Tag Archives: Battle of the Wilderness

History in Our Backyard Chapter 11: the Unfinished Railroad in the Battle of the Wilderness

Chapter 10 described the history of the “unfinished railroad.”  This article tells how it was used during one of the Civil War’s battles.

Exhibit 14 General Wadsworth Monument

May 6, 1864 was a day of changing fortunes as the Union fought the Confederates along Orange Plank Rd.  It began with a 5 AM attack by the Union II Corps, reinforced by divisions from V and VI Corps, under command of General Hancock.  The attack drove General A.P. Hill’s III Corps from its positions.  They fled west towards Parker’s Store.  The 7 AM arrival of General Longstreet’s I Corps stemmed the rout.  Longstreet’s counter attack at Tapp Field drove the Federals back toward their starting positions to the east.  By 10 AM the two armies were at a standstill facing each other astride Orange Plank in the vicinity of the monument to Union General James Wadsworth.

Exhibit 15: Unfinished Railroad Cut

General Lee sent his Chief Engineer, General Smith, to see if there was a way to break the stalemate.  Smith and his party walked east along the unfinished railroad, which lay south of the Union’s flank. Both armies were aware of the unfinished railroad about ¼ mile south of and parallel to Orange Plank.  In the chaos of battle, neither army had thought about using it as an attack route, or about defending it against such an attack, until Smith’s reconnaissance.  Smith found the railroad grade undefended.  He returned and reported his findings to Longstreet. 

Longstreet sent four brigades to attack the Union flank under the command of his aide Lt. Col. Sorrel.  Sorrel arranged the men along the railroad grade and, when all men were in position, began the attack shortly after 11 AM.  It burst upon the Union flank in total surprise.  In addition, as soon as the fighting started on the flank, Longstreet’s remaining troops attacked the Union’s front.

McAlister’s brigade on the Union flank was first to feel the Confederate onslaught.  It was quickly routed.  Soon all eight Union brigades south of Orange plank had collapsed like dominos.  Union General Wadsworth, in command of Union forces north of Orange Plank, heroically attempted to organize a defense on the north side of the road.  It was to no avail leaving him mortally wounded.  By 12:30 PM, all Union positions had been overrun with the defenders withdrawing east to Brock Road or north to the Lacy House (Ellwood Manor).

The Confederate’s success quickly turned to failure.  While riding to the front to direct a continued advance, General Longstreet was accidentally shot by soldiers of the 12th Virginia of Mahone’s Brigade. While he survived, it wasn’t until four hours later that the Confederates were able to reorganize and resume the attack.  By then the Union had strengthened its defenses along Brock Road.  The renewed attack failed.  In addition to the short term loss, it would be months before Longstreet recovered sufficiently to resume command.

Author: John Bell

Date: July 2018

Read Previous Chapter. Chapter 10: The Unfinished Railroad

Continue to Chapter 12: Beef on the Hoof

Whether you’re looking for homes for sale in Lake of the Woods VA or Waterfront property in Virginia we are your Real Estate Advisors for Stafford, Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, Locust Grove, Central Virginia, and Greater Virginia. Thinking of selling? In any market condition, “what is my home worth?” is the #1 question asked by home owners. If you wish to sell your home, it needs to be sold for top dollar and in a timely manner. Pricing your home accurately, Pat will partner with you to make the selling process so much easier. Get started today by calling us at (540) 388-2541 or contact Pat Licata.

To see available Lake of the Woods properties, please visit our site.

History In Our Backyard: Chapter 2 The Wilderness – The Early Years

Initially, this series on History in Our Backyard described how the Wilderness became the Wilderness.  Now we will delve into the early inhabitants who came to what would become known as “The Wilderness.” All things Wilderness were synonymous with Alexander Spotswood, the colony’s Royal Lt Governor in the early 1700s. He initiated the economic progress of the region through his efforts to establish Germanna fort and an iron industry. One source states that “there, thirty miles from the last outlying farms, the Germans set to work, clearing a site on the riverbank and building a fortified town.” The same source references the fort being supplied by pack-trains of mules and horses.


