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The Stafford Civil War Park opens on Saturday
LIKE LOCUSTS, they came, they
Today, population in the county runs about 135,000. Imagine that many soldiers dressed in Yankee blue, camping, drilling, constructing huts, gathering food and firewood, all across the southern stretches of the county.
One hundred and fifty years ago, that was the reality. The Union Army, defeated in the December 1862 Battle of Fredericksburg, dug in across the river in South Stafford, desperate for rest and a chance to regroup. The scant number of county residents (mostly women, children, and old men) left behind during the war were overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of the occupiers.
The land, too, was overwhelmed. The soldiers required wood for huts and fires and food for their bellies. They stripped farms and tore down houses to supply their needs, leaving local residents bereft. According to some, only about 20 trees in the county pre-date the encampment, and it took Stafford nearly 90 years to recover.
But recover it did. Today, Stafford is one of the fastest-growing counties in the nation, but its very prosperity threatened to bury its history.
Enter Glenn Trimmer and D.P. Newton. The two men, concerned about the destruction of a Union redoubt during construction of a new housing development, formed the Friends of Stafford Civil War Sites and began advocating for saving them. The Stafford Civil War Park is one result.
Hidden in the dense forests of the park's 41 acres were an 1830s bridge, a quarry from the 1700s, and Union redoubts, huts, and other marks of the army's presence. Thanks to volunteers and participation from the National Guard, Vulcan Materials, Virginia Paving, the Civil War Trust, Eagle Scouts, and other organizations, these sites have been preserved, showcasing this critical period in Stafford's history.