Civil War - U.S.
By Fredericksburg Area Tourism Department
The spirit of the past still lives in Fredericksburg, Virginia. George Washington's footsteps seem to echo on the paths and streets of his hometown. The voices of Thomas Jefferson and other colonial leaders seem to resound through the Rising Sun Tavern.
In antebellum Fredericksburg, the Knox family was rather well-off and respected by their community. The family home at 1200 Princess Anne Street, now the Kenmore Inn, was nigh unto their house of worship at St. George’s Episcopal Church. They ran a successful business and had a pleasant life filled with many luxuries.
Yet by the time the Civil War was over, sons Robert and James Knox had experienced the dire consequences of battle from trench to prison camp. The rest of the family, forced to evacuate the Fredericksburg several times, learned to live as refugees and take care of themselves as well as the people they met.
For more than two hundred years, this Spotsylvania farm has stood as a witness to Virginia history. Originally carved from land given to colonial Governor Alexander Spotswood, Ellwood willingly hosted two armies-that of the Marquis de Lafayette during the Revolutionary War and General Robert E. Lee during the Battle of Chancellorsville in 1863. However, in 1864, during the Battle of the Wilderness, Ellwood became the headquarters for Generals Gouverneur K. Warren and Ambrose E. Burnside. General Grant took his position a few hundred yards away from the house, at a spot still called Grant's Knoll.
Pamela J. Toler’s Heroines of Mercy Street is the true history behind the popular PBS series set in occupied Alexandria, Virginia, during the Civil War. Caveat here: I did read the book before watching a single episode. I found Toler’s narrative to be engaging and an excellent window to the time. With wildly varying levels of training (many, such as Louisa May Alcott, had only nursed family patients while another trained with celebrated British nurse Florence Nightingale), they all had a sense of duty and enthusiasm for the job that did not wane as the war ground on—though it did exhaust them and occasionally kill them.
The National Park Service turns 100 years old on August 25, 2016, and is celebrating their Centennial throughout the year. You are invited to Find Your Park and discover the recreational, historical, and cultural riches available locally and throughout the country. In June, the library hosts National Park Service historian Becky Oakes, who will discuss the development, history, and features of our national parks. Join her for Find Your Park: All About National Parks at the Headquarters Library on Thursday, June 23, 6:30-8:00, or at the Salem Church Branch on Monday, June 27, 7:00-8:30. Read up on our parks by checking out these books:
This article was first printed in the May 1978 issue of the Fredericksburg Times magazine and appears here with the author's permission.
This American who is truly deserving of the terms "great" and "famous" was born January 14, 1806 in Spotsylvania County. He was the seventh child of Richard and Diana Minor Maury.
When it comes to sharing history with young people, nothing brings it alive better than a living historian leading activities and offering truly historic objects that can be explored by little hands. This February, observe Black History Month at your library with opportunities to meet living historians from the 23rd Regiment United States Colored Troops, visit a historic one-room school house, or learn about secret code used for the Underground Railroad. These Fabulous Friday: Journey to Freedom events are happening at five of CRRL's library branches.
The 23rd Regiment was the first African American unit to fight against the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. They met on the battlefield on May 15, 1864, during the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House. Today’s living history organization, named for the 23rd, is headquartered in the Spotsylvania area and works in conjunction with the John J. Wright Educational & Cultural Center Museum.
Our 16th president was a very odd-looking man. Long-limbed and raw-boned, this frontier president grew up without a lot of the niceties we take for granted today. He grew up surrounded by wilderness and not having much schooling. As he remembered it, "...I could read, write, and cipher (simple math) ... but that was all."