County To Make Improvements At Ox Hill/Chantilly
By Deborah Fitts
FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. - At long last progress may
bein the offing to carry out improvements to Ox Hill Battlefield
Park,the little, 4.5-acre parcel that became a poster child
forbattlefield preservation in the 1980s as intense development
in thisWashington suburb all but swallowed it up.
The Fairfax County Park Authority announced in August that it
isscheduling a year-long master-planning process to start this
The county has $168,000 for the project, including $118,000
proffered10 years ago by Centennial Development, the developer
whose townhomes now crowd the battlefield.
The Sept. 1, 1862, battle of Ox Hill, or Chantilly, occurred
as Stonewall Jackson attempted to cut off the retreating army
of Union Gen. John Pope in the wake of Second Manassas. The
clash, in a raging thunderstorm, resulted in the deaths of two
Union generals, Isaac Stevens and Phil Kearny - the latter a
rising star who appeared destined for high command in the Army
of the Potomac.
Park Authority director Michael Kane said a task force would
beformed to work with Park Authority staff on the project. Among
thoseinvited to join is Ed Wenzel of the Chantilly Battlefield
Association (CBA), who spearheaded the preservation effort.
Wenzel said he was hopeful that the Park Authority will agree
with aconcept plan drafted by CBA in 1998. It calls for a drive
with asmall parking lot and a visitor shelter. Aerial photos
would show troop positions superimposed on the dense development
that has nearly
obliterated the battlefield: townhouses, multi-lane highways,high-rise
office buildings and strip malls.
"We want people to realize that the battle wasn't fought
just on that4.5-acre park," Wenzel said. CBA also called
for interpretive signsinside and outside the park, and re-creation
of a zigzag fence marking the edge of a cornfield where intense
fighting took place.
Ox Hill is Fairfax's only county-owned battlefield park. Twomonuments,
to Stevens and Kearny, have long helped to anchor the battlefield
from being completely overrun.