “Bud” Hall said. “There is a real tactical significance to Berry Hill. After all, Stoney Ford, the most heavily traveled military ford on Mountain Run, is practically in the front yard of this house.”

Like many homes in Culpeper County, Berry Hill was a victim of war, as Federal troops were ordered to burn it to the ground in December 1863.

“They literally carried straw into the house, the Union army did,” BSF board member Helen Geisler said. Only the foundation stones were left.

According to the book “My Dear Brother” by Catherine Thom Bartlett, granddaughter of Pembroke Thom, the stones were carted off to build chimneys and other structures for the Union encampment.

In March 1864, William Ross purchased the property and rebuilt the home in 1865.

“The house does justice to its historic setting simply because it’s situated precisely upon its historic footprint,” Hall said.

The home changed hands several times before the Schneiders bought it 59 years ago.

Sharing history
The Schneiders were living in New York City in 1950, but were looking for a home for Geraldine’s mother, originally from Georgia.

Because of her husband’s work as an engineer for the Brazilian government, they didn’t want to find a home in Georgia because it would be too far away to visit on a frequent basis. So, Virginia was decided on by compromise.

Geraldine found the property at Brandy Station, almost by accident, simply by browsing the real estate section of the New York Times.

She remembers her first encounter with the property being an adventure.

“There wasn’t any road to get directly to the house,” Schneider said. “There was a road from Route 675 that came from Curtis’, but that was a right of way. I had to get out of the car and walk all the way up to here.”

When they made it to the house, they found it in disrepair. The paint was chipping, the mantles, doors and door moldings were all stored in the barn.

With a little love and a skilled carpenter’s help, the Schneiders restored the home to its past brilliance.

Before moving in, the Schneiders were unaware of the history attached to Berry Hill. But as they grew acclimated to the community, it was hard not to realize its importance.

“You can’t avoid it in Culpeper history,” Schneider said. “We enjoyed doing things with the museum. We became involved, and then we began to receive visitors.

“One distant relative came from California, the woman who wrote ‘My Dear Brother.’ She came several times, she wrote the book, and we ordered several copies of it. That started mother and I off. We traveled into town and tried to trace the history back. The one book, the one we really wanted, back to the 1700s was carried off by the Northern soldiers as souvenirs.”

The home is full of stories for Schneider and her family. She points to the cottage next to the nearly 200-year-old barn and tells of its creation.

“The Catholic Charities were brining people over from Europe after the war, and were looking for homes for them to stay,” Schneider recalled. “At that time we weren’t using the downstairs and my mother was staying here.”

Wanting to keep her mother company while she and her husband were away, the Schneiders housed a man and his family in the cellar.

“He said, ‘Mrs. Schneider, I was sent to Siberia and we had to build our own houses,’” she remembered. “‘If you let me cut some trees, I can build something here.’ Oh, my husband was delighted. He got a sawmill for him. He chose his trees, cut them into boards. We went over to Mr. Prince’s on the other side of Alanthus (Road), and that’s the log cabin over by the barn.”

In the 1900s the farm was the home to Berry Hill Dyspepsia Water, advertised as “for dyspepsia, indigestion, constipation and all forms of stomach disorders. Remedy of great merit for kidney diseases, acid, diathesis, stone, gravel, rheumatism, and dropsical affections.”

The spring from which the water came is still on the property, but is now only used as a conversation piece for visitors.

The Schneiders first decided to share their home with visitors after joining the Culpeper Historic Society years ago, but were away for several years before returning permanently about two years ago.

Since then, more people have come asking to see the home, prompting her to allow it be opened for the BSF fall celebration.

“I thought, I don’t mind sharing what I’ve been enjoying all my life,” Schneider said.

Celebrating 20 years
The fall celebration also serves as an opportunity for the board to honor all of its members for 20 years of service to the battlefield.

Geisler said 66 members have been invited to attend, and they will receive a special recognition at the luncheon.

