CVBT Newsletter, November 2023
Photo credit: Jennifer Michael
Preservation Updates and News
From the President's Desk
At the summit of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln, in a proclamation entreating all Americans to ask God to “commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife” and to “heal the wounds of the nation,” set a day of Thanksgiving for the final Thursday in November. Since 1941, Thanksgiving has officially been celebrated on the fourth Thursday each November.
During that Thanksgiving of 1863, Union forces under Gen. U.S. Grant in Tennessee and northern Georgia were following up on a huge victory at Chattanooga. In Virginia, the Army of the Potomac's Gen. George Gordon Meade, hard pressed by Lincoln to finish the Army of Northern Virginia following Gettysburg, faced Gen. Robert E. Lee across Mine Run.
As it is in all wars, today as well as the Civil War, soldiers found it painfully difficult to be away from loved ones during holiday times. Thanksgiving garnered no immunity.
Although in some cases a care package from home might brighten the day with some small items or letters from home, in most cases the soldiers in the field enjoyed only the most spartan of observances.
Confederate meat rations often consisted of corn meal and salted pork or pickled beef. “Cush” or “slosh,” a dish of necessity, was made by putting small pieces of beef in bacon grease, then pouring in water and “stewing it.” Next, cornbread was crumbled in it, and the mixture was “stewed” again until all the water was cooked out. Yet another dish, known as slapjack, consisted of a thick mixture of cornmeal or flour and fried in bacon grease until it was brown.
The Union soldiers’ rations were somewhat better. Salt pork, ham, beans, split peas, dried fruits, hardtack, and desiccated vegetables were on the list. The unpopular desiccated vegetables were often called desecrated vegetables. These were layers of cabbage leaves, turnip tops, sliced carrots, turnips, parsnips, and a few onions; they were dehydrated in large blocks in ovens and then cut into one-ounce cubes. Issued to prevent scurvy, they were made into soup or fried.
Lewis Crater of the 50th Pennsylvania recorded in his diary that the U.S. Sanitary Commission “issued three fine apples to every man.” Despite the modest fare, Crater and others likely gave thanks that they had survived to see another Thanksgiving during the four most blood-stained years in American history.
This month, as we all sit at the table with family and friends, we need to reflect not only upon those close to us that we may have lost but also those who currently serve, and those who have given their last full measure of devotion in times of war.
Be thankful for the family we have and be mindful of the families who have lost a loved one to war or are separated by distance and leave an empty seat at the dinner table. Those seats may be physically empty, but they are not empty in our memory for those who once occupied them.
A Civil War soldier noted, “It isn’t the turkey, but the idea that we care for.” Happy Thanksgiving fellow preservation partners, and never forget those we have lost.
Tom Van Winkle
Youth Day 2023
Photo credit: Tim Talbott
On November 11th, a dedicated group of two dozen students from area high schools joined members of the 47th Virginia, Company I, "The Stafford Guard", as well as CVBT board, staff, and volunteers, to help maintain Pelham's Corner on the Fredericksburg battlefield. Afterward, Stribling's Battery provided an artillery demonstration at the Slaughter Pen Farm, a property that CVBT helped the American Battlefield Trust preserve.
Photo credit: Tom Van Winkle
Save the Date!
Details and registration information coming soon!
Save the Date!
The 2024 CVBT Annual Conference will take place September 13-15, 2024. Look for additional information, as well as registration in early 2024.
Join the CVBT Legacy Society
One of the most satisfying things you will be able to do by taking the time to plan your estate is to make decisions to benefit some of the worthy institutions and organizations you have supported during your lifetime. In fact, many of the most significant gifts that nonprofits receive come from the estates of regular contributors who decide to share a portion of their accumulated assets later on, after taking care of family and friends.
CVBT's long-term stability is based on solid planning, which will ensure that we are here in the future to serve the preservation of these battlefields. Your thoughtful choice to include CVBT in your estate plans would go a long way toward helping make this future a reality.
Learn more about how to become a CVBT Legacy Society here.
Giving Tuesday 2023
Giving Tuesday is a global generosity movement unleashing the power of radical generosity. Giving Tuesday was created in 2012 as a simple idea: a day that encourages people to do good. Since then, it has grown into a year-round global movement that inspires hundreds of millions of people to give, collaborate, and celebrate generosity.
This year, Giving Tuesday is on November 28th, and CVBT is once again a participating non-profit. CVBT is looking to raise $10,000 this year to help open up some of our preserved properties to public access and interpret the history that took place on the land.
We are already working on plans for some of our properties on both ends of the Chancellorsville battlefield, as well as lands at Spotsylvania, including Myer's Hill. You don't have to wait for GivingTuesday to support these efforts. You can give now.
"Next day (the 13th) we had breakfast sometime before daylight, and made our way to Hamilton’s Crossing, near which we found the cavalry. The enemy were very near the junction of the Bowling Green and Hamilton’s Crossing roads, as we found out by riding in the field, when their sharpshooters opened on us. We then went on the hill to the left of the Crossing. . . . I then galloped out to where General Stuart was (at the junction of the two roads named above), and there Major Pelham had come up with one gun of Henry’s horse artillery.”
Lt. R. Channing Price in a letter to his mother, December 17, 1862.
Photo credit: Terry Rensel