Stafford Civil War Park - Stafford, Virginia
Stafford Civil War Park - Stafford, Virginia
Stafford Civil War Park
The park in Northern Virginia preserves the scene
where part of the Union Army of the Potomac
recuperated after the Battle of Fredericksburg.
Civil War at Sfafford
Well-preserved earthworks
from batteries that protected
the Army of the Potomac can
still be seen.
Civil War Chimney
Chimneys and fire pits from
the huts that sheltered tens of
thousands of Union soldiers
are well preserved.
Stafford Civil War Park - Stafford, Virginia
Recovery of the XI Corps
Copyright 2013 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.

Last Updated: November 10, 2013
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Historic Sites in Virginia
Accokeek Creek Batteries
The protect the camps of the
XI Corps, Federal engineers
built a series of earthwork
batteries along high ground
overlooking Accokeek Creek.
Stafford Civil War Park preserves camps
where part of the Union Army of the Potomac
recovered from the
Battle of Fredericksburg,

Located along Accokeek Creek just outside
Stafford on Mount Hope Road, the park just
opened to the public in April 2013 and is
becoming a major War Between the States
(Civil War) destination for Stafford County. It
features a driving tour, trails, interpretive
panels, the well preserved earthworks of
Union artillery batteries, ruins of huts built by
soldiers, historic roads and more.

The park was the scene of what many called
"the Union Army's Valley Forge" and it recalls
the brutal winter that followed the Army of the
Potomac's bloody defeat at
Before Gen. Robert E. Lee's Confederate
Army of Northern Virginia could counter attack
following its victory, Union Gen. Ambrose
Burnside pulled his army back to new camps
away from the battlefield.

Frustrated with the horrible defeat inflicted on
his army by Lee's jubilant Confederates, U.S.
President Abraham Lincoln replaced Gen.
Burnside with Gen. "Fighting Joe" Hooker.

Rumors were afloat that Gen Lee was
planning an immediate attack on the Union
army and as he took command and reviewed
the position of his troops, Gen. Hooker saw
that there was a major gap in his lines and
that his key supply depot at Aquia Creek was
in danger.

The loss of the supply base at Aquia Landing
would be devastating to the Union Army and
easily could lead to its defeat and withdrawal
from Northern Virginia.

To counter this danger, Gen. Hooker ordered
the XI Corps of Gen. Oliver O. Howard to
move its camps to a new position along the
heights overlooking Accokeek Creek. This
would "plug the gap" in the Union lines and
protect Aquia Landing.

The First and Third Division of Howard's
Corps camped at what is now Stafford Civil
War Park, arriving there in late February and
early March 1863 from their previous camps
at Belle Plain and Stafford Courthouse. They
were part of a force of 135,000 soldiers that
spent the icy winter in Stafford County.

Tour Stop #1 at the park allows visitors to
explore the actual ruins of huts built by Union
soldiers during their "Valley Forge" winter.  
Stone fireplaces can still be scene, along
with holes in the ground that soldiers dug for
insulation as part of their hut construction.

The Army of the Potomac, revitalized by Gen.
Hooker, moved out from its winter camps
here in late April 1863. The soldiers began to
cross the Rappahannock River and by April
30, 1863, 50,000 men and 105 cannon were
in position at Chancellorsville.

Gen. Hooker made the critical mistake,
however, of calling a 24 hour halt when he
had stolen a march on Gen. Lee. On the
evening of May 1, 1863, Confederate soldiers
under Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson
slammed into Hooker's right flank and rolled
it up. The Union army was defeated and
retreated back to its camps in Stafford.

In late May 1863, as rumors of an attack by
Lee intensified, Gen. Hooker moved more
cannon to the camps south of Acookeek
Creek.  The artillerymen and engineers dug
in, fortifying their guns atop the heights
overlooking the creek.  The park preserves
the earthworks of three Union batteries along
with supporting rifle pits and the clearly
visible foundations of blockhouses built to
offer extra security to the guns.

The defenses at Stafford Civil War Park were
never attacked by Confederates, but they
played a critical role in the war by protecting
the supply depot at Aquia Landing and giving
the Union army time to recuperate and
prepare to return to action.
The first of the batteries controlled historic
Daniel Bridge. Noted for their connection to
Peter V. Daniel, a Virginia lieutenant governor
and justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, the
ruins of bridge that crossed Accokeek Creek
to his land still survive as do the earthworks
of the battery that protected it.

Battery Number 2 had the highest elevation
of the Union fortifications. On a hilltop 200
feet above sea level, its cannon could fire in
support of the other two batteries in the park.
It is in a remarkable state of preservation.

Battery Number 3, the strongest of the park's
three defenses, is very well preserved as
well. It features 300 linear feet of earthwork
parapet that is 30-feet thick, the foundation of
a blockhouse and the trace of the double
track corduroy road that ran behind the
defenses. it is believed that this battery
mounted heavy guns of the artillery reserve.

The earthworks of the artillery batteries are
some of the best preserved in the area and
are by far the easiest to visit. Cannon have
been placed to help visitors better visualize
the appearance of the fortifications during the
War Between the States (Civil War).

To help facilitate the movement of men and
cannon, Union army engineers upgraded the
old Potomac Church Road that crossed
Accokeek Creek in the park. Sections of the
historic road were corduroyed ("paved" with
logs). A "double track" road also helped
accelerate movement of men and material.

Stafford Civil War Park is a unique place to
explore the lives and history of the German-
American regiments of the Army of the
Potomac. "Exclusively German" regiments
that camped in the vicinity were the 82nd
Illinois; 29th, 41st, 45th, 54th, 58th and 68th
New York; 27th, 74th and 75th Pennsylvania,
and the 27th Wisconsin. Units of mixed
nationality were the 119th New York, 107th
Ohio and 73rd and 153rd Pennsylvania.  

Over 3,500 Union soldiers died in Stafford
County due to disease, exposure and
infection. Their bodies were buried next to
their camps, but since have been relocated
to national cemeteries.

The camps were abandoned in June 1863
when Gen. Lee led the Army of Northern
Virginia north into Pennsylvania.  The Army of
the Potomac followed and the two forces met
again at Gettysburg.

Stafford Civil War Park is at 400 Mount Hope
Church Road in Stafford, Virginia. It is open
Monday - Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
November 1 - Mid-March and from 8 a.m. to 8
p.m. the rest of the year.

Please click here for a printable park map.
Blockhouse Foundation
The rectangular foundation of
a Union blockhouse is one of
the well preserved features of
Stafford Civil War Park.
Photos by Savannah Brininstool
Accokeek Creek
The creek provided water for
Union soldiers as well as
serving as a natural defense
for the extensive camps.