Editors Letter: North Anna
North Anna Battlefields
In 1993, Mike Miller wrote a B&G feature article on the North Anna Campaign. At that time his book on the subject, The North Anna Campaign: “Even to Hell Itself,” May 21-26, 1864, was still a current event. The issue’s Driving Tour was six pages and the presentation of Mike’s feature was accompanied by only five maps. The issue had a Preservation Message by John F. Cummings that told about hopes and plans to save the North Anna battlefields from impending development.
The Ox Ford battlefield had recently been established and a footbridge had been built over a small stream, but there was no interpretation to inform the visitor. In fact, access to the property was blocked by a gate, which I noted in the Tour “is always locked, so you must stop at the General Crushed Stone Company headquarters” to gain entry, and without advance notice of your visit you still might not get in.
The Confederate position called Henagan’s Redoubt, and the Telegraph Bridge over the North Anna, which the isolated earthwork was intended to guard, could only in a general way be approximated for the visitor by pointing out an open field and a distant treeline.
The Driving Tour included an explanatory note about another part of the battlefield: “For the hardcore battlefield trampers who want to know where the bloody Jericho Mill fighting occurred, following are directions, but you are cautioned that the battlefield is entirely on private property, the mill site is inaccessible, and the directions stop where private property begins. None of the actual battlefield can even be viewed from public vantage points.”
Things have changed over the past 22 years—all for the better. The Ox Ford battlefield park has its own parking area and two trails with interpretation. The ruins of Jericho Mill on the north bank of the river are now owned by the Civil War Trust, and the Jericho Mill battlefield on the south bank, Henagan’s Redoubt, and the Telegraph Bridge site are all in various stages of being protected and preserved. We’ll keep you posted on developments.
David E. Roth