America's Best History Spotlight 

On this page we're going to Spotlight the lesser known historic sites and attractions that dot the history landscape across the USA and are worth a visit if you're in their area.  And while they may be lesser known, some are very unique, and will be that rare find.  You'll be, at times, on the ground floor, or maybe even know something others don't.  It'll be fun.  Visit them.

United States Flag on Continent background

Battle of Kelly's Ford,
Rappahannock River, VA

Phelps Wildlife Management Area
Battle of Kelly's Ford, Virginia
Battle of Kelly's Ford, Virginia

Custom Search

Buy the America's Best History Timeline
Now in Ebook and Paperback
Great for the history student or buff

America's Best History Timeline Cover

What is There Now

Battle of Kelly's Ford

What's There

1,192 acres saved by the Civil War Trust
4,539 acres within the C.F. Phelps WMA.
3 wayside exhibit placards on the west side at Kelly's Ford.
Pelham marker.
Field Hospitals
Walking trails to some battle sites.
Battlefield Landmarks.

How Much to Visit

Civil War Trust Land
As far as we can tell, free.  Of course, they'd like as much in donation as you can spare to buy and preserve more battlefield land.

C.F. Phelps Wildlife Management Area
- Day fee $4 or Yearly fee $23 or free if you have a Virginia hunting or fishing pass.  There are no collection facilities here.  Permits may be bought online or at a location that sells Virginia Fishing and Wildlife permits.

How to Get There

If you're coming up from the larger battlefields of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Chancellorsville, and Fredericksburg, continue on Route 3 west about ten miles.  Look for Route 620 (it's not that well marked on the road, ask someone before you go too far) and take a right.  Stay on Route 620 till you get to the Kelly's Ford intersection and bridge.  The wayside markers are there.

From Route 15 south, you can take Route 651 east near Remington to Route 620.  You'll be on the other side of the bridge there.
 The C.F. Phelps Wildlife Management Area is all around you in this area, predominantly on the northern side of the river.


Website:  Kelly's Ford Battle, Civil War Trust

History Along the Way You Might Like
Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Battlefield (including the Wilderness and Chancellorsville sections)
Brandy Station Battlefield

Battle of Kelly's Ford, Virginia

C.F. Phelps Wildlife Management Area

Even though you may come to the Phelps WMA to explore its Civil War past, Phelps is predominantly a place for outdoor recreation.  You can hunt (check for season dates), fish, hike, canoe, and explore the wildlife in this area along the Rappahannock River, plus primitive camp there for a modest fee.

Location: 16 Miles from Wilderness Battlefield.

Cost: $4 per day or $23 per year or in possession of a valid Virginia Game and Inland Fisheries Fishing and Hunting pass.  These are good at all of the various WMAs in Virginia.  Permits

Camping: Primitive carry in and carry out camping allowed with fees paid.  Access from various parking lots around the WMA.

Website:  C.F. Phelps Wildlife Management Area

Phelps Wildlife Management Area, Battle of Kelly's Ford, Virginia - Free Shipping on ALL orders


About Them

Battle of Kelly's Ford, Rappahannock River, Virginia

As you pop through Virginia to the more well-known battlefields of Manassas or Fredericksburg and even those below that scale like Balls Bluff, you're in the vicinity of others that saw action, but are even further off the beaten track.  One of those is the land where the Battle of Kelly's Ford was held.  Kelly's Ford is an area along the Rappahannock River where soldiers crossed to get to the other side, i.e. the enemy.  What is now the Route 3 area of Virginia had been the site of battles since December of the year before when Burnside attempted to scale Marye's Heights at Fredericksburg, then marched in the mud.  As spring approached, troopers constantly moved around the area, looking for movement toward a larger scale battle.  On March 17, 1863, they would find a smaller engagement, rated C on the A-E scale, as Union cavalry under William Averill forced the troopers of Fitzhugh Lee across the Rappahannock River at Kelly's Ford, moving them back several miles.  He did not follow up, a Union tradition at the time, but artillerist John Pelham was killed on the Confederate side (a noticeable loss) and this was the first time Union cavalry in the reorganized Army of the Potomac had proved their worth.

The Battle of Kelly's Ford was the first all cavalry battle of the war and would lead to action later that spring at Chancellorsville and Brandy Station.  There were 2,100 Union troopers engaged versus 800 Confederates.

There are some interesting places to visit, although the site in not interpreted in the way you've probably come to expect at larger battlefields.  On the southern side of the Rappahannock River at Kelly's Ford (bridge on Route 620), there are three wayside exhibit panels that explain the battle action.  Above, west, of that intersection up Kelly's Ford Road, to the intersection of Route 673, the land between the road and the river was used in the battle.  There are trails on the C.F. Phelps Wildlife Management Area land that take you to some of the site, as well as on the land now preserved by the Civil War Trust.  You can search for the Pelham marker.  You can see still standing battlefield landmarks, field hospitals, and trails to the site of the original river cross. These are not easy to find, ... best to ask a local when you're there.

