A bloody Civil War battle engaging 40,000 soldiers and resulting in 1,500 casualties.
A field hospital full of wounded men, 2,500 of whom would be left behind to the enemy as night fell, thunderstorms rolled in, and the battle front shifted.
Two historic locomotives—one that would come slowly down the track pushing an armored big gun battery that opened fire as it drew near, while the other was sent away, screaming down the tracks at high speed, shooting flames into the sky as it plunged off the bridge and into the river.
These are the events that happened at a battleground that sits, just off a highway and mostly forgotten, not far from Richmond, Virginia.
The few buildings that were there are long gone, but the farm fields were still growing crops until just a couple of years ago. Then the fields were sold, the chance to preserve was lost, and what was rolling farm fields is now row upon row of solar panels, as far as the eye can see.
But we found a way in, to see what was left. We hiked a route that likely made us trespassers. But we just had to see.
And we did. There is nothing left from that battle 150 years ago. Nothing but a small area that isn’t covered by panels.
We spent a few minutes in the grassy, wooded spot, quiet in the still hush that had the feel of a cemetery. I thought about those young men and boys who fought, suffered and died here. It was where one of my own ancestors fought, the day before he died in another battle not far from here. He was one of the many soldiers over many battles who were not accounted for.
And while there’s nothing left from that sad, terrible day, it saddens me that there’s also nothing to honor those who fought and died there, except for a couple of historical markers up on the main road.
The title of this blog is part of a short, three-line phrase written on the page of an old friendship album from the late 1800s. It popped into my head as I looked across the field of solar panels.
“Remember me is all I ask.
And if remembrance be a task,