Union Army of the Potomac
In 1863, over 135,000 Union Army of the Potomac soldiers established winter camps throughout Stafford County - the largest encampment of any Army during the Civil War. Two-thirds of Civil War deaths occurred while armies were in camp. Many soldiers throughout Stafford compared their camps and experiences to Valley Forge during the Revolution. Unlike Valley Forge however, none of the Stafford camps have been preserved in a park - until now.
The Army of the Potomac reached its lowest point in Stafford after the Battle of Fredericksburg and the disastrous "Mud March," eventually suffering hundreds of desertions a night. Still, by late April of 1863 under new leadership, the Army recovered its faith in itself and its fighting spirit. Army organization, food, weaponry and training were all improved. Even after its defeat at Chancellorsville and return to Stafford in early May, morale remained strong. By the 12th of June, 1863 the Army of the Potomac was headed North, eventually to Gettysburg, where it won what most consider the most important battle of the war.
This park is dedicated to the over 3,500 Union soldiers left behind in Stafford graves who died during that winter of 1863 of disease, exposure, accidents, and other causes. It is also dedicated to Stafford's citizens, outnumbered by 15 to 1, who suffered greatly as their farms became camps, their homes headquarters or hospitals, and their woodlands disappeared in the thousands of campfires that surrounded them that winter.
This park preserves over 41 acres of land camped on, traversed and fortified by elements of the Union Army of the Potomac's 11th Corps, 1st and 3rd Divisions. Historical sites here are representative of many others that once existed in Stafford, most lost to farming or development since the Civil War. Follow the tour stops to see the remains of a winter camp, soldier-built or improved roads, remains of a pre-Civil War bridge, an early Stafford quarry, and three large earthen artillery batteries constructed to defend this area. Each stop has historic signs and/or trails leading to historical sits and interpretive signs. There is a picnic area with several tables located at Stop 3. Park roads, parking areas and historical sites are depicted on the map at right and included in Stafford Civil War Park brochures.
Please help preserve this park's historic resources. Do not climb or walk on earthworks or historic structures. Hunting, relic hunting, ATVing, littering and damage to, or removal of, any items man-made or natural from this park is strictly prohibited and will be prosecuted. Report violations immediately to the Stafford County Sheriff's Office at 540-658-4450.
Thank you for visiting the Stafford Civil War Park!
Mid-March through October 31
? Monday - Sunday, 8:00 AM - 8:00 PM
November 1 through Mid-March
? Monday - Sunday, 8:00 - 5:30 PM