Day 9: Monday, October 12, 2015
In the afternoon, after visiting the Hugh Mercer Apothecary, and the Mary Ball Washington House in downtown Fredericksburg, Jon and I decided to do more exploring of the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania NMP.
We started by visiting the site in Guinea Station where Stone Jackson was evacuated after he was wounded and had surgery to amputate his arm. They were going to evacuate him by ambulance, and then get him on a train to Richmond, where he could recuperate in a hospital. Jackson was taken to Thomas C. Chandler’s plantation, called Fairfield, and placed in the farm office, but his condition had deteriorated and he was unable to be moved further. He developed pneumonia, and died six days after coming to the farm. Fortunately, the Army summoned his wife to his bedside, so they had a chance to say their goodbyes.
The Fairfield home is no longer there, having fallen into disrepair after the Civil War. The railroad acquired the property in 1909, and tore down the main house, but also restored the farm office. The railroad donated the the site to the National Park Service in 1937, and it is open to visitors. The Jackson Shrine, as it is now known, contains the bed in which Jackson died, and other period pieces from Jackson’s ill-fated stay.
After the shrine, we saw the Spotsylvania Court House battlefield. Spotsylvania was the second major battle of General U.S. Grant’s Overland Campaign in 1864. The campaign’s target was the destruction of Lee’s army, rather than a city. And it was brutal war – although the battle was a tactical draw, there were 32,000 casualties on both sides, one of the costliest battles in the war.
We were still getting over our colds, but we did take a few walks on the battlefield to various points of interest. There are some remaining Confederate earthworks, which look like gentle hills and valleys in the landscape. There are also a couple of old farmhouse foundations, marked with foundation stones.
The site is well marked with several markers, so visitors can tell what happened at a specific area of the battlefield. It is always hard to contemplate that such peaceful farmland was the site of such horrible death and destruction. It really was a beautiful place to enjoy a walk on a warm, sunny fall day.
That evening we had a low key dinner at Panera Bread, which was close to our hotel, and relaxed. A perfect way to unwind for our big driving day the next day!
Driving Distance for Day 9: 51 miles – Fredericksburg, VA – Stonewall Jackson Shrine – Spotsylvania Court House Battlefield – Fredericksburg, VA
Hotel for the night: Another night at the Sleep Inn in Fredericksburg.