From Donald Pfanz (for an earlier post on Wilderness Cemetery #2, click here):
[We are very happy to welcome Donald Pfanz to Mysteries and Conundrums. The following is the product of his extensive work on the creation of the National Cemetery, which we’ll soon be publishing as part of our publication series. ]
In June 1865, in response to clamorous complaints about the dead left unburied on the battlefields around Fredericksburg, the Federal government dispatched the 1st U.S. Veteran Volunteers to undertake reburial of the bodies. The 1st Volunteers reached Fredericksburg late on the afternoon of June 10 and pitched its tents on the south side of the Rappahannock River. Some wandered the streets of the shell-torn town; others walked across the plain leading to Marye’s Heights, where Union arms had suffered defeat on December 13, 1862. Unlike the Union soldiers who had perished in the Wilderness and at Spotsylvania Court House, most of those who had died at Fredericksburg had been buried immediately after the battle. William Landon, who had fought at Fredericksburg as a member of the 14th Indiana Infantry, took the opportunity to search the town for the graves of comrades who had fallen there. He found but one: Corporal John E. Hutchins of Company B, the “Old Post Guards.”
Landon and his comrades resumed their march the next morning, heading west along one of two roads: the Orange Turnpike or the Orange Plank Road. By noon, the First Regiment reached Chancellorsville. The charred remains of the Chancellor house and the scattered remnants of blankets, knapsacks, and other equipment bore silent witness to the fierce struggle that had been waged there. Passing on, the regiment reached the Wilderness Battlefield late that afternoon. The soldiers bivouacked on the northern end of the battlefield at an abandoned goldmine– possibly the Woodville Mine. No sooner had they arrived than “a crowd of half-starved women and children” and a few men in Confederate uniform flooded into the camp, hoping to trade garden vegetables for food that the soldiers carried in their wagons. “All the rations we could spare were freely given them,” wrote Landon, but the demand far exceeded the supply and many went away hungry.