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History Calendar

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The sunken garden, one of 10 themed outdoor "rooms" set into the magnificent landscape of Mount Sharon in Orange County, a private garden open for a one-of-a-kind public tour this Sunday.

Town & County section’s History Calendar for the week of May 6-12, 2012:


Mother’s Day at Mount Sharon Gardens. 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Sunday, May 13. Rare opportunity to visit 10 acres of lovely gardens overlooking 60-mile views of the Piedmont and Blue Ridge. Regarded as one of the East Coast’s most beautiful private landscapes, the garden features 10 themed spaces, accented by pavilions, fountains, pergolas and statuary. One-time only tour benefits the Boys & Girls Club of Orange and Preservation Virginia. Mount Sharon, off State Route 20 in Orange County, is the home of Mr. and Mrs. Charles H. Seilheimer Jr. Tickets: $30 at the gate; accompanied children under 16, free. 19184 Mount Sharon Lane (Please enter via the lane, State Route 600, from State Route 20). For details, visit and read this past article,

“Beyond Gettysburg: The Life of Richard S. Ewell.” Monday, May 14. Ewell biographer Don Pfanz, staff historian at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, will address the Rappahannock Valley Civil War Round Table during its meeting at Brock’s Riverside Grill, 503 Sophia St. Fredericksburg. Social, 6 p.m.; dinner, 6:45 p.m.; program, 7:30 p.m. Dinner reservations due by May 9: Questions? Gene Beverly, 540/775-3711.

“Songs and Remembrances of the Civil War.” 9:30 a.m.–7:30 p.m., Saturday, May 19. Robert E. Lee’s birthplace, Stratford Hall Plantation in Westmoreland County. Concert of Civil War-era music by the Chamber Chorale of Fredericksburg, living history, heirloom document scanning by the Library of Virginia. Learn about the Civil War as it was waged in the Northern Neck. Genealogy expert Laura Hazel will give tips on researching Civil War ancestors. Library of Virginia staff members will digitize your 1861–65 photos, documents and artifacts for inclusion in the 150th Legacy Project; bring items to the duPont Library. (Appointments encouraged; limited number of walk-ins. To register, 804/493-1972 or email Drills by Civil War re-enactors include the 53rd Virginia, Company H, Mattaponi Guards and the Original Richmond Howitzers bivouacking on the Oval; and a diorama on action at Camden, on loan from the Steamboat Era Museum. Admission includes Great House tour. $10/ adults; $5/children; under 5 free. Friends of Stratford and donors to Library of Virginia Project, free.; 804/493-8038.

Spotsylvania Civil War Weekend and Re-enactment. Saturday and Sunday, May 19–20, Spotsylvania Courthouse Village, corner of Old Battlefield Boulevard and Spotsylvania Courthouse Bypass. 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Saturday, 9 a.m.–3 p.m. Sunday: interpreters, sutlers, speakers, vendors will bring Civil War to life. Children will experience civilian and military life. Battles held 2 p.m. Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Sunday. Rain dates: 2 p.m. June 16 and 17; Volunteers needed; download application at, mail to Debbie Aylor at the Spotsylvania County Department of Economic Development and Tourism. Volunteer coordinator is Mark Wakeman of Friends of Wilderness Battlefield; email him via the Battlefield Volunteers category at

Bricks and Boards in the ’Burg. Join the Fredericksburg Area Museum and Cultural Center and Hallowed Ground Tours on Saturday mornings for architectural walking tours of historic downtown. Hour-long tours depart Market Square/Town Hall at 10 a.m. They highlight four centuries of history and architecture, the Rappahannock River, spires and steeples of Princess Anne Street, Fredericksburg’s Town Hall, Market House and Market Square; $4/adults, $1/children. Discounted museum admission for walking tour participants. Hallowed Ground Tours: 540/809-3918.

“Come Retribution: The Confederate Secret Service in the Closing Days of the Civil War.” Wednesday, May 23. Author David W. Gaddy, a former senior cryptologic executive with the National Security Agency, will address the Civil War Round Table of Fredericksburg. Gaddy, who has been called “the pre-eminent expert pertaining to Civil War-era espionage,” is the last surviving co-author of a breakthrough history book, “Come Retribution: The Confederate Secret Service and the Assassination of Lincoln.” At the University of Mary Washington’s Jepson Alumni Executive Center, 1119 Hanover St. Bar opens 5:45 p.m.; social, 6 p.m.; dinner, 6:45 p.m.; program, 7:30 p.m. Reservations required, 540/361-2105. Men expected to wear a coat and tie, with equivalent attire for ladies. $30/members, $35/others, payable by cash or check at the door;

