“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Locust Grove in Orange County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)

Germanna Ford

Into the Wilderness

— Lee Vs. Grant - The 1864 Campaign —

Germanna Ford - Into the Wilderness image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Bill Coughlin, November 10, 2007
1. Germanna Ford - Into the Wilderness
Inscription.  When the 1864 Overland Campaign started, Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia held the upper fords of the Rapidan River, blocking the Union army's route to Richmond. Rather than attack Lee head on, Grant chose to cross here at Germanna Ford, several miles beyond Lee’s right flank, and maneuver his adversary out of position.

Grant seized Germanna Ford on May 4. At dawn, soldiers of the 3rd Indiana Cavalry splashed across the river, scattering a few Confederate pickets who stood guard here. Union engineers then threw down two pontoon bridges and the army began pouring across. A Connecticut soldier, awed by the seemingly endless procession of men, wagons and artillery, concluded that such an army might “overcome the world.” Theodore Lyman, an officer on Meade’s staff, had a more sobering thought. “How strange it would look,” he mused, “if every soldier destined to fall in the coming campaign wore a large badge!”

The Fifth and Sixth Corps crossed the Rapidan here on May 4, going into camp between here and Wilderness Tavern. Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock’s Second Corps crossed farther
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downstream, at Ely’s Ford, followed by the army’s huge wagon train. As the Union columns crossed the river, they entered the Wilderness, a densely wooded area marked by thick woods and unusually heavy undergrowth. In the heart of this forbidding forest, the first battle of the campaign would be fought.

When a reporter asked Grant how long he thought it would take to get to Richmond, he replied, four days. “That is, if General Lee becomes a party to the agreement,” he added with a smile, “but if he objects, the trip will undoubtedly be prolonged.”

(sidebar) On May 4, the Army of the Potomac broke camp near Culpeper and marched southeast, crossing the Rapidan River at Germanna and Ely's Fords. Burnside’s independent Ninth Corps, starting north of the Rappahannock River, did not cross at Germanna Ford until May 5. As soon as Lee learned of the Union crossing, he moved eastward with Ewell’s and Hill’s Corps to intercept Grant in the Wilderness. Longstreet’s Corps, camped near Gordonsville, headed for the battlefield via Brock’s Bridge.
Erected by 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 Former U.S. Presidents: #18 Ulysses S. Grant
Germanna Ford Civil War Trails markers image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Bill Coughlin, November 10, 2007
2. Germanna Ford Civil War Trails markers
, and the Virginia Civil War Trails series lists. A significant historical month for this entry is May 1864.
Location. This marker has been replaced by another marker nearby. It was located near 38° 22.632′ N, 77° 46.91′ W. Marker was in Locust Grove, Virginia, in Orange County. Marker was on Germanna Highway (Virginia Route 3) north of the Germanna Community College Entrance (Virginia Route 375), on the right when traveling south. Just north of Route 760. Touch for map. Marker was at or near this postal address: 2062 Germanna Hwy, 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. A different marker also named Germanna Ford (within shouting distance of this marker); Germanna (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Germanna Ford (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Grant Takes Command (about 300 feet away); Fort Germanna (about 400 feet away); Alexander Spotswood's Enchanted Castle (about 400 feet away); Fort Germanna Visitor Center (about 400 feet away); Hans Conrad Amberger (about 500 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Locust Grove.
More about this marker. The upper center of the marker displays a photograph of Union artillery crossing Germanna Ford on
The Ford Site Today image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Swain, January 5, 2008
3. The Ford Site Today
Taken from the Germanna Highway (Virginia Route 3) bridge, looking down stream. Notice the gully on the far bank to the left of the photo, which may correspond to the approach seen on the Civil War photo.
May 6.
The lower right of the marker has a map showing the operations described in the marker's text.
Related marker. Click here for another marker that is related to this marker. This marker has been replaced with the linked marker.
Credits. This page was last revised on April 19, 2021. It was originally submitted on November 17, 2007, by Bill Coughlin of Woodland Park, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 3,551 times since then and 333 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on November 17, 2007, by Bill Coughlin of Woodland Park, New Jersey.   3. submitted on January 13, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. • J. J. Prats was the editor who published this page.

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Dec. 1, 2023