Ami's SOA Touring Virginia - On the trails of ANV and AOTP

luinrina

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Nominated by @Zella
"This has been a great thread from luinrina, full of wonderful anecdotes and pictures, documenting her travels to a ton of Eastern Theater battlefields "​


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I'm currently touring through Virginia, hitting quite a few of the major battlefields (and then some more :D) and want to share my experience with you. It's the first time I'm visiting these battlefields, and two days into the tour I can say: Nothing beats walking the ground where those battles happened.

So, day 1 started at Manassas. I hit the visitor center in the morning, and then had a ranger guided walking tour across Henry Hill. Everything she said I had read about before, but it was quite revealing to actually see the artillery positions of Jackson's line and Rickett's battery on the land.

Around noon, I did another walking tour along the Deep Cut (2nd Manassas), where Porter led the attack on Day 3 but was pushed back by Longstreet's advance. One of the group told us that he had three ancestors at that spot - one in the Louisiana regiment at the embankment that got into a boulder fight with the Union soldiers on the other side of the embankments, one ancestor that fought in one of the Union regiments in Porter's command that advanced up the hill to the Deep Cut position, and another Union ancestor in (I think) a Michigan regiment somewhere further down the Union line.

After the ranger tour I hiked the Deep Cut trail. It was a nice change to stand in the shade of the woods for a moment. :D It was a warm day, albeit quite windy on the hills. Anyway, the trail somehow suddenly ended after I crossed a little stream. In front of me was nothing but stomach-high foliage and the hill on which Longstreet's and Jackson's reserve artillery were posted during Porter's attack. Unwilling to go back the way I had come, I hiked cross country and felt like a soldier that had to make his way through unmowed terrain.

I visited Sudley Springs, Matthew Hill, the Stone Bridge and Chinn Ridge before calling it a day at Manassas. Here are some of my pictures:

Henry Hill, Union artillery
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Henry Hill, Confederate artillery, Jackson's position
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The Deep Cut
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My view from the reserve artillery's position during my lost-trail-cross-country hike
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Matthew's Hill
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Sudley Springs
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The Stone Bridge
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So what did I learn that day? I had always thought that immediately after the stone bridge, the ground rose to the ridge on which the Confederates contested the Union crossing. When walking the land, however, it went on straight quite a bit before rising to the hill. That surprised me.
 
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luinrina

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After Manassas, I headed south toward the Rappahannock. Before driving to my hotel, though, I visited @Reverend Ron at his church. He showed me the church and told me all about it, Custer and his men, as well as Raccoon Ford. Afterward, he showed me how to load and shoot a civil war musket. Never before having handled a gun, I was a bit apprehensive at first, but it was quite fun. I apparently also hit the target a couple of times. :D

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I want to thank again @Reverend Ron for making that visit possible. I had a great time!
 

luinrina

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Day 2 I spent at Fredericksburg. I was at the visitor center early and went into the National Cemetery. After the visitor center, I joined the ranger led walking tour along the sunken road. It was a great tour. The ranger talked about Cobb and his decision to stay in the sunken road when Lee wasn't convinced it was a good position. The most profound moment was when the ranger told us how Cobb had waited and waited and didn't let his men shoot although the Union were advancing and almost upon them. Then, like Cobb, he took off his hat, said the words, "Here they come boys, get ready," and then he pulled down the arm and shouted, "FIRE!" Quite a few people jumped (me too); the ranger's voice echoed a bit. I had chills from that.

The Innis House is currently conserved so I took no pictures. The ranger said they're having trouble with the foundation, it's subsiding, and they fear that the Innis House will just topple over. But I could see the bullet holes in the wall.

After the sunken road, I drove along Lee Drive all the way up to Hamilton's Crossing where Jackson's corps was posted. As much as I liked hiking up Lee's Hill in the shade of a wood, the trees obstructed the view and I unfortunately could not get a real feeling for Lee's position. That's true for about almost every part of the Confederate line - you have to use your imagination because the ground as it existed during the civil war is either built over or covered by foliage that obstructs the view.

