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Near Spotsylvania Courthouse in Spotsylvania County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

The Confederate Line

Battle of Spotsylvania Court House

— Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park —

 
 
The Confederate Line Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Swain, July 6, 2008
1. The Confederate Line Marker
Inscription.  
The landscape in front of you bears vivid testimony to the nature of fighting here in May 1864. At Spotsylvania, not only did soldiers build stout dirt and log works to protect them from fire in front, but they also built shorter trenches called traverses to protect them from enemy cross fire (a circumstance common on this part of the line). These traverses extend back from the main line like teeth on a comb. Soldiers came to call the three-sided enclosures "hog pens."

Remains of those hog pens survive beyond the main earthwork in front of you. After the fighting here on May 12, the Union army incorporated the Confederate-built works into their own line. Today the combined works make up an almost incomprehensible tangle - one that makes little sense to a military scientist, but one that made perfect sense to men struggling for life under fire.

"Keeping around the western end of [the woods], we came to a strange medley of intrenchments, which it would have required an engineer to unravel and understand. Here Grant's works had been pushed up against Lee's, swallowing them as one wave swallows another."
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visitor, 1866
 
Erected by National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: War, US Civil. A significant historical month for this entry is May 1864.
 
Location. 38° 13.361′ N, 77° 35.747′ W. Marker is near Spotsylvania Courthouse, Virginia, in Spotsylvania County. Marker can be reached from Gordon Drive, on the left when traveling north. Located on the East Face of the Salient trail at tour stop six (East Face) on the driving tour of Spotsylvania Battlefield unit of the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Spotsylvania VA 22553, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Spotsylvania Campaign (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); a different marker also named Spotsylvania Campaign (about 400 feet away); A Mass Capture (about 600 feet away); Dawn Assault (about 800 feet away); Fatal Mistake at the East Angle (about 800 feet away); Fighting for Time (approx. 0.2 miles away); "The Toughest Fight Yet" (approx. 0.2 miles away); Struggle for the Bloody Angle (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Spotsylvania Courthouse.
 
More about this marker. The background of the photograph is an aerial photograph of the works. From
East Face of Salient Trail image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Swain, July 6, 2008
2. East Face of Salient Trail
the air, the Muleshoe Salient's trenches have the appearance of a huge centipede with legs on both left and right. The "legs" on the right are traverses built by Confederate troops prior to May 12, those on the left were added by the Union army on May 13 after they captured the works.

 
Also see . . .  East Face of Salient. National Park Service website entry (Submitted on August 18, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.) 
 
Traverses image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Swain, July 6, 2008
3. Traverses
Looking off the trail at the Confederate side of the earthworks. The traverses are difficult to pick out at some points. However trees have grown over some of the raised portions, as here. The main defense runs from left to right. Notice the "spacing" of the clumps of trees extending off the back of the main earthworks.
Traverses image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Swain, April 6, 2014
4. Traverses
The traverses appear much better on the north side of the line. They are also better viewed in the winter, early spring.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on December 10, 2022. It was originally submitted on August 18, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,240 times since then and 17 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on August 18, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.   4. submitted on April 7, 2014, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.

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Apr. 14, 2024