|COVID-19 & the VBWTBefore heading out to visit a site on the Virginia Bird & Wildlife Trail, be sure to check if that site has any COVID-19 policies or closures in place. This information is typically posted on a site's own website.|
Chancellorsville Battlefield is one component of the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. This small area west of Fredericksburg witnessed the heaviest and most brutal fighting in American history. The casualties from these battles number in the thousands and many lie buried and unknown beneath these hills. Chancellorsville marked the beginning of these battles when Joseph Hooker and his Union soldiers crossed the Rappahannock and Rapidan rivers to threaten Robert E. Lee’s troops camped on the highland defending Fredericksburg. Lee quickly caught on to Hooker’s maneuver and advanced to meet him. Hooker, surprised by Lee, assumed a defensive position near the crossroads of Chancellorsville but left his right flank vulnerable. This provided an opportunity to Stonewall Jackson and his troops to stage a spectacular surprise attack and force the Union troops to retreat back across the river. Although technically a win for the Confederates, they suffered a terrible blow when Jackson was mortally wounded by conflicting fire among his own troops.
Chancellorsville now hosts a visitor’s center as well as driving and walking tours through the battlefield. Historical interpretive signs are placed throughout the park detailing the events of the battle. These same trails provide an excellent opportunity to wander through extensive deciduous forests and open meadows in search of wildlife. Check the open fields in fall and winter for sparrows such as savannah, vesper and white-throated, in addition to the possible northern harrier hunting overhead. A walk into the extensive woodland will reveal numerous woodland species including red-bellied woodpeckers, white-breasted nuthatches and eastern towhees. Of course almost anything could turn up during migration, so be on the lookout for surprises.
From Mott’s Reservoir, continue west on Rt. 618/River Road for 5.2 miles to SR 3/Plank Road. Turn right (west) on SR 3 and follow it for 0.8 miles to Chancellorsville Battlefield. Turn right and drive 0.1 miles to the Visitor Center.