I visited 5 battlefields on a rainy day. First was Petersburg; south of Richmond (Robert E. Lees’s home). Grant was attempting to get to Richmond by going after Petersburg first. We’re visiting these battles in the opposite order of their occurrence.
I crossed Battery five and then went Dow stairs and a trail that led to the base of the earthen works. This is what the Federals had to climb to get to Battery 5. But whoops! Look at what the Union had at the bottom of the hill. A monster that could hurl balls 2 miles into Petersburg.
Coming on around Battery 5 this is what we see. I use the term “we” loosely, as I don’t think Tofu’s nose ever left the ground.
We went for a walk in the woods and never found what we were looking for… a depot. These woods were not present in 1864. This is where Union forces were bivouacked during the siege. “Whose woods these are, I think I know…”
We moved down the Dimmick line in search of Battery 8 which is famous. It is where Pennsylvania miners spent a month tunneling under the Battery. The brass didn’t believe in this project and gave the miners only a fraction of the explosives they asked for. At any rate they managed to blow up the Battery, killing almost 300 Confederates. If troops had been prepared to rush forward, they could have made significant progress in taking Petersburg. As it was the Brass were so surprised they weren’t prepared to take advantage of the situation. Instead the Confederates managed to regroup and seal the breach with their troops. The South considered it a glorious victory snatched from the jaws of defeat.
Honest, I’m sparing you lots of photos and explanation. Tofu wanted to leave this area so we went North and came across a belated Welcome to Virginia Visitor Center. Nice theme they’ve got going.
We traveled up to Fredericksburg, the scene of several months of fighting. I’ll try to just give you an overview of the several hours Tofu and I were exploring the backroads. Before I do that let me say, they’ve got real problems preserving the country as they city has reached out. Cars are flying down these wandering country roads. Traffic is heavy and the tourist feels like a roadblock to the progress swirling past. Keep in mind we are now looking at battles that took place before those we have already seen.
Next we headed for the ruins of a furnace.
We took a look at Grant’s headquarters during the Wilderness battle. An average of one life was lost every second for 5 hours during the battle.
Yep that’s all there is. During Civil War no trees blocking the view. Here’s a picture I took trying to get back in the van with traffic whizzing by.
Then we wandered in the wilderness trying to find the Spotsylvania Courthouse.
By the time we found the courthouse, we were through. Tomorrow we go to Appomattox to see Lee’s surrender. Tonight we surrender to our road weariness. The rain is drumming the pavement outside our door. Tofu is conked out on the bed, and I’ve got the World Series going on. It won’t be long till I join her in sleepville. Wait a minute, Tofu woke up. I better take Her out. We don’t want her to pee the bed. I’m joking; I’m more likely to pee the bed than she is. So maybe we both better take a bathroom break and then (and only then) hit the sack.
So It’s only dinner time for most of you, so I wish you a good evening. But we’re through. Goodnight. Love.
6 thoughts on “Battle after battle”
John at least you and Tofu are getting some good exercise. I walked these with my family as a teen and listened for hours to my Dad’s lectures about the military failures of generals on both sides. We lived in VA in what is now the Arlington Cemetery for three years so civil war battlefields were weekend walks. Rain meant museums.
Enjoying your travelogue, so much history and lots of pretty scenery. I suspect this blog will serve to jog your own memory of it all. Hope you are keeping an eye on the weather reports as you travel north. Remains of hurricane Willa working up to a Nor’easter and possible snow. Wouldn’t do to get mixed up with that. Be safe.
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Weather report says clearing for a few days. Hope. Hope.
Bill had a great-great grandfather die from wounds at the Battle of Wilderness. I think he was the one that was taken to Richmond to a hospital and then actually died in Richmond and is buried at Hollywood Cemetery in the large Confederate section. Bill had two great-great grandfathers die in the Civil war (War of Northern Aggression, War between the States or my all time favorite from Charleston, “The Recent Unpleasantness”) and two great-grandfathers that made it home. Fortunately the two who died already had children or Bill wouldn’t exist. My great-grandfather made it home from Vicksburg, but his only two brothers died in the War. Until you see battlefield after battlefield, it is hard to imagine the human toll of this war. All of our other war deaths totaled don’t match those lost in the Civil War. Fortunately our medical practices have improved.
I don’t know if you have thought about it and if Tofu could stand staying in the car, but Thomas Jefferson’s home Monticello is fascinating. He invented so much. I have been there twice and seen new things each time. Now that they have found Sally Hemming’s room, (the mother of his African American children) I would love to go back and hear the new narrative. This is near Charlottesville. He also designed the Univ. of VA and James Monroe’s home all near there. James Madison ‘s home is interesting too and not far from Fredericksburg.It is interesting to know more about the men who shaped our country.
We are enjoying your trip!
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Ann, Thanks for all that. I thought about Monticello, but decided to drive on by. Another time, I hope.
We too have walked those battlefields–slowly, reflecting on so much that seems overwhelming. We too have experienced the traffic of the cities whizzing by at 75 mph on these narrow country roads, many without center line divides. Sometimes the fear of that traffic almost paralyzed me–going so fast, when I needed to go slowly and process. Life leaves little time to process the impact of our lives, our actions when we are cocooned in fear. Perhaps, we need to take those painful walks that slow us down and make us count the cost.
Your blog is one way in the midst of my day that I slow down and process. Thank you. We pray for you as you travel through weather and traffic and memories.
Holding you close in our hearts and prayers.
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