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Third Quarter Newsletter July 1 - September 30, 2023

An Important Update for FoWB Members and Supporters
by Bob Lookabill, FoWB President

Folks,

I think by now you are probably aware that FoWB, along with Central Virginia Battlefield Trust (CVBT), has joined a lawsuit brought by the American Battlefield Trust (ABT) against the Orange County Board of Supervisors. The story was on the front page of the Free Lance Star, a local paper in Fredericksburg, VA, recently. The filing is in regard to the Orange County Board of Supervisors approving the rezoning of more than 2,600 acres for the Wilderness Crossing development across Route 3 in front of the Lake of the Woods subdivision. Quoting from the ABT press release, “a mega-development would blanket a historic landscape with residential, commercial and industrial development, including data centers and distribution warehouses.” ABT goes on to say, “The Board of Supervisors failed over and over to conduct a good faith, transparent, and thorough process. They put the interests of a single developer over the express wishes of their constituents and in their efforts to do so, violated County and State laws designed to ensure fair consideration of such proposals.”


Joining the lawsuit as a plaintiff was a decision the FoWB Board of Directors did not take lightly, but carefully studied all available data. Additionally, we attended numerous open forums supported by both the developers and their opponents, and we attended the final approval session. During that session, we listened to 40 residents speak out about the inherent problems associated with this development and not one spoke in its defense. Yet the project was approved. After weighing all the evidence, our Board voted 15-0 in favor of joining the suit to stop this project. Here is a recent article by the American Battlefield Trust that explains it well.


American Battlefield Trust Article


A second item I wanted to share in this letter is the current status of our partnership with the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. Our Partnership Agreement with the Park was allowed to expire over four years ago. This was through no fault of FoWB, but the Park continually asked to push the extension of the agreement down the road. Then COVID-19 hit. At the same time, the Park restructured its three top leadership positions, with numerous changes in personnel until fairly recently. We (FoWB board members) have tried to work with the park to renew the general partnership agreement in numerous lengthy meetings. Unfortunately, it appears that FoWB volunteers do not currently fit in their plans.

We are no longer allowed to be in the house without a ranger present. The house will be open approximately half of the days this year that it was open under our supervision. Our FoWB uniform was to be replaced with the standard NPS Volunteer green shirt. The Living History Programs we used to host (such as Victorian Christmas) will no longer be approved. The final straw was when the park rangers unilaterally decided that volunteers could no longer give tours of Ellwood, a job we have done for 25 years. The ranger on duty will give a tour at 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM when the house is open, but volunteers are only there to greet people and answer questions.


I met with Superintendent Lewis Rogers for over two hours and we mutually agreed to part ways at this time, with the understanding that we might return with policy changes in the future. Currently, the only role we have with the park going forward is with the Luminaria agreement.


Our interpreters may still attend training and be “Volunteers in Parks” (VlPs), although they are not FoWB Interpreters in that role. There is not a need for a specific partnership agreement for that. Several of us had signed up for that duty but training was cancelled twice with no dates for rescheduling as of yet. The season is already almost halfway over!

Our relationship with the National Park Service is friendly and both parties agree that a partnership agreement could happen in the future. They know that we are happy to assist them in any way if a need should occur.


Consequently, our agenda for the June 10th Board of Directors meeting was to look forward as to what our role will be now that we no longer have a formal general partnership agreement with the park. We have been in discussion with the American Battlefield Trust and the Central Battlefield Trust about maintaining, interpreting and enhancing some of their Wilderness and Mine Run properties as we do for the State of Virginia regarding the property they inherited from Walmart. That situation occurred when Walmart moved their building site down Route 3 to their current location and donated the old site to the State.


Enhancements to properties could include trail networks, supporting programs, and creating interpretive panels to heighten the visitor experience. Additionally, we will look at presenting educational programs at these sites as we did in the past at Ellwood. We are also looking to partnering with local educators in sponsoring educational programs as we have done previously.


Physical items belonging to FoWB have been removed from the Brooder Barn and the house, and the books and bookcases are currently stored at the CVBT office (Thank you, CVBT) and other items are safely in board members' possession until we find another location to display and use them!


The bottom line is we are not going away. We will be here protecting and preserving your battlefields and property and educating future generations as we have done for over 25 years. It may take us a little time this summer to sort some of this out, but we ask that you please stay with us, support us, attend our events and remain members and supporters of FoWB going forward. We cannot do this important work without your support. Thank you for caring. Again, feel free to call or email me at any time.

