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Lead Park Ranger To Speak At Battle Commemoration

In June of 1864, Union cavalry under the command of General James H. Wilson and August V. Kautz were making a raid through Southside Virginia, leaving a trail of destruction behind them.

Their intention was to cut off the last remaining Confederate supply line.  Their main objective was the destruction of the railroad bridge over the Staunton River between Charlotte and Halifax counties. 

Fighting against a force of over 5,000 men and far superior artillery, the bridge was saved through the gallant efforts of 296 Confederate troops and 492 “old men and young boys” who gathered at the bridge to defend it from the advancing Federals. 

This June 25 marks the 146th anniversary of this vital, but less well-known, battle – the Battle for Staunton River Bridge.

The Historic Staunton River Foundation and the Staunton River Battlefield State Park in conjunction with the Halifax Chapter 1321 of the United Daughters of the Confederacy will host a Commemoration of the Battle of Staunton River Bridge with a weekend full of activities beginning Friday night, June 25 (actual date of the Battle), and the revelry will continue with daylong events on Saturday, June 26, at the Staunton River Battlefield State Park.

The focal point of this year’s commemoration on Saturday, June 26, will be a presentation and lecture given by Robert M. “Bert” Dunkerly, the lead park ranger at Appomattox Court House National Historical Park. 

His presentation, “Weapons of the Civil War” will provide a better understanding of the weapons used by both Confederate and Union soldiers and how technology had a profound impact on the war. 

In addition, Dunkerly will focus a part of his presentation on the weapons used at the Battle of Staunton River Bridge. 

Dunkerly is a historian, speaker and award-winning author, who is actively involved in historic preservation and research.  He holds a degree in history from St. Vincent College and a Masters in Historic Preservation from Middle Tennessee State University. 

During his career, he has worked at nine different historic sites throughout the country, written six books and over 20 articles.  His research includes archaeology, colonial life, military history and historic commemoration. 

Currently, he is the lead park ranger at Appomattox Court House National Historical Park. Throughout his life, he has visited over 300 battlefields and over 700 historic sites worldwide. 

When not reading or writing, Dunkerly said he enjoys hiking, camping, and photography.

Dunkerly will present a lecture on Saturday, June 26, at 12:30 p.m. in the Clover Visitors Center Conference Room at Staunton River Battlefield State Park.

The event is free and open to the public.