Virtual Tour Stop, Jackson's Flank Attack
Early on the morning of May 2, General Hooker sent word to General Otis O. Howard to watch his flank. Howard shifted two regiments and one battery of artillery of his Eleventh Corps to face west, the rest remained facing south. The photo shows the area held by the 153rd Pennsylvania and 54th New York of General Charles Devens's division at the time of Jackson's attack. The ground in the background occupied by farm buildings today was the location where General Carl Schurz's division made a brief effort to halt the attack.
General Oliver Otis Howard tried to rally his men
At 5:15 p.m., "Stonewall" Jackson's 30,000 veterans crashed into Howard's 9,000 mostly inexperienced troops. Caught by surprise, Devens division quickly broke. Howard tried desperately to rally Schurz's division, but it too quickly broke. A third line of Colonel Alolphus Buschbeck held briefly before it collapsed. Jackson had routed Howard's Corps opening the way for the Confederates to destroy Hooker's army.
Howard's men made three stands against Jackson's attack. The second line under General Carl Schurz was on a slight ridge near the church. The modern church is on the site of the war-time church. The graves are members of the church congregation rather than Civil War soldiers.
A third Union line known as the Buschbeck line was established on another slight ridge just east of the Wilderness Church. Today the 154th New York monument rests on this line.
Site of Jackson's flank attack
Until recently the scene of Jackson's flank attack was privately owned. Beginning in the 1990's the park was able to acquire several tracts of land north of what is now Route 3. Land south of the road is outside the park boundary which is set by Congressional legislation. Central Virginia Battlefield Trust has purchased several tracts on the south side of the road. Most of the landscape was densely wooded at the time of the battle with a couple of small farms.