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.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Friends of Cedar Mountain honored for unique way to commemorate Civil War

As published in the Culpeper Star-Exponent, May 12, 2012
Culpeper Star-Exponent

Published: May 12, 2012

The Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield were honored Monday with a presentation of Virginia House Resolution No. 492 by Del. Ed Scott, for their work to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the battle.

The battle, which took place Aug. 9 1862, is being commemorated this year with a stage production of Virginia Morton’s novel “Marching Through Culpeper.”

Scott and delegates Jill Vogel and Emmett Hanger, along with Sen. Bryce Reeves were co-patrons of the resolution, which honors the organization for their unique plan to honor the soldiers of the Civil War.

“We have worked for several years as a board to protect the battlefield and educate not only Culpeper residents but reaching out across the United States about the significance of Cedar Mountain Battlefield,” Friends of Cedar Mountain president Diane Logan said. “To have this recognition is a thank you to all the many volunteers who have assisted in that effort.”

Scott said it was important to recognize the volunteers for their hard work during the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War.

“This effort here in Culpeper ties in with the other efforts going on in the Commonwealth,” Scott said. “It really stands out. The folks here in the community really should be commended for this unique commemoration of the Civil War.”

Marching Through Culpeper” will be performed on the stage Aug. 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, 12, 2012 at Eastern View High School. Aug. 3-4 and 10-11 will be at 7:30 p.m. and the Aug. 5 and 12 will be at 2:30 p.m.

The play will be directed by the husband and wife team of Tim and Johncie Carlson and the four main characters have been cast for the play. Morton said they are still looking for more men to portray soldiers.

“It’s wonderful to know that the rest of the state is looking at what we’re doing,” Virginia Morton said. “We tend to think what we’re doing is unique. We’re delighted they recognized it.”

Friday, May 11, 2012

Mt. Defiance Property Protected

Wednesday in Middleburg

I had the pleasure of being present at a standing room only event at the National Sporting Library and Museum when Governor McDonnell presented a Transportation Enhancement Grant to the Civil War Trust for $432,000 to help in the purchase of five acres on Mt. Defiance.

The position was held by two batteries of the Stuart Horse Artillery (McGregor's and Mooreman's) as well as two brigades of cavalry from Virginia (Chambliss) and North Carolina (Robertson). Assaulting the Confederates up Mt. Defiance were Kilpatricks and Gregg's cavalry brigade's.

The beautiful parcel includes three period structures and the original Zula Road. The land is adjacent to the Ashby Gap Turnpike and is located in both Faquier and Loudon Counties. The property will ultimately be transferred to the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority.

Below is the press release from the CWT and at the end of the release, is a link to a map showing where the property is located on the battlefield.


Exciting partnership between the Civil War Trust, the Commonwealth of Virginia and Northern Virginia Regional Parks Authority to preserve historic Mt. Defiance battle site

(Middleburg, Va.) – At a news conference this morning, Gov. Bob McDonnell joined the Civil War Trust, the nation’s largest battlefield preservation organization, at the National Sporting Library and Museum to launch a national campaign to protect historic Mount Defiance on the Middleburg Battlefield. The cornerstone of the campaign is a public-private partnership between the Civil War Trust, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the Northern Regional Park Authority.

“Our ongoing collaboration with the Commonwealth of Virginia is among the most fruitful partnerships in the annals of the historic preservation movement,” said Civil War Trust president James Lighthizer. “Thanks to the vision of the McDonnell administration and the foresight of the legislature in Richmond, we are working together to ensure that future generations will have the opportunity to visit these sites undisturbed by inappropriate modern intrusions.”

The five-acre Mount Defiance property sits on present-day Route 50, an important transportation artery crucial to both the Union and Confederate armies during the Gettysburg campaign. Opposing cavalry clashed along the roadway on June 17–19, 1863, as the two armies struggled for control of Middleburg and the Loudoun Valley. Today, the landscape is largely undisturbed, with the high ground defended by Confederate horse artillery clearly visible. The site also includes three buildings dating to before the Civil War — an antebellum manor house-turned-tavern, a blacksmith’s cottage and the small blacksmith’s shop where well-documented hand-to-hand combat occurred during the June 19 fighting. Learn more about the Battle of Middleburg by visiting

Alongside the many successful initiatives of the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission, the Commonwealth has made historic battlefield preservation a key element of its efforts to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. These efforts will result in a permanent protection of hundreds of acres of battlefield land through easements held by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.

