American Civil War In My Backyard—Literally

There is a very large hole on my property. It is probably 15 feet deep, 30 feet across, and 100 feet long.

american civil war

Civil War trench?: McCool Travel

There are also several smaller trenches in my back yard. Thanks to the efforts of some neighbors, we know the trenches were used in the American Civil War.

american civil war

Civil War trench: McCool Travel

american civil war

Civil War trench: McCool Travel

That’s right, I have Civil War history in my backyard!

Historians, archaeologists, and architects have studied the trenches and determined that they were engineered and built specifically for the Civil War in the 1860s.

Why are there Civil War trenches on my property?

Well, the Washington & Old Dominion trail is nearby. The W&OD (we call it “wad”) is a bike/horse/foot trail converted from a railroad. During the Civil War, a train line ran right next to my property!

The researchers determined that the series of rifle pits were engineered and built to disrupt train service.

While I have a few trenches on my property, other trenches run perpendicular to the W&OD through other neighbor’s yards.

american civil war

Civil War trenches: View Toward W&OD: McCool Travel

A recent revelation is that one trench likely served as living quarters. My neighbors figured this out while visiting a recreated Civil War site. One of the park’s trenches has a stone wall with a wooden hut built over it. Sure enough, one of “our” trenches has a stone wall.

american civil war

Civil War Trench: Possible Living Quarters: McCool Travel

The soldiers probably picked this spot because it was on a hill and close to a natural water source. In the next picture, the fresh water spring is at the bottom of the green grass in the distance.

american civil war

Civil War trench: View toward water spring: McCool Travel

In the second picture above is what remains from a mighty oak that fell a few years ago. For a sense of how large the tree was, note below my size 13 shoe inside the hollow trunk.

american civil war

Civil War trench: McCool Travel

While I do not expect that our properties will become a National Park, one neighbor does lead historical tours. His tour visits many sites in the Hunter Mill corridor with a favorite stop being our trenches.

But you can have your own private tour on your next visit to the area. Just give me a holler!

As for the giant hole, no one knows why it is here. The researchers said it was not constructed along with the rifle trenches. In fact, it may not even be manmade.

Found Any Relics?

A couple of years after we moved in, I had a coworker come over with his relic-hunting equipment. He found nothing. My neighbors said the area was very well picked over before the houses were built (in the 1970s). One neighbor did find a cannon ball. I have found a suspicious metal object that may be a shattered bullet. That’s about it.

How’s that for nearby history? What is in your backyard?

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3 Responses to “American Civil War In My Backyard—Literally”

  1. roadsidewonders (@RoadsideWonders) November 15, 2012 at 5:03 pm #

    Nothing like having a “wonder” in your backyard! Don’t you wish you had a time machine so that you could sneak a peek at your property during this time period 🙂

    And … WOW … that was a HUGE tree!

    • McCool Travel November 15, 2012 at 5:20 pm #

      Definitely wish a could see what happened back then. Indeed, I miss the old oak tree.


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