Parks and Battlefields in Spotsylvania County

There are many opportunities to experience Civil War history in all corners of Spotsylvania County. The Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park is made up of a collection of Civil War historical sites governed by the National Park Service. These sites include Chatham Manor (Falmouth), Chancellorsville Battlefield, Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, Battle of the Wilderness, Fredericksburg Battlefield (Battle of Salem Church), and the Stonewall Jackson Shrine.

Chancellorsville Battlefield

There were 36 Union Napoleon Guns commanded by Captain Clermont Livingston Best at Fairview on May 3, 1863. They were dueling with 40 Confederate cannons (directly forward of this artillery position) under the command of Colonel Edward Porter Alexander at Hazel Grove about 1,200 yards to the west along current day Stuart Drive. This artillery position gave Confederate General J. E. B. Stuart the ability to reach General Hooker’s Headquarters (about 2,000 yards from Hazel Grove) with cannon-shot. Eventually the battery fire at Hazel Grove struck the Chancellor House with ‘Fighting Joe’ Hooker standing on the porch. The artillery round knocked the Commander of the Army of the Potomac out of action and was a decisive moment of the Battle at Chancellorsville.

Chancellorsville Battlefield tour stop #10.

The Union artillery position at Hazel Grove was abandoned during the early hours on the fight on Day 3 at Chancellorsville. Artillery batteries from the First Ohio Volunteer Light Artillery and Fifth Maine Battery were ordered to pull back to the Fairview Farm House and establish a new firing position. General Daniel Stickles commanding the Union Army Third Corps was against abandoning Hazel Grove for Fairview. But Army of the Potomac Commander Joseph Hooker felt ‘Stonewall’ Jackson’s replacement J. E. B. Stuart would press an attack using the divisions of Brigadier General Robert E. Rhodes, Brigadier General Raleigh Edward Colston, and Major General Henry ‘Harry’ Heth to capture the batteries at Hazel Grove. This decision proved to be the final strategic mistake of General Hooker as Confederate artillery now reached the crossroads at Chancellorsville.

Click here for 173 photographs of Chancellorsville Battlefield.

Fredericksburg Battlefield

Fredericksburg Battlefield features a visitor center with displays and presentations which map the action of both Confederate and Union forces. There are many interpretive markers along the Confederate defensive line on the Sunken Road, Marye’s Heights, Lee’s Hill (exhibit shelter), and Lee Drive.

Sergeant Kirkland was denied permission to deliver aid to the 8,000 wounded and dying Union soldiers lying on the ground in front of the stone wall. But he collected canteens against orders and exposed himself to enemy fire to deliver water to enemy soldiers asking for help.

Sergeant Richard Rowland Kirkland (b. 1843 d. 1863) from Kershaw County, South Carolina, is best known as the “Angel of Marye’s Heights” during the Battle of Fredericksburg. He fought with the Second South Carolina Volunteer Infantry Regiment during the Civil War. Besides fighting behind the stone wall on the Sunken Road during the Battle of Fredericksburg, Sergeant Kirkland fought at the Battle of First Manassas, Seven Days Battle, Battle of Harpers Ferry, Battle of Antietam, Battle of Chancellorsville, Battle of Gettysburg, and killed leading a charge as a lieutenant at the Battle of Chickamauga. He has been memorialized with this tribute by sculptor Felix de Weldon where he delivered canteens of water to wounded and dying men on both sides of the battle after the failed Union attempt to break the Confederate line and capture the high ground surrounding Fredericksburg.

The Second Battle of Fredericksburg was part of the Chancellorsville Campaign. Confederate General Robert E. Lee left Major General Jubal A. Early to protect the supply lines of the Army of Northern Virginia to the south at Guinea Station. He was also ordered to watch the movement of Union forces in Fredericksburg commanded by Major General John Sedgwick. If Sedgwick attempted to move his force west to reinforce the main body of the Army of the Potomac commanded by Major General Joseph Hooker, Early was to block the advance and fight delaying actions while General Lee and “Stonewall” Jackson divided forces at Chancellorsville to conduct an attack from two directions. This led to the Battle of Salem Church which successfully drove Union forces north and forced the crossing of the Rappahannock River and left General Hooker without additional troops.

The grounds of historic Salem Church at the intersection of Plank Road (Route 3) and Salem Church Road (Route 639) in Spotsylvania County, Virginia.

Historic Salem Church was the sight of war refugees during the First Battle of Fredericksburg. But the Chancellorsville Campaign was a different scene. A successful Confederate delaying action around the grounds of the church kept Union reinforcements from reaching the Battle at Chancellorsville. The withdrawal of Union troops at Salem Church convinced Union General Joseph Hooker to retreat, giving Confederate General Robert E. Lee his greatest victory of the Civil War. Bullet and cannon strikes to the brick walls of Salem Church are still visible today. The number of war marks speaks to the level of fighting on May 3-4, 1863.

