See Civil War trenches, and walk in the footsteps of Union and Confederate soldiers at this beautifully preserved and little-known battlefield.
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The Battle of North Anna was fought from May 23 to May 26, 1864 between the Union Army of the Potomac commanded by Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and Maj. Gen. George G. Meade, and the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia commanded by Gen. Robert E. Lee in Hanover County, Virginia during the American Civil War. The battle was inconclusive. Neither side gained a decisive advantage, and Grant decided to continue moving south toward Richmond.
After the brutal Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, General Grant again tried to outflank Lee, but Lee was one step ahead and established a strong defensive position behind the North Anna River. On May 23, Confederate Maj. Gen. Cadmus M. Wilcox’s division opposed a river crossing by Union Maj. Gen. Gouverneur K. Warren’s V Corps at Jericho Mills, but Wilcox was outnumbered 2-to-1 and withdrew.
The Army of Northern Virginia then settled into a defensive formation designed to trap pieces of Grant’s army on the river’s southern side. With their backs to the river, the much larger Union Army would be vulnerable to attack. Unfortunately for the Confederates, General Lee developed a debilitating stomach ailment, and his inexperienced corps commanders were in no shape to direct his army.
Visit this antebellum courthouse and site of an early Civil War skirmish, fought weeks before the Battle of Bull Run.
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The First Battle of Fairfax Court House was fought on June 1, 1861 between Union forces commanded by Lt. Charles H. Tompkins and Confederate forces commanded by Capt. John Q. Marr at Fairfax Court House, Virginia during the American Civil War. This small and inconclusive battle was the first land engagement of the war with fatal casualties, resulting in 24 total dead, wounded, or captured.
On May 31, 1861, Union Brig. Gen. David Hunter ordered Lt. Charles Henry Tompkins of the 2nd U.S. Cavalry Regiment to recon Confederate forces around Fairfax Court House. Early the next morning, June 1, his 50 to 86-man force ran into approximately 210 untrained and ill-equipped Confederate militia in the village, some of whom didn’t even have weapons or ammunition. The militia scattered.
Nearby, Confederate Capt. John Q. Marr attempted to rally his men, but he was shot and killed in a field west of the Methodist church. Lt. Col. Richard S. Ewell, a future Confederate general, was wounded as he emerged from a hotel, but escaped, and 64-year-old William “Extra Billy” Smith, a politician and another future general, helped him take charge. Together, their rag-tag force repelled several more Union attempts to ride through town.
How a Victorian notion of chivalry led to the Civil War’s most consequential raid.
James Ewell Brown “Jeb” Stuart (1833-1864) was an audacious Confederate commander who rose rapidly through the ranks from lieutenant colonel to major general. He emerged as one of the most legendary and well-known cavalry commanders of the Civil War, especially for the South. Wearing a dashing uniform complete with cape and plumed hat, he imagined himself as a chivalric knight adhering to a code of honor. It was his code of honor that led to his famous raid on Catlett Station.
Early in the morning on August 18, 1862, near Verdiersville, Virginia, Union cavalry caught Stuart and his aides off guard. Stuart rode off so quickly that he left behind a hat and cloak sent to him days earlier by Union Brig. Gen. Samuel Crawford. During a parley after the Battle of Cedar Mountain, Stuart bet Crawford that Northern newspapers would portray the Union defeat as a victory. Crawford, true to his word, sent a copy of the New York Herald along with the plumed hat.
Stuart’s ego was stung by the ‘loss’ at Verdiersville. “I intend to make the Yankees pay for that hat,” he promised his wife, Flora. On August 21st, after Union Maj. Gen. John Pope moved his army north behind the Rappahannock River, Stuart proposed to General Robert E. Lee an ambitious plan to ride around Pope’s flank and cut his supply line along the Orange and Alexandria Railroad. The next morning, Stuart rode off with 1,500 troopers.
Monument to John Tyler in Hollywood Cemetery, 412 S. Cherry Street in Richmond, Virginia. Tyler (1790-1862) was 10th president of the United States, from 1841 to 1845. He was born into a family of Virginia gentry and, as vice president, became president after President William Henry Harrison died after a few months in office. President Tyler’s most notable accomplishment was the annexation of Texas in 1845.