New Forces Wipe out Civil War Memories; Development, Neglect Take Toll on Many Sites

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), April 7, 2005 | Go to article overview

New Forces Wipe out Civil War Memories; Development, Neglect Take Toll on Many Sites


Byline: Charles Hoskinson, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Hidden between the Fairfax Towne Center shopping mall, hundreds of town houses and a handful of office buildings in one of Fairfax County's busiest urban districts is a small 4.6-acre park with two tombstonelike monuments.

That park is all that remains of a fierce battle in which more than 2,000 Americans were wounded or killed, including a general who in his day was as famous as Norman Schwarzkopf and Colin Powell are in ours.

The area around Washington, especially Northern Virginia, was the scene of some of the Civil War's fiercest fighting. Today, on the eve of the 140th anniversary of the Confederate surrender at Appomattox, evidence of that fighting, along with the graves of those who took part, remains amid the sprawl of one of the nation's fastest-growing metropolitan regions.

Much, too, has been lost to time and development - and sometimes forgotten.

It's not easy to understand today what happened Sept. 1, 1862, on the Chantilly battlefield. Town houses stand in the fields where, in a raging thunderstorm, Union Brig. Gen. Isaac Stevens and Maj. Gen. Philip Kearny sent their troops charging into a Confederate force seeking to cut the Union army off from Washington.

The Confederates, under Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, were lined up along the high ground where the Towne Center stands near the corner of West Ox Road and Monument Drive. Stevens was cut down when he grabbed a flag and urged his men forward. Kearny, a one-armed Mexican War hero celebrated for his bravery and style, died when he mistakenly rode into Confederate lines and was shot trying to escape.

The two monuments in the park, erected in 1915, stand where Stevens fell. The site of Kearny's death has become a parking lot for town houses.

* * *

Historians and preservationists point to the Chantilly battlefield as a textbook example of both the wealth of Civil War history in the Washington area and the danger urban growth poses to that heritage.

"A near-total obliteration of a Civil War battlefield," says Jim Lighthizer, head of the Civil War Preservation Trust, as he surveys what's left of the Chantilly site.

"The opportunity to understand in any significant way what happened at Chantilly is gone," adds Gary Gallagher, a history professor at the University of Virginia.

Saturday marks the 140th anniversary of Gen. Robert E. Lee's surrender to Union forces at Appomattox in 1865, effectively ending the Civil War. Yet the war's effects still resonate in U.S. society in areas as diverse as the lines between state and federal power and race relations.

Issues and events that fill today's headlines, such as affirmative action, states' rights and even the nation's political divide, are echoes of those that sparked war in 1861.

"We're still struggling with that in many ways," says Mr. Gallagher, an expert on the Civil War.

"The Civil War is inarguably the defining time in our history," Mr. Lighthizer says. "It's where we came from. It's what we're about."

* * *

A 2002 survey for the Fairfax County Park Authority identified 583 sites related to the Civil War in the county, among them the scenes of historical milestones that have affected not just the United States, but the entire world.

Preserving those sites preserves the history contained within them for future generations, Mr. Gallagher says.

"There simply is not a better place to make a connection to the past. They're wonderful to get people to understand in a broader sense what was at stake for the United States," he says.

Many Washington-area residents are unaware of the history around them, Mr. Gallagher says. "I think that's a very common phenomenon. We have very short historical memories in the United States."

With many sites, however, there needs to be compromise and balance between the need for preservation of sites of national as well as local importance and the needs of a growing community, Mr. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

New Forces Wipe out Civil War Memories; Development, Neglect Take Toll on Many Sites
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.