Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County Battlefields Memorial National Military Park Things to Do

  • mc coull house 1864
    mc coull house 1864
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  • new york and new jersey monuments
    new york and new jersey monuments
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    site of harrison farm
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Most Recent Things to Do in Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County Battlefields Memorial National Military Park

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    JACKSON"S MOVE

    by mtncorg Written Nov 10, 2006

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    Head south from the Chancellorsville Inn site across VA 3 -the old Orange Turnpike and today's Plank Road - and turn left on a small road named Furnace Road. At the turnoff is where Robert Lee and Stonewall Jackson met to discuss the findings of Lee's cavalry commander, J.E.B. Stuart: The right wing of Hooker was in the air, meaning that the Union lines just faded out into the trees, completely vulnerable to attack, if you could get enough men there and if you could get them there undetected. Lee asked Jackson how many men he could take to flank the Federals and Jackson replied that he would take his entire corps of 28000. This undertaking was possible because a road was discovered that would take Jackson's corps - undetected for the most part by the dense forests -completely around the Union lines and allow them to punish the Union right. You can actually drive on the road that Jackson's men took to get around through the dense Wilderness. The road is a bit wider today. On the first part of the road you pass a monument to Matthew Maury, one of the greatest American naval scientists, who was started his life here in the middle of the Wilderness. As a naval scientist before the War, he is best known for two books: Wind and Current Chart of the North Atlantic and Sailing Directions and Physical Geography of the Seas and Its Meteorology which remain standards to this day. These observations led to dramatic changes in trade routes throughout the World and dramatically cut the times it to to voyage across the oceans. He served Virginia during the War as a Naval officer spending much time in Europe trying to gain recognition for the Confederacy and trying to supply the Rebel navy with ships. After the War, he taught at VMI in Lexington, Va, the school just across the parade ground from where Robert Lee was president at - Washington & Lee.

    Tablet describing Jackson's flank march Monument to Matthew Maury Monument to brothers killed guarding flank march
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    CHANCELLORSVILLE INN SITE

    by mtncorg Written Nov 10, 2006

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    Here at the intersection of the Orange Turnpike and the Ely Ford Road is where some of the most terrific fighting took place. Only the foundation outline of the old inn still rests. On the morning of May 3, Union forces were pinched into an ever-narrowing salient. When their positions at Fairview - you can see the cannons a hundred or so yards to the southwest - were overrun, Rebel artillery pounded them at ever closer range. Federal commander Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker suffered a concussion when a pillar he was standing next to was shot in half and one of the ends lasted off of him. His wounding left a void in overall leadership. As the day wore on, Union forces were withdrawn from the salient around the inn to positions held further north along the Ely Ford Road, which stabilized the situation their front for the first time since Jackson's flank attack of the afternoon before.

    Old foundations of the Chancellorsville Inn Information on the battle at the Inn Heavy traffic still passes by the old inn Front steps of the old inn Guns face new Rebel position at Fairview
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    F'BURG BANK'S FORD

    by mtncorg Written Nov 10, 2006

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    Pictured is what happens after a couple of days of rain. This is why Gen. Burnside did not want to push his army across the Rappahanock River until his pontoon bridges were in place. High water could have separated his army, letting Lee deal with one part now and one part later. After Fredericksburg, Burnside looked first downriver and then upriver, here, to Banks Ford as a site to cross his army. He ordered his army to move up here in late January, but like so many other things, Burnside was very unlucky. As the men started marching, a big storm turned the roads to mud, so much mules were reported to disappear into the muck. They never made it to the ford. Even if they had, the way out is very steep and Lee would have had little trouble shifting men over here - especially in light of the slow Federal progress on march, which the Rebels followed in earnest from the other side of the river - to defend against a crossing. In the Chancellorsville campaign, Hooker decided to go further west in making his right hook around Lee. A crucial moment was when he ordered his men back into defensive positions after his first encounter at Zoan Church. Pushing ahead, he could have uncovered this ford - he hoped that Lee would have left the ford on his own, but when he did not, Lee maintained the advantage of working with interior lines against both Hooker and Sedgwick - and been able to communicate with both his chief of staff, Maj. Gen. Dan Butterfield, and the troops he had left to face Lee in Fredericksburg with under Maj. Gen. John Sedgwick.

    After Sedgwick's repulse at Salem Church, Lee brought to bear much of his army on Sedgwick. Jubal Early, whose forces had been pushed off Marye's Heights by Sedgwick on May 3, also returned to bar Sedgwick's return to Fredericksburg by the way he came. Sedgwick then decided in light of the Confederate numbers, retreat was the best course of action. Scott's Ford, just downriver from here was the ford Sedgwick pushed across to the north side of the Rappanhanock - and safety - through.

    High water at Bank's Ford
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    CONFEDERATE CEMETERY

    by mtncorg Written Nov 10, 2006

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    The Confederate Cemetery is laid out to the right of the City Cemetery. The land was purchased in 1867 by the Ladies' Memorial Association to serve as a burial ground for the hundreds of Confederate soldiers who had died in the many battles fought in the nearby vicinity. The center statue was dedicated in 1884 'To the Confederate Dead'. Five Confederate generals are included among the 3553 soldiers buried here. One of the more colorful generals, Henry Sibley, was involved in the aborted invasion of New Mexico. After the War, he went to Egypt - something that several Blue and Grey veteran officers did - and served as artillery chief for a short time. Returning to the U.S., he settled in Fredericksburg, dying broke and unforgotten until 1957 when his plot was rediscovered. A great story about Sibley can be found online at Sibley.

