Latest Posts

Expert research team supporting ABPP grant

We are very pleased and honored that the following two individuals, well known for their expertise in historic research and preservation, will complete the research related to our Rapidan Front Landscape Study. The study is supported by an American Battlefield Protection Program (ABPP) grant, term 2020-2022. Grant research will look at the 1863-64 Union Winter Encampment that brought more than 100,000 soldiers to Culpeper County and covered almost half of the county. Research will also look at Somerville, Raccoon and Morton’s Fords, critical Rapidan River crossing points for both the Union and Confederate armies during the Civil War. Please refer to the map at the end of this post for the preliminary project study area.

Grant research team:

John S. Salmon, Project Historian for the Rapidan Front Landscape Study
project

John S. Salmon has been researching and writing about Virginia history for more than forty years. He holds a B.A. degree from the University of Virginia and an M.A. from the College of William and Mary, both in American history. He was an archivist (1972–1987) at the Virginia State Library (present-day Library of Virginia), where he compiled finding aids and guides to state records. In 1987, he joined the Virginia Landmarks Commission (now the Virginia Department of Historic Resources) as staff historian and state historical highway marker manager. He surveyed Virginia battlefields for the Shenandoah Civil War Battlefield Survey and the Civil War Sites Advisory Commission (1990–1993) and wrote The Official Virginia Civil War Battlefield Guide
(Stackpole Books, 2001) to 123 of the state’s battlefields including Cedar Mountain, Kelly’s Ford, and Brandy Station in Culpeper County.

After retiring from state employment in 2001, Mr. Salmon served as staff historian for the Tredegar National Civil War Center Foundation, helping draft plans for a national Civil War museum and learning center. Since leaving that position in the summer of 2004, he has served as a historical consultant. Mr. Salmon writes and edits marker and brochure texts for Virginia Civil War Trails, Inc., a nonprofit educational corporation. Since the mid-1990s, VCWT has created and installed more than 1,000 markers along driving trails linking Civil War sites in six states (Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee).

Mr. Salmon has written more than seventy National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) nominations in four states. In Virginia, his Civil War battlefields and sites nominations include Beaverdam Depot (listed 1988), Fort Riverview (1989), Brandy Station (1989), Bristoe Station (1991), Belle Isle (1995), Fort Pocahontas (1999), Milford (2004), Unison (2011), and Rose Hill in Culpeper County (2020).

Mr. Salmon also wrote a Multiple Property Documentation form, “The Civil War in Virginia, 1861–1865: Historic and Archaeological Resources” (2000). In addition, he wrote a Preliminary Information Form (DHR) for “Rappahannock River 1862 Northern Virginia Campaign Rural Historic District, Fauquier County” (2011). He also wrote the historical narrative for “The Upper Rappahannock River Mapping Project: The Civil War in Culpeper and Fauquier Counties, 1862–1864” (2014) for Rivanna Archaeological Services. For the same firm, he wrote the historical narrative for the Ball’s Bluff Battlefield and National Cemetery Boundary Expansion, Loudoun County (2016).

Glenn Stach, Preservation Landscape Architect and Planner, Stach PLLC.

Mr. Stach is a subject expert practicing within the narrowly focused field of cultural landscape preservation and planning, with concentrated expertise in battlefield preservation. His ten-year involvement supporting battlefield preservation in Culpeper and Orange counties (with projects at Wilderness, and all six nationally recognized battlefields in Culpeper) afford him a healthy grasp of the cultural landscape and its many Civil War era features.

Mr. Stach recently completed a comprehensive analysis of Confederate Encampment sites across the Rapidan from the study area on Clarks Mountain and in the process collected compelling contributing source material investigation for this study area. Additionally, Mr. Stach led a viewshed study encompassing much of this study area that demonstrates the interconnectedness of the wartime wig-wag signal station network across this region and historic and contemporary relevance to viewshed integrity and preservation. In 2014 Mr. Stach was hired by VDHR to lead battlefield friends development efforts across the commonwealth, a project funded by the ABPP that has had a profound effect on the organizing and support for battlefield resources in Culpeper. Mr. Stach will support John Salmon in mapping the resources of the grant study area, bringing his analysis and cultural landscape perspective (KOCOA) to the study.

