On Sunday, October 1, 2023, from 2-4pm join historians Sarah Kay Bierle and Jon Tracey at New Market Battlefield State Historical Park (New Market, Virginia) for a fundraiser battlefield tour to support Wreaths Across America. The Battle of New Market was fought on May 15, 1864, and the Virginia Military Institute Corps of Cadets took a pivotal role in the fight as they joined the Confederate battle line and clashed with Union soldiers from Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio. The walking tour will cover approximately 1.5 miles of sloping terrain, and Tracey and Bierle will share about the Battle of New Market fought on May 15, 1864, stories of soldiers and cadets, and the lengthy process of laying the fallen to rest—many in Winchester National Cemetery. Tickets are required for the fundraiser tour and are $25 per person and may be acquired at https://emergingcivilwar.com/ecw_event/2023-wreaths/
Wreaths Across America is the prominent non-profit coordinating these memorial wreath-laying efforts during the holidays. In the northern part of the Shenandoah Valley, Winchester National Cemetery takes part in this ceremony. At this location, more than 5,500 service members are buried—many United States volunteers from the American Civil War. This year Emerging Civil War historians are hosting a battlefield tour fundraiser to help purchase and place more wreaths in Winchester National Cemetery, and proceeds will be used for that purpose.
A virtual-only history fundraiser program is also offered for those unable to attend the battlefield tour in-person. For a $17 donation, virtual donors will receive a link on Saturday, October 7 to a recorded history program and discussion of some of Bierle and Tracey’s new research about the Battle of New Market and Winchester National Cemetery. Tickets for the virtual program may be also be acquired at: https://emergingcivilwar.com/ecw_event/2023-wreaths/
Bierle and Tracey are donating their research time and battlefield guiding skills with the goal of fundraising $3,000 through the battlefield walk and virtual program to assist Wreaths Across America in placing more wreaths at Winchester National Cemetery. They both work in the history field and hold volunteer positions as editors and board members at Emerging Civil War, a 501(c)3 not-for-profit corporation that hosts a public history-oriented platform for sharing original articles related to the American Civil War and connecting with a supportive group of up-and-coming researchers and historians.
Bierle is managing editor of Emerging Civil War, has written a well-received, non-fiction book about the Battle of New Market, and frequently leads tours at that battlefield. When asked why Wreaths Across America is important to her, she described the connection of gratitude that she often feels for these soldiers’ sacrifices and believes that it is a privilege to tell their stories and invite others to pause and remember. “This year we will have the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of some of these fallen soldiers. The collected donations will contribute to a visual moment this December that they are not forgotten.”
Tracey started researching Winchester National Cemetery a couple of years ago, and his findings have been recognized by other historians in the Shenandoah Valley. He serves as the Editorial Committee Chairman for Emerging Civil War’s blog; he graduated from Gettysburg College and West Virginia University, researches Civil War memory and veterans’ experiences, and works in historic preservation. Tracey reflected on the chance to remember: “We can honor [the soldiers’] memory in many different ways and on many different days. It can be by walking the battle ground where they fought. It can be reading their name, it can be researching and sharing their stories. And, of course, it can be donating or placing a wreath.”
For both Tracey and Bierle, their past experiences at Winchester National Cemetery and their research interests prompted them to want to help this particular cemetery. Placing more wreaths, raising awareness, and sharing some lesser-known history are their goals to help inform and inspire another look at the layers of Civil War history in the Shenandoah Valley. “Come join us on October 1 or virtually on October 7. Take some time to learn these soldiers’ stories and help ensure that their graves will have wreaths in December,” Bierle invited. “We hope many will join us on the battlefield or online in this endeavor to support Wreaths Across America and create a meaningful, honoring experience.”
To make a donation to Emerging Civil War’s fundraiser for Wreaths Across America and participate on the battlefield or virtually, please visit: https://emergingcivilwar.com/ecw_event/2023-wreaths/
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