Wittenberg’s speech will likely be a highlight for those attending, but just being invited was a highlight for the writer, Hall said.

“He’s a terrific cavalry scholar,” Hall said. “He’s written prolifically on cavalry actions during the Civil War. He’s a close personal friend, and I called him and told him to get his rear out here from Ohio.

“He views this particular invitation as one of the crowning achievements of his career.”

For the volunteers of the Brandy Station Foundation, making 20 years as an organization has to be a crowning achievement as well.

Hall recalled the early days and how the BSF was looked upon as “outsiders trying to stop development.” Now, they are seen as responsible neighbors.

“The important thing about battlefield preservation is that this is community service at its least selfish,” Hall said. “People come forth, give of their own time and resources to aid the cause of America’s greatest cavalry battlefield. This is the most generous token of human kindness that can be considered.

“That is important. No one gets paid here. And, it takes real human courage to serve in a then-unpopular but just cause.”

This just cause has helped save hundreds of acres of pristine battlefield, and has given the foundation a chance to showcase wonderful pieces of living history like Berry Hill.

“Not a lot of people have visited this house because of its remote location,” Hall said. “This is an opportunity to see one of Culpeper’s most historic homes that most people in this county have not seen.”

Want to go?
What: Brandy Station Foundation’s 20th anniversary fall
When: Sept. 13, 1 to 4 p.m.
Where: Berry Hill Farm, 22544 Carrico Mills Road, Brandy Station
RSVP: Reservations must be received by Sept. 6. Call Helen Geisler at 399-1637 or e-mail .
Directions: From Culpeper, on U.S. 29 at Brandy Station light, turn right onto Ailanthus Road, go left at the stop sign and follow the road to the right as it crosses the railroad tracks. Continue straight, as you are now on Carrico Mills Road. Travel 2.8 miles to a stone-pillared driveway marked Berry Hill Farm Drive. Be aware, it is a long driveway.

Original member of BSF recalls struggles
It’s hard for Clark “Bud” Hall to believe it’s been 20 years since the Brandy Station Foundation was formed.

Hall, a driving force behind the genesis of the local battlefield preservation group, recently recalled some of the struggles endured in those early years.

In the mid-1980s, Hall moved to Virginia while working for the FBI. Immensely interested in the tactical strategies of the Civil War, he was drawn to Brandy Station in an attempt to understand the movements of JEB Stuart’s cavalry division on June 9, 1863.

Through the courtesy of generous landowners, Hall was welcomed onto their property, where he was in awe of the vast scope of the huge and magnificent battlefield.

“It became clear to me that heretofore the battlefield had never been properly documented,” Hall said. “It had never been mapped. There were accounts written about the battle of Brandy Station, but none were at the tactical level.”

A Marine infantryman in the Vietnam War, Hall was familiar with terrain, specifically how it affects leadership. His original plan was simply to visit the battlefield and put together a photographic narrative of the battle.

Fate soon intervened.

While visiting the farms of Bob Button, Fred Gordon, Whitney Pound, Aubrey Foster, Bill Spillman Cita Ward, the Strauss family and many others, Hall became aware that the battlefield was dangerously exposed to development.

“That shocked me as a first-time visitor to Brandy Station, that none of the battlefield was protected,” Hall said.

Geographically and numerically, the largest battlefield in America, Brandy Station was in for yet another skirmish.

Battling development
At the time, Hall was a board member of the Association of the Preservation of Civil War Sites, now the Civil War Preservation Trust.

In the late 1980s, developer Lee Sammis from California secured several farms, encompassing nearly 5,000 acres of critical battlefield land.

Alarmed that the Brandy Station battlefield might be lost, Hall suggested to APCWS that a local group be formed to help preserve the land.

The board agreed, and put Hall in charge of helping to form the organization. A wide array of supporters was quickly assembled — preservation lawyers, landowners, neighbors, teachers and housewives all sat on the original Brandy Station Foundation board.

