The building complex known collectively as Wilderness Tavern appeared in the early 19th century to serve the needs of travellers. Located on either side of the Fredericksburg-Orange Turnpike, the original roadbed of which survives today as the private dirt driveway to your right, Wilderness Tavern served meals, provided lodging, and included tailor's and blacksmith's shops and a store. The main buildings were two-story frame structures that sat on the north side of the Turnpike, in the modern-day Route 3 median strip.
The demise of a once-thriving gold mining industry in the Wilderness and competition from railroads and the Orange Plank Road diverted patrons from the Wilderness Tavern. In 1859, William and Rebecca Simms purchased the property containing 200 acres and operated a substantial farm here with the help of ten slaves and several free laborers.
Wilderness Tavern witnessed several important events during the Civil War. On May 3, 1863, while Confederate soldiers were aligning in battle formation two miles to your left, surgeons prepared to receive the wounded from the impending attack. A field hospital, consisting of area buildings supplemented with army tents, treated wounded from the Battle of Chancellorsville. An estimated 3,000 wounded were cared for on the Wilderness Tavern grounds. During the night of May 2, 1863, Lt. Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson arrived here in an ambulance and early the next morning doctors amputated his left arm at a field hospital near the Tavern.
The following May, the Army of the Potomac filled the fields around Wilderness with their encampments and rushed from here into the two-day Battle of the Wilderness. The Tavern Buildings themselves, except for this dependency which may have been a store or living quarters, were destroyed during the Civil War and no trace of them remain today.