First Day at Chancellorsville

+Spotsylvania County Museum

Fighting at Chancellorsville opened on the morning of May 1, 1863, along the Orange Turnpike and the Orange Plank Road.

“The Battle of Chancellorsville started here – amid the homes of families living along the Orange Turnpike. On the morning of May 1, Ann Lewis ,…, found Union cavalrymen lounging in her yard. After she saw masses of Confederate troops approaching from the east, Lewis called a Union trooper into her house to ‘look at the rebels’; she wisely retreated to her cellar just as the shooting started. Union soldiers took cover behind the house, and a spirited firefight ensued.”

Today, the property where fighting took place along the turnpike—now Route 3—is preserved thanks to the efforts of the Civil War Trust.

Location: 6159 Plank Rd., Fredericksburg, VA 22407 (5 miles west of FXBG)

Hours: Sunrise to Sunset

Trail Description: 2-mile loop trail with loose gravel that is well-marked. It will take you over much of the battlefield of May 1, 1863. There are two connector trails that can allow for a shorter hike. You can hear Route 3 traffic and see a large housing development to the north.

Called “The First Day at Chancellorsville Battlefield,” this 215-acre site features a self-guided walking trail that loops more than a mile around the property. There are historical plaques interspersed along the route to explain the battle.

This trail does a great job chronologically explaining how the opening stages of the Chancellorsville battle unfold along the (then) Orange Turnpike.

For more information about First Day at Chancellorsville and other sites saved by American Battlefield Trust, click HERE.

A couple of years ago our family had the opportunity to help out the Civil War Trust by removing plastic sleeves off many trees at this battlefield site. We enjoyed our several visits to this battlefield to help out and enjoy the beautiful trail.

The Spotsylvania County Museum is located at the same address. The Museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (with the exception of Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Thanksgiving Day and New Year’s Day). There is no admission fee.

The museum houses Spotsylvania County’s history, beginning with early Native Americans and continuing on through the Civil War. It is a very small museum.  On interconnecting walls are paintings, photographs & documents that require much time to read.

The museum has a new Seek & Find activity for children. There are three levels. Pick up a clipboard and pencil at the front desk. Once you find all the artifacts on the list, bring it to the Visitor Counselor at the front desk for a prize. There are prizes for each level. After you complete all 3 activities and get your card stamped, you win an extra-special prize!

The museum has a small gift shop with unique gifts, souvenirs, and relics. Near the front desk there is a small Toy Library. You can borrow a toy from the basket and play with it inside or outside. Just make sure to return it when you’re done.

It is easy to visit both the Spotsylvania Museum and the battlefield on the same visit. That’s what we did on our most recent visit.

After your visit, head across the street to the Battlefield Country Store for lunch or ice cream, or head down the street to Chancellorsville Battlefield to learn more about the Civil War.

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