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  • Writer's pictureFoWB

Third Quarter Newsletter, July 1 - September 30, 2021

Identifying the Unidentified

by Bob Epp, FoWB Volunteer

Who was buried in the Ellwood Graves?

Beginning about May 8th, 1863, Ellwood Manor became a Confederate Convalescent Hospital. In the previous 6-7 days, the manor house had been used as a Divisional Hospital with numerous severely wounded soldiers arriving there from the Chancellorsville fields and forests. Through mid-August, as many as 132 too-severely-wounded-to-travel soldiers remained on the premises, being tended to by doctors, stewards, and assisting civilians. The last of these soldiers were likely deceased or processed on to the Richmond hospitals by late August. During the three plus month existence of the hospital, 22 deceased soldiers were buried west of the manor building. More than a dozen of those burials were left unidentified.

In 1866, Ellwood Manor owner J. Horace Lacy, a CSA veteran, returned to the manor. He and his wife, Betty, had become engaged in an effort to establish a Confederate Cemetery in Fredericksburg. As a part of that project, Lacy conducted an inventory of the Ellwood and Widow Tapp (field) graves, and his effort resulted in a list of both the known and unknown soldiers buried in the Ellwood field west of the barns as well as those on the Tapp field. It had been thought that the unidentified buried Ellwood soldiers might remain just so forever.

About three years ago, Interpreters Stephanie Bianchi, Bob Epp and Bob Lookabill recognized that there might be a way to identify some of the unidentified soldiers! Their effort consisted of locating the respective lists of deceased CSA soldiers present at Chancellorsville for each Confederate State and placing the names in an analytic spreadsheet. The researchers were assisted in the design of the spreadsheet by Stephanie's "techie" friend Chiriyan Dominick. A review of each soldiers' consolidated military (CSR) record, regimental histories, as well as the records of those reinterred in the Fredericksburg Confederate Cemetery, was begun.

To date, Bob Lookabill has processed the death lists of seven of the Confederate States. Through meticulous cross-checking of each deceased soldier's records, names have been both added and removed from the spreadsheet. Early results of this work are indicating that the traditional numbers of deceased Confederate soldiers incurred during the Chancellorsville Battle represents a possible undercounting of those killed. A significant undercounting!

As a bonus, those records have given up some exciting information related to the unidentified Ellwood burials. To date, a number of deceased soldiers have been identified as possible Ellwood burials. Heretofore, unknown! For example, according to census records, Daniel Watkins was born approximately 1836 in North Carolina. As of the 1860 Census, he was

living in the NE Division of Wake County with his wife Susan. Daniel's muster records show that he was conscripted July 15, 1862 into Company K, 3rd NC Infantry Regiment as a Private. The 3rd NC Infantry was placed in Warren's Brigade, Colston's Division of "Stonewall" Jackson's 2nd Corps during the Chancellorsville Battle. The muster records show that Pvt Watkins was injured May 3, 1863, and NC State troop records show that he died May 25th at the Ellwood (sic) Hospital.

Was Daniel one of the unidentified confederate soldiers buried at Ellwood? We will never be 100% certain that he was, but he is a strong candidate for it. As the continued review of the remaining North Carolina and the Virginia Regimental casualty lists progresses, it is likely that more of these possible identifications will be found. The task is arduous and help would be appreciated. If this kind of research interests you, please let us know and we will happily bring you into the project!


Meet Cecelia Eure!

by Bob Epp, FoWB Volunteer

A native of the Charlotte, North Carolina area, Cecelia Eure* is FoWB's-sponsored NPS 2021 Summer Intern! She comes to us via the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, where she is a double major in Anthropology and History. Cecelia says "Academically, her passions lie in memory studies and public history."

Beyond coursework, she finds time to be involved with theater organizations on the campus.

Among Cecelia's duties at the Park will be interpretation of history at the visitor sites. In addition, in an agreement between FoWB and Park officials, Cecelia will spend some of her time investigating the Ellwood slave family of "Anthony," a runaway from the William Jones property.

She is especially qualified for this research as a result of her participating in a certificate program in Material Culture and Public History; this program is available through the National Institute for American History and Democracy (NIAHD).

