Brock Road-Orange Plank Road Intersection

Brock Road-Orange Plank Road Intersection

On the morning of May 5, 1864, this may well have been the most important intersection in America! The two wings of the Army of the Potomac were separated from the crossroads – one concentrating along the Orange Turnpike, and General Winfield Hancock’s several miles south. Confederate General A.P. Hill’s corps was headed straight down the Orange Plank Road. If Hill reached the intersection first he could cut the Union Army in two.

General George W. Getty’s division of the Federal VI Corps was rushed down from the north shortly before noon to occupy the position. As his forces moved into line, Confederate troops advanced to within musket range of the intersection. Getty’s chief-of-staff, Hazard Stevens, remembered that Getty exclaimed "we most hold this ground at any risk!" Getty’s men arrived just in time: dead Confederate skirmishers were found within thirty yards of the junction. Getty dug in and held off the Confederates until Hancock’s Second Corps came to his aid at about 2 pm. Remnants of the Union trenches extending north and south along Brock Road are still visible today.

Early on the morning of May 6, Hancock launched a massive attack along the Orange Plank Road, routing Hill’s troops. At this critical moment, Confederate General James Longstreet’s First Corps arrived, stalling the Union momentum. Longstreet then engineered a flanking attack, pushing brigade upon brigade of Union troops back to the Brock Road works. The Confederate offensive was disrupted by the accidental wounding of Longstreet, in an eerie repeat of Stonewall Jackson’s wounding a year earlier in the same Wilderness.

 

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