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TrailsCentral Virginia Civil War


Rolling hills leading west to the Blue Ridge Mountains are the prime landscape feature of Virginia's Piedmont area. During the Civil War residents of this countryside experienced a share of heavy fighting, but more often the area was the site of camps, cavalry action, hospitals and Confederate supply. Most of the sites listed below are readily accessible from Routes 29 and 15.

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Culpeper County

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Driving tour information about touring Culpeper County Civil War sites is available at the visitor center in the Town of Culpeper and at the Museum of Culpeper History. Download tour map from

Museum of Culpeper History
803 S Main St, Culpeper VA 22701
 Road map 
   This fine community museum covers the full scope of the county's history. An electronic Civil War map highlights the dramatic Civil War battles nearby including Brandy Station and Cedar Mountain. Monday–Saturday 10 am–5 pm; Sunday 1–5 pm. $3. Ask about the Civil War walking tours.


Brandy Station Battlefield
Visitor center located in the Graffiti House, 19484 Brandy Road, Brandy Station VA 22714
 Road map 
   A surprise attack by Union cavalry here June 9, 1863, almost unhinged J.E.B. Stuart’s forces in what many believe to be the largest cavalry battle of the war. Stuart’s camps were out front of Confederate infantry on the eve of Robert E. Lee’s move north — the march that would end in Gettysburg. Driving/walking tours of the battlefield are available. A visitor center in the Graffiti House, known for wall writings by soldiers, helps visitors to get oriented to the battlefield.
   Graffiti House open 11 am–4 pm Saturdays and Sundays. Donations welcome.

Kelly’s Ford
Trails signs just southwest of the Rappahannock River bridge on Route 620 and at 13656 Newby’s Shop Road northeast of Kelly's Ford
Road map
  Big cavalry fight along the Rappahannock March 17, 1863, resulted in a technical Confederate victory but cost the South one of its best and most charismatic soldiers, Maj. John Pelham, who was killed in the battle. Also see "Pelham's Last Days" sign below in Culpeper.

Cedar Mountain
9465 General Winder Road, Rapidan VA 22733
 Road map 
  Stonewall Jackson confronted elements of Union Gen. John Pope's Army of Virginia here on Aug. 9, 1862, and got quite a scare. The Confederates gained a narrow victory and continued north toward Manassas. An interpreted walking trail now leads into the battlefield from a cluster of historical markers, including a Civil War Trails marker. Look for the signs on Route 15 south of Culpeper, then turn west onto Route 657.

Town of Culpeper
Trails signs at the restored railroad station/visitor center downtown, 111 Commerce St, Culpeper VA 22701
 Road map 
   Information here describes the Union encampment in Culpeper and surrounding areas during the winter of 1863-64 and a Sept. 13, 1863, Union cavalry raid on Confederate supplies loaded in rail cars at the station. Pick up self-guided Civil War tour booklet of Culpeper County sites at the visitor center.

"Pelham's Last Days"
Trails sign two blocks north of the intersection of Main and Davis streets in Culpeper
   Confederate Maj. John Pelham, commander of JEB Stuart's horse artillery, left from near here to fight Union horsemen who crossed the Rappahannock River at Kelly's Ford March 16, 1863. Wounded in the battle, he was returned to Culpeper, dying that night at the Shackelford House.

Little Fork Episcopal Church
Trails sign at 16471 Oak Shade Road, Rixeyville VA 22737
Road map
   This church, built in 1776, saw plenty of action during the Civil War as both armies marched, fought and camped nearby. Early in the war, the Little Fork Rangers mustered into Confederate service here. The unit fought in most of the major battles in the East before surrendering at Appomattox.

Orange County

Refer to the 1864 Overland Campaign tour, and stop at the Fredericksburg national park visitor centers for information about the Civil War Trails site at Germanna Ford and touring the Wilderness battlefield. The Confederate army camped near Orange and Gordonsville on the eve of the 1864 Overland Campaign.


11407 Constitution Highway, Montpelier Station VA 22957 (Route 20, west of Orange)
 Road map 
   A ¾-mile, four-stop walking trail explores the site of a Confederate camp and the farm of slave-turned-freedman George Gilmore, who built the cabin with his wife, Polly. Confederate troops camped on the grounds of President James Madison’s home during the winter of 1863–1864. Interpretive signs along the trail describe the archeological exploration of the camp and soldier life during that winter. The Confederates hurriedly abandoned their Orange County camps in May 1864 to meet the Union army in the Wilderness. Remains of soldier hut sites and other physical evidence of the camp can be seen. The trail features reconstructed soldier huts created by re-enactors using Civil War-era building methods. The trail also explores the transition from slave life to freedom for the Gilmore family, who farmed the property 1820–1920. The Gilmores’s cabin survives. The trail is on the grounds of Montpelier, which is restored to Madison’s time. Trail begins in parking lot across Route 20 from the Montpelier Train Depot. Access to the Civil War Camp site and trail is free. Fee charged for house visits.


Exchange Hotel and Civil War Museum
400 S Main St, Gordonsville VA 22942
 Road map 
   This building is evocative of its past as a railroad hotel turned Civil War hospital. The converted hotel provided care for an estimated 70,000 soldiers during and shortly after the war, most arriving on the Virginia Central or Orange & Alexandria Railroads. Excellent exhibits and artifacts (especially medical) on display. Open 10 am-4 pm Monday-Thursday and Saturday. Friday noon-4 pm and Sunday 1-4 pm. $10/adult.

Mine Run/Paynes Farm
Trailhead with signs at the Zoar Baptist Church, 31334 Zoar Road, Locust Grove
 Road map 
   Union Gen. George Meade hoped to cross the Rapidan River in late November 1863, then hit Confederates under Robert E. Lee in the flank. Bad weather and quick action by Lee ruined his plans. The heaviest action of the campaign was at Payne’s Farm, where the two forces clashed Nov. 27. A 1.5-mile interpreted trail established by the Civil War Trust begins at the church and winds its way through the most intense part of the battlefield.
Note: This trail is minutes away from the Wilderness battlefield. Take Route 20 west to Route 611 (Zoar Road) then north to the Mine Run battlefield.

Town of Orange
Civil War Trails interpretation at the visitor center, 122 E Main St, Orange VA 22960
 Road map 
   Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia was camped in the area during the winter of 1863–’64. He moved out to meet the Union threat in May 1864 as U.S. Grant began his campaign, crossing the Rapidan River into the Wilderness.

St. Thomas Episcopal Church
119 Caroline St, Orange VA 22960
 Road map 
   Big-name Confederates, including Lee, Jefferson Davis and A.P. Hill, worshipped here. Call for information about visiting.

Madison County

A visitor center in Madison will get you started. They say you will travel back in time in Madison County, and you do. The following Madison County sites have Civil War Trails interpretation:

Battle of James City, Route 29 near Route 631 – Only remnants of this little town remain today after day-long fighting between cavalry under Confederate Gen. J.E.B. Stuart and Union Gen. Judson Kilpatrick on Oct. 10, 1863. Roadside historical marker just northeast of the intersection.

Battle of Jack's Shop, modern-day Rochelle on Route 231 – J.E.B. Stuart got a bad scare here and was almost captured by Union cavalry under Kilpatrick and John Buford Sept. 22, 1863. This countryside is little changed since the Civil War and is still dotted with antebellum homes along the old Blue Ridge Turnpike (Route 231). It's well worth the short trip from Route 29. Roadside marker in Rochelle.