29 October 2008 by Published in: Battlefield preservation 3 comments

A great opportunity to preserve an entire Civil War camp site, for very little money, has surfaced in Stafford County, Virginia, near Fredericksburg. From the October 11, 2008 issue of the Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star:

Stafford considers Civil War park ACCOKEEK SITE RICH IN HISTORY

Stafford supervisors express interest in preservation group’s proposal to fund, create Civil War park


A new idea has sprung up on how to save–and eventually open to the public–Stafford County’s best surviving cluster of Civil War sites.

The Board of Supervisors may partner with a preservation group, Friends of Stafford Civil War Sites, to accomplish those ends.

FSCWS wants to create a park to interpret and protect sites near Accokeek Creek where the Union army regrouped after the setbacks of 1862-63. The 25-acre tract is part of the 760-acre landfill administered by the Rappahannock Regional Solid Waste Management Board.

Within three years, FSCWS would raise the money to build a one-lane, one-way road linking the tract’s earthworks, regimental campsites, an 1863 log road and other historic features.

The forts, camps and road were part of what FSCWS has called the “Valley Forge of the Civil War.” Stafford’s camps–only a few of which survive–are where Union troops recovered from failures at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville and early 1863’s “Mud March,” gaining the strength to prevail at Gettysburg.

Supervisor Harry E. Crisp II introduced the plan, which he and his colleagues voted 7-0 Tuesday night to send to the county Historical Commission. Supervisors requested a report within 30 days.

In another unanimous vote, supervisors asked the Planning Commission to amend the county land-use plan to include the historic tract as a public park.

Beforehand, the board heard an impassioned plea to act from Stafford historian D.P. Newton, founder of the White Oak Museum and an FSCWS director.

“This is the best, if not the last, remaining piece of ground that can present the history of the Civil War to residents of Stafford and visitors to the area,” Newton said.

“I ask you to honor these men and have a place where the old, the young, the disabled–everyone–can go and see what they constructed, that still exists. These soldiers’ footprint upon Stafford County, let that be their memorial.”

He noted that in 1940, the U.S. government proposed preserving the largest concentration of regimental camps in eastern Stafford. It dropped the plan when America went to war after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Today, those sites are gone, buried under a sea of subdivisions, Newton said.

“If you’re going to build a park, this is the only place you’ve got left,” he said of the Accokeek Creek tract.

In addition to financing the park’s access road, FSCWS has agreed to build trails, create a picnic area and install historical markers.

To get started, FSCWS needs about $10,000 in seed money for engineering work to design the road and estimate construction costs.

But even that small expense is a concern at a time when Stafford is cutting its budget and considering layoffs, Supervisor Mark Dudenhefer said.

FSCWS hopes to open the park by 2011, the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, which is expected to foster fresh interest in the conflict and more tourism at historic sites.

Since 2005, FSCWS has worked with the county and builders to preserve Stafford’s remaining camps and earthworks, post roadside markers and erect a granite monument to the soldiers who manned one redoubt that was recently bulldozed for a housing development.

Clint Schemmer: 540/368-5029
Email: cschemmer@freelancestar.com

According to the same article, the following will be preserved:

The proposed park tract in central Stafford features 12 historic sites. Its forts were built to defend against a feared attack by Confederate cavalry.

A network of such earthworks protected the Union encampments in Stafford, home to at least 120,000 troops, and the army’s bustling supply depot at Aquia Landing on the Potomac River.

The tract encompasses:

FORT 1: This two-faced, 248-foot-long Union army battery has two gun platforms that may have held 3-inch ordnance rifles or 12-pound Napoleon cannons. At its center is a square, 9-foot-deep supply pit or blockhouse. The fort area includes a zigzag trench and rifle pits.

FORT 2: This three-faced, 210-foot-long battery had four or five cannons.

FORT 3: This three-faced battery, which may have held six guns, included a heavily built blockhouse with below-ground storage for powder and shells.

FORT 4: Originally about 200 feet long, this earthwork has been damaged by logging.

WINTER CAMPS: A picket post and two dug-in winter camps, which had log shelters with fireplaces for the soldiers, are near the forts. One camp has what is believed to have been an officers’ quarters made of sandstone.

CORDUROY ROAD: The area’s wartime road network included a pine-log road, built so the Army of the Potomac could move wagons and heavy guns through boggy areas.

BRIDGE REMAINS: Sandstone abutments survive from a bridge that crossed a creek for an 18th-century road that was a major route for the Union army’s 11th Corps.

QUARRIES: Two late 18th-century sandstone quarries, one of which appears to have later become a mill, speak to Stafford’s role as a provider of building stone. Cut stone was put on skids and pulled by oxen or horses, or loaded onto shallow scows and taken downstream on Accokeek Creek.

–from Dovetail Cultural Resource Group and the Friends of Stafford Civil War Sites

What a treasure! To see an actual corduroyed road still in existence? Wow….

$10,000 is nothing to save such a site and begin the process of getting it ready for public access. Surely someone will step forward and donate the necessary money to do so….

Scridb filter


  1. Wed 29th Oct 2008 at 11:11 pm

    What a great plan! Best of luck to them!

  2. Jake
    Sun 06th May 2012 at 10:21 pm

    The park is due to open this fall with the help of donations, the military engineer corps, and eagle scout projects.

  3. Todd Heller
    Thu 25th Feb 2016 at 6:13 pm

    I had the honor of walking this hallowef ground before the park was built thanks to DP Newton. I saw the courderoy road and the sandstone bridge. My GG Grandfather Private Edward Unanst and my GG Uncle George.Unangst both fought for the 153rd Pennsylvania Co. C part of the 11th Corps. It gave me goosebumps!

Comments are closed.

Copyright © Eric Wittenberg 2011, All Rights Reserved
Powered by WordPress