battlefield hike

9 12 2010

[a lost september post]

Lots of early US history is like a vague cloud for me, with the occasional clear, very filled-in bits. I have a terrible, bobbly head for remembering dates and names, which made History a woeful subject until my university years. But give me a good biography, a great history professor, a foreign language, or great literature, so that historical facts are illuminated by context, and I’m all in.

So this is a surprise: after living here for about 18 months, I’ve decided that one of the really great things about living in Virginia is the history. Now, you may be thinking, History? Boring/Hate it or Please, history is Everywhere. But having lived in many places over the years, I think that Virginia has an amazing number of especially well-preserved, accessible historical sites.

chancellor battlefield - trenches

A few places have admission fees that are a bit expensive for Average Jane Citizen, but many sites are simply held by trusts or by the state park/national park system and are cheap or even FREE to visit. Lovely for a family on a tight budget.

Example? We went for a drive one cool & misty September morning and found the Chancellor Battlefield National Military Park (US Civil War site). Free, with perfect trails for a wobbly toddler to manage.

acorns closeup

Bebe was delighted to hand me acorn after green acorn, which he found scattered all over the trail. Sometimes wind in the branches also made acorns plop down onto our heads or shoulders, which after the first couple of flinches was pretty funny.

acorn in hollow tree

You might not expect an old battlefield, once soaked by violence and death, to feel serene. Yet it was: wind-rustling, bird-chirping, leaf-dripping peace, broken by the frequent, happy squawk from Bebe as he found a new stick or acorn.


We read trailside plaques on old encampments; trenches of each opposing army; vanished building sites; and stories of victory and loss. Three hours on an easy trail through forest, bits of bog, meadows, and back in a loop to our starting point. Clouds clearing to lovely blue sky. Perfect Sunday morning.




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