Friday, March 13, 2009

An Island of Preservation in a Sea of Development

Yesterday on my way back from the Washington D.C. area I decided to stop at Manassas National Battlefield. I had not been to Manassas in about 10 years, so I thought I'd drop in and see if anything had changed. To my surprise and delight the Visitor's Center had been remodeled and a new exhibit gallery displayed an impressive assortment of artifacts. Also new was a movie, "The End of Innocence," which was narrated by Richard Dreyfus and was quite well done. While browsing the local attractions brochure rack I saw one for the Bristoe Station Battlefield. The battlefield was only about 10 miles or so from Manassas, and with some time on my hands, I decided I would stop by and see what was going on.

Bristoe Station has a special significance for me because it is where one of my ancestors, Joel Harmon Tedder of the 26th North Carolina Infantry Regiment, was taken as a prisoner of war. Joel Tedder was from Wilkes County, North Carolina. He had enlisted in Co. C of the 26th in August of 1861. His service records indicates that he was 5'11'' had a dark complexion, grey eyes, and brown hair. After being captured on October 14, 1863, he was sent to Old Capitol Prison in Washington D.C. While at Old Capitol Prison he was treated at both Kalorama and Lincoln General Hospitals for variola (the virus that causes smallpox). He was finally sent to Fort Delaware Prison in June of 1864 and stayed there until he was released on June 15, 1865; two months after Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox.

Sadly, like much of northern Virginia, the Bristoe Station area has changed dramatically since the Civil War. Houses, apartment complexes, strip malls, and parking lots have swallowed up much of what was once very rural. Now I am no opponent of progress, but I am against development that invades these hallowed grounds where so many men fought, bled, and died for their respective countries. At present the Bristoe Station Battlefield is literally an island of preservation in a sea of development. In fact, you have to drive through a newly built subdivision on Iron Brigade Unit Avenue, then turn onto 10th Alabama Lane to get to the parking lot. At the parking lot a kiosk is provided with trail maps...unfortunately for me, they had not been restocked, and none were available.

As you walk the outlined trail toward the railroad where the heavy action occurred, the sounds of hammers and saws are a constant interruption to the battlefield experience. Don't get me wrong...I am thrilled that Prince William County and the Civil War Preservation Trust is making efforts to preserve, protect, and interpret this 133 acres of battlefield ground, I only wish that development would have been more respectful and not have encroached so closely. So, to Prince William County and the CWPT I give a big huzzah, but to the contractors and builders I say... please be more respectful of our history in the future.

If you want to know what YOU can do for battlefield preservation please see the CWPT's website at Thanks in advance for you support.

1 comment:

  1. Hey,my mother was a Tedder and I have did a lot of research on them.Joel Harmon Tedder is a hero of mine.He was my great great grandmother's brother.Would love to hear from Tim Talbott.
    Joy Adams