The beginning of May always means the start of battlefield season in Spotsylvania County. The anniversaries of the battles of Chancellorsville, the Wilderness, and Spotsylvania all took place in early May (in 1863 and 1864, respectively). The Civil War first came to Stevenson Ridge on May 9, 1864, and stayed for two weeks. During that time, three-quarters of the Union army moved across the property.
Ironically, the work I’ve been doing these days has focused on campaigns from November of 1863—a much colder, less hospitable time of year, even around here. I recently had the privilege of giving a bus tour for the Central Virginia Battlefields Trust of the “forgotten” battlefield at Mine Run along Route 20 near Locust Grove in Orange County. I’ve also been editing a book by historian Dave Powell on the battle of Chattanooga, The Battle Above the Clouds, written for our Emerging Civil War Series.
But battlefield season calls, and I’ll be out in the field a lot over the next few weeks as the calendar of events once more recalls the events of 1863 and 1864. It’s a great reason to spend some time outside!