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Soft touch at Town of Chancellorsville vigil pays off
Hap Connors named to Spotsylvania Board of Supervisors during development foes' demonstration.

 Opponents of the proposed Town of Chancellorsville development hold a vigil Jan. 14 at Spotsylvania County's Holbert building.
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Date published: 1/22/2003


SNOW began to fall as nearly 200 people engaged in a candlelight vigil Jan. 14 at Spotsylvania Courthouse. The night was clear, the temperature a few degrees below freezing and the air windless. The participants, each holding a white candle, stood in an asphalt parking lot filled with their cars, but the backdrop was the historic courthouse, built in 1839. Floodlights on the lawn illuminated the brick building and its white facade.

It was the prettiest protest I've ever seen.

The protestors were there to demonstrate their opposition to the Dogwood Development Group's proposal to build a new town where Civil War soldiers clashed on May 1, 1863. More than 100 men died during that initial fighting in the three-day Battle of Chancellorsville.

The candles were burning in memory of the soldiers, Yankee and Confederate, who lost their lives.

"The men from the North and the South gave their lives there. They shed their blood there," historian Brian Pohanka told the crowd.

Pohanka said he wanted to talk about one of them, a young Union officer.

"William James Temple was 21 years old. He turned 21 in March of '63."

Temple could have stayed out of the war. Both of his parents had died, and he was the guardian of his five brothers and a sister. He was advised not to join the army, but he thought he would be shirking his patriotic duty not to fight for the Union. He sought a commission as an officer.

"He went to war and he fell that first day of May. That's what this is all about," Pohanka said in extemporaneous remarks delivered in a firm, calm voice as the snow began falling harder. Pohanka wore a topcoat over a coat and tie, and he stood as erect as a soldier on a parade field.

"This is about the people like William Temple, who fell there, who shed their blood there for their ideals."

Pohanka quoted Joshua Chamberlain, another Union officer, who said, "Willing to die, we will not be forgotten."

Raising his voice, Pohanka said, "They will not be forgotten!"

Applause erupted.

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