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Title: Fredericksburg and Its Many Points of Interest

Author: R. A. Kishpaugh

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“Proud of the marks and monuments it bears to testify that its association with the country is such that her history may not be written without the name of Fredericksburg.”


R. A. KISHPAUGH, Publisher


Copyrighted 1912







Historical Sketch.

The visitor to Fredericksburg to-day finds, instead of the easy going town of ante-bellum days, an entirely new place risen from the ruins of war and time, new buildings, up-to-date streets and other improvements making a modern city of the present generation. The object of this little book is to furnish to the traveler, facts in the history of Fredericksburg, its many places of interest as well as an up-to-date guide to the city, and to extend to all a “welcome to Fredericksburg.”

The exact time the site of what is now Fredericksburg was visited by white men is not known, but the general impression is that the first trip was in 1608 (one year after the landing at Jamestown). Capt. John Smith, the true founder and father of Virginia, with a crew of twelve men and an indian of a Potomac tribe for a guide, came to the falls of the Rappahannock just above where Fredericksburg was afterward located, and had a severe fight with the Rappahannocks, whom he described as the most courageous and formidable savages he had yet encountered.

The early history of Fredericksburg is full of events[1] along the general history of the country, it being a centre of trade, the river being wider and deeper than the present day, and that ocean going barges and schooners, laden with cargoes from the West Indies, Liverpool and other ports came to Fredericksburg, and took on for their return voyage consignments of tobacco and wheat to English and Scotch merchants. A fort was maintained near the falls of the Rappahannock, and with 250 men the town was legally founded in 1727 and was named for Frederick, son of George the Second.

Before the introduction of railroads, trade was carried on by what was known as “Road Wagons.” These wagons were of huge dimensions, their curved bodies being, before and behind, at least twelve feet from the ground. They had canvas covers and were drawn by four and often six horses. During the period from 1800 to the civil war, as many as three hundred was often seen on the streets and in the wagon yards of Fredericksburg at one time. The country, to the Blue Ridge mountains, even to counties in the Valley of Virginia, was thus supplied from Fredericksburg.

The part which Fredericksburg played in the civil war is so well known, that we will be content with a brief reference. As soon as the Confederate capitol was removed to Richmond, it became at once, and continued during the entire war, the objective point of the Federal invasion of the South. It was apparent, therefore, from an inspection of the map, that Fredericksburg would necessarily witness a bloody act in that direful drama; for she was situated half-way on the direct route between Washington and Richmond.

If ever anywhere grim-visaged war showed his horrid front, it was at this foredoomed, devoted town. She was the immediate theatre of one of the bloodiest battles of the war, on December 13, 1862. In the cannonade that ushered in that battle, a hundred and eighty guns, some of them seige pieces, carrying seventy pound projectiles, for ten mortal hours poured a pitiless storm of shot and shell upon the helpless town. No such cannonade, save that which preceded Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg, was ever heard upon this continent; nay, ever heard upon this earth. Four and a half months after that bloody baptism, the town witnessed the desperate, but unsuccessful, endeavor of Gen Sedgwick to march his corps of thirty thousand men to the relief of Hooker, at Chancellorsville; and she was the hospital for fifteen thousand wounded men from Grant’s army in the Wilderness campaign of May, 1864.

If lines be drawn from Fredericksburg to Chancellorsville; from Chancellorsville to the Wilderness battlefields; from the Wilderness battlefield to the Bloody Angle, near Spotsylvania Court-House; and from there to the starting point at Fredericksburg, these lines will include a space that is smaller in area than the District of Columbia. On this area more blood was shed, and more men killed, than upon any area of equal dimensions, in the world.

Early in December, 1862, Burnside, urged by the clamor of the Northern press and populace, resolved to cross the Rappahannock, and despite the near approach of winter to assume the offensive. At this time the attempt of Federal gun boats to pass up the river to Fredericksburg had been frustrated by Stuart and some field batteries.

On December 13, 1862, Burnside started to cross the Rappahannock. Never did a general or army await the attack of a more numerous enemy with greater confidence than did Lee and the Confederates at Fredericksburg.


