Tag Archives: Virginia history

History in Our Backyard Chapter 12: Beef on the Hoof

Both Napoleon and Frederick the Great have been credited with the saying “An army marches on its stomach.”  Provisioning an army, especially one that numbered over 125,000 – the size of the Army of the Potomac at the beginning of General U.S. Grant’s Overland Campaign in May 1864 – would prove to be a monumental logistical challenge.

Fresh beef – 1¼ pounds daily according to the US War Department Army Regulations – was an important component of the Federal Civil War soldier’s ration.  The most practical way to furnish beef to campaigning soldiers was to have herds of cattle march with the army.

Exhibit 16 Cattle Crossing the Rapidan River

So how much beef was needed?  An estimate given by Lt. Colonel C. W. Tolles in 1864 stated “A bullock will furnish about 450 rations, so that an army of 100,000 men needs over two hundred beef cattle for its supply.”  Based on 450 rations per head of beef, an army of 125,000 men consumed 278 head of beef daily.

At least 6,000 head crossed the Rapidan River with the Army of the Potomac in early May of 1864.  These 6,000 documented head produced approximately 2.7 million rations, enough to supply an army of 125,000 for 21½ days.

The 6,000 head were gathered from holding pens in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Washington, D.C.  How did 6,000 head of cattle get to the Army of the Potomac for the Overland Campaign?

An excerpt from Feeding a Great Army ” in the United States Service Magazine in February 1880 by Brevet Brigadier General Thomas Wilson tells how:

“…to carry out my orders of supply, it would be necessary to have sent up to the front from Alexandria, some 50 miles distant, about 6,000 head of beef cattle, with the forage, corn in the ear, and hay necessary to subsist them until the march began, and this feat had to be accomplished between one Friday morning and the next Tuesday night; or, in other words… an average of 1,200 head of beef cattle had to be sent daily by me for five days, with the necessary forage for their maintenance.

The existing capacity of the Orange and Alexandria Railroad in cattle cars was, at this time, for only 300 head daily…

The sudden call and the subsequent remarkable feat of shipping 6,000 cattle over this road of a single track, in the time required and with its limited resources was accomplished by the authorities seizing all the flat cars within reach and placing fences around them…  In this manner, 1,800 head were sent up in one day of twenty-four hours.  At one time during the shipment an endless train of cattle cars was in transit, most of the railroad sidings being filled with them…  We received all the cattle asked for before the time needed.

Three hundred men were kept constantly employed in unloading the cattle cars on their arrival at the front, so that the emptied cars might be sent back without delay.”

The herds and animals that we see today in the rural parts of Spotsylvania and Orange Counties are insignificant when compared to those that travelled with General Grant.  The Army of the Potomac had more than 50,000 horses and mules and at least 6,000 head of beef.  Big armies meant big numbers.

Author: Rod Lackey
Date: July 2018

Read Previous Chapter 11: the Unfinished Railroad in the Battle of the Wilderness

Whether you’re looking for homes for sale in Lake of the Woods VA or Waterfront property in Virginia we are your Real Estate Advisors for Stafford, Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, Locust Grove, Central Virginia, and Greater Virginia. Thinking of selling? In any market condition, “what is my home worth?” is the #1 question asked by home owners. If you wish to sell your home, it needs to be sold for top dollar and in a timely manner. Pricing your home accurately, Pat will partner with you to make the selling process so much easier. Get started today by calling us at (540) 388-2541 or contact Pat Licata.

To see available Lake of the Woods properties, please visit our site.

History in Our Backyard Chapter 11: the Unfinished Railroad in the Battle of the Wilderness

Chapter 10 described the history of the “unfinished railroad.”  This article tells how it was used during one of the Civil War’s battles.

Exhibit 14 General Wadsworth Monument

May 6, 1864 was a day of changing fortunes as the Union fought the Confederates along Orange Plank Rd.  It began with a 5 AM attack by the Union II Corps, reinforced by divisions from V and VI Corps, under command of General Hancock.  The attack drove General A.P. Hill’s III Corps from its positions.  They fled west towards Parker’s Store.  The 7 AM arrival of General Longstreet’s I Corps stemmed the rout.  Longstreet’s counter attack at Tapp Field drove the Federals back toward their starting positions to the east.  By 10 AM the two armies were at a standstill facing each other astride Orange Plank in the vicinity of the monument to Union General James Wadsworth.

Exhibit 15: Unfinished Railroad Cut

General Lee sent his Chief Engineer, General Smith, to see if there was a way to break the stalemate.  Smith and his party walked east along the unfinished railroad, which lay south of the Union’s flank. Both armies were aware of the unfinished railroad about ¼ mile south of and parallel to Orange Plank.  In the chaos of battle, neither army had thought about using it as an attack route, or about defending it against such an attack, until Smith’s reconnaissance.  Smith found the railroad grade undefended.  He returned and reported his findings to Longstreet. 

