History | August 18, 2017 11:05 am

Trump’s National Golf Course Plaque Honors Fake Civil War Battle

The president challenged historians in 2015 regarding information on it.

Trump Erected Fake Civil War History Plaque at Golf Course
A plaque is shown near the 16th tee and 15th green during Round 1 of the Senior PGA Championship at Trump National Golf Club on May 25, 2017 in Sterling, Virginia. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

President Trump has been on a role lately, coming to the defense of the supposed “very fine people” on the Neo-Nazi/white supremacist side of the Charlottesville protests—and then rattling off a series of tweets defending Confederate statues.

In recent days, the president has been roundly criticized by a number of people and organizations—even in red states like Florida. As The New York Times reports, a trio of Florida’s professional sports teams, the Tampa Bay Rays, Lightning, and Buccaneers, have donated money to take down a Confederate monument in the state.

All of this has led to the recent resurfacing of a November 2015 story by the Times, which sheds some light on Trump’s less than savory history with history.

At the time, Trump had recently revamped his Sterling, Virginia–based Northern Virginia Trump National Golf Club—and added some rather questionable flourishes. One such flourish was a plaque he affixed to a stone pedestal overlooking the Potomac River between the 14th and 15th holes, with a story honoring “The River of Blood.” As the inscription reads: “Many great American soldiers, both of the North and South, died at this spot. The casualties were so great that the water would turn red and thus became known as ‘The River of Blood.’ It is my great honor to have preserved this important section of the Potomac River!”

The one problem? It was fake history.

The Times quoted an expert, Richard Gillespie, the executive director of the Mosby Heritage Area Association, who specialized in the area where the golf club was built. “Nothing like that ever happened there,” he told the Times. In fact, the only thing remotely like the “River of Blood” to have occurred in the area, he noted, was 11 miles north of the golf course, where several hundred Union soldiers were killed in the Battle of Ball’s Bluff in 1861. (Another nearby historical site had only seen a massive crossing of Confederate soldiers, not a slaughter.)

The Times caught Trump on the phone, who said he was “a big history fan”; and reacting to the expert’s (and others’) doubts about the historical validity of the plaque, said “How would they know that? …. Were they there?”