Daily Staff Report
A local Civil War battlefields preservation group plans to announce this week a major land gift from a neighboring quarry operator.
Carmeuse Lime and Stone Inc. and the Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation announced Sunday the donation of 28.6 acres of historically significant, core battlefield land on the Cedar Creek Battlefield in Middletown. The nonprofit foundation and the limestone producer plan to reveal more details of the donation at a press conference scheduled for Thursday at Hupp's Hill Civil War Museum in Strasburg, according to a press release.
The VI Corp of the U.S. Army of the Shenandoah occupied the land in question during the early stages of the Battle of Cedar Creek, fought on Oct. 19, 1864. In the battle, Union forces under Major Gen. Philip Sheridan defeated the Confederate Army of the Valley, commanded by Lt. Gen. Jubal A. Early.
Historians credit the Union victory at Cedar Creek - the largest engagement fought in the Shenandoah Valley - with guaranteeing the re-election of Abraham Lincoln that November. Portions of the VI Corps encamped at the site when leaders called upon them to respond to a surprise attack by the Confederate soldiers and hold off the troops long enough to allow Northern forces to retreat and reorganize, according to the release.
The land, known locally as the Northern Reserve, lies near the firm's Middletown quarry. The property served as one focus of an archaeological study of 500 acres conducted by the James Madison University archaeology program under professor Clarence Geier. The $600,000 study, performed as a part of the rezoning of quarry land, has uncovered more than 6,000 artifacts from the fighting, according to the foundation. Some of the objects are on display at the Hupp's Hill museum.
Officials expect to see several thousand more artifacts uncovered before the study is complete next summer. A 2008 agreement between Carmeuse and the nonprofit calls for all artifacts found to go to the foundation and held in trust for the public benefit.
Under a 2008 agreement between Carmeuse and CCBF, all artifacts discovered will be donated the CCBF and will be held in trust for the public benefit. Carmeuse bought the quarries at Clear Brook, Strasburg and Middletown from Ogleby Norton in 2008. At that time Carmeuse donated eight acres of core battlefield land to the foundation with the possibility of more gifts pending the completion of the archaeological survey. The firm's donation marks the largest land gift it has given the organization, according to the foundation Executive Director John Christiansen.
The foundation operates the museum at Hupp's Hill Civil War Park, 33229 Old Valley Pike, and offices at 8737 Valley Pike in Middletown. Carmeuse Lime and Stone is a subsidiary of Belgium-based Carmeuse Group.