The Mule Shoe salient at Spotsylvania

JPinta

Private
Joined
Jun 3, 2013
Location
Columbus, OH
I recently visited the Mule Shoe salient at Spotsylvania and was fortunate enough to find myself the only person there for a solid window of about 15 or 20 minutes (it was around 10:00am). Just me, the flowers & grasses, and the chorus of buzzing insects and chirping birds. What an experience. It was one of the most poignant moments I have felt on a battlefield, east or west, north or south. Much of this had to do of course with me being fortunate enough to be alone with the landscape and to peacefully enjoy what is paradoxically one of the most tranquil places I have ever been. It was surreal. With the exception of the few monuments, signs and two small paths, there is barely anything in the way of 20th/21st century intrusions in the area, and it feels very much the way you might imagine it did 150 years ago.

I thought I might share my favorite photograph I got from the visit, a panorama with the Confederate trenches manned by Rodes’ division to the right and the field over which the Federals in Wright’s VI Corps advanced to strike the western leg of the Mule Shoe on the morning of May 12 to the left.

Muleshoe_Spotsylvania_11July2014.jpg


As “hollowed” as any ground that ever existed on the continent in my opinion.
 

JeffBrooks

Sergeant Major
Joined
Aug 20, 2009
Location
Manor, TX
When the scene was featured of an episode of House of Cards, it was depicted as heavily wooded rather than being an open field. The purpose of having the characters there was actually quite interesting, but I thought they could have gone to the trouble of showing it as it really is.
 

John Winn

Major
Joined
Mar 13, 2014
Location
State of Jefferson
When the scene was featured of an episode of House of Cards, it was depicted as heavily wooded rather than being an open field. The purpose of having the characters there was actually quite interesting, but I thought they could have gone to the trouble of showing it as it really is.

Hah ... I was just thinking the same thing. When we saw the episode I was talking to the DVD player saying 'that's not right ...' while my wife was saying 'shut up - I can't hear the show.'
 

JeffBrooks

Sergeant Major
Joined
Aug 20, 2009
Location
Manor, TX
Hah ... I was just thinking the same thing. When we saw the episode I was talking to the DVD player saying 'that's not right ...' while my wife was saying 'shut up - I can't hear the show.'

I irritated my wife in the same way, saying, "Longstreet wasn't shot at night! It was during the day!"

Nitpicking aside, I really liked how they folded Underwood's discovery of his Civil War ancestor, and reflections on the war (and the past generally) into the theme of the episode. The way it was juxtaposed with Xander Feng describing his grandfather's service in Mao's army was very well done.
 

Oxkern

Sergeant
Joined
Mar 16, 2008
Location
Oxford, England
I recently visited the Mule Shoe salient at Spotsylvania and was fortunate enough to find myself the only person there for a solid window of about 15 or 20 minutes (it was around 10:00am). Just me, the flowers & grasses, and the chorus of buzzing insects and chirping birds. What an experience. It was one of the most poignant moments I have felt on a battlefield, east or west, north or south.

Thanks for sharing both the photo and your description of the moment. Always very moving to be alone on a battlefield like that, especially one where things were as intense as the Mule Shoe.
 

Drew

Major
Joined
Oct 22, 2012
Great post. We had a CWT mini-muster at the Mule Shoe last weekend. I'd just read Noah Trudeau's account of it and couldn't hardly believe some of it, until we walked it and saw the Union monuments so very close to the Confederate trenches at the top of the hill. From Trudeau:

"Berry Benson (1st South Carolina): 'Where the lines overlapped, the men said they and the enemy both fired without showing their heads above the work, which was certain death. Guns were loaded, held up to the breastwork, depressed, and the trigger pulled with the thumb. One man...told me he several times took in his hand the barrel of a gun pointing down at him, held it up till it was fired and then let it go'."

Incredible.
 

JPinta

Private
Joined
Jun 3, 2013
Location
Columbus, OH
"Berry Benson (1st South Carolina): 'Where the lines overlapped, the men said they and the enemy both fired without showing their heads above the work, which was certain death. Guns were loaded, held up to the breastwork, depressed, and the trigger pulled with the thumb. One man...told me he several times took in his hand the barrel of a gun pointing down at him, held it up till it was fired and then let it go'."

Wow, I thought I had heard many of the descriptions of the fighting there but I had never heard that one. Every time I try to visualize what the men of both sides experienced there I realize it's just an impossibility, too difficult to fathom. Thanks for sharing the great quote!
 
Joined
Apr 21, 2013
Location
Eastern NC
I recently visited the Mule Shoe salient at Spotsylvania and was fortunate enough to find myself the only person there for a solid window of about 15 or 20 minutes (it was around 10:00am). Just me, the flowers & grasses, and the chorus of buzzing insects and chirping birds. What an experience. It was one of the most poignant moments I have felt on a battlefield, east or west, north or south. Much of this had to do of course with me being fortunate enough to be alone with the landscape and to peacefully enjoy what is paradoxically one of the most tranquil places I have ever been. It was surreal. With the exception of the few monuments, signs and two small paths, there is barely anything in the way of 20th/21st century intrusions in the area, and it feels very much the way you might imagine it did 150 years ago.

