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  • Writer's pictureFoWB

First Quarter Newsletter, January 1- March 31, 2020

Promotional Videos

In our last newsletter, we showed you the promotional video giving you an overview of Friends of Wilderness Battlefield. Today, we are highlighting our Education Component, which has grown exponentially over the past several years.

These amazing videos were made and produced by FoWB members Phil and Susie Audibert. Check out their



by Dick Rankin

Education has always been a key goal for Friends of Wilderness Battlefield (FoWB). We have educated thousands of visitors to Ellwood Manor over the past 15 years. In the past, we have occasionally hosted student groups there as well but never in a planned or coordinated way and we have been growing Living History events over the same period.

Several years ago our President, Mark Leach, lamented that the organization was being pigeon­ holed into a small corner of what we could be. We were viewed as "those volunteers who interpreted at Ellwood and maintained the grounds during the summer and parts of the spring and fall.

"As a result, a small team was formed to consider how we could expand our vision with the goal of making the history of the hallowed ground that is the Wilderness and actually all of the Fredericksburg area more alive for the people that live on this land. The outcome was the organization's decision to provide more opportunity throughout the year for our local communities to hear and see the history that surrounds them.

In the same time frame, it was becoming clear that having just one committee that oversaw all interpretive activities at Ellwood was becoming less efficient as those activities grew. The decision was made to separate the Ellwood Committee into 2 committees, with one focused on daily operations and a Special Program Committee focused on all other educational and interpretive events on and off Ellwood throughout the year. The success of this plan was immediate with a more efficiently managed Ellwood and with a rapidly growing series of Living History events due to the full time focus of the new committee.

However, it was immediately clear that something was amiss with this concept. The Special Programs Committee was going to be over-committed before it even got started and the same inefficiencies that the former Ellwood Committee encountered were going to still be there due to the opportunities for even more rapid growth of Living History events at Ellwood. And so the Education Outreach Committee was spun off from the new Special Programs Committee with the goal of reaching out to the area with educational and informational programs.

The success of both new committees has been amazing! Free Living History events at Ellwood from April to December are now a common occurrence, and educating all ages of the local populace about the "History in Their Backyards" is happening year round. We are conducting a range of activities at Ellwood and on the battlefield for home school students on a monthly basis in the fall and spring; we are hosting Gifted & Talented students from Spotsylvania schools and each of the past two years we have entertained over 130 4 th graders from Orange County schools. We are getting known; in response to inquiries we have reached out to other educators and administrators in King George, Orange, and Henrico counties.

Education is not just for the young! At least twice a year we have held educational events at local restaurants, at which we have brought in both national and local historians and re-enactors to share their knowledge. The most unique activity is our annual Untold Stories program, in which we lead walking tours utilizing downtown Fredericksburg churches to perform short vignettes. The first two years have been during Black History Month (February) and honored African Americans in the Civil War and then in major conflicts throughout American history. This coming year the event will be in March (International Women's Month) and focus on Woman in the local area during different eras of American history. Finally, we have created a FoWB publication entitled History in Our Backyard , which is a series of short articles, written by many FoWB volunteers, that focus on different events - not necessarily Civil War-related - that are relevant to the history of the area. The compilation of these articles are on our website but individually they appear in several local forms of social media, including the Orange County Review.

In response to one small lament from our President, FoWB is now out there throughout the community and at Ellwood year round educating and informing the people that make up the Wilderness and Fredericksburg areas today about the history that surrounds them and the significant role that the people who came before have played in the history of our nation.


Fourth Quarter Highlights

A Day in the Life of a Soldier

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Special Presentations

FoWB volunteers Joe Bianchini and Mike Pierce entertained visitors at two presentations comparing and contrasting the lives of a Confederate Infantry soldier and a Union Cavalry soldier.

Both men are living historians and know their subject matter well and were able to answer questions throughout the day.

Civil War Medicine

Our wonderful living historian and friend John Pelletier was on hand all day, giving demonstrations about medical practices during the Civil War.

We always learn so much from him and really appreciate his driving all the way to Locust Grove, Virginia, to set up his presentations for us.

