Past is Prologue

Clint Schemmer writes about history, heritage preservation and the American Civil War.  On Facebook: Past is Prologue  On Twitter: @prologuepast  ContactEmail Clint or call 540/374-5424.

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Early Bird tickets available for Gordon Rhea’s Wilderness tour

To raise funds for the ongoing restoration of historic Ellwood Manor on the Wilderness battlefield, Civil War historian and author Gordon Rhea will lead a special bus tour on Monday, May 30–Memorial Day.

Rhea’s books on Ulysses S. Grant’s Overland Campaign are masterful, and I’m told by those who have had him as a guide that he’s a superb tour leader.

Here are the particulars from Friends of Wilderness Battlefield, the local nonprofit that preserves Ellwood, an antebellum plantation, and that is hosting the tour:

All proceeds from “Campaigning in the Wilderness with Robert E. Lee” will support the Ellwood Manor Restoration.

Deadline: Get on board for the Early Bird Special. Tickets are $100 until May 16; afterward, they are $125.

Rhea will examine the challenges confronting the Confederate forces in The Wilderness and the strategies and tactics implemented by Gen. Lee, one of history’s greatest military leaders.

The morning portion of the tour will explore the Confederate winter encampment sites including the Civil War hut sites at Montpelier; Gen. A. P. Hill’s headquarters at historic Mayhurst; Clark Mountain; the Confederate hospital at Palmyra Church; Old and New Verdiersville.

The afternoon tour will examine May 5 and May 6, beginning with Ewell’s clash with the Union forces at Saunders Field followed by stops along Hill-Ewell Drive (Higgerson, Chewning and Widow Tapp Fields) and following the engagements of Gen. A. P. Hill’s corps along the Orange Plank Road culminating in the fierce fighting at the Brock and Orange Plank Road intersection.

Date: Monday, May 30 (Rain or Shine)

Time: 8am-4pm (Tentative)

Departs from: Robinson’s Tavern Parking area on State Route 20

Commercial Tour Bus: Seats 52

Tour includes: boxed lunch, snacks and beverages

Tickets: Early Bird Special: $100 (payment must be received by May 16); or $125 after May 16.

Register and pay online at; or mail a check payable to Friends of Wilderness Battlefield to P.O. Box 576, Locust Grove, VA 22508. Payment is required for confirmation. Contact Dorothy Mosso at 540/412-9437 or

Friends of Wilderness Battlefield Inc. is a nonprofit, all-volunteer organization devoted to assisting Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park in efforts to preserve the Wilderness Battlefield in Orange and Spotsylvania Counties. The Friends provide advocacy, educational programs and service projects for the battlefield.

Re the image, above: Confederates plant their flag over the burning Union breastworks along the Brock Road on May 6, 1864, during the  Battle  of the  Wilderness.