One of Lynchburg, Virginia’s most impressive architectural landmarks is Monument Terrace. It is the link between Courthouse Hill and the central business district of Lynchburg.
The business district was originally along the banks of the James River and later the Kanawha Canal, as it’s hills presented building challenges. In 1813 the first courthouse was built on the hills above. Originally dirt paths connected Courthouse Hill to Water Street (today’s 9th Street) and Church Street. In 1882 plans were made by the city to improve the steep access. City engineer, August Forsberg, designed stone steps, a plaza and a fountain to be placed at Church and 9th Streets. This early monument was known as the Fireman’s Memorial Fountain dedicated to five firefighters who lost their lives nearby on May 30, 1883. A statue of a fireman was placed on top of the fountain with water spouting from the nozzle of his hose. The Fireman’s Fountain stood here until 1924.
Today’s Monument Terrace was designed by Aubrey Chesterman as a memorial to Lynchburg’s World War I dead. It was completed in 1925. The decorative Beaux Arts stairway is constructed of granite, with limestone balusters and steps, brick pavers are on the landings. There are 132 steps, 10 landings, and 11 markers and monuments along the Terrace. Eight of the markers are devoted to military service while three commemorate civic milestones. Monument Terrace now honors all those who have given the ultimate sacrifice in the wars fought by the United States, beginning with the Civil War until the Vietnam War.
Every Friday, between 12:00-1:00 PM, since 2001 (the beginning of the first Gulf War), Monument Terrace has been the place for current and retired servicemen and women, plus the general public, to gather to demonstrate their support to the men and women who serve in the military services today.
At the top of the terrace is the old courthouse which is now the Lynchburg Museum and it has a great view of the City down to the river and Langley Fountain.
For many people in Lynchburg, the “Confederate Cemetery” is the Old City Cemetery. Early maps often referred to Confederate Cemetery, not Old City Cemetery. Why are there over 2,200 Confederate soldiers, from 14 states, buried in Lynchburg?
Although there was no significant military engagement in or near Lynchburg, the city was home to the second largest permanent hospital center in the Confederacy. The Civil War was the first war, fought in the United States, where injured soldiers were removed from the battlefield, placed onto box cars and taken to the nearest “hospital town” for treatment, surgery or to die. As Lynchburg had three major rail lines soldiers were oftentimes brought here. Tens of thousands of soldiers, both Union and Confederate, were treated in local hospitals (previously used as tobacco warehouses). When they died they were brought to the city’s only public burial ground, Old City Cemetery, where it was customary to bury “strangers” and those without relatives nearby.
In 1861 the first of 2,500 Civil War soldiers was buried in the cemetery. There are over 2,000 white marble headstones in the Confederate section, each with two lines of inscription. The first line gives the soldier’s initials and the second line gives an abbreviation for his military unit and state. The headstones were installed by the Southern Memorial Association between 1904 and 1915, at a cost of $1.25 each.
In 1866 the Union soldiers buried in the cemetery were exhumed. Many were sent to their hometowns. Approximately 200 Union soldiers were relocated to Poplar Grove National Cemetery near Petersburg, VA.
The Confederate Section is bordered on 3 sides by a boxwood hedge and the old brick wall on the fourth. The 500-foot long, five foot tall brick wall was constructed in 1886. You enter this section of the cemetery through the entrance arch. Made from granite, the arch was built in 1926. It serves as a gateway and a memorial.
In 1869 the Monument to the States was erected. It is the oldest Confederate monument in Virginia and the fourth oldest in the United States. Each of the 14 blocks bears the name of a state represented by soldiers buried here. The order of states is based on the space needed for the lettering, not the number of soldiers from each state buried here.
In 1931 the large concrete bench, Veteran’s Bench, and the domed temple or belvedere, Speakers Belvedere, were built for the annual Memorial Day ceremony. The Memorial Day ceremony has been held almost every year since 1866. It is a most interesting and educational ceremony to attend. Review the Old City Cemetery calendar of events for next year’s date and time.
In addition to the graves of individual Confederate soldiers is a section called Negro Row. Ten African-Americans are buried within or adjacent to the Confederate Section. Most of those buried in Negro Row were slaves who worked in the local military hospitals. Others included body servants of Confederate military officers. The only woman buried in the Confederate Section during the war was a slave known only as “Jane”.
The first Civil War soldier buried in Lynchburg was Pvt.Thomas P. Plunkett. He died of disease at the old Lynchburg College hospital on June 17, 1862. There are six known soldiers buried here who died in the Battle of Lynchburg, June 17-18, 1864. Three known soldiers buried here were deserters. All died when shot for desertion.
Using data from George A. Diuguid’s excellent cemetery records a six-sided kiosk and information display was erected in 1995. Descendants can use the kiosk to search for their soldiers name and burial location.
