Honoring Veterans and Celebrating Heritage at Fishburne Military School

Nestled in the Shenandoah Valley and at the heart of Waynesboro, Virginia, stands a vibrant testament to the values of integrity and citizenship.  For over 135 years, historic Fishburne Military School has prepared young men for college and a life of leadership.  The oldest and smallest of all military schools in Virginia, Fishburne Military School enrolls 200 student cadets each year into its distinguished academic curriculum built on the structure of an Army JROTC program.  

Founded in 1879, by Professor James Abbott Fishburne, the history and heritage of Fishburne Military School is steeped in rich traditions that honor the past, engage the present, and prepare for the future.  The school’s focus on honor and service shines brightly in Waynesboro as the Fishburne Military School Corps of Cadets actively participates in service projects, review and demonstrations, parades, and poignant ceremonies throughout the community and region.

Founder’s Day and Annual Veterans Day Ceremony

Fishburne Military School

The school’s annual Founder’s Day and Veterans Day Ceremony held on or near November 11, marks a doubly significant date for the Fishburne Military School community.  Distinguished guests, special guest speakers, faculty, staff, veterans, and cadets gather to offer respect to all veterans and to honor Professor Fishburne who passed away on Armistice Day, November 11, 1921.

The tightly drilled ceremony includes a moving tribute to our servicemembers who remain prisoners of war and are missing in action, and to the 60 Fishburne alumni who have given their lives in service to the country, from the Spanish-American War to the War on Terrorism.

Holiday Parades

Fishburne Military School

The Fishburne Military School’s marching unit, comprised of its band, staff, color guard, and two drill teams, has a long and distinguished history. Fishburne has marched in review for President Calvin Coolidge, Virginia Governors Harry Flood Byrd and Gerald Baliles, Secretaries of the Army Generals George C. Marshall and Eric Shinseki, in the 58th Presidential Inauguration, and in the annual George Washington Birthday Parade in Old Town Alexandria.  Additionally, the Corps of Cadets participates in the Staunton Veterans Day Parade, as well as in both the Waynesboro and Staunton Christmas parades.

Wreaths Across America Ceremony

Fishburne Military School

For several years, Fishburne Military School has participated in Wreaths Across America, an annual national event with the mission to Remember, Honor and Teach.  What began at Arlington National Cemetery with one man and 5,000 wreaths has become a national network of volunteers that places memorial wreaths on over 700,000 veterans’ graves.  Each December, a convoy of trucks filled with wreaths travels to each state, making stops at veteran cemeteries, schools, communities, and monuments.  Fishburne Military School had the honor of being selected as one such site, and the school’s ceremony remembers the country’s fallen heroes and honors those who serve.

To learn more about Waynesboro’s historic landmarks, living traditions, and community cornerstones, visit the Waynesboro Heritage Museum.

Civil War Driving Tours

Bordered by the Blue Ridge and Allegheny mountains, the Shenandoah Valley acted as a north-south passage for travelers during its settlement and growth, and at no other time was its location so critical than during the Civil War. Union and Confederate troops clashed along its length as the two armies sought to gain ground while driving the enemy backwards. Today, Civil War buffs can experience those costly battles through a variety of museums, films, tours, battlefields, and re-enactments. Since any point in the Shenandoah Valley is easily reached within an hour or two of Waynesboro, the region is ripe for day trips and driving tours.

A cavalryman rides across the battlefield during Waynesboro at War’s Civil War Weekend. Photo by Katie Ford, courtesy of Waynesboro at War.
  1. Battle of Waynesboro Driving Tour

 Waynesboro was the site of the last Civil War battle fought in the Shenandoah Valley. On March 2, 1865, Confederate General Early faced off with Union General Sheridan in a brief skirmish that ended in a Confederate defeat. Just two months later, General Lee would surrender at Appomattox.

Start your driving tour by visiting the Plumb House Museum at 1012 W. Main Street (open Thurs-Sat, call 540-943-3943). The house, built between 1802 and 1804, stood just opposite the battle site and has the holes in its walls to prove it. From there, ascend the hill to 301 Pine Avenue to stand on the Confederate defensive line, which ran roughly the same direction as Pine. Next, drive to Ridgeview Park at the end of Magnolia Avenue. Here, a surprise attack was staged by the Union army along the gravel alley connecting the baseball fields to the end of Locust Avenue, which marked the left end of Early’s Confederate line. You can park at the baseball fields and walk the gravel alley, as motorized traffic is prohibited. For your final stop, head to the Waynesboro Heritage Museum at 420 W. Main Street in downtown Waynesboro. Here, Confederate Colonel William H. Harman was surrounded by five Federals and gunned down. The museum now stands as a wealth of information on the battle and general history of Waynesboro, so be sure to stop in.

