May 22, 2001 - Mike and Marilyn's 2001 TranAmerican Bike Tour

Mike and Marilyn's
2001 TransAm Bike Trip
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May 22, 2001

TRANSAM 2001 > Virginia

Charles City to Ashland, Virginia. (55 mi.) Mile 123

The Civil War remembered

The books tell us that this section of the route is noted for the high number of scenic, historic plantations and squashed 'possums per mile.....well, maybe they didn't mention the 'possums. It was sunny and humid as we rode through open country and dense deciduous woods, past many historic plantations and Civil War landmarks.

Morning behind the Indian Field Tavern, where we hoped the silo
would act as a lightening rod in the previous night's storm.

Turtle relocation - a TransAm tradition

One of the many plantations

At the Cold Harbor Civil War Battlefield, we stopped. Marilyn's great-great grandfather, Charles Tuesley, was here in June, 1864, during General Grant's disastrous assault on General Lee's Confederate troops. The battle at Cold Harbor was one of the bloodiest American battles ever; over 18,000 casualties, mostly Union, with 7,000 casualties within 3 hours. Grant was latter criticized for ordering such a useless sacrifice of life in the face of an enemy so heavily entrenched. Today there is little left to indicate the days of ferocious fighting and carnage that took place over many miles of this now peaceful area, unless you take a trail through the thick woods. The terrain, now covered in leaf mold, is still shaped by the extensive hand-dug trenches and rifle pits where the soldiers spent many miserable hours, sometimes their last. You can step over the small creek that once ran red with blood, and get a small hint of the fear and horror that occurred here during the battle.

Trenches dug by Confederate soldiers June 1864 at the Cold Harbor Battlefield
are still visible in these haunted woods.

Whatever went through Charles Tuesley's 22 year old mind as he followed Grant's bloody campaign into the South, it was surely not that someday a great-great granddaughter would ride by on a bicycle on a trip across the country, contemplate his company's movements on a map with an interpretive ranger, and post these musings and his picture on something called the Internet. He may have wondered if he would even survive to have a great-great granddaughter, but I am glad he did.

We arrived at our Americamp campground in Ashland late. Like most private American campgrounds, this one is a lot like a gravel parking lot with trees, usually located next to a) a freeway, b) a railroad track, or c) a teenage party destination. Since there was a tornado warning for the area, we were assigned a shelter next to the freeway where the trucks used their compression brakes all night. There wasn't a drop of rain nor a puff of wind all night. The weather warning was a night too late. At least we've appreciated the showers, laundry, and computer data port if not any sleep.

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