Near Spotsylvania Courthouse in Spotsylvania County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
Horror on the Orange Plank Road
The Battle of the Wilderness
Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park
Some of the Civil War's heaviest fighting occurred along the Orange Plank Road on May 5 and 6, 1864. One of two major roads passing through the Wilderness, the Plank Road became a magnet for both armies as they struggled to maneuver through the tangled forests. Battle lines surged up and down the Plank Road corridor, littering the roadside woods with fallen men. Fires scorched the forest, consuming the dead and wounded indiscriminately. Though violent and horrifying, the fighting here ended in stalemate.
A half-mile loop trail leads you through part of what one soldier called "a wilderness of woe." The trail begins and ends at the object of the soldiers' toil and blood: the Orange Plank Road-Brock Road intersection, 50 yards to your left. Along the way, you will traverse the woods that were consumed by combat and fire, pass a monument honoring the Vermont Brigade, and see earthworks built by Union soldiers to defend Brock Road and the intersection.
Erected by National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic War, US Civil. A significant historical month for this entry is May 1864.
Location. 38° 18.044′ N, 77° 42.572′ W. Marker is near Spotsylvania Courthouse, Virginia, in Spotsylvania County. Marker is at the intersection of Orange Plank Road (County Route 621) and Brock Road (County Route 613), on the right when traveling east on Orange Plank Road. Located in the parking lot at stop eight of a driving tour of the Wilderness Battlefield. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 10805 Orange Plank Rd, Spotsylvania VA 22551, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Valuable Crossroads (a few steps from this marker); No Turning Back (within shouting distance of this marker); On to Richmond! (within shouting distance of this marker); 12th Regiment New Jersey Volunteers 1862 - 1865 (within shouting distance of this marker); The Climax (within shouting distance of this marker); Echoes Homeward (within shouting distance of this marker); Hell Itself (within shouting distance of this marker); The Vermont Brigade (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Spotsylvania Courthouse.
More about this marker. The background photo on the marker shows One lane of the Orange Plank Road had three-inch thick blanks laid upon it to make it passable in all kinds of weather. The planks are visible at lower right of the postwar photo.
An inset photo is captioned This grainy image, taken soon after the 1864 battle, shows the condition of vegetation along the Orange Plank Road in the Wilderness. Planks for the road were cut from the adjacent forests in 1852, and twelve years of subsequent growth left the woods lining the road a tangled mess of underbrush and emerging trees.
A map illustrating the action at this phase of the battle is next to the inset photo. A trail map is next to the loop trail description.
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Wilderness Battlefield - Brock Road/Orange Plank Road Intersection virtual tour by markers.
Credits. This page was last revised on July 9, 2021. It was originally submitted on January 26, 2008. This page has been viewed 4,472 times since then and 107 times this year. Last updated on September 10, 2020, by Bradley Owen of Morgantown, West Virginia. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on January 26, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. • J. Makali Bruton was the editor who published this page.