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CVBT Newsletter, April 2024

Photo credit: Jennifer Michael


Preservation Updates and News


From the President's Desk

Dear CVBT Members and Supporters,


As you are aware from my previous dispatches, I tend to the positive. I prefer to see the light at the end of the tunnel and assume it’s not a train. However, I need to admit this installment finds me frustrated and quite honestly very irritated.


So, why am I uncharacteristically annoyed, although my wife would disagree with the term uncharacteristically?


Data centers!

Dealing with strip malls, housing developments, and big box retail stores, all wanting to plant themselves on or next to historically sensitive ground is nothing new; in fact, this is our reason for existing. But the new challenge, the new blight upon our historical landscapes and green spaces, is the evolution of the data center. The state of Virginia is becoming the national leader in these massive complexes due to advantageous state tax enticements for the industry, a skilled workforce, access to relatively inexpensive electricity, and land, and, most significantly, an extensive fiber network.

CVBT is currently involved in litigation with Orange County Virginia over just this type of approval. The Wilderness Crossing development approved last year by the county will not only have 5,000 homes adding 11,000 more vehicle trips to the historic area per day, but retail space, warehouse and distribution centers and, you guessed it, data centers.

Now the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, in Northern Virginia, has rezoned more than 1,750 acres for the “world's” largest data center complex, 27.6 million square feet of data centers, adjacent to the Manassas National Battlefield Park! Data centers wreak havoc on the environment as they have to have extensive cooling, either by computer room air-conditioning systems, needing massive amounts of electricity, or evaporative cooling, requiring enormous amounts of water from a local source.


Details of applications for data centers are often limited due to nondisclosure agreements signed by the applicant and approving authority. How do data centers affect our battlefields?Here is a short list of issues; traffic, size of facility, noise pollution, lighting, water vapor plumes, wastewater discharge, effect on other uses such as tourism, and the list goes on.


Do we need data centers in our modern world? Yes, we do. Do we need them on or next to historic grounds, grounds where many gave their last full measure in a tumultuous time in our nation’s history with some still remaining interred in the blood-soaked ground? Absolutely not.


There needs to be better decision making by both the multi-billion-dollar companies seeking to build these centers and the politicians. The almighty dollar should not be the deciding factor. We are non-profit preservation organizations and will never have the fiscal resources these huge companies maintain. However, this does not mean we should not voice our disdain for the way business is being done in many counties of Virginia.


Make sure that light at the end of the tunnel is not blaring over our hallowed battlefield ground from an ill-conceived data center development. Speak out in your community. We need them, just not encroaching on America’s history!

Thank You,


Tom Van Winkle


Come join us for a full weekend of great tours and presentations, good food, and camaraderie with fellow history enthusiasts.


Tickets are going fast!


The Army Historical Foundation, with CVBT, Presents the 2024 Spring Battle Ride

Embark on a historical journey with The Army Historical Foundation’s Spring Battle Ride, Spotsylvania Court House, “The Horrors of Many Battlefields” on May 4, 2024. The tour will explore the battle for the Muleshoe Salient at Spotsylvania Court House, a notoriously violent clash that marked a turning point in the Civil War. Participants will spend the day learning about critical campaign decisions, witnessing live fire demonstrations of Civil War-era weaponry, and examining preserved field fortifications. Surveying the 500-acre contested ground where hard fought history was made will give participants an understanding of the battle’s impact on Soldiers and civilians who witnessed this historic event.


This Battle Ride is hosted in partnership with the Central Virginia Battlefields Trust (CVBT) and will feature renowned Civil War historian Robert Lee Hodge, who was prominently featured in the Pulitzer Prize-winning Confederates in the Attic


The Generals are those donors who give an additional $1,000 per year over and above membership and land appeal donations. This is an INVESTMENT in an organization that has proven itself for over a decade that big successes can come from a relatively moderately sized group of dedicated individuals and partners.


Find out more about the CVBT Generals program, including how you can join the ranks, as well as special appreciation opportunities by clicking here.


Overland Campaign Anniversary Events

Eastern National, and the National Park Service, are presenting author Diane Monroe Smith on Thursday, May 2nd to discuss her book Washington Roebling's Civil War, at the Chancellorsville Battlefield Visitor's Center beginning at 2 p.m. There will be a book signing afterward.

Friends of the Wilderness Battlefield and Civil War Historical Impressions, Inc. will be hosting an event at Wilderness Run Vineyards at 11109 Plank Rd.


There will be living historians portraying battle participants and activities from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 4th, and from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 5th.


Historic Quote

“The events and fatigues of the last three days have so unstrung my nervous system that a blow from a twig would, I believe, prove fatal. During the engagement in the Wilderness this afternoon I became so weak that I could not stand up, and I bled at the nose like a stuck pig. How I ever did my share of lugging [Fred] Loring and [Frank] Sweetser to the rear is something I cannot explain. It was nothing short of superhuman exertion.”


-Pvt. John Haley, 17th Maine, May 5, 1864 

Photo credit: Terry Rensel


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