Throughout June, July and August when the Cemetery hosts free, walking tours (10:00 am each Saturday) of the cemetery time is always spent in the Confederate Section. The Candlelight Tours, held during October, usually tell the story of a Confederate soldier buried here. Or, if you would like to do research on your own burial records are available in the Cemetery Center.
During the past two summers local professors and students interested in archaeology have been conducting “below ground archaeology” surveys in the Confederate Section. By removing and scraping the soil only six inches deep usually reveals very clear answers to grave locations and orientation. The soil in a grave shaft is looser and a different color from the undisturbed “walls” of the grave shaft. Although graves are traditionally six feet deep, graves found here are often only four feet deep or sometimes as shallow as one foot deep.
Almost every guest who has stayed with us at The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast has visited the Old City Cemetery. Some take advantage of the tours or events, others wander and enjoy the peacefulness of the cemetery grounds where they might take pictures or contemplate those who have passed on.
On Friday, August 12th, at 3:00 pm the Lynchburg Museum will host a lecture presented by Howard Gregory. His topic of discussion will be the Wreck of the Old 97.
What was the Wreck of the Old 97? It was an American rail disaster involving the Southern Railway mail train, officially known as the Fast Mail, on September 27, 1903. The train was en route from Monroe, VA to Spencer, NC. The train consisted of two postal cars, one express and one baggage car for the storage of mail. 18 men were on board. Due to excessive speed, in an attempt to maintain schedule, the train derailed at the Stillhouse Trestle near Danville, where the train careened off the side of the trestle bridge, killing eleven and injuring seven others.
On the day of the accident the Old 97 was behind schedule when it left Washington, DC and was an hour late when it arrived in Monroe. At Monroe the engineer was instructed to get the Fast Mail to Spencer, 166 miles away, on time The scheduled running time was four hours, fifteen minutes, at an average speed of 39 miles per hour. The route between Monroe and Spencer was rolling terrain with numerous danger points due to the combination of grades and tight radius curves. Engineers were warned to watch their speed. However the engineer was unable to sufficiently reduce speed as he approached the 45-foot high Stilljhouse Trestle. Approaching the curve leading to the trestle at about 70 miles per hour caused the entire train to derail and plunge into the ravine below. A huge fire erupted and consumed all of the jagged debris from the wooden cars. Nine of the eleven men who died were killed immediately.
Although the Vice-president of the Southern Railway placed the blame of the accident firmly on the engineer, the railroad was at least partially to blame, as they has a lucrative contract with the U.S. Post Office to haul mail. The contract included a penalty clause for each minute the mail was late into Spencer.
The accident became a sensation with thousands of spectators at the scene, newspaper stories and a series of ballads written about he wreck. The most popular ballad was an early country hit and the first million-selling record in the United States when recorded by Vernon Dalhart for RCA Victor Records in 1924.
The lecture will take place at 901 Court Street, starting to 3:00 pm. Tickets are $10, unless you are a member of the Museum. Once the lecture is finished don’t forget to tour the special museum exhibit A Great Change in the Situation of Man: Lynchburg’s Railroads, found on the lower level of the museum. This exhibit is free.
Mike and I have discovered an easy way to make omelets, especially if you are cooking for a full house, as we often do at The Carriage House inn Bed and Breakfast. We use a waffle iron!
- 2-3 medium eggs (depending on the size of your waffle iron)
- 3 tablespoons whole milk
- 1 tablespoon shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 tablespoon diced red pepper
- 1 tablespoon chopped broccoli
- 1 tablespoon cooked, bulk sausage
- 15 baby spinach leaves cut into small pieces
Preheat waffle iron and spray with cooking spray on both top and bottom. Whisk eggs and milk in a medium bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients. When waffle iron is hot, slowly pour in egg batter. Be careful not to fill up too much. There should be a thin layer of egg batter across the entire surface of the bottom iron. Depending on the depth and size of your waffle iron, you may have a little liquid left over. Makes one omelet. Sprinkle cheese on it after if is removed from the waffle iron.
*You can add any additional ingredients to the omelet that you enjoy eating. We have added diced mushrooms, spinach, diced squash or zucchini, diced asparagus and kale. Based on your dietary guidelines you can add or delete what ever you want.
**We use a large, Belgium waffle iron so we need 3 eggs to make a whole omelet.. We serve each guest one half of the omelet along with two side dishes such as roasted country potatoes and a cucumber-tomato salad dressed in a oil and Balsamic vinegar dressing (shown above).
Your Lynchburg Bed and Breakfast hopes you enjoy this recipe. Check back often for new recipes.
Lynchburg unexpectedly became a major “hospital city” during the Civil War due to it’s railroads, availability of “rooms” and it’s remoteness. In fact, in terms of numbers of Confederate Hospitals no other city had more hospitals except for Richmond, Virginia.