Bob Lookabill - President C - 540 903 8630

H - 540 972 5668


 

Events and Special Programs



Presentation at Child Help
by Bob Lookabill, President, FoWB

Friends of Wilderness Battlefield volunteers Mike Pierce, Dr. John Yurechko, and Bob Lookabill gave an interactive presentation to the students at the Child Help Center in Culpeper County on Monday, April 10, 2023.


Interested girls and boys attended one of two sessions, both held in the campus chapel. FoWB volunteers arrived wearing period attire and talked to the students about why soldiers on both sides joined the armies, about the uniforms the soldiers wore, and what life was like for the soldiers.


They presented a slide show, answered questions and allowed the students to handle basic (reproduction) gear that a typical soldier might carry with him during the war. No weapons are allowed on the campus, so we did not bring anything that would possibly violate this restriction. This is the third or fourth visit FoWB living historians have made to the campus and the students and staff seem to enjoy the presentations very much.


It is always an honor to be asked to present at this wonderful establishment and our volunteers always enjoy interacting with both students and staff!



 

A Labor of Love and Respect

by Mike Burns, FoWB member


We placed 100 replacement stones (cemetery markers) on Saturday, May 6, and the final 25 on Sunday, May 7, at the Confederate Cemetery in Fredericksburg, VA. About 35 workers showed up for the heavy lifting that Saturday and we made excellent progress. We ran out of steam after 6-7 hours but vowed to finish the job the next day. Eight folks were able to muster on

Sunday and we knocked out the remaining stones in short order. Just as we were leaving the cemetery at 3:30 PM, the first rain drops started to fall.


In preparation for this workday, seventeen 5-gallon buckets of pea gravel had been placed in the cemetery in two convenient locations. This was so we could add a thin layer of stones as a base in each grave site. Thank You to Paul Scott for making this happen. The low areas had been marked with flags so as to direct our excess dirt and sod from each grave to a low spot. The grass had been mowed as well. Thank You to Thena Jones and the Ladies Memorial Association. (LMA) 125 marker flags with the Soldier Names had been placed on each soldier's grave site for proper stone placement. Roy Perry had lists for the Stone Distribution Crew (CB and Hatman). Thank You, Roy. We had two more "frame boxes" made to the correct size of the hole to be dug (1'x2'x6" deep). We now have 7 such frames for the digging crews. Thanks Mike Shephard. A great time saving idea.


We were pleased to have Fredericksburg Scout Troop 179 reporting for duty with 4 Scouts and 3-4 adults in tow. Thanks a million Derrell McPherson and Troop. This is deeply appreciated.


Of course, we had coffee, soda, water and doughnuts waiting at 0800, and delicious pizza was delivered at noon for all hands. "Chow is Morale".


Kudos to All Hands, especially those helping us for the first time. Derrell McPherson and Fredericksburg Scout Troop 129 did some serious lifting and toting. The two Seniors from Colonial Forge HS, Isak and Corbin, did a whole lot of Community Service for us. Luke, from an SCV Camp near Manassas, worked by himself until dark yesterday, after the rest of us had retreated home.


Our local organizations - Friends of Wilderness Battlefield (FoWB), Rappahannock Valley Civil War Round Table (RVCWRT), Civil War Round Table of Fredericksburg (CWRTF), Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV), Civil War Battlefield Trust (CVBT} and the Ladies Memorial Association (LMA) all pulled their weight in this endeavor. A special Thanks goes out to Jeannette Hall, Roy Perry, Mike Shepard, Brian Dyer and Thena Jones for pulling things together in this Labor of Love.



We did it. Regards and thanks to all!


 
FoWB Board of Directors wish all of you a Happy and Safe
Fourth of July!


FoWB members Diane Smith and Beth Stenstrom had the honor of participating in a flag raising ceremony in Washington DC, on Tuesday, July 27, at the Headquarters of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution.


 
Scholarship News!
by Lynn McDonald,FoWB board member

Congratulations to our 2023 Scholarship Recipient Daniel Robles. FoWB board member Lynn McDonald presented Daniel his certificate at the Orange County High Schools Awards Ceremony on May 18, 2023.


The Friends of Wilderness Battlefield scholarship for 2023 was awarded to Daniel Robles of Orange County, Virginia, in May 2023. Daniel recently graduated from Orange County High School, where he was a member of the National Honor Society and the Boys Varsity Soccer team. He currently plays on a high level soccer team in Charlottesville, VA., which is part of the Elite Clubs National League. He hopes to play for the University of Virginia in the fall where he is enrolled.


