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Fredericksburg for History Lovers


a rustic chair with a red pillow in Fredericksburg


Fredericksburg, Virginia, is a historical city steeped in the Civil War. It’s home to some of the most critical battles in American history, and visitors can still explore these sites today. Whether you’re a history lover or just want to learn more about this fascinating period in America’s past, there are plenty of things to do that will appeal to all ages. Read on for our top picks for history lovers.

Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park

Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park are great places to visit in this city if you’re a history lover. The park’s visitor center has exhibits, maps, and a film that tell the story of this important battlefield. You can also see historic sites like Marye’s Heights and Chancellorsville. There are guided tours available if you want more information about your trip.

The self-guided tour starts at the visitor center, where an exhibit hall contains artifacts from the battle, including weapons, uniforms, and artillery pieces. You can also watch videos about various aspects of the battle here or pick up brochures for self-guided tours of different areas on the battlefield that include walking paths so you can follow along at your own pace while learning more about what happened during this critical moment in American history.

Rising Sun Tavern

The Rising Sun Tavern is located on the corner of Washington and Main streets. The tavern has been in business since 1774 and is now a National Historic Landmark. It’s open to the public for tours, but you should call ahead for reservations because it’s usually booked solid with groups.

During your visit, you can take a tour of the building, which will give you an idea of what life was like during its heyday. You’ll also get to see how much things have changed over time. For example, back then there were no outlets for electrical appliances like microwaves or air conditioners—everything was powered by fireplaces! They had to keep their food warm by placing it near those fires, too (that could get messy). One thing they did have was tea—you’ll see some teacups still displayed in one room where they used them as drinking cups!

You can also get a glimpse into how they ate while being served by wait staff at the tableside. Different kinds of bread and meat were brought out first, followed by soups or other hot dishes such as roast beef or pork chops.

Kenmore Plantation

Kenmore Plantation is a National Historic Landmark and the most visited house museum in the country. The Greek Revival-style mansion was built by Thomas Peter, a wealthy Fredericksburg tobacco planter, between 1846 and 1850. It was named Kenmore after an estate he had visited in Scotland. The house is open year-round, with tours offered daily by the Kenmore Plantation Foundation.

If you want to tour more than one historical site in Fredericksburg, consider taking advantage of a combo ticket that includes admission to both Kenmore and Mary Washington House. This way, you can take advantage of each museum’s various offerings without having to pay the full price twice!

Fredericksburg Battlefield Visitor Center

This is the first place you should go when you arrive in Fredericksburg, as it’s right on the battlefield and offers information about what happened there. It’s free to enter, but they do ask for a donation at the end of your visit (hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m., daily). The center has an exhibit hall where you can learn more about the Civil War and its impact on Virginia, as well as view artifacts from both sides of Gettysburg. Outside markets are detailing where some major battles took place during this period. If you’re lucky enough to visit during one of their special events, you’ll experience them firsthand!

Also remember that while visiting battlefields like these might seem morbid or depressing at first glance, they actually offer a huge amount of insight into American history and how far we’ve come today.

These top Fredericksburg picks are worth a visit

The top sites for history lovers to visit in Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park include the following:

Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park encompasses both sides of the Rappahannock River and offers a variety of historical sites that can be toured by car or foot. The most popular attractions at this park are the Civil War battlefields on either side of the river, but there are plenty of other places worth checking out as well. A few highlights include locations such as Kenmore Plantation, Rising Sun Tavern, and Fredericksburg Battlefield Visitor Center. These destinations offer visitors a chance to learn about life during wartime and hear firsthand accounts from soldiers who fought during this time period.

The park also includes several museums, including the Spotsylvania Court House Museum and the Museum of the Confederacy. If you want to go even further back in time, there are also historic homes like Kenmore Plantation. It should be on your radar when planning your trip to Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park.

Consider moving to Fredericksburg

If you’re moving to Fredericksburg soon, you’ll probably want to know a little bit about its history. You’ll find that it’s a great place to live. If you are planning a family relocation to this city, you can always get help with any task. Hiring professional movers can save you money and time while packing and transporting your belongings to a new home. Before you pack your bags, take a look at some of the things that make our town unique.

The history here is rich and colorful, with much of it preserved in museums such as Mary Washington House and Chatham Manor. If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about this region’s colonial past, those sites are worth checking out!

Fredericksburg has also been recognized by national publications such as Forbes and Money magazines for being an excellent place to raise children, so if your family includes kids who need lots of outdoor activities, then they’ll be right at home here, too (or vice versa).



