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Dignitaries celebrate Upperville battlefield, Goose Creek Bridge preservation

Gov. Terry McAuliffe is joined by children from Middleburg Montessori School in a ribbon cutting ceremony. Times-Mirror/Chantalle Edmunds
Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) joined representatives from the Civil War Trust and NOVA Parks Wednesday to announce that almost 20 acres of the Upperville battlefield, around and including historic Goose Creek Bridge in Loudoun County, will be preserved.

The two land preservation groups, the Civil War Trust and NOVA Parks, along with the Fauquier and Loudoun Garden Club and the Virginia Department of Transportation, are credited with saving the 19.8 acres, which will be conserved for future generations. Former U.S. Sen. John Warner donated 12 acres beside the bridge to the Garden Club years ago, and local preservation advocate Ann MacLeod of Upperville was also thanked for her efforts to preserve the bridge site.

The historic Goose Creek Bridge was built around 1802, when Thomas Jefferson was serving his first term as U.S. president. The bridge is 212 feet long and is one of four stone-arch bridges left in Virginia. It figured prominently in the Battle of Upperville, a cavalry and artillery duel fought on June 21, 1863, and a prelude to the Gettysburg Campaign.

Col. Strong Vincent and the 20th Maine Infantry, later heroes of Little Round Top, faced Confederate cavalry at Goose Creek Bridge, whose job was to delay the Union army and prevent it from crossing into the Shenandoah Valley. Federal forces forced Confederate Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart’s horse soldiers to retire to the next high ground to the west. Many of the same players involved in the skirmish at Upperville went on to fight in the war’s deadliest battle, Gettysburg.

McAuliffe was joined overlooking the battlefield by Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward, Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D), Civil War Trust President O. James Lighthizer and NOVA Parks Board Member Cate Magennis Wyatt.

Lighthizer told those gathered that the trust has preserved more than 47,000 acres of battlefield land in 24 states. Wednesday's preservation at Upperville, Lighthizer said, was the culmination of a long effort beginning in 1958. “We are celebrating a partnership with NOVA Parks,” he said. The trust bought the land and “NOVA Parks manage and steward the land,” he added.

The trust, a national nonprofit, has already preserved 3,500 acres from early Gettysburg campaign sites at Brandy Station, Aldie, Middleburg and Upperville.

Randall thanked the governor, Civil War Trust and NOVA Parks for making the land preservation a reality, adding the battlefield would be a great addition to the existing network of historic sites.

Outgoing Gov. McAuliffe spoke about his legacy of protecting more than 1,300 natural, cultural, recreational and conservation-centered “treasures,” under his administration’s Virginia Treasures initiative.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) with Civil War re-enactment soldiers from NOVA Parks’ black-powder gun crew. Times-Mirror/Chantalle Edmunds

“The battlefields are a living classroom… no one forgets the sacrifices here,” McAuliffe said. They are also important to the state’s tourism industry, when people visit the battlefields they stay longer and spend more money, he said.

McAuliffe, who arrived by helicopter, then took part in a ceremonial ribbon-cutting assisted by local children from Middleburg Montessori School.

The governor joined Civil War re-enactment soldiers from NOVA Parks’ black-powder gun crew to fire a mountain howitzer.

The Battle of Upperville involved 10,000 soldiers, with casualties estimated at 400. The result was inconclusive.


Preserve Battlefields but not statues? McAulliffe is a big fat phoney!!

Not enough fiber in Upperville, it’s safe for now.

Looks like a great place for us to build some data centers!  Amirite Supervisors?

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