Culpeper County rezoned the land for an industrial office park, which sparked the foundation into action. They subsequently filed a lawsuit against the county and Sammis for the violation of the county’s comprehensive plan.

“People ask me today, ‘Did we do the right thing in filing lawsuits?’” Hall said. “Well, nobody likes litigation, least of all me, but the battlefield is still there and still undeveloped.”

While fighting the development, the foundation got the reputation of being anti-job, of being outsiders.

“And all we were trying to do was to save principal areas of the battlefield where the fighting occurred,” Hall said.

Sammis then went into bankruptcy. However, another developer, James Lazor, came into the picture. A portion of the land Sammis owned was sold to Lazor, who planned a Formula 1 racetrack on the battlefield.

“I was explaining the battlefield to him (Lazor), just he and I,” Hall recalled. “I said ‘Right here where you want to put your concession stands, is where the commanding general of the federal cavalry stood directing his troops in the low ground beneath us, where you want to build your track.’

“I said, ‘The race-track plan you have slated for this land is completely inappropriate.’ He turned to me and said, ‘You might not like it, but I’m going to build my racetrack here.’

“I turned to him and responded, ‘I’ll take that action; you’ll never build your racetrack here.’ And he never did.”

After Lazor’s initiative folded, the AWCPS bought that land.

Twenty years later, how did the BSF succeed in its mission of saving the battlefield?

“George Washington was once asked, ‘To what do you owe your success, general?’ And he said, ‘That’s a fair question. I kept my army in the field.’ And we kept our army in the field. We never gave up,” Hall said. “We were relentless.”

“In the end, it all worked out, thank God. Now, the Brandy Station Foundation isn’t looked upon as ugly ogres anymore. We’re looked upon as responsible neighbors — which is exactly what we are.”

“In the beginning, and in the end, we were proved right,” Hall said. “What we were looking to do was to prevail for a battlefield that couldn’t speak for itself.

“Now, most of the Brandy Station Battlefield is forever protected. I wish for that accomplishment to serve as a personal legacy. And oh, by the way, we’re not finished yet. In fact, preservation efforts continue today at Brandy Station. We’ll never stop trying to save the entire battlefield.”

Bud Hall, more than anyone else, embodies the struggle to save the battlefield at Brandy Station, and I am personally grateful to him, both for his efforts, and for inviting me to come and speak at such an important event. It’s my honor to do so, and I hope to see some of you there.

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I spent a big chunk of this afternoon working on the library project. Here’s what’s gone on so far….

All of the fiction books were moved out of the main library and were relocated to a bookcase in our living room. It’s true. W.E.B. Griffin has been banished. The baseball books were also moved to the same bookcase. That opened up a 7 foot tall x 3 foot wide bookcase that had been completely full with fiction books.

I moved two bookcases that had been in my office home and put them in front of the closet in the library (the closet really doesn’t get used for much of anything, so it’s not a big loss), and moved all of the non-Civil War nonfiction books into them and into the bookcase previously occupied by the fiction books. Those three bookcases are pretty much completely full.

The rest of the room consists of a single, free-standing 7 foot tall x 3 foot wide bookcase and 24 linear feet of built-in floor-to-ceiling bookcases that pretty much fill up two walls of the room. Because the ceiling in that room is 7 feet and not 8, spacing has always been a little funky in the built-in’s. In addition, oversize books have always taken up a lot of space in those bookcases. Susan, who really has an engineer’s eye, figured out that if she re-drilled some of the holes in the built-in’s, she could gain a number of additional shelves for me to use. By doing that, she has gained five shelves worth of space for me.

