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Newly discovered Civil War photos show Henrico battlefield

These two images show troops at Henrico’s Fort Harrison during the Civil War. They were recently discovered by the National Park Service.

Henrico County’s commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War battle of New Market Heights will take place on a grand scale later this month, but the public gained new insight into local battle sites last week.

Newly discovered historic photos showing troops at Fort Harrison and Petersburg were unveiled publicly for the first time by the National Park Service Sept. 13 at the Henrico Theatre in Highland Springs.

NPS ranger and historian Mike Gorman presented an overview of the Richmond-Petersburg campaign using the photographs, taken in 1864 and 1865. The pictures feature landscapes and panoramas around Fort Harrison and Petersburg, as well as the only known images of both Union and Confederate soldiers on the field at the same time.

“We are constrained by when the photographers were there and what they were able to see,” Gorman said. “During the Civil War, you couldn’t photograph active things – you had to wait until there were conditions of repose, and it was safe and there was a lull. Those moments actually contain some pretty amazing things and provide insight into the war, which is why these photos are so important.”

Fort Harrison played an important role from the very beginning of the war, as Confederate engineers and slave laborers constructed permanent defenses around Richmond, particularly anchored south of the capital on the James River. One of the major key elements was that from Fort Harrison, one could see all the way to the James River.

However, in 1864, the majority of the Confederate forces were in Petersburg, with numbers barely at 200; Fort Harrison was attacked by the Union and quickly taken under siege.

The recently discovered images not only bring to life elements of the war, but also have helped correct historians’ misconceptions. Fortifications that previously had been misidentified now can be correctly labeled, permitting a better understanding of the battlefield.

Some of the most unique photographs were ones that were taken consecutively, Gorman said, “because nothing is happening on the battlefield front, yet many of the images captured are of the army establishing a major supply post at City Point, which is now Hopewell. It was a major port that photographers found irresistible, and the images convey massiveness, the wait, and the inevitable conclusion of the war creating a powerful message.

“You can see wind blowing, tent flaps, boats rising and little things that bring it back to life.”

Gorman’s program, presented by Richmond National Battlefield Park and Henrico County Division of Recreation and Parks, was a precursor to the county’s Sept. 26-28 commemoration of the battle of New Market Heights, which took place on Sept. 29, 1864. The Fort Harrison battlefield is one of the 13 sites protected by Richmond National Battlefield Park where key Civil War battles took place in 1862 and 1864.

Lions Club donates backpacks to elementary school

The Richmond West Breakfast Lions Club (based in western Henrico) recently donated 59 backpacks to the Westover Hills Elementary School on Jahnke Road.

Above, club members display some of the backpacks prior to their distribution. > Read more.

Glen Allen student to perform at Carnegie Hall

Thanks to a first-place win in The American Protege International Vocal Competition 2014, Glen Allen High School student Matija Tomas will travel to New York City to perform at Carnegie Hall in December.

At the first-place winners recital in Weill Hall, Matija will perform Giacomo Puccini’s opera aria, “Chi il bel sogna di doretta.” She will perform with other vocalists from around the world and have the opportunity to win other awards and scholarships.

Locally, Thomas has performed with Richmond’s renowned Glorious Christmas Nights, Christian Youth Theatre, and WEAG’s Urban Gospel Youth Choir. > Read more.

Gayton Baptist Church dedicates new outreach center

The John Rolfe YMCA and Gayton Baptist Church have partnered in an effort to bring greater health and wellness opportunities to the community.

Through this partnership, the John Rolfe Y will run Youth Winter Sports programs, including basketball and indoor soccer, in Gayton’s newly renovated $5.5 million outreach center that features a new gymnasium, youth and teen space, social space with café, meeting space and full service commercial kitchen. > Read more.

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New Henrico biscuit shop thrives with grandmother’s recipe

Tim Laxton rises at 4:30 a.m. every day for a biscuit. But he’s not rushing out to any restaurant to get his favorite Southern comfort food; he’s baking his own from scratch and serving them up from his bakery on Lakeside Avenue.

Laxton opened Early Bird Biscuit Co. & Bakery in early July and since then biscuits have been flying out of there.

The self-taught baker draws hungry crowds in with a biscuit of the day like the Old Bay Cheddar, but the buttermilk biscuits are the staple.

“On a Saturday I generally make about 400 biscuits with my two hands,” Laxton said. “I’m constantly making biscuits all day long.” > Read more.

Restaurant watch

Find out how your favorite dining establishments fared during their most recent inspections by the Virginia Department of Health. > Read more.

CAT Theatre announces cast of Sherlock Holmes play

CAT Theatre’s 51st season will open with Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure, which will run from Oct. 24-Nov. 8. Adapted by Steven Dietz, it is based on the original 1899 play by William Gillette and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and was the winner of the 2007 Edgar Award for Best Mystery Play.

The plot follows what seems to be the end of the career of the world’s greatest detective as he is confronted with a case far too tempting to ignore. When the King of Bohemia faces blackmail by famed opera singer Irene Adler, Holmes and his faithful companion, Dr. Watson, find themselves falling into the trap of evil genius Professor Moriarty. As Holmes says, “The game is afoot Watson, and it is a dangerous one!” > Read more.

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Fairfield District Supervisor Frank J. Thornton will hold a constituent meeting at 7 p.m. at the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center, 1440 N. Laburnum Ave. The meeting will provide an update… Full text

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