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Near Locust Grove in Orange County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

“A Wild, Wicked Roar”

The Battle of the Wilderness

 

— Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park —

 
"A Wild, Wicked Roar" Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, November 10, 2007
1. "A Wild, Wicked Roar" Marker
Inscription.  The arrival of Lt. Gen. Richard S. Ewell’s Second Corps here along the Orange Turnpike on the morning of May 5 challenged the Union march through the Wilderness. The Federals responded with a massive attack.

At midday more than 12,000 Federal troops moved forward on a jagged, mile-long front. The spearhead of the assault struck Ewell’s line here, on the western edge of Saunders Field. Three Union brigades rolled over the Confederates, plunging forward through thickets and brambles for nearly a half mile.

Ewell scrambled to rally his men, and soon a “wild, wicked roar” of musketry engulfed the Union lines. Without supports, the Federals stopped, then retreated. Thousands of blue-clad fugitives dashed back through Saunders Field – most of them faster than they had come.

After the attack here on May 5 the heaviest fighting would shift farther to the south, along the Orange Plank Road. There the Battle of the Wilderness would be decided.

Saunders Field burned on the afternoon of May 5.
“The clearing became a raging inferno, in which many of the wounded perished and the bodies of the
Marker on Saunders Field image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, November 10, 2007
2. Marker on Saunders Field
The marker overlooks the field where the 140th New York charged Ewell's troops on May 5, 1864. Wilderness Exhibit Shelter is in the background, as well as the monument to the 140th New York State Vols (in the distant left).
dead were blackened and burned beyond all possibility of recognition, a tragic conclusion to this day of horror.”

- A man of the 146th New York
 
Erected by National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: War, US Civil.
 
Location. This marker has been replaced by another marker nearby. 38° 18.963′ N, 77° 45.548′ W. Marker is near Locust Grove, Virginia, in Orange County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Hill-Ewell Drive and Constitution Highway (Virginia Route 20), on the left when traveling south. The marker is in the Wilderness Battlefield, at Stop Three (Saunders Field) on the driving tour. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Locust Grove VA 22508, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this location. The Confederate Line (here, next to this marker); Battle of the Wilderness (a few steps from this marker); a different marker also named "A Wild, Wicked Roar" (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Confederate Defense (about 400 feet away); 140th New York State Vols. (about 700 feet away); First Blood in Saunders Field (approx. 0.2 miles away); Gordon Flank Attack Trail
Markers overlooking Saunders Field image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain
3. Markers overlooking Saunders Field
Marker relocated in about 2011.
(approx. 0.2 miles away); a different marker also named The Battle of the Wilderness (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Locust Grove.
 
More about this marker. In the background of the marker is a picture of Union soldiers recovering their dead. The upper right of the marker shows a map of the Union Breakthrough of 1 p.m., May 5, 1864. The bottom right of the marker features a photo of an earthwork, with the caption Ewell’s men took advantage of hills in the fighting to build these sturdy earthworks, the remains of which are behind you.

This marker was replaced by a new one also named “A Wild, Wicked Roar” (see nearby markers).
 
Confederate Trenches - Ewell's Corps image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, November 10, 2007
4. Confederate Trenches - Ewell's Corps
Ewell's men dug these trenches for the Battle of the Wilderness.
More Confederate earthworks image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, November 10, 2007
5. More Confederate earthworks
The National Park Service has placed walkways over the earthworks to help preserve them.
Saunders Field Tour Stop image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, November 10, 2007
6. Saunders Field Tour Stop
The “A Wild, Wicked Roar” marker is located at the Saunders Field Tour Stop.
Detail of Union Breakthrough Map image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, November 20, 2007
7. Detail of Union Breakthrough Map
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on September 10, 2020. It was originally submitted on March 6, 2008. This page has been viewed 1,440 times since then. Last updated on September 5, 2020, by Bradley Owen of Morgantown, West Virginia. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on March 6, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.   3. submitted on April 7, 2014, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.   4, 5, 6, 7. submitted on March 6, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. • J. Makali Bruton was the editor who published this page.
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Jan. 21, 2021