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Saturday, July 6, 2013

Petersburg, Revolutionary War Sites and Vandalism

     Take a look at this.


     This is a plaque in Petersburg, Virginia, titled "The Battle at the Bridge." On April 25, 1781, British forces under joint command of William Phillips and the now-British general Benedict Arnold defeated the outnumbered American militia.  A delaying action was fought here at the Pocahontas Bridge while the Americans crossed the Appomattox River.  More about this battle in later posts.

     But one vandal, or perhaps a small group of vandals, thought it would be worthwhile to deface this marker.  About a tenth of a mile away is another marker, but all that remains of that is the rusted metal stand.      In New Jersey, another such marker--an older one--was long ago removed from its boulder for the metal.  There used to be four explanatory plaques like this at Ash Swamp in New Jersey noting the battle of Short Hills; those are gone as well.  While the information can be retrieved at hmdb.com (historical marker data base dot com), the nice thing about these markers is you can stand in the place, gain some insight, look around, and realize you are there.  It takes one person to do this, and what government official wants to spend money to fix it, knowing it will only be destroyed again?

     I suppose one could argue this is also a learning experience, that there were destructive elements at the time (this is nothing next to the tarring and feathering that went on), but one has to wonder what was gained by this? It's a small thing, perhaps--it's just a plaque.  Who cares? Well, someone took the time to design it, write it, and install it.  Someone thought it important.  It may take a village to raise a child, but it only takes one person to ruin a city's cultural and historical experience.
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