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Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County

Significance of the Battles Around Fredericksburg

AFTER THE OPENING BATTLES of the War Between the States, the decision of the Confederate government to defend as its military frontier the line of the Rappahannock River destined that river valley to become the scene of fierce fighting. Again and again the opposing armies surged across this natural frontier to engage in deadly combat. At the head of navigation on the Rappahannock, and half way between Washington and Richmond, the city of Fredericksburg changed hands no less than seven times during the war, and four major battles were fought within 15 miles of the city. In a rising tide of Confederate victories Gen. Robert E. Lee twice turned back the Federal Army of the Potomac in the Battles of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, December 1862 and May 1863, and swept on to Gettysburg. Confederate fortunes then receded, and, in May 1864, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant began his relentless drive against the Army of Northern Virginia, which took him into the Battles of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania Court House and on to Cold Harbor and the siege of Richmond and Petersburg. To the people of Fredericksburg, these battles brought the full gamut of modern warfare: hordes of refugees, drives for relief funds, armies in winter quarters, bombardment, crowded hospitals, and finally many graves.

The Confederate victories at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville carried Southern morale to the highest point reached during the war, and the Confederates now decided to take the fight to Northern territory by invading Pennsylvania. The Battle of Gettysburg turned them back. A year later the great battles fought in the Wilderness west of Fredericksburg and at Spotsylvania Court House began the pounding war of attrition by which Grant ultimately crushed the Confederacy. These battles were unprecedented in ferocity and extent. After the bloody series of engagements at Spotsylvania Court House, Grant was nearer Richmond, but he was still faced by an adversary strong enough to repulse the Federal Army at Cold Harbor, June 3, 1864, and to defend the cities of Petersburg and Richmond for 10 months. Perhaps the chief significance of the Battles of the Wilderness and of Spotsylvania Court House lies in the fact that despite the tremendous losses they inflicted on his army, Grant continued to fight and to press forward, which was more than any other Federal leader in Virginia had done before. On May 11, Grant wrote to his government, "I . . . propose to fight it out on this line if it takes all summer." This he did, and finally brought about the fall of Petersburg and Richmond, the surrender of Lee, and the end of the war; but it took the summer and the winter, too.

Visitors obtain information from the National Park Service contact station on the Wilderness Battlefield.

The Historical Background of Fredericksburg

THE HISTORY of Anglo-American civilization in the vicinity of Fredericksburg extends to the days of Capt. John Smith who explored the Rappahannock River to the falls above the present city in 1608. At the head of navigation on the river, it early flourished as a center for the exportation of Tidewater tobacco. Here the planters gathered to attend church and court and to buy imported luxuries. Here landed the immigrants who sought the rolling red lands of the Piedmont and started the Westward Movement. From his home across the river George Washington came to school in Fredericksburg. The Revolutionary events recalled by the names of George Rogers Clark, John Paul Jones, and the Marquis de Lafayette all have their peculiar associations with Fredericksburg. In the peaceful years which followed, the local court listened to the arguments of John Marshall, Edmund Randolph, and James Monroe. But a generation later war again intruded and left its indelible mark. What other American city of similar size has so often and so continuously been the stage of history?

View of Fredericksburg in 1862 looking across the Rappahannock River from Stafford Heights. (Signal Corps, U. S. Army.)

The First Years of War

FROM THE MOMENT Confederate guns opened fire on the Federal garrison of Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, April 12, 1861, President Lincoln considered war between the South and North almost inevitable, and 3 days later he called for 75,000 volunteers to suppress the rebellion. Thereupon, the States of Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Arkansas joined the Confederacy, and within 3 months hostile armies were face to face at numerous points on a front which stretched from the banks of the Mississippi to the Potomac.

Maj. John Pelham, C. S. A., who was in command of Stuart's Horse Artillery in the Battle of Fredeicksburg. (Signal Corps, U. S. Army.)

Maj. Gen. A. E. Burnside, who commanded the Federal Army at the Battle of Fredericksburg. (Signal Corps, U. S. Army.)