Three rail lines terminated in Lynchburg, the Virginia & Tennessee Railroad (from the southwest), the Orange & Alexandria Railroad (from the north) and the Southside Railroad (from Richmond).
Before the war Lynchburg had 39 tobacco manufacturers and another 41 businesses that were manipulators and shippers of the plant. These warehouses were converted to hospitals, along with hotels, a college (Lynchburg College), meeting halls, stables and individual people’s homes. College Hospital admitted more than 20,000 Confederate casualties during the four years of the Civil War.
Lynchburg was considered remote since it was far removed from the eastern part of the state where much of the fighting took place. Warfare took place mostly on flat land, which Lynchburg is certainly not. The James River borders the city on one side, much like a moat.
The five hotels in Lynchburg were all used as hospitals at some point during the war. The Warwick House, located at 1003 Main Street, was the first permanent hospital. The Union “City Hotel” became known as the Ladies’ Relief Hospital. Five hundred women formed the Ladies’ Relief Society, similar to our American Red Cross today. These untrained women were married to wealthy entrepreneurs but they willingly learned medical techniques of putting on tourniquets, cleaning lacerations and ministering to the terminally ill. The Ladies’ relief Hospital death rate in the four years of the war dropped from 93 deaths during the first two years of the war to 36 deaths during the last two years of the war, with roughly the same number of admissions.
The “Tobacco” Hospitals served a great need as the smaller hospitals were occupied to beyond capacity. The hospital names reflected the names of the tobacconist owners who sacrificed their commercial buildings for the sake of the war effort. These building were the antithesis of what we consider a modern day hospital-dingy, poorly lit, cramped and filled with strange odors. Two permanent tobacco hospitals were located on Dunbar Street near Twelfth Street. Both buildings were four to five story rectangular red brick structures, timber framed with stone underpinning, stepped parapet walls and gable roofs.
Prior to the Civil War the wounded in battle were treated on the battlefield or in tent hospitals. The hospitals cared for thousands, but often the patients died not from their wounds but from the treatment or rampant epidemic diseases that spread throughout the close quarters of the hospital buildings. Smallpox, measles, malaria, typhoid fever, dysentery and acute diarrhea killed many. Cleanliness and good hygiene would have prevented many of these diseases from spreading or spreading so rapidly. It is estimated that over 245,513 soldiers, from both armies, died from infection.
The City of Lynchburg in the four years of the Civil War became a living hospital laboratory, testing the efficiency of an overwhelmed, untrained medical system to see if the hospital concept could progress from its reputation as a place where people went to die to a place where people went to recover and return home. Thankfully we have the hospital system today that works efficiently and to the patients benefit.
Interested in the Civil War? When visiting our Lynchburg Bed and Breakfast, The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast we can point you to many Civil War sites. For reservations call us at 434-846-1388 or book on-line.
At The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast we serve this chilled cantaloupe soup as a fruit course during the month of July, when Halifax cantaloupes are plentiful at the Community Market in downtown Lynchburg, VA. Fresh herbs, either grown in our garden or from a vendor at the market, brighten up the flavor of everything. The aromatic leaves also have nutritional value offering potent small doses of antioxidants. Enhance a healthy diet and protect yourself against cancer and heart disease by eating more fruits and fresh herbs, especially during the summer months when they are fresh and plentiful.
- 1 large ripe cantaloupe (about 4 pounds), seeds and rind removed, cut into chunks, plus thin wedges for garnish
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- pinch of kosher salt
- pinch of cinnamon to sprinkle on top–optional
- dollop of whip cream–optional
- fresh mint sprig–optional
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 4 sprigs tarragon
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
To make the soup: Working in two batches, puree cantaloupe, sour cream, honey, lemon juice and salt in a blender until smooth. Press through a fine sieve into a bowl. Refrigerate until cold, at least 1 hour.
To make the syrup: Bring sugar and 3/4 cup water to a boil in a saucepan, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Boil until syrup has reduced to 2/3 cup, about 7 minutes. Remove from heat; add tarragon. Transfer to a bowl; refrigerate until cold, at least 1 hour.
Puree syrup, tarragon and lemon juice in a blender until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use; stir just before serving.
Divide soup among bowls. Drizzle with tarragon syrup; garnish with cantaloupe wedges and tarragon sprig.
The Annual Virginia Cantaloupe Festival is held on at the Berry Hill resort in South Boston, VA. Bring a chair, blanket and a friend for an evening of fun, delicious food, beverages and live music. A summer picnic menu will be prepared by the chef of Berry Hill resort. Adult and regular beverages will be available. Live music is performed by local bands. All festival goers receive a voucher to be presented at either Hudson Farm or Reese’s Farm to receive their Virginia cantaloupe. Tickets can be purchased through the South Boston Chamber of Commerce.
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