Stonewall Brigade I & II
These two Central Virginia Battlefields Trust properties are located in the flank attack area of the Chancellorsville battlefield, on the south side of today’s Plank Road. They lie between the locations of several significant battlefield landmarks, being approximately two-tenths of a mile east of “Dowdall’s Tavern” and the “Buschbeck Line”, and three-tenths of a mile west of the “Old Schoolhouse” (the sites of both of these landmarks are thought to lie below the eastbound lanes of Plank Road, added in the 1970s). The Stonewall Brigade I property consisted of 9.2 acres, a modest house and several ancillary buildings. After closing on this property in 2012 the house and all but one of the storage buildings were demolished and removed at CVBT expense. Stonewall Brigade II was acquired in May 2016. It is about 1.6 acres in size, all densely wooded.
Dowdall’s Tavern on the south side of Plank Road was the Federal XI Corps headquarters before and during the May 2nd flank attack. After it was overrun by Confederates it was turned into a hospital for wounded Union officers who had been left on the field. The Buschbeck Line was a line of shallow gun pits oriented south-to-north and about 1000 feet long. Facing west, it was the last line of Union defense in the flank attack area.
The Old Schoolhouse sat near the intersection of the Plank Road and Hazel Grove Road. By the end of the day on May 2nd it was behind Confederate lines, and was the scene of a confused night attack by the 8th PA Cavalry.
East of the Buschbeck Line was a wide gap in the Union position – about one mile of battle front that had been stripped of soldiers to pursue a perceived Confederate retreat. In reality what Federal commanders saw was the tail end of Jackson’s flank attack column. Although they severely punished the regiment tasked with being Jackson’s rear guard they never caught up with the main column, and the five divisions pulled from the Plank Road were out of position when Jackson’s force appeared on the Federal right flank. Most of the XI Corps was posted in an uncharacteristically open area amid the tangle of the Wilderness. With close to a mile of cleared fields, and its defenders caught facing the wrong direction the Confederate attack was sudden, swift and devastating. But as the attackers passed east beyond Dowdall’s Tavern and the Buschbeck Line the clearing ends abruptly. From here the only unimpeded path through the Wilderness is Plank Road itself. This severely narrowed front disorganized both forces, and it is in this area that the Confederate attack lost much of its momentum.
The Stonewall Brigade tracts would have been crossed by many of the retreating soldiers of the XI Corps. They were pursued by Doles’ GA Brigade in the front line of the attack, then Warren’s VA Brigade and Colquitt’s GA Brigade. In the evening unit’s from A.P. Hill’s 3rd Corps would pass to the front and these tracts bore soldiers from Lane’s NC Brigade, and McGowan’s SC Brigade. Paxton’s VA Brigade – the famous “Stonewall” Brigade – was posted there during the overnight hours. When the flank attack bogged down the Confederate front line was about half a mile east of the Stonewall Brigade tracts, and it was in front of that line that Stonewall Jackson received his mortal wound and A.P. Hill was incapacitated by canister fire.
CVBT focuses much of its effort on this area as it gradually stitches together contiguous battlefield from a patchwork of smaller, privately-held properties.