This is a continuation of a journey taken in one day in the summer of 2003, with my friend Joe Loehle, following the route of Law’s Alabama Brigade, from Raccoon Ford, Virginia, to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The first three parts were published in 2019 on the ECW website, then . . . my computer hard-drive crashed, with this article on it. And no back-up. I thought I’d lost 9,000 words.
Thankfully, after much discouragements and several attempts at recovery, the file was discovered. In the interim, more photos have been added to this story. I’m glad to have more to share.
This warp-speed Rebel-haj from Raccoon Ford to Gettysburg in 2003 stimulated much to comprehend at the time, and then to reflect upon later. We were attempting to get closer, to endeavor to transcend, into the past. We wanted to get lost in history with the books and maps and the land. We wanted to find the lost roads, and leave the harshness of out-of-control sprawl of the Washington D.C. commuting area, to find the still-thriving, but threatened, bucolic Virginia. It was rewarding to discover a sense of gratitude in escaping the hard commercialism of Northern Virginia—commercialism that is honestly embarrassing to witness—to something more, um, . . . pure?
Getting to the undeveloped spaces and vast tracts of agriculture made me feel the need to want to personally be even more involved in contributing to the advocacy of greenspace from a cultural and environmental perspective. Or, in more crass terms: my childhood adoration for the Confederate battleflag and what, as a child, I saw it as symbolizing—Lee, Southern valor, etc.—eventually, over time, drew me towards becoming a left-leaning tree-hugger. The idea that a major battlefield where “giants” in Blue and Gray destroyed each other (and their families) could one day be a Walmart parking lot (Chantilly, Stones River, Salem Church, Westport, and so on) became, somehow, important. All those places just mentioned are planning and zoning nightmares—and in some cases, happened fairly recently.
With this trip that Joe Loehle and I took following Law’s troops over 120 miles in one day, we saw not only significant battlefield land developed or threatened, but massive environmental issues, traffic issues, over-building concerns, and so on. In general, not only was the past under threat, but more importantly, the future. What would the agriculture look like in 50 years? What would the population size be? How would the environment be sustained? Our journey, as you will see was that continuous mix of history and environment. There will be several installments over the following months.
Stay tuned for part four later this week!