As 2012 draws to close, Fredericksburg-area nonprofit reports latest Civil War battlefield acquisition
Another piece of the puzzle that is Spotsylvania County's Chancellorsville battlefield just fell into place.
The Central Virginia Battlefields Trust has signed a contract to buy 10 acres on the south side of State Route 3, the first land preserved there from Wilderness Church east to the National Park Service visitor center. The tract is just to the east of 85 acres known as the Wagner Tract, north of Route 3, that Virginia and the Civil War Trust purchased for $2.1 million in 2009. It includes the site of the Union army's Buschbeck Line.
The land, on the wartime Orange Turnpike, figured in the fighting when Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson's troops burst out of the Wilderness against the Federal right flank on May 2, 1863. Jackson's surprise flank attack was the linchpin of the Civil War battle that many consider Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's greatest victory.
The acreage, which CVBT is calling the Stonewall Brigade Tract for a unit that prepared there for the next day's attack, appears in an 1883 oil painting in the Park Service's curatorial collection at Chancellorsville.
The artwork, which depicts two men eyeing the then-new quartz boulder placed to mark the spot where Jackson was mortally wounded, includes a schoolhouse in the background that stands where the tract sits. The property also appears in a turn-of-the-century photograph, owned by the Dayton History in Ohio, of the turnpike.
The tract is less than a mile east of a 13-acre parcel, also south of Route 3, that CVBT recently purchased.
The nonprofit group, based in Fredericksburg, had earlier acquired a total of 58 acres in the route of Jackson's flank attack--a stunning achievement that is still studied by military leaders.CVBT will pay $264,400 for the property, which includes a house that it will demolish. The site has more than 350 feet of frontage on the historic road.
The property lies east of Wilderness Church beyond the Union army's last rally point, perpendicular to the turnpike, which became known as "The Buschbeck Line," named for the Union soldiers' ranking officer, Col. Adolphus Buschbeck. The routed Yankees fled eastward across the CVBT tract. After darkness fell on May 2, the five Virginia regiments of the renowned Stonewall Brigade arrived there to rest.
"On May 3, they would face a dreadful combat ordeal," Robert K. Krick, former chief historian of Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, said Saturday. "By 11 p.m., the brigade went into camp here for the night--the last night on earth for a painful number of the men. Soon after dawn, they advanced eastward into a maelstrom that left nearly half of them casualties." Gen. Henry Heth's Virginia brigade also spent the night of May 2-3 in the vicinity. His regiments included the 40th and 47th Virginia, composed of men from the Fredericksburg region.
CVBT, which is scheduled to close on the property by Dec. 31, needs to raise $68,450 for the purchase, said Mike Stevens, the trust's president It anticipates being able to match every $1 donation with $3 from other sources. The Civil War Trust, the nation's largest battlefield preservation group, has pledged $63,750, Stevens said. CVBT will also seek a federal grant of $132,200.
Donors who give $135 or more during 2012 will receive the new edition of Fredericksburg History and Biography, CVBT's annual journal, Stevens said. CVBT invites the public to a publication party for Volume 11 of its journal from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 16, at Eileen's Bakery and Cafe, 1115 Caroline St. in Fredericksburg. Authors of the journal's articles will be on hand to sign copies. Back issues will also be available.
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Since its founding in 1996, the CVBT has preserved more than 950 battlefield acres in the Fredericksburg area by purchase or easement.
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