A more detailed printed guide of this tour is available at the Waynesboro Downtown Visitor Center or by calling 540-942-6512.

Expand Your Experience

September 16-17, 2017: Waynesboro at War presents a Civil War Weekend. Held annually at Coyner Springs Park, the event highlights the Civil War action seen in Waynesboro. Spectators are invited to meet soldiers from each army, taste camp life, witness the battle, and even participate in an 1860s “Blue vs. Grey” baseball game.

Soldiers occupied tents such as these during the war. Photo by Katie Ford, courtesy of Waynesboro at War.
  1. Winchester Driving Tour

At the northern end of the Shenandoah Valley, Winchester endured numerous battles as the armies fought over its key position. Here, Stonewall Jackson established his headquarters for his famous 1862 Valley Campaign, and here generals Lee, Early, and Sheridan saw action during their own campaigns. A generous number of sites—more than can be mentioned in this driving tour—can be visited here.

Begin your tour at the Old Courthouse Civil War Museum at 20 N. Loudon Street (open Wed-Sat). This 1840 courthouse was used as a prison and hospital during the war and now exhibits over 3,000 artifacts from the Winchester area as well as soldiers’ graffiti on the walls. Next, stretch your legs along the many miles of interpretive trails through the Third Winchester Battlefield Park at 541 Redbud Road. This area saw some of the fiercest fighting of the whole war! When you’re ready to come indoors, head to Stonewall Jackson’s Headquarters Museum at 415 N. Braddock Street, where you’ll find one of the largest collections of Jackson memorabilia. Wrap up your day at the Kernstown Battlefield on the Pritchard-Grim Farm at 610 Battle Park Drive (open May-October, weekends only). This 315-acre farm was the center of the First and Second Battles of Kernstown and now houses a visitor center and exhibits.

Expand Your Experience

September 16: Friendly Fire, Murderous Fire: The Fight for the Middle Field – Third Winchester. Find out why this particular skirmish was called “that basin of hell.”

September 23: Civil War Era Ball. Hosted by the Kernstown Battlefield Association, this second annual ball will feature live music and dances called by the Shenandoah Valley Civil War Era Dancers.

Belle Grove Plantation, Middletown
  1. Signal Knob Area Driving Tour

Signal Knob served as a key lookout point on the 60-mile long Massanutten Mountains, which split the Valley in two from Strasburg to Harrisonburg. Hikers may enjoy the aggressive 10-mile hike to the top of the knob, but for those content to stay on level ground, start your tour at the Visitor Contact Station at 7712 Main Street, Middletown. Here, you will gain an overview of the history of the valley and the war, enhanced by a fiber optic map. Next, drive to the stately Belle Grove Plantation (336 Belle Grove Road). The plantation paints a picture of valley life prior to and during the war. The Battle of Cedar Creek was fought on and around the plantation’s grounds. For more in-depth interpretation of the Cedar Creek Battle, visit the CCB Foundation Headquarters, at 8437 Valley Pike. Finally, head to Hupp’s Hill Civil War Park at 33229 Old Valley Pike, Strasburg, where you’ll find a museum interpreting the 1864 Valley Campaign.

Expand Your Experience

September 23: Fisher’s Hill Bus Tour. Historian and author Scott Patchan will lead this in-depth bus tour of the Fisher’s Hill battlefield, covering both well-known and seldom-seen battlefield sites.

October 13: History at Sunset—Treating the Wounded at Cedar Creek. Join Ranger James Horn as he examines the treatment of wounded and the general practice of medicine during the Civil War.  This special program will be held at St. Thomas Chapel, which was used as a hospital by the Union army following the battle.

October 14-15: Battle of Cedar Creek Reenactment and Anniversary. Relive the largest Civil War battle in the Shenandoah Valley held on the original battlegrounds in Middletown, VA.

For more information on these or other Shenandoah Valley Civil War sites, visit Shenandoah at War.