Now the Residence of Capt. M. B. Rowe.

When the two pre-arranged signal guns announced that the shelling of the town was about to begin, long streams of carriages and wagons, bearing fugitive women and children, and long processions on foot of those who could not procure vehicles, all seeking temporary shelter in the woods and wilderness, passed the camp fires of the Confederate soldiers in the rear of the town.


Just Before the Bombardment, and After the Car Bridge was Burnt by the Confederate Army




Shortly after nine o’clock the sun shining out with almost Indian Summer warmth quickly dispelled the mists which hid the opposing armies, and as the white folds dissolved, Jackson’s men beheld the plains beneath them dark with a moving mass of more than 40,000 foes, and from the array of batteries upon the Stafford Heights a storm of shot and shell burst upon the Confederate lines. The Federal army advanced within 800 yards of the foot of the opposing ridge when suddenly the silent woods awoke to life and the flash and thunder of more than sixty guns revealed to the Federals the magnitude of the task they had undertaken. Column after column advanced only to be repulsed with terrible loss, until about 12 o’clock the Irish Brigade, under General Meagher, advanced at the spot on the Sunken Road which is now marked by the monument to General Cobb, he having fallen earlier in the day, and boldly charging across the shot-swept plains, opposed to it were men as fearless and as staunch; behind that rude stone breastworks, those who were “bone of their bone and flesh of their flesh,” as some of the soldiers of Cobb’s Brigade were Irish like themselves. On the morning of battle General Meagher had bade his men deck their caps with sprigs of evergreen “to remind them,” he said “of the land of their birth.” The symbol was recognized by their countrymen, and “Oh, God, what a pity! Here comes Meagher’s fellows,” was the cry in the Confederate ranks. The rapidly thinning line now was within a hundred yards of their goal, suddenly a sheet of flame leaped from the parapet, to their glory be it told, though scores be swept away, falling in their tracks, like corn before the sicle, the ever thinning ranks dashed on. Of the 1,200 officers and men in this gallant charge, 937 had fallen; one body, that of an officer, was found within fifteen feet of the parapet.




It is due to the truth of history to say that not in all the annals of war, neither in the “charge of the six hundred” at Balaklava, nor in Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg was there ever displayed a more signal instance of dauntless courage than was exhibited by the men who made these hopeless attempts to carry Marye’s Heights.

Under the cover of darkness and storm the Federals withdrew across the river two days later and resumed their position on the Stafford heights.






Fredericksburg played an important part in the battle of Chancellorsville, on the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th of May, 1863. When General Hooker marched ninety thousand men across the Rapidan at Germania and Ely’s Ford and entrenched them behind breast-works in the impenetrable jungle of stunted growth that screened and protected the plateau in front of the Chancellorsville House, he left thirty thousand men, under General Sedgwick, on the Stafford heights, opposite Fredericksburg. General Lee left Early with 8,500 muskets (a part of Jackson’s corps) to hold back Sedgwick, while he marched with the main body of Jackson’s corps and two divisions of Longstreet’s corps to confront Hooker at Chancellorsville. These two divisions of Longstreet’s corps were those of Anderson and McLaws. Longstreet, himself, with the other two divisions of his corps, was down on the Blackwater, below Richmond, and did not participate in the battle of Chancellorsville. Jackson was mortally wounded at nightfall on Saturday, the 2nd of May, after routing and driving back in wild panic, the right wing of Hooker’s army. The next morning (Sunday) a union was effected between Jackson’s divisions and the two divisions of Longstreet’s corps, and a combined, impetuous assault carried the Federal position in front of Chancellorsville, and the beaten enemy retreated to their second line of breastworks. Just as General Lee was preparing (on Sunday, at noon) to renew the assault, word reached him that Sedgwick had crossed the river and carried the Marye Heights, and was marching on Chancellorsville to join Hooker. The Confederate commander, in the exercise of what a great critic of the art of war, has characterized as the highest display of military genius, paused in his pursuit of Hooker, and, leaving Stuart in command of Jackson’s corps, in front of the disheartened Federal troops at Chancellorsville, led the two divisions of Longstreet down the Fredericksburg road, to unite with Early in frustrating the purpose of Sedgwick to join his forces with those of Hooker. This was accomplished on Monday, the 4th of May, when Sedgwick was driven across the Rappahannock, at Bank’s Ford. There was a severe engagement that raged around the “Salem Church,” four miles out from Fredericksburg, upon the old turnpike road. Captain Featherstone, who brought a splendid Alabama company to Virginia, at the outbreak of the war, occupied the church with his company, and did excellent work in holding back Sedgwick until Lee arrived.




