History in Our Backyard: Introduction

 History in our Backyard, a product of the Friends of Wilderness Battlefield (FoWB), was created by FoWB’s Special Programs and Education Outreach Committees.  It consists of a series of articles designed to share the history of the Wilderness region with the residents who live in and around this hallowed ground.  The articles focus on either a particular event or a historical period that brings to life the area’s rich and vibrant history dating from the earliest settlers to the present day.  These brief glimpses into the Wilderness’ history are intended to encourage residents of all ages living in and around Spotsylvania and Orange Counties to learn and appreciate the significant impact that this area has had on our local and national history.

For years the Battle of the Wilderness has been under-appreciated by most Americans. Experience tells us that local residents have a limited knowledge of the 1864 battle’s impact, as the first battle in the Overland Campaign and the first face-to-face encounter between Generals Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee.  Further, many residents are unaware that the history of the Wilderness in general is both a microcosm of Virginia history  even predating the birth of our Nation  and a story of agricultural and general economic development in a rural setting.

History in our Backyard is also designed to capture our FoWB members’ wealth of knowledge about various aspects of the Wilderness.  We encourage our volunteers to share with others a particular moment, event, or period in Wilderness history about which they are knowledgeable.  These are not intended to be scholarly works of history but rather tidbits of information about the land for the people who share that land today.  We hope our neighbors will become more engaged with their surroundings by having their neighbors – our volunteers – share their insights into the region through this brief picture. 

Our initial concept was to make these short pictures into history available to local communities’ newspapers, magazines, newsletters, and websites.  But History in our Backyard is growing beyond our initial expectations.  We anticipated no more than a handful of articles a year but that number is increasing and we are reaching more local communities and at least one county-wide medium.  Possibly the most significant expansion will be this compilation of all the articles, as they get published elsewhere, residing on our webpage. 

We welcome your comments and suggestions for improving our product and for future subjects.  We would even welcome your participation as an author of an article on a topic that is of interest to you and would add to the knowledge of our readership.

This article was written by Friends of Wilderness Battlefield.
Continue to Chapter 1: How the Wilderness Became the Wilderness

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