On November 27, 1863, the day after the first national day of Thanksgiving, Union Gen. Meade's army slogged through mud, pitted roads, dense forest and tangled brush, got lost more than once, and came up a pontoon short for a river crossing in a determined effort to break up Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's stronghold on the upper Rapidan. Freezing rain, lack of food and shelter, and being out-maneuvered by Robert E. Lee forced Meade's retreat. Yet, it was not a total loss for the Union as they became acquainted with the challenges of this rugged terrain and knew what to fear when they marched into The Wilderness the following spring under their new commander Gen. Ulysses S. Grant.

Visiting the Mine Run Battlefield

Your best bet to tour Mine Run Battlefield is to follow the Payne's Farm Battlefield Trail located across the street from the Zoar Baptist Church in Locust Grove about 20 miles east of Orange. Here there are Civil War Trust interpretive panels and parking spaces in front of the church parking lot facing the battlefield. This wooded, 1-1/2 mile Civil War Trust Trail is marked with blazes and features interpretive panels describing battle actions along the way. The dirt trail is a little rugged in places, but from it you will see where the first shots were fired on Raccoon Ford Road, and experience the disorienting, dense and tangled second growth forest known as 'The Wilderness' in which both sides fought for control. The trail passes by the site of the brave planting of the 4th Virginia Infantry regimental flag by 19-year old Pvt. Alexander Tedford Barclay of the Stonewall Brigade, and finally affords views of the battle's climax at Payne's Farm.

Visit Civil War Trust for battle details and information about the preservation of this battlefield.

Pictured at the top: At Mine Run Battlefield hikers can experience the dense and disorienting second growth forest dubbed 'The Wilderness.'

mine run battlefield

Today, the dense forest of Mine Run appears much as it did during Thanksgiving of 1863. President Lincoln proclaimed the first national day of Thanksgiving just six weeks before the Gettysburg Address. In the proclamation written by Secretary of State Seward, Lincoln asked all Americans to give thanks and offer prayer "to heal the wounds of the nation."

mine run battlefield

The climax of the battle occurred under intense musketry fire at Madison Payne's farm, visible here through the trees on the edge of the forest.

mine run battlefield civil war trust sign mine run battlefield civil war trust trail

Here at Mine Run, the Civil War Preservation Trust acquired 680 acres of Payne's Farm to create one of most well-preserved Civil War battlefields in Virginia.