Wilderness Crossroads II
On December 31, 2012 we closed on the purchase of an 81 acre tract, now designated as “Wilderness Crossroads II.” This land consists of three closely situated but noncontiguous parcels, all of which have significant frontage on the historic Orange Turnpike (modern day Route 3). The property, which lies on the north side of the turnpike near its intersection with the Germanna Plank Road, is directly across from the 93 acre tract that CVBT acquired in 2009. While it is located outside of the National Park Service boundary, the property is of such historical significance that CVBT was committed to acquiring it once the necessary funding became available. Founding CVBT Board members John Mitchell and Enos Richardson were instrumental in acquiring and preserving this key parcel.
This land was owned by William M. Simms during the time of the Civil War, and it includes the grounds of the historic Wilderness Tavern. (The remains of the tavern itself are thought to lie beneath the eastbound lanes of Route 3, added during road expansion in the 1970s.) During the Battle of Chancellorsville, which was fought approximately three miles to the east, the tavern area came to house many tents and served as the site of the Confederate Second Corps Hospital. Many of the Confederates who were wounded at Chancellorsville were ministered to on this land.
The most famous person to be treated at the Wilderness Tavern Hospital was Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, who was accidently wounded by “friendly fire” from men of Jim Lane’s North Carolina brigade in the darkness on the night of May 2. Several of Jackson’s compatriots were also killed, or had their horses shot from under them.
General Jackson’s left arm was shattered by two musket balls, and he was transported to the Wilderness Tavern hospital where Dr. Harvey Black had a large tent prepared for his arrival. Dr. Hunter H. McGuire accompanied General Jackson to the hospital and performed surgery on him. However, due to the severity of Jackson’s wounds Dr. McGuire had to amputate his arm. General Jackson was then transported to Guinea Station where he died eight days later.
During the Battle of the Wilderness on May 5-6, 1864, this land was again the focus of much military activity. The Union Army of the Potomac established its headquarters at this crossroads, and Generals Ulysses S. Grant and George G. Meade were present here.
The land today is well preserved, and it appears much as it did during the time of the Civil War. The purchase price for these three parcels was $575,000. CVBT was able to purchase this land using matching grants from both the Commonwealth of Virginia and the American Battlefield Protection Program, along with assistance from our good friends at the Civil War Trust (now the American Battlefield Trust). Approximately 28 acres is leased out for farming with the remaining area being wooded.