 

Event: Soldiers of Virginia 1607-1945

On Saturday, October 31, 2020, from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm, a special event will be hosted at the battlefield: Soldiers of Virginia.

Visit Cedar Mountain to learn about the experience of soldiers who served in Virginia, from the first settlement of Jamestown in 1607 up to World War II. During this unique living history event, more than a dozen accurately dressed individuals with appropriate equipment and arms will share stories that bring to life the time period they represent. There will also be firing demonstrations and an exciting “Mad Minute” in which all of the troops will fire as quickly as they can for sixty seconds.

The soldiers employed by the Virginia Company in 1607 arrived wearing colorful clothing, pieces of armor and carrying slow and heavy single shot weapons that required a burning piece of rope to fire them. By 1945 the American soldier was wearing colors that blended with his environment and carrying weapons that were relatively lightweight and could fire multiple shots in the space of a minute. Visitors can see the development of uniforms and weapons as technology and needs changed.

Event schedule:

10:00 am – Event opens to public. Visitors are able to meet and chat with soldiers throughout the day, in between the scheduled arms demonstrations.

11:00 am demonstration – Matchlock to Firelock, 1607-1846

1:00 pm demonstration – Caplock to Breechloader, 1846-1865

2:00 pm demonstration – Bolt Action on the World Stage, 1898-1918

3:00 pm demonstration – Firepower against the Axis, 1941-1945

4:15 pm demonstration – The Mad Minute: Rate of Fire through the Ages

The program is open to visitors of all ages. The program fee is $5/adult in support of Friends of Cedar Mountain educational programs. Children are free.

We do not recommend bringing pets, which may be disturbed by the weapons demonstrations.

Free parking will be available at the battlefield, located 5 miles south of Culpeper off of US Route 15.

Soldiers of Virginia is an open air event on the battlefield. In the event of inclement weather, the program will not be held and an update will be posted here and on the Cedar Mountain Battlefield Facebook page.

Please direct any questions to info@friendsofcedarmountain.org

Thank you for your interest!

Opposition to utility scale solar on historic land

October 4, 2020 update to the information below: On October 2, the conditional use permit for Greenwood Solar expired. Greenwood Solar representatives asked the Culpeper Board of Supervisors for an extension and discussion of the request reportedly is slated for the Board’s November meeting. There is a bill currently in the Virginia House that would grant a two-year extension to any projects with conditional use permits. It is not clear yet what the fate of that bill will be, or whether Greenwood will have recourse to continue to pursue their proposed solar project, which if built would be located in the area of historic study supported by a American Battlefield Protection Plan grant to FCMB. Our grant project is proceeding as planned; the consultants hired by FCMB to support the grant have begun their research work.

In October 2018 the Culpeper County Board of Supervisors approved a proposal by Greenwood Solar, now a subsidiary of NextEra Energy, for a 1000 acre utility scale solar project straddling Batna Road south of Route 3 in the county’s Stevensburg district. As of mid-July 2020, the 100 megawatt project is in the site plan stage of review by the Planning Commission as well as state Permit By Rule review.

This industrial scale project is placed squarely in an area of historical significance to the Civil War, with Brandy Station battlefield to the north and Morton’s Ford battlefield to the south. The project area and the Area of Potential Effect around the project area saw many troop movements and encampments, including the Winter encampment of more than 100,000 Union troops during 1863-1864. The project is bounded on one side by the Old Carolina Road, a historic byway dating to the pre-Colonial era. Notable properties adjacent include 19th century Rose Hill on the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places, and 18th century Salubria, also on the National Register of Historic Properties. Both are within the project’s Area of Potential Effect.

After being awarded an American Battlefield Protection Plan grant in May 2020 to study the Rapidan Front and winter encampment area where the project is planned to be located, FCMB’s board has come out strongly in opposition to the solar project. Installation of more than 300,000 solar panels will obliterate the cultural landscape, negatively impacting grant study efforts.

