Virginia’s newest historic park dedicated

by Charlie Koenig - Posted on May 14, 2014 - 01:24 PM

With pomp and circumstance—including the roar of cannon and volleys of musket fire—Virginia’s newest historic park was dedicated on Saturday in Mathews County.

Fort Nonsense Historical Park, located at the intersection of Routes 14 and 3 near the Gloucester County border, represents the latest example of the leadership role Mathews County has taken on the Middle Peninsula in historic preservation, according to historian and author J. Michael Moore, keynote speaker for the morning’s opening ceremony.

“Hear, Hear … Huzzah,” Moore said as he welcomed visitors to the 2.94-acre site, which contains one of the area’s best-preserved Civil War-era earthen fortifications. Fort Nonsense, he said, stands as “a visible reminder of America’s bloodiest war.”

Moore pointed with pride to the efforts that Mathews has made to preserve its local history, from Tompkins Cottage and the historic courthouse building to this newest site, a gateway park for those coming to the county.

In addition to preserving this historically-significant site, the creation of Fort Nonsense Historical Park also has a possible economic impact. Historic tourism, Moore said, has become a major revenue source for Virginia, providing a bigger draw for visitors than golf.

Fort Nonsense was originally designed to keep the invading Union Army penned in Mathews County; part of a defensive line relied upon by Confederate Gen. John Bankhead Magruder in the lead-up to Union Gen. George B. McClellan’s Peninsula Campaign of 1862. The fort was built a year earlier, following plans from Confederate engineer Lt. William H. Clarke and using slave and free labor. The fort was designed for mobile field artillery. The 61st Virginia Militia would have manned the fort, if there ever was a need, according to Frank Lansinger, vice president of the Mathews County Historical Society.