Yesterday we traveled north from Richmond to visit the Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Wilderness, and Spotsylvania battlefields. All very nice and well taken care of, Fredericksburg has suffered the most over the years. Only a small amount of it remains, but what does remain is very interesting. The old stone wall that Lee’s troops used is still there and after seeing it you can understand why the confederates won. It is a battle that stayed with the union troops because they chanted “Fredericksburg” as the confederates came at them in Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg. At Gettysburg the union troops had the stone wall and they won. Chancellorsville was a nice battlefield and well preserved this is the battle in which Jackson was shot by his own troops and would later die. We saw both the wounding site and the place of his death miles away. The wilderness is my favorite battlefield and battle. While it is unknown by most is was the start of Grant taking control of the eastern theater of war and so the beginning of his march to Richmond and Petersburg. Spotsylvania was his next battle and it stretched about a two week period however both The Wilderness and Spotsylvania had 15,000 casualties but unlike Spotsylvania The Wilderness only lasted two days. To end out the day 3 we raced home beating the storms that were rolling through. We got home just in time to see it roll into Richmond and as we watched out our window we lost […]
Today we traveled down the Peninsula. We first visited Fort Monroe on an island off the tip of the peninsula. We were unsure about this stop. It has just become a National Park and the army and the park service are swapping out duties. The old fort is pretty amazing to see. It’s in great shape and the fort’s history spans Jamestown to the present. So every war has some history at the fort. There is also a museum in the old casemates (the areas that contained the old fort guns). The museum was nice and well taken care of they did have the actual cell that Jefferson Davis was kept in after the war. On our way out we got to see an aircraft carrier coming into Norfolk. It was the George Bush and it was huge. As we ate lunch we watched it make its way to the naval base. After the fort we traveled to Newport News and visited the Virginia Maritime Museum. It had a lot of nice things that again spanned the whole history of Jamestown it the present age. The main attraction was the USS Monitor. It was the first Union Ironclad. The Monitor battled just off shore with its confederate counterpart and so made all other wooden navies obsolete. There was a large section dedicated to the artifacts from the wrecked Monitor and it even had the turret and some of the cannons. They had many examples of what ship life was like. […]
We visited all the sites around Richmond. Starting at Cold Harbor and Gainesville and working our way south to the Tredegar Iron Works in Downtown Richmond the place where almost half of the confederate cannon were produced. The interesting thing about these sites around Richmond is that they normally overlap two different campaigns; McClellan’s Peninsula campaign in 1862 and Grant’s last campaign in 1864 and 1865. Another interesting aspect to these sites is that they filled with defensive works similar to what we would see in World War One. Most of the works are still visible by their earthen mounds. One cool little thing was that we figured out that Jeb Stuart was mortally wounded just a mile from the hotel and so we found that historic site. Tomorrow we hope to go down the Peninsula and visit some sites there.
My father and I decided to take a whirlwind civil war trip through Virginia mostly centering around Richmond. Since I lived in DC for a couple of years we have seen most the big battles up there. We wanted to hit all the out of the way places that we have heard about but never really seen. We left Sunday afternoon after masses and couple other events and then drove half way and stop in Beckley, West Virginia. Today we woke up and got on the road finishing the drive through the mountains and hitting Appomattox Courthouse, the place of General Lee’s surrender. It was really out of the way and there was not much there beside the Mclean house and basically the whole village that the National Park system acquired over the last hundred years. Kind of cool but really more interesting to have just made it to the place where the war all but came to an end. The road that we then followed into Richmond was basically the route that Lee’s army took on its retreat from Richmond. We stopped for a few other sites. Saylor’s Creek was another small battlefield that was the place of General Ewell’s men surrender. They served as a rear guard for Lee’s army and the loose of 7,000 men was a devastating blow to the Army of Northern Virginia. The other site near Saylor’s Creek is a placed called High Bridge. A Very aptly named bridge that spans about 2,500 feet […]