I love my drive to this battlefield from Charlottesville. It carries me through Orange along Route 20, which traverses one of the roads that Lee's army took from its winter camps around Orange to confront the Army of the Potomac in the brambles of the Wilderness in early May, 1864. Route 20 also passes through the contested ground of Meade's aborted Mine Run campaign of November/December 1863.
|The Federal Line Trail. Source: National Park Service Trail Brochure.|
|Confederate earthworks along the start of the start of the trail.|
|Snow-covered earthworks of the Union 5th Corps.|
|If you look closely you can see the half-moon shape of a lunette fortification here, built to protect an artillery piece supporting Warren's battle line.|
|The descent into the Wilderness Run Valley.|
|Modern footbridge over Wilderness Run, supported by stone abutments from an older structure.|
|Here the park land runs close up to housing development.|
I made two quick stops at Auto Tour stops 4 & 5, the Higgerson and Chewning Farms, both of which have fairly short paths that get you out of your car. Standing in the clearing on the Chewning Farm, you begin to contemplate the possibilities that may have existed had the 5th Corps maintained its hold on this vital position on May 5th. The commander of the division that took control of this farm was General Samuel W. Crawford. Assisted by Warren's aide Washington Roebling, Crawford argued unsuccessfully against orders to abandon the cleared heights. A more concerted effort to reinforce Crawford and hold the Chewning Farm perhaps could have permanently split the two wings of Lee's army, allowing the Army of the Potomac to deal with each in turn. It is up to debate however, whether such an opportunity truly existed.
|Looking north from the Chewning Farm clearing toward the Turnpike.|
|Looking back across Saunders Field from the Confederate perspective. The small white monument in the center-left distance is a memorial honoring the 140th New York.|