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  • Writer's pictureBeth Stenstrom

First Quarter Newsletter, January 1 - March 31, 2021

Annual Meeting

by Milbrey Bartholow

FoWB held its Annual Meeting on Saturday, November 7, 2020, at the Wilderness Baptist Church. As with everything else this year, it was different. There were only 20 people present, just barely enough for a quorum, and we did sit six feet apart, and we did wear masks at all times, except for those who were speaking. It was almost comical looking from the rear of the room at the way attendees were spaced out.

FoWB President Mark Leach gave his report. One of the major highlights this year was the completion of our indoor bathrooms, complete with flush toilets (self-flushing) and running water (soap dispenser, water, and hand dryer are automatic) with which to wash our hands. A light comes on when one entersthe room and goes off when the person exits, so the bathrooms are almost hands free. He also told us about some of the new lawn care equipment — commercial size grass mowers, etc. - that the Ground Force has received.

He told the group about the very successful NPS Volunteer Appreciation Picnic held at Ellwood in September. About 150 volunteers attended, and all wore masks (except when eating) and remained socially distant at all times. Volunteers each received a very nice gift courtesy of the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park and Americas National Parks (Eastern National). Everyone enjoyed delicious box meals provided by Mission BBQ. For entertainment, the rangers related some memorable stories from their experiences with NPS, plus guests enjoyed an excellent program presented by the Rappahannock Whalers.

Our "guest speaker" for the meeting was Bob Lookabill who told us how the hospital room "came to be". It all started with a piece of paper stating that the 2nd Corps CSA had a main hospital at Ellwood after the Battle of Chancellorsville in May 1863. Further research showed how long it remained a hospital. This led to names of doctors and patients which led to finding pictures and information about them. Next came a patient named Adam Wilson and his story which eventually led Bob, Bob Epp, and John Kanaster to locating Adam's descendants in West Virginia, which led to a visit with one of his descendants. Thus the mannequin for patient Adam, the one-armed checker player, was developed. The mannequin for Dr. John Alexander Graham was developed much the same way. The male nurse and the second patient do not have names and histories yet — but stay tuned. They may have by next year. Bob also explained how the furniture and the medicine bottles were acquired.

Next on the agenda was the election of 5 board members for the class of 2023. In the absence of Pete Kolakowski, who recently moved to Wisconsin, Bob Epp conducted the election. Board members for the class of 2023 are incumbents March Leach, Beth Stenstrom, Pete Kolakowski, and Milbrey Bartholow, and new board member Gary Close. Welcome aboard, Gary, and Congratulations to the class of 2023! Many thanks to retiring board member Gil Churchill. Gil was an outstanding board member and he will be missed.

Last, but not least, on the agenda was Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park Chief Supervisory Historian Greg Mertz, wearing an FoWB hat. He reported that the numbers for visitors, etc, are doing great this year, mainly due to our efforts. We (volunteers) have manned the shelter, opened the grounds at Ellwood, and maintained the grounds. Based on the 1866 picture of Ellwood, some changes to the building may be made. Both visitor centers — Chancellorsville and Fredericksburg — are having some major overhauls at the moment, both dealing with water problems. FSNMP will have interns again this summer, and each will have a special project and will practice social distancing, etc. When asked why he had on a FoWB hat and was not a FoWB member, he announced he will be retiring April 2, 2021, and to be a member now would be in violation, but he will definitely become a member in April.

After the meeting, the board members went to Ellwood for a nice picnic lunch since it was a beautiful day outside.


FoWB Supports the LMA Marker Program

by Robert Epp

The FoWB Board of Directors has again supported the Ladies' Memorial Association (LMA) in their program of placing new burial markers at the internment sites in the Fredericksburg Confederate Cemetery. The program was instituted to correct a situation that has evolved regarding the continued physical demise of the existing burial markers. Those Georgia Marble stones are deteriorating to the point that they are breaking and becoming unreadable. Some have also been found to be incorrect in their basic information.

Pictured above here are two markers that were placed by the LMA last Fall (and paid for by FoWB). Privates Vance and Vaughn died at the Ellwood Manor house following their participation in "Stonewall" Jackson's 1863 Flank March. Their initial burial site was in the field behind J. Horace Lacy's barn west of the Ellwood Manor house and were identified by J. Horace Lacy in his 1866 inventory of Confederate burials on the Wilderness Battlefield.

This year FoWB funded new markers at the burial locations of two additional Confederate soldiers, Privates James W. Bridges and Thomas W. Henry.

Private Bridges enlisted at Loachapoka, Alabama in 1862 into Co A of the 47th Alabama Infantry Regiment. He was wounded that year at the Battle of Cedar Run and then mortally wounded at the Battle of the Wilderness on May 5th, 1864. His body was initially buried on the Tapp field, and subsequently recorded there in J. Horace Lacy's inventory.

Private Thomas W. Henry enlisted with Co K of the 2nd Texas Infantry Regiment at Livingston, Texas, in July of 1861. His muster records show that he suffered with typhoid fever that same year. He died at the Battle of the Wilderness on May 6th or 7th and was temporarily buried along the Plank Road near the Tapp field. Mr. Lacy also recorded his burial location.

