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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Volunteers needed at historic Ellwood Manor

Ellwood Manor, the only Civil War-era structure remaining on the Wilderness battlefield, needs some new friends.

Built circa 1790, the plantation home opens to the public each year through the volunteerism of trained interpreters coordinated by the Friends of Wilderness Battlefield.

To prepare for the new season, FoWB is accepting applications for these key posts. The volunteers interpret Ellwood’s rich and varied history for visitors.

Applications, available online here, will be accepted until Saturday, Feb.  26. Download and print the form. New interpreters are required to be members of FoWB.

Greg Mertz, supervisory historian at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, and FoWB Vice President Carolyn Elstner will train the interpreters.  People will learn about the site’s heritage, its restoration, and what happened there during the Civil War.  Each person will receive their own personal manual.

Ellwood Manor, also known as the Lacy House,  served as a Confederate hospital during the Battle of Chancellorsville in 1863.   Confederate Lt. Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson’s arm, amputated at nearby Wilderness Tavern after his wounding by friendly fire, is buried in its Lacy family cemetery. During the Battle of the Wilderness in 1864, two Federal corps commanders used Ellwood as headquarters.

Volunteering more than 2,500 hours last year, FoWB interpreters have helped to keep historic Ellwood accessible to the public since 1998.  During 2010, a record 4,683 visitors from across the United States and the world visited the home to learn about its important role in nation’s history.

New volunteers must attend a training session on Saturday, March 5, as well as one of the veteran-interpreter training sessions on Wednesday, March 16, or Saturday, April 16.  All meetings will be held at Wilderness Library

off State Route 20 in Orange County. March 5 training is from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The March 16 and April 16 sessions are from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The friends group will provide lunch for each session. Everyone who completes training is provided a polo shirt with FoWB logo as part of the interpreters’ dress code.

If you’re interested in helping people learn more about local history and keeping this historic home open to the public, and can commit to a minimum of once-a-month service during Ellwood’s May-through-October season, please mail your completed application to FoWB, P.O. Box 576, Locust Grove, VA, 22508.

For more information, write Carolyn Elstner at

Friends of Wilderness Battlefield is a nonprofit, all-volunteer organization devoted to helping the park  preserve the Wilderness battlefield in Orange and Spotsylvania counties.