BGES Projects: Always Loyal, Never Forgotten

Pamplin Park Napoleon

Over the past 26 years, BGES has completed some significant educational enhancements that stand in their own right as exceptional. However, a less heralded characteristic of the organization is its commitment to maintain whatever it does. If it has a BGES logo on it, it will be and is maintained.

Pamplin Historical Park

The latest example will soon be on display at Pamplin Historical Park, where the BGES responded to an appeal from the history park to provide funds to replace the deteriorating wooden gun carriage on the park’s twelve-pounder Confederate Napoleon artillery piece.

More than 10 years ago, BGES worked with Pamplin Historical Park to acquire the gun for about $20,000, with BGES providing just under half the funding. Left out in the weather for a good portion of the time due to its constant use, the wooden carriage, worth some $15,000, began to peel and absorb water, and its wood split. While the carriage is salvageable, it was obvious that the operational utilization required an all-weather solution.

Tim Talbott, Director of Education for the historical park, reached out in early 2019 to the BGES, asking if we would fund a replacement. After studying the problem, the Board of Directors authorized Executive Director, Len Riedel, to negotiate a partnership and cost share, with BGES being the last funds in and BGES receiving the wooden carriage in exchange for repurposing.

The agreement was struck, with Pamplin Historical Park agreeing to raise and notify BGES once they had raised $9,000. Their generous and supportive membership did that at an annual meeting in October, leaving BGES with a task of raising our share. We settled on $6,000 as a goal. Len had previously cultivated a new donor who wanted to participate in the Fort Branch project, but that was already funded, and so Riedel asked Rodger Kruse if he would like to create a challenge grant by fronting half the money required and letting us raise the balance. Kruse agreed, and Len set out to find another match. When a promising organizational partnership fell through, he plotted a short campaign using Facebook and BGES’s social media network. The Facebook connections raised $850, including $350 from a Birthday Fundraiser on BGES’s behalf by Talbott, who had subsequently become a member of the BGES. An evening appeal online raised another $3,000 in gifts including a $1,000 gift that juiced the effort. The goal was passed in 24 hours from announcement. Two weeks ago, Len contacted Pamplin Historical Park and told Talbott the money was in the bank, and he could go ahead with ordering the new carriage. Expected delivery will be in mid-June 2020.

BGES’s share leaves a stake of cash for the restoration of the wooden carriage, and when joined with a tube will fulfill another battlefield interpretive requirement. Additional funds will be needed to complete that task, but the restored carriage will reduce the cost of the next cannon project by approximately 50%, allowing us to provide a display piece for about half the going rate. Further fundraising and a grantee will be announced in due course.

Additional BGES Projects

Historic photo from Medford Society & Museum collection

BGES continues to impress, this being just the latest example. It is not just that we complete projects; it’s that we stay behind them. The recently announced Medford Photographic Provenance Project continues that 22-year partnership, while the second generation of signs at North Anna continues to sparkle, and BGES’s monograph A Study in Warfighting has been kept in print for more than 23 years.

The measure of an organization is not what you do when people are watching it. It is what you do when they aren’t. While this isn’t a complete list of new accomplishments, it is nonetheless conclusive documentation that BGES is a reliable and unwavering partner.

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