I thought I might share my favorite photograph I got from the visit, a panorama with the Confederate trenches manned by Rodes’ division to the right and the field over which the Federals in Wright’s VI Corps advanced to strike the western leg of the Mule Shoe on the morning of May 12 to the left.

View attachment 42575

As “hollowed” as any ground that ever existed on the continent in my opinion.

Visited there last May. Thanks for sharing.
 

AUG

Major
Retired Moderator
Joined
Nov 20, 2012
Location
Texas
I remember the last time I visited the battlefield it was much quieter than others, such as Fredericksburg. When battlefields are that silent you get that sort of eerie feeling. A lot happened there over a relatively small stretch of ground.

The quote by Berry Benson is an excerpt from his memoir.
http://www.amazon.com/dp/0820329436/?tag=civilwartalkc-20
 

Floridaman1985

Corporal
Annual Winner
Joined
Jun 29, 2012
Location
Richmond, VA
I visited the Mule Shoe in February of 2013 at dawn. It was under 20 degrees and I had the place to myself. As I was walking around the wind began to gust hard intermittently make the trees on the Union side of the clearing sway violently. It certainly gave me an eerie and uncomfortable feeling that wasn't just me feeling cold. Anyway, it was one of the few times I've felt anxious out on a CW battlefield.
 

dvrmte

Major
Joined
Sep 3, 2009
Location
South Carolina
I recently visited the Mule Shoe salient at Spotsylvania and was fortunate enough to find myself the only person there for a solid window of about 15 or 20 minutes (it was around 10:00am). Just me, the flowers & grasses, and the chorus of buzzing insects and chirping birds. What an experience. It was one of the most poignant moments I have felt on a battlefield, east or west, north or south. Much of this had to do of course with me being fortunate enough to be alone with the landscape and to peacefully enjoy what is paradoxically one of the most tranquil places I have ever been. It was surreal. With the exception of the few monuments, signs and two small paths, there is barely anything in the way of 20th/21st century intrusions in the area, and it feels very much the way you might imagine it did 150 years ago.

I thought I might share my favorite photograph I got from the visit, a panorama with the Confederate trenches manned by Rodes’ division to the right and the field over which the Federals in Wright’s VI Corps advanced to strike the western leg of the Mule Shoe on the morning of May 12 to the left.

View attachment 42575

As “hollowed” as any ground that ever existed on the continent in my opinion.

Great shot!

My sons and I were by ourselves at the Unfinished Railroad at Second Manassas, it rained the entire time we were there but we walked the entire Confederate line. We saw one ranger on horseback from a distance. We got to stand where our ancestors fought and it raised the hair on our necks. It took me a minute to get my bearings but once I figured out where S. D. Lee's artillery was firing into the flanks of Porter's attack, I gained a bit of respect for the Yankee attackers. I read to my sons while we stood there, a Confederate soldiers account of the Yankees seeming to rise from the ground(they came over a hill), and we could picture it in our minds as plain as day. My youngest boy climbed down the railroad grade and went over the hill to reenact it. He seemed to rise from the ground about fifty yards away. The Yankees doing so would've been met with a wall of lead in their front and artillery coming in on their left flank. It was exhilarating.
 

JPinta

Private
Joined
Jun 3, 2013
Location
Columbus, OH
My sons and I were by ourselves at the Unfinished Railroad at Second Manassas, it rained the entire time we were there but we walked the entire Confederate line. We saw one ranger on horseback from a distance. We got to stand where our ancestors fought and it raised the hair on our necks. It took me a minute to get my bearings but once I figured out where S. D. Lee's artillery was firing into the flanks of Porter's attack, I gained a bit of respect for the Yankee attackers. I read to my sons while we stood there, a Confederate soldiers account of the Yankees seeming to rise from the ground(they came over a hill), and we could picture it in our minds as plain as day. My youngest boy climbed down the railroad grade and went over the hill to reenact it. He seemed to rise from the ground about fifty yards away. The Yankees doing so would've been met with a wall of lead in their front and artillery coming in on their left flank. It was exhilarating.

Sounds like a thrilling experience! I'm unmarried and without children at this point in my life, but sharing with the next generation (when that day comes!) moments like these is one of the things I am most looking forward to about fatherhood. Your sons will likely remember that as long as they live, and just might do the same to their sons in turn!
 

rickvox79

First Sergeant
Joined
Jan 27, 2011
Location
Pace, FL
Just finished Gordon Rhea's book on the battle a week ago so it's perfect timing on this picture. I hope to make it there one day. Thanks for posting it!
 

DR_Hanna

First Sergeant
Joined
Jun 17, 2014
Location
North East GA
Really great picture!
This would be the very spot that was overrun by Union troops on May 10th resulting in the capture of 200 or so from the 44th Georgia Volunteer Infantry Regiment - including some from Company C Johnson Guards out of Clarke County, GA.
Based on what was to come on the 12th and 18th I believe that their capture allowed many of them live to ripe old ages.
 

Buckeye Bill

Captain
Forum Host
Annual Winner
Joined
Jul 29, 2013
Nice shot!

I love this NPS venue.....

* I am married with two children (now adults) and I travel like a wild banchee to Civil War sites. My motto : Just Do It! (vintage Nike slogan)
 

Similar threads

Top