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History at Sunset programs at Cedar Creek, Belle Grove

newspaperCedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park is pleased to announce a series of special “History at Sunset” programs.

These ranger-conducted presentations cover a variety of subjects and provide visitors an opportunity to see sites not normally open, or widely accessible, to the general public.  Explore and learn about some of the “hidden gems” of the park and the Shenandoah Valley.  Each program is free and lasts between 60 to 90 minutes.

 

June 27, 7:00 p.m.

The Tragic Deaths of Stephen Ramseur and Charles Lowell: Examples of a Generation Lost

The Civil War was the deadliest in American history, costing the country over 625,000 lives.  It particularly devastated a generation of young men, in their 20s and 30s, both North and South.  This program examines the lives of two such men who fought at Cedar Creek and the impacts their deaths had on their families and communities.   Meet Park Ranger Shannon Moeck at the main parking lot at Belle Grove (336 Belle Grove Road, Middletown, VA).  This program will visit several locations around the park, and thus will involve a car caravan system (visitors follow the ranger’s vehicle).

 

July 11, 7:00 p.m.

The Historic Heater Farm: A House Divided

The story of Solomon and Caroline Heater exemplifies the divided loyalties seen in the Shenandoah Valley before and during the Civil War. Solomon a native of Virginia supported the southern cause, while his wife Caroline, a native of Pennsylvania feared what war would bring to her doorstep. Join Ranger Kyle Rothemich as he explores this personal story of how the Civil War was brought to the home front in this special program that will traverse areas of the Cedar Creek Battlefield not regularly open to the public.  Meet at the Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation Headquarters (8437 Valley Pike, Middletown, VA).  Visitors will then car pool to the site.  Some moderate hiking will be required.  Learn about how the Civil War raged past the Heater’s doorsteps, and affected their family both during and after this American Crisis.

 

August 1, 7:00 p.m.

“…there burst upon our view the appalling spectacle of a panic-stricken army…” 

The William Dinges Farm (Rienzi Knoll) at Cedar Creek

Known variously as the William H. Dinges Farm, Ripple Farm or Rienzi Knoll, this historic property witnessed one of the most dramatic episodes of the Battle of Cedar Creek (October 19, 1864);  the arrival of Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan following his non-stop ride from Winchester.   Finding his army broken and demoralized, Sheridan rallied his troops and launched a devastating counterattack that afternoon which “snatched victory from the jaws of defeat,” turning Cedar Creek into a stunning Union triumph.  Yet the farm, recently preserved through the efforts of the Civil War Trust, traces its history back to the colonial era of the Shenandoah Valley.  Join Ranger Jeff Driscoll for a special program that will allow the general public access to this property and explore its history, from the settlement of the Valley through the Civil War.  Meet at the National Park Service Visitor Contact Station in Middletown (Middletown Courts, 7712 Main Street).  Visitors will then car-pool to the site.

 

August 15, 7:00 p.m.

Not Just Black and White – Discovering the Complexities of Slavery in the Shenandoah Valley 

This program explores the use of slave labor in the Shenandoah Valley.  Learn how the settlement history, agriculture and iron industries shaped the use of slavery in this region. This program will take place at the Thorndale Farm, an example of a typical small family farm that dotted the Valley landscape.  Join Ranger Shannon Moeck for this stationary program at 652 N. Buckton Road, Middletown, VA 22645.  Visitors are encouraged to bring a lawn chair.

 

September 19, 5:00 p.m.

A Tale of Two Cemeteries: Winchester’s Mount Hebron and National Cemeteries

As the Confederates retreated through the town of Winchester the late afternoon of September 19, 1864, some Southern forces held out on “Cemetery Ridge,” where the town’s cemetery was located.  Many Confederates who fell during this final stand would be buried there, in what is now the Confederate section of the Mount Hebron Cemetery.  Later, across the street, the Winchester National Cemetery was established in 1866.  Join Park Ranger Jeff Driscoll as he examines the story of both cemeteries.  Meet at public parking area on West Street located behind the Mount Hebron Cemetery.  (West Street can be accessed from either Woodstock Lane or National Avenue).

 

September 26, 5:00 p.m.

“Like a caged lion, eager for the fray”

George Custer at the Battle of Cedar Creek 

Join Ranger Kyle Rothemich for a special tour highlighting the “Boy General” at Cedar Creek. This special program will take visitors through the Battle of Cedar Creek with an emphasis on George Custer’s role, his relationship with General Philip Sheridan and the overall use of cavalry during the engagement. Custer’s aggressive and flamboyant traits were both exhibited during this stunning Union victory. This car-caravan tour will take visitors to parts of the park that are rarely seen to explore Custer’s crucial role in the battle. Meet at the Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation Headquarters (8437 Valley Pike, Middletown, VA).

 

October 17, 5:00 p.m.

The Historic Heater Farm: A House Divided

The story of Solomon and Caroline Heater exemplifies the divided loyalties seen in the Shenandoah Valley before and during the Civil War. Solomon a native of Virginia supported the southern cause, while his wife Caroline, a native of Pennsylvania feared what war would bring to her doorstep. Join Ranger Kyle Rothemich as he explores this personal story of how the Civil War was brought to the home front in this special program that will traverse areas of the Cedar Creek Battlefield not regularly open to the public.  Meet at flag poles located at the Cedar Creek battlefield pull-off along Route 11, south of Middletown, Virginia.  Some moderate hiking will be required.  Learn about how the Civil War raged past the Heater’s doorsteps, and affected their family both during and after this American Crisis.

 

October 24, 4:00 p.m.

Cedar Creek: The Aftermath

After the Battle of Waterloo, the victor, the Duke of Wellington said, “The only thing worse than a battle lost is a battle won.”  With nearly 50,000 casualties strewn across that bloody field, the famous British general’s words certainly rang true.  But that is the case with any battle.  Join Ranger Jeff Driscoll as he examines the aftermath of the Battle of Cedar Creek.   Meet at the main parking lot at Belle Grove (336 Belle Grove Road, Middletown, VA).  This program will visit several locations around the park, and thus will involve a car caravan system (visitors follow the ranger’s vehicle).