Most often, the Commonwealths’ participation in battlefield preservation projects comes through one of two matching grant programs — the Virginia Civil War Sites Preservation Fund, administered through the Department of Historic Resources and the only state-level endowment of its kind in the country, and the Transportation Enhancement program, awarded by the Commonwealth Transportation Board under the direction of the Secretary of Transportation.

In the case of Mount Defiance, the project received a $432,000 Virginia Transportation Enhancement grant, leaving the Civil War Trust to finance the remainder of the $540,000 purchase price from other public and private sector sources. A lead gift of $10,000 has already been pledged by local historian and former Civil War Trust board member Childs Burden and his wife Elaine, of Middleburg.

Once fundraising is completed, the Civil War Trust will place a permanent conservation easement on the property, ensuring that any future alterations to the land and its structures maintain the site’s historic integrity. This perpetual, legally binding covenant will be held and overseen by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.

Ultimately, the Mount Defiance property will be transferred to the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority, which maintains nearly three dozen individual park properties totally more than 10,000 acres across Arlington, Fairfax and Loudoun Counties, as well as the Cities of Alexandria, Fairfax and Falls Church. Among those holdings is the popular Balls Bluff Battlefield Regional Park and nearby Mt. Zion Historic Park and Aldie Mill Historic Park.

In addition to the Middleburg property, the Trust is currently engaged in active fundraising efforts to save significant battlefield properties at Bentonville, N.C., Cedar Creek., Cross Keys, Va., Fredericksburg, Va., Gaines’ Mill, Va., Mill Springs, Ky., Perryville, Ky., Shiloh, Tenn., and Tom’s Brook, Va. To learn more about current fundraising projects and the Trust’s ambitious sesquicentennial preservation effort, Campaign 150: Our Time, Our Legacy, please visit

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Kudo's to the Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield

Monday in Culpeper.

I had the distinct pleasure of joining many of my fellow FoCMB Board Members, and others in the office of Delegate Ed Scott (R-30th District) on Monday afternoon to take part in a presentation of House Joint Resolution 492, Commending the Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield.

After a brief presentation in his office, the group reassembled at the Culpeper Civil War Monument for photos.  See: for photo and other details.

In addition to Delegate Scott, I would like to thank the other sponsors of HR 492: Delegate Mike Webert (R- 18th District) and Senators Emmett Hanger, Jr. (R- 24th District), Bryce Reeves (R- 17th District) and Jill Vogel (R- 27th District),

Below is the final version of the Resolution:

Offered March 2, 2012

Commending Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield, Inc.


Patrons-- Scott, E.T. and Webert; Senators: Hanger, Reeves and Vogel


WHEREAS, Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield, Inc., proudly continues its work to protect, interpret, and promote the Cedar Mountain Civil War Battlefield in Culpeper County through its generous support of Marching Through Culpeper on Stage and other related events during the summer of 2012; and

WHEREAS, Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield, Inc., a nonprofit organization, has brought together local residents and landowners to celebrate Culpeper County’s role in history during the statewide and nationwide sesquicentennial of the American Civil War; and

WHEREAS, as part of the sesquicentennial commemoration of the Battle of Cedar Mountain, Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield, Inc., will serve as a primary sponsor of several multimedia productions of Marching Through Culpeper which is based on the popular book by Virginia Morton; and

WHEREAS, Marching Through Culpeper on Stage, which features original music, tells the story of “love across the battle lines,” as the heroine, Constance Armstrong, works to keep her family together during one of the most tumultuous times in American history; and

WHEREAS, Marching Through Culpeper on Stage productions are part of a weekend program that features living history events, battlefield ceremonies, tours, lectures, and other events that appeal to the entire family; and

WHEREAS, Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield, Inc., has collaborated with community leaders and area residents to create fascinating and entertaining weekend events that showcase Culpeper County’s role in the American Civil War; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED by the House of Delegates, the Senate concurring, That the General Assembly hereby commend Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield, Inc., on its efforts to commemorate Culpeper County’s role in the American Civil War through generous support of Marching Through Culpeper on Stage; and, be it

RESOLVED FURTHER, That the Clerk of the House of Delegates prepare a copy of this resolution for presentation to Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield, Inc., as an expression of the General Assembly’s admiration for the organization’s efforts to promote tourism and historic preservation in Culpeper County.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

A busy Saturday

Yesterday at Brandy Station: May 5, 2012

A fairly busy Saturday for me.  It began with members of the Civil War Roundtable of Eastern Pennsylvania.  The group meets in Allentown and journeyed to Culpeper for a one day visit to the Brandy Station Battlefield.  As we got together, I spoke to them the significance of the day, and what had happened 150 years ago.

