Sunset in the Coconino National Forest, looking northeast toward Sedona, AZ, 4/17/15

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Fredericksburg Battlefield (VA),
September 17-18

Original Stone Wall built by
Confederate Soldiers to provide
cover at the Sunken Road
Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County Battlefields Memorial National Military Park encompasses 4 battlefields in Virginia -- Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, Wilderness, and Chancellorsville. 

I hesitated to go to this National Park site.  I typically avoid studying events where so many experienced violent deaths at the hands of others.  This area is considered the "bloodiest landscape in America" where 85,000 were wounded and 15,000 killed, 1861-1865
Wall with bullet holes from
Battle at Fredericksburg

Yet, when I can distance myself from that horrid reality, there is much of interest -- each side's passion, political thinking, military strategies, and the documented perceptions of the soldiers and civilians.  To manage my time and emotions, and to do this visit justice to the enormous amount there is to learn, I choose to focus on the first battle of the 4, the Battle at Fredericksburg.

Kirkland Monument
Confederate soldier giving water
to a wounded Union soldier
Porch of the Rising Sun Tavern
with living history participants

George Washington's mother's home
  After checking out the Visitor's Center, I took a self-guided tour of the battlefield.  It included the sunken road where confederate soldiers took aim when union soldiers crossed the field toward them.  A portion of the Confederate-built wall still stands along the sunken road.   Some of the original structures had been restored, including the Innis House which stood in the middle of the battle.  One of the interior walls has not repaired and still bears bullet holes from that battle.  My tour ended at the Kirkland Monument honoring the mercy of a Confederate Soldier who went onto the open field, in the heat of battle, to bring water to wounded union soldiers.

Although the battle took place on December 13, 1864 on a large open field outside of town, the killing actually began on December 11th in the town of Fredericksburg among its businesses, churches, and family homes.  This is the first instance of urban warfare on US soil.  The Union Army crossed the Rappahannock River onto the streets of Fredericksburg where Confederate Soldiers were hidden in buildings shooting and delaying the Union's arrival to the battlefield.  This gave the Confederates more time to prepare for battle.  I was fortunate to take a walking tour of the town of Fredericksburg with a NPS historian who shared some of the documented words from both the soldiers and civilians affected by the river crossing and urban warfare of the 11th ... both interesting and sobering.
One "soldiers" camp at
the Yankees at Falmouth event

I was also fortunate to have the timing of my visit coincide with a couple of activities that highlighted Civil War history.  One was the Living Legacies "A Century Later" event featuring people dressed and acting as though in the Civil War era.  I took tours of the Rising Sun Tavern, Dr. Mercer's Office & Apothecary, and the home of Mary Washington (the mother of George Washington).

The second event, "Yankees in Falmouth" was directly across the river from Fredericksburg.  This event featured an encampment where people dressed and acted as if living during the Civil War.

The Battle at Fredericksburg ended with a resounding Confederate win -- 5,300 Confederate casualties, 12,600 Union dead, wounded or missing, 2/3 in front of the stone wall at the Sunken Road.

originally posted 10/22/10


  1. Looks like you're playin catch-up with some posts. The pictures are tres beau. Ya know Suanne, every time I see the pcis of your setup or read some of your posts either on your blog of the yahoo groups, I gotta say you're amazing. A van I can see, as I've done it before and am about to start it again, but a micro econo car is really getting it down to basics. You gotta be psyched about the new micro van thing they're releasing.

    A bientôt,

  2. Thanks Remi. I've been watching your posts in the yahoo groups and on your blog. You are making great headway. The best to you as you continue, even with the headaches.


Please make a comment. I'd love to hear from you ...