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

Roads Through the Battlefield

Battle of Chancellorsville - 1863

 
 
Roads Through the Battlefield Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Kevin W., April 28, 2008
1. Roads Through the Battlefield Marker
Inscription.  Today, much like it was in the nineteenth century, Spotsylvania County contains very few east-west roads. The few that exist, such as Route 3 before you, are heavily used and follow the same routes as their antebellum predecessors.

The first improved east-west roadway in Spotsylvania was the Orange Turnpick, which opened in 1813. Constructed by the Swift Run Gap Turnpike Company, it followed an earlier path that stretched the 45 miles from Fredericksburg to Orange Court House. Complete with toll gates, the turnpike boasted a crushed stone surface. By 1860, the road had fallen into disrepair and the right-of-way was sold to the Fredericksburg and Valley Plank Road Company.

The Fredericksburg and Valley Plank Road Company sought to improve travel between Fredericksburg and Orange by using wooden planks and timbers as a road surface. Viewed as something of a novelty, the new road utilized segments of the turnpike, but in areas where the topography was hilly, a parallel route was constructed along better grades.

These two east-west routes figured prominently in Spotsylvania County’s battles. Even today, the turnpike (Route
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3) and the plank road (Routes 3, 610, and 621) remain as vital transportation links.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Roads & VehiclesWar, US Civil. A significant historical year for this entry is 1813.
 
Location. 38° 17.534′ N, 77° 34.306′ W. Marker is near Fredericksburg, Virginia, in Spotsylvania County. Marker can be reached from Plank Road/Germanna Highway (Virginia Route 3) near Harrison Road. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 5701 Plank Road, Fredericksburg VA 22407, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within one mile of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Opening of the Campaign (here, next to this marker); McCarty Farm (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Confederate Defense Turns to Offense (about 500 feet away); Spotswood’s Furnace (about 600 feet away); Earthworks (approx. 0.2 miles away); First Day at Chancellorsville (approx. one mile away); 11th United States Infantry (approx. one mile away); a different marker also named First Day at Chancellorsville (approx. one mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Fredericksburg.
 
Regarding Roads Through the Battlefield. This marker is grouped with the markers along McLaws Drive, Furnace Road, Sickles Drive, East Jackson Trail, and others on the east side of the battlefield. See the First
Roads Through the Battlefield Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Kevin W., April 28, 2008
2. Roads Through the Battlefield Marker
Days of the Battle of Chancellorsville Virtual Tour by Markers
in the links section for a listing of related markers on the tour.
 
Also see . . .
1. Battle of Chancellorsville. National Parks Service site. (Submitted on May 2, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.) 

2. First Days of the Battle of Chancellorsville Virtual Tour by Markers. This virtual tour by markers covers action from May 1-3, 1863. (Submitted on May 2, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.) 
 
Plan and Cross Section of a Plank Road image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Kevin W., April 28, 2008
3. Plan and Cross Section of a Plank Road
From an 1854 manual on road construction, this diagram illustrates how plank road were constructed.
Main picture from the Roads Through the Battlefield Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Kevin W., April 28, 2008
4. Main picture from the Roads Through the Battlefield Marker
This ca. 1900 photograph of Orange Plank Road reveals a road little changed since the Civil War.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on February 2, 2023. It was originally submitted on May 2, 2008, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,725 times since then and 30 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on May 2, 2008, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.

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Mar. 2, 2024