Longstreet sent four brigades to attack the Union flank under the command of his aide Lt. Col. Sorrel.  Sorrel arranged the men along the railroad grade and, when all men were in position, began the attack shortly after 11 AM.  It burst upon the Union flank in total surprise.  In addition, as soon as the fighting started on the flank, Longstreet’s remaining troops attacked the Union’s front.

McAlister’s brigade on the Union flank was first to feel the Confederate onslaught.  It was quickly routed.  Soon all eight Union brigades south of Orange plank had collapsed like dominos.  Union General Wadsworth, in command of Union forces north of Orange Plank, heroically attempted to organize a defense on the north side of the road.  It was to no avail leaving him mortally wounded.  By 12:30 PM, all Union positions had been overrun with the defenders withdrawing east to Brock Road or north to the Lacy House (Ellwood Manor).

The Confederate’s success quickly turned to failure.  While riding to the front to direct a continued advance, General Longstreet was accidentally shot by soldiers of the 12th Virginia of Mahone’s Brigade. While he survived, it wasn’t until four hours later that the Confederates were able to reorganize and resume the attack.  By then the Union had strengthened its defenses along Brock Road.  The renewed attack failed.  In addition to the short term loss, it would be months before Longstreet recovered sufficiently to resume command.

Author: John Bell

Date: July 2018

Read Previous Chapter. Chapter 10: The Unfinished Railroad

Continue to Chapter 12: Beef on the Hoof

Whether you’re looking for homes for sale in Lake of the Woods VA or Waterfront property in Virginia we are your Real Estate Advisors for Stafford, Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, Locust Grove, Central Virginia, and Greater Virginia. Thinking of selling? In any market condition, “what is my home worth?” is the #1 question asked by home owners. If you wish to sell your home, it needs to be sold for top dollar and in a timely manner. Pricing your home accurately, Pat will partner with you to make the selling process so much easier. Get started today by calling us at (540) 388-2541 or contact Pat Licata.

To see available Lake of the Woods properties, please visit our site.

History in Our Backyard Chapter 10: The “Unfinished Railroad”

The term “unfinished railroad” refers to the roadbed without track that existed during the Civil War.  This article will give a brief description of its history. Another article will discuss its use specifically during the Civil War period.

Exhibit 12 Standard Gauge (left) vs. Narrow Gauge

The “unfinished railroad” had a role in the Civil War, but later it was two different working railroads run on the same roadbed. Although incorporated in 1853 no track had been laid as the Civil War began. Running between Orange and Fredericksburg, it existed under several names and configurations existing operationally from 1877 until 1984. The first line was narrow gauge, best known as the Potomac, Fredericksburg and Piedmont Railroad (PF&P). It provided passenger and freight service for almost fifty years. The second venture was standard gauge. It also hauled freight and passengers under the name of the Virginia Central Railway between 1927 to1937 and freight within Fredericksburg until 1984.

Incorporated in 1853, the Fredericksburg and Gordonsville Railroad Company’s (FGRRC’s) “purpose was to build a railroad between Fredericksburg and Gordonsville or Orange Court House in order to connect with the rail lines already running to Gordonsville.” The company failed by November 1857.  Road grading from Fredericksburg on 18 miles of the project had taken place by the time of the Civil War but no track had been laid, thus the “unfinished railroad” term. The project was resurrected in 1871. Some progress was made by the new company, however, after many delays, the State took possession of the railroad in December of 1873. It restored the property to the original owner, the FGRRC. In March 1876 the railroad was again reorganized and the name changed to the Potomac, Fredericksburg and Piedmont (PF&P), best known to locals as the “Poor Folks, and Preachers” due to its clientele. The first train to Orange arrived on February 26th, 1877.

PF&P showed a profit for many years. 1910 proved a banner year with 18,000 passengers and $56,000 in freight revenue. The high point for number of employees was 63 in 1920 but the decline was coming. The automobile and the truck “offered portal to portal service and substantial reductions in labor costs.” Furthermore the line could not interchange freight with mainline connections. In 1925 the line was sold and reorganized as the Orange and Fredericksburg Railroad but that was quickly sold to Langhorne Williams, a Richmond banker. The new name was the Virginia Central and the first upgrade was to install standard gauge track in 1926.


Exhibit 13 PF&P Engine and Tender

The line generally operated at a loss until it petitioned the Interstate Commerce Commission in 1937 to abandon the 37 miles between Orange and West Fredericksburg. It would continue to operate one mile of track in Fredericksburg as a switching operation for 15 industrial customers.  The Williams family continued to operate that line until 1967 when it was transferred to the city. The line was quickly recognized as a white elephant and although several schemes promised a profit, in March of 1984 the ICC approved final abandonment

Three excellent sources of reading are “Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac Railroad Historical Society, Inc.” Volume 5, Issue 4, Fall 2009, “The Virginia Central Railway,” Ames Williams, pages 18-28, Remembering: A History of Orange County, Frank S. Walker Jr., pages 252-256 and “Tracks Through Time; A Railfan Tour of Orange County, Virginia”, Frank S. Walker Jr., page 20, a pamphlet available at the Orange County Visitor Center.

