Germanna Ford

Germanna Ford (HM1SH)

Location: Locust Grove, VA 22508 Orange County
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Country: United States of America
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N 38° 22.632', W 77° 46.91'

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Into the Wilderness

— Lee Vs. Grant - The 1864 Campaign —

When the 1864 Overland Campaign started, Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia held the upper fords of the Rapidan River, blocking the Union army's route to Richmond. Rather than attack Lee head on, Grant chose to cross here at Germanna Ford, several miles beyond Lee's right flank, and maneuver his adversary out of position.

Grant seized Germanna Ford on May 4. At dawn, soldiers of the 3rd Indiana Cavalry splashed across the river, scattering a few Confederate pickets who stood guard here. Union engineers then threw down two pontoon bridges and the army began pouring across. A Connecticut soldier, awed by the seemingly endless procession of men, wagons and artillery, concluded that such an army might "overcome the world." Theodore Lyman, an officer on Meade's staff, had a more sobering thought. "How strange it would look," he mused, "if every soldier destined to fall in the coming campaign wore a large badge!"

The Fifth and Sixth Corps crossed the Rapidan here on May 4, going into camp between here and Wilderness Tavern. Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock's Second Corps crossed farther downstream, at Ely's Ford, followed by the army's huge wagon train. As the Union columns crossed the river, they entered the Wilderness, a densely wooded area marked by thick woods and unusually heavy undergrowth. In the heart of this forbidding forest, the first battle of the campaign would be fought.

When a reporter asked Grant how long he thought it would take to get to Richmond, he replied, four days. "That is, if General Lee becomes a party to the agreement," he added with a smile, "but if he objects, the trip will undoubtedly be prolonged."

(sidebar) On May 4, the Army of the Potomac broke camp near Culpeper and marched southeast, crossing the Rapidan River at Germanna and Ely's Fords. Burnside's independent Ninth Corps, starting north of the Rappahannock River, did not cross at Germanna Ford until May 5. As soon as Lee learned of the Union crossing, he moved eastward with Ewell's and Hill's Corps to intercept Grant in the Wilderness. Longstreet's Corps, camped near Gordonsville, headed for the battlefield via Brock's Bridge.
HM NumberHM1SH
Series This marker is part of the Virginia Civil War Trails series
Placed ByCivil War Trails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Sunday, October 5th, 2014 at 12:50am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 256996 N 4251331
Decimal Degrees38.37720000, -77.78183333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 38° 22.632', W 77° 46.91'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds38° 22' 37.92" N, 77° 46' 54.60" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)540
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 8467-8589 VA-375, Locust Grove VA 22508, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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