National Park Service
Each summer, the National Park Service offers free History at Sunset tours which give insights into our area’s Civil War past. Hosted by Park Service historians, they are a tremendous treat for history lovers. Unless otherwise noted, tours begin at 7pm and last about 90 minutes. Here is their schedule and our suggested titles to go with each topic:
Excerpt from War So Terrible: A Popular History of the Battle of Fredericksburg, by Donald C. Pfanz, (pp. 44-46)
Donald C. Pfanz is staff historian with Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. He is also the author of Abraham Lincoln at City Point and Richard S. Ewell: A Soldier’s Life. This chapter is reprinted on CRRL's history site with his permission.
“The Sacking of Fredericksburg”
By the time the fighting ended on Dec. 11, Fredericksburg was desolate. Fighting in the streets combined with a bombardment by more than 180 cannons had left the venerable old town shattered and ruins. Those citizens who had not fled Fredericksburg had seen their homes riddled with bullets, shot and shell.
Between April and September 1862, an estimated 10,000 slaves fled the South through our region. As part of the local Civil War Sesquicentennial commemorations, the Trail to Freedom project was designed to give the public a better understanding of the experiences of those whom the war impacted greatly but are often only a footnote in history books.
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."
According to an article that appeared in the Free Lance-Star on 10/10/2009, Stafford County is working with the National Park Service to place a museum on the whole of the county's history at Chatham, a National Park Service property.