Author: Bob Lookabill
Date: July 2018

Read Previous Chapter 9: Robinson’s Tavern

Continue to Chapter 11: the Unfinished Railroad in the Battle of the Wilderness

Whether you’re looking for homes for sale in Lake of the Woods VA or Waterfront property in Virginia we are your Real Estate Advisors for Stafford, Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, Locust Grove, Central Virginia, and Greater Virginia. Thinking of selling? In any market condition, “what is my home worth?” is the #1 question asked by home owners. If you wish to sell your home, it needs to be sold for top dollar and in a timely manner. Pricing your home accurately, Pat will partner with you to make the selling process so much easier. Get started today by calling us at (540) 388-2541 or contact Pat Licata.

To see available Lake of the Woods properties, please visit our site.

History in Our Backyard Chapter 6: Relive the Battle of the Wilderness

Next month marks the 154th anniversary of one of the largest and most significant battles in America’s Civil War, the Battle of the Wilderness.  Conducted around, and sometimes on, our community’s grounds during the first week of May 1864, the battle is often considered the beginning of the end of the Confederacy.   This year, during the weekend of May 5 and 6, the National Park Service (NPS), in conjunction with local living history re-enactor organizations and the Friends of the Wilderness Battlefield, will offer to the public, free of charge, a full range of events and demonstrations commemorating this momentous battle. 

This event will be held on the grounds of Ellwood Manor, a restored plantation home located on Route 20, approximately a half mile from intersection of Route 20 and Route 3.   Participating in the weekend’s activities will be Confederate and Union infantry and cavalry re-enactors as well as individuals depicting key battle commanders such as Generals Ulysses Grant, George Meade, and Gouverneur Warren.   Each participating organization will set up a campsite near Ellwood that will allow you to view several demonstrations of camp life, including stepping into the life of a soldier or learning about the medical realities of war in the mid-19th century.

Exhibit 6 Ellwood Event Layout

Anyone who wants to learn more about this hallowed land where we live should not miss this event.  The activities will be held on the grounds of Ellwood each day on May 5 and 6 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; some will be ongoing and others scheduled at specific times, usually on the hour. 

There will be multiple infantry and cavalry battle demonstrations between the Confederate and Union re-enactors each day.  At 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. both days, the NPS will conduct live fire artillery demonstrations.  At 4 p.m. on Saturday, all of the infantry, cavalry, and artillery units will conduct a combined battle demonstration.  You don’t want to miss these!  Just prior to the midday firing demonstrations each day, you will be able to witness a major confrontation among Generals Grant, Meade, and Warren just as it may have occurred on May 5, 1863.  There will be opportunities to talk to each of the participants and plenty of photo ops in front of the manor house as well as with all re-enactors and horses.

Regardless of what you know about the Wilderness Battle or the Civil War writ large, you will leave Ellwood with a better understanding of and new perspectives about the events that occurred on this hallowed ground and how they affected the final outcome of the war less than a year later. 

For more information about this Living History event, you can visit the local NPS website (www.nps.gov.frsp) or the Friends of the Wilderness Battlefield website (www.fowb.org).  They will provide you with additional details about the events and participants, as well as the timeline for specific activities and demonstrations.   Mark your calendars – this weekend is a must see!

Author:  Dick Rankin
Date:  April 2018

Previous Chapter 5: An Oral History (Continued)

Continue to Chapter 7: Jackson’s Flank Attack & Wounding

Whether you’re looking for homes for sale in Lake of the Woods VA or Waterfront property in Virginia we are your Real Estate Advisors for Stafford, Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, Locust Grove, Central Virginia, and Greater Virginia. Thinking of selling? In any market condition, “what is my home worth?” is the #1 question asked by home owners. If you wish to sell your home, it needs to be sold for top dollar and in a timely manner. Pricing your home accurately, Pat will partner with you to make the selling process so much easier. Get started today by calling us at (540) 388-2541 or contact Pat Licata.

To see available Lake of the Woods properties, please visit our site.

Log Cabin in VA

Guide for New Yorkers Buying a Property in Virginia

One of the main reasons to move to Virginia is the great quality of life.

If you’re thinking about moving from New York City and buying a property in Virginia, you’re not the only one. A lot of New Yorkers are starting to look for a property in Virginia, and there are a lot of reasons why. One of them is an excellent offer of available jobs. Another is the high numbers of educated people in Virginia. People come to Orange County similar places to start a career and enjoy all that Virginia has to offer. Quiet and crowd-free beaches are a perfect spot to spend your Sunday afternoon at. Similarly, if you’re moving there with kids, you can be sure that there would be a lot of activities to do, like going to amusement parks or museums. 