    Entrance to the Confederate Cemetery A long ways from Mississippi
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    F'BURG SOUTHERN FRONT

    by mtncorg Written Nov 10, 2006

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    Many people don't realize that the Confederate position at Fredericksburg covered over seven miles. The push at Marye's Heights was to be helped by a bigger push in the south by the Federal Grand Left Division led by Maj. Gen. William Franklin. Franklin was a disciple of former Union Commander George McClellan and like McClellan, Franklin went about his battles in a cautious manner. He only used half of his available manpower - almost 60000 men against 30000 of Stonewall Jackson's force - and when one division, under Gen. George Meade actually did achieve a breakthrough, Franklin did not reinforce Meade, allowing Jackson to throw reinforcements at to Meade to plug the gap. The history of the battle here is almost as sad as the one that would soon follow on Marye's Heights to the north.

    Lee's Drive will take you down from the Visitor Center through the woods - not there during the War - past old Confederate trench lines, ending on Prospect Hill where you find several cannons facing the past Federal threat. There are several informational tablets explaining the actions here as well as more Rebel embankments.

    Rebel cannons face the threat on Prospect Hill Artistic license of the battle here Information on Meade's Battle Cannons and old revetments on Prospect Hill Actions on the Southern Front
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    F'BURG KIRKLAND MONUMENT

    by mtncorg Written Nov 10, 2006

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    After the assault on Marye's Heights was finally called off, Federal soldiers were called upon to hold their ground, which meant they had to lay on the freezing field overnight surrounded by their dead and wounded, a figure that was about 8000. The wounded were even worse off and their cries for help finally got to South Carolinian Richard Kirkland. He went over the stone wall to offer water and warm clothes to some of the wounded Federals near where he was in an act of compassion. Nearby Union soldiers held their fire. Kirkland would go on to lose his own life later in the War at Chickamauga.

    The statue here was designed by the same man who designed the Iwo Jima Marine Corps Monument at Arlington, Felix De Weldon.

    DeWeldon's Monument to Sergeant Kirkland The Kirkland Monument and Brompton above
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    F'BURG SUNKEN LANE

    by mtncorg Written Nov 10, 2006

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    This was the epicenter of action on Dec 12, 1863. Brigade after brigade from Maj. Gen. William Sumner's Right Grand Division was thrown at the Confederates here. The Rebel forces were part of James Longstreet's corps and directly under the command of Thomas Cobb. They had the advantage of a natural entrenched position - the road had sunken down over the years from the weight of passing traffic and a dry stone wall had been erected to try and control erosion. Cobb's troops stood behind the stone wall and shot down the Federals before they even got close. It was a totally lopsided affair, though Cobb was one of the Confederate casualties as he was mortally wounded. A monument marks the spot where he went down. He was buried in his native Georgia.

    Spot wher Gen Cobb was fatally wounded Original stone wall along the Sunken Road Rebuilt stone wall near Visitor Center Sunken Road and Innis House
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    F'BURG KENMORE AVENUE

    by mtncorg Written Nov 10, 2006

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    After the bridgehead was secured, the Rebels were slowly driven back in one of the few times in the Civil War where street-to-street fighting occurred. Kenmore Avenue was on the edge of town then and it was a small canal that Union soldiers had to first cross before coming onto open fields that led to the Rebel positions behind the Sunken Lane. As you stand at the informational tablets at the corner of Kenmore and Hannover, realize it was all open ground from here. A little harder to imagine today with all of the subsequent building.

    Information tablet at Hannover and Kenmore Depiction of Battle in this area
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    F'BURG PONTOON BRIDGE SITE

    by mtncorg Written Nov 10, 2006

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    The lack of pontoons to bridge the Rappahanock at Fredericksburg allowed Robert Lee to concentrate his troops on the other side. Advance units of the Federal army had reached here on Nov 17, but it wasn't until Dec 11 that Burnside ordered the bridges built out across the river in preparation for an assault on Lee's lines. The engineers went out to start building early in the morning but were continually picked off by Rebel sharpshooters of Brig. Gen William Barksdale. A barrage of artillery from the Federal side was unsuccessful in dislodging the Mississippians under Barksdale. It wasn't until late in the afternoon that a couple regiments were sent across in boats to drive the Rebels back. An interesting side note is that one of the Union regiments that came over in support was the 20th Massachusetts - of Oliver Wendell Holmes fame - and Barksdale's troops were the 17th Mississippi -- a rematch of opposing forces from the battle of Ball's Bluff in late 1861.

    Monument to Pontoon Site on Rappahanock Informational sign regarding Pontoon Site Pontoon example in front yard of Chatham
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    Sunken Road Walking Tour

    by chewy3326 Written Jan 8, 2006

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    From the visitor center, take the path that leads up to Sunken Road. The Sunken Road walking tour can be done with a park ranger or by yourself. The tour leads along the recreated gravel road where Confederate soldiers built a stone wall to protect themselves from the Union advancement. A shallow trench was dug near the wall so that after firing at Union troops, Confederate soldiers could step into the trench and be temporarily protected, thus giving the road it's name. When Union troops tried to advance on the stone wall across the slope, they were defeated by Confederate artillery on Marye's Heights and the Confederate soldiers defending the stone wall. The battle ended as the worst defeat for the Union army in the entire Civil War.

    Sunken Road
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    new york monument

    by doug48 Updated Jul 4, 2011

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    located next to the wilderness exhibit shelter is the 146 th new york volunteers monument. this brigade was involved in the fierce battle of saunders field between may 5 th and 6 th 1864.

    new york 146 volunteers monument
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