Civil War Trails 2
For four years, America was at war with itself, a war that would change this country forever. The Civil War was indeed America’s greatest tragedy and no region suffered more than the Fredericksburg Area. Four times the Confederacy would fight for its life on the hallowed grounds that make up this region. General Robert E. Lee and the Confederate army prevailed in the Battle of Fredericksburg, a costly defeat for Union General Ambrose E. Burnside. A few months later, Lee and his army would again defeat the Union army , this time lead by General Joseph Hooker, at Chancellorsville. A year later, the final drive for Richmond began with Union General U. S. Grant taking on Roert E. Lee in the Battle of the Wilderness, then striking a few days later at Spotsylvania Court House. Eventually the cost of these battles would be too much for the South to bear.
Laying midway between Washington, DC and Richmond, Virginia, the then capital of the Confederacy, the Fredericksburg area’s serenity was broken and its history forever changed by the Civil War. Today, the National Park Service headquartered at Chatham, maintains nearly 9,000 acres o land in the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, preserving lands where major Civil War actions took place. Two visitor centers help interpret four battlefields – Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, the Wilderness and Spotsylvania Court House. The Park Service also maintains sites at Chatham Manor, Salem Church and Guinea Station, where “Stonewall:” Jackson would eventually die from his wounds received at the Battle of Chancellorsville.
A self-guided tour of the battlefields begins at the Fredericksburg Battlefield Visitor Center, continues into Stafford County where logistical, camp and skirmish sites are found, and proceeds on into Spotsylvania County, where the vast majority of the battle sites are located. In the battlefield parks, wayside exhibits, exhibit shelters, interpretive trails and many historic building shelp tell the story of the Civil War in the Fredericksburg area.
A tour through these battlefield is an experience in one of the most dramatic times in American history, a tour of lands carefully preserved to commemorate the sacrifices of the Civil War.