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As event's 150th anniversary nears, Civil War Trust and local partners aim to preserve key tract in Culpeper County.
This cabin served as a Confederate field hospital during the Battle of Cedar Mountain. Now, the Civil War Trust aims to save 6 acres at the end of the lane, on the left side.
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"[T]he road was full of Yankees and there was such a fight as was not witnessed during the war; guns, bayonets, swords, pistols, fence rails, rocks, etc., were used all along the line. I have heard of a 'hell spot' in some battles, this surely was one."
--John H. Worsham,
BY CLINT SCHEMMER
If you visit Virginia's Cedar Mountain battlefield, you'll pass right by Crittenden's Gate--whether you realize it or not.
Lying at the core of this hallowed ground in Culpeper County, it's where Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson was nearly captured or killed.
The Civil War Trust, allied with local residents, aims to save it for posterity.
As Culpeper prepares to observe the battle's 150th anniversary, the 55,000-member nonprofit group has launched a national fundraising campaign to preserve 6 acres at what locals still call "The Gate."
The vicinity is "what Henry Hill is to First Manassas or The Angle is to Spotsylvania Court House," the trust said Friday in announcing its sesquicentennial effort.
Here, by a gate where the Crittenden House lane met the main road to Culpeper, Confederate gunners waged what one Southerner thought was "the prettiest artillery duel ever witnessed during the war."
The Aug. 9, 1862, battle followed great Confederate victories in the Shenandoah Valley under Jackson and near Richmond under Robert E. Lee, as their forces outmaneuvered Union armies.
Lee outwitted the Union's top general, George B. McClellan, preventing the fall of Richmond and setting in motion events that led, six months later, to President Lincoln's issuing the Emancipation Proclamation.
Frustrated by McClellan, Lincoln appointed a Western general, John Pope, to assembly a new army in Northern Virginia and hit the Confederates hard. One of Pope's first moves was to authorize foraging by his soldiers and the arrest of disloyal Virginians and anyone who aided guerilla fighters.
Lee, incensed by those orders and concerned by Pope's advance on Culpeper Court House, dispatched Jackson to Gordonsville, telling him: "I want Pope to be suppressed."
Jackson's plans went awry and he was cut off when Union cavalry blocked the road near Cedar Run. Brig. Gen. Jubal Early hastily posted troops perpendicular to the road, anchoring his right on the shoulder of Cedar (or Slaughter's) Mountain. And the battle commenced, on what historians say may have been the hottest day of the war.