Follow Marlborough Point Road down to the eastern tip of Stafford County, and you will pass by lots of new housing mushrooming into the forests and fields that were once favored by both the Native Americans and colonial settlers. This section of the county is home to not just centuries of local history but millennia.
One hundred and forty-seven years ago, lines of blue advanced on a hillside near the outskirts of Fredericksburg. Those heights were manned by gray-uniformed soldiers, powerfully well-armed and rather surprised that the Union commander should send wave after wave of troops into their maelstrom of cannon and rifle fire. What followed was a slaughter about which Confederate General Robert E. Lee said, "It is well that war is so terrible...we should grow too fond of it."
When some Yankee looters tried to supplement their rations with stocks from Fredericksburg homes and businesses in December of 1862, they bit off more than they could chew.
December 14th, 1862
In Fredericksburg, Va.
In 1873, a steamboat loaded with passengers, livestock and produce caught fire and sank on the Potomac River near Aquia Creek. Traveling from Washington, the overloaded vessel carried three times more people than allowed by its license, and the engulfing flames and churning waters claimed 76 passengers, most of them women and children. A new book, Disaster on the Potomac: The Last Run of the Steamboat Wawaset, by Alvin Oickle, gives the details of that terrible day.
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The Pilgrims get the fame for their feast in New England, but two years prior on December 4, 1619, thirty-eight Virginians at Berkeley Hundred celebrated “a day of thanksgiving’ to God as required by their charter:
Our libraries will be closed on Thanksgiving and the day after, so now's the time to pick up some reading to take you through the holiday. We have many cookbooks to help plan the feast, but of our other collections these three books tell stories especially true to life and true to the heart to help make your holiday a warm one.
“I was reading a book at the time and at 10.59 the guns all quit at once. It was to [sp] good to be true. I didn’t cheer as I cheered myself hoarse while at Souilly and it was a false report so I didn’t want to do it again. It wasn’t long till the Co came back. They were turned back just as they came under shell fire. One of K Co men got a shrapnel in the arm at the last minute. The boys looked more like gohsts [sp] than human when they came in, for want of rest and grub but that night we all sure put away some sleep."
On this day, we remember the sacrifice of soldiers in England, the United States, and France who fought and died in the Great War, the war to end all wars. While their noble goal is not yet realized, their noble deeds continue to be honored from the 1921 burial of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery to our daily remembrances of those who have been or are in the armed services.
Come to the Headquarters Library theater onThursday, November 5, 7-9 pm, to view parts of the DVD, and meet with the producers, director, and narrator who will be available for questions.
From the Central Rappahannock Regional Library
- Fort Lowry and Raiders on the Rappahannock by Carroll M. Garne.
- A study of the Confederate fort, whose construction south of Fredericksburg was ordered by General Lee in 1861. Fort Lowry was designed to protect the Rappahannock waterway and used mines to damage Federal vessels. Includes chapters on John Wilkes Booth's attempted escape through the nearby countryside.