Spotsylvania County (Va.)
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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.
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.
Some people today fear going under the surgeon’s knife. It’s mostly a dread of the unknown. What might happen while they are knocked out, unaware of what is going on around them. They may not realize how fortunate they are. In Dr. Mütter’s Marvels, readers are swept back in time to a period before anesthesia was generally used. A good surgeon was a swift, careful cutter who could make the operation as mercifully short as possible for his wide-awake patient. He might even do some good for the patient in the process.
Lake Anna State Park is a favorite local destination for campers, boaters, and families who just want to spend a summer day at the lakeside beach. For most of us, the way to the lake runs down Lawyers Road. These days, there’s not much to take in with the view from this one-lane road, which passes through as quiet a stretch of Spotsylvania countryside as remains in the 21st century. But in centuries past, the western part of the county was the scene for tribal wars, slave labor, religious awakenings, whiskey barrel politics, gold mining, and Civil War armies on the march.
In 1852, Fredericksburg business men were concerned with the failure of the Rappahannock Canal (see Fredericksburg Times, Jan., 1978), the impassability of the turnpike, the incomplete state of the plank road and the loss of county trade to the Alexandria markets via the railroad.
By the Spotsylvania Department of Tourism
From The Start ...
Blacks first arrived in isolated and sparsely populated Spotsylvania County along with white settlers in the early 1700's. Through the years before the Civil War, as slaves and occasionally as free men and women, they were an important force in area development. Occupations included labor as farm and plantation workers, as domestic servants, and as artisans, such as blacksmiths, carpenters, coopers, and fine needleworkers. They also worked in the iron industries, mining, construction, shipping on the Rappahannock River, and in their own businesses.
By the first half of the 19th century, Spotsylvania County's population reached about 11,000, over half of whom were black.
Alex Haley's award winning novel, Roots, cast his African ancestor, Kunta Kinte, as a slave of a Spotsylvania family.
Now that the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Chancellorsville is upon us, it seems a fitting time to look at how the lives of a family of mainly young women were affected by being suddenly thrust into a war zone and how they were able to survive with the aid of an enemy officer. Sue Chancellor was only fourteen when the area around her home became a bloody battlefield. Their house, called Chancellorsville, was used for a headquarters by first the Confederate and then the Union army while the family continued to live there.
The time was sunset on Sept. 23, 1779. A full moon was rising. The place was the bloody deck of John Paul Jones’ ship the Bon Homme Richard. There a young Spotsylvanian named Laurence Brooke would show the stuff of which heroes are made. At age 21, he was the lone surgeon on the Bon Homme Richard as it engaged the 50-gun HMS Serapis in the North Sea off Scarborough, England. The burning Serapis surrendered after a 3 1/2-hour battle during which John Paul Jones proclaimed: “I have not yet begun to fight!”
This interview with Robert & Betty Turnley was conducted on November 29,, 2000, by Christine Walsh. This interview is a project of the Spotsylvania Preservation Foundation.