If you want to find a good job, move to Northern Virginia. 

Since Northern Virginia is close to Washington D.C., you might want to consider buying a property there. This location is great when it comes to job opportunities and building your career. That’s because a lot of companies are moving into Northern Virginia, meaning that there will be and already are plenty of hiring opportunities for job seekers. If you’re trying to find a job in the government or technology, you’ll see that there are a lot of government agencies and IT companies there. Similarly, if you’re looking to open your own company and need suitable office space, there sure are plenty to find in Northern Virginia. Plus, you’ll be close to the nation’s capital, Washington D.C. 

Some other things that Northern Virginia has to offer to New Yorkers are gorgeous mountain views, nature preserves, and spots for camping. New York, on the other hand, is a busy place with plenty of stuff going on nonstop. Virginia, however, is the perfect getaway from all the hustle and bustle of a big city. You’ll have the best of both worlds: amazing career options and much more peaceful surroundings. 

If you’re ready to relocate and start a career in Virginia, you’ll need to find a home. Try searching for open houses and see if any meets your standards. 

Choose peaceful West Virginia when buying a property.

Cheat Lake, West Virginia, one of things worth buying a property in Virginia for

West Virginia has a lot to offer to those who enjoy the outdoors and a peaceful, natural surrounding.

West Virginia has a lot to offer to those who enjoy the outdoors and a peaceful, natural surrounding Alt tag: Cheat Lake, West Virginia, one of the things worth buying a property in Virginia for 

Moreover, if your main reason for moving out of New York City is to find a quieter place, the Appalachian Mountains or the coast are great locations. You can find impressive properties in small towns close to these areas and enjoy your daily peace and quiet. 

If you’re a true New Yorker, getting used to the calming natural surroundings and activities that can be done there can take some time. However, this need not be the case. You may discover that you actually quite enjoy nature and the mountainous regions. So, expect to make some lifestyle changes and don’t be afraid to try something new. You’ll have the opportunity to enjoy some planting and agriculture or go hiking in the mountains. Finally, get ready for some breathtaking natural views, especially in fall. You’ll feel like you’re in a fairy tale just by being surrounded by beautiful nature. 

All in all, buying a property in West Virginia is a great idea if you want to save up a bit since it is quite the contrary to the expensive lifestyle back in New York City. So, you’ll just need to find a good real estate agent to help you buy a house in Virginia that best suits your needs. 

Virginia is diverse, just like New York City.

diverse hands in a circle

Virginia is home to a diverse population that makes this state a beautiful place to live in.

One thing that won’t require plenty of adjusting is diversity in Virginia. Just like in New York City, Virginia is home to a richly diverse population that keeps on growing. There are a lot of Asian Americans as well as Hispanic Americans that live in Virginia. Moreover, many are still relocating there in large numbers. Virginia has become the place of choice for many immigrant families because of cheaper lifestyle and many job offers. That is why you won’t need to worry about buying a property there. Moreover you don’t need to worry about fitting in with the rest of the population. Virginia continues to be a welcoming place for people with all kinds of backgrounds and culture. Find a reliable moving company with experienced workers like the ones from divinemoving.com. With such professionals, moving to a new property in Virginia will actually be an enjoyable process. 

Great Education and Healthcare are worth buying a property for.

a doctor

You can count on great healthcare in Virginia. 

Northern Virginia is a place with many prestigious and award-winning hospitals. Similarly, a lot of Virginia’s healthcare institutions are nationally ranked thanks to their exceptional care. So, this alone should be the reason to consider buying a property in Virginia. 

Virginia also has the following organizations: 

  • Virginia Health Foundation 
  • The Virginia Association of Free and Charitable Clinics 

Moreover, the education system in Virginia is also impressive. Students have amazing results in almost every subject and public schools have high ranks. There are almost 170 universities and colleges which is why there are so many highly educated people. If you are a student or have children, you can be sure that moving to Virginia is a great idea. 

If you have bought a home in Virginia you’ll also need a good moving company. They will pack your belongings in cheap but secure boxes. In that way you won’t need to experience any stress during relocation. 

Low crime rates and great quality of life 

Due to the low crime rates and therefore, a great quality of life, you should certainly consider moving to Virginia. The feeling of being safe in your own home is an important factor to consider when buying a property. Part of the reason for Virginia’s good quality of life is the median income that is significantly higher than the nation’s average.  This is due to the fact that there is a large number of people with high education. 

In addition, Virginia has a lot of employment opportunities. That is why New Yorkers decide on relocating here and buying a property. 

