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.

RSS feed of this blog

The List: 13 State Grants, 12 Battlefield Sites

MORE: Read more news from Fredericksburg

from the Office of Gov. Bob McDonnell:

Virginia Civil War Battlefield Grant Awards 2013

Summaries of Battles and the Affiliation of Preserved Land Tracts

(Battlefields Listed Alphabetically)

Appomattox Court House Battlefield, Appomattox County:

Preserved Property: Hunter Tract (90.5 acres)

Sponsor: Civil War Trust

The last major battle of the Army of Northern Virginia took place at Appomattox Court House on the morning of 9 April 1865. The previous day, Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Union armies had finally brought Gen. Robert E. Lee to bay around the town of Appomattox and had the Confederate army surrounded. Around dawn, the Confederates attempted to break the encirclement near Appomattox Court House, with the infantry of Maj. Gen. John B. Gordon and cavalry under Maj. Gen. Fitzhugh Lee. The Federal line held under Confederate pressure, although Fitzhugh Lee and cavalry managed to escape. Upon the failure of the attack, R. E. Lee admitted that he had to surrender to Grant. The Union suffered around 160 casualties while the Confederates lost 500 men. Located entirely in the core area of the battlefield, the Hunter Tract witnessed Union cavalry driven back by the Confederates. Despite being pushed back, the Union cavalry managed to hold on until the arrival of infantry.

Ball’s Bluff Battlefield, Loudoun County:

Preserved Property: Jackson House (3.2 acres)

Sponsor: Civil War Trust

The Battle of Ball’s Bluff took place on 21 October 1861 when Union forces crossed the Potomac River at Harrison’s Island. Without adequate reconnaissance, troops under the command of Col. Edward Baker-also a sitting senator from Oregon-ran into Confederate forces. Over the course of the day, the Confederates surrounded Baker’s men on three sides and drove them back across the Potomac. Baker himself fell dead during the fighting, and out of his 2,000 men, more than 900 became casualties. The Confederates lost only 149. The death of Baker upset President Lincoln greatly, who had been a friend. The Jackson House, located in the core area of the battlefield, saw early morning skirmishing between Massachusetts troops and the Confederates on the day of the battle. Margaret Jackson and her seven children were trapped in the house during the fighting and took shelter in the basement.

Beaver Dam Creek (Mechanicsville) Battlefield, Hanover County

Preserved Property: Thomas Tract (8.3 acres)

Sponsor: Richmond Battlefields Association

The Battle of Beaver Dam Creek (Mechanicsville) on 26 June 1862 was the first engagement of the Seven Days Battles, where Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee drove Union Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan’s Army of the Potomac away from the Confederate capital of Richmond. Lee planned to strike the Union right flank with Maj. Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson’s men who had recently arrived from the Shenandoah Valley. Jackson and his men, exhausted from their previous activities, failed to arrive as called for. Instead, attacks launched by Maj. Gen. A. P. Hill and Maj. Gen. D. H. Hill began the battle by attacking Brig. Gen. Fitz John Porter. Confederates battered themselves against the entrenched Union troops. While a tactical failure-Porter repelled the Confederate attacks and took only 360 casualties as compared to the 1,450 suffered by Lee-the attack proved a strategic success for the Confederates, as Lee’s aggression prompted McClellan to order Porter’s men back. The Thomas Tract lies entirely within the core area of the battlefield.


Brandy Station Battlefield (Fleetwood Hill), Culpeper County

Preserved Property: Troilo Tract (56.48 acres)

Sponsor: Central Virginia Battlefields Trust

On 9 June 1863, the Army of the Potomac’s cavalry corps attacked the Confederate cavalry corps under Maj. Gen. James Ewell Brown (J.E.B.) Stuart in Culpeper County in effort to find Robert E. Lee’s infantry. The Union troopers managed to surprise Stuart, and the fighting over the course of the day took on the aspects of a melee, with charge after charge followed by countercharge. At the end of the day, Brig. Gen. Alfred Pleasonton and the Union cavalry withdrew across the Rappahannock River. Although the Union troops suffered some 900 casualties, compared to 500 by the Confederate cavalry, for the first time the cavalry of the Army of the Potomac had managed to fight on par with Stuart’s men. The Troilo Tract lies completely within the core of the Brandy Station Battlefield. Fleetwood Hill was one of the most contested areas of the battlefield and was also the location of Stuart’s headquarters.


