November 29, 2017

New Monument on Newly Preserved Land

A new monument now stands at the trail head of the West Woods on Third Winchester Battlefield. This is on recently-preserved land that's near a busy shopping center and directly across from the Town Place Suites by Marriott, so there was a sense of urgency for the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation to get this 28.5 acre parcel purchased and out of the path of development.

 The reflection on the monument is of the hotel. If you want to visit this site, it's on Getty Lane.

Even though this is brand new, the wording is old-fashioned, starting out "North Carolina remembers and honors her gallant sons who fought in defense of home and country in the Army of the Valley District commanded by Lt. Gen. Jubal A. Early at the Battle of Third Winchester Sept. 19 1864."

In case you are not familiar with this battle (sometimes called the Battle of Opequon), it was large (involving 54, 440 soldiers), intense, and a Union victory.


 The rear of the monument is inscribed with names of units from North Carolina that were present at Third Winchester. They were in divisions headed by Ramseur, Rodes, and Wharton.

Major General Rodes, by the way, was killed in this battle and Wharton was wounded. A month later, Ramseur was mortally wounded at Cedar Creek.

This memorial was created before the controversy over Civil War monuments became violent in Charlottesville this August. Perhaps the people behind the design would think twice about displaying the Confederate flag if they were planning it today. Personally I feel the flag detracts from the purpose of this stone, which is to honor people who risked all for their communities. While they may have been mistaken in believing they represented what is right, I think they felt strong loyalty to their families and localities, and certainly they served bravely.

Monuments can have their place. This one is educational for passers-by who might otherwise not know that a significant battle took place here, and will be useful for descendants of North Carolina soldiers who fought here.  Personally I support markers for historical places, although I can't defend hero-worship monuments that stand in places where that person never was. Localities have the right to look at their own monuments and figure out whether they represent accurate history.

A paved trail leads from this monument into the West Woods. I did not follow it but I have explored other trails on the Third Winchester Battlefield. Preservation of battlefield lands in Winchester has done as much for citizens seeking trails and green space as it has for history buffs. Civil War historians may have led the charge to save these lands from development, but the benefits include recreation and wildlife habitat.

7 comments:

  1. You live in quite are area for battles that took place in the Civil war though I really cannot see why people got so riled up about the monuments. The confederate flag is just what it is a Flag and is what they saluted at the time.

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  2. I always enjoy historical markers. It's interesting to see what happened where you stand, so many years ago.

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  3. Hello, it is a nice memorial. I am not personally offended with statues and memorial. I believe they are a reminder of our history. Happy Thursday, enjoy your day!

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  5. A people that preserves the history, I find the preservation of habitat very good.
    Beautiful day!

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  6. It is sad to have history delayed by todays standards against what really happened.

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  7. Good that this place has been set aside for posterity. I find the markers in this case are fine. It's the ones that were erected decades after the fact during the Jim Crow era that tend to be problematic, not the ones at battlefields where it makes sense to incorporate them.

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