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Civil War touches FerryFarm
The boyhood home of America's most famous Revolutionary War hero was visited by another conflict in the 1860s.

 The Rev. Mike Kelly of Annandale helps load planks onto a pair of pontoons during a reenactment a few years ago.
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Date published: 7/5/2005


IT IS SADLY ironic that George Washington's boy- hood home at Ferry Farm in southern Stafford should become a focal point amid the chaos and destruction of America's Civil War.

That's because soldiers on both sides in the bloody struggle felt a strong attachment to Washington.

Those in gray saw him as a role model--a Southerner who led the fight for independence from an oppressive government. And those in blue saw him as a Founding Father--a man whose character helped shape the nation they now were determined to preserve.

"The soldiers here knew this was the home of George Washington and also his mother, Mary, who still was well-remembered at that time," historian John Hennessy told a group of visitors to Ferry Farm last month.

"They recognized that on this very ground, Washington had grown to manhood."

Hennessy said that one Pennsylvania soldier wrote that if Washington had known what was happening, his "patriotic soul would have been overwhelmed with grief."

Hennessy is the chief historian for the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. He was joined in leading the recent tour by Paul Nasca, the field supervisor for the archaeological work being conducted at Ferry Farm by George Washington's Fredericksburg Foundation.

The program, titled "A Walk on Stafford Heights: Ferry Farm, Pine Grove and Stafford County in the Civil War," attracted about 120 visitors.

Of course, Ferry Farm is best known as Washington's boyhood home for about 10 years until he was in his late teens. But the property had an interesting role in the Civil War, as well, beginning in the spring of 1862 with the arrival of thousands of Federal soldiers.

During the first occupation of Fredericksburg, Union engineers built a bridge of canal boats across the Rappahannock River at the ferry landing on the former Washington family property.

The Union soldiers used Ferry Road and the bridge to cross from Stafford into town. President Abraham Lincoln passed by Ferry Farm on his way to Fredericksburg in May 1862 during the first of two visits to the area.

Hennessy said there also was a great deal of northbound traffic at this time as thousands of slaves fled to Stafford from points south of the river.

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