Take Action for the Causes You Care About

This picture shows 3 volunteers taking action for the causes they believe in

Creating a petition, knocking on doors, soliciting donations, or contacting your representative are all examples of how you can take action for the causes you care about. No matter what cause is closest to your heart, you’re almost sure to find others in your area who share your interests and passion. Here are some ideas from The Fredericksburg Guidebook for connecting with your fellow community members and effecting the change you wish to see.

How to take action for the causes you care about!

Become a Teacher

One of the best ways to ensure lasting change in your community is to connect with its youngest members. Becoming a teacher allows you to work with children in your local area and gives you the opportunity to impart your values to them as a trusted role model.

To become a teacher, you need to obtain a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and complete an educator preparation program. Online teaching degrees let you continue to fulfill your professional and personal obligations while you pursue your career in education. Completing an online teaching degree also helps you prepare for your state licensure exam, which you need to pass before you can work as a teacher in most school settings. You need to submit transcripts, complete a background check, pay fees, and have student teaching experience to obtain a teaching license.

Start a Nonprofit Corporation

There’s strength in numbers, and this especially applies to advocating for social causes. Whether it’s tackling poverty, protecting the environment, or increasing voter participation, nonprofits exist to bring like-minded individuals together around a shared mission. There are many other benefits to starting a nonprofit, including that nonprofits are often eligible for grants and public funding. A formation service can help walk you through the process of getting one started.

As part of the necessary legal process for registering your nonprofit organization with the state, you need to create bylaws to govern your nonprofit. These bylaws establish important things, such as board member election, statement of purpose, and how your organization will handle conflicts of interest. Contact your Chamber of Commerce for resources and support for starting a nonprofit in your community.

Once your nonprofit is established, you can begin advocating for issues in your community. For example, you may want your organization to advocate for improving community walkability by building sidewalks and implementing traffic calming measures. You can organize within your community to try to bring about these changes.

If you’re working with immigrants, you should consider using a translator to maximize the benefit you can provide for a given community.

Invest in nonprofit accounting software

Few things are more important to a nonprofit’s health than its finances. Not only do nonprofits give out funding, but they receive funds from public and private entities to carry out their missions. Nonprofits are also subject to more intense financial transparency regulations and tax laws than other entities, so accurate accounting is essential to your organization. Use nonprofit accounting software that enables you to track donations, send invoices, and manage expenditures. The ability to create custom, detailed reports is also important, so your individual donors can have an accurate account of how their money is being used.

Take Action Today

Once you make the commitment to advance the causes that matter to you, you’re on your way to seeing positive change in your community. Becoming a local educator or starting a nonprofit are just several of many avenues you can take to stand up for what you believe in.

The Fredericksburg Guidebook is Fredericksburg, Virginia’s best city guide for finding local history, arts, entertainment and businesses. Call 540-226-0988.

7 Fun Things to do in Fredericksburg, VA

A sign that says welcome to Virginia and represents the topic of fun things to do in Fredericksburg, VA

There’s hardly a place more affluent in history than Fredericksburg, VA, so finding 7 fun things to do in Fredericksburg, VA is easy! This charming little town is quite a paradise for all the history buffs! Fredericksburg played a pivotal role during the American Civil War, evidence of which is present to this day. As far as tourist attractions go, there is plenty to see and do history-wise. In addition, the sense of community here is strong, and both visitors and residents can enjoy sipping coffee in one of the delightful cafes, drinking craft beer in one of the local brewers, or taking a walk at one of many parks. It’s for sure that 7 fun things to do in Fredericksburg, VA, aren’t lacking. However, to make it easier to decide what to do, we’ve compiled a list of 7 fun things you should try out during your stay here!

Fun Things to Do in Fredericksburg, VA You Shouldn’t Miss Out On

It’s only natural for the fascinating town to offer an engaging experience regarding amenities and activities. With that said, let’s dive into the best things you could do while visiting Fredericksburg.

#1 Pay a Visit to Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park

Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park pays tribute to no less than four battles fought during the American Civil War – Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, The Wilderness, and Chancellorsville. The park is home to an abundance of monuments, a few of which include:

  • The Fifth Corps Monument
  • The Humphreys’ Division Monument
  • The 127th Pennsylvania Volunteer Monument

But that’s not where the fun ends. You’ll also be able to learn so much about the Civil War period in one of the buildings that held incredible significance during the war. For instance, this national park is home to Chatham Manor, Salem Church, Ellwood Manor, and even the house where General Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson died.

In summer, it’s possible to take a guided tour around the park. On the other hand, if you are visiting mid-other season, you can wander around the park and battlefields alone, all while learning about the history from the plaques and exhibits.

