Staff Rides

A National Park Service volunteer pointing to a field surrounded by 50 marines in civilian dress.
A park volunteer guides a group of Marines at Chancellorsville Battlefield.

NPS Photo

 

Like many battlefields and military parks, Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park was originally set aside by the War Department to be preserved as a learning and training ground for the military. We continue to honor that tradition today. We are happy to offer resources, services, and guides for staff rides.

If you will be bringing a large group into the park for a staff ride, but do not want to be accompanied by park personnel you must submit a Special Use Permit, which you can download on the Permit's & Reservations page.

Contact Park Ranger Peter Maugle at Peter_Maugle@nps.gov to arrange a guided staff ride with park personnel. We can customize tours to meet your units interests, backgrounds, and needs. Below are suggestions and resources to help begin the planning process.

 
View the Fredericksburg Staff Ride Briefing Book (PDF from U.S. Army Center of Military History).

A staff ride of the Fredericka burg Battlefield may include a 25-minute to 1-hour briefing at Chatham Manor and/or the Sunken Road, a tour of battlefield locations, a 22-minute overview film at the Fredericksburg Battlefield Visitor Center, and a self-guided tour of the visitor center exhibits. (Beginning at Chatham Manor is best for understanding the battle.)

The Battle of Fredericksburg entailed several unique aspects that forced the armies to improvise. Correlations to modern military concepts may be found at the following locations:

Chatham Manor (Union headquarters and hospital)
  • Plan for the campaign/war as extension of politics
  • Opposed riverine crossing/adapt when there's no protocol
  • Casualty evacuation and treatment
Downtown Fredericksburg (site of urban combat)
  • How to conduct street fighting when there's no precedent
  • Occupation and looting/civil affairs
Prospect Hill (Union breakthrough)
  • Communications/commander's intent
  • Perceived impassable terrain
  • Initiative
Sunken Road & Marye's Heights
  • Defense in depth
  • Leadership by example
  • Planned fires
National Cemetery
  • Identification and burial of dead
  • Remembrance, commemoration and veterans
View the Chancellorsville Staff Ride Briefing Book (PDF from U.S. Army Center of Military History).

A staff ride of the Chancellorsville Battlefield may include a tour of battlefield locations, as well as a 25-minute to 1-hour briefing, a 22-minute overview film, and a self-guided tour at the Chancellorsville Battlefield Visitor Center.

Chancellorsville exemplifies the Confederate’s ability to overcome the odds. Generals Lee and Jackson took risks and benefited from Union mistakes that ultimately transformed an initially unfavorable predicament into victory. Tours of Chancellorsville may include the following correlations to modern military concepts:

First Day Site
  • Military intelligence
  • Allowing for plan flexibility
  • Maintaining initiative
Lee-Jackson Bivouac
  • Knowing your enemy
  • Calculated risk
  • Command relationships
Jackson’s Flank Attack
  • Surprise
  • Economy of force
Hazel Grove
  • Objective
  • Speed and focus
  • Mass
Fairview
  • Administration/supply
  • Morale
  • Casualty evacuation and treatment
View the Wilderness-Spotsylvania Staff Ride Briefing Book (PDF from U.S. Army Center of Military History).

A staff ride of the Wilderness Battlefield may include a 25-minute to 1-hour briefing at the Wilderness Battlefield Exhibit Shelter and a tour of battlefield locations.

The Battle of the Wilderness began the campaign that ultimately ended the war, pitting General Grant against General Lee. Fighting occurred among dense forests that presented unique challenges to the armies. Tour stops of the Wilderness Battlefield may include the following correlations to modern military concepts:

Saunders Field
  • Grand strategy/context/war as extension of politics
  • Reconnaissance
  • Flexibility
Tapp Field
  • Leadership by example
  • Initiative
  • Surprise
  • Mass
Brock Road/Plank Road Intersection
  • Terrain
  • Objective
  • Casualty treatment and evacuation
View the Wilderness-Spotsylvania Staff Ride Briefing Book (PDF from U.S. Army Center of Military History).

A staff ride of the Spotsylvania Court House Battlefield may include a 25-minute to 1-hour briefing at the Bloody Angle and a tour of battlefield locations.

Spotsylvania Court House was a protracted battle fought for almost two weeks. It demonstrated a determination by both sides to bring the war to an end at any cost. Tour stops of the Spotsylvania Court House Battlefield may include the following correlations to modern military concepts:

Exhibit Shelter/Laurel Hill
  • Attrition
  • Reconnaissance
  • Speed
Upton’s Road
  • Economy of force
  • Adaptability
  • Speed and focus
  • Coordination
The Mule Shoe/Bloody Angle
  • Prepared positions
  • Knowing your enemy
  • Clarity of orders
  • Mass
  • Morale
  • Casualty treatment and evacuation

Last updated: January 17, 2022

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

120 Chatham Ln
Fredericksburg , VA 22405

Phone:

540 693-3200

Contact Us

Stay Connected