Yesterday was a busy day. We went grocery shopping in the morning and then took a “afternoon trip” to Historic Fredericksburg, Virginia. More about that in a minute, but first here’s the daily baby picture. Josiah is not only cute, but he’s extremely smart as well. “Josiah, how many days old are you?” See how many fingers he holds up? That’s right, four days old.
Then there’s the Father / Son picture – A Proud Dad
Okay, it’s onto Fredericksburg. Today Fredericksburg is a quaint little town made up of cute little shops where one can “shop until they drop” for sovereigns and antiques. We began our tour at the Welcome Center where we watched a short video of Fredericksburg’s history. Then we walked the streets, but didn’t go into any of the shops. After grocery shopping we were pretty well shopped out and we didn’t need any antiques. But Fredericksburg is a colorful unique “artsy crafty” little town as you can tell from the pictures.
During the Civil War, Fredericksburg hosted four different battles in its immediate area with one right in its own backyard. Hosted probably is not the most optimal word being that the battles were, in reality, thrust upon them. The town is strategically located half way between Washington, D.C. and Richmond, Virginia, which were the two Capitols during the Civil War, along the banks of the Rappahannock River. Also, several railroad lines converged in the town making it an important supply point for the Confederate War effort; therefore, it became a target of the Union Army.
The Battle of Fredericksburg (December 11-13, 1862) was fought right on the streets of Fredericksburg. It pretty much reduced Fredericksburg to rubble. The Union Forces, led by General Burnside, set up camp at Stafford Heights, on the east side of the Rappahannock River, and began building pontoon bridges to cross the river. This was a costly battle for the Union Army. First they were slaughtered while attempting to build the bridges across the river. Once the Union Army was able to cross the river and gain access to the town, the Confederate Army maintained the “high ground”, known as Marye’s Heights, behind Fredericksburg.
General Burnside’s battle plan called for a two pronged attempt. One at the south end of town on Prospect Hill against Thomas J. (Stonewall) Jackson and the other on Marye’s Heights. The prong at Marye’s Heights was intended to keep the Confederate Army occupied while defeating Jackson on Prospect Hill, but Jackson was able to maintain position and route the Union Army back into town. Therefore, the battle on Marye’s Heights became the major event. The result was a resounding Confederate victory that left the fields around Fredericksburg blanketed with Union dead and wounded.
We were surprised that the battlefields were devoid of all the monuments that we’ve encountered at other Civil War battle sites. The National Park Service does maintain the drive from Fredericksburg south to Prospect Hill. The pictures below are from “Stonewall” Jackson’s position on Prospect Hill. Pyramids were erected along the rail lines to mark points of historic interest for the traveling passengers.
We mentioned that the Union Army set up camp at Stafford Heights on the east side of the Rappahannock River. Headquarters were established at the Plantation Chatham. Chatham was built in 1771 by William Fitzhugh, who was a delegate to the Continental Congress, on bluffs overlooking the town of Fredericksburg. Chatham occupied 1288 acres and employed hundreds of slaves to operate. General Burnside was able to watch the battle take place on Marye’s Heights from Chatham. As the battle progressed, Chatham became a field hospital for the Union Army.
We didn’t visit the other battle sites – Chancellorsville (April 27-May 6, 1863), The Wilderness (May 5-6, 1864), and Spotsylvania Court House (May 8-21, 1864). Maybe we’ll visit these sites in a return trip to the area. There’s so much in this area to see and do.
So, From Virginia; May God Bless - - - - - - - -