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The Battle of the Wilderness Imagine wrote a North Carolina officer named WA Smith a great dismal forest containing the worst kind of thicket of second-growth trees so thick with small pines and scrub oak cedar dogwood and other growth common to the country that one could see barely ten paces qtd in Kennedy 203 This description is of the area known as the Wilderness where over 135 years ago one of the greatest Civil War battles occurred The Battle of the Wilderness was the beginning of the end for the Confederate States of America The region called the Wilderness is in Spotsylvania County Virginia just ten miles west of Fredericksburg It is a natural wooded area that is twelve miles wide and six miles deep along the southern bank of the Rapidan River The Wilderness was described by Lieutenant Thomas F Galwey of the 8th Ohio as a wild and formidable thicket so dense that even at noon day the suns light scarcely penetrated it qtd in Trudeau 44 In the early 1700s Alexander Spotswood Virginias governor during the time tried to inhabit the Wilderness He brought over German colonists to do so They cut large amounts of timber from the forest to secure the mine tunnels plank the roads and fuel the iron-smelting operations But when the plan failed and the area was abandoned the forest grew back very quickly creating a second-growth woodland Kennedy 203 On May 5 and 6 1864 two armies the Army of the Potomac of the Union and the Army of Northern Virginia from the Confederate States of America engaged in a brutal battle known as the Battle of the Wilderness The battle included over 160000 men with around 100000 coming from the Union and close to 62000 from the Confederacy Wilderness Lieutenant General Ulysses S Grant and Major General George G Meade led the Unions Army of
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