The following information and photos have been extracted with permission from NPS publication History Through Eyes of Stone: A Survey of Civil War Monuments in the Vicinity of Fredericksburg, Virginia written by Donald C. Pfanz February 1983, Revised September 2006.
Lee-to-the Rear Stone
The Lee-to-the-Rear Stone was erected by local residents in or before September 1891. Writing to the Richmond Times on September 10th of that year, a Wilderness resident described how Confederate veterans, with the assistance of their children and grandchildren, erected the boulder in a shaded “grove of oak and hickory, pine and cedar in Tapp’s old field….” To prevent the rock from falling over, they buttressed it with quartz stones taken from earthworks nearby. The residents had found the boulder along the Orange Turnpike, near the works defended by Ewell’s corps, and had carried it to the Orange Plank Road. They erected it “in commemoration of their [sic] heroism and devotion to General Lee shown by the Texas brigade….” There is no mention of any dedication ceremony having been performed. James Horace Lacy owned the lot on which the monument rests. Lacy originally intended to donate the 0.76-acre triangular parcel to the Ladies Southern Memorial Society, but it appears that he donated it to the Society for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities instead.
In coming years, many Confederate veterans visited the monument, some of whom vividly, if not accurately, recalled the Lee-to-the-rear incident. Incredibly, some even remembered the stone marker. One soldier went so far as to claim that the Texans themselves were responsible for the memorial, having paused to erect it before charging into battle!
Over the years the Lee-to-the-Rear Stone fell over and settled comfortably into the ground. As other, more formal monuments took its place, the boulder was forgotten. Outside of a few historians, it is still forgotten even to this day.
The 1891 Richmond Times article gives the following short, yet precise, description of the stone’s location: “It is beautifully shaded in a grove of oak and hickory, pine and cedar in Tapp’s old field, and is sixty feet north of the Orange plank-road, and eighty feet in rear of the Confederate breastworks to the east.” The author added that the stone was surrounded by the open graves of approximately 40 Texans who died during the battle, whose remains had been removed to the Confederate cemetery in Fredericksburg. The boulder and the graves that surround it are still visible today.
This monument in the Wilderness was one of eleven such markers raised between the years 1963 and 1965 by the Texas State Civil War Centennial Commission to honor Texans who fought in the Civil War. The other ten memorials, each identical in size and design, can be found at Antietam, Bentonville, Chickamauga, Fort Donelson, Gettysburg, Kennesaw Mountain, Mansfield, Pea Ridge, and Shiloh. In addition, one such marker was erected at Anthony, Texas, to commemorate the Arizona-New Mexico Campaign.
Each of the monuments was made by Strasswender Marble and Granite Works of Austin, Texas, at a cost of approximately one thousand dollars. The Wilderness memorial was erected sometime between June 1963 and September 1964 by Carroll Memorials of Fredericksburg. Colonel Harold Simpson, director of Hill Junior College History Complex in Hillsboro, Texas, furnished the inscription. Simpson was a member of the Centennial Commission and an expert on the Texas Brigade. According to Colonel Simpson, there was no dedication ceremony.
The monument is approximately 50 feet north of the Plank Road (Route 621) and 75 feet east of the Tapp Farm clearing.
On June 2, 1905, the 63rd Pennsylvania Regimental Association arrived in Fredericksburg aboard a special train to dedicate a monument its former commander, General Alexander Hays. The veterans and their guests, numbering 200 people, arrived in the evening and stayed at the Exchange Hotel. The following day, at 9 a.m., they started for the Wilderness, led by the general’s son, Gilbert A. Hays. Only once did the group pause in its journey. At the “Stonewall” Jackson Monument it made a brief stop to pay homage to the Confederate general. As the group gathered in front of the monument, General Hays’ former aide, Captain David Shields, placed an ivy wreath at the foot of the monument and gave a short speech. A Grand Army of the Republic quartet then performed the song “The Soldier Boys of the Sixties,” after which Captain Andrew Williams made a few remarks.