Whether you’re looking for homes for sale in Lake of the Woods VA or Waterfront property in Virginia we are your Real Estate Advisors for Stafford, Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, Locust Grove, Central Virginia, and Greater Virginia. Thinking of selling? In any market condition, “what is my home worth?” is the #1 question asked by home owners. If you wish to sell your home, it needs to be sold for top dollar and in a timely manner. Pricing your home accurately, Pat will partner with you to make the selling process so much easier. Get started today by calling us at (540) 388-2541 or contact Pat Licata.

To see available Lake of the Woods properties, please visit our site.

History In Our Backyard: Chapter 2 The Wilderness – The Early Years

Initially, this series on History in Our Backyard described how the Wilderness became the Wilderness.  Now we will delve into the early inhabitants who came to what would become known as “The Wilderness.” All things Wilderness were synonymous with Alexander Spotswood, the colony’s Royal Lt Governor in the early 1700s. He initiated the economic progress of the region through his efforts to establish Germanna fort and an iron industry. One source states that “there, thirty miles from the last outlying farms, the Germans set to work, clearing a site on the riverbank and building a fortified town.” The same source references the fort being supplied by pack-trains of mules and horses.


Exhibit 2 Germanna Fort

Those same pack-trains were instrumental in his 1716 venture into the mountains to the west. His band of adventure-seeking explorers departed from the Germanna fort accompanied by animals laden with supplies including a healthy supply of spirits. He later awarded each participant with a golden horseshoe pin thereby identifying them as the “Knights of the Golden Horseshoe” for eternity.

At the time of Spotswood’s term as Lt Governor of Virginia in 1722, he had firmly established his presence in the area. Through a somewhat devious plan he had accumulated over 80,000 acres of land. Records show that he never sold a single acre of the land, choosing instead to lease lots, mostly in 50 acre parcels, a few in parcels of up to 500 acres.

English law at that time dictated that settlers construct a home and plant an orchard on their leased property within three years. They also had to clear and plant a minimum one-acre garden and/or cropland. Initially, many chose to plant tobacco. The Colony was cash-strapped in those days and tobacco became the medium of exchange in most commercial transactions.

A 1724 inventory of Spotswood’s properties shows that he owned his fort, his large home, dozens of farm animals and the basis of the iron works, namely the Tubal site, about 12 miles east of his residence. At Germanna, he established the first County seat of Spotsylvania and held court in his home. The presence of the court quickly brought its own society; travelers arrived routinely for appearances before the justices.

County courts developed “Order Books” in those days. Both the Spotsylvania and later Orange (after 1734) books contain references to orders issued to Spotswood, primarily dictating that he organize work crews to maintain the road to Germanna and the bridge over Wilderness Run, located near the present day intersection of State Route 3 and US 20. Local residents provided the labor for the crews, usually their slaves. Spotswood did maintain the ferry that operated over the Rapid Anne River, today’s Rapidan. He also maintained his own road from Germanna to the Tubal Iron Works.

Eventually, small enterprises sprang up in the area. Those that were not located at the Court complex would be found along the Germanna Road. Retail stores, grain mills, saw mills, post offices, wagon makers and leatherworks businesses all found their place. Physicians took up residence in the area and church spires began to become part of the local scenery. By 1725 there were 7 plantations alone in the area surrounding the Tubal Iron Works site. The new Wilderness society was beginning to take shape.

Author:  Bob Epp

Date:  September 2017

Read Previous Chapter 1: How the Wilderness Became the Wilderness

Continue to Chapter 3: Plantation Life in the Wilderness

Whether you’re looking for homes for sale in Lake of the Woods VA or Waterfront property in Virginia we are your Real Estate Advisors for Stafford, Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, Locust Grove, Central Virginia, and Greater Virginia. Thinking of selling? In any market condition, “what is my home worth?” is the #1 question asked by home owners. If you wish to sell your home, it needs to be sold for top dollar and in a timely manner. Pricing your home accurately, Pat will partner with you to make the selling process so much easier. Get started today by calling us at (540) 388-2541 or contact Pat Licata.

To see available Lake of the Woods properties, please visit our site.

History in Our Backyard: Chapter 1: How the Wilderness Became the Wilderness

Early May 1864 witnessed the first time that Confederate General Robert E. Lee and Union General Ulysses S. Grant – the two giants of the Civil War – met in battle in an area known then and forever more as the Wilderness.  The area had been known as the Wilderness for more than one hundred years before the Civil War but it was this bloody battle that would put the Wilderness on the map and in the history books forever.  What made these seventy square miles different from the rest of early Virginia?  How did the Wilderness become the Wilderness?  To answer these questions, we must go back to the early 1700’s when Virginia was still a British colony and Lieutenant Governor Alexander Spotswood envisioned starting an iron smelting industry in this area.

