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CVBT Newsletter, June 2024

Photo credit: American Battlefield Trust

CVBT Newsletter, June 2024


Preservation Updates and News


From the President's Desk

It’s Chess, Not Checkers

In August 2013, CVBT received a grant for $700,000 to assist the American Battlefield Trust in a 56-acre acquisition of Fleetwood Hill on the Brandy Station Battlefield. 

The entire battlefield preservation community including the Central Virginia Battlefields Trust, the Journey Through Hallowed Ground, and the Brandy Station Foundation, along with support of the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program and the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Civil War Sites Preservation Fund had a hand in saving this long sought after parcel of the Brandy Station battlefield.

Brandy Station, fought on June 9, 1863, opened the Gettysburg campaign and sent the Army of the Potomac north in pursuit of Gen. Robert E. Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia. It was the largest cavalry battle ever fought on American soil, with nearly 20,000 troopers engaged, and more than 1,000 casualties.


Historian Clark “Bud” Hall would state, “Ten thousand troopers grappled to the death on Fleetwood Hill. Scores of men were killed, right there,” Hall said. “And as J.E.B. Stuart wrote in his report, they ‘buried them where they fell.’” 

Bud Hall was recognized for his years of tenacious work in assembling much of this preserved battlefield land, and rightfully so. Without his efforts, the newest addition to Virginia State Parks would not have come to fruition. 

Brandy Station's Fleetwood Hill was saved from the brink of destruction when first threatened with intense and enormous development, and then by a proposed high-speed auto-racing track that would have obliterated this important part of the battlefield. 


So, some 11 years after CVBT’s contribution to help protect Fleetwood Hill, this chess piece is now part of Virginia’s 43rd State Park and the battlefield, now 1,000 acres and about to grow to 2,200 acres after a series of land transfers are completed, will include parts of the four major Civil War battles fought in Culpeper County: Brandy Station, Cedar Mountain, Kelly’s Ford, and Rappahannock Station.

David Duncan, president of the American Battlefield Trust, said “nothing about today was inevitable,” meaning, there were many competing visions of what should happen to the land.

Present for the June 8th dedication ceremony, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin stated, “Teaching our history and the history of the Commonwealth of Virginia is not just complicated, it is filled with extraordinary highs and very dark lows,” Youngkin said. “We must teach all of it — the good and the bad.”

The creation of the park was approved by the Virginia General Assembly and signed into law by Youngkin in June 2022 as a part of the commonwealth’s two-year budget plan.

As CVBT members already recognize, preservation is a long-term project. A goal may not be realized for years; in this case for decades. CVBT’s contribution may have seemed out of the norm at the time because it was outside our normal geographical area of operations. Looking towards the big picture goal, even 11 years ago, it simply had to be done. Not unlike CVBT’s long-term vision of completing a large portion of the Chancellorsville “Jackson Flank Attack.” Each land piece is part of the game and once these pieces are all accumulated, Check Mate!, the vision is complete.

CVBT is proud to have played a part in this remarkable achievement by the preservation community. With everyone working as a team, keeping an eye on the long-term goal, and above all, maintaining a dogged persistence, the vision will be met.


Congratulations to all parties involved in this tremendous accomplishment!


Tom Van Winkle


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


The Friday tour of Payne's Farm will be led by Ted Savas. Ted and his colleague Paul Sacra discovered the accurate location of the battlefield in the early 1990's. Join us for the rare opportunity to tour the battlefield with one of its discoverers.


Well-known expert, historian, and author Greg Mertz will take us on an extended tour of the western edge of the Wilderness, as it had a significant impact on several overlapping conflicts in 1863 and 1864, both in planning and execution. The Wilderness itself proved to be as great of an obstacle as the armies were to each other.


Tickets are going fast!


Beckham Tract Landscape Restoration

CVBT is beginning the preliminary work to tear down the modern structures on the Beckham Tract in order to return the land to its natural appearance. We are currently about 60% of the way toward our $35,000 goal to make this happen. You can learn more at our website.


Historic Quote

“On the morning of the 27th, when the right road was supposedly to have been found, the enemy were discovered in great strength and in line of battle to oppose the march.

That I had to choose whether to retreat or give battle. I chose the latter, which I did successfully, engaging with my whole corps Johnson's and Roades' divisions of Ewell's corps. The battle lasted until 7 p.m. that day."


-Excerpt from report by Maj. Gen. W. H. French describing the November 27, 1863, fighting at Payne's Farm.

Photo credit: Terry Rensel


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