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Stafford developer takes note of Civil War history at shopping center
Date published: 12/29/2006
By RUSTY DENNEN
A brown stucco gazebo sits just off White Oak Road in front of the Town & Country Market Place shopping center in southern Stafford County.
Developer Malone Schooler, whose company built the shopping center, wanted it out front. But until about a year ago, he didn't know exactly what he wanted in it.
As shopping-center gazebos go, this one is unusual because it has nothing to do with the stores behind it. It's a venue for customers to get a quick Civil War history lesson.
On a granite slab, which is lighted at night, are plaques that explain what happened to men in blue and gray early in the war when Stafford was home to 130,000 Union troops.
"It's been a year in the planning," said Schooler, whose great-great-grandfather George Washington Newton fought with the Confederacy's 47th Virginia Infantry.
Schooler, president of the Malone Schooler Co., was contacted by two history-minded cousins and fellow Stafford natives, D.P. Newton, proprietor of the White Oak Civil War Museum, and Alvin Newton, a local welder. They asked him to consider putting up a display to explain the land's rich past.
D.P. Newton's great-grandfather William B. Newton served in the 30th Virginia Infantry, and Alvin Newton's great-great grandfather Abraham Franklin Newton served in the 47th Virginia Infantry.
One of the plaques reads:
In the winter of 1862-1863 following the Battle of Fredericksburg, Col. Edward Harland's Union brigade camped on this site. Six infantry regiments comprised the brigade: the 4th Rhode Island and the 8, 11, 15, 16 and 21st Connecticut.
The brigade had been held in reserve at Fredericksburg and took just 40 casualties there, many from Union artillery shells that exploded prematurely overhead
The other marker mentions a house near the property.
"Little Whim," the [William] Wallace house, served as Gen. Burns' headquarters and was located adjacent to Col. Harland's encampments. The small valley east of the house became known to locals as Burnside's Bottom and later as Lipstick Valley."
It goes on to say that during the war, much of White Oak Road (State Route 218) was a "corduroy road" built of logs overlaid with brush, then dirt.