Meet Greg W. from Great Falls, VA | American Battlefield Trust
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Meet Greg W. from Great Falls, VA

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An interview with a Color Bearer member

Working with our Round Table team and Larry has been another great learning experience for me personally and another reminder of the valuable role that nonprofits like the Round Table and the Trust play respectively. Both organizations and their supporters are committed to preserving historic places and continually educating the public about our shared common history.

Greg Wilson, Color Bearer

 

 

Greg Wilson
Color Bearer Greg Wilson

American Battlefield Trust: Tell us about your work with the Trust on the forthcoming Battle of Ox Hill (Chantilly) Battle App.

Greg: I was a history major at Ohio Wesleyan University and in recent years have had more time to devote to my continuing interest in Civil War history.  When I recently discovered that my great-great-grandfather was a scout for the Union Army during the Civil War, I wrote his biography, Jonathan Roberts: The Civil War’s Quaker Scout & Sheriff.  During my research, I spent a lot of time at Manassas National Battlefield Park, where he led Colonel Samuel P. Heintzelman’s troops from Alexandria to the battle on July 21, 1861.

While researching the battlefield, I benefited greatly from the Trust’s “Bull Run Battle App.”  Last year when I was appointed to the Fairfax County History Commission, I thought that the Battle of Ox Hill (Chantilly) deserved its own app.  That battle was the only major Civil War battle fought in Fairfax County, during a torrential thunderstorm and in the wake of the Battle of Second Manassas (Bull Run).  

I approached several of my colleagues from the Bull Run Civil War Round Table to see if there was enough interest to proceed and approach the Trust about partnering with us.  We formed a working group consisting of: Blake Myers, Chair of the Round Table’s Historic Preservation Committee; Ed Wenzel, who was instrumental in the original preservation of Fairfax’s Ox Hill Battlefield Park; Charlie Balch; Eric Sebastian; and myself.  We also got support from the Round Table’s Executive Committee, which generously contributed to our project.   

Next, I contacted Molly Warren at the Trust, who put me in touch with Larry Swiader, the Trust’s Director of Digital Strategy.  We met, Larry liked the idea, and we began working together to make the app a reality.  The Round Table raised the necessary funds and developed the content.  We now are working with Larry and his team to update the battle narrative and maps.  Our goal is to have the Ox Hill (Chantilly) Battle App ready to debut at the Trust’s Annual Meeting in Chantilly, Virginia, June 5-7, 2020.

Working with our Round Table team and Larry has been another great learning experience for me personally and another reminder of the valuable role that nonprofits like the Round Table and the Trust play respectively.  Both organizations and their supporters are committed to preserving historic places and continually educating the public about our shared common history.

American Battlefield Trust: What moved you to first give to our organization?

I started giving to the Civil War Trust primarily because of the importance I place on preserving history and educating the public about our shared experience, especially during times of great conflicts.  Now the successor American Battlefield Trust plays that valuable role.

What do you enjoy most about being a Color Bearer?

I especially enjoy the tours and the people you meet at Trust events, including professionals at the Trust such as Molly Warren, Larry Swiader, and Garry Adelman.

What is your favorite battlefield you’ve visited?

Gettysburg was the first battlefield I visited with my family when I was young, but Manassas National Battlefield Park is now my favorite due primarily to my recent discovery of my ancestor’s minor roles during both battles there.

If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you go?

I’ve traveled all over the world for work, but have never been to Australia and New Zealand, which are high on my bucket list to visit.

If you could meet any historical figure who would you like to meet and why?

I have another Quaker ancestor, Col. Timothy Matlack, who was the scrivener of the Declaration of Independence and later fought beside General George Washington at the Battles of Trenton and Princeton. If I could time-travel, I would like to meet both men and ask each of them how ordinary people – one a brewer in Philadelphia, the other a farmer and surveyor in Virginia – rise to the occasion during times of great conflict, later assuming historic roles they likely never conceived for themselves.