Park’s Battlefield Series delves into new topics

Visitors who stop by Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park this month will be able to sink their teeth into different facets of history at the park’s new Battlefield Series of programs.

Along with Friday evening History at Sunset programs that explore the park’s historical sites in-depth, the Saturday afternoon Battlefield Series will introduce new topics off the beaten track for visitors to examine. The presentations will physically lead people off the beaten track, too – according to chief ranger Eric Campbell, some of the programs include areas not usually accessible to visitors.

On July 18, park volunteer and Archaeological Society of Virginia certified archaeological technician Marcus Lemasters will lead the “All that Remains — Battlefield archeological vignettes of a landscape littered with the detritus of war” presentation around the Cedar Creek battlefield.

Visitors will meet at the National Park Service Visitor Contact Station that afternoon for a brief introduction, then drive in a caravan to surveyed areas. At each stop, Lemasters will paint a more vivid picture of what occurred with maps, photos and other visual aids.

Lemasters has participated in around 27 Civil War-related archaeological surveys, several within Cedar Creek. While many of those artifacts are still undergoing research and not yet viewable by the public, he says connecting the archaeological findings with their physical context introduces a new level of understanding.

“People go to visitors centers or to museums and they see the artifacts, and it’s kind of disassociated from where those things were found,” he said.

Interpretive park ranger Kyle Rothemich led the “General Custer at Cedar Creek” presentation in June and will lead the History at Sunset program about the Belle Grove plantation on July 24. He said the individually created Battlefield Series envelops visitors within a nook of history brought to life by experts on their topics.

“It’s really interesting because you can see through how rangers or volunteers create these programs … and how their passion is very focused on certain things like archaeology,” he said.

The Battlefield Series programs began in mid-June and will continue on weekends through the end of July. Each free presentation will begin at 2 p.m. and last for around 90 minutes.

On July 18, volunteer Guy Young will lead “An Appalling Spectacle of Panic” presentation describing Union accounts of a devastating Confederate surprise attack, and on July 25, ranger Jeff Driscoll will lead “… the fog was so dense …” presentation examining the sustaining efforts of the Union’s 19th Corps.

Learn more about Cedar Creek and Belle Grove programs and rangers at:

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or