Central Virginia Battlefields Trust has an excellent opportunity to preserve a parcel of ground related to fighting along the western front at Spotsylvania Court House. “Help Save a Significant Portion of the Spotsylvania Battlefield,” they asked in a press release issued Thursday, referring to ground they’re called the “Fifth Corps Brock Road Tract.”
Here’s the story from CVBT:
On May 7, 1864, after intense fighting in the Wilderness, both Generals Lee and Grant faced each other, neither accomplishing their goals. Grant failed to destroy Lee, and Lee had failed to drive Grant away. A Union aide wrote, “There lay both armies, each behind its breastworks, panting and exhausted, and scowling at each other.” That morning, Grant ordered Meade to make “all preparations for a night march to Spotsylvania.”
The battle of Spotsylvania Court House would accrue over 29,000 casualties amongst both armies and encompass some of the most intense hand-to-hand combat of the war. In the early morning of May 9, while inspecting his dispositions near Brock Road, Union Major General John Sedgwick would exclaim to his men who were dodging Confederate sniper fire, “What! What! Men dodging this way for single bullets.” “They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance.” Just then he was hit with a rebel round in the head and fell dead.
The Central Virginia Battlefields Trust has just closed on 14.4 acres, three adjoining parcels, of important land on the Spotsylvania battlefield. The property south of Brock Road and immediately above Hancock Drive, now referred to as the “Fifth Corps Brock Road Tract,” played a significant role in the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House (May 8-21, 1864). While the battle had numerous attacks over multiple days, across a broad shifting front, the property along Brock Road played an important part in five phases of the battle:
- It served as a staging area for the Union Army of the Potomac’s initial attacks on May 8, 1864.
- It became the rallying point for the Union Fifth Army Corps when their attacks collapsed on May 8, 1864.
- It served as a staging and rallying point for Union Fifth Corps attacks on May 10 and May 12, 1864.
- It became the defensive cornerstone for the Union Army of the Potomac’s right flank on May 12, 1864.
- It shifted into an avenue of Confederate movement, probing the Union defenses on May 14, 1864.
The Fifth Corps’ hold on the Brock Road was vital in determining the focus of combat for the first half of the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House. This property played a pivotal role in allowing the Fifth Corps to hold the Brock Road and use it for both offensive and defensive maneuvers. It was a site that offered a commanding ridge with a strong view of the battlefield, as well as a stream and ravine that compartmentalized the Union defenses. The parcel drew a number of officers and artists to the site; and it also drew fire. Quite a few Union soldiers fell in close association with the property, particularly artillerymen.
Although much of the Spotsylvania battlefield has been preserved by the National Park Service, there remain important pieces to the puzzle that rarely become available for preservation and interpretation. This purchase will add much more to the engagement’s story as well as insulate the battlefield park from modern encroachment.
We need your help to reach our fund-raising goal of $205,000.00
The CVBT has preserved this important piece of our history with an investment of $205,000, our fund-raising goal. It is becoming more challenging to preserve significant ground in the Spotsylvania battlefield area and especially along Brock Road which CVBT board member, noted Civil War preservationist and reenactor, Robert Lee Hodge calls “One of the most historical roads in America.”
“Once again, I ask you, our preservation partners, to help save a part of our history for now and the future,” said CVBT President Tom Van Winkle. “Let’s continue to leave a legacy of those places that the fallen would want to see saved and their stories continued to be told. We must leave open spaces where we can ponder the events that occurred, and see in our minds eye, the sacrifices made by many that helped shape our country.” Click here to find out more and to make a donation.