Civil War Soldiering by Dr. Peter Carmichael

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Civil War Soldiering

The constant marching and fighting during the Overland Campaign exposed soldiers to unrelenting physical and psychological pressures. To understand how these men coped with the stresses of war, Dr. Peter Carmichael, who once served as a seasonal interpreter at the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park (FSNMP), focused on the experiences of three Union soldiers, relying heavily on their own written words to uncover their strategies for survival and their emotional responses to the killing fields of central Virginia.

Dr. Carmichael packed the house at Generals Quarters Restaurant on Saturday, October 19, and kept the audience spellbound.

Click here to purchase the book online: The War for the Uncommon Soldier

Or get it in person at:

America's National Parks Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park

1011 Lafayette Blvd.

Fredericksburg, VA 22401

(540) 373-4032


Heritage Program Reception

Friday, November 8, 2019 and

Annual Meeting

Saturday, November 9, 2019

by Milbrey Bartholow

FoWB and the Heritage Program honored HP members on Friday, November 8, at Generals Quarters Restaurant with appetizers and drinks. Four new members were inducted and welcomed by the four current members present.

FoWB held their Annual Meeting on Saturday, November 9, at Wilderness Baptist Church. Seventy members and guests attended to hear FoWB President Mark Leach tell about the latest happenings and involvements of FoWB. Members present received a beautiful Christmas ornament with a photo on Ellwood in the snow. Attendees were treated to a delicious lunch of beef stew, garden salad, and dinner rolls, with cobbler and ice cream for dessert. After lunch, ten lucky members won very nice gift baskets, and twelve others won bowls of homemade chocolate chip cookies. Everyone then settled down to hear Tom Van Winkle, one of the charter members and the first FoWB president, tell about the early years of FoWB and explain the "Chocolate Chip Cookie Deal". Tom and his lovely wife, Lisa, presented FoWB with a huge scrapbook and the yellow ribbon held in the Grand Opening ceremony when Ellwood first was opened to the public. Tom is currently the president of the Central Virginia Battlefield Trust.


Victorian Christmas

by Beth Stenstrom

Our Victorian Christmas had a wonderful attendance in spite of cold, rainy weather, and we enjoyed seeing so many of our repeat visitors, as well as some new faces this year. The craft room stayed busy, and the reading room, new this year, was a big hit. Of course, Santa loved getting to visit with everyone and find out what they want him to bring them for Christmas!

Many thanks to the Fawn Lake Garden Club for coming out to decorate Ellwood for Christmas in correct period decor. The house looked amazing and they all looked like they had fun doing it! We appreciate you all!


New Volunteers Welcome

There are many opportunities for people to volunteer with us and we would love to have you join the team! There will be an Open House at Ellwood on Saturday, February 15, where people can come ask us about the various opportunities they might enjoy. Some people might like to work on the Ground Force, helping to maintain the beautiful grounds, while others might wish to join a committee or do research, and others might enjoy becoming an interpreter at Ellwood. For those wishing to become an interpreter, there will be New Interpreter Training on Saturday, February 29. Returning veteran interpreters and new interpreters may then attend one of two days for mandatory training, and those dates are Saturday, March 14 and Thursday, April 2. Times and location to be announced. (It usually starts around 9:00 AM and lasts all day, and lunch is provided.)


Upcoming Events:


Saturday, February 15: Volunteer Open House at Ellwood

(For people interested in becoming volunteers)


Saturday, February 29: New Interpreter Training


Saturday, March 14 or Thursday, April 2: New and Veteran Interpreter Training

(Mandatory. Choose one to attend and let Don Shockey know!)


Saturday, April 4: Park Day


Saturday and Sunday, May 9 & 10: Battle of the Wilderness Anniversary

(Living History Event at Ellwood)


Saturday, May 9: Dinner/Speaker event

The Cove at Fawn Lake {The country club's new event venue) with Chief Historian John Hennessy as the keynote speaker.


Watch for details in our next newsletter and don't forget to sign up to get eblasts if you haven't already done so! You can do it via our website!


First Quarter 2020
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