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

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

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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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    US NATIONAL CEMETERY

    by mtncorg Updated Nov 15, 2006

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    Over 15000 Federal soldiers are buried here above the Battlefield Visitor Center with over 80% unknown. The soldiers died in the many battles that occured in the vicinity - Fredericksburg, Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Chancellorsville - others from disease. Unlike other Civil War cemeteries, soldiers are not buried by State, just number - the bodies were reinterred from many temporary gravesites in 1865 making the identity of the State as difficult as the name of the soldier. Monuments in the cemetery include a tower by the entry dedicated to the V Corps whom Gen. William Butterworth commanded at Fredericksburg. Gen. Andrew Humphreys is center stage. His PA division got closest to the heights - still 100 yards short - losing over 1000 men. Nearby, a monument to 127th Pennsylvania, enlisting for only nine months. this was their battle - over 30% lost. Everpresent are tablets recording verses from Theodore O'Hara's poem, 'Bivouac of the Dead' written originally to commemorate fallen Americans at the Battle of Buena Vista in the Mexican-American War. The words are haunting - more so since O'Hara became a Rebel officer during the War. Reason enough for his name not to be mentioned. Unknown graves are marked by lowered stones - the top number is the gravesite number, the lower being the number of men sharing the site - 2, 4, 8, 11.

    Medal of Honor winners to be found here include LTC Edward Hill who led the 16th Michigan, as a captain, into point blank fire at Cold Harbor keeping his troops going until severely wounded. Surviving his wounds, he lived until 1900, one of 8 Medal of Honor winners that day at Cold Harbor. First Sgt William Jones, a 28 year old Irish immigrant of the 73rd New York - Second Fire Zouaves - won a Medal of Honor posthumously at the Bloody Angle of Spotsylvania capturing the regimental flag of the 65th Virginia, one of three 73rd soldiers winning Medals of Honor that day for capturing flags, but he was the only one who died. There were 35 Medals of Honor awarded for May 12 at the Bloody Angle.

    The General stands tall and the flag flies high Unknown marker denoting 11 buried in this site A long ways from Vermont and Iowa O'Hara's poem looks out from Marye's Heights 127th Pennsylvania Monument
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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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    heth's salient

    by doug48 Updated Dec 6, 2011

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    pictured is heth's salient which was part of the larger mule shoe salient. on the morning of may 12 th union general grant ordered ambrose burnsides's IX corps to take heth's salient. the confederates held the line in the morning hours and in the afternoon the forces of confederate general jubal early counter attacked. after almost 20 hours of fierce fighting the union suffered 9,000 casualities and the confederates 8,000.
    heth's salient is stop # 7 on the spotsylvania battlefield auto tour.

    heth general henry heth CSA general jubal early CSA union general ambrose burnside
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    thomas jackson shrine

    by doug48 Updated Dec 28, 2011

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    pictured is an out building on thomas chandler's 740 acre fairfield plantation. confederate general thomas "stonewall" jackson died in this building on may 10 th 1863. on may 2 nd just after his brilliant victory during the battle of chancellorsville he was mistakenly shot in the arm by one of his own men. after his arm was amputated near ellwood manor jackson was moved by ambulance to fairfield. jackson's doctors planned to stabilize jackson's condition at fairfield then move him by train to richmond and the medical expertise available there. however jackson contracted pneumonia and his condition grew worse. as jackson grew physically weaker he said "it is the lords day; my wish is fufilled, i have always desired to die on sunday". at 3:15 PM may 10 th 1863 in the presence of his chief surgeon hunter mc guire jackson said with an expression, as if in relief "let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees" and died. the death of general thomas jackson was a great loss to the confederacy.

    fairfield plantation office thomas jackson's death bed general thomas jackson CSA
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    Fredericksburg Battlefield Visitor's Center

    by grandmaR Updated Mar 12, 2007

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    Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park commemorates four major actions of the U.S. Civil War: the Battle of Fredericksburg, December 11-13, 1862; the Chancellorsville Campaign (encompassing the battles of Chancellorsville, Second Fredericksburg, and Salem Church), April 27-May 6, 1863; the Battle of the Wilderness, May 5-6, 1864; and the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, May 8-21, 1864.

    In order to really understand the various battlefields, you ought to go to the Visitor's Center for each battlefield first. There are exhibits, maps, and, like almost all the NPS sites, it has a gift shop and movies. We saw the Fredericksburg movie which was good, but you have to pay to see it. This is unusual but apparently the Park Service contracted with a commercial company to produce it. The fee is $2 fee for viewing the 22 minute movies at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville for those 10-61. Over the age 61, the fee is $1. Under age 10 and schools groups up to 12th grade are free. There is a separate fee for each movie.