Next, I visited Pelham's corner, drove to Chatham and then took two self-guided walking tours through Fredericksburg. The first is about Barksdale and his men delaying the building of the pontoon bridge on December 11, 1862. The second is following the assault on Marye's Heights on December 13, 1862. The second walking tour led up all the way to the sunken road - and because of all the houses you didn't see it until you almost were upon it. That was quite a surprise and reflects what I said before, that the buildings obstruct the view. But I could still get a feeling for the terrain the Union had to cross to reach the sunken road.

What really hit me were two thoughts I had while doing this assault tour. The first was when the tour text told me to return down the street I came up (like the Union retreat after their defeat) and I thought, "What, that's it? I walked all the way up here only to return?" And then I thought what it must have been like for the Union soldiers, having to retreat without having reached their objective. The second thought I had when coming down a hill and heading for the next interjection. I was anxiously reading the street names to find the one where my car was parked. I was getting tired and footsore, and as soon as I found the street I needed, I thought, "Thank you! Almost there now." That street is in the historic town, from where the Union soldiers started their advance up Marye's Heights. And I wondered whether the soldiers had similar thoughts of maybe finally being back in safety from Confederate fire. That really made me feel for and with the boys.

Last stop of the day was the Confedarate Cemetery at Kenmore. I unfortunately left my hat in the car so got fried and quickly beat a retreat after taking a couple of pictures and seeking out all graves I wanted.

A couple of pictures of today:

Sunken road
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Kirkland memorial
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Artillery on Lee's Hill
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Jackson's position on Prospect Hill
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View from Chatham Manor to Fredericksburg
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Pontoon bridge
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At the visitor center, I could build my own pontoon bridge. :D
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Upper pontoon site, Chatham Manor is visible across the river
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Kenmore Confederate Cemetery
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#6
Lu is being modest. She scored a lot of hits on a plastic 5 gallon paint bucket at 30 yards using an .58 caliber 1863 Remington Zouave. Quite impressive given that she had never fired any kind of gun before. One could definitely count on her to cover your right flank if you ever found yourself in a skirmish with some Yankees : )
 

Pat Young

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View attachment 312773

I'm currently touring through Virginia, hitting quite a few of the major battlefields (and then some more :D) and want to share my experience with you. It's the first time I'm visiting these battlefields, and two days into the tour I can say: Nothing beats walking the ground where those battles happened.

So, day 1 started at Manassas. I hit the visitor center in the morning, and then had a ranger guided walking tour across Henry Hill. Everything she said I had read about before, but it was quite revealing to actually see the artillery positions of Jackson's line and Rickett's battery on the land.

Around noon, I did another walking tour along the Deep Cut (2nd Manassas), where Porter led the attack on Day 3 but was pushed back by Longstreet's advance. One of the group told us that he had three ancestors at that spot - one in the Louisiana regiment at the embankment that got into a boulder fight with the Union soldiers on the other side of the embankments, one ancestor that fought in one of the Union regiments in Porter's command that advanced up the hill to the Deep Cut position, and another Union ancestor in (I think) a Michigan regiment somewhere further down the Union line.

After the ranger tour I hiked the Deep Cut trail. It was a nice change to stand in the shade of the woods for a moment. :D It was a warm day, albeit quite windy on the hills. Anyway, the trail somehow suddenly ended after I crossed a little stream. In front of me was nothing but stomach-high foliage and the hill on which Longstreet's and Jackson's reserve artillery were posted during Porter's attack. Unwilling to go back the way I had come, I hiked cross country and felt like a soldier that had to make his way through unmowed terrain.

I visited Sudley Springs, Matthew Hill, the Stone Bridge and Chinn Ridge before calling it a day at Manassas. Here are some of my pictures:

Henry Hill, Union artillery
View attachment 312774

Henry Hill, Confederate artillery, Jackson's position
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The Deep Cut
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My view from the reserve artillery's position during my lost-trail-cross-country hike
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Matthew's Hill
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Sudley Springs
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The Stone Bridge
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So what did I learn that day? I had always thought that immediately after the stone bridge, the ground rose to the ridge on which the Confederates contested the Union crossing. When walking the land, however, it went on straight quite a bit before rising to the hill. That surprised me.
Nice photos
 



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