—New markers cover topics in the counties of Amherst, Bath, Bedford, Hanover, Nottoway, Rockingham, and Smyth; and the cities of Danville, Petersburg, Portsmouth, Roanoke, Virginia Beach, and Winchester—
—Each marker’s text reproduced below.—Topics covered in 13 recently approved and forthcoming state historical markers include a Revolutionary War militia force that dogged British troops under Gen. Benedict Arnold, the educational and political achievements of an enslaved family that escaped to Union lines during the Civil War, and a black baseball player who became a decorated World War I soldier. The martial theme extended as well to the origins of the Virginia Tech "fight song," "Tech Triumph." In Virginia Beach, the marker “Skirmish at James’s Plantation” will rise to recall a militia of 520 men led by Capt. Amos Weeks that disrupted British operations in the area after Brig. Gen. Benedict Arnold, seeking to control the Tidewater region, established a base in Portsmouth in January 1781. Arnold ordered Capt. Johann Ewald, a Hessian commander of cavalry and riflemen, to pursue Weeks. He did so, inflicting about 120 casualties on Weeks’ militia, and pursued them southward. Nonetheless, “Weeks’s force regrouped and continued to harass the British,” the marker will conclude. A marker slated for Hanover County will highlight the enslaved Fields Family, whose matriarch, Martha Ann Fields, led most of her 11 children across the Pamunkey River in 1863 to freedom behind the Union lines during the Civil War. The family settled in Hampton and pursued education. James A Fields (1844-1903), a member of Hampton Institute’s first graduating class, was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 1889. George Washington Fields (1854-1932) was the first African American to earn a law degree from Cornell University, and his daughter, Inez Fields Scott (1895-1978), was the third black woman admitted to practice law in Virginia. Spottswood Poles (1886-1962) will be remembered with a marker in Winchester, where he was born. From 1906 until 1923, an era that mostly predates the Negro Leagues, Poles starred on all-black teams in Harrisburg, Philadelphia and New York City. His speed, batting skill, and defensive play won him recognition as one of the best players of his day. He interrupted his career to serve in World War I as a sergeant with the 369th U.S. Infantry, the “Harlem Hellfighters,” and was wounded in action during the Meuse-Argonne offensive in France. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Elsewhere in Virginia, ten other markers authorized by the Board of Historic Resources during its quarterly meeting in December will also appear in 2020. Two signs address efforts during segregation in two counties to create “separate but equal” all-black schools around the time of the 1954 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, in Brown v. Board of Education, that found segregated schools “inherently unequal” and unconstitutional.