Washington column for March 15

Rappahannock’s past on the map

TROOP MOVEMENT: Three of the four new Civil War Trails markers installed recently – bringing the county’s total to 18 – surround the kiosk at the Rappahannock County Visitors Center.
John R. Tole
TROOP MOVEMENT: Three of the four new Civil War Trails markers installed recently – bringing the county’s total to 18 – surround the kiosk at the Rappahannock County Visitors Center.

Local sites related to the Civil War are being permanently commemorated in a series of roadside markers from the nationally recognized Virginia Civil War Trails program. Five new markers were installed last week bringing the current total to 19.

Another 14 markers are to be installed later this year. Each sign gives an encapsulated overview of events or persons in or about Rappahannock in the War Between the States. The stories are many and varied, including: the occupation by a northern army with civilian deprivations, the march of Lee’s Confederate Army to and from the Battles of Gettysburg and Second Manassas/Antietam, African-American experiences, heroics of Mosby’s Rangers, the dedication of Rappahannock’s citizen-soldiers, and more.

Marker sites and stories have been chosen not only for historical significance but also to draw visitors to nearly every corner of the county.

Four of the newly installed markers were placed around the information kiosk at the Visitors Center. Three of the panels describe several aspects of the month-long 1862 occupation of Rappahannock County by the Union Army of Virginia. During this period, a massive encampment centered near the Visitors Center site extended for several miles to the south and east. The fourth sign commemorates Company B. of the 6th Virginia Cavalry, the “Rappahannock Old Guard,” who carried their unique flag to victory at Cedarville in the concluding action of the May 1862 Battle of Front Royal.

The fifth new marker is located on the west side of the parking lot at Union First Market Bank on U.S. 211. The marker describes the daily drills of the Union Army on the fields to the south and east of the bank, and St. Peter’s Catholic Church next door, during the summer of 1862.

Work to erect the eventual 30-plus markers has been underway for seven years, funded by a VDOT Transportation Enhancement Project grant with in-kind contributions from the county for parking at the Visitors Center and several remote site improvements. Additional in-kind support came from Scott Schlosser, technology and manufacturing instructor, and his students at RCHS, who constructed the visitor kiosk and generated the beautiful wooden renditions of the county seal and the Civil War Trails logo that adorn the structure.

BANK SHOT: A new Civil War Trails marker looks out from the parking lot of Union First Market Bank on U.S. 211, on the site of Union troop reviews in the summer of 1862.
John R. Tole
BANK SHOT: A new Civil War Trails marker looks out from the parking lot of Union First Market Bank on U.S. 211, on the site of Union troop reviews in the summer of 1862.

Throughout the lengthy process, County Administrator John McCarthy has negotiated endless bureaucratic hoops with customary grace. Project manager John Tole, of Evergreen Systems, LLC, and president of the Rappahannock Historical Society, has donated more than 1,800 hours of in-kind labor for research, site identification, property owner negotiations, graphic design and responses to what have sometimes seemed to be infinite miles of red-tape associated with a federally funded grant. Judith Tole, Historical Society Executive Director, has also provided tireless research and editorial assistance.

Major private donations from Pat Saltonstall, for sites related to African-American experiences, and Russell Hitt, for a marker at the Confederate Monument, and Kevin and Ronni McCrohan for the Battle Mountain sign, have allowed significant expansion of the project’s scope beyond original plans.

County tourism should noticeably benefit as the markers become included in nationally distributed maps and brochures from the Civil War Trails program. These brochures as well as one devoted specifically to the local sites and other orientation materials are available at the Visitor’s Center and the Rappahannock Historical Society. Additional information will be provided on the county and historical society websites.

Further interpretative panels at the kiosk will elaborate on the huge Union encampment there, and provide information on war experiences of some individual Rappahannock citizens. The temporary orientation map and associated key will also soon have permanent replacements.

Details on each of the individual markers will appear in subsequent published vignettes over the coming year.

Washington women featured in culinary event

Last Saturday (March 10), Rachel Hayden, director of public relations at The Inn at Little Washington, and Susan James, Stonyman Gourmet Farmer’s owner/farmer, were featured in “Celebrate Food: Salute to Women in Gastronomy,” presented by Les Dames d’Escoffier International’s Washington, D.C. chapter, at the University of Maryland at Shady Grove. The keynote speaker was Sara Moulton, food editor of ABC-TV’s “Good Morning America.”

Hayden participated on a six-member panel on “How Restaurants Evolve and Change with the Times,” in which restaurateurs talked about unusual situations they’ve encountered and how they decided on changing menus and designs while staying true to their basic concepts.

James conducted a hands-on cooking and cheese-making class in the university culinary department’s “kitchen theatre.” The class practiced the basics of making fresh cheese and explored the world of savory and dessert cheeses. Emphasis was placed on the French tradition of fromage frais used in preparing the legendary Cervelle des Canuts, sauces, and Compote des fruits and Tartes aux fraises. She was assisted by food writers Drew Faulkner and Alba Johnson, and Vermilion pastry chef Beverly Bates.

WVF&R breakfast

They’re calling for more spring weather on Saturday (March 17), so begin your St. Patrick’s Day celebration with a home-cooked, all-you-can-eat breakfast at the Washington Volunteer Fire and Rescue from 7 to 11 a.m. prepared by fire and rescue personnel. Admission $8 ($4 ages 4 to 10); ages 3 and younger eat free. All proceeds are used to fund daily operations. Call 540-675-3615 for more information.

Happy wishes

Birthday wishes go out to a special little girl, Aubrey Taylor Burke. She will celebrate her day on Sunday (March 18). Also wishes go out to Stacy Clark, who will celebrate his day on Monday (March 19), and to Ray Gooch, who will celebrate his birthday on Friday, March 23. Hey, Ray! (And you thought I would forget.)

Belated birthday wishes go out to Beverly Sullivan, who celebrated her special day on Monday, March 12.

Lenten services

Don’t forget the Ecumenical Lenten Services are still being held at the Washington Baptist Church. the next service will be on March 21, with speaker Rev. Phil Bailey and music by United Methodist churches. The covered-dish dinner will start at 6 p.m. and the worship service at 7 p.m. The joint Lenten services have been held in the town of Washington for more than 30 years, and all are welcome. For more information, call the Washington Baptist Church at 540-675-3336.

Winter’s end

Winter ends  and spring begins on March 20, and I would like to leave this thought for the day: Winter is a time to enjoy feeding the birds and squirrels and walking in the snow . . .  but winter, like everything else, doesn’t last forever. If winter was forever, all the energy and potential would reach its limits and inertia would set in. And so, slowly but surely, the cycle turns; everything moves on. Everything has its own time, its own season. Remember, the end of something good means the start of . . . something else good. All you have to do is be connected and in tune with the natural flow of nature’s energies.

Enjoy the beauty of spring!