On the night of May 4, 1862, elements of the 1st Maine Cavalry crossed the Rappahannock River, spent the night at Richard Hoope Cunningham's home, Elkwood, and raided into Culpeper Courthouse the next morning, May 5.  There stay was in town was short, taking a number of civilians prisoner and departed for points north.  The CWRT of Eastern PA entered Culpeper at night, stayed in town (but thankfully took no prisoners) and departed for points north.

The better part of the day was spent at various parts of the June 9, 1863 battlefield where the group walked a good portion of the ground, including a journey to the stonewall which was defended by troopers of Rooney Lee's command.  All were struck with the pristine land, and readily agreed that this portion of the battlefield had not changed in nearly 150 years.

The group also visited the St. James Plateau and two locations on Fleetwood, where they saw our most recent preservation fight, and observed for themselves the damage to the battlefield.

The tour concluded at Auburn, the beautiful home of the Barron's, but was of course, the residence of John Minor Botts during the battle.  Again all marvelled at the serenity of the location and it's beauty.

I want to thank the Civil War Roundtable of Eastern Pennsylvania for their generous gift to the Civil War Trust in my name.

My new friends departed for points north and I headed home for a quick change of clothes and it was off to the annual Friends of the Wilderness Battlefield Dinner, where my wife and I joined fellow board members of the Friends of the Cedar Mountain Battlefield. 

There was a big crowd, by the way, at this fine dinner, and in addition to the FoWB and FoCMB, several other entities were represented, as well, including Museum of Culpeper History, CWT, CVBT, DHR, and the Fredericksburg NMP.

It was a fine event with monies raised earmarked for two Special Projects:
"1. The Ellwood to Wilderness Tavern Trail: Friends of Wilderness Battlefield has joined forces with the NPS to create a new trail for visitors connecting NPS property on both sides of Wilderness Run. Traveling along the old Ellwood Carriage Road, the Parker ‘s Store Road and portions of the original Orange Turnpike, visitors will be able to hike between Ellwood Manor and the Wilderness Tavern ruins. The greatest obstacle is Wilderness Run requiring the building of a bridge. The cost for the project is estimated at $25,000.

2. Archaeological Survey of Ellwood Manor Slave Quarters: Again the Friends of Wilderness Battlefield is joining forces with the NPS to learn more about slave life at Ellwood. The archaeological study is a multi-phased project. Phase I will ID the location of the slave quarters known to be on the grounds of Ellwood Manor. Phase I is estimated to cost $25,000."

They are well on their way to achieving these goals and I wish them continued success.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

I have returned

Today at Brandy Station: May 2, 2012

After about six months, I have decided to return to "Today at Brandy Station." 

I am no longer aligned with the Brandy Station Foundation, but for consistentcy, the title will remain, as Brandy Station is the most recognized location in Civil War Culpeper County.

I am still active on a number of committees, roundtables and currently sit on the Board of Directors of the Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield.  Additionally, I continue to give tours of the Brandy Station, Fauquier County areas, presenting their unique Civil War histories. Last weekend I supported Bud Hall and the Central Virginia Battlefield Trust's tour of Brandy Station.

The CVBT tour was two buses, led by Bud Hall and Greg Mertz and travelled to a number of locations on the battlefield, with Bud leading the discussions on events before the war, during the fight on June 9, 1863 and the preservation fights that continue to this day. The group also visited and toured Auburn and Rose Hill. It was a good day.

It is my intention is to continue telling this audience what happened today at Brandy Station, past and present. And maybe a little bit of what will happen in the future.  Sometimes the story may not be what some want or like to hear, but it will always be accurate as far as I know and can judge.