Upon leaving the Stonewall Jackson Shrine, W- and I went forward in time a bit to May 1864 by next visiting the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, also a part of the Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park.
Prior to this trip, I head never heard of Spotsylvania before, but it turns out it was the second battle of the Union’s General Grant’s 1864 Overland Campaign (the first being the Battle of the Wilderness). In order to see as much as possible, we took the driving tour and followed along with the map we obtained at the start. We did, however, get out at a few of the stops and walk around.
I’ve always mentally associated trench warfare with World War I, but it turns out American Civil War soldiers also built and fought in earthworks, some of which you can still sort of see today despite having somewhat sunk back into the ground (it helps that there are informational signs pointing out man-made earthworks versus natural terrain).
The most walking W- and I did at the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House was at the location of the Bloody Angle, which was a particularly gory part of the overall battle on May 12th with approximately 17,000 casualties. The Bloody Angle is what it sounds like – the Confederate lines connected at an almost 90 degree angle, which was disadvantageous due to the dangers of crossfire. Union troops initially broke through, but Confederate forces were eventually able to repel them.