Spotswood arrived in Hampton Roads in June, 1710, after being appointed Lieutenant Governor of the Virginia Colony.  Iron ore was known to exist in the area that would become the Wilderness even before Spotswood arrived in Virginia.  The British Government at that time restricted manufacturing to the home islands and looked to the colonies to produce and export raw materials back to England while importing finished goods manufactured from those raw materials.  Despite the lack of permission from the British Government to smelt iron in the colonies, Spotswood initiated the iron smelting operation in Virginia anyway. His initiative was in fact the first attempt at moving away from an agricultural to an industrial based economy in Virginia and actually in any of the colonies.  

There are three elements in that land that are critical to the smelting of iron ore:  the ground must contain iron ore; there must be large forests for fuel, and water for power must be available.  All of these features were abundant in what was to become the Wilderness and Spotswood began acquiring land in this area shortly after his arrival in Virginia. Within just a couple years he controlled over 80,000 acres in present day Orange and Spotsylvania Counties. 

But there was still one feature missing before Spotswood could turn his dream into reality and that was the presence of experienced manpower that could conduct the smelting operations.  So he arranged for the emigration of German iron workers to Virginia; the first emigrants began arriving here in April, 1713.  They were the original settlers of the Germanna community, located on the south bank of the Rapidan River near today’s State Route 3 and Germanna Community College.  By 1715 Spotswood had established the Tubal Furnace below the confluence of the Rapidan and Rappahannock rivers and was smelting iron.  By 1750 there would be at least six blast furnaces smelting the area’s iron ore.

The smelting process required a fire hot enough to reach the iron ore’s melting point, 2,190 to 2,810 degrees Fahrenheit, and it had to be burning continuously for weeks at a time.  The amount of fuel for smelting the iron was enormous – nearly two acres of hardwood per ton of smelted iron – and some furnaces could burn as much as seven hundred acres of timber per year.  To obtain the fuel required clear cutting vast segments of the virgin forest in the area.  The second growth forest that sprang up afterward consisted of smaller, scrubbier trees which allowed the growth of ground covering vegetation.  The vines, briars, honeysuckle, poison ivy and other lower growing vegetation created an almost impenetrable wall of vegetation and resulted in the area, by at least 1750, becoming known as “The Wilderness.”  


Exhibit 1 The Wilderness Virginia

It was this second growth forest that was in place during the Civil War.  Although the 1863 Battle of Chancellorsville was fought in and around the Wilderness, it was really the first encounter of Lee and Grant in May 1864 – right in our backyard – that the iconic name of “The Wilderness” became forever etched in Civil War and American history.

Author:  Don Shockey

Date:  August 2017

Read Previous: History in Our Backyard: Introduction

Continue to Chapter 2: The Wilderness- The Early Years

Whether you’re looking for homes for sale in Lake of the Woods VA or Waterfront property in Virginia we are your Real Estate Advisors for Stafford, Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, Locust Grove, Central Virginia, and Greater Virginia. Thinking of selling? In any market condition, “what is my home worth?” is the #1 question asked by home owners. If you wish to sell your home, it needs to be sold for top dollar and in a timely manner. Pricing your home accurately, Pat will partner with you to make the selling process so much easier. Get started today by calling us at (540) 388-2541 or contact Pat Licata.

To see available Lake of the Woods properties, please visit our site.

Orange County VA

Top Things to Do In Orange County, Virginia

A meadow with a fence along a trail, representing things to do in Orange County Virginia.
Things to do in Orange County Virginia

Are you considering a visit to Orange County, Virginia? This is truly one of the most wonderful areas you can visit in this part of the country. If you need an activity-filled vacation, but don’t want to leave the US, visiting this county is truly one of the finest decisions you can make. And for those who don’t know exactly what to do around here, don’t worry – we’ve got some suggestions for things to do in Orange County Virginia! 

Staying in period cottages.

Before you start looking for things to do in Orange County Virginia, there’s one very important thing you need to ask yourself. Primarily – why are you coming here in the first place? If you’re looking to relocate here permanently, you’ll definitely have a lot to do before enjoying all the local amenities. You’ll have to find assistance for your move in Virginia, buy packing materials, and ship all of your stuff there. But if you’re just looking for a simple vacation, then the place where you’ll stay is important as well.  

A rustic cottage in the countryside.

Orange County Virginia offers plenty of period cottages to stay in!

That’s why we recommend spending some time to think where you’ll stay in Orange County Virginia. If you truly want to feel the rustic spirit of the country, staying in one of the numerous available period cottages is a fine idea. For example, the Boxwood Villa is found on the outskirts of the town. And this is truly an ancient home, dating all the way back to 1850, but recently renovated to receive guests. Seeing as its structure was in fine shape, all it needed was some touching up. These days, it’s one of the best cottages in the area. 