Cecelia reports that she "is thrilled to be the Friends of the Wilderness Battlefield Intern at F&SNMP this summer." FoWB is thrilled to have Cecelia, as well, and wishes her much success in her interpretation and research activities!

*The Eure surname is thought to derive from the old English "evre", meaning "edge of an escarpment, brow of a hill."


Interpreter Training

by Beth Stenstrom, FoWB Volunteer

Interpreter Training looked a little different this year, as everyone was spread out and seated at least six feet apart, outside, bundled up in coats, and wearing masks as necessary for closer contact, to follow safety protocol during the pandemic. We still had a great time and our wonderful Chief Historian, John Hennessy, gave an excellent and very helpful presentation to get us ready for another Season on the Landscape!

Our interpreters are grateful to still be able to interpret at Ellwood this season, which would not be open at all right now without our involvement, due to the pandemic. Ground Force continues to keep the grounds beautiful, as well. Our hours are shorter this season, due to being outside in hot weather, and we currently are there Fridays through Mondays, from 10:00 - 3:00. That could possibly change in the future, and visitors can stay informed by visiting our website and following our Facebook page. (Links below) We truly appreciate our volunteers' willingness to be flexible and step up and do whatever we can to help our visitors have a great experience.


In Remembrance

by Beth Stenstrom, FoWB Volunteer

Even though the Luminaria event was cancelled again this year due to pandemic restrictions, we did not forget those brave soldiers who died defending our country.

On Friday, May 28, dozens of Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park rangers came together and placed American flags on every marker in the National Cemetery at the Fredericksburg Battlefield Visitor Center.

FoWB volunteers who are currently under contract were invited to assist, but most of the work was done by park maintenance personnel. We also saw law enforcement rangers, park historians, and even our awesome curator, Luisa Dispenzirie, came out to help. Everyone worked together as a team to honor those who fought so bravely so many years ago.

Top Left: Beth Stenstrom, FRSP Superintendent Kirsten Talken - Spaulding, Ann Bayer,

Diane Smith


In Celebration of Greg Mertz

by Beth Stenstrom, FoWB Volunteer

Friends of Wilderness Battlefield volunteers share many wonderful memories with Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park Chief Supervisory Historian, Greg Mertz, who retired in April, 2021.

In addition to Interpreter training every year, Greg also sat on our various committees, and helped guide us in putting on the Living History events and other programs we usually do at Ellwood during a regular year. Greg 's leadership and guidance has helped each and every one of us in Friends of Wilderness Battlefield, as well as volunteers and interns in all areas of the park, and he will be greatly missed.

Due to the close working relationship we have with Greg, we decided to throw a small get together with him to wish him Congratulations and Good Luck in his retirement. Around 40 FoWB volunteers gathered together at a private residence to share barbeque and swap stories on June 5, and to present Greg with a little token or two of our appreciation.

This limited edition print was published from an original oil painting commissioned by the Class of 1988, United States War Army War College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania. General John B Gordon leading the Army of Northern Virginia on its last march, returns the salute of General Joshua L Chamberlain's Federal Honor Guard at Appomattox on 12 April 1865.

The artist is Don Spaulding.

First of all, we thanked his lovely wife, Diane, for sharing Greg with us on so many weekends and holidays. Being the spouse of a park ranger can be lonely sometimes!

Handmade quilt wall hanging by Dian Epp

Diane is certainly a large part of Greg's success. Next, our President, Mark Leach, presented Greg with a proclamation, which he read aloud, word for word. Then, our Vice President and Programs Chair, Bob Lookabill, presented Greg with a lovely limited edition framed print, and, lastly, Bob Epp and his wife Dian, presented Greg with a gorgeous hand made quilt wall hanging that Dian made herself. Greg and his wife, Diane, were both truly touched and moved and we know they will move forward knowing they are well loved.

Before they left, Greg and Diane were presented with a pretty beverage jar, holding "Retirement Advice" cards from the various volunteers. We are quite sure they will read each and every one very carefully!

All of the volunteers in the park will have the opportunity to celebrate Greg at the Annual Volunteer Appreciation Picnic on Saturday, September 18. Place to be determined! Mark your calendars now!


Mark Your Calendars now!

2021 Volunteer Appreciation Picnic Saturday, September 18. Location to be determined.


Third Quarter July 1 - Sept 30 2021
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