Visiting the Battlefields of Central Virginia

This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series Battlefield Visits
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Recently, my wife and I had the opportunity to visit the Wilderness and Fredericksburg. We also visited Chancellorsville and Spotsylvania earlier in the spring. These four battles were among the bloodiest of the Civil War. In the four battles over 108,000 men were killed, wounded, captured or missing. A huge amount of blood was shed in a small area. Today you see all four battlefields in one day. It’s just a short ride from the Wilderness to Fredericksburg, or from Chancellorsville to Spotsylvania.

Fortunately, these four battlefields are well-preserved from too much urban and suburban sprawl. The National Park Service and organizations like the Civil War Trust have seen to that. When Walmart announced plans to build a SuperStore right next to the Wilderness battlefield the public outcry was deafening. The company conceded when the saw the witness list. The first witness was Professor Emeritus James I. Robertson of Virginia Tech. Every major historian was on the list and personages like Robert Duvall, a direct descendant of General Robert E. Lee through his mother. Walmart threw in the towel before the trial even started.

Here are some images of the sights at the battlefields.

The Stone Wall at Fredericksburg (unfortunately, this section is a recreation). We’re on the Confederate side of the wall near the Spot where Brig. Gen. Thomas Cobb CSA, the commander of Cobb’s Legion was killed. he was mortally wounded in the thigh by a Union artillery shell that burst inside the Stephens house near the Sunken Road on Marye’s Heights. He bled to death from damage to the femoral artery on December 13, 1862. There is a small memorial to him on the other side of the wall.

The Stone Wall at Fredericksburg

The Wilderness hasn’t changed much since the battle. It is still dense woods but most of the landmarks are gone, replaced by signage. There is a small exhibit staffed by a NPS ranger with plenty of maps and brochures.

Wilderness Map at exhibit

 

Then I have a number of pictures that will give you a representative view of the battlefields and exhibits.

In addition to the sights on the battlefields both the visitor’s centers at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville have excellent museum complete with movies and interactive battlefield maps. The rangers in residence are knowledgeable and love to discuss their areas of expertise.

 

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