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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

Not Just Armies

 
 
First Day at Chancellorsville Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, August 24, 2008
1. First Day at Chancellorsville Marker
Inscription.  "On the first day of the Chancellorsville fight...[our] farm was between our and the enemy's lines of battle."
-James H. Leitch, farmer.

The Battle of Chancellorsville started here - amid the homes of families living along the Orange Turnpike. On the morning of May 1, Ann Lewis, whose house stood on the rise in front of you, found Union cavalrymen lounging in her yard. After she saw masses of Confederate troops approaching from the east, Lewis called a Union trooper into her house to "look at the rebels"; she wisely retreated to her cellar just as the shooting started. Union soldiers took cover behind the house, and a spirited firefight ensued.

With so many battles fought nearby, the civilians of Spotsylvania County bore a disproportionate burden of devastation and destruction. James H. Leitch, whose home lay in the middle of the battlefield, recalled: "The enemy tore down some of the fencing... They took our corn from the crib... [and] ten bushels of ground wheat. ... I saw our troops using the fencing from the side opposite the Yankees as fuel."
 
Erected 2008 by Virginia Civil
Help Preserve Chancellorsville image. Click for more information.
2. Help Preserve Chancellorsville
CWPT efforts to save the battlefield.
Click for more information.
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° 17.736′ N, 77° 35.579′ W. Marker is near Chancellor, Virginia, in Spotsylvania County. Marker is on 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); a different marker also named First Day at Chancellorsville (about 800 feet away); 11th United States Infantry (approx. 0.2 miles away); a different marker also named 11th United States Infantry (approx. 0.2 miles away); Chancellorsville Campaign (approx. 0.2 miles away); a different marker also named Chancellorsville Campaign (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). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Chancellor.
 
More about this marker. In the lower center is a portrait of the Myer family children: Even Spotsylvania County's youngest residents, such as John H. Myer, Jr., Mary Myer, and Annie Myer, could not escape the ravages of war. After the Confederate army impressed their father into service, Union troops burned their home on May 15, 1864.

A map on the right side illustrates the actions described in the text. Civilian life along and around the Orange Turnpike was typical of the nineteenth-century Wilderness - farmers built homes in the sparse clearings and worked what little clear land they had around them.
 
First Day at Chancellorsville Map image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, August 24, 2008
3. First Day at Chancellorsville Map
This map clearly indicates the locations of various family farms around the areas contested during the battle. Note the north seeking arrow points to the left.
The <i>Not Just Armies</i> Wayside image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, August 24, 2008
4. The Not Just Armies Wayside
Federal Picket Line image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, August 24, 2008
5. Federal Picket Line
Along this high ground a few feet east of the marker location, the 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry posted pickets to screen the advance of Sykes' Division. The Lewis farm stood in this vicinity, close to the marker location. In the distance, is the location where the Leitch farm house stood at the time of the battle. To the right is the Germanna Highway, known at the time of the battle as the Orange Turnpike.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on October 31, 2020. It was originally submitted on September 13, 2008. This page has been viewed 1,920 times since then and 13 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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