Since Susan has finished that portion of the project, I started working the new books in today. I actually made pretty good progress today–I worked in all of the new biographies and all of the new campaign books, all of which filled the four additional shelves on the left side of the built-in’s. I have plenty of room left to work in the rest of the new stuff, which consists of four categories: cavalry books, unit histories, non-cavalry soldier letters and reminiscences, and miscellaneous. There are probably more new cavalry books and unit histories than anything else, so working them in will take the most space. However, these four categories will take the least time, but I am sure that they will fill up whatever’s left in the way of open shelf space, and I’m really not sure what I’m going to do with the oversize books. So, the upshot is that while there is enough shelf space to accommodate everything THIS time, there definitely will not be next time. And that’s when we’re really going to have a problem.

Once the shelving project is complete, I will take a couple of photos of the room and will post them here so you can get a sense of what I’m talking about.

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Not far from our house is one of my favorite destinations–a Half Price Books store. One never knows what one will find there, and sometimes, you can get some really excellent buys there. I’ve seen a few of my books there in the past, typically when they’ve been remaindered by my publishers. That never excites me, but I understand the business of bookselling, and I understand that publishers will remainder my books whether I want them to or not.

Today, though, was a first for me.

Glory Enough for AllI wandered over by where they keep the valuable books–often rare, or antique books, that they keep under lock and key–and was stunned to find one of my books in that case, locked up, and with a $60 price tag on it. I actually didn’t even notice it at first–Susan did. I was trying to understand why an H.E. Howard book on the Battle of Cloyd’s Mountain right next to it had a $250 price tag on it.

Susan noticed that they had a signed first edition copy of the hardcover version of Glory Enough for All: Sheridan’s Second Raid and the Battle of Trevilian Station. The book isn’t even ten years old, although the hardcover edition definitely is out of print, so I was genuinely surprised to see that sort of price on it; it’s really not all that rare or hard to find even though the hardcover edition has been out of print for several years.

Susan asked the fellow at the checkout desk–who clearly was not accustomed to the idea of an author seeing one of his own books in the store–to unlock the cabinet, which he did. She took the photo that appears with this post, and then handed the book to me, as I was curious to see for whom I had signed it; it was entirely possible that it was one of the 2200 copies that had been purchased by CWPT as a fundraiser for the Trevilian Station battlefield. I opened the book and was flabbergasted to see that it was a copy that I signed and then gave as a gift to some of Susan’s cousins, who obviously thought so much of my gift that they sold it to Half Price Books. I have to admit that I was offended by that, and I have told Susan that I will never give those relatives another one of my books again.

The whole thing was just a very strange and surreal experience. It still weirds me out a little to find myself on the shelves of book stores, but this one was by far the strangest incident where I have found myself on the bookshelves of a book store. Weird. Very weird.

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From today’s on-line edition of the Culpeper Star-Exponent:

OUR VIEW: Sacrificing history for the sake of convenience

Published: August 27, 2009

We are extremely disappointed in this week’s news that Walmart has been approved to build near the Wilderness battlefield.

The Orange County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 in the early morning hours Tuesday to allow a Walmart Super Center to be built across the road from the Wilderness Civil War battlefield.

It makes our stomachs churn.

Many Orange County residents pointed to the need for shopping outlets, new jobs and tax dollars that would remain in local coffers — all legitimate needs, just not at the expense of the hallowed ground where Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant first met in a horrific battle that saw tens of thousands killed or wounded.

While it appears to be a done deal and construction could begin in a matter of months, we stand with local, state and national preservation groups whose new focus is to put pressure to Walmart headquarters to abandon plans for the store.

Will that work?

We can only hope.

Somehow, someone must convince the corporate giant to abandon this site and relocate a mile west, closer to the coveted population center at Lake of the Woods.

If Walmart proceeds with plans to build at the intersection of routes 3 and 20, however, we implore the company to keep its word and do everything possible to minimize sight lines.

Unfortunately, little can be done regarding traffic flow and the sprawl that will eventually overtake the serene battlefield area.

Kudos to Teri L. Pace, the only supervisor who voted no.

The folks from Culpeper County, who probably know and understand more about battlefield preservation than anyone else in Virginia, deserve kudos for taking this stand, which I obviously agree with wholeheartedly.

