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BATTLE OF FREDERICKSBURG REMEMBERED WATCH HISTORY UNFOLD AS EVENTS OFFER A GLIMPSE INTO MILITARY AND CIVILIAN LIVES AT SITES AROUND TOWN
Possibilities abound for locals, visitors during Battle of Fredericksburg's sesquicentennial

 Innis House, beside the Stone Wall, still bears bullet marks from the Dec. 13, 1862, battle.
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Date published: 12/6/2012

BY CLINT SCHEMMER

WHAT WILL TRANSPIRE here starting tomorrow won't resemble grandpa's Civil War anniversary shindig.

There will be no grand ball with ladies in hoop dresses. No celebrations.

Commemoration is certain, with tributes to those--South and North, military and civilian--who staked all on the Battle of Fredericksburg 150 years ago.

It'll be the biggest Civil War event since 2004's Battle of Spotsylvania Court House at Belvedere Plantation. Unlike that event, the "Fire on the Rappahannock" re-enactments will occur on the sites where history was made, limited to 1,500 re-enactors (1,200 soldiers and 300 civilians).

This, after all, was the fight that anguished Abraham Lincoln, causing the president to wonder how the nation would greet the ghastly news from Virginia. For Gen. Robert E. Lee, it was a victory so big that he mused about growing too fond of war.

Yet, the coming nine days of sesquicentennial events won't all be deadly earnest. They'll offer something for everyone, of all ages: games, tea time with the ladies, 1860s hairstyles, horses and saddles, videos and interactive exhibits, quilting, cooking, laundry, women's fashions, a hot-air balloon, a field telegraph, an art exhibit, a flower-carrying procession through town, the simulated shelling of the city by the Union army, family portrayals, house tours, memorial wreath-laying, a lesson on looting, regimental formations, artillery and infantry demonstrations, field hospitals (one with a re-created amputation), church services, historian-led talks and walks, visits to rarely seen historic sites, a presentation on black women's experiences, and "real-time" tours faithful to places and hours when events occurred.

By the time the smoke clears, it'll be clear that something extraordinary and transformative happened here in mid-December 1862.

John Hennessy, chief historian of Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, tells people "there is no greater laboratory for understanding the Civil War in all its forms than the Fredericksburg region."

So, let's try to break the battle's 150th down by group activities that may appeal to different tastes:

TIME-STARVED

Have only an hour to get a feel for the hoopla?


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