Past is Prologue

Clint Schemmer writes about history, heritage preservation and the American Civil War.  On Facebook: Past is Prologue  On Twitter: @prologuepast  ContactEmail Clint or call 540/374-5424.

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Do your bit for Civil War history!

Thousands of people will turn out this Saturday to tidy up America’s Civil War battlefields, parks and historical sites.

A hundred-plus sites in at least 20 states will benefit — including the Wilderness battlefield in Spotsylvania and Orange counties. Helping out is a fine way to enjoy springtime and the good company of other volunteers.

It’s all part of national Park Day, now in its 14th year.

Locally, Friends of Wilderness Battlefield will coordinate Park Day activities on the Wilderness battlefield to clean up and repair some of its public facilities, exhibits and grounds. The spot where Confederate Lt. Gen. James Longstreet was wounded off Orange Plank Road and the Vermont Monument’s parking area at Brock and Orange Plank roads will be targeted.

To get things rolling, a historian will meet with Saturday’s volunteers and briefly describe the importance of May 1864′s Battle of the Wilderness. This costly fight began the Overland Campaign that led to Appomattox and the war’s end.

The Wilderness is  where forces commanded by Generals Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant first faced each other on the field of battle.

Meet at 9 a.m. Saturday, April 10, at the Wilderness Battlefield Exhibit Shelter on State Route 20, about two miles west of State Route 3. Extra parking will be available along Hill-Ewell Road at Saunders Field.

Bring work gloves. The National Park Service will provide trash bags for those who gather litter and paint and brush for those who touch up signage.

Boy and Girl Scouts will receive a patch from the Civil War Preservation Trust. The Friends group will provide water and snacks to all volunteers.

For more information, contact Mark Wakeman at (540) 972-3460 or visit to jot an email.   The rain date is April 17.

See for more on all of this year’s national projects.

Last year, volunteers from as far away as North Carolina and Ohio helped tidy the Wilderness last year. Cub Scouts and parents from Spotsylvania tackled the Saunders Field portion of the battlefield.

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