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I’m horrified to find myself in agreement with Microsoft on anything, but I actually find myself completely aligned with Microsoft on the issue of the Google Books settlement. Below is the reason why:

The Proposed Google Book Search Settlement: Fact vs. Fiction

FICTION: The proposed settlement agreement merely resolves private litigation between private parties, which is a good thing.

FACT: The deal far exceeds the bounds of a typical legal settlement. It would tread directly on Congress’ jurisdiction, privatizing important copyright and public policy decisions historically made by Congress. It abuses class action procedure to create an exclusive joint venture between Google, the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and the Authors’ Guild, strengthening Google’s dominance in search and creating a cartel for the sale of digitized books. It would bind nearly every copyright owner of every book published before 2009 throughout the world, and thus create, as the U.S. Register of Copyrights said, “a compulsory license for the benefit of one company.”1

FICTION: Google is paying copyright owners an enormous sum of $125 million for the use of their books.

FACT: In fact, the deal would give a handful of lawyers involved $45 million, the same amount that will be spread in small amounts to the millions of copyright owners whose books were copied by Google. Authors and publishers would get only 1/3 of Google’s outlay, paid at $60 per book only if Google has already scanned the book into its database. Google would pay nothing under the settlement for any scanning done after January 2009.

FICTION: The proposed settlement is “non-exclusive” and would create a Books Rights Registry (BRR) to license books to Google’s competitors.

FACT: The deal would create a de facto exclusive license for Google because the deal grants no rights to the BRR to license books to competitors — copyright owners will have to license Google’s competitors voluntarily, while Google gets an involuntary, virtual compulsory license through class action process. As a result, only Google receives a license to “orphan books”, whose owners won’t show up to license competitors and which comprise an estimated 70% of books. In short, the settlement all but guarantees that Google would have permanent competitive advantages around comprehensiveness and cost. This is one reason why the Department of Justice is investigating the proposed deal and numerous non-profit organizations, academics and other stakeholders have condemned it.

FICTION: Google Books is about finding old books and making them available – it’s not about web search.

FACT: Google’s copying activities were initially focused on feeding its search engine. That continues to be its primary motivation. The proposed settlement would provide Google enormous benefits by using books to improve the artificial intelligence (AI) behind all of its services, including its dominant web search and advertising, via valuable “non-display” uses. Under the proposed settlement, authors and publishers would get paid nothing for any of these uses. As one Google engineer explained, “We’re not scanning all those books to be read by people. We’re scanning them to be read by *our+ AI.”2

FICTION: Congress can fix any problems with the proposed settlement by passing orphan works legislation.

FACT: The deal would usurp the role of Congress and grant special rules for Google – and only Google – to use orphan works that are very different and much more advantageous to Google than the rules contained in the orphan works bills considered last term in Congress. Orphan works reform can only be enacted through legislation, not class action fiat, and must be made available to all potential users – educational, non-profit and commercial institutions alike.

FICTION: Authors and publishers can tell Google not to use their books in Google Books, so their copyright rights are preserved.

FACT: An author’s right to remove her book from Google’s database expires in 2011. Given the millions of absent and orphan rights holders, and the fact that the commercial service may not even launch by then, many rights holders will be unaware of this irrevocable loss of control over their copyrights. Finally, if Google does not comply with an author’s instructions, she is limited to bringing arbitration over Google’s “best efforts” and will have forfeited the ability to file a copyright infringement lawsuit.

FICTION: Copyright owners who don’t like the settlement can simply opt-out of the class action and preserve their rights against Google.

FACT: The deal would establish Google as the new superpower in the online book marketplace, leaving those authors who opt-out at a substantial commercial disadvantage.

FICTION: The proposed settlement is limited to the United States and doesn’t affect foreign authors, publishers and other stakeholders.

