The Martinsville-Henry County Historical Society, the City of Martinsville and Martinsville-Henry County EDC's Tourism Division held a ribbon cutting ceremony for a new interpretive sign, part of the Virginia Civil War Trails Program, on Friday at Courthouse Square in Uptown Martinsville.
One of the last engagements of the Civil War in Virginia, the Henry Court House engagement occurred here on April 8, 1865. Early that morning, Union Colonel William J. Palmer's Tenth Michigan Cavalry encountered Confederate Colonel James T. Wheeler's troopers at Henry Court House. Palmer's troops were part of the First Brigade of General George Stoneman's command and Stoneman's Raid through parts of Virginia and North Carolina in the spring of 1865. The new sign tells the story of the skirmish and Henry County's part in the last days of the Civil War. R. Darryl Holland, Agriculture teacher at Magna Vista High School, contributed the text for the sign.
Martinsville-Henry County's inclusion in the Civil War Trails program is timely as the Virginia Tourism Corporation has launched a major marketing campaign for the Trails Program commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War in Virginia. Participation in the program includes not only the sign erected near the Historic Courthouse, but also a series of directional signs to be posted along main travel routes and inclusion on the program's website and in more than 100,000 printed brochures which are available at all state Welcome Centers to assist travelers in following the routes.
According to Jennifer Doss, Director of Tourism for Martinsville-Henry County, "This is an exciting time for heritage tourism in Virginia as the number of visitors following the Civil War Trail is expected to increase in 2011-2015 during the Virginia Civil War Sesquicentennial." Debbie Hall, Executive Director of the Martinsville-Henry County Historical Society, remarked, "Visitors following the Civil War Trail can learn about and experience the rich heritage and history of Martinsville and Henry County."
Research performed by the Virginia Tourism Corporation concludes that history and heritage tourists spend on average 24% more on their vacations than the traditional visitor. "By participating as a site on the Virginia Civil War Trails, we are opening up the opportunity for visitors following the driving trail to explore, shop, dine and stay overnight in Martinsville-Henry County while passing through," said Doss.