Exhibit 2 Germanna Fort

Those same pack-trains were instrumental in his 1716 venture into the mountains to the west. His band of adventure-seeking explorers departed from the Germanna fort accompanied by animals laden with supplies including a healthy supply of spirits. He later awarded each participant with a golden horseshoe pin thereby identifying them as the “Knights of the Golden Horseshoe” for eternity.

At the time of Spotswood’s term as Lt Governor of Virginia in 1722, he had firmly established his presence in the area. Through a somewhat devious plan he had accumulated over 80,000 acres of land. Records show that he never sold a single acre of the land, choosing instead to lease lots, mostly in 50 acre parcels, a few in parcels of up to 500 acres.

English law at that time dictated that settlers construct a home and plant an orchard on their leased property within three years. They also had to clear and plant a minimum one-acre garden and/or cropland. Initially, many chose to plant tobacco. The Colony was cash-strapped in those days and tobacco became the medium of exchange in most commercial transactions.

A 1724 inventory of Spotswood’s properties shows that he owned his fort, his large home, dozens of farm animals and the basis of the iron works, namely the Tubal site, about 12 miles east of his residence. At Germanna, he established the first County seat of Spotsylvania and held court in his home. The presence of the court quickly brought its own society; travelers arrived routinely for appearances before the justices.

County courts developed “Order Books” in those days. Both the Spotsylvania and later Orange (after 1734) books contain references to orders issued to Spotswood, primarily dictating that he organize work crews to maintain the road to Germanna and the bridge over Wilderness Run, located near the present day intersection of State Route 3 and US 20. Local residents provided the labor for the crews, usually their slaves. Spotswood did maintain the ferry that operated over the Rapid Anne River, today’s Rapidan. He also maintained his own road from Germanna to the Tubal Iron Works.

Eventually, small enterprises sprang up in the area. Those that were not located at the Court complex would be found along the Germanna Road. Retail stores, grain mills, saw mills, post offices, wagon makers and leatherworks businesses all found their place. Physicians took up residence in the area and church spires began to become part of the local scenery. By 1725 there were 7 plantations alone in the area surrounding the Tubal Iron Works site. The new Wilderness society was beginning to take shape.

Author:  Bob Epp

Date:  September 2017

Read Previous Chapter 1: How the Wilderness Became the Wilderness

Continue to Chapter 3: Plantation Life in the Wilderness

Whether you’re looking for homes for sale in Lake of the Woods VA or Waterfront property in Virginia we are your Real Estate Advisors for Stafford, Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, Locust Grove, Central Virginia, and Greater Virginia. Thinking of selling? In any market condition, “what is my home worth?” is the #1 question asked by home owners. If you wish to sell your home, it needs to be sold for top dollar and in a timely manner. Pricing your home accurately, Pat will partner with you to make the selling process so much easier. Get started today by calling us at (540) 388-2541 or contact Pat Licata.

To see available Lake of the Woods properties, please visit our site.

history

History in Our Backyard: Introduction

 History in our Backyard, a product of the Friends of Wilderness Battlefield (FoWB), was created by FoWB’s Special Programs and Education Outreach Committees.  It consists of a series of articles designed to share the history of the Wilderness region with the residents who live in and around this hallowed ground.  The articles focus on either a particular event or a historical period that brings to life the area’s rich and vibrant history dating from the earliest settlers to the present day.  These brief glimpses into the Wilderness’ history are intended to encourage residents of all ages living in and around Spotsylvania and Orange Counties to learn and appreciate the significant impact that this area has had on our local and national history.

For years the Battle of the Wilderness has been under-appreciated by most Americans. Experience tells us that local residents have a limited knowledge of the 1864 battle’s impact, as the first battle in the Overland Campaign and the first face-to-face encounter between Generals Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee.  Further, many residents are unaware that the history of the Wilderness in general is both a microcosm of Virginia history  even predating the birth of our Nation  and a story of agricultural and general economic development in a rural setting.

