Saturday, September 1, 2007

September 1, 2007 Fredericksburg, VA

What a perfect way to start the day - My sister and brother-in-law knocked on the door at 9:00 this morning asking if we were ready to ramble. The day was much cooler and the humidity was low - probably the most comfortable day we have seen on this journey. We then traveled to Fredericksburg. We also saw Chancellorsville and The Wilderness. We did not get to Spotsylvania and may try it later.
In 1862, Fredericksburg was a Union defeat that caused great harm to the Union morale and was a tremendous boost to the spirits of the Confederates. General Burnside led a huge Union force to the Rappahannack River, across from a small Confederate force inside Fredericksburg. When they arrived, Burnside was upset that the pontoon bridges had not arrived yet and waited for two weeks for them to arrive so that they could cross the river. He made his headquarters in the Lacy Mansion, shown above. This was located across the river and on the high ground overlooking the city. By the time that the Federal forces crossed into Fredericksburg, the Confederates had added to their forces and dug in. The Confederates also controlled the high ground to the east of the town, a perfect set up to defend the town. The battle was spirited and vicious and the Union forces were forced to retreat. The Lacy mansion became a field hospital and was ravaged and scavenged by the Union forces in order to survive. It was December and very cold. All of the wood inside had been stripped for fire wood. Walt Whitman came here looking for his brother who had been wounded and he stayed to assist with the injured. He saw limbs that had been amputated and discarded out of the windows piled "as high as half a tree up," according to the guide. The stone wall shown in the first photo in next to a "sunken road" that is on top of a hill that was used in the heart of the town as a defensive location. In The Wilderness, the trees and brush were so thick that forest fires were started from the combat, adding to the total dead and injured for this battle. Pictured is also a Confederate defensive trench located east of Fredericksburg used to repell the charging Union forces. This was also on the top of a steep, high hill. From here, General Robert E. Lee headed north to try to take Washington by way of Gettysburg. The Union army headed north, also, but on the other side of mountain range, not knowing that Lee was just over the mountains. It was late when we tried to go to Spotsylvania and the GPS system turned us into a road that led to an upscale gated community. When we advised the guard that we were trying to get to the battlefield, he replied "OK, go right on ahead. The road is part of the park services road for the battlefield." We then continued on and discovered that we were not near where we wanted to be so we left, for supper beckoned. We saw evidence of the creeping commercialization of the area when we noticed private subdivisions and roads in the middle of the former battlefield. On the way home we saw deer crossing the road ahead of us and sky divers doing their thing at a small airport. We ate supper at the resort restaurant in the lodge. This was an ideal end to a perfect day - great history lesson with Sis and Brother and ending with a very good meal back here.

No comments: