Saturday, March 18, 2017

Finding 'Gallant' John Pelham's little corner of history

A granite marker, placed on the site early in the 20th century, notes Pelham's place in history.
                                     Check out Pelham's Corner in this Google Street View.

Major John Pelham was fatally wounded
at Kelly's Ford on March 17, 1863.

(Alabama Department of
 Archives and History)
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The site of one of the most audacious acts of the Civil War may be found on a sliver of land 20 yards from the entrance of Family Dollar and a stone's throw from the parking lot of a CVS Pharmacy.

On the morning of Dec. 13, 1862, 24-year-old Major John Pelham, commanding J.E.B. Stuart's Horse Artillery, directed cannon fire toward the left flank of the attacking Union army less than a mile away, helping delay the Yankees' assault for nearly two hours during the Battle of Fredericksburg. ""It is glorious to see such courage in one so young," General Robert E. Lee famously said of the young officer, who has gone down in history at "The Gallant Pelham."

On the corner of Tidewater Trail and Benchmark Drive, a Virginia state historical sign, two wayside markers, a 1,700-pound replica Napoleon and a small, granite monument on a one-acre plot mark where Pelham gained valuable time for the Army of Northern Virginia.

If Pelham, a West Point-educated officer from Alabama, were to magically come back in time and direct cannon fire from the little corner today, he would face several challenges. Neither the customers in Family Dollar nor the parents of children in the nearby Creative Childcare on Tidewater Trail would be pleased. It certainly would not be good for the game of the golfers at Fredericksburg Country Club, a wayward cannon shot up the road. Any overshot by Pelham's gunners might crash into the John Deere store or the Wawa Market convenience store on Tidewater Trail, perhaps setting off a nasty explosion of the gas tanks. And Pelham's gunners must avoid aiming low at all costs. Any shot into the climate-controlled storage units across the road at Heated Warehouse would be very bad for that company's business.

If the Civil War Trust had not saved from development 208 acres at the nearby Slaughter Pen farm, just off Tidewater Trail (the war-time Bowling Green Road), our immortal Pelham would have had additional targets to snuff out in 2017.

A Yankee Candle Outlet store perhaps?

                      An interactive panorama of the site. Ciick on upper right to expand.

A replica 12-pounder Napoleon was placed on Pelham's Corner in 2013.
A Virginia historical sign celebrates "The Gallant Pelham."
A 7-Eleven and Family Dollar do business now on Pelham's Corner.

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1 comment:

  1. That monument must have a new base, in the the google street view (from Jan 2016) it was not there.