The NPS manages all the battlefields in the area, Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, Chancellorsville, and the Wilderness. It also manages several historic buildings, including Chatham Manor.
The battles in the area were over a period of about 18 months, starting with the first battle of Fredericksburg in December, 1862, between Burnside and Lee. Chancellorsville was April and May, 1963. Lee defeated Union general Hooker here and this was where Stonewall Jackson was mortally wounded during the battle.
The second battle of Fredericksburg took place in May, 1863. In May, 1864, Grant and Lee’s armies met in the Battle of Wilderness and the Battle of Spotsylvania. Both were inconclusive.
I visited Spotsylvania Battlefield the first day in town, driving the battlefield and walking the trails. I read about the Bloody Angle, where Grant captured the tip of the salient; 1000s died during the hand-to-hand fighting here.
Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville have visitor centers. I arrived at Fredericksburg National Battlefield visitor center, at the Sunken Road, just in time for a ranger walk; we learned about the 3 days of this battle, how Meade should have been able to cross the river prior to Lee’s army arriving in the area but his order for pontoon bridges sat on a desk for 6 days before the Army engineers even got the request. Bureaucrats!
We learned about the “angel of Marye’s Heights”, Richard Rowland Kirkland, a confederate soldier. He gathered canteens, filled them with water, and took blankets to the Union soldiers lying wounded on the battlefield in front of the CSA position. He did this for hours while both Union and Confederate soldiers watched him. There is a statue to him on the site. After the ranger walk, I finished the Sunken Road trail, then saw the exhibits and video in the visitor center before going to Prospect Hill, the right flank of the battle.
I stopped by the interesting Hugh Mercer Apothecary Shop, to hear about 18th century “medicine”. There is a $7 entry fee.
I also had a tour at George Washington’s Ferry Farm, his childhood home. Privately run, and rather expensive for a tour of a reconstructed house, at $12, but interesting nevertheless. The property has been through multiple owners but they located the foundations of the farm in 2008 and rebuilt the house.
The next day I visited Chatham Manor. Used as a hospital during the war, it was also the burial grounds for many dead soldiers. The house is only open weekends this time of year so we didn’t visit, but Boo and I enjoyed the grounds, there are some beautiful gardens, with views of the Rappahannock River and Fredericksburg.
I spent several hours visiting Chancellorsville National Battlefield. There are great exhibits here. Boo and I walked the trail to see where Jackson was shot by friendly fire, marked by a monument, then drove around the battlefield to see the Chancellor House site, McLaw’s Line, the Lee-Jackson bivouac site, Catharine Furnace, and Hazel Grove.
I was glad to have several days here. There are many more sites in this historic town if I had more time, including Mary Washington’s house and the Kenmore, built by Betty Washington, George’s sister, and her husband.
** All photos property of Lisa, not to be copied or reproduced **