    There are no other fees to see the parks, and the movie fee has to be paid even if you have a Golden Age Passport.

    Visitor's Center Reinactment in the visitor's center movie One of the exhibits Hooker's campaign
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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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    CHANCELLORSVILLE VISITOR CENTER

    by mtncorg Updated Dec 23, 2009

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    Chancellorsville is one of the more complex battles of the Civil War. Chancellorsville Visitor Center is not a bad place to start to try and make sense of the whole thing. Interesting exhibits and a introductory movie can be viewed. Staff can help with questions and you can see if there are any special programs on the day's schedule.

    From the parking lot you can take off on the Chancellorsville History Trail which will take you about four miles through the dense Wilderness forest covering ground that was contested, especially in the period of May 2-3 as Union forces were forced back by Stuarts continuation of Jackson's attack on the Union right. The trail goes over to the site of the Chancellorsville Inn, as well as Hooker's final line behind which the Army of the Potomac was brought on May 3 and rested behind for the next two days, enabling Lee to dispatch troops to take care of Sedgwick's troops who were threatening at Salem Church.

    One of the main sites to see around the Visitor Center is the monuments related to the mortal wounding of Thomas 'Stonewall' Jackson. The actual site of his wounding occurred just east of the Center and a short trail will take you there. Two monuments can be found on the south side of the center - one almost next to the busy highway churning away a few feet south. Jackson had brought his entire corps of 28000, around the Union right flank through the Wilderness. His men attacked and crushed the XI Union Corps of Maj. Gen. O.O. Howard - mostly German-American immigrants. Jackson was up on the front reconnoitering for the next day's attacks. On his return to his front lines, he was wounded. Given first aid near that spot - actual at the old monument marking the 'Wounding of General Jackson' - he was removed to Ellwood Mansion several miles to the west where his left arm would be amputated. He was then sent to Guinea Station 15 miles to the southeast on the Richmond railroad, where he would die to pneumonia on May 10.

    Original monument to wounding of Jackson Newer monument dedicated to Jackson Jackson's last words Visitor Center Exhibit History Trail takes off from the parking lot
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    HAZEL GROVE-FAIRVIEW

    by mtncorg Written Nov 10, 2006

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    After Jackson's attack late on the day of May 2, Confederate artillery was placed here on the little hill of Hazel Grove, giving them a nice shot at Federal positions opposite on Fairview. Over 30 cannons on both sides dueled away in the morning with the Rebels slowly prevailing. Gen. J. E. B. Stuart, who had taken over from the wounded Jackson, sent brigade after brigade into the Union positions in some of the bloodiest fighting of the Battle. A trail will take you from Hazel Dell, over to the Union positions at Fairview. You can share the pastures today with the occasional deer who roam through the Park. Up on Fairview, you can see some of the revetments behind which the cannons fired from and look back at Hazel Dell from the Federal side. A small monument in the woods on the left of Fairview is dedicated to the 27th Indiana Regiment who was in the thick of things here. This regiment is famous for having been the regiment that found Lee's Lost Orders which gave McClellan the chance to smash the Rebels a year earlier. That he frittered his chance away, was no fault of the men of the 27th Indiana who fought hard in the Cornfield there losing 50% casualties. Another 30% would be lost on Culp's Hill at Gettysburg. Here, during the heavy action, their commander, Silas Colgrove, after finding a couple abandoned cannons on the field, shouted to his son, the regiment's major, "Here, boy, you run the regiment while run this here gun!"

    The fall of the Fairview position gave the Rebel artillery a close up shot at the Federal position across the next field at the Chancellorsville Inn, which soon thereafter fell.

    Gun on Hazel Dell faces to Fairview Mycological delight the Wilderness of Hazel Dell Guns on Fairview face Hazel Dell Monument to the 27th Indiana Tablet describing action at Fairview
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    ELLWOOD

    by mtncorg Written Nov 10, 2006

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    This old home, sitting above Wilderness Run, was built in the 1790's as a centerpiece of a 640 acre plantation. William Jones was the original builder. In 1823, after losing his first wife, he remarried a 16 year old grandniece of his former spouse. They had a child who eventually ended up marrying J. Horace Lacy the owner of Chatham. Ellwood also served as a stop along the old Orange Turnpike. Fighting at Chancellorsville occurred mostly to the east and the home served as a hospital for Confederate soldiers. It was here Gen. Stonewall Jackson was brought to after being shot down by his own men on May 2. His left arm had to be amputated and is buried out in the family cemetery a short walk to the south of the house. Jackson was then taken to Guinea Station on the Richmond railroad where he would later die on May 10 of pneumonia.

