150 Years Ago, The Civil War Left Montclair
By March of 1862, the 750 Confederate States of America soldiers had spent about six months at their winter camp, Camp Fisher, in what is now Montclair, Virginia. Many had fought the previous July in the Battle of First Manassas; some would continue fighting all the way to Gettysburg. But on March 8, 150 years ago this week, the Civil War left Montclair. Overnight the troops were given orders to fall back to Fredericksburg; the South feared Richmond, their capital, may be at risk. The camps were burned and the batteries abandoned. Artillery pieces that could not be removed quickly were spiked or otherwise destroyed. Two of these cannons were recovered in the 1960s and are on display at the Quantico Marine Corps Museum on Jefferson Davis Highway (Rte. 1) in Triangle, Virginia.
By the way, that Saturday in 1862 while these troops were marching south, the Battle of Hampton Roads was underway. The Confederacy was trying to break the Union blockade that had cut off Richmond from international trade. It was arguably the most important naval battle of the American Civil War from the standpoint of the development of navies. You may know it by another name, the Battle of the Monitor and Merrimack; the first meeting in combat of ironclad warships.