First timer? In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-four-or-five days blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48). I call this “landing.” I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near. I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location. To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is) please see “About Landing” above. To check out some recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”
Landing number 2312; A Landing A Day blog post number 742.
My local landing map shows a VP* of small towns:
My streams-only map shows that I landed very close to the Rapidan River, and obviously in the Rapidan River watershed (1st hit ever!):
As you can see, the Rapidan discharges to the Rappahannock (2nd hit), on to the Chesapeake Bay.
It’s time for my Google Earth (GE) spaceflight on in to North Central Virginia. Click HERE, enjoy the trip, and hit your back button.
There’s decent Street View coverage of my landing:
Although he’s close, the Orange Dude (OD) can’t quite see the precise landing location:
I sent the OD a little ways upstream to get a look at the Rapidan:
Here’s what the he sees:
I like the name “Rapidan,” so had to learn a little more. From Wiki:
The name is a combination of the word “rapid” with the name of Queen Anne of England. Originally, it was known as the Rapid Ann River.
Well, I think it should have been the Rapid Anne River – I mean, really – if you’re going to name the river after a queen, get her name right. And incidentally, I’d vote for the Rapid Anne (or Ann) over the Rapidan . . .
And here’s another bit from Wiki:
The Rapidan River was the scene of severe fighting in the American Civil War, and historic sites such as Chancellorsville and the Battle of the Wilderness are nearby.
I’ll get to some Civil War content in a bit, but first, a personal story about Culpeper.
I worked for the USEPA Region III in Philadelphia for a couple of years, more-or-less centered on 1985. (VA, along with DE, PA and WV make up Region III). I worked in the Superfund program, as part of the “Enforcement” group. Our job was to get “Responsible Parties” (i.e., industries that caused the pollution) to step up and do the investigations and clean-ups. I was strictly a technical guy, providing support to the site managers.
I still remember a trip to Culpeper to visit a Superfund site. The site was a wood treatment facility. (Some nasty chemicals, both organic and inorganic, are used to pressure-treat lumber). I remember practically nothing about the trip. Anyway, I Googled Superfund Culpeper to see what was going on some 30 years later.
The EPA has a Culpeper website:
The website tells me that the Culpeper Wood Preservers site used arsenic and chromium compounds to treat the wood, and spills / leaks of these compounds ended up contaminating the soils and groundwater. The site became a Superfund site on June 10, 1986 (towards the end of my stint at EPA).
The site investigation (taking samples to determine the extent of soil and groundwater contamination) is yet to be completed! And the clean-up plan for the site has also not been completed!
Two things: Most site investigations can be completed within 5 years, 10 years at the outside. And after that, it doesn’t take much time to develop a clean-up plan (Feasibility Study in Superfund parlance). This obviously speaks to the bureaucracy and inefficiency of the federal Superfund program. Way more money is spent on attorneys than on actual clean-ups.
Secondly: In my not-so-humble opinion, there is no reason that this site became a Superfund site in the first place! From what I can gather, no off-site water wells have been contaminated; in fact, the groundwater contamination hasn’t left the site (and very likely never will). Most, if not all, of the soil contamination was cleaned up in 1983 before the site went Superfund.
In other words, this site, in the environmental world of contaminated sites, is no big deal! Superfund sites should be the worst of the worst, with extreme risks to either the public or the environment. (I had nothing to do with the selection of Superfund sites.) If this is a Superfund Site, there should be thousands of Superfund sites in NJ alone!
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying that the Culpeper Site shouldn’t be investigated and cleaned-up / controlled (it should). But let the State of Virginia take care of it! It’ll be less expensive and way more efficient (and the public / environment will be protected).
FYI, there are some 1,300 Superfund Sites. I’ll bet that at least half of these should be left to the states . . .
I’ll get off my soap box (which, as regular readers know, I’m practically never on).
Moving on to a topic more typically ALAD-like: As mentioned above, two very significant Civil War battles were fought near my landing: Chancellorsville and the Wilderness.
Here’s a GE shot showing Wilderness (one of the VP of small towns shown on my local landing map), along with Chancellorsville (the battle site) and the Battle of the Wilderness site:
The stories of these battles are complex and way too lengthy for a simple ALAD post. Chancellorsville is known as a high point for the Confederacy, and is considered perhaps the greatest of Confederate victories, won in spite of the fact that Robert E. Lee’s troops were outnumbered 2 to 1 by the Union Army led by General Hooker.
But it was a costly victory for the Confederacy, as Stonewall Jackson lost his life here. He was wounded at the battle (by friendly fire); his arm was amputated, and then he died of pneumonia a week later. So, how about a brief Stonewall feature? Here’s a Wiki picture of the General:
From Son of the South.net, this about how he got his nickname:
HERE “STONEWALL” JACKSON WON HIS NAME
Robinson House, Bull Run.—”Stonewall” Jackson won his name near this house early in the afternoon of July 21, 1861 at the First Battle of Bull Run. Meeting Confederate General Barnard Bee’s retreating troops, Jackson advanced with a battery to the ridge behind the Robinson House and held the position until Bee’s troops had rallied in his rear. General Bee said to a colleague: “Look at Jackson standing there like a stone wall.” Bee was killed soon thereafter just as the Confederate troops took the upper hand.