The group then proceeded on to the Wilderness Battlefield, where they found the monument to General Hays draped in a large American flag. At noon, the program commenced. Civil War veterans and their sons took position on one side of the monument, while the ladies and other guests stood across from them, on the other side. Captain Shields acted as master-of-ceremonies for the occasion. He opened the program by introducing the Reverend John H. Light, who “beseeched divine blessing for the movement to heal the wounds of war.” Confederate Major W. S. Embrey, who owned the land on which the monument had been built, then presented title of the land to Captain Williams, who accepted it on behalf of the 63rd Pennsylvania Regimental Association.
That set the stage for the day’s keynote address, delivered by the Reverend Nathan L. Brown of Leechburg, Pennsylvania. When he had finished speaking, General Hays’s eldest son, Alden F. Hays, pulled away the flag to reveal the monument and Dr. Thomas Calver read an original poem entitled “Alexander Hays.”
The ceremony ended with remarks by a local Confederate veteran, Judge John T. Goolrick. A perennial speaker at such occasions, Goolrick spoke out against Southerners who continued to fan the smoldering embers of sectional animosity. “Let me assure you further,” thundered the former private, “that when you hear a southern man berating the northern soldier, you hear the words of a liar and a cheat. The bitterness after the war came from those who became soldiers only after the war was over, and the southerner who would kill all the Yankees now never hurt one in the sixties.” Goolrick pledged that Southern people, especially Confederate veterans and their sons, would protect the new monument and decorate every Memorial Day.
The crowd then dispersed for lunch while the quartet sang the tune, “Tenting on the Old Camp Ground.” At luncheon tent sponsored by the ladies of the Spotsylvania Confederate Memorial Association, the veterans and their guests found a wide selection of delicacies including chicken, ham, beef, lamb, assorted vegetables, and pies. The sale of these items benefited the Confederate Cemetery Fund. In rushing for the tent, one old Yankee was heard to shout, “Hooray boys; let’s see if the Johnny girls will feed us better than they did forty years ago!” Evidently they did, for the women raised more than one thousand dollars for the Confederate Cemetery Fund that day.
The Alexander Hays Memorial stands on the west side of the Brock Road, 1,300 feet north of the Plank Road intersection. The monument does not mark the actual location of Hays’s death, which took place in the woods some distance to the west. The monument has never been moved. Fidelity Trust Company acted as the 63rd Pennsylvania Regimental Association’s trustee. In 1959, it deeded the 0.6-acre parcel of land on which the Hays Memorial rests to the National Park Service.
As early as 1888, veterans of the First Corps proposed erecting a monument to General Wadsworth. The veterans suggested putting the monument at one of three places: in Washington, D.C.; at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania; or in the Wilderness. After consultations with the family, the veterans chose to place the monument in Washington, however they also expressed their intention of purchasing a tract of land in the Wilderness, where the general received his mortal wound, and erected a second memorial there. There is no evidence that this was done.
The current memorial was erected instead by the general’s grandson and namesake. Congressman James Wadsworth visited to the Wilderness Battlefield in March 1936 and found a NPS sign describing the general’s demise. Unsatisfied with this marker, Wadsworth proposed to erect a monument at his own expense and requested that the National Park Service and the War Department determine his ancestor’s place of wounding. The subsequent report, done by Historian Edward Steere, concluded that the National Park Service marker was “somewhat misplaced,” the site of the general’s fall being just north of the Plank Road, approximately 200 to 440 yards east of the Hill-Ewell Drive intersection, a spot then outside the park boundary.
Superintendent Branch Spalding expressed concern about the monument being placed on private land and tried to persuade Congressman Wadsworth to place it within park boundary. His plea fell on deaf ears, however, and Wadsworth erected the marker late in 1936. (Judging from correspondence between the park and Congressman Wadsworth, the monument was raised sometime between September 24, 1936, and January 8, 1937.)
Soon thereafter the Congressman contacted the park about accepting the memorial and the 50 square feet of land around it as a donation. Spalding was upset by this proposal and put his objections in writing to A. N. Demaray, who was then the agency’s acting director, stating: “…the Congressman and his sister erected the monument on an inadequate plot of land 109 yards from Park property on a public highway (State 621) against our advice, and now wishes us to take over the responsibility of its maintenance.” Spalding feared that a small, isolated parcel of land beside a state highway would become a problem if not protected from future development. By 1940, the prospective donation of surrounding lands overcame Spaulding’s objections and the land transfer was completed. The land was officially deeded to Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County National Military Park on April 28, 1941, by Congressman Wadsworth’s sister, Harriet There was no dedication ceremony.
