My first stop of the day: Germanna Ford across the Rapidan River, where, on May 4th, 1864, U.S. Grant put the Army of the Potomac into motion. The Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, Petersburg and Appomattox would follow. Ever since I was a teen I've wanted to see this spot...
A nearby informational plaque. Into the Wilderness!
This rather Stonehenge-looking thing is a memorial to the German colonists who settled in the area in 1717 and gave the place its name (Germanna Ford).
There was a nearby visitor's center (it was closed) with this cool weathervane on top. I like weathervanes; especially symbolic ones. I have a great-great grandmother who came to America from Germany on a ship...
My next stop was here - the Cedar Mountain site. This plaque explains what went on.
There's nothing that says "Civil War" quite like a worm-rail fence, and this Cedar Mountain site has a doozy. This was once the main road into Culpeper. Behind me, the road leads to Orange, VA.
A view of Cedar Mountain from the old Culpeper-Orange road.
Battlefield map on a plaque. Note "You are here" at lower middle. That worm-rail road is the Culpeper-Orange Road.
I saw this in the Culpeper Museum and found it touching. Poor fellow... A Man with No Past..
Next stop: the so-called "Graffiti House" at Brandy Station, VA. Constructed in 1858, it was a hospital after the battle and now a clever and unique museum owned by the Brandy Station Foundation, who purchased it in 2002.
My favorite graffiti, on the wall of a second story room. Note the mule, and the W.C. Fields-looking guy behind the mule. The caption above his head says, "He smells a Rebel." Ha!
Another graffito. This looks like it might be a dancing woman or a woman very carefully walking through some mud. She is hiking her skirts up a bit; very risque for 1863. There are all sorts of soldier graffiti left to be revealed behind the walls - it just takes money and expert work to reveal them. Perhaps some day, say, Ted Turner will feel charitable.
The docent called this one, "The Sleeping Reb."
I was struck by how ancient this one looks; you might find something like this in a prehistoric cave in France, or some Bronze Age Greek site!
While not quite beating a sword into a plowshare, this is an example of a bayonet beaten into a hoe. Seen in the Graffiti House museum.
The story of the bayonet/hoe. Sgt. Bowman signed one of the walls.
The "Old Carolina Road" as seen from the Graffiti House. In the 1700's, this road went from Massachusetts to the Carolinas. It was originally an Indian trail. I quite enjoyed my visit to the Graffiti House at Brandy Station and highly recommend it.
A rather amateur informational display. Hansborough Ridge was one of the Brandy Station actions.
An interesting display of battlefield artifacts from one of the Brandy Station sites near Hansborough Ridge. (I've never seen the like.) These were all dug up in the adjoining field.
The Hansborough Ridge battlefield site. That hill on the left was used for signalling.
Fleetwood Hill, another one of the sites in the Brandy Station battle.
A map of the action at Fleetwood Hill. Lots of movement in a cavalry action!
This was at the Smithsonian. Another example of two minie balls colliding in mid-flight is on display at the museum at Petersburg, VA.