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Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park
IUCN category V (protected landscape/seascape)
The stone wall along Sunken Road, in Fredericksburg.
The stone wall along Sunken Road, in Fredericksburg.
Map showing the location of Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park
Location Spotsylvania County and Fredericksburg, Virginia, USA
Nearest city Fredericksburg, Virginia
Coordinates 38°17′35″N 77°28′09″W / 38.29306°N 77.46917°W / 38.29306; -77.46917Coordinates: 38°17′35″N 77°28′09″W / 38.29306°N 77.46917°W / 38.29306; -77.46917
Area 8,374 acres (33.89 km2)
Established February 14, 1927
Visitors 534,636 (in 2005)
Governing body National Park Service

Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park is a unit of the National Park Service in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and elsewhere in Spotsylvania County, commemorating four major battles in the American Civil War.

Park[edit | edit source]

The military park encompasses four major Civil War battlefields: Battle of Fredericksburg, Battle of Chancellorsville, Battle of the Wilderness, and Battle of Spotsylvania Court House. It also preserves four historic buildings associated with them: Chatham Manor, Salem Church, Ellwood, and the house where Stonewall Jackson died. The ruins of the Chancellor family mansion are included. There are two visitor centers staffed by Park Service rangers, one in Fredericksburg near the foot of Marye's Heights, and another at the Chancellorsville site. Exhibit shelters are staffed on a seasonal basis at Wilderness and Spotsylvania Court House. Chatham Manor in Stafford County is open daily. All sites are free.

The park was established as Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County Battlefields Memorial National Military Park on February 14, 1927, and transferred from the War Department August 10, 1933. The lengthy name remains its official designation—75 letters, the longest name of any unit in the national park system. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966. The park includes 8374 acres (33.89 km2), of which 7369 acres (30 km2) are owned by the Federal government. Over 500,000 people visit the battlefield each year.

Cemetery[edit | edit source]

Mass grave headstone for 11 soldiers

Mass grave headstone for 4 soldiers

Fredericksburg National Cemetery was created by act of Congress, in July 1865 after reunification of the states, to honor the Federal soldiers who died in local battles or from disease. The cemetery was placed on Marye's Heights, a Confederate stronghold during the Battle of Fredricksburg. There are a total of 15,243 Civil War interments, of those, only 2,473 were identified.[1]

Graves of soldiers, known and unknown, are distinguished by their markers. Identified soldiers are buried in individual graves, marked by a rounded headstone inscribed with the soldier's name and state. Unknown soldiers were buried in mass graves, the headstones marking these plots contain two numbers. The first, upper, number identifies the plot while the second, lower, number identifies the number of soldiers buried in that plot.[1]

Approximately 100 20th century soldiers are buried in the cemetery, some of them along with their spouses. The cemetery allowed new burials until the 1940s. A separate cemetery exists on Marye's Heights which predates the Civil War, the Willis Cemetery. This cemetery is distinguished from the Civil War burials by its brick wall. The Willis home, which burned down before the outbreak of war, was separated by a gap in the ridge from the Marye's family home, Brompton. Previously known as Willis Hill, the name Marye's Heights came to identify the whole of the ridge as it gained national exposure in 1863[1]

Located near the 127th Pennsylvania Volunteer Monument, and throughout the cemetery, are plaques containing verses from Theodore O'Hara's 1847 poem The Bivouac of the Dead.[1] O'Hara wrote the poem to commemorate American dead at the Battle of Buena Vista, fought during the Mexican–American War.[2] The first two octaves, and the first half of the eleventh octave are displayed in the cemetery:

The muffled drum's sad roll has beat
The soldier's last Tattoo;
No more on life's parade shall meet
That brave and fallen few.
On fame's eternal camping ground
Their silent tents to spread,
And glory guards, with solemn round
The bivouac of the dead.

No rumor of the foe's advance
Now swells upon the wind;
Nor troubled thought at midnight haunts
Of loved ones left behind;
No vision of the morrow's strife
The warrior's dreams alarms;
No braying horn or screaming fife
At dawn shall call to arms.

Rest on, embalmed and sainted dead,
Dear as the blood ye gave,
No impious footstep here shall tread
The herbage of your grave.

Civil War interments occurred in 1867.[citation needed] The cemetery was transferred from the War Department on August 10, 1933.[citation needed]

The following monuments and memorials are located in the Fredericksburg National Cemetery:[1]

  • 127th Pennsylvania Volunteer Monument
  • Fifth Corps Monument (dedicated 1901)
  • Humphreys' Division Monument
  • Moesch Monument
  • Parker's Battery Memorial

Photo gallery[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Other references[edit | edit source]

  • The National Parks: Index 2001-2003. Washington: U.S. Department of the Interior.

External links[edit | edit source]

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