Too late for Winchester

Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Last weekend I took a long awaited trip to Winchester, Va. I'd done my usual hardcore preparation, reading books on each of the 3 battles of Winchester. Each book, from the H.E. Howard series, had a staff ride (auto/walking tour). I also had a Blue and Gray Mag. on the sites in Winchester.

In sum, I was never so dissapointed in any tour. Eighty percent of the sites are gone to development. Star Fort is now Star Fort housing development, Bowers Hill is a fenced off water tower, etc., etc., etc. It appears that most of the folks in Winchester care very little for their history.

Stephenson's Depot is still intact, as are some of the town sites. You can still get some views of where things happened. South of town, Kernstown is viewable, although the view from Pritchard's Hill is mostly of industrial parks and the battlefield itself is split by Route 37 in much the same way as New Market is split by I-81. Cedar Creek is the best bet. The best parts are preserved and the surrounding country is still rural.
 

sgtcsa

Cadet
Joined
Mar 8, 2005
Location
Blaine, Wa.
Russ,
Yes, I agree with your assessment of Winchester, although I do believe that it was not for want of saving much of the area in question. Much was done to try and save many parts of it, but the efforts proved unsuccessful. Far too much emphasis was placed on 'progress'! Some was saved, but much was lost. I have attended the battle of Cedar Creek many times and have found that quite a bit of the battlefield has been saved, but there is still much to do, concerning land aquisition in that area, for Civil War preservation

There are still many folks left in that area, that want their Civil War heritage saved. But, sometimes, as with many things, money seems to rear it's ugly head and thus, changes the landscape forever. Much of the core battlefield at Cedar Creek has been saved, but there is still much more that can be done, and it will be up to those who want to put forth the effort to save it, that will determine what and how much will be saved.

Being from that area, it means a great deal to me. Front Royal was just about 20 miles down the road from Winchester, and still has a wealth of Civil War history still preserved. Others, still with much of it's land still much the way it looked back during the war, is, Tom's Brook, Fisher's Hill and the little town of Strasburg, Va., where 'progress' has been slow to creep in upon those little hamlets.

Regards,
SgtCSA
 
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Sgtcsa -

My tour included Front Royal. The Va. Civil War Trails organization has done a splendid job of interpreting a dozen or so sites. The tour is available on the internet.

Lucky for Cedar Creek, there's been ongoing preservation efforts for over a decade. Perhaps more important, preservation there is not yet competing with the bulldozer as much as in Winchester.

My tour also included Fishers Hill and Toms Brook (a.k.a. the Woodstock Races). My tour of Fishers Hill was excellent. There is a part preserved toward the western end of the field where Crook's flank attack hit, and the other parts of the field are mostly accessible and/or viewable. I disappointed myself at Toms Brook. My preparation didn't do the battle justice, and thus the area remains to be done in greater detail. The only sources I could find were Wert, From Third Winchester to Cedar Creek, which has a 3 or 4 page analysis, and Shenandoah County in the Civil War, which I found confusing. The best source I had was a Collier map on the battle.

I was a little disappointed in Strasburg, although it remains a nice town. Banks Fort, the primary fortification, is a water tower surrounded by housing. There are only remnants of the earthworks in the area.
 

sgtcsa

Cadet
Joined
Mar 8, 2005
Location
Blaine, Wa.
Russ,
I hope, through it all, you enjoyed your trip. Virginia has much to offer in the way of battlefield sightings. There has been so much lost to, as you put it, the bulldozer, but there has also been many an acre saved, although there is still much left to be saved. Whether that can be accomplished or not, is anyone's guess at this time. 'Progress', if that's what you can call it, still seems to overwhelm a lot of the region, and that is a very sad thing. As I said, I grew up around that area, and it really breaks my heart to see so much destroyed. Winchester, especially, has just exploded with so many folks moving to the area from out of State, or from the DC area, and it's putting a severe strain on efforts to preserve what sites are still left.

My brother still lives in a small town close by, named Woodstock, where it's still rather small, but it is growing, but at least at a smaller pace than many other parts of the area. As for Strasburg, it too, seems to be growing, with folks getting away from that dreaded, wall to wall people factory, known as DC., and with it, the destruction of parts of the battlefield areas that can never be replaced. It is so sad to see. The little museum there in Strasburg was interesting. It is in the old train station, just as you came into town. Front Royal too, has the Warren County rifles museum, which is quite good, and the cottage that was Belle Boyd's.

Much of the area of Tom's Brook is still undisturbed, and much of it still in pretty much the same condition is was during the battle. Although I noticed some houses beginning to sprout up in some areas, that weren't there a few years ago. So, that too, is in the beginning stages of the 'dozer.

PS I also belong to the Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation, and the Cedar Creek Brigade, where I am a Lieutenant in that organization.

Respectfully,
SgtCSA
 
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