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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See this place: Three good reasons

Civil War sites in the Fredericksburg area are many, but period structures associated with them are very few.

One that the public almost never gets to see is Bloomsbury in Orange County, off State Route 20 (the Constitution Route).

This weekend — by reservation only — it will open to the public for two days, thanks to the generosity of its owner, the Honorable Helen Marie Taylor, and the hard work of the Rappahannock Valley Civil War Round Table.

Three words: Don’t miss this event!

First, the charming house is a rare gem from pre-Revolutionary Virginia that dates to 1722–the oldest surviving dwelling in Orange County.

Beautifully furnished with antiques, it was built by Virginia’s royal surveyor general, Col. James Taylor II — one of the fabled Knights of the Golden Horseshoe. Two of his great-grandsons became U.S. presidents, Zachary Taylor and James Madison.  (Ambassador Taylor is a descendant of this early Virginia family.)

Second, the grounds of this Piedmont estate remain green and pastoral, with a sunken terrace, historic cemeteries, and a forested hill as dramatic backdrops.

In the winter of 1863-64, a nearby site was home to the Army of Northern Virginia at a critical hour, as Gen. Robert E. Lee and his 64,000 men recovered from the Battle of Gettysburg. National Park Service historian Jake Struhelka will interpret the significance of this encampment in between the Gettysburg and Wilderness campaigns — and why Confederate President Jefferson Davis traveled from Richmond to pay Lee and his 64,000 men a surprise visit, lodging at Bloomsbury.

Third, your contribution will support a $2,000 scholarship for a graduating high school senior from the Fredericksburg area,  sponsored by the Round Table.

There are but a few hours left to sign up for this fall picnic and fundraiser.

Reserve your spot by 2 p.m. Thursday. Call 540/399-1702 or e–mail Bob Jones at Because Bloomsbury is an intimate home and its furnishings are delicate, space is limited to 45 persons each day, beginning at 1:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 2 and Oct. 3.

The tours cost $55 per person, including a catered picnic, the house fee and a $25 tax-deductible donation to the RVCWRT Scholarship Fund. The picnic suppers are provided by Gentry’s Catering of Culpeper. Participants are asked to bring a lawn chair.

For details and directions, see the Round Table’s website,

Bloomsbury, Orange County's oldest surviving house, built in 1722.

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