23 May 2009
Breakfast at the Battlefield Restaurant across the street from the National Cemetery and Fredericksburg BNP Visitor Center. Menu like a shiny diner, but a Cheers TV show atmosphere where everybody knows your name. Grill food comes out quick and hot. Standard breakfast menu with scrapple and grits also. Biscuits almost as big as baseballs. Sign at the door says it best: "If you are unhappy, irritable or hassle the staff there will be an additional ten dollar charge."
First stop is the Civil War Preservation Trust’s new trail on the Day One Chancellorsville Battlefield on Route 3 West at the local community center. The eastern two-thirds of the field's trails has gravel paths and interpretation markers. The western third has gravel on partial paths. The southern path on the western leg has gravel that extends to Mott’s Run (now known as Lick’s Run) and onto a neighboring field, which I believe would be trespassing.
Follow the gravel until it comes to a curving mown path going up hill just past the overhead power lines and follow the trail up to the Union retreat marker. Follow the grass path to the northern leg of the path and see the Union Spies Marker.
One striking memory is the overhead power lines. You clearly hear the ohms dancing on the aluminum transmission lines. This is certainly what could become of Sharpsburg MD, South Mountain MD and other battlefields if plans for upgraded electrical grid transmission lines go through. As one of the rangers at Chancellorsville said later in the day, battlefields are the paths of least resistance for the power grid upgrade. I know our country needs to be able to improve our national power grid, but not at the expense of history preservation.
I did see the local farmer on the eastern most point of the trail working near the white barn there. Not overly friendly, but allowing us to visit the land is more than enough for me to honor his decision.
I spent the rest of day hiking the about 14 miles of trails (Chancellorsville Historic, McLaws, Hazel Grove, plus the Wilderness trails of Gordon’s Flank Attack, Higgerson’s farm and Widow Tapp). All were well mown and interpreted.
I closed out the evening with my first visit ever to the Fredericksburg Luminaries. Words can’t describe the beauty, patriotism, and heart rendering moments. A huge thank you to the Boy Scouts, all the volunteers, the Rangers, and the musician playing Taps every 30 minutes. I can only say to anyone considering this event, go to this presentation some year very soon. Only the National POW Memorial in Andersonville GA has stirred me more than this presentation.
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