At Ease: Heading to Spotsylvania Court House
The Courthouse & The Crossroads
The court system of Spotsylvania County started in 1722 and after moving to several locations, finally moved to the current site in 1839 with the historic courthouse structure completed in 1840. A small community sprang up around the crossroads and courthouse, including the Spotswood Inn, several churches, the historic jailhouse, homes, and farm establishments in the area. Though the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House (May 8-21, 1864) is the most famous chapter of the community's Civil War history, recruiting local soldiers, temporarily housing Union prisoners after Chancellorsville, and other incidents formed part of the war saga which also continued into post-war memory and memorization. Today, we take a look at the dedication of a Union general's granite memorial, the local Confederate Cemetery, touring resources, and some local poetry. (And don't forget to add an answer for next week's discussion of saving lives during the war in Central Virginia.)
We're reporting the survey results as a list this week since there were great and varied answers to the question: do you have a favorite historic site or building around Spotsylvania Court House?
Bloody Angle (2 votes)
The McCoull House Site
Upton's attack site (2 votes)
Spotsylvania Court House, Sketch of a house in the county by Edwin Forbes, historic jailhouse
The new video for the week highlights photos and sketches from the Spotsylvania Court House area during the Civil War paired with a poem written by a Confederate soldier from the region.
Sedgwick's Memorial Marker
Civil War veterans at the Sedgwick Memorial.
In May 1887, local citizens and Civil War veterans from both sides gathered for the dedication of the memorial for Union General John Sedgwick, killed at the Battle of Spotsylvania. Many of the dedication speeches echoed the reconciliation sentiments of the post-war era:
"When we, the survivors of the late cruel war, who have been spared to do honor to our fallen heroes, shall have been peacefully laid to rest beneath the sod, no monument to mark our last resting-place; no "storied urn or eulogistic epitaph" to proclaim our deeds to coming generations, and when " the feet of those we fought for, the voices of those we wrought for, shall echo round our bones forevermore;" then, when the children and children's children of the men who wore the blue and the men who wore the gray at each recurring May time, shall make that pilgrimage....as they call to remembrance...heroism and bravery let them not forget the brave men who followed them, and...laid down their lives for their country."
Touring Resources from Spotsylvania County
Spotsylvania County has created some historical touring resources—a great way to explore the history in your background or dig a little deeper into the local history if you're traveling to the area.
Sketch by Edwin Forbes, near Spotsylvania Courthouse Village, 1864.
The large battles in Spotsylvania County resulted in massive causalities and hastily prepared graves. The civilians struggled with how to handle the graves, destruction, and war debris. Eventually, in 1866, local women established a cemetery for Confederate soldiers, located about a half-mile north of the courthouse. Almost 600 southern soldiers were reburied at this cemetery. (Union soldiers were reburied in Fredericksburg National Cemetery). If you're interested, the CVBT Archive Journal, Volume 2 contains an article about the Confederate Cemetery in Spotsylvania...and journals are on sale now!
Virginia Soldiers' Graves, Spotsylvania Confederate Cemetery
Central Virginia Battlefields Trust's mission is to preserve, protect, and educate about Civil War hallowed ground at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, The Wilderness, and Spotsylvania.