Gen. R. E. Lee, in speaking of the privations and sacrifices incurred by the citizens of Fredericksburg, said: “History presents no instance of a people exhibiting a purer and more unselfish patriotism, or a higher spirit of fortitude and courage than was evinced by the people of Fredericksburg. They cheerfully incurred great hardships and privations, and surrendered their homes and property to destruction, rather than yield them in the hands of the enemies of their country.”




Since the close of the Civil War, and the equally distressing war of the reconstruction, Fredericksburg has entered upon a career of commercial and industrial prosperity, far exceeding any ever experienced in her ante-bellum days. Her population has largely increased. Situated half way between Richmond and Washington. Five trunk lines with twenty-six trains daily, run through the city, thus giving prompt and easy access to all the large eastern and northern cities, while the water transportation puts this section in cheap reach of the markets of the eastern seaboard. A splendid water-power with the present capacity of 4,000 hydro-electric horsepower with an ultimate development of 35,000 horse power, furnishes cheap power to manufacturing plants located in the city. Mr. Frank J. Gould, the owner of this immense power, has completed a survey for an electric line from Richmond, Va., to Washington, D. C. This line will give Fredericksburg direct communication by electric railway, with Washington, D. C., Richmond, Va., and Petersburg, Va. Fifteen miles of this line north of Richmond is now in operation.




The United States government has erected a handsome Government postoffice.

The State of Virginia has established at Fredericksburg a State Normal and Industrial School for Women, this consists of two handsome buildings situated on part of the historic Marye’s Heights.

A good High School with new modern school building, the Fredericksburg College and two libraries furnish educational opportunities for the youths of both sexes.




Four banks, a silk mill, pants factory, flour mills, foundry and machine works, sumac mills, pickle factory, buggy, wagon and wood-working plants, cigar factories, extract works, plow manufactories, brick yards, ice factories, bark mills, bone mills, granite works, mattress factory, excelsior mills, two daily and two tri-weekly newspapers, telegraph, mail, express and freight facilities unexcelled, all help to make Fredericksburg an industrial center of the present generation.

Good roads to Fredericksburg through the various adjoining counties open up a larger territory for trade than ever before, and with the completion of the National Highway from Quebec to Miami, Florida, which passes through Fredericksburg, its many points of interest will be opened up to the tourist.

The city is amply supplied with water, pumped from the river into a reservoir higher than any of the houses, while the water from the old “Poplar Spring” is also used. The city owns and operates Electric and Gas Plants, and there is also an Incandescent Light Plant, owned by a private corporation, for lighting houses.

The town offers inducements to enterprising capitalists, and to those who are seeking homes in the genial climate of the South.





One of the most interesting points of historical interest to all who visit Fredericksburg is the magnificent old Colonial estate of Chatham, residence of A. Randolph Howard, Esq., beautifully situated upon Stafford Heights overlooking the town.



The house was built in 1730 by William Fitzhugh, upon a small grant of a few hundred thousand acres from King George of England.

The architect is believed to have been the famous Sir Christopher Wrenn, to whom is due the adaptation of the English renaissance of the Grecian period to our Southland needs, and which has resulted in the type now known as Colonial. Chatham is conceded to be the purest and most beautiful specimen of the Georgian Colonial architecture in America.

Through its lordly halls have trod the beauty and chivalry of generations of the most famous families of Virginia.