#2 Go to Fredericksburg National Cemetery

While paying a visit to the National Park, you might as well pay a visit to the Fredericksburg National Cemetery inside it. This cemetery is the resting place for 15,000 Union soldiers who died during the Civil War, although only a mere 2,500 was identified. The cemetery is located on top of Mayre’s Hill. It’s a quiet place that offers visitors a chance to reminisce, all while taking in the views of the entire city.

#3 For Immense Fun, Visit Central Park Fun Land of Fredericksburg

We are sure you can’t find a better place in Fredericksburg for family fun than Central Park Fun Land of Fredericksburg! Visitors of all ages are sure to have a good time here. Laser tag, mini bowling, arcade games, and even an indoor roller coaster are just some of the indoor activities they offer. The park’s outdoor facilities include go-karts, carnival games, batting cages, mini-golf, and many more.

The place is also home to a cafe that serves yummy drinks and food. In addition, thanks to wristbands, unlimited entertainment is guaranteed!

#4 Aviation Fans Should Sprint to Shannon Air Museum

Every aviation enthusiast who takes a trip to Fredericksburg should check out Shannon Air Museum, which is home to an extremely rare collection of historic airplanes. In addition, the museum also houses The Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame.

It’s a modest museum with an abundance of fascinating airplanes and displays. Furthermore, here, you will get insight into the history of flying. And who knows? After visiting, you might even find yourself motivated to pursue a career in the aviation industry.

#5 Creative Souls Should Hop on to Fredericksburg Center for the Creative Arts

If you haven’t realized this yet, there are fun things to do in Fredericksburg, VA, for everyone – regardless of age or interests. Having said that, if you are a creative individual, you will most certainly enjoy quality time at the Fredericksburg Center for the Creative Arts. This local art center includes no less than two galleries. For those interested in pursuing art as a career or solely for fun, it might be worth mentioning that the center also holds art classes and special events at times.

And since this is Fredericksburg we are talking about, it’s only natural that the art center would be situated inside of an old house -one that was built in 1785, nonetheless! This house represents the kind of home an upper-middle-class family in the 1700s would have had in Fredericksburg, as opposed to the bigger manors that are common here. A silversmith and his family once inhabited the structure.

The center displays mesmerizing paintings, photographs, and even prints. It’s possible to visit between Thursday and Monday, free of charge.

If you find yourself drawn to the city of Fredericksburg, VA, and its amenities, moving to the area could be a good idea. But, if you are moving long-distance, you might have certain doubts about executing the process successfully. We say: don’t worry because easy transfer across the state is possible with the assistance of professional movers. Don’t let the fear of relocating stop you from enjoying everything that Fredericksburg offers!

#6 Go to the Old Mill Park

Old Mill Park is where you want to be on a sunny day! This park lets you take a refreshing dip in the Rappahannock River waters and even take up kayaking. Several family-friendly amenities are here, such as a playground and covered picnic tables. To top it all, the Rappahannock River Heritage Trail passes right through the park, a popular route for hikers and bikers.

#7 Don’t Miss Sammy T’s

Finishing our list of the fun things to do in Fredericksburg, VA, is Sammy T’s, which you absolutely can’t miss visiting while in the area! Sammy T’s is a local pub/restaurant located in the downtown part of the city. The pub has a diverse menu and assortment of mouth-watering delicacies that one must try! And trust us, after a long day of wandering around the area, food is something that your belly will most certainly need!




A Stately Mansion Turned Hospital During the Civil War

A Stately Mansion Turned Hospital During the Civil War
By John F. Cummings III

Brompton, the former Mayre Mansion is a stately mansion turned hospital during the Civil War. It stands atop the western heights that overlook the old city of Fredericksburg. Along these heights, extending into a five-mile front, Confederate force dominated the scene, despite going against a Union force nearly twice its size on December 13, 1862. Roughly 17,000 casualties would come out of this battle. In the aftermath, facilities to treat the wounded of both sides was badly needed. Brompton became a hospital for the Confederates who would continue to hold this ground. In May 1863, Confederates once again held the heights temporarily, during the Chancellorsville Campaign. One year later, Union forces would occupy and utilize Fredericksburg as a vast hospital center during the first weeks of the Overland Campaign. The wounded were transported some fifteen miles from the Wilderness battlefield, west of town, and ten miles from Spotsylvania’s fighting ground to the southwest. The following images illustrate Brompton’s use as a Union hospital in May 1864.