According to Steere’s study, General Wadsworth received his mortal wound a few yards north of the Plank Road, between 200 and 440 yards east of present day Hill-Ewell Drive. On the strength of Steere’s findings, Congressman Wadsworth bought a 0.06-acre tract of land south of and adjacent to the Orange Plank Road. The western edge of the property was 485 feet east of Hill-Ewell Drive, and the western edge was 535 feet east of the park road. On this land he erected the memorial. The monument is thus slightly west of the wounding site as determined by Steere. The monument has never been moved.
12th New Jersey Monument
The establishment of a monument to the 12th New Jersey Volunteers is a story of hope, misunderstanding, and ultimately disappointment. The story revolves around Alvin S. Crispin of Woodstown, New Jersey. For more than two decades Mr. Crispin had endeavored to commemorate the service of the 12th New Jersey Volunteers, a unit raised in his county and in which his ancestor had fought. Securing local support for the project, Crispin and three others called on Superintendent Branch Spalding on July 5, 1939, to propose erecting a monument to the regiment on one of the area battlefields. Spalding suggested that they get the New Jersey state legislature to buy a plot of land for the monument and then donate both the land and the monument to the park. Crispin enthusiastically supported the idea, and upon returning to New Jersey he put his political connections to work. His most influential contact was the President of the New Jersey Senate, Robert C. Hendrickson, who included the project in a 1940 appropriations bill. On December 10th Crispin wrote Spalding: “It gives me great pleasure indeed after twenty-two years effort on my part to inform you that Senate Bill #350 namely Chancellorsville Memorial passed the Senate last night….Seventeen voted yes and the other four were to [sic] busy talking to pay any attention to just what was going on.” The senate appropriated 700 dollars for the project.
The actual site for the marker still remained up in the air. Wishing to increase the park’s holdings as much as possible, Spaulding suggested that Crispin purchase 20 acres of land on the Wilderness Battlefield at a cost of 20 dollars per acre. By contrast, Crispin wished to erect a monument at Chancellorsville, on five acres of land that he could purchase at a cost of 100 dollars per acre. Spaulding acquiesced to Crispin’s wishes and arranged for the purchase the Chancellorsville plot only to learn three months later that New Jersey’s adjutant general had chosen to buy 25 acres in the Wilderness instead.
The memorial’s design also remained unsettled for a time. Initially proposing an upright bronze marker, the New Jersey monument committee later decided on a marker resembling the. MOLLUS Monument at Spotsylvania. It finally settled on a bronze marker affixed to a boulder.
Mr. Crispin planned the ceremony by himself. Although he anticipated that just three dozen New Jersey citizens would attend the ceremony, he organized an elaborate itinerary that included stops on the Fredericksburg, Salem Church, and Chancellorsville Battlefields, not to mention the ceremony at the monument itself. He scheduled the exercises for Memorial Day, May 30, 1942. Less than 10 days before that date, however, Park Superintendent Edward A. Hummel received a letter from Crispin stating that the ceremony had been indefinitely postponed. America had just entered World War II and members of the Board of Freeholders, (many of whom were up for re-election) felt it would look unpatriotic to take a “joy ride” when gas rationing was in effect. Crispin expressed the hope that a ceremony could be held following the war. It never was.
The monument stands at the southwest corner of the Brock-Plank Road intersection near the log works recaptured by the men of the 12th New Jersey Volunteers on May 6, 1864. The monument originally stood 10 feet south of the Plank Road and 100 feet west of the Brock Road. It and its accompanying rededication stone were moved back from the road approximately ten feet in 2007 after the National Park Service redesigned the tour stop at that location.
The modest stone monument marking the approximate site of Nance’s demise was erected by two 3rd South Carolina veterans, Sergeant W. G. Peterson and Captain Thomas H. Pitts. The two men set the marker on August 16, 1912, with the assistance of local residents S. H. Beale and J. H. Davis. The party drove out to the Wilderness Battlefield in Mr. R. G. Hilldrup’s automobile. The fact that Peterson and Hill erected the monument suggests that it was sponsored by a South Carolina veterans’ association.