Since early May, the board of Friends of Cedar Mountain has communicated with the county Planning Commission, Board of Supervisors, Planning and Zoning director and town administrator to share the following:

  1. Our application for a grant to study the Civil War’s Rapidan Front including the 1863-1864 encampment.
  2. The awarding of the grant in the amount of $86,700.
  3. A map of our grant study area with a superimposed image of the Greenwood Solar project clearly showing the “integrity hole” the solar project would create in the solar project landscape.

Culpeper County outlined in orange; Friends of Cedar Mountain grant study area in yellow; Greenwood Solar 1000-acre utility scale solar project in green

In each of these communications the FCMB board asked for a stay on the project pending completion of the grant.

Board representatives also have attended two Planning Commission meetings. Board representative Karen Boushie was present at the Planning Commission’s July 8, 2020 work session on the project (no public comment period was available). She and board member Brad Forbush attended the Planning Commission’s August 12, 2020 meeting. In the public comment period during the August meeting, Boushie reviewed the board’s previous correspondence with the commission and again asked for a hold on the project until the grant can be completed. She also noted:

“Communications from Virginia’s Department of Historic Resources support a hold on Greenwood Solar to allow full pursuit of area study. We cite the DHR letter dated May 7, 2019 that responds to the solar project architectural survey. This DHR letter refers to 9 resources that “could contribute to a historic district that does not yet exist due to a lack of context studies.” Our grant will provide the needed context studies.

The same DHR letter also recommends additional surveys be done at a property at the Batna/Algonquin crossroads and at Mountain View Farm – these two areas also are within the scope of our grant.”

In her comments, Boushie also asked for confirmation that the Commission had received the cultural assessment that is part of the developer’s permit by rule application, saying, “A reading of this report confirms that the area merits the deeper research that our grant will support.”

Board member Brad Forbush submitted a statement via email. His email was misplaced by the Planning and Zoning office and will be read into the record at the Commission’s September meeting. In a brief statement, Forbush reviewed the widespread interest in Culpeper’s history as evidenced by the number of tours he gives to visitors from many different states. These include, California, Hawaii, Kansas, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and of course, Virginia.

Anyone who would like to send a comment about the project to the Planning Commission before their next meeting on September 9 may do so by following these instructions for email, voicemail and postal mail submissions.

Guided battlefield tour

Join Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield (FCMB) for a guided walking tour of the battlefield on Saturday, September 12 or Saturday, October 10 at 10:00 am. This tour is open to all ages to learn about the August 9, 1862 encounter in which Confederate troops led by General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson prevailed over Federal troops led by General Nathaniel Banks at a cost of 3800 men killed or wounded.

Please note that physical distancing of 6 feet will be encouraged in accordance with current CDC and state guidelines for safety. The group will be limited to 10 participants. If there are more than 10 participants, a second guide will be available.

The tour typically takes about 2 hours. Sturdy shoes, a water bottle, a hat and insect repellent are recommended.
Donation: A $10 donation to FCMB is requested.
Parking: Friends of Cedar Mountain Meeting House, 9465 General Winder Road, Rapidan, VA 22733.
Please direct any inquiries to info@friendsofcedarmountain.org or 540-727-8849.

Guided battlefield tour

Join Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield (FCMB) for a guided walking tour of the battlefield on Saturday, June 13 at 10:00 am. This tour is open to all ages to learn about the August 9, 1862 encounter in which Confederate troops led by General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson prevailed over Federal troops led by General Nathaniel Banks at a cost of 3800 men killed or wounded.

Please note that physical distancing of 6 feet will be encouraged in accordance with current CDC and state guidelines for safety. The group will be limited to 10 participants. If there are more than 10 participants, a second guide will be available.

The tour typically takes about 2 hours. Sturdy shoes, a water bottle, a hat and insect repellent are recommended.
Donation: A $10 donation to FCMB is requested.
Parking: Friends of Cedar Mountain Meeting House, 9465 General Winder Road, Rapidan, VA 22733.
Please direct any inquiries to info@friendsofcedarmountain.org or 540-727-8849.

