Referred to as the “Crossroads of the Civil War,” Spotsylvania County in central Virginia bore witness to some of the most intense fighting during the War Between the States. The nearby city of Fredericksburg and neighboring counties of Stafford, Orange and Caroline also hosted a myriad of historically significant events during America’s “Great Divide.”
Four major engagements took place in this region including the battles of Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Spotsylvania Court House and The Wilderness. Today the hallowed grounds that make up the Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park are the second largest of their kind in the country. In addition, the area remains home to many historic Civil War landmarks including Chatham Estate, Salem Church, the “Stonewall” Jackson Shrine and Ellwood Manor. Dozens of monuments and roadside markers dot the landscape and more than 200,000 tourists visit the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania region each year.
Similarly from 1861-1865 hundreds of thousands of troops on both sides of the conflict marched through, fought at, and camped in the woods and fields of Spotsylvania County and the surrounding area. The National Park Service christened the region as “The Bloodiest Landscape in North America” stating that over a four-year period, more than 85,000 men were wounded, and over 15,000 were killed. A number of exceptionally significant events also took place in the vicinity including the first clash between Union General Ulysses S. Grant and Confederate commander Gen. Robert E. Lee, as well as the first recorded skirmish between southern forces and U.S. Colored Troops.
“Campfires at the Crossroads” focuses specifically on the Confederate encampments that spread across Spotsylvania County and the adjoining regions during the course of the Civil War. By using the witnesses’ own testimonies and words taken directly from published memoirs, diary entries and letters home, readers will be able to take a glimpse into the day-to-day experiences of camp life for southern armies on campaign in the Old Dominion. Topics include camp duties, cooking, slaves and body servants, crimes and punishment, disease and dysentery, love letters, winter quarters, religious services, death notifications and more. The inclusion of rare photographs and illustrations compliment this collection of author narrative and archive transcripts.
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