Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park is a military park that includes four major Civil War battlefields and preserves the historic buildings associated with them. No place more vividly reflects the Civil War’s tragic cost, in all its forms. There’s Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Wilderness, and Spotsylvania. More than 85,000 men were wounded; 15,000 were killed most now in graves unknown. There are many marks of battle in this land. These lands belonged to families who are gone now. The people who lived here fought for the freedom of four million Americans. They also helped to reunite our nation.
The Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park is a unit of the National Park Service located in Fredericksburg, VA. The park commemorates four battles in the American Civil War: Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, The Wilderness, and Spotsylvania.
General Ambrose Burnside tried to take the Confederate capital of Richmond by crossing the Rappahannock River. Burnside had pontoons, but they were delayed. This meant that the Confederates led by Robert E. Lee were able to fortify the high ground. The battle was a one-sided massacre of General Burnside’s army.
The battle of Chancellorsville was a risk for the Confederacy. Robert E. Lee divided his forces and sent Stonewall Jackson on a flanking attack. The gamble took the Union forces by surprise. