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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

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

First Day at Chancellorsville

Difficult Country

 
 
First Day at Chancellorsville Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, August 24, 2008
1. First Day at Chancellorsville Marker
Inscription.  "We were in a perfect jungle of rank vines and undergrowth."
- Col. A. J. McBride, 10th Georgia Infantry, CSA

Few Civil War sites evoke such indelible, mental images as the Wilderness. Densely forested and dark, fighting in the Wilderness of Spotsylvania County was a nightmare. Hooker wanted to avoid fighting in the Wilderness at all, but Lee forced his hand by confronting him here. The few clearings such as this one along the Orange Turnpike became natural battlefields by default.

Hooker's army found the Wilderness nearly impenetrable. To avoid the tangle of trees, his forces advanced eastward on three roads that met on open, high ground one mile behind you. Separated by dense forest, however, the three parts of Hooker's army were virtually isolated from one another.

While the Federals tried to avoid the Wilderness, the Confederates took advantage of it. On May 1, Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson's command, concealed in the thickets of the Wilderness, was able to surprise the Union forces and to change the course of the Chancellorsville campaign.
 
Erected 2008 by Virginia
Help Preserve Chancellorsville image. Click for more information.
2. Help Preserve Chancellorsville
CWPT efforts to save the battlefield.
Click for more information.
Civil War Trails.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: War, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails series list.
 
Location. 38° 17.827′ N, 77° 35.565′ W. Marker is near Chancellor, Virginia, in Spotsylvania County. Marker can be reached from Plank Road / Germanna Highway (State Highway 3), on the right when traveling west. Located along the Civil War Preservation Trust's walking trail through the First Day at Chancellorsville Battlefield. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Fredericksburg VA 22407, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A different marker also named First Day at Chancellorsville (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); 11th United States Infantry (approx. 0.2 miles away); a different marker also named 11th United States Infantry (approx. 0.2 miles away); a different marker also named First Day at Chancellorsville (approx. 0.2 miles away); a different marker also named The First Day at Chancellorsville (approx. 0.2 miles away); a different marker also named First Day at Chancellorsville (approx. 0.2 miles away); Chancellorsville Campaign (approx. 0.2 miles away); a different marker also named Chancellorsville Campaign (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Chancellor.
 
More about this marker. On the left is a rather famous wartime photograph of the Wilderness, Thick second-growth trees and underbrush in the Wilderness made it impassable and sometimes restricted visibility to only a few feet. Fires started during the battles consumed trapped, wounded soldiers.

A map of the Wilderness area on the right is captioned: Site of two major Civil War battles - Chancellorsville in 1863 and the Wilderness in 1864 - the Wilderness was approximately 70 square miles in size with few clearings in which to conduct military operaitons.
 
Wilderness Map image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, August 24, 2008
3. Wilderness Map
Note the north seeking arrow pointing to the right of the map.
The <i>Difficult Country</i> Wayside image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, August 24, 2008
4. The Difficult Country Wayside
Battlefield of Yesterday as a Vineyard Today image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, August 24, 2008
5. Battlefield of Yesterday as a Vineyard Today
Some of the First Day Battlefield is planted as a vineyard. This view looks from the marker location to the south, with the Orange Turnpike (modern Germanna Highway) running across the background. The site of the Lewis farm is roughly in the center distance, just north of the highway. At the time of the battle, much of the area within the vineyard was forest.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on October 31, 2020. It was originally submitted on September 13, 2008. This page has been viewed 1,269 times since then and 8 times this year. Last updated on October 29, 2020, by Bradley Owen of Morgantown, West Virginia. Photos:   1. submitted on September 13, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.   2. submitted on March 13, 2009, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.   3, 4, 5. submitted on September 13, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. • J. Makali Bruton was the editor who published this page.
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Feb. 25, 2021