President Lincoln in Stafford and Fredericksburg. Historian Jane Hollenbeck Conner will speak at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 24, about Lincoln’s many wartime visits to the front line here. Part of the Civil War Sesquicentennial Lecture Series at the England Run branch of Central Rappahannock Regional Library, 806 Lyons Blvd., off U.S. 17 in southern Stafford; 540/899-1703;

Preschool Palette. 10 a.m. Thursday, May 24. Classes at Gari Melchers Home and Studio at Belmont introduce art and art museums to young children (ages 2–5). Students enjoy a picture book, view original art and make an art project. Michelle Crow–Dolby, 540/654-1851, 224 Washington St., Falmouth.

Third annual  City Cemetery & Confederate Cemetery tour. 6:30-8:00 p.m. Saturday, May 26. Amateur historian Dan “Big French” Janzegers will cover notables, military burials and local citizens, highlighting new research. Free. Donations to the Fredericksburg City Cemetery welcome. Rain date: May 27.


“Drewry’s Bluff: A Marine’s Perspective 1862–1865.” To commemorate the Battle of Drewry’s Bluff’s 150th anniversary, this exhibit—opening Tuesday, May 8—focuses on Confederate and Union Marines who occupied this James River bend during the Civil War. See Civil War artifacts and Marine uniforms, read about about the first U.S. Medal of Honor recipient and the military actions of May 1862. Chesterfield County Museum, open 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Tuesday–Friday, 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Saturday;

Drewry’s Bluff Panel Discussion. 7–8:30 p.m. Friday, May 11, Chesterfield County Central Library. Topics: “Defending the James River” by Sam Craghead of the Museum of the Confederacy; “The Battle of Drewry’s Bluff” by National Park Service historian Mike Gorman; “Political and Home Front Reaction to the Battle of Drewry’s Bluff” by National Park Service historian Ashley Whitehead. Scott Williams, chair of Chesterfield Historical Society’s Military History Committee, will moderate. 9501 Lori Road;

Living History Weekend at Drewry’s Bluff. Saturday, May 12, and Sunday, May 13. Drewry’s Bluff Unit, Richmond National Battlefield Park. U.S. Marine Corps Historical Company living history and exhibits, including “The Marines of the Civil War and Their Relevance and Impact on Today’s Corps,” “Brother Against Brother: the Marines at the Battle of Drewry’s Bluff” and “Civil War Texting,” demonstrating the use of telegraphy during the Civil War. See what life was like at Drewry’s Bluff in 1862. Interactive family and children’s activities, demonstrations by Richmond National Battlefield Park and Marine Corps; and

“The Story of Alexandria’s Civil War Crimean Ovens and Camp California.” 1 p.m. Saturday, May 12. Wally Owen, assistant director of the Fort Ward Museum and co-author of “Mr. Lincoln’s Forts: A Guide to the Civil War Defenses of Washington,” will lecture on research into rare archaeological features used to heat hospital tents and their relationship to Camp California, 1861–62, home to 10,000 Civil War soldiers in the city’s West End. The camp was an early training ground for the Union’s Army of the Potomac. $10/person. Reservations recommended; limited seating. 4301 West Braddock Road;, 703/746-4848.

Armed Forces Day tours of Fort Ward. Saturday, May 19. Soldiers will lead 90-minute tours in honor of Armed Forces Day on Saturday, May 19, at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Free; weather-dependent. Fort Ward Museum & Historic Site, 4301 West Braddock Road, Alexandria;, 703/746-4848.

“If This Valley Is Lost: Preserving the Legacy of Stonewall Jackson’s Valley Campaign.” 6–9:30 p.m. Saturday, June 9. Widow Pence Farm, Cross Keys battlefield near Harrisonburg. 150 years after Jackson’s Valley Campaign climaxed at the Battles of Cross Keys and Port Republic, guests will gather for a sesquicentennial program co-sponsored by the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation and the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission. Barbecue dinner, period music, on-site interpretation, living history, youth activities. Guest speakers include Dr. James I. “Bud” Robertson Jr., professor emeritus at Virginia Tech and leading Jackson biographer. $20/person, $30/family (two adults and children under 18); youths 13 and under, free. For tickets, download registration form at, email or call 540/740-4545.

Please enter information at events.freder; select “History” category. You may also email to tandc@freelance (subject: History Calendar), or fax to 540/373-8455. Deadline: noon Thursday preceding the section’s Tuesday publication. Questions: 540/368-5029.