Spotsylvania County, VA
Marker No. E-8
Marker Text: At this point J. E. B. Stuart had his headquarters and cavalry camp in December 1862.
Location: On U.S. Route 1 (Jefferson Davis Highway), north of I-95 exit 126, 0.1 miles south of Lafayette Boulevard, 5.4 miles south of Falmouth. Grouped with marker E-39 (Start of Sheridan's Raid). Erected by the Conservation Development Commission in 1927.
Following the Battle of Fredericksburg in December 1862, the Union Army of the Potomac withdrew back across the Rappahannock River to make winter camp. Confederate generals established their winter headquarters and camps in the area around Fredericksburg. On December 26-27, Confederate Major General J. E. B. Stuart and his cavalry division carried out the last in a series of four raids that took them as far as Fairfax and Warrenton. Stuart spent the following two months at his headquarters near this location, making new friends and new enemies among officers who praised, envied, or despised each other. The man most captivated with the chief of cavalry was Lt. Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, the Second Corps commander and Stuart’s superior.
As I had mentioned in my post about the Monticello marker on Feb. 4, the historical road markers themselves are becoming apart of our historical landscape. Virginia’s historical marker program is the oldest state-sponsored marker system in the U.S. One of the earliest markers in the program is the marker titled, “Stuart” erected in 1927. As U.S. Highways were improving for automobile travel, more people were taking to the roads for vacations and business travel. Virginia being a state rich in history particularly as it related to the American Revolution and the Civil War wanted to attract visitors to the state by showcasing their unique position in history. Most of the early markers concentrated on these two historical events.
Stuart marker is grouped with Marker E-39 (Start of Sheridan’s Raid) Stuart marker in background, looking north on Route 1 on the left.
In 1922, the Virginia General Assembly passed an act to create a board “to place suitable monuments or markers on, at, or in places of historical interest in the Commonwealth.” The program began in reality after the general assembly created the Conservation and Economic Development Commission in 1926. Markers were placed along major roads to reach the largest number of travelers. The first historical markers in the program were erected on U.S. Route 1 between Fredericksburg and Richmond with this marker being one of the first.
The “Stuart” marker is located on U.S. Route 1 south of Fredericksburg, just north of I-95 exit 126. The original plan was for each marker to have an assigned letter and number code, which continues today. But, as can be seen in the “Stuart” marker it is different than other markers, even markers of the same year. The marker has the official designation of E-8, but the marker only has “No 8” on its face. Also the name of the “Conservation and Economic Development Commission” was abbreviated leaving out the word “Economic” and the year 1927 were both listed on top within the triangle. Later markers have the name of the commission and the year at the bottom of the marker.
For example, the marker titled “Capture of Front Royal” J-8 in Warren County, VA erected in 1927. Though erected the same year, but the number on the marker is 8-J, with the addition of the letter and the letter and number are reversed from later markers. Apparently at some later time an additional sign below was added giving the number in the current configuration for markers, J-8. A detailed description of the number system for Virginia Historical markers can be found at Historical Markers Database.
Many of these earlier markers have vanished. Many were damaged over the years and replaced, most were replaced with markers with expanded, smaller text. Early markers had shorter, larger text in order to make it easier to read the marker, though this did not work out as well as expected in the beginning. By 1934, twelve hundred markers were in place and pull-offs were created to permit motorists to stop and read the texts on the markers.