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Battlefield plight gains national attention
Spotsylvania plays big part in National Geographic's April issue on Civil War battlefields succumbing to sprawl

 The Wilderness battlefield in Spotsylvania and Orange counties is vulnerable to development's march, the Civil War Preservation Trust warns. Spotsylvania's Fawn Lake subdivision was built on Civil War sites.
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Date published: 3/17/2005

By RUSTY DENNEN

Magazine adds perspective to debate over key Civil War sites in Spotsylvania

National Geographic magazine has put Spotsylvania County on the map.

In the just-released April issue, the county is featured prominently in a 23-page story about Civil War battlefields being gobbled up by sprawl.

"Civil War Battlefields: Saving the Landscapes of America's Deadliest War," by Adam Goodheart, will go to the magazine's 6.6 million-plus subscribers worldwide.

Goodheart quickly puts Spotsylvania's wartime role, and subsequent preservation challenges, in perspective.

"Places that were at the front lines 140 years ago--Manassas, Antietam, Gettysburg--are at the front lines again today," he wrote.

"Exactly at a moment when Americans seem more interested than ever in finding connections to the wartime past, much of that past is in danger of being lost. Nowhere is this more true than in Spotsylvania County"

With a population topping 112,000, it is the state's third-fasted growing county.

Last summer, Goodheart donned a Confederate uniform to take part in a re-enactment of the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, held at Belvedere Plantation, a farm in the county's New Post area.

He stopped at well-known local Civil War sites--Salem Church, Jackson's Flank Attack, and Chancellorsville--accompanied by John Hennessy, chief historian of Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park.

"I think this is one of the first times in a popular forum that Spotsylvania has been so rightly identified as the cradle of so much that was significant" during the war, Hennessy said yesterday.

"My greatest hope for an article like this is that people in the community will read it. Sometimes when you live here you don't realize what a big deal it is," Hennessy said. "All of us live in the midst of something that is incredibly significant" and disappearing.

Salem Church--where Confederates led by Gen. Robert E. Lee stopped Union army Gen. John Sedgwick's advance during the Battle of Chancellorsville in May 1863--is an example, and something not lost on visitors.

Goodheart saw it, noting, "The ground that Lee's men fought to defend now sits beneath a Hardee's, a Chick-fil-A, and an empty grocery store."


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