Saving History Saturday: Bristoe Station Battlefield Under Threat

The core area of the Bristoe Station battlefield in Prince William County, Virginia is currently under threat due to the Chapel Springs Station project, a proposed development for six large distribution warehouses. This site of two battles and numerous encampments along the Orange and Alexandria Railroad four miles southwest of Manassas Junction, is a Civil War landscape that is quickly fading from view, and memory.

The ongoing, development and growth in Northern Virginia continues to threaten historic, and open, spaces. In 2023, Preservation Virginia listed (for the second time) the battlefield on Virginia’s Most Endangered Historic Places list. Specifically, Preservation Virginia called attention to “a massive warehouse development proposal” across the road from Bristoe Station Battlefield Heritage Park.

The site plan for the proposed warehouses overlays a modern map of the area. Bristoe Station Battlefield Heritage Park is the dark green plot of land toward the bottom of the map.

The warehouses will be constructed on land where thousands of North Carolinians under General William Kirkland fought and died during the October 14, 1863 battle. Many of them may still be buried there today in unmarked graves. One Civil War cemetery will sit within a few dozen yards of a parking lot and warehouse. The time is quickly fading to prevent the Bristoe Station battlefield from becoming an enlarged version of the Chantilly/Ox Hill battlefield. This portion of the battlefield also includes Jubal Early’s position during the August 27, 1862, Battle of Kettle Run, numerous camp sites, and an identified cemetery that will be protected but surrounded by warehouses.

Currently, the proposed Chapel Springs Station project is under federal review via the Section 106 process with the United States Army Corps of Engineers. This is due in part to the presence of federally regulated wetlands on the property. This process allows for a review of the adverse impacts on cultural resources and is now in its later stages.

Though there is little likelihood the project can be stopped, there will be mitigation measures to lessen the negative impact on the battlefield. Regardless, this portion of the battlefield will be destroyed. Mitigation could include a reduction of the project size to allow for more preservation of core battlefield land or financial donations for future interpretation or preservation and land donation for preservation. The Virginia Department of Historic Resources (DHR) will have a major role in the final plan, and they need to hear from the Civil War community that this hallowed ground is important and worthy of preservation. With many battlefields under threat across Virginia, Bristoe Station seems to have been partially forgotten. It will take a call to action to DHR to protect as much of this battlefield as possible.

Using the two contacts below, write to DHR to let them know of your support to preserve the Bristoe Station battlefield:

Roger Kirchen
Director of Review and Compliance

Julie Langan
Director of DHR


3 Responses to Saving History Saturday: Bristoe Station Battlefield Under Threat

  1. As a long time and loyal of the ABT, has this organization been attempting to preserve this hollowed ground and prevent this imminent tragedy?

    1. Yes they did try. I don’t know all the details surrounding their offer and rebuff.

  2. There is a tender spot in my heart for this place and I’d really, really hate to see this happen.

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