In May 2020 Friends of Cedar Mountain received an American Battlefield Protection Program (ABPP) grant to study the Civil War Rapidan Front and 1863-64 Winter Encampment in Culpeper County. Research has been underway since fall 2020. Historian John Salmon, a member of the team supporting the grant research, recently provided the following update:
To date, I have compiled a roughly 80-page single spaced history of the county the 1863-1864 Federal Winter Encampment, and the Rapidan Front. Most recently I have explored extensive primary source material relevant to local history and the camp. There is no question 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 Encampment to create the army that won the war for the United States.
The research and analysis of the Winter Encampment landscape, and its many contributing features (encampment sites, signal stations, viewsheds, pickets and patrols, ford defenses and remnant structures) continue to be surveyed. Fieldwork has identified the extensive network of ford crossings and confirmed advanced picket locations. Work continues this summer to identify related supporting structures and historic roads.
The goal is to complete this project by the end of this calendar year. The process requires reviews by federal agencies including the American Battlefield Protection Program.
Below is a map of one portion of the study area along the front, depicting the viewshed relationship of advanced pickets and their proximity to defensive positions monitoring the historic ford crossings.
The key at the top right of the map includes:
-The Rapidan River marked as a red line; green circles on the river mark the historic fords.
-Red circles at the top of the map represent brigade positions (4000 men)
Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield applauds the efforts of the American Battlefield Trust, Preservation Virginia and Cultural Heritage Partners to develop resources to help guide utility scale solar to siting that preserves Virginia’s historic sites and landscapes. The integrity of our ongoing Rapidan Front Landscape Study, funded by an American Battlefield Protection Program grant, has twice been threatened by proposed utility scale solar projects encompassing thousands of acres in the area of study.
As Virginia’s clean energy efforts move forward, we support a collaborative approach to ensure protection of our state’s historic resources, highly valued by residents and visitors alike. Please take a moment to read the ABT and partners’ report and policy language developed as resources for siting utility scale solar plants. The policy language is intended for governments and planning officials involved in evaluating utility scale solar applications. Both resources provide insight into the complexity of balancing responsible renewable energy efforts with protection of historic resources.
Another solar developer has proposed a solar array project that, if approved, would be located in the study area for the Rapidan Front Landscape Study federal grant awarded to Friends of Cedar Mountain. This is the fourth utility scale project to be proposed in Culpeper County since 2018; all have posed a challenge to the integrity of the county’s historic landscape. Update 11/23/20: Maroon Solar has withdrawn its application. Continue reading “Another utility scale solar project threatens historic land”
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. 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.
October 4, 2020 update to the information in this post: On October 2, the conditional use permit for Greenwood Solar expired. Greenwood Solar representatives asked the Culpeper Board of Supervisors for an extension, which thus far has not been considered at the Board’s subsequent meetings.
The following excerpt is from an article 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. Continue reading “Culpeper Star Exponent: Interior Department funds Rapidan Front study in Culpeper”