Four long years of bitter Civil War devastated Culpeper more than any other community in the country. Savage battles at Cedar Mountain, Kelly's Ford and Brandy Station left thousands of young Americans dead and wounded, and Culpeper's homes, churches and businesses served as hospitals and as blessed shelters for bloodstained men of both armies. Although the sweeping Piedmont between the Rappahannock and Rapidan Rivers witnessed momentous battles throughout the first three years of the war, the single military event that ravished Culpeper more than any other involved the arrival in December, 1864, of the Army of the Potomac, 100,000 strong. For five months, General George Meade's occupying Federal Army took total command of Culpeper's homes, farm lands, and local economy. Here before you in this beautiful park, imagine hundreds of white tents and just beyond, thousands of bluecoated soldiers marching in formation. These were the 15,000 men of the First Corps, Army of the Potomac, and right before you they camped until leaving for the Wilderness Campaign in May, 1864. In early May, the Federals turned their backs on Culpeper, never to return, but in their path, the Yankees left homes wrecked, churches destroyed, businesses ruined and farm fields barren. But out of the depths of desperate starvation and financial chaos, a hopeful and undaunted Culpeper resolved to recover. And so it has.