They Didn’t Execute Me

I had a wonderful time last night up in Fredericksburg where I presented a talk on Confederate military executions to the Rappahannock Valley CWRT.  About 45-50 people showed up for the dinner and talk.  Before dinner I had a nice chat with historian Richard L. Dinardo.  As for the talk they were very attentive and their questions were first rate; the group has given me plenty to think about.  I was both surprised and pleased to see that the group uses evaluation forms for each speaker, which makes it easier to decide if there will be a return performance in the future.  Given the number of dreadful speakers I’ve heard at my roundtable I made sure to take a copy to give to our president.  There is nothing worse than knowing that you gave up a couple of hours in the evening for nothing.  Luckily I didn’t have to wait for the evaluations to get a sense of whether I would be asked back next year; I am already on the schedule for March 2008. 

On a different note I was horrified to see the continued urban sprawl that is making its way west along Rt. 3.  The shopping malls are popping up everywhere.  One of my favorite stops whenever a give a tour of the Chancellorsville battlefield is the Zoan Church.  Now I haven’t been to Fredericksburg in about a year, but there is a brand new up-scale community right behind the church.  There seems to be no end to it and, more importantly, there doesn’t seem to be a way to stop it. 

It was a long drive home, but definitely worth it. 

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5 comments add yours

  1. Agreed on the sprawl part. It is to me amazing that the F’burg area prides itself on its CW history and seeks to attract tourists to see its 4 major battlefields, but then fouls its own nest by allowing unbelievable development all over. That exit at 95 & 3 is almost a caricature of sprawl!

  2. Actually John I don’t think there is any contradiction at all between the increased number of mall and the pretensions of Civil War preservation. If it coming out of the chamber of commerce than it is all about economic development and nothing more.

  3. As a Fredericksburg resident (only part-time these days), I feel the need to throw in my two cents. The area has changed so much just in the eight years that I’ve lived in the area. Traffic has gotten out of control and the cost of living has shot through the roof. Northern Virginia is moving South.

    My parents’ home is actually less than a mile from the Spotsylvania battlefield, which has been relatively undisturbed, but even that is changing. I think, given the recent decline in the housing market, area leaders are starting to realize that they need to forget about new home construction for a while and start solving traffic problems. Given their short-sighted development policies, there are only so many places to go. Unfortunately, battlefields are one of them. I wish someone had foreseen this situation 15-20 years ago.

  4. Economics trumps all, so if you want preservation, then you’ll have to play by the rules of economics. In other words, you’ll have to buy the land yourselves either privately, possibly through trusts like this

    http://www.civilwar.org/

    , or publicly by getting the local government to increase taxes or set aside some taxes for preservation. It seems unfortunate that this is the only option, but then again, I can’t see how else would work given our private ownership rights, laws, society, and culture.

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