Near Locust Grove in Orange County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
Struggle on the Orange Plank Road
Wilderness Exhibit Shelter
— East Wall —
Crises followed one after another on May 5. No sooner had Grant and Meade learned about Ewell's approach on the Orange Turnpike than they discovered General A.P. Hill's corps moving up the Orange Plank road. If Hill reached the Brock Road, he would cut the Army of the Potomac in two.
Union commanders rushed General Winfield S. Hancock's Second Corps to the imperiled crossroads, securing it for the North. At 4 p.m., Hancock assailed Hill's line. Fighting behind low logworks and amidst fires, Hill's men stubbornly defended themselves against Hancock's sledgehammer blows. When the fighting ended four hours later, Hill's battered line was still intact.
"The wounded stream out, and fresh troops pour in. Stretchers pass with ghastly burdens, and go back reeking with blood for more."
Reporter Charles Page, New York Tribune
Battle in the Balance
The sound of cannon and the crash of musketry awakened Southern soldiers shortly after dawn, May 6. The Army of Northern Virginia was again under attack. On the Plank Road, A.P. Hill's thin line collapsed under the weight of the renewed
Just then, Confederate troops pushed through the smoke toward the front. General James Longtreet's corps - 20,000 strong - arrived in the nick of time. Longstreet struck Hancock's exposed left flank, rolling up the Union line "like a wet blanket." In the confusion, Longstreet was shot by his own troops. Lee resumed the attack five hours later, but by then Hancock had rallied his men behind strong earthworks. The Confederate assault - Lee's last grand attack of the war - failed.
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° 19.052′ N, 77° 45.377′ W. Marker is near Locust Grove, Virginia, in Orange County. Marker is on Constitution Highway (State Highway 20), on the right when traveling west. Located at stop two of the driving tour of Wilderness Battlefield. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: 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 marker. Battle of the Wilderness (here, next to this marker); The Fighting Ends in Stalemate (here, next to this marker); Clash on the Orange Turnpike (here, next to this marker); Collision of Giants (here, next to this marker); The Wilderness (a few steps from this marker); Saunders Field (a few steps from this The Capture of Winslow's Battery (a few steps from this marker); a different marker also named The Battle of the Wilderness (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Locust Grove.
More about this marker. The background of the Crisis at the Crossroads panel is a drawing of Wadsworth's division in the Wilderness. An inset photo shows The Orange Plank Road witnessed two days of terrible combat. On the Battle in the Balance panel, the background depicts a scene from the second day of battle where, Lee attempted to lead Longstreet's troops in a counterattack, but the men would not permit it "Lee to the rear!" they cried. On the right center a drawing shows When brush fires forced Union defenders from their logworks, Confederates planted their flag on the Brock Road. Their success was brief.
Also see . . . Wilderness Battlefield. National Park Service site. (Submitted on April 27, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.)
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on April 27, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,311 times since then and 7 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on April 27, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.