Beautiful view, horrible history

The one thing that continually amazes me is how much I learn by taking photos. And often what I learn has more to do with the setting than photography itself. This photo is the perfect example.

Anyone would be happy to take this shot. I certainly was. The late afternoon light was perfect shining on the Blue Ridge Mountains, highlighting the ice-encrusted trees along the undulating summit, the southernmost section of Shenandoah National Park.

I noticed a historical plaque close to where I had stopped to get the shot. So I pulled up to read what the plate said. I was stunned. Here among all these beautiful, rolling farm fields against the backdrop of the mesmerizing Blue Ridge Mountains a bloody, decisive Civil War battle had been fought. Known as the Battle of Piedmont, Union soldiers defeated Confederate troops. The defeat led to the fall of Staunton and control of the railways in the Shenandoah Valley, known as the Breadbasket of Confederacy.

The combat was costly on both sides. The Union suffered 800 casualties and the South nearly twice as many with 1,500. I wondered if passersby knew of the blood spilled all those decades ago. Did the farmers think about the battle as they plowed those fields? Did they know?

I took the photo with mixed emotions. The scenery was marvelous, the history humbling. Without the marker, this would be just another beautiful rural scene. In reality, it was chilling.

Writer, photographer, lover of nature. I write about what I encounter along life's wild and wonderful way. I blog at https://brucestambaugh.com/.

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