Wilderness & Spotsylvania Battlefield Tour
Saturday April 26, 2014
9:00AM – 5:00PM
Join us for the 2nd annual Spring Tour presented by The Southern Maryland Civil War Round Table. This tour, led by National Park Service historian Phillip Greenwalt, will begin in La Plata (CSM Campus). The cost of the trip (bus, lunch and guide) is $50 for members and $60 for non-members. Save money through early bird registration period (through March 11, 2014) – $45 for members and $55 for non-members.
Participants will board a chartered bus for the trip to the Chancellorsville/Wilderness NPS Visitor’s Center. After a quick stop, the tour will start at the command post of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant on the the Wilderness Battlefield and follow through the bloody fighting at Saunders Field, down the park road to the Widow Tapp field and then back up the Orange Plank Road to where Confederate General James “Pete” Longstreet was severely wounded.
From here we will follow the Brock Road, just as the Union and Confederate soldiers would have done on May 7th toward Spotsylvania Court House.
After a delicious box lunch, we will tour the Spotsylvania Court House Battlefield, following the ebb and flow of the combat that erupted around this quiet and quaint Virginia town. Sites include the “Bloody Angle”; the spot where Union Major General John Sedgwick was killed, and retracing part of the route Union Brigadier General Emory Upton utilized to strike the Confederate line, in a prelude to heavier fighting two days later.
During the program, accounts; some well known, others lesser known will be used to explain the horrors of the battlefield, the observations of the soldiers and officers and the overall picture of what war in Virginia in May 1864 was all about.
You will have the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant, stand in the spots where other generals; including John Sedgwick breathed their last and taken all together will tour a landscape that is considered one of the bloodiest in all of North America. Within 30 miles of Fredericksburg, VA (which encompasses both of the battlefields we will visit) over 100,000 men were killed or wounded. That is approximately 1/7th of al the men killed or wounded in the entire Civil War!
Come join this bus and walking tour of the 2 battles that set the tone for the rest of the Overland Campaign plus was the final nails being hammered into the coffin of the Confederacy by the Northern war machine.
On May 5, 1864, Major General George Meade, in command of the dependable Union Army of the Potomac, being overseen by newly minted Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant, made contact with Confederate General Robert E. Lee and his vaunted Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the Wilderness, west of Fredericksburg, VA.
What ensued was two days of bitter fighting through the clearings, along road traces and even within the tangles and brushes of the second and third growth forests.
With casualties mounting and no progress being made, Grant stepped into a more active role and decided to move the Army of the Potomac around Lee’s right flank toward the strategic town of Spotsylvania Court House. Lee and his army were able to get to Spotsylvania Court House first and dig in. What would ensue was approximately two weeks of fighting, including some of the most savage on May 10 and 12, 1864.
These two battles set the tone for the rest of what history now knows as the Overland Campaign. From May 5th until the armies were ensconced around Petersburg in mid-June, the two antagonists would lock horns in a death struggle across central and Tidewater Virginia.
Historians now agree that the beginning of the end of the war in the Eastern theater, and the start of the collapse of the Confederacy as a whole, began at the Wilderness on May 5, 1864. This is where our battlefield odyssey will commence.
Our trip leader will be Phillip Greenwalt; historian with the National Park Service at the George Washington Birthplace National Monument and the Thomas Stone National Historic Site. Mr. Greenwalt began his NPS career as a historical interpreter intern at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. He holds a bachelor degree in history from Wheeling Jesuit University and a graduate degree in American History from George Mason University.
Mr. Greenwalt’s first publication, co-authored with Dan Davis; “Bloody Autumn, The Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1864“, is part of the Emerging Civil War Series and was published by Savas Beattie LLC in November 2013. His second book, also co-authored with Dan Davis, entitled “Hurricane From the Heavens, The Battle of Cold Harbor” is due out in June 2014. He is also a full time contributor to the blog Emerging Civil War (www.emergingcivilwar.com) and has spoken at lecture series and history round tables in numerous states.
Come join us for a fantastic day on April 26th!