Cleanup at Netherland Tavern

Pat Baber clears leaves at Netherland Tavern during Park Day on April 10.

Netherland Tavern, which figured prominently in the Battle of Trevilian Station, got some special attention during the annual Park Day cleanup on a recent weekend.

Volunteers with the Trevilian Station Battlefield Foundation swept leaves from the front yard and inspected the interior of the reconstructed tavern on Oakland Road, which was purchased in October 2020 by the American Battlefield Trust. The foundation has a vision of restoring the structure and reopening it to visitors.

The trust bought the building from the family of Russell Anderson, former owner of the nearby Trevilians Salvage Yard, after his death. The group has acquired thousands of acres of property in the area in the past two decades, most of it since transferred to the battlefield foundation. 

The tavern provided the backdrop for what some historians call George Armstrong Custer’s First Last Stand; the Union general narrowly escaped a Confederate advance on June 11, 1864, the first day of the Civil War battle at Trevilians. Confederate General Wade Hampton used the tavern as his headquarters during the fighting.

In the years prior to the battle, travelers on the railroad and Louisa Court House Road would stay in rooms at the tavern, which has three floors. 

Anderson built the current tavern building in the 1970s, modeling it closely on the original structure that stood from the 1820s until the 1950s. He operated it as a museum, where he displayed Civil War memorabilia and other items in his personal collection. The actual tavern was located a short distance behind Anderson’s building.

With the tavern, the foundation now owns two buildings, the other being the Charles Trevilian House on Danne Road. The latter will be open to visitors this year on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and the third Sunday of the month. There, the foundation has established a meeting room and brought in period furniture, some of it acquired at auction from the set of the PBS series Mercy Street.

Besides building projects, the battlefield foundation has worked in recent years to expand horse and walking trails on land on both sides of Oakland Road. While the foundation leases its property to hunt clubs during much of the year, the trails are open to other visitors between Memorial Day and Labor Day. It’s now possible to walk through the woods from Oakland Road to the Ogg Farm area on South Spotswood Trail (Route 33), where fighting raged on June 12, 1864.

Ed Crebbs, foundation secretary, said he is researching families that lived in the area at the time of the battle. The story of the battle should not just be about the soldiers who fought, he said, but also others who lived and worked nearby.

 

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