Sunday, July 26, 2009

Traveler visits Civil War Battlefields

In my quest to visit most of the Civil War Battlefields, the girls took me to Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg, and the Battle of the Wilderness! I was so excited!

Chancellorsville was not really a town in Virginia, but rather a small village that had grown up around the Chancellor house and it's outbuildings. The Battle of Chancellorsville was fought in 1863 and it pitted General Lee against Union Major General Hooker. Lee incredibly split his army, and that coupled with mistakes by Hooker, resulted in a Confederate victory in what would be known as "Lee's Perfect Battle".
These fields around the Chancellor Home were the site of intense fighting on both sides. They are so peaceful now...
The remains of the Chanceller Home. You can see that it is still situated at the intersection of major roads. Before the war, it was used as an inn for travelers.

Even though the South won this battle, it took a terrible toll on the Confederates. General "Stonewall" Jackson was wounded by friendly fire during the battle and died days later from resulting pneumonia. This is the Park Service's Memorial to Jackson, it was once believed that this was the spot where he was wounded.

It is now believed that this is the actual spot he was wounded. He was returning to camp with his officers after dark right down this road. He had been out scouting the Union's position and was fired upon by Southern Soldiers who mistook the returning party as attacking Union soldiers. Jackson was shot twice in the left arm. His horse, Little Sorrel, bolted toward the road (near the stone marker is today). Jackson was taken away by stretcher bearers who accidentally dropped him twice as they escaped heavy Union firing. Jackson's left arm was amputated later that night. Lee, devastated by Jackson's wounding, lamented "He may have lost his left arm, but I have lost my right", referring to Jackson's strong position at Lee's right flank.

Although his amputation site was healing, Jackson developed pneumonia. He died eight days after his wounding. His last words were "Let us pass over the river and rest under the shade of the trees"...

Stonewall Jackson got his name at the first Battle of Bull Run when Confederate General Bee, trying to rally his troops, cried out "There is Jackson, standing like a Stonewall".

After exploring Chancellorsville, we traveled to Fredericksburg, not far away. The Battle of Fredericksburg was fought in 1862, before Chancellorsville. It was another Confederate victory and the Union suffered devastating losses as they tried to move toward the Confederate Capital at Richmond.

In the midst of heavy firing, the Union built bridges across the Rappahannock river into the heart of the town. There was intense fighting in the town itself, the first example of street to street fighting in our Nation's history.

Most of the Union losses occurred here at the stonewall which were at the foot of Marye's Heights. The Confederates dug in behind this wall and fired upon the Union soldiers who were trying to advance.

Marye's Heights, behind the wall...

From the stonewall, this was one of the locations of the heaviest losses for the Union. Union soldiers advanced from the area which is now near the parked cars. They tried to get to the spot where I am standing as there was a break in the stone wall at this spot. Brigade after brigade tried to take this spot. The Irish Brigade, the brigade who it is believed got the closest, suffered the heaviest losses as they lost 50% of their men here. When night fell, the Union soldiers had to take cover among their dead. The next day, the Union retreated back across the river. It's just amazing to me that now people live right here...

Next stop, the Battle of the Wilderness. In 1864, after General Ulysses S. Grant took over command, the armies clashed here in this heavily wooded area of Spotsylvania County, VA. The battle was technically a draw, but both sides suffered heavy losses.

Sadly, at one point, a brush fire broke out between the two clashing armies and hundreds wounded soldiers were burned to death before they could be rescued.

The woods are so think here, it is hard to imagine armies moving through here.

1 comment:

Found art blog said...

Wow!!! What an amazing story!!
I'm very jealous that Facebook let you have a page - they don't like my name, so I had to use Andrea's instead. :o( How did you do it?