Virtual Ellwood


From Hennessy:

A brief stray from our normal stuff today to bring you Virtual Ellwood.  This is a 3-D flyby of Ellwood that we have done as part of our Virtual Wilderness project–a 3-D interactive twin to Virtual Fredericksburg.  I share this because it’s cool, of course, but also because this fly-around reflects the very latest research on Ellwood’s wartime landscape as it appears in the nearly-done Cultural Landscape Report.  There are some things we still don’t know for sure–for example, exactly how many slave cabins stood behind the Big House and how they were configured–but most of this is rock-solid.  While Ellwood is the only component of the Wilderness landscape we found it worthwhile to model (there wasn’t much on the battlefield in 1864),  this sort of modeling will be typical for Virtual Fredericksburg.  That program will include more than 60 modeled buildings.

For those who don’t know, Ellwood is a c1799 middling plantation on the eastern edge of the Wilderness Battlefield.  We just unveiled the place in newly restored form, with new exhibits.  For more on that, see here.

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9 thoughts on “Virtual Ellwood

    • John: This particular loop is already on display in the new exhibits at Ellwood. As for Virtual Wilderness and Virtual Fredericksburg, I receive delivery of the base program on Thursday, and then we can start entering stuff into it. The first thing we will be concentrating on is the Sunken Road/Marye’s Heights area. I expect we’ll have a critical mass of stuff in about three months. Once there, we will unroll the program to the public.

    • By the way, were are working on a similar, but in fact more complex, fly-by of Chatham as well, based in part on Eric’s work on outbuildings. I hope to have that in a couple of months, and will once again share it here.

  1. Are there any plans to poke around, as it were, archaeologically speaking, in the vicinity of Ellwood and see if the location of the slave cabins can be turned up? Or does the fact that it’s surrounded by plowed fields make it unlikely anything would turn up?

    • The NPS did some archeology in the yard of Ellwood in the 1980s. It, along with various pieces of documentation, confirmed many things–the kitchen, storehouse, oven, etc.–but only went so far as to suggest the location of the slave cabins based on what was found then (remember, these were likely earth-fast buildings, leaving behind an archeological record that would be revealed only with some pretty extensive archeology–and the 1980s effort was not that. More work needs to be done, but the surmised location certainly makes sense for the location of housing for the house slaves. As for the future, well…the vast majority of archeology done by the NPS is project-related. Very little of it is investigatory–that is, intended to locate and reveal a specific feature (the sort of work being done now at Ferry Farm, George Washington’s Boyhood home in Stafford County). Funding for that kind of work is very hard to get, so additional investigative work at Ellwood anytime soon seems unlikely. But, even absent that, I think generally we have a pretty good handle on the immediate landscape around the Big House.

      Bear in mind that somewhere beyond the immediate vicinity of the Big House is the remnant of a slave community for field hands consisting, in 1860, of six cabins. We have no idea where that complex was, except to say, as Eric Mink has recently discovered, that it was on the Spotsylvania side of the Ellwood tract. That is a site we would dearly love to find.

      Thanks for reading and commenting. John H.

  2. I visited Elllwood today, and the displays at the house are great. The map program really helped to understand the battle of the Wilderness. The restoration of the house is very well done, even to the point of staining the wallpaper to make it look like pictures have been there, and then removed. My complements to the staff.

    • Thanks Stephen, very much. A lot of people–both from the Friends of Wilderness and the NPS–put in a lot of work to make it happen. It’s not perfect (you ALWAYS find something you missed or would change), but I think we are all very pleased with the outcome. I’ll make sure the rest of the staff and the folks from the Friends see your post. Thanks. John H.

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