The Nance Memorial stands along the south side of the Plank Road (Route 621), approximately halfway between the Tapp Farm clearing and the road’s intersection with Hill-Ewell Drive.
140th New York Monument
Members of the 140th New York Volunteer Infantry reenactment group met at Saunders Field on May 7, 1989, to dedicate the monument. The program began with the presentation of the colors. Superintendent James R. Zinck then welcomed the crowd and introduced the day’s speakers: R. Lindsay Gordon III, Chairman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors; Norman L. Jones, Chairman of 140th New York Volunteer Infantry Monument Committee; and Brian Bennett, a member of the unit. Bennett offered a brief history of the 140th New York.
Following these remarks, dignitaries unveiled the monument, after which members of the regiment came forward with a wreath; and Ben Maryniak, the regimental chaplain, offered a benediction. The Rappahannock Brass then played “Taps” to bring the ceremony to a close.
The monument stands in Saunders Field, on the north side of Route 20, approximately 50 feet west-northwest of the Wilderness Exhibit Shelter parking lot.
Vermont Brigade Monument
The idea to erect a monument to the Vermont Brigade Monument came from Howard Coffin, the former press secretary to United State Senator James Jeffords. Coffin had written a history of the brigade and wished to commemorate its sacrifice in the Wilderness. Working through Senator Jeffords, Coffin secured a 200,000-dollar appropriation from the United States Government to be used to create an interpretive trail, signs, parking, and access at the site. The State of Vermont paid the Rock of Ages Company 40,000 dollars to create the monument and gave the National Park Service 6,000 dollars to install it.
Dedication of the monument took place on September 16, 2006 under a 40 foot by 40 foot tent. The ceremony opened with the presentation of the colors by the Vermont National Guard. A local band called Evergreen Shade played the National Anthem as the colors were brought in. Park Superintendent Russell P. Smith then welcomed the assembly and introduced some of the guests. Former Fredericksburg superintendent Sandy Rives spoke for a few minutes about preservation of the Wilderness Battlefield, after which Howard Coffin described the Vermont Brigade’s sacrifice there. Superintendent Smith then thanked Senator Jim Jeffords for his efforts in preserving the ground.
Vermont’s Secretary of Administration Michael K. Smith formally presented the monument to the National Park Service on behalf of the state. Sandy Rives accepted the monument. Flanked by the speakers, Senator Jeffords then removed the Vermont State flag that had covered the monument. As the assembly of 125 people grew quiet, a bugler from the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps out of Fort Myers, Virginia, sounded “Taps.” Superintendent Smith then dismissed the assembly, inviting everyone to an outdoor reception at Ellwood. While many accepted the offer, others remained at the monument site to take part in walking tours offered by National Park Service historians John J. Hennessy and Daniel Davis.
The Vermont Brigade Monument stands in the woods south of the Orange Plank Road, approximately 200 yards southwest of the Brock Road/Plank Road intersection. The 39,000-pound memorial is made of granite taken from a quarry at Barre, Vermont. It is 4’0” x 8’0 x 2’6” in size and rests on a rectangular plinth measuring 1’0” x 9”0 x 3’6”. Surmounting the memorial is two-foot-tall relief of Camel’s Hump, a prominent Vermont mountain, which brings the total height of the monument to exactly seven feet.
Arm of Jackson
Ten stone monuments mark sites relating to Lee and his generals at the four Fredericksburg-area battlefields. The stone blocks were placed by a former member of General “Stonewall” Jackson’s staff, Lieutenant James Power Smith. One of these stones marks the burial site of “Stonewall” Jackson’s amputated left arm.
On the evening of May 2, 1863, while returning from a reconnaissance, General “Stonewall” was wounded by the mistaken fire of his own soldiers. One bullet pierced Jackson’s right hand; two others struck his left arm. Doctor Hunter McGuire removed the general’s wounded arm that night at a field hospital located at Wilderness Tavern. The next day, Jackson’s chaplain, Beverley Tucker Lacy, buried the limb in the cemetery of his brother’s home, “Ellwood,” which was only a short distance away.
The granite block marking the burial site of “Stonewall” Jackson’s left arm lies 200 east of Ellwood in the Jones family graveyard. A low post-and-rail fence encloses the area, which is distinguished by a small stand of cedar trees.