Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Thoughts on Hanover

So what drew me to the story of the battle of Hanover Court House/Slash Church? When I was working on my work on the 27th North Carolina Troops, I came across this battle - it was the second battle that the 37th NCT fought, along with the other regiments in Branch's brigade. As I was working, all I could really find was an essay by Robert E. L. Krick on the battle and a master's thesis by Jerry Coggeshall from 1999. I believe that the story of this battle needed to be told. In reading larger histories of the Peninsula Campaign, Hanover barely got a mention - just a couple of paragraphs in Sear's treatment of the battle. As I was working through the role of the 37th NCT at the battle, I believe that this action had a greater role in the overall Peninsula campaign that which had been previously told. With a portion of Irvin McDowell's army advancing south from Fredericksburg, and Fitz John Porter's Corps sitting just a little to the northeast of Richmond, the capital city of the Confederacy stood poised to fall to the Federals. Who was there positioned north of the city and able to stop them? The demoralized brigade of Branch. Of course, we all know the outcome: McDowell returned to Fredericksburg and Porter was soon on his way back to the main elements of the Army of the Potomac.

I try and get back to the Hanover area once or twice a year, often just to sit and reflect about this battle, a battle overshadowed by Seven Days and then the bloodletting a month later. But I would argue that Hanover needs to be remembered. The sacrifices of the Confederate and Union soldiers around the Kinney Farm and just north of Peake's Turnout were just as real as those of later battles.

So the next time you are in Hanover County, traveling north along US 301 towards the Court House, and pass by the intersection of Peake's Road and Georgetown Road, remember those who fought at the battle of Hanover Court House.
Cannon from Latham's battery, captured during the battle of Hanover Court House. Photo taken in the camp of the 17th Michigan.

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