Monday, March 17, 2014

Advance Look at New Section of North Anna Battlefield Park - Official Opening May 24, 2014

     One of the most interesting Civil War landscapes in Virginia is, without a doubt, the North Anna Battlefield Park, in Hanover County. In the early 1990's, nearly 80 acres were set aside by a quarry company, containing most of the west face of General Lee's "Inverted V" trenchline, with its apex on a bluff overlooking Ox Ford. Here, just days after the culmination of the Spotsylvania Campaign, the Army of Northern Virginia had Grant and Meade's forces precariously straddling the North Anna, with three corps dangerously susceptible to piecemeal annihilation. Due to the ineptness of his lieutenants at the time, and suffering from a debilitating intestinal ailment, Lee was not able to take advantage of the situation and thus lost his last realistic opportunity for a southern victory in the war. 
     Now maintained by the Hanover County's Parks and Recreation Department, the park offers a finely interpreted trail system that follows along much of the old Ox Ford Road and sections of the Confederate trenches. With a grand opening on May 24, 2014, the new trails will cover ground north of the current park, following the advance and retreat routes of the hapless, Union General James H. Ledlie's 9th Corps Brigade, as well as an elaborate set of earthworks constructed by Samuel Crawford's Division of the 5th Corps. Your blog host took an advance look at the progress on March 11, 2014. 
     Looking northwest, down the first leg of the new path from current Stop 7. The little ravine and stream at center is where the 57th Massachusetts Infantry were pinned down prior to the push by the 12th Mississippi Infantry to sweep them from the field. Colonel Charles Chandler fell mortally wounded in this ravine, dying in Confederate hands later that evening. The Union forces began to fall back, up the slope seen in the distance.
     Looking  to the east, partway up the sloping retreat route of Ledlie's Brigade, back toward the section of ravine where the 56th Massachusetts were on the 57th's left flank. A new observation deck can be seen at left.
     Looking northeast, toward the construction of a massive bridge that will take visitors on an extensive trail system following 9th Corps advance and retreat routes, an observation point looking toward Fall's Mill, and a network of beautifully preserved entrenchments of Crawford's 5th Corps Division.
The new, 90 acre section, has more than doubled the total land now protected, up from 75 acres.
The trail leads to a nice view of the North Anna, looking toward the falls just north of Ox Ford.
Further upstream, on a high bluff, are the entrenched works of Crawford's Division of the 5th Corps.
Hanover County Parks and Rec. employees are busy blazing the new trail to have it ready for May.
     In early 1992, your blog host was a model for military artist, Donna Neary's work that became the official painting of the park, which was originally commissioned by the General Crushed Stone, the quarry company owning the land at the time. The four amigos are seen below, twenty-two years ago, the day all the reference photos were taken by Neary. Left to right are: John Cummings, Lee Trolan, Rick Hooker, and William Sumner. Trolan, Hooker and Sumner all went on to appear in the movie Gettysburg. Sumner played the distinctive role of the unnamed Confederate that kills General John Reynolds.

9 comments:

Russ said...

Looks nice, I look forward to getting out there. BTW: Been to the county park at Cold Harbor? Nice trails interesting stuff.

Marie said...

What is available for handicapped persons to view the battlefield? My great great grandfather owned that property and operated Jerico Mill. I need to be able to park and unload my scooter there. I am unable to ride a bus. Your help is appreciated. Marie Cunningham, 252 955 3263

John Cummings said...

Marie,

You should contact Hanover County to see what accommodations they have in place for handicapped persons. Here is a link with information on this event and a phone and email contact:http://www.hanovercounty.gov/News/County/May-24-North-Anna-Event-Details/

Marie said...

Bad news for me. Park service says it would be difficult for a handicappes person to take the path down to the river. Your pics are great and thanks for posting. This property belonged to my gg grandfather William Thomas Quarles therefore I'm a history lover especially the civil war. During his day this was Moss Side.

John Cummings said...

Marie,
I am very sorry you will not be able to come out on the 24th. Thank you so much for the information on your family's property. If you would please email me I would like to have further discussions with you regarding the history of the Quarles site. My email address is near the top of the blog page.

Anonymous said...

Are these new trails on the property purchase by the civil war trust a while back?

Bradley said...

Are comments here still added?

John Cummings said...

To answer a question, no, these trails are not on any of the property that the CWT is acquiring. This was all land donated by the quarry company neighboring the park.

John Cummings said...

Bradley, all comments go through moderation before publication. Sometimes they are not dealt with immediately due to scheduling.