Near Montpelier Station in Orange County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
Civil War Encampment
1862 sketch of the 1st South Carolina Rifles camp, Spotsylvania County, Virginia
This sketch illustrates how a camp layout mirrored the organization of a military unit. The soldiers who made up a company camped in a line of huts making a company "street" with the company commander at the head of the street. The three larger tents shown at the bottom were for higher ranking regimental officers.
Completed archaeological excavation of two hut sites
Archaeologists uncovered more than a century and a half of accumulated topsoil
Map of Hut Sites in the McGowan Encampment
Approximately 500 soldiers were camped in these woods. The orderly layout of the camp follows the military plan, with the company streets extending down the hill in front of you. Keeping the men organized by company in camp strengthened the bonds between the men helping to build the cohesion needed in battle. The camp layout also made quick deployment possible - McGowan's soldiers assembled for the march to Wilderness with only 30 minutes of preparation.
Stoneware jug recovered from a soldiers' hut at the McGowan camp
As one of the few food storage items recovered, this jug documents the parce diet of the soldiers in the camp. This absence of food containers indicates that McGowan's troops probably did not have access to condiments, preserves, liquor or pickled foods. In addition, only a small amount of animal bones has been found, suggesting that the diet of the troops consisted mainly of rations of corn meal, bacon, and hardtack.
Soldiers were provided only the barest of essentials to construct these huts (their issue tents and about two dozen nails). They obtained the remainder of the materials - including timbers, clay and stone - from the woods and surrounding areas. The huts measured 12 square feet and served as a shelter for five to six soldiers.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: War, US Civil. A significant historical month for this entry is May 1864.
Location. 38° 13.834′ N, 78° 10.833′ W. Marker is near Montpelier Station, Virginia, in Orange County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Constitution Highway (State Highway 20) and Montpelier Road (County Route 693), on the right when traveling west. Located on a the Civil War Encampment walking trail on the Montpelier Estate. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Orange VA 22960, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Confederate Encampment (approx. 0.2 miles away); Civil War & Gilmore Farm Trail (approx. ¼ mile away); Gilmore Family Cemetery (approx. ¼ mile away); Confederate Camp & Freedman's Farm Trail (approx. ¼ mile away); Post-Emancipation (approx. ¼ mile away); Montpelier Train Station (approx. ¼ mile away); Madison-Barbour Rural Historic DistrictMontpelier Flag Stop (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Montpelier Station.
Also see . . .
1. Civil War Encampments. Page from the Montpelier web site detailing the camps and the trail. (Submitted on November 6, 2009, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.)
2. Virtual Tour, McGowan's Brigade Winter Camp Site. Information and photos from the National Park Service. (Submitted on May 22, 2017, by Pete Payette of Orange, Virginia.)
Credits. This page was last revised on April 15, 2021. It was originally submitted on November 6, 2009, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,941 times since then and 45 times this year. Last updated on April 15, 2021, by Carl Gordon Moore Jr. of North East, Maryland. Photos: 1. submitted on November 6, 2009, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. 2. submitted on May 13, 2017, by Pete Payette of Orange, Virginia. 3. submitted on November 6, 2009, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. 4. submitted on May 13, 2017, by Pete Payette of Orange, Virginia. 5. submitted on November 6, 2009, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. 6. submitted on May 13, 2017, by Pete Payette of Orange, Virginia. 7, 8, 9. submitted on November 6, 2009, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. 10. submitted on May 10, 2017, by Pete Payette of Orange, Virginia. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.