Cedar Creek Battlefield, Shenandoah County

Preserved Property: Island Farm Tract (174 acres)

Sponsor: Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation

At the Battle of Cedar Creek on 19 October 1864, Confederate Lt. Gen. Jubal A. Early launched an early morning assault against encamped Union troops bivouacked near Cedar Creek. Initially sweeping the Union army from the field, the Confederate attack slowed by mid-morning as Early attempted to restore order to his men. As they paused, Union Maj. Gen. Philip H. Sheridan-absent from the field-returned and made an inspiring ride along the reforming Union lines. Reenergized, the Union army advanced against the Confederates around four in the afternoon and shattered Early’s army. With the destruction of Early’s army, the Union held control of the Shenandoah Valley. The Island Farm Tract lies entirely within the study area of Cedar Creek.

Chancellorsville Battlefield, Spotsylvania County

Preserved Property: Cooper Tract (9.2 acres)

Sponsor: Central Virginia Battlefields Trust

Preserved Property: Kronenwetter Tract (27.5 acres)

Sponsor: Civil War Trust

Chancellorsville was fought near the village of Spotsylvania Courthouse from April 30 to May 6, 1863. The battle, pitting Union Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker’s forces against Gen. Robert E. Lee’s, “is arguably the most important Civil War battlefield in Virginia,” according to historian John S. Salmon. “It is the site of Lee’s greatest victory and of [Lt. Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall"] Jackson’s mortal wounding, and it had greater consequences for the Confederacy than any other battle fought on Virginia soil,” writes Salmon in The Official Virginia Civil War Battlefield Guide. The battle is notable for Lee’s counter-intuitive decision to divide his smaller army (of roughly 60,000) prior to attacking Hooker’s larger force (of more than 133,000). Lee’s daring plan and Hooker’s timid response led to a Confederate victory.

The Cooper Tract lies entirely within the core area of the Chancellorsville battlefield. During the battle, Union troops formed in the area before advancing. Union troops, broken by Jackson’s flank attack, also fled across the property in their retreat. Located in the core area of the Chancellorsville battlefield, theKronenwetter Tract lies in the area through which Jackson’s flank attack passed.


Glendale / Deep Bottom I, Battlefields, Henrico County

Preserved Property: Mansfield Woods 2 (30.6 acres)

Sponsor: Civil War Trust

The Battle of Glendale took place on June 30, 1862 and was the fifth of the Seven Days’ Battles, part of Union Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan’s Peninsula Campaign. The battle was Gen. Robert E. Lee’s best and last opportunity to destroy roughly half of McClellan’s Army of the Potomac as it retreated to the James River. Confederate divisions under major generals Benjamin Huger, James Longstreet, and A.P. Hill converged on the retreating Union Army at Glendale and penetrated Union defenses near Willis Church, routing Brig. Gen. George A. McCall’s division and leading to his capture. Counterattacks by Union divisions under generals Hooker and Kearny’s sealed the break and saved the Union line of retreat.

The Deep Bottom I battle in July 1864 was part of Lt. Gen. Grant’s Siege of Petersburg. During the night of July 26 and 27, the Union Army of the Potomac II Corps under the command of Maj. Gen. Winfield Hancock and two divisions of Maj. Gen. Phil Sheridan’s cavalry corps crossed to the north side of James River to threaten Richmond and divert Confederate forces from an impending attack by Grant at Petersburg on July 30. Sheridan began his raid on July 28 but was almost immediately counterattacked by Confederate Lt. Gen. Richard H. Anderson’s infantry, which gained initial advantage. Union forces subsequently abandoned efforts to turn the Confederate position at New Market Heights and Fussell’s Mill after Confederates strongly reinforced their lines and counterattacked. During the night of July 29, the Federals re-crossed the river, leaving a garrison to hold the bridgehead at Deep Bottom.

The Mansfield Woods tract lies within the core and study areas of the battles of Glendale, Deep Bottom I, and Deep Bottom II.