Upon its famous race-track such horses as Boston, Lexington, Timoleon, Sir Archy, Sir Charles and hundreds of others fought out their races, while their owners were guests of Colonel Fitzhugh.


Showing Monument Erected by Gen. Daniel Butterfield to 5th Corps, Army of Potomac


At Chatham General Washington paid his addresses to the widow Curtis, General Robert E. Lee whispered sweet words of love to a niece of Mrs. Fitzhugh, and the immortal Lincoln reviewed the Army of the Potomac before the battle of Fredericksburg.

General Burnside established his headquarters at Chatham, and at the foot of its terraced lawns one of the pontoon bridges were thrown across the river over which many a brave man passed never to return.


The National Cemetery

Located on Willis Hill, a part of the historic Marye’s Heights, overlooking Fredericksburg and the beautiful Rappahannock Valley, the Union soldiers who were killed in the various battles around Fredericksburg and those who died in camp are interred. This cemetery has the largest number of interments of any in the country, there being 15,295, of these about 2,500 are known and their names, regiment and state are registered in a book in the superintendent’s office.

Just to the left entering the cemetery General Daniel Butterfield has erected a beautiful monument to the valor of the Fifth Army Corps, which he commanded.

To the right at the top of the hill is a monument to the 127th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, Colonel W. W. Jennings, Commanding.

In the center of the cemetery the State of Pennsylvania has erected a monument to commemorate the charge of General Humphrey’s Division, Fifth Corps, in the battle of Fredericksburg, 1862.


The “Sentry Box”

On lower Main street was the residence of General George Weedon of Revolutionary fame, and afterwards occupied by Colonel Hugh Mercer, a son of General Hugh Mercer, who was killed at the battle of Princeton.

The name “Sentry Box” being applied on account of the unobstructed view for some distance. It being used during the Revolutionary, War of 1812 and Civil war, as a place to watch and give the alarm of the approach of the enemy.


Rising Sun Tavern

One of the oldest buildings in Fredericksburg. General George Weeden, years before the Revolutionary war, kept hotel in this house and was the stopping place of Washington, LaFayette and other Colonial dignitaries.



The Rising Sun Tavern is now owned by the Society for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, who have renovated the building, but retaining in every way the old style of architecture used in wooden buildings used in the eighteenth century.


The Washington Farm

Looking directly across the river from the “Sentry Box” can be seen the Washington Farm. This is where Geo. Washington was raised to manhood, and it is said where he threw the silver dollar across the Rappahannock, also where he chopped the famous cherry tree. One of the pontoon bridges used in 1862 was built from this farm.



“Kenmore” was built in 1740 by Colonel Fielding Lewis, an officer who commanded a division at the siege of Yorktown where Cornwallis surrendered. It is said the bricks used to build this house were brought from England, but this cannot be confirmed, but the interior stucco work of this colonial mansion has stood for over a century and is supposed to have been done by expert Englishmen.



It was to Kenmore that Colonel Fielding Lewis took Bettie Washington, (George’s sister) as a bride.




The Mercer Monument

General Hugh Mercer, killed at the battle of Princeton, 1777, while leading his men against the British. Over one hundred years after an appropriation had been made by Congress, it evidently being overlooked, in 1906 the United States government erected this monument to his memory.

Situated in the center of Washington Avenue in the attitude of a patriot, drawn sword in hand, he stands on a pedestal, ready to strike in defense of his country. (See page 12 for illustration.)

General Mercer conducted a drug store in the building now standing, corner Main and Amelia Streets, and lived at the “Sentry Box” with George Weeden, until the beginning of the Revolutionary War.


Confederate Cemetery

The first Ladies Memorial Association was organized at Fredericksburg in 1865, and in response to liberal contributions the present cemetery was laid out, and the Confederate dead who were buried at various places were gathered together and each grave marked.

In 1874 the corner stone was laid of the monument erected on a mound in the center of the space. This monument is about 6 feet high made of gray granite, and on top has a life size statue of a Confederate soldier at dress parade. On the front of the monument is the inscription “To the Confederate Dead.”

