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  • Writer's pictureBeth Stenstrom

Fourth Quarter Newsletter, October 1 - December 31, 2023

Annual Meeting Invitation

Saturday, November 4, 2023

Wilderness Baptist Church

9701 Plank Road    

Spotsylvania, VA 22553

11:00 AM - 2:00 PM

FOWB members and their guests are cordially invited to the FOWB Annual Meeting at the Wilderness Baptist Church on Saturday, November 4, 2023. Check in starts at 10:30 AM and the Business Meeting will begin promptly at 11:00 AM. We have a lot of interesting news to share with you, plus we will be electing officers to the board of directors.

Following the Business Meeting, a delicious lunch will be provided by Generals Quarters Catering, with carved roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, dinner rolls and pie. Everything is gluten free with the exception of the rolls and pie and they will provide an option for dessert that will work for those that require gluten free options.

Reservations are required in order for us to know how many people we need to plan for the meal. All RSVP's must be in no later than Friday, October 27!

FOWB members eat free, and guests are $25.00 a plate. (If you are not already a member, now is a great time to become one!)

Once we have enjoyed our meal and some great fellowship, we will reconvene to hear Author and Historian Chris Mackowski talk to us about the Battle of Mine Run, which happened in Locust Grove, Virginia, November 26 - December 2, 1863. He may even bring some of his books for anyone who would like to buy one.


Harper's Weekly was published during the Civil War to keep the country informed on the critical events of the War. It contained fascinating first person reports of the battles and stunning illustrations drawn by eyewitnesses to the battles. Today, these newspapers serve as an incredible resource for those interested in this period of history. The above illustration was in the January 2, 1864, edition.

Today, the Locust Grove Shopping Center is on the right, with the Exxon Station on the top right-hand corner. This is currently the intersection of Hwy 20 and Gold Dale Road on the left, and Zoar Road on the right. Part of the Robinson's Tavern complex still exists but has been moved behind the Exxon station. It is currently a private residence.


Chancellorsville Battlefield Under Siege Again!

by Tom Van Winkle, CVBT President (and FOWB member and past president)

Our local battlefields are under attack yet again!


There is now a new proposed gas station and convenience store project to be built on the Chancellorsville battlefield directly in the Civil War Sites Advisory Commissions Core Study area and adjacent to the National Park Service.

This is a truly battle tested fought over ground during the Chancellorsville encounter.

The attached battlefield maps will attest to the action and troop movements that occurred here on May 3, 1863. (Please enlarge to see red outline of proposed development positioning.)

This is a ten-acre development parcel with Route 3 and River Road frontage located north of Plank Road and south of River Road. (Basically, at end of Hooker Drive. (See map included). This proposed development is also in sight of previously saved CVBT battlefield land!


This will have about 12 gas pumps with a convenience store where none is truly needed. Traffic, bright lights, and the destruction of important battlefield land will be the result of the venture.


The residents of the Estates at Chancellorsville, along with residents of Mineral Springs subdivision are already taking action to oppose this development. In a recent meeting with both these principally effected subdivisions, the Central Virginia Battlefields Trust, and the American Battlefields Trust, agreed this is a poor concept on valuable irreplaceable historic land and we both will be proponents of its opposition.


The construction of this proposed development will only serve to bring further sprawl and erosion of our rural and historically important community further along the Route 3 corridor. As if the 2,600-acre Wilderness Crossing proposed and approved development out by Lake of the Woods was not enough!


I have attached location maps, battlefield maps and a rough rendering of site. It is imperative we halt this trend of westward development through our battlefields and tranquil communities.


Please take the time to spread the word.


This proposal is in the very early stages and opposition now is important to send a signal to the developers. At CVBT we always strive for a Win/Win result so proper and professional opposition and discussion is desired.


Also, very important!


Let the following Spotsylvania County Supervisors know you do not want this development. (A positive and businesslike email showing cons to this proposal works best)



Events and Special Programs

We Love Educators

by Beth Stenstrom, Vice President

FoWB President Bob Lookabill and Vice President Beth Stenstrom were delighted to attend the 2023 Orange County Educator Convocation at Orange High School on Wednesday, August 2, 2023. We happily handed out 90 copies of The Dark Close Wood, by Chris Mackowski, plus a ton of FoWB ink pens. We also had some delicious chocolate candy people enjoyed. Then they saved us seats on the front row for their program, which was excellent! We truly appreciate everyone in the Education Field. You all make a big difference!