FACT: The deal would dramatically impact copyright owners around the world, as it would give Google a license to use nearly every foreign book ever published, even books that have never been published in the United States. While Google could only sell and display those books to U.S. customers, many foreign owners are unaware of how their rights are being involuntarily licensed in the important U.S. market. Moreover, the deal would license Google to use the foreign book data to improve its dominant web search and advertising services that can and will be offered worldwide.

The PDF where this information came from can be found here. The Open Book Alliance consists of Amazon, Yahoo, Microsoft, and a bunch of library associations. For more on this issue, click here.

This is why I have opted out of the settlement and oppose it actively. I encourage any of my readers who are authors to join me in opposing it.

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Mary Koik, Deputy Director of Communications of the CWPT, sent along a link to an extraordinary letter from the presidents of every group that makes up the Wilderness Battlefield Coalition to the CEO of the Great Satan….oops, Wal-Mart. That letter can be found here, and I commend it to you. I hope it has some influence, but if Wal-Mart ignored the Governor of Virginia and two influential U.S. Senators, I doubt that it’s going to pay much attention to this letter. However, we can all hope…..

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25 Aug 2009, by

A Major Setback

It’s my unfortunate duty to announce that the Orange Count Board of Supervisors voted to approve the construction of the Wilderness Wal-Mart last night. I wish I could say that I’m surprised by this, but I’m not.

Here’s the press release from the CWPT regarding this vote:

Orange County Supervisors Approve Wal-Mart Superstore on Wilderness Battlefield


(Orange, Va.) – The Orange County Board of Supervisors today approved a proposal to build 240,000-square feet of big box retail on the Wilderness Battlefield. James Lighthizer, president of the Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT), issued the following statement in the wake of the vote:

Jim Campi, (202) 367-1861, ext. 7205
Mary Koik, (202) 367-1861, ext. 7231
Protect the Wilderness

The Wilderness

“I am deeply disappointed by today’s vote. The Orange County Board of Supervisors had an opportunity to protect the battlefield by embracing a reasonable compromise approach to the Wal-Mart superstore proposal. Instead, they ignored rational voices on the national, state and local level encouraging them to work with the preservation community and local landowners to find a more suitable alternative location.

“Today’s vote is not just a setback for preservationists. Orange County residents are losers as well. If the county had embraced the preservation planning process first proposed by the Wilderness Battlefield Coalition in January, there would have been an opportunity to mitigate the transportation and development impacts of the proposal. Instead, the board voted to repeat the mistakes made by other localities, who are now struggling to address the problems created by similar piecemeal development and rampant sprawl.

“The ball is now in Wal-Mart’s court. Wal-Mart better understands the nationwide anger generated by its proposal to build on the doorstep of a National Park. It is in the corporation’s best interests to work with the preservation community to find an alternative site. After all, building a big box superstore on the Wilderness Battlefield would belie recent attempts to portray Wal-Mart as environmentally sensitive. We are optimistic that company officials will see the wisdom of moving elsewhere.

“The Civil War Preservation Trust and the other member groups of the Wilderness Battlefield Coalition will now carefully weigh options for continued opposition of this misguided proposal. This battle is not over yet.”

Among those who urged Orange County to chose another location for the proposed Wal-Mart were Senator Jim Webb (D-Va.); Virginia Governor Tim Kaine (D) and House of Delegates Speaker Bill Howell (R); actors Robert Duvall, Richard Dreyfuss and Ben Stein; and more than 250 historians, including Pulitzer prize-winning authors David McCullough and James McPherson and acclaimed documentarian Ken Burns.

Since a Wal-Mart superstore on the Wilderness Battlefield was first publicly announced in June 2008, CWPT has been one of the leading voices against the proposal. Earlier this year, the organization identified the Wilderness Battlefield as one of the most endangered battlefields in the nation because of the Wal-Mart plan. CWPT is a member of the Wilderness Battlefield Coalition.

It would appear that construction will begin in 6-12 months, once all site work and planning is done, and the plans for the suburban blight are completed. I hope that this fight is not lost, but I fear that it is.