In addition, he volunteers for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, serving as a liaison between the school and the community, as well as volunteering with the National Honor Society, initiating community events and also doing self-initiated service in his community. He assists elderly neighbors who have physical challenges with lawn care and other household chores to better their quality of life.


Daniel lives with his mother and father on their family farm, his five older brothers and sisters having already moved on in their lives. The family moved from Columbia, SC, during the COVID epidemic. It was traumatic at the time, but Daniel believes it is the best thing that ever happened to him because of the challenges he encountered.

The family farmhouse they moved to needed serious renovation and he took on the job. It was at this time he "developed a passion for architecture". He "could envision bringing his 1890s family farmhouse's character back to life, moving it forward in time while enhancing and preserving the old". He took on the lead for the complete remodel working with architects, designers and contractors. A most commendable project for a high school student, blending an appreciation for the history and preservation along with modern touches to make the structure more livable in the present.


We wish Daniel all the best as he begins the next phase of his life. We also hope our small contribution makes his life a little easier and reminds him of how history and historical preservation have motivated him thus far along life's journey.


 

Other News!


Welcome to Caitlynn Sublette
by Caitlynn Sublette, NPS Intern

In good faith and for supporting education, once again, FoWB has sponsored an intern for the National Park Service and this year we are pleased to sponsor Caitlynn Sublette. She has shared some information about herself and her experience as an intern this summer so far! Welcome, Caitlynn.


Growing up, my family always took historical vacations. I remember going to museums, forts, and battleships as part of our travels during fall and spring breaks. I started getting more into history during high school. I was fascinated with practically the whole timeline of American history from the American Revolution, the Early Republic, to the Antebellum Era leading into my interest in Civil war and Reconstruction politics.


During my senior year of high school, I first learned about public history when I volunteered at the Presidential Site and Home of Benjamin Harrison in downtown Indianapolis. I was given a set list of facts and was left to my own devices on making my own tour of the home and life of Benjamin Harrison. I loved being able to educate and interact with visitors who came through the house.


I have always loved teaching people about the history I read about. This also gave me experience seeing how the Site operated behind the scenes, I liked the dichotomy of being able to interact with people as well as continue research and projects to further those interactions and educate more people.


Throughout my first few years at Indiana University, I have continued to pursue my love of history and my interest in a public history career. I have continued to study Antebellum, Civil War, and Reconstruction history of America as well as broaden my horizons as far as Ancient Mongolian history to gain a plethora of views, experiences, and skills. This past semester, the spring semester of my junior year, I interned at Monroe County History Center where I worked on researching people buried in a local cemetery that gets turned into a program in October for the local community to learn more about the history and people of Rose Hill Cemetery. This was a really great way for me to see how public history is conducted on a local scale!


All these skills and past experiences have been very useful for the internship at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. My experience with the internship so far has been amazing and I can't wait to see what else this summer brings. The park staff has been a joy to work with and have equipped me with the information and skills needed to give visitors a fun and educational experience!


 

CORRECTION!!!!!!

Oops. We goofed!

We inadvertently erred in identifying the Wilderness veteran of our recent inductee to the Heritage Program, Arnold T. Slater.

Mr. Slater's ancestor was his 3rd Great Granduncle Pvt Peleg Nelson Tolley. Pvt Tolley was born around 1827 in Rhode Island and enlisted into Co G, 58th Massachusetts Infantry at Fall River, March, 1864. Pvt Tolley joined the 58th MA Inf almost immediately and arrived to the Army of the Potomac in time to participate in the beginning of the Overland Campaign, first for the Battle of the Wilderness (9th Corps) and then the Battle of Spotsylvania. He was later captured at Petersburg and held prisoner. Pvt Tolley died of his injuries in a hospital 5 November,1864 in Danville, VA.

Again, we regret the error in our January newsletter.


Ground Force Volunteers Needed

We sent out a separate eblast with details regarding job description and qualifications on April 17. Ground Force meets on Thursday mornings, usually at 8:00 AM, all year, rain or shine. For more information, you may email Tom Jacobs:

Tom Jacobs

or you can sign up at




Mark your calendars now for the FoWB Annual Meeting on Saturday, November 4th, at the Wilderness Baptist Church, 9701 Plank Road, Spotsylvania, VA, 22553. Please note that this is the first Saturday in November! Check in and social time will be from 10:30 AM to 11:00 AM, and the Business Meeting will start promptly at 11:00 AM. Following the business meeting, members will enjoy a delicious lunch, and then we will have a special guest speaker. Watch for your invitation closer to the event!



Third Quarter Newsletter July 1 - September 30, 2023
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