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Although I have a personal interest in the battlefield for many reasons, it is significant in the fact that it was Grant’s first battle in charge of the Army and the beginning of his campaign of attrition against Lee’s army.
Wilderness was the first battlefield I spent any amount of time on, walking the steps of the 18th, getting the feel for the battlefield. I will never forget leaving the cover of the woods onto a long field and wondering what it felt like, knowing the enemy had you in their sites and again, you were marching up a hill to them. The 18th was one of the first regiments to fight in the battle and a member of the regiment, Charles H Wilson was the first to fall.
This was also where Thomas Mann would be captured and starts his horrific journey into the South, with stops in Richmond, Andersonville, Charleston and Florence. He would later write about it in a magazine article titled “A Yankee in Andersonville” and stirred the emotions of quite a few from the South due to its unkind look at his stay. At the very least it did very little in promoting tourism in the cities mentioned (a not too gently jab at Charleston). The magazine published one letter of response which one can only gather that the author feels that Mann is lying about his experience.
Mike edited the article and it gave a glimmer of hope with the following quote:
The county doesn't have the authority to build a road through a national park, says Russ Smith, superintendent of Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania County National Military Park, which includes Wilderness. "I couldn't say yes to [the road] even if I wanted to," Smith says. "It would take Congressional action."
Unfortunately, the full article talks about a similar situation in New Mexico and the outcome was pretty grim. Local leaders were able to convince Congress to “edit” a National Park’s boundaries and a road is now almost complete, bisecting the park.
The article also mentions a developer seeking approval of building housing and commercial buildings upon 2000 plus acres that they own but are within the battlefield boundaries.
One can only hope that citizens of Virginia can rally with as much enthusiasm against the proposed road – sadly proposed by the State of Virginia – as did those against the recent casino in Gettysburg.
Unfortunately, while the Casino received huge press, was all over the blogosphere – besides Mike, I really have not seen anyone else mention it. A Google news search showed all of one article on it. Is it not cool enough? Does it not have enough books or grandiose stories? Not enough superhuman acts recorded about the great armies moving against each other? Maybe it is just too far out of the way for anyone to care?
I don’t know the answer but it saddens me to even think about the leaders of the area and our Nation thinking that this is a good idea.
We have lost enough of our history to development; losing any more is a tragedy. Much like the battle that took place on the field they are trying to pave.
Just ask Thomas Mann