Tour report: June 2020

It was a beautiful Spring day on Saturday, June 13, 2020, and Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield had 7 visitors attend our first regularly scheduled guided tour of the season. After an introduction to the battle the guests divided into two groups. One went with guide Sam Pruett and followed the interpretive markers. Four more seasoned battlefield enthusiasts took to the woods to follow the Stonewall Brigade Trail to tell the story of the brigade’s clash with the six companies of the 3rd Wisconsin and the 46th Pennsylvania. Guide Brad Forbush also covered the approach of the 10th Virginia. The course path through the woods showed the difficult approach to the battle experienced by the Confederates on the left of Stonewall Jackson’s line. Included in the tour group was Mr. Bill Irby whose ancestor William Branch Coleman of the 21st Virginia, Company C, was mortally wounded in the battle. Emphasis on the ordeal of that regiment was given during the rest of the battlefield walk. At the end of the tour the group posed for pictures near where the regiment fought. Everyone enjoyed their visit and promised to return with friends. It was a great day on the battlefield for the guides and the guests.

Visitors are welcome to join us on our next scheduled guided tour on July 11 or explore on the trails on their own year-round. Our site has  information for self guided tours  including a walking route and trail map.

Guided battlefield tour

Join Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield (FCMB) for a guided walking tour of the battlefield on Saturday, June 13 at 10:00 am. This tour is open to all ages to learn about the August 9, 1862 encounter in which Confederate troops led by General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson prevailed over Federal troops led by General Nathaniel Banks at a cost of 3800 men killed or wounded.

Please note that physical distancing of 6 feet will be encouraged in accordance with current CDC and state guidelines for safety. The group will be limited to 10 participants. If there are more than 10 participants, a second guide will be available.

The tour typically takes about 2 hours. Sturdy shoes, a water bottle, a hat and insect repellent are recommended.
Donation: A $10 donation to FCMB is requested.
Parking: Friends of Cedar Mountain Meeting House, 9465 General Winder Road, Rapidan, VA 22733.
Please direct any inquiries to info@friendsofcedarmountain.org or 540-727-8849.

Culpeper Star Exponent: Interior Department funds Rapidan Front study in Culpeper

The article excerpted below was written by Clint Schemmer and published in the Culpeper Star Exponent on May 17, 2020. The article describes the awarding of a preservation grant to Friends of Cedar Mountain to support a cultural landscape assessment to study the nationally significant Civil War landscape along the Rapidan River front, extending north to the Union Winter Encampment area of 1863-1864 and the Cedar Mountain Battlefield. Visit starexponent.com to read the full article.

Excerpt:
The U.S. Department of the Interior is funding a study of Culpeper County’s “Rapidan Front” area of Civil War battlefields and historic sites.

The Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield, a local nonprofit group, will receive $86,740 to research Culpeper’s Racoon Ford, Morton’s Ford and Sommerville Ford battlefields, sites that were fought over in 1863 and 1864 during the American Civil War.

The three battlefields and related historic sites, lie along the Rapidan River, which separated the Confederate and Union armies during that period.
Interior Secretary David L. Bernhardt announced the grant Friday during a visit to Gettysburg National Military Park, part of a $3 million package of grants from the nation’s American Battlefield Protection Program.

“Battlefields such as Gettysburg are sacred sites where Americans gave the last full measure of devotion,” Bernhardt said. “These grants enable us to partner with communities and organizations to preserve these places and connect visitors with their historical importance.”

Culpeper County resident Diane Logan, president of the Cedar Mountain friends group, expressed its appreciation for the Interior Department’s support.

“The Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield are thankful for the opportunity this grant award has given us,” Logan said Saturday. “We realize and appreciate the many layers of Culpeper’s rich Civil War history, and are excited at the prospect to explore, research and document events and historical sites that contribute to the full story of battle-torn Culpeper.”

Information for Self-Guided Battlefield Tours

There are 7 historical interpretive markers on the battlefield for visitors who would like to take a self-guided tour. There is no better way to gain understanding of a battle than to walk the ground.

