Fredericksburg! Fredericksburg!

On the way home I took a side trip to the Fredericksburg Battlefield, part of the Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park.

I was last there in November of 1995, which was quite awhile ago as can be seen from this photo from that visit.

001  Those two, besides being extremely embarrassed right now [it’s a father’s prerogative to embarrass his offspring], are grown and living on their own now. (Brooks Simpson will approvingly note the NY Yankees jacket Karen is wearing)

The Visitor’s Center hasn’t changed much.  There is a nice diorama inside that depicts Fredericksburg after the Union bombardment.

100_6214 100_6215 100_6216 100_6217

There is also a display of soldier art on the wall.

100_6218100_6220 100_6219

Throughout my visit I was impressed with the interpretation at Fredericksburg.  There is a nice walking tour laid out for the visitor, and waysides and markers along the way allow us to gain understanding of what happened here.

100_6226 100_6228 100_6229 100_6230

The “star,” of course, is the stone wall.  Most of it is not original but a reconstruction.  However, there is a section of original wall remaining.

100_6254 100_6255

Also present is the famous statue commemorating the “Angel of Marye’s Heights,” Sgt. Richard Kirkland.

100_6248 100_6249

Unfortunately, construction of housing developments and growth of trees and other foliage obscure the view of the field across which the Federals charged, so one must use their imagination to try to recreate what it looked like in their mind.


Today, the walking tour takes you up on Marye’s Heights behind the stone wall as well as along the stone wall.  There is a wonderful path laid out with waysides to help you interpret what you’re seeing.

100_6262 100_6263

The path also takes you to the National Cemetery for some quiet contemplation of the human cost of war.

100_6272 100_6273

If you take the driving tour, you’ll be able to see some more terrific areas.  There is the famous Lee Hill, from which Lee watched the battle.

100_6318 100_6319 100_6320 100_6321 100_6324 100_6327 100_6328

From Lee Hill the next stop is Howison Hill, another confederate artillery platform.

100_6336 100_6338

Driving along Lee Drive, you pass confederate trenches still visible.

100_6343 100_6345

The site of Meade’s breakthrough of Jackson’s line is also interpreted, though the growth in front of you makes it all but impossible to get a good feeling of what it looked like at the time.

100_6348 100_6349 100_6350

Also visible along the drive, though not accessible, is the “Meade Pyramid.”

100_6351 100_6353

Prospect Hill, held by Jackson during the battle, is also on the driving tour and is also well interpreted.

100_6358 100_6360 100_6361

The Military Park’s headquarters is at the Chatham Manor, which is also open for visiting and interpretation.  The Park Service has really done an outstanding job here.  Chatham Manor is also known as the Lacy House, and was a Union outpost and hospital during the battle.  The interpretation at the site includes not only the battle but also the history of the house and plantation from its first construction to the present day, and it tells the story not only of the white owners but also the enslaved people who lived and worked there.

100_6370 100_6372 100_6373 100_6374100_6396 100_6402 100_6403 100_6404100_6411 100_6412 100_6413 100_6414

On the river side, you can see an interpretation of the artillery bombardment of Fredericksburg and the pontoon bridges.

100_6420 100_6423 100_6424 100_6425 100_6428 100_6429 100_6430 100_6431 100_6432 100_6437 100_6438

I have it on good authority that Ranger Greg Mertz has a new, tricked-out ride.  🙂


The Park Service has done a terrific job with this battlefield and with the additional battlefield sites.  There is a short film at the Visitor’s Center to put the battle in perspective.  The map provided by the NPS and the waysides and markers allow you to take yourself around without the need for a guide.  My visit was really enjoyable.


  1. Great pictures Al. The last time I was there was 2007. The markers are great, but you wish the fields had been reserved from development.

  2. Thanks for the virtual tour. I’ve only driven through the place on a CIvil Wargasm headed to Manassas.

    1. Well worth a stop, Rob.

  3. Nancy Abbott · · Reply

    Very nice! I went there in 2002, I believe. The area of the stone wall where you park and the higher wall were all being built at that time so there were orange fences and cones everywhere. I only saw Chatham from a distance and did not see the place with the pontoons. The pics were great!

    1. Chatham has undergone a lot of changes over the years through the different owners it had after the war. The gardens in the back were added after the war, as were the greenhouses and the spring house in the back. It has a very rich history.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: