Published on October 29, 2020

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Help Save the West Woods

Probably the most intensely fought over parcel of ground that we have ever attempted to preserve.

Click image to see map of battle and target properties

We need your help to raise $100,000 to move us closer to the finish line on a project that you and I began five years ago.  Over $400,000 still stands between us and the preservation of the West Woods on the Third Winchester Battlefield.  We need to raise a minimum of 25% of that in order to make a significant payment and keep this project from falling off the rails.

Of all the battles fought in the Shenandoah Valley none was larger or took more of a human toll than the Third Battle of Winchester.  And of all the projects that we have tackled together, preserving the West Woods, site of constant fighting for over ten hours during that battle, has been one of the most complicated and expensive – and one of the most critical and important.

Preserving this site protects what is probably the most intensely fought over parcel of ground that we have ever attempted to preserve. We have raised private donations; have leveraged the extreme generosity of the landowner; secured significant grants; and enlisted the support of partner organizations… but we aren’t there yet.  As it always does, it all comes down to you.

In this appeal we are trying to raise $100,000, one-fourth of the total amount that we need to ultimately complete the project.  If we can do that – and if we can do it again once a year for the next three years – we will have saved a property that everyone thought was lost; a property that was slated for commercial development; the last vestige of the most fought over woodlot in the Shenandoah Valley.

In a strange twist of fate, what is arguably the single most fought over parcel of ground in the Shenandoah Valley – the one that was the scene of intense fighting for over 10 hours during Third Winchester – would be the parcel that has taken us the longest and cost us the most in our attempt to preserve it.  We must push through, and scrape and claw with all of our might for every inch of this parcel of woods – with every bit as much determination as those who struggled for this ground 156 years ago.   We simply cannot lose the West Woods.  It is hallowed by the blood of Tar Heels and Tigers; of fresh-faced sons of the Empire State and boys from the Connecticut coast.  Virginians and Alabamians; Ohioans and Pennsylvanians laid down their lives on this parcel in a struggle to answer the greatest Constitutional questions our nation has ever faced.

And we have a chance to save it.  A chance to protect it forever as a place of remembrance and learning – ONE chance to keep it from being lost.  I am not ashamed to say that I will keep coming back to you with my plea for assistance until we pay the final dollar and we can rest… secure in the knowledge that the West Woods will forever stand as a monument to the Americans who fought and died there.

To see the complete letter from SVBF CEO Keven Walker, click here.







“A terrific thunderstorm was raging in the woods.”  – Confederate Private George Q. Peyton

New Limited Edition Print – “Charge Them, Boys, Charge Them!”

Click image above to see larger version

Donate $1,000 or More to Claim Your Own Print!

In conjunction with this preservation campaign, we have exciting news – and an exciting offer.  In an effort to bring renewed attention to the West Woods and its importance, we’re offering the opportunity for you to own a limited edition, artist-signed print of a painting by Jeff Trexler – “Charge Them, Boys, Charge Them!”   This is the first painting depicting any part of the Third Battle of Winchester that has been completed in over 100 years!  The painting was commissioned, at no small cost, and on our behalf, by Cmdr. Craig Morin…an amazing depiction of General Robert Rodes (with his blue headquarters flag behind him) ordering his men into the West Woods.

Givers of $1,000 or more can receive a limited edition 24” x 33” full-color print of “Charge Them Boys, Charge Them!” on premium matte paper, hand-signed and numbered by artist Jeff Trexler, shipped to you ready for framing. Only 100 of these limited edition prints have been made, and they will never be for sale or reprinted, so don’t delay! Get in touch with Kirsten Kauling at (540) 740-4545 to secure yours today!

Click here to see a flyer about this special offer.

“No single death – save that of [Stonewall] Jackson, caused such deep regret and bitter sorrow.” –  Confederate Gen. Cullen Battle, on the death of Robert Rodes

“Pour It Into ‘Em – Give ‘Em Hell!” – The West Woods and Third Winchester

Click image above to see historic sketch

During Third Winchester, no ground was more involved in the fighting than the West Woods.  The woodlot was at the center of the back-and-forth action for much of the day.

As fighting began, dismounted Confederate cavalry under Gen. Bradley Johnson, posted along the edge of the woods, sparred with Federal skirmishers.  By the time of Sheridan’s 11:40am attack, their position had been taken by dismounted Virginia cavalry under Col. William Thompson and a battery of artillery under Col. William Nelson.  As Union Gen. James B. Ricketts’s division moved south of the woods to attack Ramseur, Nelson’s artillerymen sent shells crashing into their flank.  Jubal Early rode up behind the gunners and shouted, “Pour it into ‘em— give ‘em hell— God damn their blue-bellied souls – pour it into ‘em!”  Despite the fire, Ricketts’ men kept advancing, driving Ramseur’s men west.

Just north, Union Col. Jacob Sharpe’s brigade was advancing across the Middle Field towards the West Woods.  Early ordered Gen. Zebulon York’s Louisiana Tigers (of Gen. John B. Gordon’s just-arriving division) to “meet them halfway.”  York’s men advanced out of the West Woods to confront the Federals; Confederate Capt. William J. Seymour described “two opposing lines charging at the same time.”  The combatants met in what another southerner described as “the prettiest stand up fair open field fight.” But Sharpe’s brigade “advanced too fast, leaving its right flank exposed.”  Pummeled by flanking fire and Confederate artillery, Sharpe’s brigade eventually broke.

But the Federals and their superior numbers kept coming, and the Confederates were pushed back across the battlefield.   York’s Tigers were now the ones “far in advance” of the rest of the line, and York withdrew to avoid being cut off.  As the battle swung in the Federals’ favor, Union troops entered the West Woods – but critical Confederate reinforcements were about to arrive…

For more on the battle and the actions on the target properties, click here.