June 23, 2014 was tour day. I was on “The Wilderness to Spotsylvania Court House (Introductory Tour) led by Brooks D. Simpson of Arizona State University. Even though he was handicapped by a bus without air conditioning for most of the trip and a bus driver who actually got lost on the way and went 12 miles out of the way, Brooks did an outstanding job. He showed incredibly broad knowledge and deep familiarity with what happened at each battle, as well as a great understanding of each place we stopped, giving us a great overview of each battle.
We viewed Saunders Field, including the confederate earthworks overlooking the Federal approach, and Brooks painted a word picture for us that allowed us to visualize this early engagement in the battle.
Of course, being a former student of Professor Robertson’s, it was basically required for me to make a side pilgrimage to visit Stonewall’s arm.
At our visit to the Mule Shoe we got to see the terrain over which the Federals attacked. It was instructive to see the many swales and small hills along that field.
The trip was really terrific, and we learned a great deal about these two battles that you just can’t get from reading a book about them or even looking at maps. Visiting battlefields is an important way to learn more about the battles. The information you have there is something that just can’t be read or imagined. This is one of the many great things about the CWI.