Try the local brews and wines 

Naturally, when people visit a new part of the country, everyone looks for different things. Some like visiting historical sites, while others like scenic tours of the area. And while all of that is well and good, there are other region-specific things to try out. With that in mind – trying the local alcohol is one of the most fun things to do in Orange County Virginia. As you make your journey around the town and the surrounding area, you’ll find that it offers plenty of interesting breweries and wineries.  

Beer bottles next to a pile of caps on a shelf, representing craft beer.

There are many great small breweries around here!

Interesting breweries 

For example, you’ve got the intriguing Red, White Bleu and Brew brewery. If you’re a fan of both exquisite beer and historical sites, this is definitely a place you shouldn’t miss. So, what makes it one of the things to do in Orange County Virginia? Well, for one – it’s three quarters of a century old, which makes for a lot of combined experience. They focus on products related to Virginia, but they’ve got some international offerings as well. With that in mind, know that you’ve got a beer selection here that you’d be hard-pressed to find elsewhere in the region. As you explore the area, this is one of the best places to stop and rest with a nice cold one! 

Historical sights 

As we’ve already mentioned, this is definitely a historic area, with lots to offer to people who like to have a sense of the past on their vacations. So, bearing this in mind – are there things to do in Orange County Virginia that are fun for the fans of history? Well, absolutely! Trust us, by the time you’re done exploring Orange County Virginia, you’ll want to buy a cabin home here. But before you do – here are some suggestions on historical sites! 

Christ Episcopal Church 

Even if you’re not particularly religious, there’s no reason not to appreciate the historical architecture of the local churches. And if you are, this is a double pleasure for you! For example, you can visit the majestic Christ Episcopal Church here. Its ecclesiastical structure makes it a classic Gothic-style church, but not a particularly sprawling one. Nonetheless, the locals have maintained it extremely well, which makes it a worthy sight to see.  

Barboursville Ruins 

But are there other historical things to do in Orange County Virginia? Naturally! Why not visit the ruins of Governor Barbour’s mansion? These days, this is just a historical landmark, as a fire wrecked a lot of it back in 1884. Regardless, it’s still an interesting place. Thomas Jefferson actually designed it himself, and he wanted it to be the grandest home in all of Orange County. The inside boasted a majestic octagonal parlor, while the facade is Flemish brickwork. The eponymous Barbour was the first governor of Virginia at the start of the 19th century. And his mansion was the center of a great agricultural estate, so it’s definitely one of the most memorable historical sites in the region. 

James Madison’s Montpelier 

While you’re visiting the homes of important historical figures, why not catch a glance at the private life of James Madison? The man obviously needs no introduction, being the father of the Constitution, as well as the primary creator of the Bill of Rights. Interestingly enough, his wife, Dolly Madison, was actually the first wife of a president to be named ‘First Lady’.  

Bronze statues of James Madison and his wife on their estate.

Explore the life of James Madison and his wife!

And the two of them lived on an estate nearby. So, why not go on a historical tour of the lives of the Madisons – who were one of the most important couples in the country’s history? Their private life is intertwined with the rise of democracy in America, as you’ll see while you visit their home. Naturally, you’ll also see a sharp contrast with their political efforts, as their plantations were operated by slaves. 

Once you arrive, you’ll see that you can do plenty of things around here and see a lot of intriguing historical facts. The locals have preserved the Madisons’ beautiful gardens, a local forest, and a lot of walking trails for tourists. All of these are open to the public all year long, so missing out on any of this would definitely be a mistake! 

Whether you’re looking for homes for sale in Lake of the Woods VA or Waterfront property in Virginia we are your Real Estate Advisors for Stafford, Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, Locust Grove, Central Virginia, and Greater Virginia. Thinking of selling? In any market condition, “what is my home worth?” is the #1 question asked by home owners. If you wish to sell your home, it needs to be sold for top dollar and in a timely manner. Pricing your home accurately, Pat will partner with you to make the selling process so much easier. Get started today by calling us at (540) 388-2541 or contact Pat Licata.

To see available Lake of the Woods properties, please visit our site.

Live in Historical Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania, Virginia!

By: Todd Long

Why live in the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County area?  It has history.  It has class.  It has culture.  Many people new to the area will find that this part of Virginia offers much in the way of things to do.  As I stated, the Fredericksburg region boasts of many historic sites that hold a place in our nation’s history, from its early founding, struggles for independence, and growing pains that led to the Civil War.   