In July was fought the first Battle of Manassas which, ending in a rout for the untrained soldiers of the Federal Army, revealed to the North that the seceded States were not to be conquered without a long, difficult struggle. Thereafter, the war was divided into three main theaters of action—the West beyond the Alleghenies, the seacoast of the Southern States, and northern Virginia. During the remainder of 1861, there were no decisive events on any of these fronts. But in 1862 the Federals carried out a drive in the West which left only Vicksburg and Port Hudson in Confederate hands on the Mississippi. They also captured or block aded nearly every Southern seaport that year.

View of Fredericksburg from Stafford Heights, 1941.

The War in Virginia

IN VIRGINIA, after the first Battle of Manassas, the Federal Army withdrew within the fortifications of Washington and the Confederates encamped at Centerville, a few miles east of the battlefield. In these respective positions the two armies remained immobile until March 1862. During the winter, the Federal commander, Gen. George B. McClellan, evolved a plan of campaign by which he would move his army secretly by water to Urbana, on the Rappahannock River, then dash overland 50 miles to capture Richmond before the Confederate Army at Centerville could move to its defense. This plan was adopted March 8; but the next day, Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, the Confederate commander, with apparent knowledge of the Federal plan, withdrew his army from Centerville to the south bank of the Rappahannock River with his right at Fredericksburg and his left at Culpeper Court House. This placed the Southern forces as near to Richmond as Urbana and caused McClellan to change his base of operations to Fortress Monroe at the mouth of the James.

Diorama in the park museum showing a street scene in Fredericksburg after the bombardment.

Defending the peninsula between the York and the James Rivers, there was a Confederate force of about 15,000 men, under Gen. J. B. McGruder, entrenched in the vicinity of Yorktown. On April 4, McClellan effected a landing on the peninsula and prepared to besiege the Confederate fortifications. Meanwhile, the main body of the Army of Northern Virginia was transferred from the Rappahannock to Yorktown, and Johnston assumed command of the defense. On May 3, Johnston, realizing that he would not be able to withstand the fire of the heavy siege guns that were being put in place opposite his lines, withdrew from the fortifications and began a rapid retreat up the peninsula in the direction of Richmond. McClellan immediately followed.

The Confederates, already outnumbered three to two by McClellan's Army of the Potomac, were now seriously threatened on their flank by a second Federal Army, under Gen. Irvin McDowell, which had advanced from Washington to a position on the Rappahannock opposite Fredericksburg. The attention of this new force was diverted, however, by Gen. T. J. (Stonewall) Jackson, who made a brilliant series of movements through the Shenandoah Valley directed toward the city of Washington. On June 1, Johnston attacked McClellan a few miles east of Richmond and was repulsed in the Battle of Fair Oaks, which is also called the Battle of Seven Pines. In this encounter Johnston was wounded and Robert E. Lee was given command of the Army of Northern Virginia. During the month Lee drew reinforcements from the Carolinas and Georgia, recalled Jackson from the Valley, and on the 26th started an offensive which in a week smashed the Federal campaign. In the face of this vigorous Confederate drive, which is now known as "The Seven Days' Battles," McClellan withdrew his army southward to Harrison's Landing on the James River. There he received orders to abandon the campaign and to unite forces with the army of Gen. John Pope, which was then located on the Rapidan River south of Culpeper Court House.

As soon as the Confederate capital was freed from immediate danger, Lee hastened to throw his whole strength against Pope, and by skillful maneuvers brought him to battle on the field of Manassas. Here for the second time the Confederates inflicted a severe defeat on a Federal Army. Lee then boldly marched his victorious troops across the Potomac, where he hoped to arouse the people of Maryland to break with the Union. He hoped also that a victory on the soil of the United States would bring foreign recognition to the Southern Confederacy.

The Battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg), September 17, 1862, brought to an unsuccessful end the Confederate invasion of Maryland, and Lee retreated into Virginia. After the Maryland campaign Lee's army was so shaken that it probably would have been an easy prey if vigorous action had been taken by the Federal commander. But McClellan failed to take advantage of the situation. A month later, at the insistence of President Lincoln, he advanced cautiously into Virginia and placed his forces in the Warrenton-Manassas area. After continued delay, the Administration lost confidence in his ability and replaced him with Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside, on November 7, 1862. The new Federal commander determined upon a quick drive on Richmond by way of Fredericksburg. On November 16, the march began. Lee, observing the movement, started his forces marching from the vicinity of Culpeper toward Fredericksburg on November 18.

