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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African American heritage group to host Civil War programs

A soldier in the U.S. Colored Troops and his family--the only known such portrait. (LIBRARY OF CONGRESS)

This looks like a terrific set of programs, unlike anything previously done in Culpeper — or Virginia — to the best of my knowledge. I received this press release over the weekend:

On Saturday, July 21, a full day of activities will be hosted by the newly formed African American Heritage Alliance Inc. and co-sponsored by Friends of Wilderness Battlefield.

A wealth of information about the American Civil War has yet to be well told, including civilians’ dilemmas and the common soldier’s stories. However, the greatest void in historical recordation has been the journey of the American slave from bondage to freedom, a tale fraught with danger, enhanced with courage and perseverance, and galvanized by the promise of freedom and independence.

“It is a thrilling story,” said Zann Nelson, AAHA’s co-founder, “and one that begs to be shared. It is intricately intertwined with the happenings of the day: war, deprivation, economics, politics, and the laws of the land.”

In the summer of 1862, Culpeper County, Va., found itself at the core of the fledgling nation’s dilemma.

Organizers of the three-part event have designed a day that will fully engage the participants in the complexities of military strategy, political debate and the impact of such decisions on a small rural community and its citizens both white and black.

Attending the July 21 events will prepare the participant with a greater understanding of the horrific August 9, 1862, battle at Cedar Mountain in Culpeper County. Friends of Cedar Mountain, supported by AAHA, will host a series of events in August to continue the story. For more information on the FoCM’s August events, visit their website – – or email

To register for the July 21 events, visit (follow the links for a printable registration form or to register online), or contact Zann Nelson at 540/547-2395 or

Want to Go?

SYMPOSIUM: “Anguish and Freedom: The Yankees Descend upon Culpeper:” 

Saturday, July 21, 8:30 a.m. -12:30 p.m.

The Daniel Center at Germanna Community College, Culpeper, VA

Fee: $50 (includes lunch and morning snacks)

Three presentations will address the topics relevant to the summer of 1862 including Lincoln’s policies, military shifts, General Pope’s arrival in Culpeper, the looming question of emancipation and slave refugees and, ultimately, those events’ impact on Culpeper.

Moderator: Clark B. Hall


Daniel Sutherland, PhD, author of 13 books, including Seasons of War: The Ordeal of a Confederate Community

John Hennessy, chief historian of Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park

James Bryant, PhD, author and professor of history at Shenandoah University

BUS TOUR: “The Rappahannock: A River to Freedom:” 

Saturday, July 21, 1-5 p.m.

A tightly packed tour with light walking

Departs and returns to the Daniel Center at GCC, Culpeper, VA

FEE:  $60 limited seating; water and snacks included

Clark “Bud” Hall, a noted Civil War historian with an expertise in Culpeper County history, will conduct a first-of-its-kind tour examining the juxtaposition of slave plantations and Union encampments with the Rappahannock River and the subsequent self -emancipation efforts of Culpeper slaves. The tour expects to include several rarely seen stops: mountaintop view of the county, site of its largest slave-holding plantation, a celebrated refugee river crossing, and sites reflecting the return of former slaves to the region as members of the United States Colored Troops.

RECEPTION: “An evening with Dr. Dan Sutherland

6 -8 p.m.

Location:  “Holly Hill,” Reva, VA  (Directions sent with confirmation)

Good food, Virginia wines, excellent company and beautiful venue.

Casual attire;  fee: $50