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Clark B. Hall receives Happel Award for preserving Brandy Station and other Civil War battlefields

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Date published: 5/3/2011

By Clint Schemmer

Clark "Bud" Hall has spent most of his working life pursuing bad guys--as a Marine, an FBI special agent and an international consultant on terrorism.

But his real passion is Civil War history.

Now, that zeal has earned him one of the preservation world's great honors, the Ralph A. Happel Award.

The historian, who lives in Middleburg, was presented with the award on Saturday by the Central Virginia Battlefields Trust for a quarter-century of work protecting Central Virginia's battlefields.

Hall is a co-founder of the Brandy Station Foundation, the Chantilly Battlefield Association and the Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites, a Fredericksburg-based group that was a parent of today's national Civil War Trust.

Were it not for the former group, Culpeper County's Brandy Station battlefield would have been destroyed by modern development, incoming CVBT President Mike Stevens said.

"Simply put, [Hall] is the savior of the Brandy Station battlefield--quite literally. Without this one man, the Brandy Station battlefield would be covered today with tract houses and a racetrack," Stevens said. "No one alive knows more about the Battle of Brandy Station or is more responsible for the battlefield's preservation. For those of us who understand what this land means to us and our country, our debt to him is incalculable."

With obvious emotion, Hall accepted the silver medallion, which bears a bas-relief image of Happel on one side and was inscribed with Hall's name on the reverse.

"I am deeply honored," Hall said, speaking to members of the trust. "Nothing else comes remotely close to this distinction from this group. At the Brandy Station Foundation, you have been our idol."

Named for the late Fredericksburg historian Ralph Happel, the award has been presented to six people in the 15 years since CVBT's creation. The prior recipients are Rep. Robert Mrazek, whose legislation saved many historic sites; the late Brian Pohanka of Alexandria, a preservation activist; former National Park Service chief historian Ed Bearss; Fredericksburg's Enos Richardson, one of CVBT's founders and guiding lights; and Bill Howell, speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates.

--Clint Schemmer