Kelly’s Ford Battlefield, Culpeper County

Preserved Property: Quail Haven Tract (218 acres)

Sponsor: Civil War Trust

On 17 March 1863, Union cavalry from the Army of the Potomac under the command of Brig. Gen. William Averell forced a crossing of the Rappahannock River at Kelly’s Ford during an expedition to confront the Confederate cavalry. Outnumbering Brig. Gen. Fitzhugh Lee’s troopers nearly two-to-one, the Union cavalry forced their opponents north towards the Orange and Alexandria Railroad. During the course of the fighting, Maj, Gen. James Ewell Brown (J.E.B.) Stuart arrived on the field to watch the fight with his young Alabamian artillery chief Maj. John Pelham, who was later mortally wounded by a shell fragment. At the end of the day, the Confederates held the field but had taken 170 casualties compared to Averell’s 78. The Quail Haven Tract lies within the core and study areas of the Kelly’s Ford Battlefield. The initial combat between Averell and Lee took place on the property; it was during this stage of the fighting that Pelham was wounded.

Malvern Hill Battlefield, Henrico County

Preserved Property: Crew House Tract (1 acre)

Sponsor: Civil War Trust

On 1 July 1862, during the last battle of the Seven Days’ Campaign, Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan’s Army of the Potomac successfully repelled a series of attacks by Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia against his position atop Malvern Hill. Lee, seeking to dislodge the Union army and cut it off from Harrison’s Landing, launched assaults in the afternoon. Lee’s men, due to confusing orders and a lack of coordination, mounted disjointed attacks. The Union artillery-posted in an extraordinarily strong position atop Malvern Hill-shredded the advancing gray waves. When night fell, Lee had lost 5,300 men while McClellan suffered 3,200 losses. The Crew House tract lay at an important part of the Union line during the Battle of Malvern Hill and lies entirely within the core area of the battlefield. It served as a headquarters and hospital during the battle, and Union artillery batteries delivered deadly fire from the yard of the house.

Rappahannock Station I and II, Culpeper and Fauquier Counties

Preserved Property: Johnson Tract (514 acres)

Sponsor: Civil War Trust

In the winter of 1863, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee drew his forces south across the Rappahannock River except for a bridgehead at Rappahannock Station that was protected by earthworks. On 7 November 1863, Union Maj. Gen. George Gordon Meade put his troops in motion in an attempt to spark a major engagement with Lee. The Union VI Corps under Maj. Gen. John Sedgwick struck the Confederate outpost at Rappahannock Station. The Confederate defenders under Maj. Gen. Jubal A. Early held on throughout the day, but a rare night attack by Sedgwick’s men overran the Confederates. More than 1,600 Confederates became casualties while the Union lost around 400 men. The Johnson Tract is within the core and study areas for the battles of Rappahannock Station I, Rappahannock Station II, Kelly’s Ford, and Brandy Station.

Sailor’s (Sayler’s) Creek Battlefield, Prince Edward County

Preserved Property: Simpson Tract (130 acres)

Sponsor: Civil War Trust

During the Battle of Sailor’s Creek, the Union Army cut off a large portion of the Confederate Army from Robert E. Lee’s retreating troops on 6 April 1865. After a day of fighting, more than 7,500 Confederates, including eight generals, surrendered without terms. The Federals had managed to put a fifth of Lee’s men out of action; Lee himself wondered “My God! Has the army been dissolved?” Federal casualties numbered about 1,200. The Simpson tract is located in the core and study area of the Sailor’s Creek Battlefield. Fighting between Federal cavalry and Confederate infantry took place on the property.

Second Manassas, Prince William County

Preserved Property: Gibson Tract (3.1 acres)

Sponsor: Civil War Trust

At the Second Battle of Manassas, Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia soundly defeated Maj. Gen. John Pope’s Army of Virginia. Split into two wings-that of Maj. Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson and that of Maj. Gen. James Longstreet-Lee’s army had captured the Union depot at Manassas Junction. On 28 August 1862, Jackson’s men encountered elements of Pope’s army and attacked them. The following day, Jackson’s wing held off attacks by Pope until Longstreet could arrive on the field. The next day, Pope launched even more attacks against Jackson, until Longstreet delivered a crushing flank attack against the advancing troops, sending Pope’s men into a retreat eastward. Pope lost nearly 14,000 men, while Lee’s army suffered about 8,400 casualties. Maj. Gen. James Longstreet’s troops passed across the Gibson Tract during their flank attack on 30 August 1862; the tract lies entirely within the core area of the battlefield.