The Washington Artillery of Louisiana on Marye's Heights firing upon the Union columns forming for the assault. (Signal Corps, U. S. Army.)

The Battle of Fredericksburg

AT THE POINT where the Rappahannock River leaves the Piedmont to enter Tidewater Virginia, it breaks through a chain of hills and makes a sharp bend from the east to the southeast. On the north side the high land, known as Stafford Heights, follows the river closely for a considerable distance, its bluffs falling steeply to the water's edge; but south of the river there is a plain from 1 to 3 miles wide which rises gently to a range of heavily forested hills, known as Marye's Heights, and, farther to the southeast, Spotsylvania Heights. About a mile in front of Marye's Heights on the south bank of the river lies Fredericksburg.

Burnside had expected to cross the Rappahannock before Lee could move to oppose him, but he was not swift enough in the execution of his plan, and, when he was finally ready, Lee was waiting for him in the hills south of Fredericksburg. Public and political sentiment in the North, however, compelled Burnside to take action regardless of the consequences. Therefore, he determined to force a crossing in front of the Confederate position. A factor in this decision seems to have been misinformation, some of which was obtained by balloon observation, whereby Burnside thought Lee's army was stretched out over a long distance, guarding river crossings below Fredericksburg. Laying of pontoon bridges, December 11, was severely harassed by Confederate sharpshooters posted in ditches and houses along the river bank. After heavy artillery bombardment of the town, followed by furious street fighting late in the day, the bridges were completed, and the blue forces began to pour across the river.

Meanwhile, Lee drew in his forces and prepared for battle. Jackson, who occupied a third of the 7-mile Confederate line, massed his men along the heights from Hamilton's Railroad Crossing on the right, thence northwestward to the Lansdowne Valley. From there to the river dam, a mile and a half northwest of the town, Longstreet held the high land with a more extended formation. Along the base of Marye's Heights, west of Fredericksburg, Longstreet posted a number of regiments in an old sunken road, where from behind a stone wall they could command the open fields sloping down toward the town. The Marye's Heights position was further protected by a wide ditch and a canal, which traversed the open land near the edge of the town.

Confederates defending the Sunken Road at the foot of Marye's Heights during the Battle of Fredericksburg. (Signal Corps, U. S. Army.)

On the morning of December 13, a dense fog concealed Burnside's army, which under orders was disposed for attack. In the town of Fredericksburg, Gen. E. V. Sumner, with the Right Grand Division, was expected to advance on Marye's Heights, while the Left Grand Division under Gen. W. B. Franklin, which had crossed the river below the town, was to attack the Confederate right defended by Jackson. The Center Grand Division of the Federal Army, with Gen. Joseph Hooker, was held in reserve on Stafford Heights with the artillery.

As the fog lifted between 9 and 10 o'clock on Franklin's front and revealed the Federal columns advancing across the valley toward Hamilton's Crossing, the Confederate horse artillery opened up with a murderous fire, which compelled the Federals to halt. Two additional Union divisions, however, soon came up, and, deploying to the left and to the right, respectively, permitted the central column, which was commanded by Gen. George G. Meade, to advance again. Momentarily checked by cross-fire from Jackson's batteries, Meade continued to press forward through a hail of musket bullets and cannister which was released as the Federal soldiers approached the edge of the woods. This section of the Confederate line was thinly defended, as it was fronted by a swampy marsh which had been regarded as impassable. In consequence, as Meade's men charged into the forest they broke through the line turning aside one Southern brigade and smashing another. But no reinforcements followed the Federals, and, fighting desperately, they were driven back by the Confederate reserves.

At the other end of the battle line a fierce contest was also in progress. About 11 o'clock, the Confederates began to shell the town from their batteries on Marye's Heights. The Union brigades, forming in the town for attack on the heights, were punished by this fire. Emerging from the town, Sumner's men came immediately under the full force of it as they advanced in columns across the damaged bridges, which spanned the ditch and canal. They deployed behind the low hill near the canal and charged the stone wall behind which Longstreet's men were waiting. The Confederates fired deadly volleys as the Federals continued to rush forward, wave after wave, only to be shot down. The Confederates, having been reinforced in the Sunken Road, formed in three lines; firing in rotation, they produced a density of fire suggestive of modern machine gun operation.