Click here for 131 photographs of Fredericksburg Battlefield.

Spotsylvania Courthouse Battlefield

Spotsylvania County was under siege during the Battle of Fredericksburg, the Chancellorsville Campaign, and the Battle of the Wilderness, and Battle of Spotsylvania Court House during the Overland Campaign. During May 1864 Ulysses S. Grant serving as general-in-chief of all Union Armies, directed the actions of the Army of the Potomac (commanded by Major General George G. Meade) at the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House. Confederate General Lee earned the nickname ‘The Ace of Spades’ in Spotsylvania as he ordered the Army of Northern Virginia to construct defensive earthworks to fight the attempts by the Union Army of the Potomac to capture Richmond and force the surrender of General Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.

The original trench system consisted of logworks over a man's head in height with a space between the top two logs for a soldier to shoot through with the upper log protecting his head. In front of the logs, earth sloped upward. Behind the logs was a trench. The logs were carried away by the landowners after the battle.

Lee’s Final Line: Lee entrenches his troops protecting Spotsylvania Court House and the most direct route to Richmond. Instead of continuing frontal assaults against Lee’s last defensive position, George Gordon Meade, commander of the Army of the Potomac, decided to maneuver to the east, flanking the Confederates. This resulted in skirmishes and delaying actions on Telegraph Road (U. S. Route 1) leading to the Battle of North Anna River.

Click here for 86 photographs of Spotsylvania Court House Battlefield.

Wilderness Battlefield

This National Park Service interpretive marker of the Battle of the Wilderness titled 'Longstreet Felled' is on Orange Plank Road across from Forest Walk Drive in Spotsylvania County.

The 12th Virginia Infantry Regiment was part of Longstreet’s flanking force advancing perpendicular to the Orange Plank Road. As the troops approached the road, they ran into a small forest fire. Members of the right of the unit went around the right end of the fire, crossed the road and entered the woods. The left portion of the regiment went to the left of the fire and stopped before reaching the road. When the right portion realized they had left behind the rest of their command, they turned around and moved back toward the road. As they did so, the men of the left of the regiment saw soldiers approaching and opened fire, which drew a response. Into this cross fire rode Generals Longstreet, Kershaw and Jenkins and their staffs. Micah Jenkins was mortally wounded. James Longstreet was struck in the lower part of the throat. Several staff officers were hit before Joseph Kershaw halted the shooting.

The Battle of the Wilderness was the first engagement of the Overland Campaign of 1864. There were several opportunities for Confederate forces to drive the Union Army of the Potomac from the battlefield and force a retreat to Culpeper. But incidents like the accidental shooting of Lieutenant General James Longstreet turned a possible victory into the continued Union advance to capture the city of Richmond. We have put together a complete album of photographs covering the Wilderness Battlefield. There pictures cover the entire battlefield including the below areas:

  1. General Grant’s Headquarters
  2. Wilderness Exhibit Shelter
  3. Saunders Field
  4. Higgerson Farm
  5. Chewning Farm
  6. Widow Tapp Farm
  7. Longstreet’s Wounding
  8. Brock Road and Plank Road
  9. Ellwood
  10. Germanna Ford
  11. Wilderness Tavern
  12. Todd’s Tavern
  13. Ely’s Ford

Click here for 99 photographs of Wilderness Battlefield.

Stonewall Jackson Shrine

The “Stonewall” Jackson Shrine is the plantation office building owned by Thomas Coleman Chandler. His 740-acre plantation named “Fairfield” was a busy plantation before the Battle of Fredericksburg (December 13, 1862). All buildings have been lost by fire and time except for the simple wood frame structure used as a farm office. The office has a few items in storage when Jackson’s ambulance arrived after a 27-mile trip from a field hospital just west of the Lacy House (Ellwood Manor) on present day Wilderness Battlefield. General  “Stonewall” Jackson’s doctor, Hunter McGuire, and staff officers where offered the manor house but chose the quiet outbuilding as the best place for rest after the long ambulance ride. The immediate plan was for the general to stabilize and then board a train at Guinea Station only a few hundred yards away and transfer him to Richmond to better facilities and care.

This National Park Service interpretive marker titled 'A Staggering Loss' is at the Jackson Shrine in Spotsylvania County. It shows a group of mourners surrounding the grave of Confederate Lieutenant General 'Stonewall' Jackson in Lexington, Virginia. The wife and daughter of 'Stonewall' Jackson are shown in the top right corner.

