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Near Locust Grove in Orange County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Struggle on the Orange Plank Road

Wilderness Exhibit Shelter

 

—East Wall —

 
Struggle on the Orange Plank Road Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, February 16, 2008
1. Struggle on the Orange Plank Road Marker
Part of the East Wall of the Exhibit Shelter, this set of interpretive panels is hung to the right of the other exhibits.
Inscription. Crisis at the Crossroads
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 assault. Disaster loomed.

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
Crisis at the Crossroads Panel image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, February 16, 2008
2. Crisis at the Crossroads Panel
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.
 
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. 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. 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 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.
 
More about this marker. The background
Battle in the Balance Panel image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, February 16, 2008
3. Battle in the Balance Panel
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.) 
 
Categories. War, US Civil
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on April 27, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,186 times since then and 47 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on April 27, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.
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