A cook hut in the Federal winter camp on Stafford Heights. (Signal Corps, U. S. Army.)

The Chancellor House in 1863. (Signal Corps, U. S. Army.)

All day Burnside dissipated his strength against this Confederate stronghold. In the early after noon an order was sent to Franklin to attack with all his force along his front to relieve the situation at Marye's Heights, but Franklin was either unable to carry out this order, or he failed to receive it in time to put it into effect. At 4 o'clock, Hooker, who had been called into the fight, gave the order for another assault on the stone wall, but this was stopped as had been all the others. As darkness approached, Hooker commanded his men to fall back; not a Federal soldier had reached within 30 yards of the fateful stone wall. The battle was ended. As the day came to a close, the Federals withdrew toward the river bank, and 2 days later recrossed the Rappahannock to go into winter quarters on Stafford Heights.

In the Battle of Fredericksburg, the Federal strength was approximately 142,551, and they sustained losses of 12,653. The Confederates had 91,760 men, and lost 5,309.

Ruins of the Chancellor House, 1941.

The Chancellorsville Campaign

IN APRIL 1863, Hooker, who had supplanted Burnside in command of the Army of the Potomac, proposed to take the initiative against the Confederate Army facing him across the Rappahannock. Burnside's frontal assault on the heights behind Fredericksburg had brought disaster to his army. Hooker planned to nullify the strong Confederate position by a turning movement which would place the greater part of his force in rear of Lee's army. To fix Lee's attention at Fredericksburg, a holding force would be thrown across the river to demonstrate in force against the Confederate right flank. Successful completion of the movement would place Lee between strong Federal forces and compel him to fight on two fronts or retreat on Richmond.

Lt. Gen. T. J. (Stonewall) Jackson, who was mortally wounded in the Battle of Chancellorsville.

Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker, Federal commander, in the Battle of Chancellorsville. (Signal Corps, U. S. Army.)

West of Fredericksburg there stretched the dark green mass of the Wilderness, a dense tangle of second-growth forest, nearly 15 miles square, in which oak and pine predominated. Much of its original timber had been consumed in the furnaces, or used to strengthen the shafts of the iron and gold mines, which dotted the hills in colonial days. Once cultivated, its exhausted and deserted fields had long since been abandoned to the seedlings which quickly covered them. Only an occasional farm broke the monotony of the gloomy green woodland as it alternately dipped to the many "runs" flowing north to the Rappahannock and south to the Mattaponi Rivers and rose to the crests between them. About a mile within the Wilderness from its eastern edge was the Chancellor House, known as Chancellorsville, and just south of the forest was Spotsylvania Court House.

In accordance with Hooker's plan, a Federal column moved up the north bank of the river April 27, and, crossing the Rappahannock and the Rapidan into the Wilderness, concentrated at Chancellorsville, 10 miles in rear of Lee's left, on April 30. Additional troops were brought up by way of the United States Ford. In the meantime, the holding force, under Gen. John Sedgwick, had crossed the river at two points below the town.

Hooker's turning movement had been so skillfully executed that it was not until late on the 29th that Lee was aware of the concentration in his rear. Deciding to dispose of this threat, Lee dispatched Gen. Lafayette McLaws and Gen. "Stonewall" Jackson to reinforce Gen. R. H. Anderson, who was in retreat before the Federal advance. Gen. J. A. Early, with 10,000 men, was left at Fredericksburg to hold the Federal demonstrating force.

At 11 a. m., May 1, Hooker resumed his movement eastward toward Fredericksburg. Meeting opposition, he fell back to Chancellorsville and intrenched. Jackson followed Hooker to within approximately a mile of the Federal position.

Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant.

During a conference between Lee and Jackson on the night of May 1, a reconnaissance report revealed the weakness of Hooker's right resting on the Orange Turnpike about 3 miles west of Chancellorsville. It was decided to throw Jackson, with 32,000 men, across the Federal front and strike this exposed flank from the west. Lee was to remain on Hooker's front and left with 13,000 men.

