If you have been following my Blog you already know that I like to discover things that were always there but not seen by me before.
I often visit Fredericksburg Virginia and have, many times, traveled a very busy road in Spotsylvania. Today as I was breezing along in the car I happened to look to my right and for the first time noticed a large monument, on a hill, quite close to the road.
Curiosity had me retrace my route to find a small road leading up to the hill. My first impression of the monument was that it was some sort of recognition to the confederate troops – there was a statute of a soldier at the top of the monument.
The following inscription surprised me:
…to commemorate the services of the Twenty-Third Regiment New Jersey Volunteers Infantry, in the Battle of Salem Church, Virginia, May 3rd 1863. Erected by the State of New Jersey
I have seen other references to regiments from the north in and around the area but this was the first monument that I have visited that is so obscured by the businesses and subdivisions surrounding it..
Not as visible from the road is a graveyard and the original Salem Church, The Information Board outside the church reads:
On May 3, 1863, Union and Confederate troops fought a bitter day-long battle on a slight ridge a few miles west of Fredericksburg. At the vortex of this action, called by one historian “one of the most brilliant and important of the minor affairs of the war,” was a small brick building known as Salem Church. Like many other churches in Civil War America. Salem Church, which was dedicated to the ideals of peace and love, became famous instead for the death and misery that war brought to its portal.
This little Baptist Church (before the war they had 70 church members) was also used as a hospital after the battle. The walls of the original church are still marked with Federal shots fired at the Confederates who used the upper floor for firing positions Salem Church was an important, yet often overlooked, part of The Battle of Chancellorsville . (older post)The church which was used as a hospital by both sides. It was also a civilian refugee center during the Battle of Fredericksburg.
When you visit the many small Civil War battle sites you truly begin to appreciate the history of this region and the sacrifice and loss of life of so many confederate and union soldiers.