Wilderness Crossroads I
In 2009 Central Virginia Battlefields Trust (CVBT) acquired 93 acres of historic ground on the Chancellorsville and Wilderness battlefields. This place would have been known to Civil War soldiers as Wilderness Tavern. Today there are a few remnants of the tavern complex on the south side of the Plank Road but the tavern itself is thought to lie beneath the road’s eastbound lanes, added during road expansion in the 1970s. The original trace of the Germanna Plank Road/Orange Turnpike is still apparent where it runs east-west through the property. Though no significant fighting on this ground has been documented it was used by both sides as a critical behind-the-lines staging area. In May 1863 it was the rear area for Stonewall Jackson’s famous Flank Attack during the Battle of Chancellorsville. Reserves, supply trains and logistical support were staged here, in fact Jackson’s arm was amputated in one of the hospital tents surrounding the tavern. Almost exactly one year later this is where the Union Army of the Potomac halted to allow its supply trains to catch up to the rest of the force after crossing the Rapidan River. This pause also allowed General Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia an opportunity to attack the much larger Army of the Potomac on ground that limited the northern army’s advantage in manpower and artillery. The resulting combat is now called the Battle of the Wilderness, and was the beginning of a sustained period of combat that was unprecedented in 1864.
CVBT was prompted to preserve this site by a more modern conflict. When Walmart attempted to locate a large superstore at the nearby intersection of Plank Road and Constitution Highway/Route 20, CVBT moved to protect nearby terrain from ancillary commercial development. This tract protects the historic crossroads, through which a large portion of the Union army marched as they were fed into battle in the Wilderness.
Part of this property fell within the authorized boundary for Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. In 2011, 31 acres were transferred to NPS ownership. CVBT retains the eastern 62 acres of the original tract and leases most of it for farming.