When General Lee heard about the amputation of Stonewall’s arm, he lamented, “”He has lost his left arm, but I have lost my right.” History doesn’t record what he said when he learned Stonewall had died.
As I always do, I looked at various GE Panoramio shots in the vicinity of my landing. I came across this:
And yes, the Pano shot showed a gravestone. But here’s a better shot of the gravestone, from Bucknell.edu:
Really? I quickly Googled “grave Stonewall Jackson’s arm,” and found an NPR story: “The Curious Fate of Stonewall Jackson’s Arm,” by Ramona Martinez (heard on Morning Edition in June of 2012). Here are some excerpts:
[After the amputation], Jackson’s arm was about to be tossed on the pile of limbs outside the medical tents — until his military chaplain decided to save it.
Park Ranger Chuck Young tells a group of visitors: “Remembering that Jackson was the rock star of 1863 — everybody knew who Stonewall was, and to have his arm just simply thrown on the scrap pile with the other arms, Military Chaplain Rev. Lacy couldn’t let that happen.”
So the arm was buried in a private cemetery at Ellwood Manor, not far from the field hospital where it was amputated. Soon after, Jackson died of pneumonia, and his body was sent to his family in Lexington, Va.
But, Young says, Jackson’s arm was never reunited with the rest of his remains.
“When Mrs. Jackson ass informed that the arm was amputated and given a full Christian burial,” Young says, “they asked her if she wanted it exhumed and buried with the general. She declined, not wishing to disturb a Christian burial.”
In 1903, one of Jackson’s staff officers set up a granite stone in the small cemetery. It’s unclear if the stone marks the exact location of the arm, or if it indicates that the burial happened somewhere in the area.
Just a little more about Stonewall. About his military prowess, From Wiki:
Military historians consider Jackson to be one of the most gifted tactical commanders in U.S. history. His Valley Campaign and his envelopment of the Union Army’s right wing at Chancellorsville are studied worldwide, even today, as examples of innovative and bold leadership.
About his character and his ambivalent feelings towards slavery (Wiki):
In Lexington [VA, where he lived and worked before the war], Jackson was revered by many of the African Americans, both slaves and free blacks. In 1855, he was instrumental in the organization of Sunday School classes for blacks at the Presbyterian Church. His second wife, Mary Anna Jackson, taught with Jackson, as “he preferred that my labors should be given to the colored children, believing that it was more important and useful to put the strong hand of the Gospel under the ignorant African race, to lift them up.”
The pastor, Dr. William Spottswood White, described the relationship between Jackson and his Sunday afternoon students: “In their religious instruction he succeeded wonderfully. His discipline was systematic and firm, but very kind. … His servants reverenced and loved him, as they would have done a brother or father. … He was emphatically the black man’s friend.”
Jackson’s family owned six slaves in the late 1850s. After the Civil War began he appears to have hired out or sold his slaves. Mary Anna Jackson, in her 1895 memoir, said, “our servants … without the firm guidance and restraint of their master, the excitement of the times proved so demoralizing to them that he deemed it best for me to provide them with good homes among the permanent residents.” James Robertson wrote about Jackson’s view on slavery:
Jackson neither apologized for nor spoke in favor of the practice of slavery. He probably opposed the institution. Yet in his mind the Creator had sanctioned slavery, and man had no moral right to challenge its existence. The good Christian slaveholder was one who treated his servants fairly and humanely at all times.
“The Creator had sanctioned slavery,” eh? I don’t know the bible very well (in spite of the fact that my father was a Presbyterian minister), but a little research, and I came across this, from religion.blogs.cnn.com:
How the Bible was used to justify slavery, abolitionism
By John Blake, CNN
(CNN) – How did churchgoing, Bible-worshiping Christians justify holding slaves? It’s a question I’ve long had as a Civil War buff.
Henry Brinton, a pastor at Fairfax Presbyterian Church in Virginia, writes that the Bible was used a weapon by both the North and the South.
Slaveholders justified the practice by citing the Bible, Brinton says.
Ephesians 6:5 – They asked who could question the Word of God when it said, “slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling”
Epistle of Paul to Titus 2:9 – “tell slaves to be submissive to their masters and to give satisfaction in every respect”
All I can say is that Paul was, as all of us are, a product of their time. . .
Wow. First I’m on a soap box criticizing the Superfund program, and then I’m quoting controversial Bible verses. What is this blog coming to? Fear not, dear readers. I will continue my custom of avoiding trips into contentious waters . . .
On that note, I’ll go to the safe harbor of a GE Panoramio shot. This is a lovely one, taken by T. K. Ogden, about 3 miles east of my landing:
That’ll do it . . .
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