Fredericksburg, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
War Comes to Fredericksburg
"Abraham Lincoln was in town on Friday. Our Mayor did not call on him, and I did not hear a cheer as he passed along the streets."
—Betty Herndon Maury
(diary entry for May 25, 1862
War first came to Fredericksburg in the spring of 1862. General Irvin McDowell occupied the area with more than 30,000 Union troops and their arrival on April 18th created an immediate uproar. Many citizens fled, but slaves saw an opportunity to end their condition of servitude. By the time the army departed, in August, thousands of enslaved persons had crossed the Rappahannock River to the Union camps, securing their own freedom.
Though most of the Union camps were north of the river, in Stafford, one brigade occupied the town itself. On May 23rd, President Abraham Lincoln visited army headquarters at Chatham and later crossed the river on a floating bridge. He toured the Northern camps on the western edge of town and then stopped in to see General Marsena Patrick, the brigade commander who had his headquarters in the Farmer's Bank building, across the intersection from you.
Confederates burned three bridges over the Rappahannock River on the day the Federals arrived. To prepare for a move south, the Union army established pontoon bridges and rebuilt the railway bridge. This sketch depicts soldiers at work in mid-May 1862. The bridges would be destroyed again when the Federals withdrew that summer.
Brigadier General Marsena Patrick became the military governor of Fredericksburg in April 1862. He was a thoroughgoing professional and kept strict order during the first Union occupation of the town.
Erected by Fredericksburg Economic Development and Tourism Office.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African Americans • Bridges & Viaducts • War, US Civil • Waterways & Vessels. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #16 Abraham Lincoln, and the Virginia, Fredericksburg: Timeless. series lists.
Location. 38° 18.136′ N, 77° 27.592′ W. Marker is in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Marker is at the intersection of Princess Anne Street (Business U.S. 17) and George Street, on the left when traveling south on Princess Anne Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 817 Princess Anne St, Fredericksburg VA 22401, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A Sacked and Gutted Town (here, next to this marker); The Court House (here, next to this marker); A Vast Hospital (here, next to this marker); Gen. Stonewall Jackson (a few steps from this marker); 1910 (within shouting distance of this marker); In Memory of Clara Barton (within shouting distance of this marker); St. Georges Episcopal Church (within shouting distance of this marker); National Bank of Fredericksburg (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Fredericksburg.
Regarding War Comes to Fredericksburg. Yes, "(diary entry for May 25, 1862" is missing right parenthesis.
Related marker. Click here for another marker that is related to this marker. This marker has replaced the linked marker.
Credits. This page was last revised on February 7, 2021. It was originally submitted on April 12, 2020, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 63 times since then and 18 times this year. Last updated on February 7, 2021, by Carl Gordon Moore Jr. of North East, Maryland. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on April 12, 2020, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.