The Wilderness Campaign is a new brevet route that explores some of the Civil War history in our region. It is named after Grant’s “Wilderness Campaign” of 1864, which was an attempt to drive a wedge between Lee’s forces and the Confederate capital in Richmond. Our route traverses the first and second battlefields in the campaign, the Battle of the Wilderness, and the Battle of Spotlsylvania Courthouse. We also traverse two earlier battlefields, both from 1863: the Battle of Kelly’s Ford, and the Battle of Chancellorsville. Overall, the route is fairly moderate with about 5800 feet of climbing and no climbs of more than 400 feet. The first (and last) fifteen miles are fairly flat, through rolling farmland with herds of (among other things) longhorn cattle. But it becomes more hilly as it skirts and eventually turns deeper into the Wilderness and the woods. Most of the route follows pleasant, country roads, but there are a few places with higher-than-desirable traffic.
The brevet starts at 7AM (registration starts at 6AM) at the Caribou Coffee in Bristow, just west of Manassas, and heads generally south-south-west to the first control at Locust Grove. Pay sharp attention during a two-mile leg along VA-3 shortly before the control. Although traffic is fairly light in our experience, the area can be somewhat congested and parts of the road do not have a shoulder. From Locust Grove, the route turns generally southeast toward Spotsylvania Courthouse. Right after Locust Grove, there is a three-mile section along Constitution Hwy that has a narrow-ish shoulder and moderate traffic. The route becomes more pleasant after the turn into the Wilderness Battlefield and then follows a long section along Brock Rd. When the route detours through the Spotsylvania Battlefield, look for the easily-visible trenchlines that were dug during the battle. Spotsylvania has an open control in Spotsylvania itself–there is a 7-11 to the left as you go into town, an old-fashioned general store that’s fun to visit but has fewer choices, and several small restaurants near the turn back onto Brock Rd. From here, the route heads generally north-west to Kelly’s Ford. There are essentially no services for the next 37 miles so make sure you have enough food and water. Leaving Spotsylvania, there can be a bit more traffic, up until the turn onto Piney Branch Rd. After an info control at Chancellorsville Battlefield you enter a long stretch on Eley’s Ford Rd before rejoining the out-and-back portion of the route near Kelly’s Ford. The terrain continues to be a bit rugged for a while, but flattens out around Bristerburg before the final miles back into Bristow.