Archive drawing of the Battle of Kelly's Ford, Virginia

Image above, Union cavalry in hand to hand combat with Confederate troopers.  From Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, courtesy Library of Congress.

A unique opportunity from a Civil War standpoint is that the C.F. Phelps Wildlife Management Area allows you to camp on their land.  This only costs $4 per night, or $23 per year (there are restrictions on length of stay, i.e. 21 days in a row).  So you'll be very close to, or staying on land where the action occurred.  Now don't expect a campground.  Basically we're talking a parking lot and trails to the interior where you can camp.  There are no facilities, at least when we were there, not even pit toilets, so bring your own.

Phelps Wildlife Management Area, Battle of Kelly's Ford, Virginia

Stat Geek Baseball, the Best Ever Book
Stat Geek Baseball, the Best Ever Book
A GREAT BOOK for that
baseball history or stat fan in your life.

Kindle/Computer Edition
Paperback -

Civil War 150th Anniversary T-Shirts and Gifts

Great Gifts for National Park fans

America's Best History Shirts, Sweatshirts, Mugs


America's Best History Index

Past Spotlights

America On Wheels

Heinz Wildlife/Fort Mifflin

Reading Railroad Museum/Reading Phils Minor League Baseball

Rancho Los Cerritos

Trexler Games Preserve/Horseshoe Trail

Historic Sites

Acadia National Park
Alamo, San Antonio
Appalachian Trail
Ball's Bluff
Barbary Coast - San Francisco
Big Cypress National Preserve
Blue Ridge Parkway
Bryce Canyon
Cape Canaveral
Cape Cod National Seashore
Carlsbad Caverns
Chickamauga & Chattanooga
Colorado NM
Crater Lake
Ellis Island
The Everglades
Ferry Farm/Mount Vernon
First State National Monument
Fort McHenry
Fort Sumter
Fort Vancouver
Glacier National Park
The Grand Canyon
Grand Teton
Great Smoky Mountains
Harper's Ferry
Hawaii Volcanoes
Hot Springs, Arkansas
Joshua Tree National Park
Mammoth Cave
Manassas (Bull Run)
Mesa Verde
Morristown NHP
Mount Rainier
Muir Woods
Natchez Trace Parkway
New Orleans
Niagara Falls
Oklahoma Land Rush
Olympic National Park
Oregon Trail
Pearl Harbor
Petrified Forest
Philadelphia - Independence
Pinnacles National Park
Plymouth Rock
Redwood National Park
Rocky Mountain NP
The Roswell Incident
Saguaro National Park
San Antonio Missions NHS
San Juan NHS
San Juan Islands
St. Augustine
St. Louis Gateway West
Sequoia and Kings Canyon
Statue of Liberty
Stones River
Sutter's Mill (Gold Rush)
Valley Forge
Theodore Roosevelt NP
War of 1812
Washington, D.C.
Washington's Crossing
White Sands
Wilderness, Battle of
Yellowstone National Park
Yosemite National Park
Zion National Park

Historic Site Attendance Statistics

Support This Site

U.S. History Timeline
History Timeline Index

* 1770-1779 - The American Revolution
* 1780-1789 - The Nascent Democracy
* 1790-1799 - America Builds


1800-1809 - Exploration
* 1810-1819 - The War of 1812
* 1820-1829 - A Decade of Compromise & Doctrine
* 1830-1839 - Conquering the West
* 1840-1849 - The Mexican War
* 1850-1859 - Expansion & the Looming Divide
* 1860-1869 - The Civil War
* 1870-1879 - The Nation's Centennial Decade
* 1880-1889 - America Invents
* 1890-1899 - The Age of Immigration


1900-1909 - The World Begins to Fly
* 1910-1919 - World War I
* 1920-1929 - Properity and Its Demise
* 1930-1939 - The Great Depression
* 1940-1949 - World War II
* 1950-1959 - Two Cars in Every Garage
* 1960-1969 - Civil Rights and Turmoil
* 1970-1979 - The Nation in Flux
* 1980-1989 - The Reagan Revolution
* 1990-1999 - Prosperity as the World Turns


2000-2009 - The Fight against Terrorism
* 2010-Present - Economic Recovery

1490-1499 - Columbus/Cabot
1500-1599 - Exploration
1600-1699 - Settlement
1700-1769 - American Rights

National Park Timeline
Abraham Lincoln to Cuyahoga Valley
Dayton Aviation to Gulf Islands
Hagerman Fossil Beds to Muir Woods
Natchez to Russell Cave
Sagamore Hill to Zion NP

Other Important National Park Service Dates