Finishing up at the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, W- and I next headed to The Battle of the Wilderness, which is just a 20min drive away and part of the same Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. The Battle of the Wilderness actually took place a couple of days before The Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, but like I said before, W- and I planned this trip geographically, not chronologically.
I was confused by the name “The Wilderness” at first because the driving tour took us through fields and woods, but there didn’t appear to be anything near as dramatic as the word “wilderness” suggests. However, one of the information exhibits explained that the original trees had been cut down as part of the iron ore processing nearby. So when the Union and Confederate troops arrived on May 4, 1864, they were greeted with an incredibly dense layer of shrubs and rough terrain, which made normal maneuvering practically impossible and resulted in heavy casualties.
W- and I drove through The Wilderness Battlefield relatively quickly (just not enough hours in the day), but we did stop at Tapp Field. On May 6th, the Confederate troops were being pushed back by Union forces, when the Texas Brigade, one of Confederate General Longstreet’s divisions, came to the rescue. General Robert E. Lee attempted to ride up to the front to personally lead the troops into battle, but he was forced to turn around when the Texans started shouting “Lee to the rear!” in an attempt to protect their leader. It’s become a relatively famous snippet of the American Civil War.