Wilderness Tavern was important during the Chancellorsville and Wilderness campaigns. The structure was built about 1810 and during the war was the home of William Simms and his family. In earlier times, it had served as a stagecoach stop and tavern. The building was destroyed shortly after the war and its site is now mostly underneath the west bound lanes of Route 3.
During the Battle of the Wilderness, the Wilderness Tavern area was the location of several Union field hospitals. The Fifth Corps hospitals were slightly east of the tavern and Sixth Corps slightly west near the modern intersection of Routes 3 and 20. Today, a small portion of one of the Wilderness Tavern outbuildings remains. There is a small pullover for the site on the east bound lane of Route 3. It is not accessible from the west bound lane.
On the evening of May 7, a famous incident occurred when the Union Fifth Corps reached the intersection of the Germanna Plank Road with the Orange Turnpike. The soldiers expected to turn left and retreat as they always had done before. Instead they turned right on the the Germanna Plank Road (shown here) and headed toward Spotsylvania. There would be no turning back. The soldiers cheered. To reach the 1864 intersection walk downhill on the gravel road from the pullover by the Wilderness Tavern site. You quickly come to the Orange Plank Road.