About two-dozen volunteers donated time and muscle Saturday to tidy up Cedar Mountain battlefield just south of Culpeper, where nearly 3,700 Civil War soldiers lost their lives on August 9, 1862.
The nonprofit Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield participates in the annual event, started in 1996 by the American Battlefield Trust, which owns the historic land.
Each year thousands of history enthusiasts, families, Boy and Girl Scouts and many others join together to lend a hand in an effort to help maintain parkland across the nation preserved by ABT.
“Park Day is a time for anyone to visit America’s incredible parks for a hands-on opportunity to help preserve the unique beauty and history that each has to offer,” said Friends of Cedar Mountain President Diane Logan on Wednesday.
In Culpeper, Logan said, Park Day brings together returning Friends and first-time volunteers, an occasion she and other leaders enjoy as they connect names with faces.
“It’s exciting to witness the enthusiasm each visitor brings to the day with their varied interests,” Logan said. “Many come to preserve the history of the site while others have embraced the beauty as a place to bring family and friends for hikes, walk with their dogs, go on picnics and take photographs.”
At Saturday’s event, a group of seven employees of Culpeper’s Ardent Mills participated in the clean-up event, something Logan said the milling company encourages.
“They did a variety of things—trimming shrubbery, clearing sites for upcoming living history events, raking and cleaning around monuments,” Logan said.
Ardent Mills employee Brandi Warfield and her husband, Justin Warfield said they try to help out during Park Day every year.
“I think the last time we helped out at Brandy Station battlefield,” Brandi Warfield said. “It’s a nice way to spend a Saturday.”
Mike Williams and his grandson, DJ, worked on Saturday weed-whacking and raking around signage and the Cedar Mountain’s iconic replica cannons. The Fredericksburg resident said he discovered the battlefield years ago on a drive from Culpeper to Orange, even before any land had been saved. He said he values history and the lessons it can teach.
“Mike said DJ first visited Cedar Mountain as an infant,” Logan said. “Now he’s 10 years old and Mike told him, ‘This battlefield looks exactly the same as it did when you came here as a baby, and it will look the same when you are grown. That is the beauty of preserving historic land.’”
Coming all the way from Silver Spring, Md., James Owens said he enjoys participating in living history events at Cedar Mountain regularly and is a member of the Friends group.
“It’s very satisfying to come out and do my part toward returning the park to its wartime appearance,” Owens said. He used a chainsaw to cut back undergrowth that was starting to intrude on one of the park’s walking paths.
Jennifer Michaels, a nurse at Mary Washington Hospital in Fredericksburg, worked with her husband and daughter Saturday to clear away leaves and foliage from a small family cemetery on the battlefield.
A new member of the Friends of Cedar Mountain, Michaels “is especially interested in cemeteries and in becoming a civilian living historian,” Logan said.
At Cedar Mountain Culpeper’s native son, Maj. Gen. A. P. Hill, sealed the Confederate victory when his division re-formed Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson’s crumbled line, leading the charge that turned the tide of the battle.
“For Hill and other Culpeper men engaged, this was a personal battle to liberate their homes, friends and family from Union occupation,” The Friends of Cedar Mountain website states.