Orange Street Festival

Saturday, September 9, 2023

Friends of Wilderness Battlefield had a booth again at the Orange Street Festival in Orange, VA, on Saturday, September 9, 2023. Board members Ruth Pavlik, Stephanie Bianchi, and Beth Stenstrom manned the booth, where we visited with a lot of wonderful people! We handed out the new FoWB brochures, the current Heritage Program brochures, and flyers for upcoming events! FoWB President Bob Lookabill was also there, but he was on Orange County Chamber of Commerce duty! (L - R: Ruth Pavlik and Stephanie Bianchi. Beth took the photo!)


We're Interpreting Where Now?

As you are aware, FoWB volunteers are no longer giving tours at Ellwood, at least not in an FoWB capacity, but our wonderful and talented volunteers still want to interpret and give tours to visitors. Some of them are now volunteering at Germanna, at their Visitor Center and their Archeology Center, and some of them are now volunteering at the Graffiti House, and some of them are volunteering on the Cedar Mountain Battlefield. They are not sitting idle! Five of our former FoWB Interpreters took the NPS training to become a regular "Volunteer in Parks" and still assist the rangers at Ellwood when it is open.

FOWB is currently working with the American Battlefield Trust, the Central Virginia Battlefield Trust, plus some of the Living History groups, and one of the areas we are very interested in is The Battle of Mine Run in Locust Grove, VA. On Saturday, September 16, FOWB interpreters met in the conference room at the Twins of Germanna Office Park in Locust Grove, to receive training on interpreting the Battle of Mine Run. FOWB volunteer John Kanaster, who is the owner of Battlefield Tours of Virginia, provided the training, and then took the trainees out to Payne's Farm in Locust Grove. Our hopes are to be able to give tours at Payne's Farm on a limited basis (for now) and branch out as opportunity and resources become available.

On Saturday, September 23, FOWB had planned two bus tours of The Battle of Mine Run, orchestrated by Battlefield Tours of Virginia. We offered them free to FOWB members first and then to the people who are signed up for our general interest and newsletters. The plan was if we had any remaining spaces, we would then open it to the general public. Both tours filled up quickly and it never made it to the general public! We even had a waiting list! The interest is definitely there! Unfortunately, due to heavy rain forecast for that day, we had to reschedule the tours for Saturday, October 21st!

On Saturday, September 30, FoWB hosted a Payne's Farm Day, where interpreters were on hand to visit with people interested in learning more about the Battle of Mine Run.

Eventually, we hope to be able to provide more interpretive panels and trails on the Mine Run Battlefield, but these things take time. We are honored to be working with the American Battlefield Trust to help people learn more about this important event in our country's history.

Here is the website for Battlefield Tours of Virginia in case anyone would like to book some additional tours.


Ellwood Memorabilia

by Bob Epp, FoWB Volunteer

Over the years, a number of items have been found on the Ellwood Manor grounds. Some were the possessions of the owners of the property, and some were brought there by workers and visitors, to include the transiting armies of Generals Lafayette, Jackson, and Meade.

Those that have been turned over to the National Park Service mostly reside in the storage facility on Lee Drive in Fredericksburg. There, they have been inventoried and provided proper storage space. They can be viewed there by the general public upon appointment.

Recently, an item purported to be an Ellwood key was advertised for sale on e- bay. The seller described the key as an item that was passed down by the property owner in the 1950s. I was alerted of the sale by a FoWB member, but at the time I was on my way out of town, and I put off reaching out to the

seller. When I did contact the seller, I learned that the key had been sold to a collector.

An examination of the key provides no identifiable purpose. It could be a house key, but that is not a certainty. It might have been utilized for any of the other buildings that once populated the Ellwood environs. Or, it may have been brought there by one of the many military units that visited the grounds for brief periods.

For now, it remains a mysterious key of Ellwood's past, if, in fact, it actually was present there at one time.

Other News!
Our new website is now live! Check it out!
(Same website address)
We have a new brochure!


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