History in our Backyard is also designed to capture our FoWB members’ wealth of knowledge about various aspects of the Wilderness.  We encourage our volunteers to share with others a particular moment, event, or period in Wilderness history about which they are knowledgeable.  These are not intended to be scholarly works of history but rather tidbits of information about the land for the people who share that land today.  We hope our neighbors will become more engaged with their surroundings by having their neighbors – our volunteers – share their insights into the region through this brief picture. 

Our initial concept was to make these short pictures into history available to local communities’ newspapers, magazines, newsletters, and websites.  But History in our Backyard is growing beyond our initial expectations.  We anticipated no more than a handful of articles a year but that number is increasing and we are reaching more local communities and at least one county-wide medium.  Possibly the most significant expansion will be this compilation of all the articles, as they get published elsewhere, residing on our webpage. 

We welcome your comments and suggestions for improving our product and for future subjects.  We would even welcome your participation as an author of an article on a topic that is of interest to you and would add to the knowledge of our readership.

This article was written by Friends of Wilderness Battlefield.
Continue to Chapter 1: How the Wilderness Became the Wilderness

Whether you’re looking for homes for sale in Lake of the Woods VA or Waterfront property in Virginia we are your Real Estate Advisors for Stafford, Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, Locust Grove, Central Virginia, and Greater Virginia. Thinking of selling? In any market condition, “what is my home worth?” is the #1 question asked by home owners. If you wish to sell your home, it needs to be sold for top dollar and in a timely manner. Pricing your home accurately, Pat will partner with you to make the selling process so much easier. Get started today by calling us at (540) 388-2541 or contact Pat Licata.

To see available Lake of the Woods properties, please visit our site.

Live in Historical Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania, Virginia!

By: Todd Long

Why live in the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County area?  It has history.  It has class.  It has culture.  Many people new to the area will find that this part of Virginia offers much in the way of things to do.  As I stated, the Fredericksburg region boasts of many historic sites that hold a place in our nation’s history, from its early founding, struggles for independence, and growing pains that led to the Civil War.   

The Fredericksburg area is the site of where more than 100,000 Americans lost their lives in our nation’s struggle that culminated in the Civil War.  The area, simply put, is hallowed ground.  But there is also a hallowed beauty to it.  Go visit the Fredericksburg Battlefield, where in 1862, General Robert E. Lee defeated the Union Army of The Potomac.  Down the road from the Fredericksburg Battlefield is the Chancellorsville Battlefield, a site considered to be Lee’s most brilliant victory, where he defeated an army almost three times the size of his own army.  Then nearby are the battlefields of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania, where Lee faced off against Union General Ulysses S. Grant, a man who would go on to become our nation’s 18th President.  If you’re not a big history nerd, but are more of a fitness junkie, these battlefields offer many hiking trails and the roadways on these battlefields, which are run by the National Park Service, are great places for biking.  The Park Service also puts on many living history events and Fit History walking tours during the spring and summer months. 

Historic Downtown Fredericksburg is definitely worth going to see as it has many buildings that date to the Civil War and earlier.  In the historic district there are many shops that offer a wide variety to visitors; restaurants, antique shops, specialty foods, clothing, jewelry, home furnishings and much more.  Located in downtown Fredericksburg is Kenmore, the home of Fielding Lewis, an American Patriot who gave and sacrificed much during our country’s struggle for independence, not to mention, the brother-in-law of George Washington, having married Washington’s sister Betty.  Since we are speaking of George Washington, across the river from Fredericksburg is the site of Ferry Farm, where young George spent his childhood.  It is a living history site which recently has underwent archaeological work to locate the foundations of his boyhood home and has been rebuilt to what it probably looked like.  Also located in downtown are the Mary Washington House, Rising Sun Tavern, Hugh Mercer Apothecary Shop and St. James’ House, all operated by the Washington Heritage Museums.  Also near downtown, for the nature fanatics, is Alum Spring Park, a 34-acre park that hosts many natural features including sandstone cliffs and a swimming hole.  If you are looking for a nice romantic getaway with your significant other, look no further.  The downtown area also offers two nice B&B’s, the Kenmore Inn and the Richard Johnston Inn.  Both Inn’s are historic homes, offer wonderful accommodations, excellent food, and show classic Virginia hospitality. 

