Virtual Tour Stop, Harris Farm
The final action during the two week Spotsylvania Campaign occurred along the Fredericksburg Road on the Harris and Alsop farms. The Harris House, which can be seen in the background, still stands.
On May 19, General Lee ordered General Richard Ewell to make a reconnaissance to determine the location of the Union army. Ewell's veterans ran into some heavy artillery units that had just joined Grant's army from the defenses of Washington and were now camping on the Harris and Alsop farms . The inexperienced heavy artillery men--now operating as infantry men--repulsed Ewell's men, but at a heavy loss.
On May 17, 1901, this monument was dedicated by the survivors of the 1st Massachusetts Heavy Artillery to their comrades.
The engagement on the Harris and Alsop farms ended the fighting at Spotsylvania. 30,000 men had become casualties during the two weeks. The fighting was a continuation of the Battle of the Wilderness which had also claimed 30,000 casualties. Since there was no break in the fighting and maneuvering during the Wilderness/Spotsylvania campaign, the combined 60,000 casualties make it the bloodiest campaign in American history.
During the fighting at Spotsylvania, photographers arrived in Fredericksburg where they photographed scenes of the earlier battle. After the soldiers moved on from Spotsylvania, the photographers quickly arrived on the Harris and Alsop farms to record a series of images of the dead before burial. Since the photographers were from the North, they only took photos of Confederate dead.