Rapidan Front Cultural Landscape Study: year-end update

In 2021, the grant project team working on the Rapidan Front Cultural Landscape Study diligently conducted research on the winter encampment of Federal troops and the war-time development of the Rapidan River Front defending the encampment.

To date, the work has compiled a single-spaced 100 page history of the encampment and the front, the result of extensive review of relevant collections and documents from primary sources to local historical research.

This research has confirmed the extensive network and strategic layout of military command of the war-time landscape spanning most of Culpeper County from November 1863 – May 1864.

Based on this research, it is the opinion of the project team that the camp and the front are of national significance for their association with the Army of the Potomac, and the reorganization of that force during the winter camp to create the army that won the war for the United States.

The research and analysis of the winter camp landscape and its many contributing features (encampment sites, signal stations viewsheds, pickets and patrols, ford defenses and remnant structures) continue to be surveyed. Field results have identified the extensive network of ford crossings and confirmed advanced picket locations. The project team conducted extensive in-field documentation of the Rapidan River ford crossings to detail their accurate location and record existing conditions. Work continued through the fall with the identification of related seats of command of headquarters associated with the Army of the Potomac and historic roads.

Mapping of period conditions was conducted to identify locations of seats of command, forward pickets, and picket lines associated with the front. These locations have been prioritized based ono corroboration of historical accounts and historical maps. These locations have been brought forward and transposed onto present-day GIS maps denoting those features and locations overlaid on present-day aerial maps.

Despite challenges presented by the pandemic – particularly in the first year of the grant work, the project submittal will occur as planned during period of performance, which concludes August 31, 2022.

Related reading:

Grant announcement in the Culpeper Star Exponent  – May 2020

Meet the grant research team  – October 2020

Grant update – June 2021