Shortly after 5 a. m., May 2, Jackson's flanking column got under way. A Federal attack engaged the rear guard about noon but failed to halt the movement. Jackson reached the Turnpike late in the afternoon, deployed in three lines, and about 6 p. m. surprised and shattered a Federal corps, forcing it back on Chancellorsville in disorder. The Confederates steadily pressed this retreating force to within 1 mile of Chancellorsville. Here Stonewall Jackson halted his pursuit temporarily and, returning from a reconnaissance with his staff, was mortally wounded by the fire of his own men, who mistook the party for enemy cavalry.

At daylight the following morning, Gen. J. E. B. Stuart, called to command Jackson's Corps, renewed the attack, extending his right to join with Lee's left. After 6 hours of severe fighting, the Federals were forced back to an intrenched position north of Chancellorsville, covering United States Ford.

At this juncture, Lee received word that Sedgwick had driven Early from the heights at Fredericksburg and was moving west on the Plank Road toward Chancellorsville. Detached to meet this new threat, McLaws succeeded in checking the Federal advance at Salem Church. On May 4, Anderson joined McLaws, forming south of Sedgwick's position, while Early returned to the heights and cut off Sedgwick from Fredericksburg. Sedgwick fought off a Confederate attack and under cover of darkness retreated across the Rappahannock.

With Sedgwick disposed of, Lee again concentrated his forces at Chancellorsville, but his advance against Hooker's new position on May 6 disclosed that the Federals had retired across the Rappahannock at United States Ford the previous night.

Lee now took the offensive and began his second invasion of the North, culminating in his defeat at Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1863.

In the Battle at Chancellorsville, the Federals lost 17,278 men out of a total of 133,868; the Confederates lost 12,821 out of 60,892.

View of the Wilderness in 1862 showing the tangled mass of forest growth through which the armies had to maneuver. (Signal Corps, U. S. Army.)

The Battle of the Wilderness

AFTER HIS REPULSE AT GETTYSBURG, July 3, 1863, Lee returned to Virginia. Meade, who had superseded Hooker as major general commanding the Army of the Potomac, followed cautiously. In November, after the indecisive campaigns of Bristoe Station and Mine Run, Lee took up a strong defensive position along the Rapidan.

With general headquarters at Orange Court House, 37 miles west of Fredericksburg, the Confederate left rested in the Blue Ridge foothills. The right was masked by the Wilderness, the same gloomy woodland in which Hooker came to disaster during his operations at Chancellorsville, May 1-6, 1863. Meade quartered his army for the winter in a vast city of canvas around Culpeper.

Assigned, with the rank of lieutenant general, to supreme command of the Federal forces, Grant established his headquarters at Culpeper and hastened preparations during March and April for the Grand Campaign of 1864. Meade retained command of the Army of the Potomac, his objective being Lee's army of northern Virginia and the Confederate capital. Grant intended that this dual objective should be pursued vigorously.

At dawn, May 4, Meade, marching in two columns, crossed the Rapidan and struck southward through the Wilderness. While the right, or protective, flank moved into position covering the Orange Plank Road and Orange Turnpike, two parallel highways running east across the Wilderness to Fredericksburg, Grant proposed to swing Meade's left through the lower reaches of the forest and overlap Lee's right rear.

Informed of the Federal movement at 9 a. m., May 4, Lee sent Gen. R. S. Ewell eastward along the Turnpike into the Wilderness. Gen. A. P. Hill followed along the parallel Plank Road, and Longstreet hastened northeast from Gordonsville to join Hill.

Grant, learning during the forenoon, May 5, that enemy forces were approaching the right flank of Meade's marching columns, abandoned the turning movement, and threw the troops of Gen. G. K. Warren and Sedgwick piecemeal at the Confederates on the Turnpike. Meantime, Gen. W. S. Hancock countermarched by the Brock Road and struck Hill's column near the Brock-Plank Road intersection. The Federals were repulsed on the Turnpike, and darkness interrupted Hancock's drive against Hill.

