Gordon’s Flank Attack Trail (Wilderness Battlefield)

Inspired by Chris Mackowski’s “virtual tour” of the Chancellorsville History Trail on the blog in 2020, I’m inviting you to “take a hike” on the Gordon Flank Attack Trail on The Wilderness Battlefield on this battle anniversary day.

The trail begins at the NPS Contact Station/Shelter for the Wilderness Battlefield just off Route 20 which is the historic Orange Turnpike. From the station, the trail runs through Saunders’ Field into the tree line to the Confederate trenches at the top of the slope, then moves through the woods along a couple miles of well preserved earthworks. The trail is approximately 2 miles in length and loops back to station and parking lot; the trail is well marked at the forks and splits and is blazed in blue along the way.

Let’s get started….

(If the text is small on a few photos, you should be able to click on the image to view it larger. Also, when possible, I’ve cropped a few of the photos to remove some graffiti messages scratched into the signs.)

The monument for the 140th New York State Volunteers is near the trail in Saunders’ Field sloping toward the western tree line.

Earthworks are hard to photograph, but here’s a shot of the ones on the high ground overlooking Saunders’ Field.

Here’s part of the old trace for the Culpeper Mine Road. The trail signs are clear at this point where the trail and old road meet. Just follow the blue blazes and trail signs!

Once again, challenging to photography, but here are the trenches near the interpretive sign.

These tiny little flowers are near the trails re-entry to Saunders’ Field.

And that’s 2 miles with the interpretive signs on the Gordon Flank Attack Trail. I saw some doves, a busy squirrel, and a startled deer during the hike, but I wasn’t able to photograph them.

2 Responses to Gordon’s Flank Attack Trail (Wilderness Battlefield)

  1. Thanks for presenting this very clear explanation of the flank attack. Reading this reminds that years ago, when I was a novice in Civil War history, I participated in a local CWRT debate whose topic was the most important battle in the Civil War. I chose The Wilderness, arguing that the resilience of the Union Army in the face of this counterattack and the last minute heroics at the Plank Road enabled Grant to move forward to Spottsylvania (instead of retreating and refitting as was customary after such bloody engagements) and proceed inexorably to Appomattox.

  2. Very nice set of photos – I especially like the Saunders Field photo at trail’s end, north of the NPS visitors’ Exhibit Shelter; very peaceful vs the hell of 1864.

    Gordon was very busy during the Battle of the Wilderness – he started the battle on the south side of the turnpike on May 5th when his brigade repulsed the initial attack by brigades of the Union’s V corps. That evening his brigade was re-deployed across the turnpike to the extreme northern flank of the Confederate line in preparation for his attack on the Union right.

    Thanks for the presentation.

Please leave a comment and join the discussion!