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Spotsylvania, Chancellorsville, and Fredericksburg, VA

I found Spotsylvania to be an excellent location in the Washington D.C. area. It is in amongst several major civil war battlefields and close enough to scoot into D.C. for sightseeing as well. There is a wonderful private tour operator in Fredericksburg nearby who will pick you up right at your campground or motel. There is also every kind of food or shopping near there you could want not to mention a Walmart and TGI Fridays.

I stayed at The Wilderness/Presidential Resort. Because of everything just outside it, I won’t say I would never stay there again but it was the worst campground I have been in this trip. Oh it has tons of amenities you expect in a membership/timeshare park. It has 3 pools (1 indoors), a clubhouse, store, gymnasium, volleyball, baseball, lake with rental boats, full-time security gate and guards, cafe, etc. However, the office staff are not particularly friendly, it looks like a trailer park with people allowed to build on to their trailers, the camp site utilities are in the worst possible positions and in fact the sewer connection was unusable, and the neighbors were ridiculously noisy and callous. The electric and water required me to add extensions in order to reach them. The sewer connection was at the front of the site on the wrong side. The neighbor decided to blast me out of bed with his radio in the early evening while he had a campfire gathering. I called security and they were very nice about it. They came up immediately and got him to stop it. About a half an hour later though, someone new joined them and the radio went back on very loud until I called security again at 11:30pm.

Only .3 miles from the park, is Chancellorsville Battlefield and National Park. Their museum made me very sad because it concentrates on the men and boys and the families they left behind. It makes the war and brutality very personal. This is where Stonewall Jackson was fatally wounded. He was shot by his own men while returning to his own lines after reconnoitering the enemy. Another officer with him yelled to them to stop because they were not the enemy and someone with the shooters yelled that it was a trick and they should really let them have it. The man left behind a baby daughter he was crazy about and was General Robert E. Lee’s good friend and right hand. I believe his death changed what would happen 2 months later at Gettysburg. General Longstreet was also shot a year later by his own men though he survived the incident. Friendly fire was very common back then. Men were often shot by accident by the guys behind them in ranks.

Chancellorsville is not a place by the way. It is a house at a crossroads where 5 major roads met thus making it an important hub and guaranteeing both sides would run into each other. A mother and her daughters lived in the house. They survived the battles around them but the house was burned to the ground. Much of the bloodiest fighting of the war occurred in this area.

Fredericksburg is just down the road. You can see the stone wall road where confederates were able to mow down union troops coming in from the river. Houses there that were caught in the crossfire are still there and still have the numerous bullet holes. There is a monument to the angel of the battlefield, a confederate who during a lull in fighting went out onto the field to provide water to the wounded enemy laying there. There is also a national cemetery right there where many of the soldiers were buried. The markers which only show 2 numbers are for the unknown. The top number is the grave number and the bottom is how many are buried under it.

Before I left the area, I did get to do some geocaching to relax from the war. One took me to a historic site preserved next to a shopping mall. Most shoppers probably don’t even know it is there. 2 more took me to the Moss Reservoir where there are very well marked hiking trails, fishing, and boat rentals. If I lived in the area, I would probably be there most weekends. 2 more took me to an interesting hiking area. They weren’t very far in though it was interesting because at one point leaves obliterated the trail. I had to mark the end of the trail in my GPS for safety and then proceed very cautiously. My reward was a cache planted in the rusting fender of an upside-down 1950s car in the middle of the woods. No idea how it got there. It still has the rubber tires!

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