About 2,500 are buried here, of which about 600 are unknown.




Mary Washington Monument

About a stone throw from Kenmore, Mary, the mother of Washington is buried. This spot was selected by herself, declaring it to be preferable to any location, as it could never be cultivated, being near a rocky crag, a part of the original Kenmore land.




After the remains of the venerable matron had lain for forty-four years, a monument was partially erected to her memory by Silas E. Burrows, a wealthy New York merchant. The corner-stone was laid with imposing pomp on May 7, 1833. Andrew Jackson, President of the U. S., several members of his Cabinet, numbers of distinguished citizens from Washington, the Marine Band and military came to swell the pageant. This monument of white Italian marble was never finished, and for more than sixty years laid a prey to the relic hunters and ravishes of time.

In 1889, the nation was startled with the announcement that the grave and unfinished monument to Mary Washington would be sold at public auction from the steps of the Capitol at Washington, indignant meetings were held and the sale abandoned by its originators. The women of America organized to erect a monument to the memory of their fellow countrywoman, which they did; unveiling May 10, 1894, a monument fifty feet high, and comprising a monolith of forty feet, standing on bases eleven feet square and ten feet high. The whole shaft is of Barre granite and of the finest workmanship. President Cleveland, many of his Cabinet, the Governor of Virginia, the Marine Band, companies of military and thousands of people witnessed the ceremony.

Just back of the monument is a ledge of rocks known as “Meditation Rock,” where she used often to resort for private reading, meditation and prayer, under the shade of the beautiful grove of Oak trees.


Mary Washington House

This plain, old-fashioned dwelling on the corner of Charles and Lewis streets was the home of Mary the mother of Washington until her death in 1789.



Up to the death of her husband she lived just across the river, opposite Fredericksburg, at the “Washington Farm” and it was in these two homes the illustrious George was raised to manhood.

This building is owned by the society for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, who have put the same in thorough condition, all of the original features of architecture and general appearance being preserved.

The front room in which she died is furnished as used by her in her lifetime. This building is open to visitors for a small sum.


The Masonic Lodge

The Masonic Lodge, in which George Washington received his first degree as a Mason, November 4, 1752, has a cabinet of some rare and valuable relics. Some of which are the Bible that Geo. Washington was obligated on (printed 1668), a lock of his hair, autograph passes given by him during the Revolutionary War, the old minute book giving his initiation, passing and raising, an oil portrait of George Washington, painted by Gilbert Stuart, the old parlor chairs of his mother, Mary Washington, and many others, which can be seen free of charge by applying to the Master of the Lodge.



Other Places of Interest

PRESIDENT MONROE HOUSE—Situated on Princess Anne Street one block above the passenger depot is the old story and a half frame house to which President James Monroe held a pocket deed to qualify him for his seat in the House of Burgesses.

PAUL JONES HOUSE—The only home in America of John Paul Jones, on Main Street near the depot.


Showing Monument to Commemorate the Charge of General Humphrey’s Division 1862


FEDERAL HILL—on Hanover street. In the latter part of the eighteenth century the home of Thomas Reade Roots, a distinguished lawyer of that time.

PLANTER’S HOTEL—Used before and during the Civil war as a hotel, at the corner of Commerce and Charles Streets. In front of this hotel is a stone block, placed there many years before the Civil war, used for the sale and annual hire of slaves.

HOME OF GEN. DANIEL D. WHEELER—of the U. S. Army on the east side of lower Main street. Built about 1765. Was the home of Dr. Charles Mortimer who was physician to Mary Washington also the first Mayor of Fredericksburg.

STEVENS HOUSE—Situated on “Sunken Road” the Confederate line of battle 1862-63 in front of fence. General Thos. R. R. Cobb, killed just inside of yard.

ST. GEORGE’S BURYING GROUND—Colonel John Dandridge, the father of Martha Washington was buried here in 1756. Wm. Paul, a brother of John Paul Jones buried 1773. It is said that Fielding Lewis is buried under the steps of the church. A number of remarkable tombstones can be found in the yard, the inscription of one of which has puzzled all who have seen it, “Charles M. Rathrock, departed this life Sept. 29th, 1084, aged three years.”

