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Museum to unveil Civil War marker at battle site

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Mt. Jackson officials expect "Action at Mill Creek" plaque to bring history buffs to area

By Preston Knight - pknight@nvdaily.com

MT. JACKSON -- The Mt. Jackson Museum is helping mark the Civil War's sesquicentennial by inviting residents to an unveiling of a new historical marker at the intersection of Orkney Grade and Va. 42 on Saturday.

The marker, approved last summer by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, describes "Action at Mill Creek," an Oct. 6, 1864, skirmish that resulted in the death of local Confederate Capt. Hugh R.T. Koontz, among dozens of other troops. He is now buried at the Union Church Cemetery, museum President Kenna Fansler said.

"This will [help] draw people into the countryside, and Mt. Jackson for that matter," he said. "If you're a Civil War buff, you will look up these historical markers."

The dedication is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. The location is about six miles west of Mt. Jackson.

Civil War markers are approved by the Department of Historic Resources four times a year, spokesman Randy Jones said. They serve two functions -- increasing community pride, which has added significance now with the war's sesquicentennial, and contributing to heritage tourism, he said.

"Heritage tourism is an important part of the economy," Jones said. "[The signs help] not as an individual one as much as a collection or trail, especially in the Shenandoah Valley."

The museum worked with the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation to secure a small grant to help pay for the Mill Creek marker. Officials from that organization, the Historic Resources Department and state and local politicians have been invited to attend Saturday's event. Fansler said the Sons of the Confederate Veterans had been considering pursuit of the same marker, but the museum took the lead in sponsoring it.

A news release from last summer includes the text of the marker.

"After passing through Forestville, Brig. Gen. George A. Custer's Vermont Cavalry formed the rear guard across Mill Creek here," it states. "Confederate Brig. Gen. Thomas L. Rosser flanked the position. The 11th and 12th Virginia Cavalry charged and the Federals withdrew, losing 50 men as well as wagons, cattle, and sheep."

There is currently a push to approve more signs in advance of the bicentennial of the War of 1812, Jones said, but the Civil War will continue to make its mark.

"You just can't get away from the Civil War in Virginia," he said.

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