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Sunday, March 3, 2013

Hatcher's Run Civil War Battlefield near Petersburg, Virginia and a cool cache

Memorial to fallen Confederate General John Pegram
Even in the snow we were able to get out to do a little geocaching and some historical site touring. While visiting with our friends, Don and Carol Poteat near Colonial Heights, Virginia the skies opened up and gave us a snowy, beautiful couple of days. While many of the church services were cancelled, Don felt confident in his ability to drive in the stuff so off we went to visit a historical site with significance to sumajhuarmi. I'd taken Don out and introduced him to geocaching the day before the snow started. He loved it and is already thinking of getting his own GPSr. This particular morning we were off to see the battlefield where sumajhuarmi's great great Grandfather Joseph Edwards, private in Company B, 54th NC Infantry Regiment, lost his life in battle.
sumajhuarmi reading about the battle accompanied by friend Don Poteat

A little history
In the late winter of 1864-1864 the 54th North Carolina Infantry Regiment was under siege along with the rest of General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. The NC 54th was located in the southern most extremes of the siege defense. On 6 February 1865 the weather changed for the better. It was an unseasonably warm spring-like day. The Union Army moved its cavalry to try to cut the Boydton Plank Road in hopes of cutting off any resupply efforts that might be taking place there. At the same time they hoped to gain a little more ground in their effort to tighten up the siege line around Richmond and Petersburg so they moved several infantry divisions further west. In response to the Union moves General Pegram's Confederate Division was order to counter them. As a result the two forces met at a small creek called Hatcher's Run. As Pegram's Division, including the 54th NC Infantry, moved forward, they were fiercely attacked by the Union forces. The battle raged as the front lines moved back and forth on the field. The terrain was wooden so much of the fighting was at close quarters. During the afternoon General Pegram fell mortally wounded. At some point in the battle so did Joseph Edwards. Family tradition remained from sumajhuarmi's grandmother that Joseph had been wounded but that they had left him out in the cold and he froze to death. We knew little else. I began my genealogy research some years back with only that information. I found a widow's pension with the state of NC filled in the 1890's which told me what unit he fought with. From there I was able to find out about this battle. It lines up. He was most likely among the wounded that fell that day. The records indicate that during the afternoon the weather abruptly changed to rain, the freezing rain and that many of the wounded died of exposure. We think that Joesph was buried in the mass grave to NC troops in Petersburg's Old Blandford Church cemetery. We don't really know. We appreciate Don and Carol taking us to see this site. It has great meaning to our family. It is hard to imagine what life was like for Mary Sullivan Edwards with five boys when here husband didn't come home from the war. God was good and protected them through the years. That's another story for another time.

The bonus for this excursion was a geocache hunt very near the small monument to General Pegram. It was an offset cache known as Hatcher's Run 2 (GC1RV6E). Unfortunately this cache may need the owners attention to verify what we suspect. The cacher ahead of me plus our three pairs of eyes simply could not find it. It being a pretty large regular size cache leads us to believe that it is gone. Maybe it is there and we missed it. If verified we sure will look for an opportunity to go back and look for it again.

I like offset caches because they often bring in a few of those pirate treasure hunting skills to play. You know what I mean. You take so many steps to the east and then so many steps to the north until you see the broken gate post or something like that. We followed the instructions and were 100% sure we were at the right spot but found no cache. It would have been nice to have found the cache but the real joy was the hunt itself and the joy of being able to see a place that was important to our family. Thanks to the cache owner, The Fonz, for placing it. Now to find some more historically significant caches...
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