The Mayre mansion survives today as a stately mansion turned hospital during the Civil War. Although bearing visible scars of battle on its walls, it serves as the private residence of the president of the University of Mary Washington, which shares the heights as its campus. Not open to the general public, the house and grounds are occasionally made available for tours and academic study. The University of Mary Washington has one of the finest Historic Preservation departments in the United States, and many of its graduates have gone on to exceptional careers with the National Park Service, and other fine institutions.

A Stately Mansion Turned Hospital During the Civil War
Wounded Union soldiers recuperate under a giant oak near the house. This remarkable tree has survived over a century and a half since the taking of this image credited to Mathew Brady and Company. These soldiers were injured during the fighting around Spotsylvania in May 1864.

A Stately Mansion Turned Hospital During the Civil War
Photographer James Gardner’s view of the home’s front porch shows treated soldiers recovering from their wounds. Former Confederate rifle pits cut across the lawn in the foreground, a reminder of the battles fought on this ground December 1862, and May 1863. A large pediment was added to the façade of the home in postwar years, but a precise date is unknown.

A Stately Mansion Turned Hospital During the Civil War
In April 1866, a Union surgeon, Dr. Reed Brockway Bontecou, brought a photographic entourage with him a year after the war’s end, to tour and document the battlefields around Fredericksburg. Bontecou was the chief surgeon at Harewood Hospital near Washington, D.C. This view shows the many pockmarks left by bullets and artillery shell fragments in the December 1862 battle.

A Stately Mansion Turned Hospital During the Civil War
Another James Gardner photograph shows soldiers seeking shade as they recover on the north lawn of the Maryre property. Rooms on either end of the main entrance hall served as operating theaters where men with wounded limbs often faced amputation. Removed limbs were often put out an open window where they collected in a pile for later removal. The open window, at left of center, is in one of the rooms used for surgery. In recent years, it has been used as a music room for the University president’s family.

John Cummings is a visual historian and the author of three books on the Fredericksburg/Spotsylvania region. He provides battlefield guide services, and research assistance to visitors. He has also written for several national and local magazines and newspapers, and provided historical research and commentary for four documentary films. He served on the former Spotsylvania Courthouse Tourism and Special Events Commission, and as chairperson for the former Friends of the Fredericksburg Area Battlefields, (FoFAB).

Contact information is available on his blog at:

A View of Fredericksburg’s William Street 155 Years Ago

WIlliam Street
A View of Fredericksburg’s William Street 155 Years Ago. In May 1864, Fredericksburg was to become, for a third time, the center of operations for an occupying army. The vast majority of the future city’s citizens had fled their homes and businesses as refugees just prior to the Battle of Fredericksburg in December 1862. In the spring of 1864, most had not yet returned, and the region had already seen another battle rage over it in May 1863, as part of the Chancellorsville Campaign.

With the opening salvos of the Overland Campaign erupting in the Wilderness region of Orange and Spotsylvania Counties, 18 miles west of Fredericksburg, the need for a logistical hub brought thousands of Union army personnel again to its streets and buildings. Warehouses and churches once more became hospitals as close to 30,000 wounded soldiers were transported from the battlefields for treatment, and should they survive their wounds, eventual transportation to larger facilities in the north. Daily wagon trains carried supplies to the army over rutted dirt roads leading to the ravaged countryside.

This photograph, A View of Fredericksburg’s William Street 155 Years Ago, by James Gardner, shows the north side of the 300 block of Williams Street. At center we see a gathering of soldiers in front of the United States Sanitary Commission supply depot. The USSC was a civilian-run relief organization sanctioned by the federal government, established to aid the comfort and clean conditions of soldiers in camp and hospital. This depot in Fredericksburg occupied what is now
315 William Street. For many years William Street was also known as Commerce Street. Note the banner hanging across the face of the structure, obscuring the name of the commercial establishment it occupied,
“E.L. Heinichen, Agent for B. Heinichen”, one of several confectionary establishments in town.

Our second photo shows this same section of the street as it appears today. Some of the buildings retain their 19th century appearance, and others have been severely modified for adaptive reuse.

By: John F Cummings III

John Cummings is a visual historian and the author of three books on the Fredericksburg/Spotsylvania region. He provides battlefield guide services, and research assistance to visitors. He has also written for several national and local magazines and newspapers, and provided historical research and commentary for four documentary films. He served on the former Spotsylvania Courthouse Tourism and Special Events Commission, and as chairperson of the former Friends of the Fredericksburg Area Battlefields, (FoFAB). Contact information is available on his blog at:

William Street