Regarding markers that originally exhibit incorrect information, former FoWB Historical Interpreter Stoney Chisolm has organized his family in the sponsoring of a new marker for their soldier-ancestor. Lt Oliver J. Youmans' (Co C, 2nd SC Infantry) name was miss-spelled (Yowmans) on the original burial marker.

The FoWB Board of Directors continues to consider the funding of additional markers in future years.


Season On the Landscape

by Beth Stenstrom

The pandemic caused all of the park buildings to be closed to the public, however FoWB interpreters were still allowed to interpret on the grounds at Ellwood, with COVID 19 safety precautions in place.

At first we were concerned that there would only be a handful of interpreters who would be willing or able to do this, but we should have known better!

At least half of our regular interpreters stepped up to the plate and I know all of them would have if they had been able. From left to right, Mike Pierce, Bob Epp, and Joanne Pino are manning the outside interpreting area!



by Dick Rankin

While FoWB has been limited in our offerings this year because of COVID-19, we sponsored two events this fall for home school students and their parents.

FoWB entertained nearly 40 elementary and middle school age students and their parents in late September. The group rotated among three different activities while following NPS COVID-19 guidelines for social distancing and face coverings. John Bell, Bob Epp, Mark Leach, and Bob Lookabill led small groups in outdoor activities that included Ellwood and the Civil War,We have 3 Home School Events planned for this coming spring. They include:

March: Colonial Games and Colonial Dancing for primary grades home school students.

April: Junior Ranger completion for elementary and middle school students.

May: Colonial and Civil War Medicine for elementary through high school home school students.

We hope to be able to use the inside of Ellwood Manor for each of these events but are prepared to hold all of them outdoors, if need be. If any FoWB member would like to assist with one, or more, of these events, please contact Dick Rankin at There is always room for more volunteers!

In late October, NPS Historian Greg Mertz, under the sponsorship of FoWB, led a group of middle and high school home school students on a road tour focused on the role of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson in the Battle of Chancellorsville in May, 1863. The tour started at the Spotsylvania Museum, where the first day of the battle was fought, and continued to the Chancellorsville Visitor's Center, the site of Jackson's wounding. A third stop was at the NPS Flank Attack site where Greg laid out Jackson's flank attack for the students.

The tour was completed with a stop at the Ellwood Family Cemetery where Jackson's arm was buried after it was amputated at the Wilderness Tavern 2nd Corp Field Hospital. Greg shared with the students the final days of Stonewall Jackson's life and the possible impacts of his death on the Confederate army and the Civil War in general.


Laughter on the Landscape

by Beth Stenstrom

The Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park (FSNMP) made the decision to go ahead with the joint FSNMP/FoWB Volunteer Appreciation Picnic this year, to the delight of many! It was originally scheduled to be held at Chatham Manor, in Fredericksburg, VA, but due to the pandemic, it was moved to the grounds at Ellwood to allow for better social distancing. Close to 150 happy rangers, living historians, and volunteers enjoyed an evening of entertainment by the Rappahannock Whalers, funny stories told by the rangers, and a delicious box meal provided by Mission BBQ! Americas Battlefields (Eastern National) provided a nice choice of three items (a gorgeous ceramic mug, a baseball cap or a Christmas ornament) for the volunteers, and FoWB provided Park Day 2020 T-shirts and a book, The Dark Close Wood but Chris Mackowski. The 23rd USCT came in full uniform, and everyone had a wonderful time. The weather even cooperated and we had a beautiful evening!



by Dick Rankin

When you report for interpreter duty next season, you will have a new resource available to you!

Our esteemed librarian, Stephanie Bianchi, will be maintaining a complete hardcopy set of "History in Our Backyard" articles, separated by year, along with a continually updated listing of the articles in the FoWB library, on the second floor of Ellwood Manor.

The more than 30 articles that are currently available in HIOB on the FoWB website cover a wide range of topics from how the Wilderness got its name to

specific elements of the Wilderness Battle to interesting footnotes to the history of the Wilderness like gold mining and railroading into the 20th Century. If you have not stayed abreast of all these interesting tidbits about our little slice of land and moments in history, you can catch up on all of them during the days that you work the Ellwood scene. You will be surprised as to how much of the information contained in HIOB you can incorporate into your interpretation or have available when that unique question is asked by a visitor.

Reading the articles already written may also prompt you to share something unique about the Wilderness that is of particular interest to you. Mike Mikolosko, our HIOB Editor-in-Chief, would love to see new articles by new (and previous) authors. He is particularly looking for articles on 20th Century events in the Wilderness, such as Smedley Butler's expedition (October 2021 is the 1ooth anniversary) and Ellwood after the Willis purchase.

If you have any questions about the hardcopy HIOB articles in the library, please contact Stephanie Bianchi (sbianchi7..,; and if you are thinking of writing an article, please contact Mike Mikolosko

Upcoming Events

We wish we could tell you about some upcoming events, but we are not able to plan anything right now due to the situation with the pandemic.

Stay tuned....


First Quarter Jan 1 - Mar 31 2021
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