Aside from all the history and historic sites that Fredericksburg offers, there is also much in the way of class and culture.  The downtown area also features art shops, the James Monroe Memorial Library, Fredericksburg Area Museum, and Belmont, the home of Gari Melcher, one America’s prominent portraitists and Impressionist painters.  Fredericksburg also offers several craft beer and alehouses including Harry’s Alehouse on Route 3 and Sedona Taphouse and Capital Ale House in downtown Fredericksburg.  The food at these locations are excellent.  Not far from downtown, for those who have a taste for wine, there are a few local wineries which include Bacchus Winery, Hartwood Winery, and Eden Try Winery.  If you have a flare for French cuisine, located downtown is La Petite Auberge, a French restaurant that has been serving the area since 1981.  If you enjoy theater, located nearby is the Riverside Center for the Performing Arts, a local dinner theater which has been putting on main-stage musicals, broad way shows, and dramatic productions for over 20 years.  The shows are always fun and entertaining and the food and service is always top notch.  With all that Fredericksburg has to offer, it is no wonder that the area is continuously growing. 

Spotsylvania neighbors Orange County, where Lake of the Woods is located. Whether you’re looking for homes for sale in Lake of the Woods VA or Waterfront property in Virginia we are your Real Estate Advisors for Stafford, Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, Locust Grove, Central Virginia, and Greater Virginia. Thinking of selling? In any market condition, “what is my home worth?” is the #1 question asked by home owners. If you wish to sell your home, it needs to be sold for top dollar and in a timely manner. Pricing your home accurately, Pat will partner with you to make the selling process so much easier. Get started today by calling us at (540) 388-2541 or contact Pat Licata.

To see available Lake of the Woods properties, please visit our site.

Civil War Study Group Presents Relic Cabinet to Lake of the Woods (VA) Assoc.

New relic cabinet permanently installed in LOWA Clubhouse


In November of 2012, the Civil War Study Group, Inc. (CWSGI) formally turned over to the Lake of the Woods Association (LOWA) a cabinet custom-built to display relics of the Battle of the Wilderness found in LOW. This cabinet and fantastic relics are located in the Clubhouse. The six-foot-tall mahogany and glass cabinet, crafted by Coley’s Cabinet Shop of Fredericksburg with funds raised by CWSGI,  exhibits more than 100 relics and artifacts from the Battle of the Wilderness that took place May 5-7, 1864 in Orange and Spotsylvania counties, including in and around the Lake of the Woods area.  Some of the relics have been donated or loaned to CWSGI for display, and many others belong to LOWA, having been found on its properties. Dr. Peter G. Rainey, chairman of CWSGI, said, “The purpose of the cabinet is to display the CSWGI collection of Civil War relics and artifacts of educational value that will contribute to preserving the history of Orange County.” He noted the cabinet contains information about the battle and soldiers, people who lived in the LOW area at the time, and examples of weaponry and munitions used by both North and South.In addition to its educational programs, the Civil War Study Group helps local residents research their possible Civil War ancestors and can assist in searching property for relics to be displayed. For more information, contact Dr. Rainey at (540) 972-9291.

Dr. Pete Rainey (left) wtih Bob Shope, LOWA President


CWSGI Background:  Civil War Study Group, Inc. was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization this year. Its primary purpose is to educate the public about the rich historical heritage of Central Virginia, with emphasis on the Battle of the Wilderness, which was fought May 5-7, 1864 in and around Lake of the Woods. Its membership organization meets monthly with educational presentations. In addition, members give historical talks to schools and civic groups in Orange County and the surrounding area. It developed three interpretive panels about the Battle of the Wilderness and had them installed in Lake of the Woods. These panels are quite interesting to many of the clients with whom I show property here in LOW.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Craig Rains                       Peter Rainey
(540) 972-2844                 (540) 972-9291
crains@ymail.com             pete1304@comcast.net
 
It’s another beautiful day at the lake!
Pat Licata, REALTOR
Licata on the Lake