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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).

 

 

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: http://spotsylvaniacw.blogspot.com/

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: http://spotsylvaniacw.blogspot.com/

William Street