Reinforced during the night, Grant determined to overwhelm Lee before Longstreet arrived on the field. The Federals advanced at 5 a. m., May 6. Warren and Sedgwick failed to develop an attack in force, and Burnside went astray in the woods while attempting to pass between Warren and Hancock to strike Hill's rear. Hancock resumed his attack on Hill.

As Hill's battered brigades quit the field, Longstreet's veterans came into action. A swift counteroffensive stopped the Federal advance. Then a column of four Confederate brigades moved by the right along the roadbed of an unfinished railway and struck Hancock's left rear. The Federal line, as Hancock told Longstreet in later years, "rolled up like a wet blanket."

Fired with possibilities of another Chancellorsville, Longstreet rode recklessly forward to reconnoiter. Like Jackson, who was stricken just a year before in the same Wilderness by fire of his own men, Longstreet met the volley of a Confederate regiment and fell dangerously wounded. At Lee's order, Gen. C. W. Field, temporarily commanding the corps, paused to re-form before moving against Hancock's reserve trenches along the Brock Road. The assault was made at 4 p. m.

Promise of another Chancellorsville had vanished. Field failed to carry the Brock Road works. At sunset, Gen. John B. Gordon led a surprise attack against the Federal right, but this brilliant stroke came too late for decisive results. During the night of May 7, Grant began moving by the Brock Road toward Spotsylvania Court House.

The Federal strength in the battle was 118,769 and their losses amounted to 15,387, while the Confederates had 61,953 men and lost approximately 11,400.

Trenches on the Spotsylvania Court House Battlefield.

The Battle of Spotsylvania Court House

ABOUT 9 P. M., May 7, 1864, the Army of the Potomac moved by the left and south from the Wilderness toward Spotsylvania Court House. Warren's troops, taking the advance by way of the Brock Road, were impeded sufficiently by Fitzhugh Lee's cavalry to permit a Confederate corps under Anderson, which was also marching from the Wilderness, to get into position across Grant's path northwest of the courthouse.

The next morning at 8 o'clock, Warren struck Anderson's line of battle on the high ground about a mile from the courthouse and was repulsed with heavy losses. During the day, Warren was joined by Sedgwick, while Confederate troops under Ewell formed on Anderson's right about 5 o'clock that afternoon, just in time to aid in the repulse of Warren's second attack on the Confederate position.

On May 9, Hancock formed on the right of the Federal line, with Burnside holding the left. Late in the evening, Grant misled by reports that Lee was withdrawing from the Federal right, sent three of Hancock's divisions across the Po River to take Lee in left and rear. Recalled on the 10th, Hancock was attacked as he recrossed the Po by Early, who had been moved from the Confederate right to oppose his advance.

At 6 p. m., May 10, Col. Emory Upton with 12 picked regiments made the first of the Federal attacks against the U-shaped salient in the Confederate intrenched position covering Spotsylvania Court House. Striking the west face of the salient, Upton penetrated the front line and captured a battery, but was forced to withdraw when Mott's division, held back by Confederate artillery, failed to support his left.

At dawn, May 12, Hancock made a surprise attack on Ewell at the apex of the salient, captured 20 guns and most of Johnson's division of about 4,500 men, including its commander and Brig. Gen. G. H. Steuart. The Confederate artillery along this line, which had been withdrawn during the night and then sent back, was overwhelmed just as it arrived, before the guns could fire a shot. Grant ordered a general advance of all his troops to prevent the dispatch of reinforcements to the Confederates at the salient. Wright's corps was thrown against the west face of the salient on Hancock's right. At this point, appropriately known as the Bloody Angle, the fighting lines were so close together that the opposing troops were firing into one another's faces. The Confederates fought for more than 20 hours to regain their lost works, finally retiring about 3 a. m., May 13, to new intrenchments thrown up across the base of the original U-shaped position.

The Jackson Shrine as it appears today after the restoration. In this house "Stonewall" Jackson died.

On May 18, at 4:10 a. m., Hancock attacked Lee's trenches at the base of the salient, hoping to repeat his success of the 12th, but was driven back with heavy losses, the Confederate infantry being adequately supported by artillery this time.