When the American Battlefield Trust (ABT) acquired this property, representatives met with the Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield (FCMB) to discuss trail options. The trails were laid out to make use of the preserved parcels while also keeping the land farmable. Trails had to be safe and easy to maintain.

ABT staffers Gary Adelman and Sam Smith laid out the trail plan and sign options. Alterations were made with input from FCMB board members, including Lon Lacey,  Michael Block, Diane Logan & others. The same process occurred to create the content for the battlefield interpretive markers. The ABT wrote the first drafts, which were improved upon FCMB. The revised comments were reviewed by three outside historians, Greg Mertz, Bob Krick Sr. and Bud Hall. These comments were incorporated into the overall content.

The maps were created by Steve Stanly specifically for these interpretive signs. The installations happened around the start of 2016.

The Trust was looking to try some new things for interpretation and settled on the silhouettes at Cedar Mountain.   In what proved serendipitous,  the infantry silhouettes’ placement gives an accurate approximation of the farthest advance of General John White Geary’s Ohio Brigade.

The first interpretive marker, titled “A Narrow Victory,” is placed at the parking area where the trails begin (see first photo at left of first paragraph).

The second marker, #2 on the trail map, is appropriately placed at the Crittenden Gate. What confuses many who try to interpret the battle is that the original road that was the axis of the battle continues straight along the fencing from this point forward. Modern day General Winder Road was the Crittenden Lane and Highway 15 did not exist.

The historic Crittenden Gate was restored by members of Boy Scouts of America Troop 225 under supervision of FCMB Board Member Sam Pruett.

The Gray LineThe third marker is titled “The Gray Line” and is placed approximately where William B. Taliaffero’s Brigade came into line.

 

The First BlowMarker #4 is titled “The First Blow.” It represents the launch of Union Brigadier-General Christopher C. Auger’s Division attack upon the Confederate line. The trail from marker #3 to #4 parallels highway 15. On hot days the trail is in full sun with little relief, whereas the other markers are close to shade.

The Battlefield Since 1862Marker #5 is titled “The Battlefield Since 1862.” We call this location the Point. Several of the original stone brigade markers which were placed about the battlefield by Judge Daniel Amon Grimsley of Culpeper in the early 1900’s have been brought to this location for protection. Grimsley was a veteran of the 6th Virginia Cavalry. His other markers can be seen scattered about the field in their original locations. The original placements were sometimes a nuisance to local farmers and some have disappeared over the years.

The Jaws of DefeatMarker #6 is titled “The Jaws of Defeat.” This marker places the visitor in the footsteps of the men of Brigadier-General Samuel W. Crawford’s three regiments who made an astonishing advance upon the left flank of General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson’s first line. The terrain features here make plain the reason the blow came as such a surprise to the rest of Jackson’s line along the original Culpeper-Orange Road.

Grimsley Marker, Stonewall Brigade

Visitors have the option from here to complete the shorter trail loop to visit marker #7 or continue farther north to see the Stonewall Brigade Grimsley marker and the large monument to the 3rd Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry.  See our post on the battlefield monuments for more information.

Jackson Is WIth YouMarker #7 tells the famous story of “Stonewall” Jackson rallying elements of his broken line with General A. P. Hill’s troops just arriving on the field. The timely arrival brought the Confederates a stunning victory.  As can be seen from the photo this marker is in a shady spot.

Trail Map

This gives an overview of what a tour can be; however, there are several other trails available, and guests can naturally follow any paths they prefer. Estimated time touring the battlefield on one’s own is up to 1 1/2 hours.

Culpeper Star Exponent: Cedar Mountain group asks Culpeper to delay Greenwood solar project

The following article written by Clint Schemmer was published in the Culpeper Star Exponent on May 6, 2020. Please visit the article link or read below.

A long-established Culpeper-area citizens group has stepped into the fray over a 1,000-acre solar-energy facility planned near Stevensburg.

The Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield, steward of part of that 1862 Civil War site, is asking Culpeper leaders to delay the county’s consideration of the project until it can finish an ongoing historical study of the area proposed for solar development.

On Monday, the all-volunteer friends group wrote the Culpeper County Planning Commission and the county Board of Supervisors asking them to halt the Greenwood Solar project so it can continue its study and learn if it will receive a federal grant this fall.

Development of the Greenwood Solar plant, which the Board of Supervisors approved in late 2018, “would create an integrity hole in the center” of the friends’ study area that could jeopardize other sites from being recognized as historic, the group said.

In January, the friends applied to the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program for a grant to fund research on what it’s calling the Rapidan Front, largely undeveloped land where the battles of Raccoon Ford, Morton’s Ford and Somerville Ford were fought and where elements of the Union army camped in the winter of 1863-64. The program is expected to announce its grant awards in August or September.

This study continues research begun in 2016 to identify threats to the Culpeper area’s nationally significant Civil War battlefields and cultural and agricultural landscapes, the friends said.

“If the (Greenwood) project proceeds as presented at this time without consideration to the historical and cultural value of the land it encompasses, it will render the area ineligible for National Register of Historic Places consideration not only for important Civil War sites but Colonial, African-American and Native American as well,” Diane Logan, president of the Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield, told the Culpeper Star-Exponent.

The friends group was raising private funds for its research in advance of the ABPP grant, but the COVID- 19 pandemic has temporarily halted that effort, Logan wrote Culpeper officials. “But we are committed to proceeding with this project as soon as possible,” she told them.

“We urge Culpeper County officials to put a halt to all industrial-scale projects on agricultural land, specifically the sites impacted by our grant application,” Logan wrote the governing board and Planning Commission. “We cannot lose our historic landscape, including the Union Winter Encampment boundary. Once the land is gone, it is gone forever.”

The ABBP grant would finance research to develop and enhance Culpeper historical tours, including landscapes and venues, and support agriculture, Logan told the Star-Exponent.

The study would highlight the importance of farming in Culpeper then and now, she said.

“It is the oldest business in our county and the most sustainable, not only for the health and welfare of our citizens but for growth and development,” Logan said. “Not to mention, agriculture has preserved the beautiful vistas that we enjoy today.”

The Rapidan Front research is documenting the historic resources of the encampment and the Rapidan, Raccoon Ford, Morton’s Ford and Somerville Ford battlefields, she said.

The project would open more resources for heritage tourism, a valuable industry that lures many visitors to Culpeper, and create economic development opportunities for small businesses such as campsites, water recreation and guided tours, the friends group wrote the boards’ members.

“FoCMB is aware of development threats to Culpeper’s historic landscape, particularly from potential industrial-scale solar facilities and housing development that would directly affect the outcome of the 2020 grant application,” it cautioned. “Such development would result in loss of landscape integrity that would render much of the Rapidan Front as no longer National Register-eligible.”

A newer Culpeper-area group that has been fighting industrial-scale solar development in Culpeper County praised the Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield’s effort.

“Citizens for Responsible Solar applauds the efforts of Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield to preserve the land. We stand with them in opposing the development of this historic site beyond what it is zoned for, which is agriculture,” Citizens for Responsible Solar President Susan Ralston told the newspaper. “Industrial-scale solar has its place on land zoned for industrial use, marginal or contaminated land or land which is sparsely populated.

“The Greenwood Solar site is part of the land identified in the Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield’s grant application and is already a well-documented historic treasure,” Ralston said.

In 2016, Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield met with its regional partners to discuss threats to Culpeper’s historic lands and identify priorities for preservation. Threats to its battlefield landscapes range from housing subdivisions to industrial-solar development to other utility projects, they determined. Looking forward, they set goals for heritage tourism, education, preservation and stewardship.

The Greenwood solar project was approved just before midnight on Oct. 2, 2018, after a three-hour public hearing. The Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to grant a conditional-use permit for Florida-based NextEra Energy Resources to build and operate its utility-scale solar project on up to 1,000 acres near Stevensburg. NextEra acquired the project from Texas-based Greenwood Energy.