Saturday, October 11, 2008


Although it’s just a short drive from home, before today I’d never been to the historic Ellwood estate, part of the Wilderness Battlefield. In fact, I had no idea that it has been open to the public since 1998. The circa 1790 home was originally part of a 5,000 acre working farm that likely played host to notables such as James Madison, James Monroe, Lafayette, and “Light Horse Harry” Lee (Robert E.’s dad). Because of its unfortunate location right in the middle of two major Civil War battles, it was used by the Confederate Army as a hospital, and later by Federal troops as a field headquarters. But its major claim to fame may be as the final resting place of Stonewall Jackson’s arm, buried in the family cemetery (the rest of Stonewall is buried in Lexington). I was also interested to discover that the Lacy family, who owned the estate for 60 years, also owned Chatham Manor in Stafford, and originally used Ellwood as their “summer home.”

These days, it’s in the midst of an extensive restoration. The National Park Service, which owns the estate, has partnered with the Friends of the Wilderness Battlefield, who are raising the funds for the work, and who give tours to the public. Our volunteer guide today was a lively storyteller who would have been happy to go on for hours, I’m sure. The home is mostly unfurnished, and will likely remain that way, in keeping with how the house would have looked during the Civil War. The house tour, which currently includes a good look at the guts of the house, was informative, and the grounds are lovely. I’d recommend Ellwood to anyone who is doing the battlefield tour...especially anyone who is a little burned out on military strategy and troop movements.

Here lies Gen. Stonewall Jackson's arm:

Toiletries like the ones used by Union Gen. Gouverneur Warren during his occupation of the home. Bloody battles or no, good grooming is a must:

Here's part of the house that is still awaiting restoration:

Ellwood is open weekends and holidays through October 26 from 11-5. Admission is free, but if you make a donation to help fund the restoration, you get to choose a gift, like a commemorative cedar pencil ($2), notecards ($5), or this lovely mug for a $10 donation:

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