At 1 p.m. on Saturday November 12, 2011High Bridge Trail State Park recognized Veterans Day with a Trail walk beginning in the village of Rice, Virginia.
The weather was splendid, sunny and 64 degrees with a mild breeze. Ten people gathered in the spacious parking area there and embarked on walk in the direction of High Bridge. The theme of the walk was to recognize the lives of Thomas A. Smyth, the last Confederate and Union General officers to die in the American Civil War.
Program participants embarked on a walk through historic valley Rice
As we progressed, the first stop was held to talk about the life of Dearing. Then a little further along a stop to talk about Smyth. Some distance after crossing the bridge over U.S. 460, in the silence of a still afternoon shaded by the Virginia pines, we stopped to talk about the events leading to the demise of each man. Dearing was mortally wounded in the first battle of High Bridge on April 6, 1865. He died on April 22, 1865 in Lynchburg and is buried there. Thomas Alfred Smyth was wounded the next morning on April 7, 1865 after being struck by a sharpshooter's bullet and paralyzed in the advance toward Farmville. He died two days later on April 9 while being evacuated toward Burkeville. His remains rest in Wilmington, Delaware.
Don Byrne, Jr. with Dearing's guitar
The entire walk lasted about one hour and covered a distance of a mile and a half. One of the most notable occasions of the walk was when Don Byrne of Richmond shared with the attendees a very old guitar he purchased at an auction. Apparently Dearing was musically inclined. At the base of the strings was inscribed "Jim Dearing – Lynchburg Artillery – April 1862." It is believed to be a gift presented to Dearing on the occasion of a promotion. This was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone and as a group leader I especially love it when participants participate!
Entrances – Parking availability:
Rice's Depot Road, 1/4-mile off U.S. 460 at Rice, near trail milepost 142
River Road, three miles off N. Main St. in Farmville, near trail milepost 146
Osborne Road, 1/4-mile off N. Main St. in Farmville, near trail milepost 149
Municipal lots in Farmville where the trail intersects with Main St. near trail milepost 150
Tuggle Road, off U.S. 460 and near U.S. 15 North, near trail milepost 156
Prospect Road, off U.S. 460 at Prospect, near trail milepost 161
Elam, off U.S. 460 at Sulpher Spring Rd., near trail milepost 164
Heights School Rd., of U.S. Business 460 near Pamplin, near trail milepost 168
Latitude, 37.304488. Longitude, -78.390938.