Lee’s troops across the Rappahannock River in late 1862. Whilst it took him a month to organize boats and bridges to cross the river, Lee had time to greatly strengthen his position on the Fredericksburg side of the river. Eventually, three pontoon bridges were set in place to ferry the Union army across. Then, wave after wave of men in Blue were hurdled against a strong Southern position along the Sunken Road and Prospect Hill, in two separate attempts to break the Confederate line. One of those assaults included the famed Irish Brigade, made up in large part by immigrants from The Emerald Isle. The Irish Brigade crossed the river at the middle pontoon site and they disembarked near the witness maple tree. Most interestingly, once on the enemy side of the river, they placed green sprigs of boxwood in their hats in remembrance of their heritage before they changed the famous, well defended, stonewall.
It was first constructed to ship iron ore and farm commodities in Spotsylvania and Stafford counties to other parts of Colonial America. It is also the site where Augustin Washington, father of our first President, moved his family from rule Westmoreland in 1738. There, Augustin produced iron ore, tobacco and other commodities, ran a ferry service across the river and where his son, George, learned to survey.
Also, of note is the fact that the leader of the Brigade was General Francis Thomas Meagher who led a rebellion in Ireland in 1848 against English rule. He was captured, sentenced to death and eventually given free transportation to Tasmania for life as a prisoner. He escaped, and made his way to New York where he helped raise the Irish Brigade to fight in the US Civil War. After huge loss of life at Fredericksburg, he resigned. In 1867 he was appointed as Montana's Territorial Secretary of State (first Governor) and he died at Fort Benton in a way that is still a mystery.
(a silver maple) sets on a knoll overlooking the middle pontoon site, and the Irish Brigade monument. It is where sprigs of boxwood were plucked and placed in the kepis of these brave soldiers. The tree is 60 inches in diameter and is estimated to be about 180 years old.
One at Antietam, Md., in Sept., 1862, and the other at Fredericksburg, Va., in mid Dec, 1862. In the case of Fredericksburg, newly appointed Union General Burnside was to be in charge of the army of the Potomac to march south from Fredericksburg to take Richmond since both the McDowell and McClellan ventures to do the same had failed in 1961 and earlier in 1862. After making some progress in moving into the town proper Burnside then had to face the strong Confederate position to the west of town. Confederate General James Longstreet’s First Corps occupied a series of five hills to the west of the town collectively known as Marye’s Heights and below it were some 900-yards of open fields rising up from the town near the river’s edge. The Union attacked from its strong position from within the town itself. Thus, after exiting the town, Federal troops would lack significant cover as they would try to assault the enemy position on Marye’s heights.
Union General Sumner initiated repeated attacks on the Confederate lines. The main line at the base of Marye’s heights was a sunken road about a mile long with a stone fence facing the Union attackers. The Southern defenders beat back assault after assault. By the end of the day, elements of the Union II, III, V, and IX Corps slammed into Longstreet's line. Not one attacker touched the stonewall, and not one entered the Sunken Road. In total, seven Union divisions made 14 separate, fruitless charges against the sunken road. Nearly 1-in-3 Federal soldiers became a casualty in the Marye's Heights sector on December 13. The angel of the battlefield emerged in the form of a Confederate Sergeant Richard Kirkland who independently carried water to the wounded Union soldiers throughout the night of Dec, 13th His statue stands in memory of his brave and selfless acts during this battle. Also, on the night of Dec. 14th as General Lee looked over the battlefield with its dead and wounded soldiers, the sky was alit with an enormous display of the aurora borealis, a totally rare event.
now stands a willow oak tree that is over 250 years old. Mr. Dennis Gallahan, of Spotsylvania, Va., found that it had dropped some dead limb material and from it a pen was made and it pictured on this entry. A war time drawing of the CS troops behind the Sunken Road shows this massive tree at the far end of the road. Interestingly, a tree appears at the exact same location as the willow oak that is a witness of the events that transpired during the Battle of Fredericksburg. The photo is an independent corroboration of the fact that this willow oak is a witness tree. UPDATE. This Tree is due to be removed soon and we hope more wood is saved.
the Peninsula campaign to take Richmond, after the Union
failure at Manassas, in the summer of 1861. The Peninsula campaign plan had the Federals landing at Fortress Monroe and then moving north to Richmond in the spring of 1862. By the time he was in the vicinity of Richmond he was met at the battle of Seven Pines by a strong confederate force led by General Joe Johnston on May 31, 1862. It was a bloody battle and by the end of the day both shot and shell had entered the Confederate leader’s body.
General Lee to lead the army of Northern Virginia.
By June 24 th , Lee had developed a strategy to defend Richmond and the outcome became known as the 7 days battle. There were a series of battles at places such as Gaines Mill,Golding farm, Savage Station, Glendale and ultimately Malvern Hill. Eventually, as the overall location of the battlefields moved mostly away from Richmond, it became
obvious that the Union General was directing his troops to Harrison Landing on the James River. Thus, while the Army of the Potomac won the battle of Malvern Hill, it only allowed for their speedy exit entirely from Virginia.
was located exactly near to the long union line of artillery that was so effectively used against Lee’s on coming troops. The original house was eventually destroyed but a restored house placed on to the original foundation. A massive sycamore
tree with a unique spreading limbs grows near the homestead. A dead limb from the tree
was used to make the pen shown here.
of mid-1862 resulted in many named conflicts in his approach to Richmond. When General Lee replaced wounded General Johnston at the battle of 7 Pines, eventually his strategy was to hit the federals in a concerted effort from a number of directions. For instance, after the encounter at Mechanicsville, Lee’s forces united in an all- out assault against the federals at Gaines Mill. At least 62,000 men were involved making it the largest Confederate unified movement in the entire war. Also, it was one of only a few cases in which the Confederate forces outnumbered the Union by at least 2:1.
It was also the case, quite unlike any other during the entire war, there was balloon recognizance being conducted on both sides. The battle at Gaines' Mill began a series of rearguard actions as Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan moved his army to the James River and the encounters have become known as the “7 days battles” lasting from June 25 until July 1, 1862.
was built is 1820 and served as Union General Fitz John Porter's headquarters during the Gaines Mill battle. There is short trail beginning near the house and parking area leads to the site where Confederate troops broke through the line and precipitated the Union withdrawal. The house is surrounded by a number of trees and two of which are Eastern red cedar. These trees, based on an evaluation of their growth rings have grown very slowly. Their age is estimated to be around 175 years. A dead limb was found that had fallen from the tree on the left and it was made into a delightfully beautiful dark red pen in the photo.