Could it have been the Confederates that built the Line to the Landram House and beyond?



more of  Steuart’s refused right flank line which has been leveled. Note how here the ditch is on the exterior of the parapet. The fact that it was leveled speaks against it being Federal as the Federals did not abandon any ground here before they moved to the left. In addition there are no Confederate traverses beyond the point where this line bends away from the main line of works.

So against their better judgement the Confederates of Steuart’s brigade made at least some effort to level their existing line. How much of an effort? Like in most military units it probably depended on how much the company level officers made the men do. The refused line out about  135 yards from the apex is well leveled, and if there ever were traverses they do not remain. Closer into the apex there are substantial works and traverses still in existence. While possible that these were from later occupation by the Federals, I think it more likely that the Confederates made only a pretense of leveling them as their new line would have, as McHenry Howard said, have covered them with a enfilade fire.


A side view of the section of the line probably held by Jones’s brigade just to the left of the apex. The line that they initially held was along the left of the picture. Just to the right of the dog is the line they PROBABLY held after the line was adjusted to cover the high ground on the 9th. Note the degree of the slope. This would have helped provide cover from Federal batteries  in the “gallery” firing at the brigades along the west face of the salient. That may explain a lack of traverses along either line.


looking  Westward along the interior of Jones’s original line. This was probably built on the night of the 8th and early on the 9th. Artillery of Nelson’s battalion would have been near the pedestrian foot bridge spanning the works visible in the background.


View from the right center of Jones’s original line looking toward the Landram House. Notice that the line they built later is just visible ahead. This gives an idea of the dead ground that there  was from this line.

But this only covers a short section of the line running out to and beyond the Landram House. This heavily traversed line still exists in relatively good shape as it runs either just inside the wood line or through the woods.

NPS Historian Ralph Happel answered that question for us when he  was preparing the background information for the Spotsylvania base map in 1948.

“The north-south trench line running past the Landram House is Federal and should be shown as such, although both Duane and Michler show it as Confederate.  Hotchkiss,  the Confederate topographical engineer shows no trenches as Confederate outside the salient area. Furthermore, documentary evidence brings out the fact that this line was dug by Birney’s division of Hancock’s Federal Corps and occupied May 15-18. These troops faced West and then constituted the right of the Federal Army. The opposing forces had shifted South and east; no Federal line West of the Landram  House was then held , and the Confederates had abandoned the Mule Shoe.”

So there you have it. Like so many things about Spotsylvania its a bit more complex than it appears on the surface. And infinitely more interesting.



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 1864, American Civil War, artillery in the Overland Campaign, Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse, Battle of the Muleshoe, Bloody Angle, Earthworks and trenchs, field fortifications, Hancock's assault on the Muleshoe, Johnson's Division, May 12, McHenry Howard, Mule Shoe, Overland Campaign 1864, Steuart's Brigade and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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