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2011 Vienna Town Calendar
This watercolor commemorates the 150th anniversary of the The Battle of Vienna
(see the article below) the fifth battle of The Civil War and the first train ambush
in the history of warfare. The painting
was completed in 1991 and was created by local artist and
art director at DS Grafx, David Skibiak and is the cover of the 2011 Vienna
Town Calendar. A print will be availble for purchase in the Spring.
Along with this watercolor are several etchings, a lithograph and three pen and ink drawings that make up the official 2011 Vienna Town Calendar, all done David Skibiak and are available now for purchase from this web site.
|A Brief History of the Battle of Vienna|
June 17th, 1861, at six o'clock in the evening, Vienna became the site of
the first ambush of the Civil War, one month before the Battle of Manassas.
A slow moving train carrying 500 Union soldiers, on three flatcars and two
carriages, was fired upon by two regiments of the South Carolina First
Volunteers, about 600 men, including cavalry. According to a letter of Charles
Minor Blackford, CSA, the Rebels had been at the depot since four o'clock
that afternoon, destroying "all railroad property which could be of use
to the enemy." While the cavalry, guarding the perimeters, galloped over
the rolling hills, the marauders wrecked the water tower and carried off
the main pipe. The soldiers thought this was all the action they would see
that day when they fell into formation for the march back to camp.
The Federal train, coming from Alexandria, had been deploying troops
along the tracks all day without incident. The commander, Brigadier General
Robert Schenke, had been warned by a farmer of the situation further down
the tracks in Vienna, but for some reason, chose to ignore it.
Half a mile away, marching towards Fairfax, the Rebel Army was alerted by the train's whistle. Colonel Max Gregg suspecting that the train contained Federal troops, ordered an about-face and moved three artillery pieces into position for an ambush.
The first blasts from the cannons emptied the train and sent the federals running for their lives. The artillery used "grape"a mix of nails and other metal scrap, and "cannister," miniballs inside a casing. An account from that time in the Cleveland Plain Dealer read: "The awful effect of the shot threw the men into inextricable confusion."
A short stand was made but the
of the men took to the woods for cover, and the conductor put the
train in reverse and fled. With the Confederates in pursuit, the skirmishes
continued all the way to Alexandria. Considering the amount of action,
casualties were few. Only eight men were killed, all of them Federals.
On the one hundredth anniversary of the ambush, in 1961, when the tracks were still in use, a train was used for the reenactment of the Battle of Vienna, at the actual site, which is the present day location of the Community Center. The train and the tracks are now gone, but the W & OD bike trail runs over this historic ground.
If you would like to journey back into history, take a stroll along the bike path and think about the brave men who fought that day. Who knows, if you look hard enough, you might even find a souvenir of that historic event.