Protect 239 Acres at Todd’s Tavern & Globe Tavern in Virginia
Today, you and I have a special opportunity to save three tracts of land—141 acres of irreplaceable battlefield land that was once the site of both an American Revolutionary War standoff and a Civil War engagement near the historic Todd’s Tavern, plus 98 acres of land where Union forces attempted to damage the pertinent Confederate supply lines of the Weldon Railroad with battles fought in proximity to the Globe Tavern.
The importance of saving and preserving sacred land where men fought and died in two separate wars that determined our sovereignty and defined our nation cannot be understated. These 141 acres that included the land where Todd’s Tavern stood are threatened by the shadow of development. As a history lover, I’m sure you understand the importance of this land and the necessity of its preservation.
An additional 98 acres of hallowed ground, on two tracts, near a second tavern — the Globe Tavern south of Petersburg, Virginia — played very important roles in two battles for the strategically vital Weldon Railroad, the first in June 1864 and the other in August of that same year. The Weldon connected Richmond and the rail hub of Petersburg to the South’s last Atlantic port, Wilmington, North Carolina, and Grant desperately wanted to wrest control of the railroad from the Confederates.
Thanks to grants from the federal government and the Commonwealth of Virginia, funding from partner organizations Central Virginia Battlefields Trust, and the Petersburg Battlefields Foundation, and a large contribution from a generous donor and members like you, we can save all this land and put these 239 priceless acres into the “saved forever” column for just $137,500.
Today, we have the opportunity to do just that — and, frankly, we may be just in the nick of time because the threats to the land around Todd’s Tavern and Globe Tavern appear to be growing almost daily.
Imagine a day when your grandchildren have the chance to walk in the footsteps of those who formed our nation’s history on these lands. Imagine having the opportunity not only to read about but see, and experience, the places where great generals and citizen-soldiers alike gave their all, fighting and dying. Without your support, these lands will be paved over and their histories forgotten.
It is rare to find hallowed ground that played host to an American Revolutionary War standoff and a Civil War engagement, but land south of Spotsylvania, Virginia, is such a place. And nearby, in Petersburg, Virginia, Civil War skirmishes to protect the Weldon Railroad saw wins and losses on both sides.
Tying these together over time were two inns, Todd’s Tavern and the Globe Tavern where Union and Confederate forces rested and engaged one another nearby for control of the path toward Richmond and the supply chain needed to win the war.
June 3, 1781
Six years after the start of the American Revolution, and after the Battle of Guilford Courthouse in North Carolina, British General Charles Lord Cornwallis marched his army to Virginia, opposed by a Continental force under the Marquis de Lafayette.
When Cornwallis moved out of Petersburg, Virginia, Lafayette abandoned his position around Richmond and marched north to shield the vital logistical center of Fredericksburg from the British.
On June 3, 1781, Lafayette moved his command along the southern and eastern portions of a sizable 141-acre tract in Spotsylvania County we’re seeking to secure. Although they never met in a pitched battle in Spotsylvania County, Lafayette’s skillful maneuvers wore down Cornwallis during that fateful summer, ultimately aiding in the British capitulation at Yorktown.
Todd’s Tavern, Spotsylvania, VA
May 7, 1864 and May 14, 1864
While Union and Confederate infantry were engaged in a death struggle in the Wilderness, cavalry units were vying for control of the Brock Road, the inside track to the Confederate capital. Nestled halfway between the Wilderness and Spotsylvania Courthouse along the Brock Road stood Todd’s Tavern, a one-and-a-half-story inn that played host to both Union and Confederate forces only a week apart. (The tavern was destroyed in 1884.)
On the night of May 7, 1864, Union Generals Ulysses S. Grant and George G. Meade rode south along Spotsylvania’s Brock Road, skirting the Todd’s Tavern tract and stopped briefly at the tavern. It is here that Union General Philip “Little Phil” Sheridan and Confederate General Fitzhugh “Fitz” Lee waged one of the most intense and important cavalry battles of the Overland Campaign, where both sides gained and lost valuable advantages and positions. Ultimately, Union forces were slowed by Confederate troopers from advancing onward to Spotsylvania. The delaying action at Todd’s Tavern purchased valuable time for Lee’s army in the race to Spotsylvania Courthouse.
A week later, on May 14, Confederate General Thomas Rosser’s cavalry brigade spent the night at Todd’s Tavern. The next day, Rosser marched east and engaged the 2nd Ohio Cavalry and 23rd Regiment, United States Colored Troops, in a battle southeast of Chancellorsville.
Weldon Railroad and Globe Tavern, south of Petersburg, VA
June 22, 1864 and August 18-21, 1864
The First Battle of Weldon Railroad — also known as the Battle of Jerusalem Plank Road — was the initial conflict in the Petersburg Campaign, aimed at extending the Union siege lines to the west and cutting the Southern rail lines. Grant used both cavalry and a significant infantry force involving his army’s Second Corps and Sixth Corps.
The plan of attack was for the Second and Sixth Corps to cross the Jerusalem Plank Road and pivot northwest to reach the railroad. Difficult terrain — swamps and thickets — slowed their advance, and by the morning of June 22, a gap opened up between the two corps.
Confederate General William “Little Billy” Mahone took advantage of this gap, hiding his division in a ravine he was familiar with from his time as a railroad engineer. In mid-afternoon on June 22, Mahone’s men emerged in the rear of a Second Corps division commanded by General Francis C. Barlow, hitting the Union line near Johnson Road and rolling the stunned Federals back toward Jerusalem Plank Road and preventing their effort at securing and destroying the rail lines.
In the Second Battle of Weldon Railroad (or the Battle of Globe Tavern), the Union Army attempted to capture the railroad again following its failed June effort.
Before dawn on August 18, Grant sent his Fifth Corps, commanded by General Gouverneur K. Warren, westward with orders to destroy a section of track and hold it if he could. Warren’s men left heated rails twisted in the shape of the Maltese Cross, Fifth Corps’ insignia, in their wake before withstanding a fierce counterattack from three Confederate brigades led by General Henry Heth.
The next day, Mahone’s division (the same that had thwarted the Union’s first attempt at destroying the rail line), sliced between Warren’s right flank and the left of General John Parke’s Ninth Corps, inflicting another embarrassing tactical defeat on the Federals.
All told over the four-day battle, the Federals suffered 4,279 casualties and had more than 2,500 men taken prisoner, yet they managed to destroy enough track to force the Confederates to transport their supplies 30 miles by wagon to bypass new Union lines to the south and the west.