Near Locust Grove in Orange County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
Dark, Close Wood
—The Battleﬁeld Becomes a Park —
The Wilderness of today looks little like the tangled landscape soldiers found here in 1864. For decades before the war, loggers had cut and recut these forests to fuel nearby iron furnaces, leaving behind an impenetrable mix of dead fall, brush and re-emerging growth. Only a few small farmers had dared to seek sustenance here. Their small clearings offered only relief from what one soldier called “the dark, close wood.”
Military theorists who devised tactics of that era never envisioned waging war through such forbidding terrain. When the armies collided here, they had no time to change tactics. Instead, traditional battle ranks struggled through thickets, unable to see more than a few dozen feet. Lines of blue and gray collided without warning in horrific firefights. The woods burned – the wounded and dead, too. “It is,” one man wrote, “a region of gloom.”
The four battlefields located in Fredericksburg and neighboring counties comprise the bloodiest ground in all of North America. Yet early efforts to create a national military park at Fredericksburg went down to defeat in Congress. That changed in 1921 when General Smedley D. Butler brought 4,200 Marines to the Wilderness Battlefield. For five days the soldiers
President Warren G. Harding attended the exercise and spent two days visiting with the troops. The event attracted national attention and renewed cries for the creation of a national military park. This time Congress responded favorably. On February 13, 1927, it established Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. Today this is one of the largest military parks in the world, encompassing four battlefields where more than 100,000 Americans fell.
Erected by Fredericksburg-Spotsylvania National Battlefields - National Park Service - Department of the Interior.
Location. 38° 19.051′ N, 77° 45.386′ W. Marker is near Locust Grove, Virginia, in Orange County. Marker can be reached from Constitution Highway (Virginia Route 20) 1.7 miles west of Germanna Highway (Virginia Route 3). Touch for map. Located at stop two of the driving tour of Wilderness Battlefield. Marker is in this post office area: Locust Grove VA 22508, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Collision of Giants (a few steps from this marker); The Fighting Ends in Stalemate (a few steps from Clash on the Orange Turnpike (a few steps from this marker); Battle of the Wilderness (a few steps from this marker); Struggle on the Orange Plank Road (a few steps from this marker); Saunders Field (a few steps from this marker); Gordon Flank Attack Trail (within shouting distance of this marker); First Blood in Saunders Field (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Locust Grove.
Categories. • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on September 15, 2012, by PaulwC3 of Northern, Virginia. This page has been viewed 357 times since then and 47 times this year. Photos: 1. submitted on September 15, 2012, by PaulwC3 of Northern, Virginia. 2, 3. submitted on October 6, 2012, by PaulwC3 of Northern, Virginia. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.