I had the chance yesterday to explore the former Rappahannock Station battlefield, courtesy of my ECW colleague Rob Orrison. I drive through the battlefield all the time, but believe it or not, I’ve never even realized it. Rob generously took some time to orient me, but he warned me, “This is the ‘penny tour,’ not even worth a nickel.” There wasn’t going to be much to see.
The town of Remington has sprouted up since the war, and houses, stores, and a neighborhood now occupy most of the attack field (which also has Routes 15/29 running down part of it). But most distressing is that the Confederate position was recently turned into a housing subdivision within the last two years.
The photo is taken from the position of the Louisiana Redan. The line of houses marks the position where, just a couple years ago, Confederate works still lined the ridge. The Rappahannock River is just a few yards behind the houses on the reverse slope.
The redan fell to a combined assault by the 5th Wisconsin, 6th Maine, and elements of the 20th Maine. They charged uphill from the right of the photo. Several Medals of Honor were earned on a field now cluttered with small new homes.
The then-Civil War Trust did try to preserve this land—and they do own a small parcel about a quarter of a mile away from here—but without a developer willing to negotiate in good faith and a county government unconcerned with battlefield preservation, the Trust had no luck.
Fortunately, I had Rob with me, and he could point out a few things to see, but mostly, he had to use modern landmarks to orient me to the battlefield because the historic landscape is almost all gone. Eventually, Farquier County does plan to create a small battlefield park behind the subdivision—basically, they got the flood plain because the developer wasn’t allowed to build there anyway. Someday, visitors will be able to stand in the park and look up at the backs of homes that now mark the Confederate line.