Late in the afternoon of May 19, Ewell's corps, thrown across the Ni River in a reconnaissance attack against the Federal right, struck a division of Hancock's corps near the Harris House. The attack failed when Federals received reinforcements. This was the last engagement of Spotsylvania Court House. On the night of May 20, Grant's army, followed by Lee, moved by the left toward the North Anna River.

The Federal Army in this battle had a total of about 110,000 men, and of the number approximately 17,555 were lost. The Confederates numbered approximately 50,500, and their losses are unknown.

National Park Service Headquarters and Museum in Fredericksburg, Va.

Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County National Military Park

THE FREDERICKSBURG AND SPOTSYLVANIA COUNTY NATIONAL MILITARY PARK consists of blocks of land on which the earthwork remains of the war or the fields of attack over which the Battles of Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, the Wilderness, and Spotsylvania Court House were fought, together with the house and grounds which constitute the Stonewall Jackson Shrine at Guinea, Va., and the Fredericksburg National Cemetery, a total of 2,433 acres of Federal lands. The park was authorized by act of Congress approved February 14, 1927, and the beginning of development was marked by the dedication on October 19, 1928, by President Coolidge.


Park headquarters are located on the southern edge of Fredericksburg, halfway between Washington and Richmond, on U. S. Highway No. 1. Directions to particular points on any of the battlefields, or other park areas, can be obtained at headquarters. The Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad connects with both Washington and Richmond. Buses arrive and depart regularly.


In the national cemetery on Marye's Heights, overlooking the Sunken Road they sought to storm, rest more than 15,000 Union soldiers. More than 12,000 of them lie below the short, nameless headstones of the unknown. The 12-acre cemetery was established in 1865 and was soon filled with the remains of soldiers killed at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, the Wilderness, and Spotsylvania Court House.


The Stonewall Jackson Shrine at Guinea, Va., includes the house to which the Confederate leader was taken after he was wounded May 2, 1863, during the Battle of Chancellorsville. Jackson was first treated in a field hospital, where his badly shattered arm was amputated. Then, as soon as he was able to go, he was moved to Guinea in an ambulance.

At first he seemed to be recovering, but early on the morning of May 7 examination disclosed pleuro-pneumonia of the right side. Toward the end he asked to be buried in Lexington in the Valley of Virginia and said, "It is the Lord's Day; my wish is fulfilled. I have always desired to die on Sunday."

In the delirium which preceded his death he talked as if he were on the battlefield and seemed to relive the scenes of bivouac and battle and prayers with his staff. At the very end, a quarter past 3 o'clock, Sunday afternoon, May 10, he smiled and said with evident relief, "Let us cross over the river, and rest under the shade of the trees."

The Jackson Shrine property was purchased in 1909 by the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad, and the house was later repaired and restored by direction of Eppa Hunton, Jr., president of the company. In 1937, the property was presented to the United States Government to be administered by the National Park Service. It serves as a museum and contains the bed in which Jackson died and various articles of furniture and relics associated with his life. No admission is charged.

A foot trail in the Jackson Wildflower Preserve—Chancellorsville.

The National Cemetery—Fredericksburg.


Tours of the Fredericksburg Battlefield, conducted by park historians, are scheduled for 9 and 11 a. m., and 2 and 4 p. m., every day. Stops are made at points of interest for brief lectures. Each tour lasts one and a half hours. In the headquarters building there is an excellent museum which contains a diorama of wartime Fredericksburg, an outstanding collection of small arms, relief maps of the battlefields, wartime photographs, and relics of the 1860's. In the firearms collection can be seen virtually every type of small arms used in the War Between the States. The same building contains a library of 3,000 volumes available to students of this war. On each field there is a visitors' information station with an attendant in charge with maps, pictures, and relics pertaining to the battle fought there. Well-equipped picnic areas are provided on each field. Throughout the park places of special importance are designated by narrative and descriptive markers and monuments. No charges are made other than a 25-cent fee to adults for admission to the museum. Arrangements can be made in advance to provide historians to guide large groups of visitors to any or all fields and to provide lecturers to organizations interested in knowing more about the war and the park.


The park is administered by the National Park Service of the United States Department of the Interior. Communications, inquiries, and requests for literature relative to the park should be addressed to the Superintendent, Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County National Military Park, Fredericksburg, Va.

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Last Updated: 20-Jun-2010