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County To Make Improvements At Ox Hill/Chantilly Battlefield
By Deborah Fitts
October 2003

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 fall.

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.

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