VIRGINIA BEACH — Three new historical highway markers have recently been approved for placement in the city and should appear sometime in early fall.
The state’s highway marker program is one the oldest in the country, said Mark Reed, historic preservation planner with the City of Virginia Beach.
“The markers are a great way to raise awareness,” Reed said. “They help to illustrate the different aspects of a place’s history.”
To qualify for a marker, the location must be important to the history of the region, the state, or the nation. Markers don’t take quite as much research, he said, and the actual markers typically contain between 100-125 words.
“But the state is a stickler for citing resources and for being accurate,” Reed said.
The markers — there are currently 14 along the city’s roads — are typically placed at a location where they can be seen without creating a hazard and where there is parking nearby.
One of the markers, which will designate the Revolutionary War’s Skirmish at Kemps Landing, was approved in March and should be placed on or about Nov. 10 of this year. The skirmish occurred on Nov. 15, 1775.
The other two were approved by the state board last week:
- One will note the location of Camp Ashby, which was a World War II prisoner of war camp that held German prisoners. It was located along Virginia Beach Boulevard in what is today the neighborhood of Thalia. Late in the war, Camp Ashby housed as many as 6,000 German prisoners, most captured in the fighting in North Africa. The Tidewater Victory Memorial Hospital, a tuberculosis sanitarium that sat at the corner of Thalia Road and Virginia Beach Boulevard, was incorporated into the camp and was used as its headquarters. Today the location is mostly homes and includes the area of the Willis Furniture Store. No date has yet been set, but the marker will probably be placed along Virginia Beach Boulevard probably just east of Thalia Road (Near where Aldi’s, a grocery chain based in Germany, is being built — an irony not lost on Reed). Research and application for the Camp Ashby marker were completed by Julie Spivey.
- The Meeting of the Three Commanders is a somewhat obscure event that occurred in mid-September 1781, just days before the Battle of Yorktown. The three commanders, Gen. George Washington, commander of the Continental Army, and French commanders Gen. Rochambeau and Admiral de Grasse, met aboard de Grasse’s flagship, which was anchored in Lynnhaven Bay. During the meeting, the three discussed battle plans for Yorktown, where their victory against the British led to the end to the war. Reed said they hope to place the marker and hold a ceremony in mid-September, possibly the 18th. The marker will likely be along Shore Drive, probably near Cape Story Park, east of the Lesner Bridge. Research and application for the Meeting of the three Commanders marker were completed by Jorja Jean.
The Skirmish at Kemp’s Landing was the first battle in the War for Independence to take place in what is now the Commonwealth of Virginia. It was reported that some of the Princess Anne County militia — including its commander — had been drinking prior to the engagement and the ambush quickly fell apart.
Only one British soldier was injured, while seven militiamen were killed (five in the battle and two drowned in a creek they tried to cross while fleeing). Eighteen were captured.
The marker will be located along South Witchduck at or near Singleton Way.
Christopher Pieczynski completed the research and application for the battle marker.