The Fredericksburg area is the site of where more than 100,000 Americans lost their lives in our nation’s struggle that culminated in the Civil War.  The area, simply put, is hallowed ground.  But there is also a hallowed beauty to it.  Go visit the Fredericksburg Battlefield, where in 1862, General Robert E. Lee defeated the Union Army of The Potomac.  Down the road from the Fredericksburg Battlefield is the Chancellorsville Battlefield, a site considered to be Lee’s most brilliant victory, where he defeated an army almost three times the size of his own army.  Then nearby are the battlefields of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania, where Lee faced off against Union General Ulysses S. Grant, a man who would go on to become our nation’s 18th President.  If you’re not a big history nerd, but are more of a fitness junkie, these battlefields offer many hiking trails and the roadways on these battlefields, which are run by the National Park Service, are great places for biking.  The Park Service also puts on many living history events and Fit History walking tours during the spring and summer months. 

Historic Downtown Fredericksburg is definitely worth going to see as it has many buildings that date to the Civil War and earlier.  In the historic district there are many shops that offer a wide variety to visitors; restaurants, antique shops, specialty foods, clothing, jewelry, home furnishings and much more.  Located in downtown Fredericksburg is Kenmore, the home of Fielding Lewis, an American Patriot who gave and sacrificed much during our country’s struggle for independence, not to mention, the brother-in-law of George Washington, having married Washington’s sister Betty.  Since we are speaking of George Washington, across the river from Fredericksburg is the site of Ferry Farm, where young George spent his childhood.  It is a living history site which recently has underwent archaeological work to locate the foundations of his boyhood home and has been rebuilt to what it probably looked like.  Also located in downtown are the Mary Washington House, Rising Sun Tavern, Hugh Mercer Apothecary Shop and St. James’ House, all operated by the Washington Heritage Museums.  Also near downtown, for the nature fanatics, is Alum Spring Park, a 34-acre park that hosts many natural features including sandstone cliffs and a swimming hole.  If you are looking for a nice romantic getaway with your significant other, look no further.  The downtown area also offers two nice B&B’s, the Kenmore Inn and the Richard Johnston Inn.  Both Inn’s are historic homes, offer wonderful accommodations, excellent food, and show classic Virginia hospitality. 

Aside from all the history and historic sites that Fredericksburg offers, there is also much in the way of class and culture.  The downtown area also features art shops, the James Monroe Memorial Library, Fredericksburg Area Museum, and Belmont, the home of Gari Melcher, one America’s prominent portraitists and Impressionist painters.  Fredericksburg also offers several craft beer and alehouses including Harry’s Alehouse on Route 3 and Sedona Taphouse and Capital Ale House in downtown Fredericksburg.  The food at these locations are excellent.  Not far from downtown, for those who have a taste for wine, there are a few local wineries which include Bacchus Winery, Hartwood Winery, and Eden Try Winery.  If you have a flare for French cuisine, located downtown is La Petite Auberge, a French restaurant that has been serving the area since 1981.  If you enjoy theater, located nearby is the Riverside Center for the Performing Arts, a local dinner theater which has been putting on main-stage musicals, broad way shows, and dramatic productions for over 20 years.  The shows are always fun and entertaining and the food and service is always top notch.  With all that Fredericksburg has to offer, it is no wonder that the area is continuously growing. 

Spotsylvania neighbors Orange County, where Lake of the Woods is located. Whether you’re looking for homes for sale in Lake of the Woods VA or Waterfront property in Virginia we are your Real Estate Advisors for Stafford, Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, Locust Grove, Central Virginia, and Greater Virginia. Thinking of selling? In any market condition, “what is my home worth?” is the #1 question asked by home owners. If you wish to sell your home, it needs to be sold for top dollar and in a timely manner. Pricing your home accurately, Pat will partner with you to make the selling process so much easier. Get started today by calling us at (540) 388-2541 or contact Pat Licata.

To see available Lake of the Woods properties, please visit our site.

Civic Club to Hold September Meeting at Germanna Visitors Center

by Neil Buttimer
germanna-visitor-center-15cThe Lake of the Woods Civic Club will hold its Wednesday, September 9th meeting at the Germanna Visitors Center which is located adjacent to the Germanna Community College’s main campus about three miles west of LOW. The meeting will begin at 6:00 pm. The meeting is open to all Lake of the Woods residents.
Germanna Foundation Executive Director Steve Hein will tell us about the over 300 year history of the colony plus current and future plans for this nearby historic site. This is a great end-of-summer opportunity to join your neighbors and tour the Visitor Center, Museum, Library, and Memorial Garden. We suggest bringing a lawn chair to enjoy the presentation.
The area around Germanna (and Lake of the Woods) has a centuries-old history of iron mining, smelting, and working. This regional history was so strong that Alexander Spotswood saw the Germans as a labor force for the mining of silver ore deposits he hoped to develop in the Germanna area. Though he was not involved in the decision of the Germans to emigrate to Virginia, he readily settled them at Fort Germanna, which was built for protection in an area beyond the extent of European civilization in colonial Virginia.
The library at the Visitor Center is the home of some hard-to-find texts and some interesting genealogical material. We hope to see you there!
It’s another beautiful day at the lake! 
Pat Licata-REALTOR