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  • Writer's pictureBeth Stenstrom

Second Quarter Newsletter, April 1 - June 30, 2020

FoWB Volunteers

More than just mowing grass and giving house tours!

Way more!

Our Amazing Volunteers

by Beth Stenstrom

Photo Above: Usually, the first Saturday in April, hundreds of volunteers come out to help spruce up our park! Park Day 2020 is had to be cancelled due to COVID 19 concerns.

Friends of Wilderness Battlefield is a not for profit group made up of enthusiastic and dedicated individuals who truly care about preserving, promoting, and protecting the Wilderness Battlefield, as well as the things that go with it. We are a membership based group, and do not have any paid volunteers. Everyone who volunteers with us does it because they truly care.

One of the primary components of our volunteer program is that we are trained to be interpreters inside the historic house called Ellwood. The Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park historians provide us with excellent training, giving us the tools we need in order to assist visitors in learning about the history in and around the Wilderness Battlefield.

In recent years, they have gone a step farther and trained some of our interpreters to also be walking trail guides, leading visitors around the grounds, and the battlefield in general, highlighting historical events which took place there during the American Revolution and the Civil War.

Are we limited to just the Wilderness Battlefield?

Not at all! Although Ellwood and the grounds surrounding it are important, there is so much more! We talked about Education in our last newsletter, with our History in Our Backyard articles and our field days for students, but did you know we also present to other groups as well? We have some very talented and well informed volunteers who are happy to come out to your group and give a talk on a wide range of topics.

Outreach is a major component of our organization, with a group of volunteers who man tables and booths at various venues outside of the Wilderness Battlefield, to get the word out to people about the various living history programs and other programs we have to offer.

We also host dinner/speaker events, which tend to be highly attended.

Our next one is coming up sometime this fall in fact, at the Fawn Lake Country Club's new venue called The Cove, with keynote speaker John Henessy, the Chief Historian with the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park.

Outreach and Ground Force

FoWB has an incredible group of volunteers who spend hours each week maintaining the beautiful grounds and trails around Ellwood.

There are around 20 individuals who come out regularly to mow grass, trim limbs, clean up trails, and whatever else the park rangers would like for us to do.

Living History Events

FoWB has been fortunate to be allowed to host a number of Living History events at Ellwood throughout each year. Living Historians come out and give demonstrations, talks, etc. and we truly appreciate it. Many of the living historians are also members of FoWB! Although the primary focus of the Wilderness Battlefield is that Ellwood was used as a Confederate Hospital during the Battle of Chancellorsville in 1863 and Union Headquarters for the Fifth Corps during the Battle of the Wilderness, the property has Revolutionary War significance as well.

Many thanks to our wonderful volunteers who help make all this possible and many thanks to the Fredericksburg and National Military Park for allowing us to steward this property.


Hallowed Ground

Preserving the Memory of Those Who Died at Ellwood

by Bob Epp and Mike Mikolosko

Saturday morning, November 30 th , 2019, found several FoWB members on their hands and knees! No, they hadn't lost anything. Rather, they were participating in the most recent iteration of the Fredericksburg Confederate Cemetery marker-replacement program.

The cemetery, managed by the Women's Memorial Association, seeks to continue supplementing the deteriorating 140 year-old Georgia Marble markers with new flat markers.

For a number of years, several area organizations who have Civil War interests have donated time and resources (money) to purchase and install replacement markers on the grave sites of fallen Confederate soldiers buried in the local confederate cemetery. This year, FoWB contributed with the purchase of four new markers.

Making this unique for FoWB was the fact that the four makers purchased were designated to be for four of the soldiers who were originally buried on the Ellwood manor grounds following the Chancellorsville Battle in 1863. Because J. Horace Lacy, the owner of the property, chose to record the names of some of those almost two dozen burials in 1866, we are able to honor them by name today.

FoWB President Mark Leach welcomed the FoWB volunteers to the work party. He was joined by Joe Lafleur, a master stone and mason engineer. Joe has several ancestors who served in the Confederate ranks during the Civil War.

Ted Watkins, a descendant of a New York combatant who fought at the Wilderness, also participated in the project. Bob Epp and his grandson learned the sod-digging and marker packing techniques that are important to the effort.

Marcia Hovenden was present with shovel in hand and camera at the ready. Stephanie Bianchi dropped by with a gift of baked goods and words of encouragement. And finally, Mike Burns, also a Civil War Round Table member and FoWB Heritage Program member, provided a morale boost to all.

With all that practical experience, the volunteers are fully prepared for the next marker­ placement party to further honor the service of the Ellwood deceased.


In the meantime ......

While COVID - 19 forced the cancellation of our spring and early summer events, we have not been idle.

There are many activities which go on in the background that help make us the outstanding organization we are today. Some of our members have been busy researching information and writing more articles for our History in Our Backyard series, while others have been busy working on rescheduling dinner or luncheon events which we had hoped to have this spring. Some have been helping "Ranger Pete" rewrite the Junior Ranger workbook, while others have been busy processing new memberships or working on genealogy for folks with applications to get into the Heritage Program. Some of our volunteers are conducting research to try to find out the names of soldiers who were at Ellwood when it was used as part of the hospital complex in 1863. The FoWB Board of Directors is in close communication with the FSNMP liason and we are keeping our volunteers apprised of the situation as it unfolds, plus we still conduct board meetings using an online meeting program.

Newsflash! We just received the OK from the FSNMP folks that we may resume mowing grass around Ellwood again! Hooray!

We are looking forward to seeing everyone again as soon as it is safe to resume public activities. In the meanwhile, please continue to do everything you can to stay safe and healthy!


Second Quarter 2020
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