Chesterfield celebrates Civil War Sesquicentennial

As 2011 marks the Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War, or the 150th year since its commencement, president of the Chesterfield Historical Society of Virginia (CHSV) Liess van der Linden-Brusse, observes the purpose of recognizing history.

“You need to know where you come from in order to plan for the future,” she said. “We say at the historical society that history is our obligation to the future.
For van der Linden-Brusse, memorializing historical events such as the American Civil War are “occasions to reflect, to look back and see if we’re improving. The sheer devastation it did to this country is something that we need to be reminded of … so that it never happens again.”

In honoring the 150th year of the Civil War, the Chesterfield County Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Committee of CHSV has created “The Civil War on the James Tour”, an adventurous approach at reminding county residents of this tragic chapter in American History, while simultaneously educating people of its impact locally.

The Civil War on the James Tour kicks off March 6 and traces naval actions along the James River in the areas surrounding Dutch Gap and Jones Neck from 1862-1865.
Scott Williams, Civil War historian and member of the committee, looks at the war from a national and local perspective.

“It’s one of the main events that shaped us into the nation that we are now,” said Williams, who co-authored the recently published Bermuda Hundred Campaign Tour Guide. “A lot of important events happened in Chesterfield, so we just think it’s very important that we educate the citizens about what took place in our backyard.”

From aboard the Discovery Barge II, a 24 ft., covered pontoon boat, those attending will cruise along the James while Williams, also Chairman of the Military History Committee of the CHSV, explains the historical importance of various locations as they appear. His stories will include tidbits of Confederate torpedoes, the construction of the Dutch Gap Canal, the Bermuda Hundred Campaign among other naval skirmishes and facts.

For van der Linden-Brusse who once experienced The Civil War on the James Tour herself, the experience is “absolutely incredible. You get a totally different perspective, for obvious reasons.”

Tours will depart twice from Deep Bottom Boat Landing in Henrico County, just east of Chester, to the right of I-95, on March 6, 21-22 and June 1; first at noon and then other at 2:30 p.m. as lasting for two hours. To book a tour or for additional information, Capt. Mike Ostrander can be reached at 938-2350. Directions to the landing site can be found at www.discoverthejames.com

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