The Stonewall Jackson Shrine in Spotsylvania County. Confederate Lieutenant General Thomas Jonathan ‘Stonewall’ Jackson spent the last six days of his life here. While attending physician Dr. Hunter Holmes McGuire (1835-1900) and the general’s second wife Mary Anna Morrison Jackson (1831-1915) were with General ‘Stonewall’ Jackson when he sat upright in bed and spoke these last words moments before his death: “Order A. P. Hill to prepare for action! Pass the infantry to the front rapidly! Tell Major Hawks…” He then put his head back on his bed and stated, “Let us cross over the river, and rest under the shade of the trees.” Chilling last words from the master of strategy and deceit on the battlefield.

Lake Anna State Park

Lake Anna State Park has a beach, fishing pond (accessible to children and the disabled), bathhouse and concessions, boat launch, camping, picnic sites, camping cabins, and two-bedroom cabins (7 with lake views) available for visitors. The park has many hiking, biking and horseback riding options using 15 miles of scenic trails. The visitor center has exhibits tracing the history of area gold mining and natural features, and gold panning programs and guided tours of the Goodwin Gold Mine are visitor favorites. Lake Anna is a 13,000 acre lake, and Lake Anna State Park is spread across 2,810 acres with 10 miles of lake frontage. Lake Anna activities include boating, fishing, wake boarding, skiing, tubing, hiking, wildlife watching, fine dining, and wine tasting events at Lake Anna Winery.

A 2-acre fishing pond designed for children and disabled persons only is located near the visitor center. Also, a public boat launching ramp is available, along with many areas for bank fishing.

A swimming beach, snack bar concession and bathhouse are available to the public during the summer. The beach can accommodate several hundred visitors per day and there are lifeguards on duty.

Spotsylvania County Parks

There are several parks managed by Spotsylvania County Parks and Recreation. The most recent is Patriot Park featuring the Ron Rosner Family YMCA of Spotsylvania County which is part of Rappahannock Area YMCA Inc.

Patriot Park is managed by Spotsylvania County Parks and Recreation.

Patriot Park at 5700 Smith Station Road features the National Bank of Fredericksburg Aquatics Center and Ron Rosner Family YMCA of Spotsylvania County. Patriot Park has 131 acres with 6 baseball diamonds, 2 outdoor basketball courts, 3.1 mile trail, 6 multi-purpose fields, amphitheater, restrooms.

Community parks managed by the Spotsylvania County Parks and Recreation Commission are listed below:

  • Arritt Park: 9718 Wallers Road, Partlow, VA 22534
  • Chewning Park: 13013 Post Oak Road, Spotsylvania, VA 22551
  • Cosner Park: 1 H.C.C. Drive, Fredericksburg, VA 22408
  • Harrison Road Park: 5917 Harrison Road, Fredericksburg, VA 22407
  • Hunting Run Recreation Area: 9701 Elys Ford Road, Fredericksburg, VA 22407
  • Lee Hill Park: 9910 Lee Hill Park Road, Fredericksburg, VA 22408
  • Loriella Park: 10910 Leavells Road, Fredericksburg, VA 22407
  • Marshall Park: 8525 Courthouse Road, Spotsylvania, VA 22553
  • Marshall Center and Legion Fields Park: 8800 Courthouse Road, Spotsylvania VA 22553
  • Mary Lee Carter Park: 9901 Benchmark Road, Fredericksburg, VA 22408
  • Ni River Recreation Area: 10516 Gordon Road, Spotsylvania, VA 22553
  • Patriot Park: 5710 Smith Station Road, Fredericksburg, VA 22407
  • Virginia Central Trail: 5917 Harrison Road, Fredericksburg, VA 22407

Spotsylvania County Reservoirs and Recreational Areas

Hunting Run Recreational Area: 9701 Elys Ford Road Fredericksburg, Virginia 22407

Motts Run Reservoir: 6600 River Road Fredericksburg, Virginia 22407

Ni River Recreational Area: 10516 Gordon Boulevard Fredericksburg, Virginia 22407

Motts Run Reservoir 6600 River Road Fredericksburg, Virginia 22407

The 860-acre natural area with 160-acre reservoir features leisure activities including: fishing, canoeing, hiking, and picnicking. It is also the source of drinking water for residents of Fredericksburg and parts of Spotsylvania County. You may bring your own boat (ELECTRIC MOTORS ONLY) to launch on the lake, or fish from the banks. A fee is charged for fishing and boat launching. No swimming, horseback riding, biking of any kind, or all-terrain vehicles permitted. The park features an orienteering course, nature center (open weekend afternoons only), over 4 miles of hiking trails, picnic tables and grills, and small boat, canoe, and kayak rentals.

Click here for 130 photographs of Spotsylvania County.

Contact us if buying or selling a home in Spotsylvania County is in your future.