Thursday, July 20, 2017

Cedar Creek & Belle Grove National Historical Park

Cedar Creek Battlefield in Virginia
The Shenandoah Valley was witness to a significant amount of action during the Civil War. Several of my ancestors fought in the area, so we took a little time to visit one of the battlefields and learn some family history. One of my ancestors fought at Cedar Creek in the 184th New York. So, we headed to Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park for a little exploration.



We began our journey by heading to the Cedar Creek Battlefield Headquarters where we picked up a guidebook for driving the battlefield. The headquarters is also home to artifacts as well as a store. After, we headed to Hupp's Hill which has a museum and several acres to walk. Some of the earthenworks still remain. Several signs along the walk discuss the history of the area and troop movements. The area is quite beautiful but a little buggy -- so bring bug spray!

Cedar Creek in Cedar Creek Battlefield, Virginia
Cedar Creek itself behind the trees.
Overall, the drive was easy to navigate. Plan for about 3 or so hours especially if you want to stop at sites. There are several monuments such as the New York Monument below.

123rd New York Monument at Cedar Creek
123rd New York Monument at Cedar Creek
One significant site on the tour is historic Belle Grove Plantation which was built in 1797. On the plantation, wheat was grown and cattle and Merino sheep were raised. An operating distillery and several mills were also on the property. The home served as a headquarters for Union General Phil Sheridan during the Shenandoah Valley campaign in 1864. The plantation was in the thick of the battle, so amazing that it is in incredible condition! You can tour the home. If you plan to, make sure you budget that into your time exploring Cedar Creek. There is also a wonderful gift shop at Belle Grove which sells a number of made in Virginia items.

Belle Grove Plantation
Belle Grove Plantation
Another section of the battlefield allowed us to walk along some of the battle lines. This section of the battlefield had an eerie silence contrasting with its natural beauty. The stillness really gives you pause to soak in the events that happened at Cedar Creek. Yet, nature shows you how we can still grow.

New York Infantry segment of Cedar Creek Battlefield in Virginia
New York Infantry segment of Cedar Creek Battlefield 
Cedar Creek Battlefield is one of the lesser known battlefields. We enjoyed the more rustic feel as opposed to battlefields where there a fleet of cars traveling from site to site. On your Shenandoah trip, definitely plan to spend some time at Cedar Creek or another Civil War battlefield. Experiencing a slice of history is really incredible and gives you new perspectives on what you learn in history class. Our visit was especially meaningful since one of our relatives fought at Cedar Creek.

**Disclosure: No compensation was received for this post. All opinions are 100% my own.

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