    Ellwood was a center of action during the Wilderness campaign, a year later. Two Union corps commanders - generals Governeur Warren and Ambrose Burnside (back on the scene from earlier Fredericksburg fame) - made the house their headquarters during the fighting which raged only a mile to the west in the woods. U.S. Grant, also set up his headquarters a few hundred yards north of the house. The floors were stained with blood at battle's end and the grounds vacant for eight years afterwards. The Lacy family returned to Ellwood after selling off Chatham to pay debts in 1872 and the house remained a home until being acquired by the NPS in 1977.

    Lack of money within the NPS has made restoration of the house a slow process, aided in large part by a voluntary organization called the Friends of the Wilderness Battlefield. You can see the process of restoration slowly at work here - a form of architectural archeology similar to what you see at nearby James Madison's Montpelier home - at least until Madison's home is completely restored in 2007. Volunteers of the same organization are on hand on the weekends to help make sense of the home and its place in history.

    Outside restored at Ellwood Left Arm of Jackson and rolling countryside Monument to Jackson's arm
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    Outdoor Walking Tour Information

    by grandmaR Updated Sep 20, 2007

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    From the Visitor's Center there are walking tours for:

    Wounding of Stonewall Jackson Trail. This short trails begins at the map painting outside the Chancellorsville Visitor Center and loops around the building to the place where Jackson was wounded. (The exact location has been pinpointed.) The start of this trail is what is shown on the first photo. A printed brochure with a map is available in the Visitor Center. There is short guided walking tour which will guide you through the area where that momentous event occurred. The tour begins at the large battlefield painting in front of the Chancellorsville Visitor Center.

    Also there is the Chancellorsville History Trail. This trail has two loops that both begin in the Chancellorsville Visitor Center parking lot. A 1/2 mile loop goes to some Union earthworks and areas that resemble the Wilderness of 1863. A 3 1/2 mile trail follows the advance of some of the Confederate army of May 3 and then loops back largely following earthworks.
    Hazel Grove-Fairview Trail. This two mile loop begins at Hazel Grove and traverses the area of the severest fighting on May 3.

    In other locations there are:

    McLaws' Trail. This two mile loop travseres a newly purchased tract which was fought over on May 1-3, 1863.
    Salem Church Trail. This short trail loops around Salem Church where fighting ragged on the evening of May 3, 1863.

    We didn't walk on any of the trails - we were anxious to get back home.

    Where Stonewall Jackson was shot Sign about the Chancellorsville Campaign Maps of Chancellorsville Stonewall Jackson sign Chancellorsville battle map
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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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    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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    GUINEA STATION

    by mtncorg Written Nov 10, 2006

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    Thomas 'Stonewall' Jackson was/is one of the most beloved of all of the southern generals. A hard charging soldier best known for his magnificent campaign in the Shenandoah Valley in 1862, but his experiences were all over Virginia throughout the first years of the War. Lee referred to James Longstreet as his Old War Horse, but Jackson was that and more. Jackson had been a valuable lieutenant at most of Lee's battles - Seven Days by Richmond, Second Manassas, Antietam, Fredericksburg and here at Chancellorsville when his star was at its highest. He had just led his corps on a magnificent flanking march through the Wilderness, destroying the Union XI corps which defended the Federal right, on May 2. That evening, while reconnoitering the Union position with his staff in anticipation of the coming morning attacks, he was shot down by his own men while returning to his lines. Taken to the nearby Ellwood home, there his left arm was amputated. In order to recuperate, it was decided to transfer him over to Guinea Station which was on the Richmond-Fredericksburg rail line. Thus, he was closer to medical help from Richmond and he could enjoy a visit from his wife while he recovered. Initially, all was going well. He was put up in the plantation office building on the 740 acre Fairfield plantation of Richard Chandler. On May 10, after developing pneumonia, -NPS historian Frank O'Reilly feels the pneumonia resulted from a preexisting cold that ran amok following his body's defenses being lowered as a result of his wounds - he died with his last words being, "Let us pass over the river and rest under the shade of the trees." His death created a vacancy that Lee was never able to fill.

    The Chandler's plantation home is gone, you can see where the foundation was. The Shrine is open - you can visit the room in which Jackson died - on the weekends, but for other times you might want to check the Visitor Center at Fredericksburg or Chancellorsville or call the number I have given.

    Outbuilding of Chanler Plantation - Guinea Station Plantation office where Gen Jackson died General Stonewall Jackson's deathbed
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    confederate cemetery

    by doug48 Updated Jul 12, 2011

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    the spotsylvania confederate cemetery is located on courthouse road near the spotsylvania courthouse. this is the final resting place of confederate soldiers who lost their lives in the battle of spotsylvania courthouse.

    confederate cemetery confederate memorial
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