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The Wilderness, a region of dense thickets south of the Rapidan River, is where Gen. Ulysses S. Grant opened his 1864 campaign. In the Battle of the Wilderness, beginning on May 5, Grant's troops met Gen. Robert E. Lee's Confederates, and fighting raged for 2 days.
Fierce attacks and counterattacks swept through the Wilderness. The woods caught fire, making an inferno in which many of the wounded perished. By the end of the second day neither side had gained the advantage. On May 7 Grant again started his army toward Richmond, but he met Confederate resistance at Spotsylvania Court House.
The Wilderness is now part of Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park.
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