A Note about the Leaves Gallery

Looking along the line of the West Angle from left to right. Note the round marker for the large oak tree which was shot down.

Looking along the line of the West Angle from left to right. Note the round marker for the large oak tree which was shot down.

It has been a pleasant surprise to see the interest in my photos of the positions in and around the salient. In fact some have requested that there be more information provided for each as well as a map location.

So, it is my intention, that after the leaves fall we go back out, take more pictures, record the GPS location, direction of orientation etc. Then we should be able to tie all of that together as well as add some more things.

So please be patient, we will provide it but we must wait for Mother Nature to strip the leaves from the trees.

Thanks for your support.

About Russ

Avid student of military history as well as amateur historian. Has a keen interest in archaeology. Founded his company Roadraceparts.com in 2004.
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12 Responses to A Note about the Leaves Gallery

  1. Larry G says:

    Awesome! Some of your provided maps have already been a tremendous help in better understanding the geography and history – and MUCH appreciated!

    đŸ™‚

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    • Russ says:

      Larry, you are quite welcome as I imagine is apparent this subject is a passion of mine. Once we finish with the artillery behind the West Angle I plan on moving up along the line to Dole’s Salient. There is so much here to talk about that it will probably never be done.

      As a sidenote: Years ago, say 96-99 somewhere in there, I found some faint traces of positions along the then wood line below Dole’s Salient. Going back this time I haven’t found them. Dont know if the woodline has moved, or my memory isn’t what I hope it to be.

      Russ

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      • Larry G says:

        Russ – I am pretty much an ignorant lay person when it comes to the Civil War. My appreciation of the Spotsylvania Battlefield is a combination of recognizing the significant history and horror of those days and it’s now peaceful and well kept setting that keeps beckoning me to walk there.

        Even though I have a good understanding of the cardinal points on the compass when I hike it – I am often confused about how the pieces fit together. And of course when you say Dole’s Salient, I have no clue as to it’s significance and geography/proximity/sequence/etc.

        but I do much find myself wanting to put the pieces together. It appears to me that the entire battle took place in an effort by the Confederates to protect the Spotsy CH – and the willingness of the Union to not just slip sideways and keep on towards Richmond but to engage and damage the Confederate force – to decimate it so it would be of no further consequence or concern.

        I’m not much on books but I do listen and do find the Blog format easier to “digest” .

        and again, I much appreciate your efforts and your perspective and most of all your “passion”

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      • Russ says:

        Larry – I dare say you probably represent most people. Having walked it many times before it is a fascinating place. And that in and of itself is a fitting legacy to the efforts there.

        And it is a battle that is, despite its signifigance, one of the least understood. Of course in the broader sense it is about heroic charges and brave defense. It is the nuances, the effect of weather, topography, equipment, etc. that add the color to the canvas. Grant had dual goals, capturing Richmond and destroying Lee’s army as an effective fighting force, thus ending the rebellion. Achieving either goal would result in the accomplishment of the other. The technology of warfare in 1864 was such that the defender had a tremendous advantage (earthworks, rifled muskets, artillery which while ineffective as offensive weapons were devastating defensively) over the attacker. So if he could get between Lee and Richmond, Lee would have no choice but to attack him. That set the tenor for the entire campaign.

        Going forward perhaps I can do a better job of explaining some of these things without being too simplistic. But as a friend told me not long ago, the two most misunderstood battles on the East Coast were Spotsylvania and Cold Harbor.
        Thanks for your interest.
        Russ

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      • Larry G says:

        thank you… and please feel free to explain more any time it suits you as I much appreciate it.

        lcg

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      • Russ says:

        Larry
        I will be happy to answer any questions you, or anyone for that matter, may have. Feel free.
        Russ

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      • Larry G says:

        Russ – okay. How come some of the trenches are “stacked” ..i.e. there are multiple trenches as if they fell back dug new trenches (or moved forward and dug new ones) or over several days moved back and forth establishing new trench lines for changing conditions.

        The trench line just northwest of Gordon Drive – where Upton charged them (and I think took cannon)… just behind those trenches (southeast toward the CH)..there seem to be more parallel trench lines as if multiple trenches parallel to each other almost in redundant fashion.

        some of these parallel trenches are just yards from each other..others are 1/8, 1/4 mile….

        you can see them on this map: http://digitalcollections.baylor.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/tx-wotr/id/1095/rec/6

        moving back from Gordon drive to the McCoul House then the Harrison house and behind it.

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      • Russ says:

        Larry
        The Confederates built three main lines of works. The original line which is so obvious. What isnt obvious is that the line originally ran down toward the river for quite a ways, before being swung back at the insistence of the engineers.
        Gordon’s division was originally in the line which runs alongside the park road in front of the Harrison House and down to the creek. They abandoned it because of the enfilading fire by the Federals. It was used sporadically later,
        Finally there is lee’s final line which ties into the original line near the Brock Road, cuts off the base of the Salient and ties into the Third Corps line. This was an extremely strong line, as proven by the events of May 18.
        The short line perpendicular to the main line at Doles Salient, is called the reentrant line. It was the cornerstone of the defense that stopped the Federals from expanding the breech that way on the morning of May 12.
        The line behind Dole’s Salient was built very early on and was support for the weak line of Dole’s salient.
        Hope I’ve answered your question.

        Russ

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      • Larry G says:

        very good and thanks. I’ve walked the trenches in the woods..down to the river…. but in the fall/winter… the insect critters chew me up bad these days…in summer…

        I’ll be swinging by every time I see new posts via RSS.. thanks again.

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  2. Russ says:

    One of my fondest memories of Spotsy is back in Feb. GPS’ing those works that extend down to the river. It was about 70 degrees and my two blond cocker spaniels decided that it would be a great idea to lay down in the river and cool off.
    Luckily the wife wasn’t home so I didn’t have too much of a price to pay. And the net afternoon it snowed in Richmond where I live.
    Russ

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    • Larry G says:

      I realized that Dole’s Salient WAS the Upton charge.. though the small metal sign is gone now and replaced with 2 of the new signs one of which specifically mentions Dole’s Salient.

      I like the new signs but I was telling Hennesey that from a lay persons perspective – it is so hard to really understand the geographic timeline context. You can drive (or walk) from sign to sign but trying to put them together is a real task – that’s why I was hopeful at some point that a battlefield app for Spotsylvania would be done.

      I live just down the road next to Piney Branch (where it now flows into the Ni Reservoir) and I’m thinking that some of the Union may have come that way on their way to the Spotsy Battlefield….

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      • Russ says:

        Larry
        I can understand your frustration. It is a battle that lasted a long time and generally consisted of a series of thrusts by the Federals at various parts of the front, some simultaneously.
        I’m afraid I am not helping by going along the line of the Mule Shoe and presenting one piece at the time. But bare with me, we will be getting to Dole’s Salient.
        Two things stand out to me about Dole’s Salient. The excellent work by Lt. Randall MacKenzie, of the engineers, in selecting the spot for the attack, and secondly,the Confederate reaction to the attack the following day.
        I am in possession of a paper done in the EARLY 1900’s by a gentleman who would come south every year and explore the battlefields and visit with the land owners. In the paper he explains the wartime significance of all the farms and landmarks in the area.
        One more thing to add to the list of articles I suppose.

        Russ

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