vanessa-newVanessa Remmers covers Stafford County government and schools for and The Free Lance-Star.

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A visit to the Civil War Park

The rain held off yesterday afternoon for the Historical Commission’s third attempt to tour the Civil War Park site. I tagged along to check out this project–and it looks like it’ll be a great resource for Stafford County once it’s complete, for recreation as well and learning.

Right now, the site is closed to the public, with signs posted warning trespassers against relic hunting. Glenn Trimmer, co-founder of the Friends of Stafford Civil War Sites, is quick to say that violators will be prosecuted, and have already been.

But come fall 2012 or early 2013, the park will be open for visitors. Trails similar to the mulched ones at Government Island will wind through the 41 acre park, leading visitors to the winter park remains of Union soldiers, a stone quarry, fortification sites and remains of an excavated corduroy road (pictured). FSCWS has posted more information and a tentative map here.

This is the where the Potomac Church Road is thought to have existed. It leads to the creek.

To me and others who aren’t exactly history buffs, some of the sites may look like holes in the ground. But Trimmer told the handful on Tuesday’s tour to use your imagination. That’s where the hearth and firebox of one hut was, deeper into the woods another depression indicates a rifle pit on the edge of the camp. Here is where many troops from New York, Ohio, Connecticut and Wisconsin stayed in 1863.

This summer, the Virginia Army National Guard spent two weeks clearing the area so that it looks more like a park. If all goes as planned, they’ll be back again next summer to finish up more of the job during their training period. Because of this and other donations, the park–estimated at $2 million–will not be taxpayer funded.

The National Guard cleared this area over the summer.