Around 6:00 p.m. on May 2, 1863, Maj. Gen. Oliver Otis Howard, commander of the Union XI heard the sounds of firing on his picket line, followed by wild animals rushing through his headquarters area at Dowdall’s Tavern. Moments later Confederate soldiers came rushing out of the woods, slamming into the suspecting XI Corps.
Maj. Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson had marched his Second Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia around the Army of the Potomac’s right flank undetected. Jackson’s men were quickly pushing the XI Corps east, back towards the Chancellor House.
Just west of the intersection of the Orange Turnpike and the Plank Road is a slightly over 1-acre tract, referred to as the Beckham Tract, the land is the location where Maj. Robert Beckham placed two guns of his horse artillery.
It was near Dowdall’s Tavern that Union Col. Adolphus Buschbeck set up his defensive line, today remembered as the Buschbeck Line, momentarily slowing the momentum of Jackson’s attack.
Now, the American Battlefield Trust (ABT) and the Central Virginia Battlefields Trust (CVBT) have partnered to preserve Dowdall’s Tavern, with the ABT taking the lead, and the Beckham Tract, headed up CVBT. Together, these tracts, on the south side of modern-day Route 3 make up a little over 43 acres of Jackson’s Flank Attack. Along with another 2-acre tract that ABT is working to preserve on the north side of the road, making a combined 45 acres of Jackson’s Flank Attack that will preserve contiguous stretches of the Chancellorsville battlefield forever.
To learn more or donate to the American Battlefield Trust’s Battle of Chancellorsville campaign, click here.
To make a donation or learn more about the history of the land, please visit CVBT’s Dowdall’s Tavern campaign here.