“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Spotsylvania Courthouse in Spotsylvania County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)

A Tavern in the Midst of Battle

Spotsylvania Court House National Historic District

A Tavern in the Midst of Battle Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), April 18, 2020
1. A Tavern in the Midst of Battle Marker
In 1864, the war returned to the village of Spotsylvania Court House. Sanford's Inn, because of its position at the crossroads, offered a point of observation for General Robert E. Lee, who surveyed the Federal lines from the upper windows facing north and east. Lee's headquarters tent was erected on the Courthouse grounds across from Sanford's Inn.

It was here at the Inn on May 10, that General Lee had his last meeting with General James Ewell Brown Stuart. There is no record of what was discussed. Stuart departed the area and would be mortally wounded at Yellow Tavern and die on May 12th. On May 8th artillery fire started to strike the Inn from Burnside's lines due east down the Fredericksburg Road. Joseph Sanford collected a large oak stump from the "Bloody Angle" after the battle, it was confiscated by Union troops in 1865, and was eventually placed in the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, where it resides today.

In 1865, Sanford and son, Lawrence, contracted with General Sherman to remove the bodies of fallen Union soldiers and transport them to the new cemetery at Fredericksburg.
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Sanford was paid $15 for each body. It was a gruesome task. However, in the process, many Confederate remains once thought lost were thankfully located. A man of integrity, Joseph Sanford donated a plot of land for a cemetery in close proximity to the earthworks, which encircled the Court House. In 1867, Sanford was a founding member of the Ladies' Memorial Association established to oversee the Confederate Cemetery on the land he donated.

A close up of the background photograph taken in 1866, shows local citizens gathering on the porch. Note the cannonball embedded at the base of the portico. Could Joseph Sanford be one of them?

Sanford later received $500 for the now famous 22 inch stump.

A close up photograph of the porch, reveals the damage done by Union artillery fire. In 1909, the tavern was gutted by fire, punctuated by nine explosions. Embedded artillery rounds that exploded were donated, due to the extreme heat of the fire.

Erected by Spotsylvania County Museum, County of Spotsylvania, Virginia.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Cemeteries & Burial SitesNotable BuildingsWar, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Virginia, Spotsylvania County Museum series list. A significant historical date for this entry is May 10, 1864.
A Tavern in the Midst of Battle Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), April 18, 2020
2. A Tavern in the Midst of Battle Marker
38° 12.075′ N, 77° 35.383′ W. Marker is in Spotsylvania Courthouse, Virginia, in Spotsylvania County. Marker is at the intersection of Brock Road (County Road 613) and Courthouse Road (State Route 208), on the right when traveling east on Brock Road. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 9064 Courthouse Rd, 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. Time Passages (here, next to this marker); Joseph Sanford's Inn & Tavern (here, next to this marker); A Tavern at the New Courthouse (here, next to this marker); Samuel Alsop Jr. (here, next to this marker); An Ordinary on the Road to Snell (here, next to this marker); Lee’s Headquarters (within shouting distance of this marker); Chancellor's (within shouting distance of this marker); An Unexpected End to Life (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Spotsylvania Courthouse.
Credits. This page was last revised on April 18, 2020. It was originally submitted on April 18, 2020, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 191 times since then and 61 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on April 18, 2020, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.

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Nov. 30, 2023