A few months ago, I shared the unfortunate story of a Civil War site on the edge of the Chancellorsville battlefield that had fallen victim to vandalism and neglect. I’m pleased to report that local students, in partnership with local preservationists, are stepping up to keep it clean!
Anderson Ridge sits on the far eastern edge of the Chancellorsville battle. There, Confederates dug in along a ridgeline to resist an expected Federal advance toward Fredericksburg. (Stonewall Jackson soon arrived on the scene, though, and essentially said, “Nice job, guys. Let’s go,” shifting Confederates from defense to offense—one of the most fateful decisions of the campaign.)
In the 2000s, developers excavated the eastern side of the ridge and constructed a shopping center. They left the Confederate works intact, landscaped a trail, and developed signage to help interpret the site.
Riverbend High School sits on the western face of the ridge, and students soon created their own trail over the crest of the ridge so they could get to the fast food restaurants in the shopping plaza.
The high volume of foot traffic has resulted in a lot of litter. One of the signs was spray-painted into oblivion. A split-rail fence has been knocked aside to make for a shortcut.
In May, visiting the site with the American Battlefield Trust for a Facebook LIVE segment, I was distressed to find the site in such poor shape.
Fortunately, local educators, led by Eric Powell, the education director for the Central Virginia Battlefields Trust, rallied around the cause. Students at Riverbend have taken an interest in the site. Later this month, CVBT will host a Youth Community Service Day clean-up event to get the site shaped up again.
I’m so pleased to see the students taking ownership. Thanks to them, to Eric Powell, and CVBT for taking this on!