Thursday, April 4, 2013

150th Anniversary Tour of Brandy Station Announced

The Loudoun County Civil War Roundtable announced a remarkable tour event.  On June 8, 2013, the organization is sponsoring a tour of the Brandy Station Battlefield, sight of the largest cavalry battle in North America.  The all-day tour features Clark B. "Bud" Hall , the foremost authority on this opening battle of the Gettysburg Campaign.

The tour was announced on the blog site: "To the Sound of the Guns."

And RSVP's can be sent here:

Bud Hall, the nation’s leading expert on the Battle of Brandy Station, will be conducting a uniquely rare walking tour of remote battlefield sites that have never before been visited by any tour group. Priceless anti-bellum homes and bucolic river fords are just a few of the historically significant and scenic sites that will be visited on this special tour. This is an exceptional Sesquicentennial event that you will not want to miss! All tour materials including maps and handouts will be provided. A bag lunch, hat, sunscreen, bug spray and walking shoes are suggested for this tour which will take place rain or shine. Come join us as we commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Brandy Station!

If you are ever going to take a tour of the Brandy Station Battlefield, this is the one. Even if you have been with Bud before, this one will be far more comprehensive. Bud has told me of some of the stops he intends to make.  I have been on many tours of Brandy Station, led by Bud and others, and there will be locations I have never walked.  I can't emphasis this enough -- do not miss this one1

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Clearing for a new housing development at Rappahannock Station begins

After what some have describe as too much time away from this blog (and they are correct), I've decided it's time to resume Today At Brandy Station.

As we move into the third year of the war - 1863 - the impact of fighting in the Eastern Theater will be painfully felt in Culpeper County.  Culpeper saw the Federals push into the county in the summer of 1862, only to be forcibly thrown out by Stonewall Jackson at Cedar Mountain and Freeman's Ford.  What happened in 1863 will resonate in Culpeper for the next 150 years. 

Hopefully, I will be able to help describe what happened in Culpeper, and Fauquier County, through the words of those who traversed this land, as well as inform you to the going-on's today.

Unfortunately today, I must discuss recent activity observed on the Rappahannock Station Battlefield.  The battlefield is in Remington, Virginia. There were two significant actions (for Fauquier County) at Rappahannock Station. The first took place in August 1862 and was mostly an artillery duel.  The second, on November 7, 1863, resulted in the largest fight in Fauquier County and cost the Army of Northern Virgina the better part of two brigades. 

Last week, clearing of some abandoned houses and trees were accomplished by the owners of Rappahannock Landing, a planned sub-division ON the battlefield.  The photo below was taken on March 31, 2013.

The land where this bulldozer sits was crossed by the 6th Maine, the 5th Wisconsin and the 49th Pennsylvania infantry regiments under Colonel Peter Ellmaker. The charge took place as darkness descended. It was one of the few evening actions of the Civil War.  Facing them was the famed Louisiana Brigade under BG Harry Hays. Also in the fortifications were Robert Hokes' North Carolinian's.  Ellmaker's and Emory Upton's men (on Ellmaker's right) swarmed over the fortifications and over 1600 Confederates became casualties. The Federals suffered slightly over 400. Three Medals of Honor were won on this day. 

One, Sergeant Otis O. Roberts, crossed this ground.  He was assigned to Company H of the 6th Maine. His commander, Major George Fuller wrote in the after-action report, "...but I cannot refrain from asking your attention to the following...instance of unexampled courage and coolness: Sergt. Otis R. Roberts, of Company H, with only 5 men, rushed upon the color-bearer of the 8th Louisiana Regiment, who was in the midst of his color company, and after a hand-to-hand conflict, in which the bayonet was freely used, succeeded in capturing the colors, compelling the whole company to surrender." Roberts received his Medal of Honor on December 28, 1863, nearly Farley, in Culpeper County.

Fauquier County owns a portion of the battlefield along the river and plans to build a park. It was hoped that the Rappahannock Landing property could be incorporated, making the site visually appealing and interpretable. If the development goes forward, visitors will stare down from the Confederate position directly into the backyards of town homes. And, with the arrival of bulldozers, time is running out for action.