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May 24, 2013

Warrenton Cemetery statue needs fixing quickly

Contributed Photos
A town employee cleans the statue early this month, when the damage became clear.
The statue has shifted about 3 inches off the center of its pedestal.
If she falls, “Lady Virginia” would land on the stone wall dedicated in 1998.
A crane will lift and reset the 2,500-pound statue May 30.
“If we lose her, we lose history . . . . It’s an important part of Warrenton’s tourism. She looks over not just Confederate soldiers, but all of the Warrenton Cemetery.
— Lory Payne, cemetery historian and preservationist
“Lady Virginia”
• What: Statue atop 40-foot granite shaft at mass grave of 600 Confederate soldiers in Warrenton Cemetery

• Erected: 1877 by Ladies Memorial Association of Fauquier

• Size: 4-1/2 feet tall and 2,500 pounds

• Threat: 2011 earthquake and wind apparently have caused statue to shift about 3 inches off center of base

• Repairs:
Scheduled Thursday, May 30

• Estimated cost: $2,500

• Ceremony: 2 p.m. Sunday, May 26, “Remembrance Day,” when contributions will be accepted.

• To donate: UDC, Black Horse Chapter Number 9, c/o Betty Brown, Treasurer, 5320 Courtney's Corner Road, Sumerduck, Va. 22742-1800
One of Warrenton’s most prominent pieces of history, “Lady Virginia” stands in peril.

On a granite pedestal 40 feet above a mass grave of 600 Confederate soldiers in the Warrenton Cemetery, the statue apparently started moving during the earthquake of August 2011.

Lory Payne, a Fauquier cemetery historian and preservationist, said something seemed amiss last Memorial Day.

But, proof came earlier this month. Town workers used a bucket truck to spray the statue with an environmentally-friendly cleaner. Getting a close look at the 4-1/2-foot tall figure, the workers noticed she had shifted about 3 inches. They took photos.

Then, Mrs. Payne looked at several years’ worth of pictures she had taken. Those images reveal at least four different positions for the statue.

When, she shared the news with the local United Daughters of the Confederacy chapter, the ladies quickly agreed to contribute and to raise funds for the statue’s repair.

At 8:30 a.m. Thursday, May 30, the work will begin. Gus Forbush’s crane will lift the 2,500-pound statue from her pedestal. A crew from Kline Memorials in Manassas will use a bucket truck to clean the base, apply epoxy and reset the statue.

The work should take four to six hours, Mrs. Payne said.

“We’re asking people to donate 10, 20 dollars, whatever they can,” she added. “If we lose her, we lose history . . . . It’s an important part of Warrenton’s tourism.

“She looks over not just Confederate soldiers, but all of the Warrenton Cemetery.”

The UDC will accept donations for the effort at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 26, when the annual Remembrance Day ceremony takes place at the monument.

Local Sons of Confederate Veterans members gave the statue her unofficial name, “Lady Virginia,” while working in the cemetery.

She has stood there since 1877, when the Ladies Memorial Association of Fauquier moved the remains from 600 unmarked graves to a central spot and erected the granite monument.

Originally, wooden markers had identified the bodies in separate graves. But, in the winter of 1863, Union troops who occupied Warrenton used the grave markers as firewood.

Robert E. Smith of Illinois in 1982 started research that led to identification of 520 of the men in the mass grave.

Sixteen years later, the Black Horse Chapter of the UDC dedicated a new stone wall, with those names inscribed, surrounding the monument.

So, if the statue falls, “she will shatter,” said Mrs. Payne, adding that the lady did topple in the early 1950s but survived without serious damage.
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Historylover · May 29, 2013 at 8:58 am
To answer Mr. Flanagan's question. If he had read the entire article, he would have understood. The term "Lady Virginia" is a familiar name given the stature by the Sons of the Confederate Veteran's Black Horse Camp 780. No one is claiming that it is was a dedicated name, that is why we put "quotes" around it. She is an iconic part of our history and we(the SCV, UDC, and those who appreciate our historic icons)are trying to keep her standing. I do hope that as a "native Virginian" Mr. Flanagan can appreciate this and having a ancestor being watched over by her, we will be looking forward to a generous donation to the cause to help repair her and keep her on her pedestal.
Kellysfordman · May 28, 2013 at 4:28 pm
I am a native Virginian and would like a reference about Lady Virginia. I have been to several dedications at the Warrenton Cemetery, Fredericksburg, Culpeper, Amelia, Appomattox, Richmond and never heard her called "Lady Virginia". There is a Flanagan in that hallowed ground under her care, and I would like to know. I am sure that the Black Horse Chapter's SUV Historian could provide that information.Thank you!
Chapter 2 in the 1998 Re-Dedication of the Confederate Memorial and The Memorial Wall To Name The Fallen Warrenton, Virginia, Cemetery does not mention her.
James G. Flanagan The Liberty Heritage Society Ed. Coordinator
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