Modern Development at Rappahannock Station

Earlier this week, Chris Mackowski highlighted the new housing development on the November 7, 1863 Rappahannock Station battlefield. Preservationists over the last decade attempted to draw attention to this possibility but could not rally enough cooperation and interest. I overlaid troop movements onto modern aerial maps that show the subdivision under construction and the obliteration of the heart of the battlefield. Walter Taylor called Rappahannock Station “the saddest chapter in the history” of Lee’s army. The same statement can also frustratingly be said for the battlefield’s preservation legacy.

13 Responses to Modern Development at Rappahannock Station

  1. I am a member of the Battlefield Trust–they are even going to be in my will, because saving places of historic interest is very important to me. But this one apparently did not make the cut, so to speak. When I initially saw Chris’s post, I looked at the picture of the houses, the people, the life that is there now. It was once a place of death. Now kids will trick-or-treat along those streeets, and deorate homes for the holidays. Can this not be another way to honor a place where lives were given so that other lives might flourish? Maybe I’m wrong–it was just something that I pondered. I think the homes are better than a parking lot or a convenience store. If nothing else, this war does make us ponder…

    1. Meg, an excellent post. I am a contributing member also, but I don’t believe we can, or should, win every battle. My wife graduated from Gettysburg College. I love the expanse of the National Battlefield and Trust properties. But it has had a significant negative impact on the locality’s tax base, even factoring in the tourism. Also, we can tell the tale of the Station at other locations. Like life, the land is at times best served by and for the living.

  2. Interesting points. My own view is that if it’s ground with historical significance we should aim higher. Residences may be better than malls, which are better than warehouses, which are better than a landfill. But that all amounts to eviscerating our historical landscape for developer profits. In fact the photo suggests that we’re getting more trophy homes built on ground which deserves a more fitting use. N.B. – I’m not qualified to say if this particular parcel fits the definition, but it sure seems to.. As for kids trick or treating along streets, that’s a good sentiment but it’s not today’s reality. And, to close, I also belong to the Trust. It may be that they couldn’t get enough of the varied resources together on this one. Fortunately they have a number of major accomplishments in the recent past.

      1. Meg – “Thinking”? – dangerous. 🙂 In all seriousness, the Trust’s achievements in the last 10 years or so are astonishing. And adding AWI and 1812 sites to the scope was a terrific move. Right now we need to pony up for that parcel in the heart of the Brandywine field.

  3. I can’t believe that anyone would say oh well at least not a parking lot. The battlefield is gone. Go to Seven Pines and say oh well at least its not a parking lot. I tour battlfield sites all the time. I drive there and usually get a motel nearby, eat in a nearby restaurant, go to some kind of store. The last time I was in Seven Pines was a drive through, not a penny will I spend there. The economic loss these people loose and the fact they loose the beauty of the great park they could have had. I love it when i see a birds nest in a cannon, theres your parking lot.

  4. I’ve been a member of the Civil War Trust since the early 1990’s and articles like this make me so glad I joined.
    I didn’t even visit the U.S from the U.K until 2007 at which time I couldn’t believe that there was consideration for putting luxury flats / combo’s within the confines of Harpers Ferry and I readily signed the petition opposing the development ( which fortunately never went ahead) – with all the land you have, such proposals should never be necessary, unfortunately greed rules worldwide !
    One of my favourite books read recently was the Second Fredericksburg book by Chris M and Chris K, and the biggest shock to me didn’t relate to the historical proceedings therein but more the fact that virtually nothing is left aside from the Salem Church (I’ve been there now !) and moreover the pathetically small amount which couldn’t be raised back in the 1970’s to halt development.

    Much the same is continuously happening here in the U.K as outlined in this press article from earlier in the week (if doesn’t connect just google “Bosworth Field Telegraph) – obviously nothing is sacred !

  5. Somebody put a lot of thought into the “Rappahannock Station I & II Civil War Battlefield Master Plan” in 2012. Here’s the link-
    Was this plan approved/followed? Are the battlefield park boundaries in the plan accurate? If the housing development is complete – when does the construction on the park begin/end? According to this document, all the major preservation groups in the area contributed/approved this plan.

  6. Rappahannock Station 2010 (comments from a blogger eight years ago)
    The last couple of days I have been walking and driving around the Rappahannock Station Battlefield (the November 7, 1863 fight) in preparation for a tour I intend to lead in late July.
    It is amazing how much of the fields survived. All of the entrenchments and redoubts are gone, long gone. In the history of the 20th Maine Infantry, they note that the regiment camped on the site of the two forts and knocked them down so they could build their cabins.
    But the fields where the Louisianans and North Carolinian’s stood remains. You can see the curve of the hills and imagine those young men standing there as the Federals came forward in the twilight of November 7, 1863.
    Much of the property is owned by Fauquier County, and is intended to be a park. Other portions of the land is owned by developer. Maybe that will change someday soon.
    As I drove though the area, I was also able to identify the positions where Federal and Confederate artillery were placed, and where the Yankees sat in the early afternoon and readied themselves for what was to come.
    Some has been saved, much more can be.

  7. Excellent map Edward! I was recently doing some family history research and was jazzed to find a distant cousin of my wife’s who had fought at Rappahannock Station. We live in Virginia and I told her we ought to drive over and walk the land where he fought, so I googled it to see where to go. Appears there is no way to walk this land because there is no Civil War Battlefield park there. By the way, he was in the 5th Maine, and it appears where he fought the 54th North Carolina unit, is under route 29.

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