Fredericksburg, VA   1 comment

Day 18-22

Arriving at Fredericksburg, Virginia, we held a Mother’s Day dinner for our guests. Dinner consisted of pork loin, rice, broccoli, salad, cranberry, orange, applesauce and assorted dessert. What a way to honor our mothers.

One of our guests presented me with three of the prettiest roses for Mother’s Day. How thoughtful of him!

We started off early on our motor coach and headed to Richmond, Virginia to tour some Civil War sites. Starting at the American Civil War Center, we did a self-guided tour of their museum, a guided tour of the grounds, and a 20 minute film.

It seems that there is a myth out there that the south did not make their own cannons. Well, our guide informed us that there was one site, The Tredegar Iron Works, right here in Richmond. Power supplied by the James River and Kanawha Canal made industrial development possible at the Tredegar site. It was the nation’s largest and best-equipped ironworks in 1860. Tredegar iron industries operated until the 1950s.

Founded in 1837, by 1861, the Iron Works employed approximately 800 skilled and unskilled laborers, both black and white, free and slave. Trained workers from Great Britain, Germany, and the North were recruited. They also increased the number of slaves who worked was blacksmiths, teamsters, and boatmen, usually hired annually from slaveholders. Another group of slaves were trained in the more skilled ironworking. In 1847, the white workers who usually held these jobs demanded that they stop bringing in slaves and went on strike. The white workers who supported the strike were fired and new workers were recruited, engaging even more slaves. They also employed free blacks and paid them the same wages as the white workers.

The Gun Foundry was built in 1861 to cast ordnance for the Confederacy, and some 1,160 cannons were made for the South. The company had about 1,000 workers; 860 whites, 140 blacks, 130 of the blacks were slaves. Tredegar housed, fed, clothed, and provided medical care for the slaves. A ten-hour work day was standard and slaves earned cash by working overtime or producing more than their daily quota.

Below is a photo of the poles that carried the flags during the Civil War.

June 26-29, 1862 Seven Days’ Battles. No military campaign had more influence on the course of the Civil War than these 7 days of battle. Robert E. Lee advanced his troops across the Chickahominy River with nearly 45,000 soldiers. That action opened a weeklong series of battles that resulted in the Union army retreating to the banks of the James River. Lee’s army moved north, defeating Union forces at Cedar Mountain and Bull Run and then marched toward Maryland and the first invasion of the North. The cost, however, was staggering as both sides combined lost 15,000 casualties, the greatest loss in any battle of the entire Peninsula Campaign.

Union commanders chose an ideal location to fight their last battle of the Seven Days. As many as 40 cannons covered the 1 ½ mile front, nearly 80,000 Union soldiers spread out behind or in support of the guns. It was the strongest positions held by either army during the war. Lee gathered his “reduced” army of 70,000 in the distant woods. Poor communication combined with misunderstanding of orders led to repeated Confederate attacks. Southern troops found themselves forced to charge straight into the Federal batteries. Over 30,000 Confederates took part in the advances. By day’s end, the battle claimed 8,000 casualties; over half wore gray. The Seven Days Battles produced more casualties than any other battle of the war except Gettysburg. Lee succeeded in driving McClellan’s army away from Richmond. The capital was safe and the war in Virginia moved north.

On Confederate Avenue we stopped at some gravesites. Here we found a unique memorial to the Confederate soldiers built of stone. The stone was “stacked” without mortar and has remained unscathed by the weather over the years.

Virginia’s State Capitol building was designed by Thomas Jefferson in 1785. Hoping to safeguard the conception from changes in Richmond, he commissioned a scale model of the exterior from the model-maker Jean-Pierre Fouquer.

Museum of the Confederacy is the museum to visit if you want to see the personal effects of the famed Confederate military leadership. It exhibits hundreds of personal belongings, uniforms, military equipment and weapons. Below is a photo of the field notebook that Captain James Boswell, an engineering officer, carried in his pocket when he was killed while riding with Stonewall Jackson. It was also interesting to find that of the approximately 850,000 men who served in the Confederate armies, 260,000 died – 166,000 died from disease.

Next door is the White House of the Confederacy. I think the most interesting room was the library. After Jefferson Davis fled the area, President Lincoln arrived at the Confederacy’s White House and sat in the library by himself for hours just thinking. Wonder what he was thinking. While in town, he was to attend a play, but was talked out of it because they thought it would be safer to view a play in Washington, D.C. We all know what happened when he attended the play in Washington D.C.’s Ford’s Theater.

We took a nice ride on the Richmond Riverfront historic canal. The canals were used in the transportation of goods as well as people but the railroads were more conducive, thereby phasing out the use of the canals. The canal runs right under I-95.

Fredericksburg, Virginia, has a beautiful historic district.

We passed by the home of Mary, the mother of George Washington. George Washington actually surveyed that particular area so each site would have his signature on the original survey. He bought this house for his mother where she lived near her daughter, Berry, the last 17 years of her life.

We dined in the historic district which was a very quaint area with a lot of small restaurants. But I do have to say that none of the restaurants are equipped to handle the schedule of a tour group. All of the restaurants seem to cater to the “locals” before “giving a care” about us “foreigners.”

Chatham was built between 1768 and 1771. It was used by the Union army during the war as a hospital, headquarters, and even a stable. During the Civil War, it was referred to as the Lacy House after its owner J. Horace Lacy, who was one of Stafford County’s most prominent Confederates. By the time the Civil War ended in 1865, Chatham was desolate. Bloodstains spotted the floors; graffiti marred its bare plaster walls. Outside, the destruction was just as severe. The surrounding forests had been cut down for fuel; the lush gardens had been trampled out of existence; and the lawn had become a graveyard. Although the Lacy’s returned to their home, they were unable to maintain it properly. They sold the house in 1872. After many owners, it was finally restored in the 1920s by Daniel and Helen Devore. It was again among Virginia’s finest homes.

Below is a photo of the house “in its day.”

For three days during the battle of Fredericksburg, Union soldiers stubbornly clung to their position in front of the stone wall, which was an open field, pinned down by Confederate riflemen in the Sunken Road. Some Union soldiers lying in the swale tried to protect themselves by pushing dirt in front of them. Others sought shelter behind the bodies of fallen comrades while the Confederates were protected by a waist-high stone wall.

Riding out ahead of his own lines to investigate enemy positions, Stonewall Jackson was wounded in the right hand and left arm. He was taken to a field hospital where they treated his hand and amputated his left arm. He was taken by wagon to a farm near Guincy’s Station. He developed pneumonia and died on May 10, 1863. The house where he died is set up as a shrine to him and the bed he died in is exactly as it was the day of his death. He was buried in Lexington, Virginia.

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One response to “Fredericksburg, VA

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