 

 

Black History Month Spotlight: School was refuge in segregated Waynesboro

This article by , mcalello@newsleader.com, is reprinted with permission from The News Leader.

THE WAYNESBORO STORY BEHIND THE FILM “ROSENWALD”

Five people gather at a former school in Waynesboro and sit down at a table in a room that more than six decades ago was a home economics classroom. A married couple who own businesses in Staunton and Waynesboro, a history professor from Mary Baldwin University, a building supervisor for Waynesboro Parks and Recreation and a retired business owner who now serves on the board of a historical society for the Port Republic community. From this building they have come and made their mark in the world.

Until the school closed in the mid-60s, this was a gathering place for young kids to come and learn. For those sitting around the table this fall afternoon the room is full of echoes: the echoes of children who would arrive in the early morning cold and hungry after walking to school no matter the weather – for there were no buses for the kids who lived in Maupintown; echoes of the teacher who would be waiting there, having arrived early to heat the room’s coal furnace and provide the kids with warm socks and breakfast. The wooden floors and furnace are long gone now. The echoes remain, for those who’ve been here before.

Living Traditions in Historic Waynesboro, VA

In Waynesboro, Virginia, the city’s deep and vibrant history is a valued resource.  From industry to entertainment, Waynesboro’s heritage continues to impact its community, culture, and growth. Don’t miss the opportunity to experience these wonderful living traditions during your next visit!

Waynesboro: The “Iron Cross”

crozet-tunnel
Photo courtesy Claudius Crozet Blue Ridge Tunnel Foundation

In 1856, just a few years before the Civil War began, engineer Claudius Crozet completed the construction of a nearly mile-long railroad tunnel through the Rockfish Gap of Afton Mountain.  The tunnel allowed steam engine trains to cross the Blue Ridge Mountains, opening up an East-West route to transport both freight and passengers. This route later became part of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad.  With the opening of a North-South connection in 1881 by the Shenandoah Valley Railroad (later Norfolk and Western Railway), Waynesboro became the junction of two railroad lines, giving the town the nickname of the “Iron Cross.”

Continue reading “Living Traditions in Historic Waynesboro, VA”

Open Doors: The New Wayne Theatre Invites a Fresh Take

Ninety years ago, the historic Wayne Theatre opened its doors to the first surge of eager patrons waving tickets. This fall, history repeats itself, but now the theatre is sporting a new facelift and a new outlook.

The facelift has been taking place for years—ever since the late 1990s—when the theatre was a vacant twin cinema with pink-tiled bathrooms. Wayne Theatre Executive Director Tracy Straight at that time served as an elementary school music teacher and musical theatre director. She recalls brainstorming with Lillian Morse of the Waynesboro Players about forming a group of arts-minded citizens intent on saving the theatre. This fledgling group grew into the Wayne Theatre Alliance (WTA). Using a variety of tax credits and other capital, the alliance began overhauling the theatre in 2007. Even then, financial challenges forced construction to stop three times before the work was finally completed in 2016. The process was an arduous one for Straight and the WTA, but she asserts, “I am as engaged as ever!” Continue reading “Open Doors: The New Wayne Theatre Invites a Fresh Take”

11 Historic Landmarks In #WaynesboroVA

Waynesboro, Virginia has a rich architectural and cultural history reaching back to its founding in the late eighteenth century.  Many significant landmarks have been meticulously maintained and restored, and they paint a vivid picture of the city’s history, industry, and heritage.

Start your tour with these historic properties and districts, all listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Continue reading “11 Historic Landmarks In #WaynesboroVA”

Walk/Cycle/Learn/Relax on a #WaynesboroVA Rails-to-Trails Adventure

60-rails-of-autumn-1-with-creditWhat’s a rail trail and how can the lore of a railroad-rich destination contribute to a cool walk/cycle/learn/relax getaway? Rail trails are conversions of disused railways to multi-use paths for walking, cycling and sometimes horseback riding. Rail trails are growing in popularity around the country, not only because of unique features, but because they can be enjoyed by families and people of all fitness levels. There are several in the Shenandoah Valley worth investigating, and combining the stories of a region’s railroad history with treks along the mostly flat, often shaded, scenic railways can be a fun way to explore. There are plenty of ways to do just that from a base camp in Waynesboro, Virginia. Continue reading “Walk/Cycle/Learn/Relax on a #WaynesboroVA Rails-to-Trails Adventure”