Trump National GC Washington D.C., in Sterling, Va., now has a plaque between the 14th and 15th hole of one of its courses, which overlooks the Potomac River, that refers to “The River of Blood” created during a Civil War conflict at the site. But historians say no Civil War deaths occurred within ten miles of that location.
Between the 14th hole and the 15th tee of one of the two courses of the Trump National Golf Club Washington D.C. on Lowes Island in Sterling, Va., The New York Times reported, a flagpole on a stone pedestal overlooks the Potomac River, to which a plaque has been attached designating that stretch of it as “The River of Blood.”
“Many great American soldiers, both of the North and South, died at this spot,” the inscription reads. “The casualties were so great that the water would turn red and thus became known as ‘The River of Blood.’ ”
The inscription, beneath the Trump family crest and above Donald Trump’s full name, concludes: “It is my great honor to have preserved this important section of the Potomac River!”
However, the Times reported, the inscription was evidently not fact-checked.
“No. Uh-uh. No way. Nothing like that ever happened there,” said Richard Gillespie, the executive director of the Mosby Heritage Area Association, a historical preservation and education group devoted to an 1,800-sq.-mile section of the Northern Virginia Piedmont, including the Lowes Island site.
“The only thing that was remotely close to that,” Mr. Gillespie said, was 11 miles up the river at the Battle of Ball’s Bluff in 1861, a rout of Union forces in which several hundred were killed. “The River of Blood?” he added. “Nope, not there.”
Mr. Gillespie’s contradiction of the plaque’s account was seconded by Alana Blumenthal, the curator of the Loudoun Museum in nearby Leesburg, Va. the Times reported. (A third local expert, who said he had written to Mr. Trump’s company about the inscription’s falsehoods and offered to provide historically valid replacement text, insisted on anonymity because he did not want to cross the Trump Organization by disclosing a private exchange, the Times reported.)
In a phone interview with the Times, Mr. Trump called himself a “a big history fan” but deflected, played down and then simply disputed the local historians’ assertions of historical fact.
“That was a prime site for river crossings,” Mr. Trump said. “So, if people are crossing the river, and you happen to be in a civil war, I would say that people were shot—a lot of them.”
The club does indeed lie a stone’s throw from Rowser’s Ford, the Times reported, and at that site, an official historical marker notes that Gen. J. E. B. Stuart led 5,000 Confederate troops including cavalry across the Potomac en route to the Battle of Gettysburg.
But no one died in that crossing, historians said, or in any other notable Civil War engagement on the spot.
“How would they know that?” Mr. Trump asked when told that local historians had called his plaque a fiction. “Were they there?”
Mr. Trump repeatedly said that “numerous historians” had told him that the golf club site was known as the River of Blood, the Times reported. But he said he did not remember their names.
Then he said the historians had spoken not to him but to “my people.” But he refused to identify any underlings who might still possess the historians’ names.
“Write your story the way you want to write it,” Mr. Trump said finally, when pressed unsuccessfully for anything that could corroborate his claim. “You don’t have to talk to anybody. It doesn’t make any difference. But many people were shot. It makes sense.”
Members of the club, and some former employees, said the plaque generally drew laughter or eye-rolls, the Times reported.
Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House who is also a former history professor and a co-author of four Civil War novels, called the monument merely “strange.”
Much more important, he said, were the much-needed renovations that Trump has made to the golf courses.
“I am not going to lead a demonstration over this,” Gingrich told the Times. “It’s a country club with a golf course, for Pete’s sake.”
After Trump bought the club for $13 million in 2009, conservations were angered when more than 400 trees were removed to open up views of the Potomac, the Times noted.