Major fighting and several interesting incidents happened in this field. Although owned by James Horace Lacy, the owner of Ellwood, the field was farmed by a 55-year-old widow named Catharine Tapp.
A two-mile trail in the Tapp Field leads to the site of the Tapp house, exhibits, monuments and cannon.
This sketch of the Tapp House was done by George Leo Frankenstein, a native of Germany who fought with the Union army. After the war he returned to several of the battle sites and produced a watercolor of them. The house was destroyed at some point after the war. Archaeologists found its location in the early 1990's.
On May 5, Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee, A.P. Hill, and J.E.B. Stuart were conferring in the clearing when Union troops suddenly emerged from the woods. Stuart stood up and defiantly glared at the intruders, while Lee walked rapidly away. Hill kept his seat. The Union soldiers vanished into the forest, missing an opportunity to bag three of the South's top leaders.
On the morning of May 6, 1864, Union forces assaulted A.P. Hill's Corps along the Orange Plank Road. Unprepared and outnumbered, Hill's men fell back through the Tapp Field. The timely arrival of James Longstreet's Corps supported by William Poague's artillery (represented by the artillery pieces in the field) stopped the Union advance.
With the arrival of Longstreet's men, General Lee attempted to lead the Texas Brigade forward. The Texans implored Lee to go to the rear so he would not be killed. Soon, dozens of Texans were urging Lee to go back. Lee either ignored their pleas or in the noise of battle did not hear them. Finally a staff officer grabbed the reins of Lee's horse and led the horse and general to safety behind the lines. The "Lee to the Rear" incident became one of the most famous events of the war. The Texans then proceeded forward, losing 500 of 800 men in the charge.
In 1903, Confederate staff officer James Power Smith placed this monument in the Tapp Field commemorating the Lee-to-the-Rear incident.
During the centennial of the Civil War, the state of Texas erected monuments on many of the battlefields where Texas soldiers fought. This monument was placed in the Tapp Field in 1964.
Among the casualties in the fighting along the Plank Road adjacent to the Tapp Field was Colonel James Drayton Nance. He was considered by some to be the best soldier in the entire brigade. In 1913, members of his regiment, 3rd South Carolina Regiment, placed this monument on the spot of his death.