Historic Culpeper County Crossroads To Get Monument To Black Soldiers
The community of Maddensville in eastern Culpeper County has a history unlike any other in Central Virginia. "The story of Maddens Tavern and those crossroads is really the story of America," says Howard Lambert.
It’s a perfect place, Lambert says, for a monument dedicated to Black soldiers who fought for the Union during the Civil War.
Before the war, Maddens Tavern was a stopping point on the road between Culpeper and Fredericksburg. "Willis Madden started the tavern there in 1840. And what’s interesting about that is he was a free man of color," Lambert notes. "And of course Culpeper was a southern town and most people were enslaved. But he had his own tavern, his own business that he ran right there." It was likely the only place of its kind in Central Virginia.
The region was fought over during the Civil War and on May 8th, 1864, three Black soldiers were captured by Confederates and executed near the spot. While their names aren’t known, Lambert says records show that at least 100 soldiers of the U. S. Colored Troops, as they were called at the time, identified Culpeper County as their birthplace. "It really pays honor to those men from Culpeper specifically and in general to other USCTs who served during the Civil War. There’s nothing of a permanent monument dedicated to their service so that’s why it’s important that we do it."
After the war, the Maddens and many formerly enslaved people started Ebenezer Baptist Church which still holds services at the site today. "It’s a story of sacrifice, of building yourself up from difficult times, about courage, about faith. It’s really America’s story," Lambert notes.
The monument will be dedicated Saturday morning at 11:30. It's the culmination of years of research and work by volunteers like Lambert, the Piedmont Environmental Council, Civil War Trails Inc., and landowners. Descendants of USCT soldiers, reenactors, historians and church members will participate in Saturday's ceremony.