From the Richmond Times-Dispatch, 9/6/1921 p. 1, c. 5
ROTARIANS MAKE TOUR OF STATE BATTLEFIELDS
Organization Takes First Concrete Step Toward Marking Historic Points.
Taking the first concrete step toward marking the battlefields around Richmond, more than 100 members of the Rotary Club, with fifty-three veterans from Lee Camp Soldiers’ Home as guests, yesterday took an automobile tour over the northern and eastern lines of battle in the Seven Days’ Campaign around the city, and placed temporary markers along the roadside, so travelers may locate some of the most famous battlefields of the War Between the States.
The Rotarians and their guests were amazed that, in all these years since the bloody days of 1862-1865, not a single marker had been erected to inform the wayfarer that he stood upon sacred ground, made so by the blood of thousands of patriots and heroes of the South. Those who have passed fields during the last fifty years have had nothing to remind them that they breathed the atmosphere once filled with victorious cries of the men of the Southland who, under the leadership of Lee and Jackson and Hill and Magruder, drove back the horde of invaders under McClellan, and saved the Capital of the Confederacy.
Filled With Patriotic Ardor.
Filled with patriotic ardor, the Rotarians armed themselves with crude markers, which they placed at the prominent points along the line from Mechanicsville to Fort Harrison, stopping for a while at Gaines’ Mill, Cold Harbor, and crossing Grapevine Bridge toward Savage Station, and on to Seven Pines, thence through White Oak Swamp, where at Elko, a refreshing shower prevented a stop, and on to Frazier’s Farm and Glendale, where luncheon was served. A stay of half an hour at Malvern Hill and a rest at Fort Harrison completed the tour, which, to all the Rotarians, was something of a revelation, when they saw what big odds and what almost insurmountable obstacles were overcome by the men under Lee.
“Fifty per cent of the people of Richmond,” said President Normand Call, “have forgotten the men of those days that tried men’s souls, the days of our fathers, and a smaller percentage know where the great battlefields are located. I really believe there are thousands of citizens of Richmond who do not know how to reach Beaver Dam Creek, at Ellerson’s Mill, near Mechanicsville, where one of the bloodiest engagements of the war took place. Few know where Malvern Hill is, and fewer have visited that spot where the Federals held the Confederates to the last ditch from an almost impregnable plateau, the entrenchments of which are now clothed in verdure, which conceals the scars of battle. You will observe that the only spots memorialized and preserved for all time are the resting places of Federal soldiers, many thousands of them lying beneath white stones in quiet and beautiful little cemeteries.
Is Sacred Ground.
“The Rotary Club will urge its friends and the city and State authorities to do something for the preservation of these sacred spots. No plowman should be permitted to turn his plowshare into the ground where brave men fought and bled and died. Monuments and tablets should be placed all through these green fields and ravines, and on these hillsides.”
The success of the trip was made possible through the combining efforts of a committee embracing Allen J. Saville, J. Ambler Johnston and Dr. Lawrence Price. They went over the route Saturday and tacked arrow markers upon fence and tree all along fifty miles of roadway, so that when the club and its guests left the Soldiers’ Home yesterday morning at 8:30 o’clock, not even the greenest member could have lost his way, except that he would not have known when he reached any of the battlefields.
The various battles and incidents which led up to them were briefly described by a Rotarian whose descriptive powers proved equal to an occasion, which inspired the party, and who placed before it a vivid word picture of the Seven Days Fight. At the finish of the tour, at Fort Harrison, President Norman Call extended to the speaker the thanks of the club for his graphic descriptions of the great battles.
“This undertaking is a great one,” said the speaker. “It is too big for even the Rotary Club to handle it alone. It wants other organizations and the city and State to come in and help. If we all take our coats off and get busy, we may at no distant day see this historic ground reclaimed, these roads made good, these battle fields made into one grand park, as a memorial to the men who fought and died for us.”