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Fredericksburg, VA, Civil War and more

Posted on | May 27, 2010 | Comments Off on Fredericksburg, VA, Civil War and more

Article by John Pelley

Today turned into another marathon session. Our goal was to visit Fredericksburg and the environs. Our first stop was at Guinea Station, the Shrine to Stonewall Jackson. To get there we followed in part the route Jackson took to flank the Union troops during the battle of Chancellorsville and then the ambulance route to the station situated at the railroad tracks, a distance of about twenty miles. The idea was to take Jackson to the hospitals in Richmond via the rails. But the Union had torn up the track further south.

We took the ten-mile trip North to Fredericksburg, missing the Battlefield VC, but arriving at the Fredericksburg Chamber of Commerce VC. Here we received walking tour maps of the city and the invasion via pontoon bridges across the Rappahannock River by the Union forces. Some of the buildings still remain standing and are still very serviceable, including the two major churches, city hall; Mary Washington’s house, etc. Yes, many building were destroyed from the bombardment by both sides and the intense hand to hand combat.

Walking the streets we looked at many antique shops, boutiques, and restaurants. The main shopping sprawl with all of the chain stores is on Rte 3, just off of I95. Two of the places, which really caught our eyes, were one, which carved beautiful patterns in large eggs Ostrich, etc.) and Lee’s Gourmet Ice Cream Shop based out of Baltimore, MD; YUM, YUM, YUM.

We finally found the NPS VC. They have a 22-minute movie narrated by James Earl Jones and a guided tour of the Sunken Road located midway up the hill to Marye Heights. Brampton House, which stands on top of the heights is still there and is the home of the president of Mary Washington University. Sunken Road has been restored to its 1862 state: gravel. Four-foot high stone fences rise from each side to keep it from eroding. The CSA lines ran over seven miles in length. The logistics of moving 114,000+ USA soldiers and over 60,000 CSA soldiers is pretty amazing.

Our final stop was Chatham house built about 1770. It has the distinction of being one of the few houses where both George Washington and Abraham Lincoln stayed. Washington grew up nearby and Lincoln came to visit with his military officers. During the Battle of Fredericksburg, the house was a hospital. Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross, tended to the wounded. Walt Whitman, the poet, also helped, looking for his brother, who had been injured in the Battle. He was not there, but at a different hospital. Whitman wrote in one of his books that the amputated arms and legs of the soldiers were thrown into a pile by the catalpa trees. These tress are still there by the front of the house. The house itself went into decay, but was restored in the 1920s with loving hands by the Devores.