Chatham Heights in Stafford County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
A “Picture of Desolation”
“ Tis a perfect picture of desolation, and a sad illustration of the ravages of war.”
—Newspaper correspondent, 1863
Union soldiers loll around Chatham in this February 1863 photograph. The scene here was not always so peaceful. Two months earlier, during the Battle of Fredericksburg, soldiers and wagons crowded the grounds; generals issued orders from the porch; surgeons converted the building’s interior into a field hospital. More than one hundred and thirty soldiers who died from their wounds received a hasty burial on the grounds.
The Union occupation devastated Chatham and surrounding Stafford County. It would take decades to recover.
Every wall and floor is saturated with blood, and the whole house…seems to have been suddenly transformed into a butcher’s shamble. The clock has stopped; the child’s rocking horse is rotting away in a disused balcony; the costly exotics in the garden are destroyed….All that was elegant is wretched; all that was noble is shabby; all that once told of civilized elegance now speaks of ruthless barbarism.”
Erected by Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park, National Park Service.
Location. 38° 18.522′ N, 77° 27.377′ W. Marker is in Chatham Heights, Virginia, in Stafford County. Marker can be reached from Chatham Lane. Touch for map. Marker is located at Chatham Manor, part of the Fredericksburg National Military Park. Marker is at or near this postal address: 120 Chatham Ln, Fredericksburg VA 22405, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Bombardment (within shouting distance of this marker); Pontoon Bridges (within shouting distance of this marker); A Bloody Crossing (within shouting distance of this marker); Between Battles (within shouting distance of this marker); Beleaguered Town (within shouting distance of this marker); A Changed Landscape (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Sow…Tend…Harvest (about 400 feet away); Beyond the Big House (about 500 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Chatham Heights.
More about this marker.
Also see . . .
1. Chatham Manor. Chatham History, including the Civil War years. (Submitted on January 10, 2008, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia.)
2. Walt Whitman at Chatham. National Park Service website, referencing the Catalpa Trees. (Submitted on January 10, 2008, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia.)
1. Catalpa Trees
In the marker picture, one can easily see the two catalpa trees, then young but now gnarled with age, standing on Chatham's front lawn. They bore witness to the death and desolation of the times. As well, their location immediately outside of the bedroom-turned operating room caused their trunks and branches to collect amputated limbs hurriedly tossed out the window for later removal.
Walt Whitman spoke of these trees in his book The Wound Dresser. A passage reads, "Spent a good part of the day in a large brick mansion [Chatham]
— Submitted January 10, 2008, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia.
Categories. • Military • Notable Buildings • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on January 10, 2008, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,189 times since then and 64 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on January 10, 2008, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia.
Editor’s want-list for this marker. Information about Timothy J. Franz mentioned on this marker. • Can you help?