CITY HALL—Built 1813—Used in 1824 for a grand ball and reception to General Lafayette.

OLD EXCHANGE HOTEL (Now known as Hotel Frederick) built in 1837, part destroyed by fire 1850, rebuilt but not used as a hotel until after the Civil war. During the war was used as a hospital.

MASONIC GRAVEYARD—On corner of George and Charles Streets. General Lewis Littleton was buried here in 1802.


Methodist Church

Baptist Church  Presbyterian Church  St. George’s Episcopal Church


MARY WASHINGTON HOSPITAL—Erected by the ladies of Fredericksburg. Corner stone was laid April 14th, 1899, a day to commemorate George Washington’s last visit to Fredericksburg and his dying mother. The corner-stone is a portion of the old Mary Washington monument begun in 1833. Situated overlooking the river and directly opposite Chatham. One of the pontoon bridges of 1862 was directly in front of the hospital.

GUNNERY SPRING—The legend of Gunnery Spring is that all that drink of the water will return to drink again some day. A visit to Fredericksburg is not complete without a visit to this old spring.


Fredericksburg Churches

St. George’s Episcopal Church—corner Princess Anne and George Streets, R. J. McBryde, Rector.

Trinity Episcopal Church—corner Prince Edward and Hanover streets, Dr. H. H. Barber, Rector.

The Presbyterian Church—corner Princess Anne and George streets, Rev. J. H. Henderlite, Pastor.

The Baptist Church—corner Princess Anne and Amelia streets, Rev. R. A. Williams, Pastor.

The Methodist Church—on Hanover street, Rev. J. R. Jacobs, Pastor.

St. Mary’s Catholic Church—on Princess Anne street, Father Perrig, Pastor.


The Will of Mary Washington is on exhibition at the Clerk’s office of the Corporation Court.
This is in a good state of preservation.




Some Interesting Facts

The first resolution declaring American Independence was passed in Fredericksburg, April 27th, 1775, twenty-one days before the next earlier.

Seven presidents and three of the greatest military leaders was born at Fredericksburg or within a short distance.

It was John Paul Jones, a Fredericksburg man, who raised the first flag over our infant navy, in 1775.

At Fredericksburg and within fifteen miles, more great armies manœuvered, more great battles were fought, more men were engaged in mortal combat and more officers and privates were killed and wounded than in any similar territory in the world.

The tallest and most imposing monument erected to a woman is erected at Fredericksburg to the memory of Mary Washington.

James Monroe, for many years a citizen of Fredericksburg, announced the American principal known as the Monroe Doctrine.

James Madison, born near Fredericksburg, gave to the country the Constitution of the United States.

It was Fredericksburg that gave to the country the head of the Armies in the Great War for Independence and the first president, in the person of the peerless Washington.


Close Driving Distance

Sedgwick Monument   12 miles
“Stonewall” Jackson Monument   11 "
Massachusetts Monument   10 "
Hays Monument   10 "
Spotsylvania C. H.   12 "
Salem Church   3 "
Chancellorsville   10 "
Wilderness   15 "
Bloody Angle   12 "
Hamilton’s Crossing   4 "
Falmouth   1 mile
Lacy House (Burnside Headquarters)   ½ "
Phillips House (Sumner’s Headquarters)   1 "


Losses on the Six Battlefields

    Fed.   Con.   Total
Fred’sburg, Dec. 13, ’62, May 3-4 ’63 }   12,653   5,377   18,030
Hamilton s Crossing, Dec. 13, 1862
Chancellorsville, May 1-3, 1863 }   17,287   12,463   29,750
Salem Church, May 3-4, 1863
Wilderness, May 5-6, 1864     17,666   10,641   28,307
Spotsylvania, May 8-21, 1864     15,577   11,578   27,155
Total     63,183   40,059   103,242



Larger Image





[1] See Quinn’s History of Fredericksburg.

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