As of today, I am boycotting Wal-Mart. I will never set foot in a Wal-Mart store again.

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24 Aug 2009, by

A Miserable Task

Between us, Susan and I probably have 3000 books. When we bought this house, we had less than half that number. When we bought the house, we had 24 linear feet of floor-to-ceiling bookcases built into one of the five bedrooms. Between us, we filled it.

However, in 14 years, we’ve both bought a lot of books. Before long, I had squeezed Susan out of the room. Then, I filled the built-ins completely and commissioned a couple of custom bookcases. And then all of that was filled. We were supposed to move a couple of years ago, and, in fact, had broken ground on a new house that would have had 65 linear feet of floor to ceiling bookcases. However, Susan got laid off from her job, and we suddenly couldn’t qualify for the financing any more, and we stayed here.

For the past two or three years, I’d just been allowing new books to pile up on the floor because there was nowhere to put them. When it got to be a couple of hundred books that took up pretty much the whole floor of my home office, I realized we had to do something about it. Susan started by reorganizing her books, which, in turn opened up shelf space. I brought home two bookcases that were previously in my office and started moving stuff around yesterday. I worked in all of the new non-Civil War books yesterday as I was moving things around. I was surprised to learn that I now have 3.5 shelves worth of books on the Revolutionary War.

That, however, leaves the Civil War books. I bought a ton of books when we were working on One Continuous Fight: The Retreat from Gettysburg and the Pursuit of Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, July 4-14, 1863, and I likewise have bought a bunch of books for my other pending projects, such as Monocacy. Without counting them, I would guess that I probably have somewhere between 150 and 200 new books to work into my existing library. That means wholesale moving around of books, which is hot, sweaty work albeit a good and cheap workout.

Last night, after finishing moving the non-Civil War books around, I told Susan that I think that there’s a reasonably good chance that there won’t be room for all of them in my home office, which means some of them will spill into another bedroom. There are bookcases in virtually every possible spot in the house, and they’re all pretty much full at this point. We have room for only two more bookcases around this place, and then I don’t have any idea what we’re going to do. It’s a major dilemma.

At least we’re not my wife’s stepmother. Her personal library, constantly growing, is about 18,000 volumes, which is a truly awesome collection; I can only imagine how much money she’s invested in building that library of hers. My father-in-law had to build a house around Marlene’s library. We’re not THAT bad, but it’s plenty bad around here…..

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From Jim Campi of the CWPT today comes some very good news:

Planning Commission Recommends Against Special Use Permit, But Threat to Battlefield Remains

Last night, the Orange County Planning Commission voted 4-4 against recommending approval of Walmart’s special use permit at its rescheduled public hearing. Although a tie, the vote is functionally the same as a denial, since it was not approved by a majority of the commissioners. The vote is a reversal of what occurred in July, when the commission prematurely approved the application 5-4.

It is now more critical than ever for supporters of the Wilderness and historic preservation to attend Monday’s Board of Supervisors hearing, as it is important to remember that the Planning Commisison is a non-binding advisory organization. The Board of Supervisors has final authority in this matter and Monday’s hearing represents the last opportunity to tell them that the Wilderness Battlefield is no place for big box sprawl. If you live within driving distance, please attend this final hearing and urge the county to find another location further from this hallowed battleground.

The hearing starts at 6:00 p.m. on Monday, August 24, 2009, in the Orange County High School Auditorium, 201 Selma Road, Orange, Va. CWPT will have an information table set-up one hour before the hearing, and we encourage all who attend to arrive early. Click here for directions and a map of the school.

I hope we can count on your continued support in this fight to protect the Wilderness Battlefield. If you have any questions about the upcoming hearing please feel free to contact me personally at 202-367-1861 ext. 7205.

Thank you,
Jim Campi

P.S. For the latest information on the hearings, please visit CWPT’s Wilderness Walmart homepage.

Let’s hope that the Board of Supervisors follows suit and also does the right thing…..

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