Doswell in Hanover County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
The Fight for North Anna / The North Anna Battleﬁeld
The Fight for North Anna
On May 21, 1864, Union General Ulysses S. Grant directed the Army of the Potomac away from Spotsylvania Court House in a turning movement toward Hanover Junction, today known as Doswell. The Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, under the command of General Robert E. Lee, had checked Grant’s southward advance at the Wilderness, May 5-6, and at Spotsylvania Court House, May 8-20, 1864. Grant was determined to continue his advance and maintained relentless pressure on the Confederate Army by threatening the vital rail junction in Hanover County.
Lee deployed his army along the North Anna River to cover Hanover Junction and met reinforcements coming from Confederate victories at New Market and Drewry’s Bluff. With these fresh troops, Lee now had an opportunity to defeat the Union Army and halt its advance on Richmond. The timing was critical. If Grant succeeded in forcing Lee closer to the Confederate capital, Lee would lose his ability to maneuver and his army would suffer the inevitable result of a long-term siege.
Attack on Ox Ford
Grant attacked across the North Anna River late on the afternoon of May 23, 1864, piercing the river line at Jericho Mill and at Telegraph Bridge. With the river line breached, Lee altered his defensive plan and formed
By late afternoon of May 24, Grant’s army was divided into three parts, separated by the bends of the North Anna River. The Union Fifth and Sixth Corps were in position at Jericho Mill. The Ninth Corps was on the north bank of the river, unable to cross at Ox Ford, and the Second Corps was on the South bank by the Fox House. Lee now had an opportunity to attack portions of the Union Army before reinforcements could cross the river and assist. But the Confederate attack was never made, as Lee was struck down by illness and confined to his tent.
Grant discovered the precarious position of his army on the evening of May 24, and entrenched his men to cover any Confederate attack. The armies faced one another for the next two days before Grant again withdrew the Army of the Potomac in another turning maneuver to Totopotoomy Creek, less than a days march of Richmond. The last great opportunity to hold back the Union Army in Virginia passed, and the end of the war was now in sight.
(East side of Marker):
The North Anna Battlefield
Welcome to the Ox Ford portion of the North Anna Battlefield. Here for three days in May, 1864, the fate of the United States and the Confederacy lay in these woods and fields along the North Anna.
The painting on the left depicts the Union attack at Ox Ford on May 24, 1864. Members of the 57th Massachusetts Infantry are shown rallying around their colors under the leadership of Lieutenant Colonel Charles H. Chandler. They are part of Brigadier James H. Ledlie’s Brigade attacking across an open field in a futile attempt to capture the high ground overlooking Ox Ford. Ledlie, who had consumed a large quantity of alcohol, disobeyed direct orders in sending his brigade into combat against impossible odds. His 1,300 men faced an entrenched Confederate division. The attack immediately became a trap for the Union soldiers, who vainly tried to retreat as the Confederates fired upon their exposed position in the open field. A violent thunderstorm added to the suffering of the Federal Infantrymen.
Colonel Chandler is shown rallying his men against the approach of the Mississippi Infantry, advancing from the Confederate breastworks.
Erected by North Anna Battlefield Park.
Location. 37° 52.897′ N, 77° 29.947′ W. Marker is in Doswell, Virginia, in Hanover County. Marker can be reached from Verdon Road (Virginia Route 685) 0.2 miles west of New Market Mill Road, on the right when traveling west. Click for map. Marker is in the parking lot of North Anna Battlefield Park, near the trailhead. Marker is at or near this postal address: 11576 Verdon Rd, Doswell VA 23047, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. Dead of the North Anna Battlefield (here, next to this marker); The Ox Ford Road (approx. 0.2 miles away); Colonel Weisiger's Virginians (approx. 0.2 miles away); Battle on the Skirmish Line (approx. ¼ mile away); One Brigade Alone (approx. 0.3 miles away); The Heart of Dixie (approx. 0.3 miles away); Run for Safety (approx. 0.3 miles away); Turning Lee’s Flank (approx. 0.4 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Doswell.
More about this marker. The Fight for North Anna side of the marker features three photographs and a battle map. The top left of the marker contains photographs of the commanders of both armies, General Ulysses S. Grant and General Robert E. Lee. The bottom center of the marker features a photograph of “Union Brigadier General James Hewett Ledlie and his staff.” The center of the marker contains a “map of the Battlefield of North Anna, from May 3rd to 27th, 1864.”
The left of the North Anna Battlefield side of marker contains the painting Even To Hell Itself, The Battle of North Anna by D.J. Neary, which depicts Lt. Col. Charles Chandler rallying the 57th Massachusetts Infantry at Ox Ford, May 24, 1864
Also see . . .
1. North Anna. CWSAC Battle Summaries website.
2. Civil War Trails – Lee vs. Grant: The 1864 Overland Campaign Tour. CivilWarTraveler website.
3. North Anna Battlefield Park. Hanover County Parks & Recreation
Categories. • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page originally submitted on January 10, 2009, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 3,778 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on January 10, 2009, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.