Google Earth of Dole’s Salient

obstructions in front of the Stonewall

The dark Yellow line is the ditch in front of Dole’s and the left of the Stonewall after May 10.

After Upton was repulsed on the evening of May 10, Lee ordered Gen. Ewell to have a ditch dug in front of that section of line. That ditch, 417 feet in length, and a parapet in front of the left regiments of the Stonewall Brigade is shown as a dark yellow line.

Its interesting to speculate whether the obstructions would have been effective in the event of another attack. However the Federals chose to attack at the East Angle on the 12th.


About Russ

Avid student of military history as well as amateur historian. Has a keen interest in archaeology. Founded his company in 2004.
This entry was posted in Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse, Doles Salient, Earthworks and trenchs, field fortifications, Upton's Charge and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Google Earth of Dole’s Salient

  1. Larry G says:

    that whole area on the right side is basically a swamp. Even in dry weather..there is water there.
    up in the woods in front of the ditch there is wetness and it flows towards the salient – past it and becomes the small creek that goes down beside the maintenance shed and eventually crosses the road into another swamp and then across the road again into yet another swamp that then flows into the Ni River.

    I’d bet when NPS put that road in they had to put stone base down to support the road but if that second trench line was dug.. in May… it probably was wet….

    Was that area open field or woods during the time of the battle?


    • Russ says:

      The area you are describing, the area below the McCoull spring is somewhat different now than during the war. Beavers have created dams which has caused flooding and changed the look. Regardless there definitely was a watercourse there at the time of the battle. Many accounts mention it, both the artillery which had to cross it, as well as infantrymen from Gordon’s division that counterattacked across it. Below the house site the difficulty is steep banks, not the size of the stream.

      The old folks used to call this time in May, “the long spell in May”. Basically the last rainy spell before entering summer. I think you can see by various diaries that there were several rainy days which affected Grants plans a considerable amount. On the flip side, there are accounts of drinking water being scarce.
      What I was trying to show in this post were the obstructions that were placed in front of Doles Salient after Upton’s assault. There was a neck of woods that ran toward the Confederate lines to the left of the current park road and Doles Salient. I can imagine it being a continuation of the area behind the line today. A detail of ax men went out in noman’s land on the night of May 10 amd cut them down. They were added to the abatis. That mounded dirt in front of the Stonewall MAY have been throw up to support the abatis.

      I went out and took some pictures which I geotagged of the positions of the Richmond Howitzers gun positions. When I get well, and can figure out how to depict them properly I will post them.

      As to the stone, there is what appears to be a quarry, CCC era, just behind Dole’s Salient. Did this provide stone for the road bed, I cant say. It appears to have provided stones to support culverts under the road, etc.



    • Russ says:

      Perhaps I misread your comment originally. (I’ll blame the fever) But yes while water does collect in front of the second line, below the area I was looking at I think this is primarily the result of the culvert there. As I’ve said to John Hennessey eventually that will eradicate all the remaining positions in that area.
      Drainage from the various slopes also runs down into the stream you mentioned.

      BUT, the key wartime feature here is the McCoull Spring. Well documented during the battle it was capped by the NPS many years ago.That stream was a rallying point for the Confederate walking wounded. At least one account has one of them, meeting a group of senoir officers at the spring, being told to “follow the stream to the road, then follow the road”. Evidently this would lead them to the hospital.

      Hope this is a more satisfactory answer.


      • Larry G says:

        Russ – filling in more blanks for me…thanks!

        snow over there today…


      • Russ says:

        Mostly the snow is gone here. I am going to try any finish this article “The Face of the Mule Shoe” Which is about how it came to be some of its strengths and weaknesses. If I dont just stop I will never get to a stopping point. Then I need to get some pictures. Not much wartime, and the postwar stuff isnt location specific enough. Oh, well.

        But was my answer this AM more to what you were talking about?


      • Larry G says:

        Russ.. I pretty much learn something new every time you add info to the discussion. True.!



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