At the second of three meetings, the Staun-ton-Parkersburg Turnpike Alliance and team members of the Camp Bartow Preservation Plan gave an update on the process of the Camp Bartow preservation project.
Team leader Mike Gioulis and his team surveyed the Battle of Greenbrier River battlefield at Camp Bartow around the Traveller’s Repose in Bartow.
Gioulis and his team began the project in July and have researched the battle and are working on a final document to show the significance of the battlefield.
“Our project is to document the resources that we have, to be able to produce them in a coherent fashion in maps, in descriptions and in history and analysis, and then come up with the significance of the site,” Gioulis said. “From that, we can learn how to preserve what we have because we have to know what we have before we can preserve it.”
Along with research, the team has been on-site, mapping the battlefield to get an better idea of how it was used during the Civil War.
“We met with the engineering company and they recommended doing a laser scan of the primary areas for us and then using West Virginia GIS GPS information to do the other areas to provide the background information in the ten-foot contour interval,” Gioulis said. “They did conduct a laser scan of [two] properties which have some more significant placements and trenches.”
The laser scan uses a camera to create high-definition maps of the ground. The maps reveal the state of the land during the conflict. A laser scan was done on the Warner property.
“I’m just fascinated by some of the mapping,” Gioulis said. “This is what is called a bare earth mesh. You can see the two major gun placements.”
Other features revealed were trenches, stairs leading away from the hill and a level area where soldiers most likely placed tents.
“It’s amazing that this picked it up,” Gioulis said. “There were a number of tent spots, tent locations that were level areas where somebody pitched a tent. There’s a number of them that also line the trenches. This survey work is really adding to the information that we have and supporting some of the assumptions, and killing some of the assumptions that we had – which is fine.”
The two properties which were scanned make up a small percentage of the battlefield, but due to the length of time it takes to do a laser scan, the team plans to use GIS information to map the rest of the battlefield.
“They set up four points and basically, it has a camera on it and it takes pictures, and starts scanning,” Gioulis explained. “Then they move it a couple hundred yards and then do it again. It took two complete days to do these two sites. That’s why the remainder of the project is going to be done using the existing GIS mapping. Then we’ll provide the points for them to locate on the map.”
Gioulis, an architect, is more of a building kind of person, but through this project, he has experienced how important it is to preserve the battlefield.
“In my mind, what we’re doing is we’re recording and identifying and documenting a piece of history,” he said. “For me, things come alive when I actually see them, touch them, stand in them and walk around them. It’s great to have a museum or have a place that we can look at them and study them, but for me when it really comes alive is when you’re at a place where the story occurred, and you’re standing in a place where they stood, and see what they looked at one hundred fifty years ago and it’s still here.
“That’s what really brings history to life and what makes it real for us,” he concluded.
Team member Hunter Lesser, an author and area historian who has studied the Battle of Greenbrier River, gave a brief history of the battle and shared his opinion on the importance of preserving the battlefield in Bartow.
On October 3, 1861, 5,000 Federal troops marched from Cheat Mountain to Camp Bartow where they battled 1,800 Confederate soldiers. Although they greatly out numbered the Confederate soldiers, the Federal troops lost the battle and retreated back to Cheat Mountain.
“I’m going to argue that I think it is important for several reasons, at least for me,” Lesser said of the battle. “I’m pretty confident that many of us in here are descendent from either soldiers or civilians that were caught up in this terrible Civil War. I know that for a fact. I also know that our ancestors believed, for the most part, pretty strongly in some general principles. Principles like duty, honor, liberty and sacrifice. Principles that – how often do you hear those terms today? How often do you see them practiced? Not very often.
“This is my point,” he continued. “These people believed in principles. Our country today, in my opinion, is fortified by their actions.”
Lesser shared a letter written by a soldier to his wife. The letter was written by a fellow soldier, who also wrote a letter to the woman on the same piece of paper.
In part, the letter reads, “My dear Lizzie, I am mortally wounded. I was struck by a shell in the left hip yesterday and the physicians declare there is no possible chance of my recovery. I was shot while bravely performing my duty… Colonel Kimball learned that I’d been left and sent adjutant Lynn with positive orders that I should be brought. Oh, how thankful I am. It is a comfort to be here among one’s friends. I cannot tell you how kind everyone is to me. What a host of sympathizing hearts crowd around.”
The letter ends with, “Oh, dear Lizzie, may God give you strength to bear out under this. Remember that it will not be long before we meet again. God bless you my dear darling wife. Your affectionate husband, J. Urner Price.”
On the back of the letter, the penman, Sergeant James MacAuthur, wrote to the woman, offering his condolences for her loss:
“Dear Madam, A mournful duty falls on me this morning. While he was gallantly leading his men, Mr. Price fell mortally wounded by a shell which struck him on the left thigh, crushing the bone. His fortitude under his painful wounds gained the admiration of everyone who saw him.”
MacAuthur concluded the letter with, “Rest assured madam, you have the heartfelt sympathy of every member of our company. May God sustain you under your great affliction. Yours truly, James MacAuthur.”
Also giving a presentation at the meeting was American Battlefield Protection Program member Kristen McMasters, who explained how her office works with communities and organizations to preserve American battlefields.
A report on McMasters’ presentation will be in next week’s edition.
The final meeting for the Camp Bartow preservation project is August 13, at 7 p.m. at the Durbin Public Library.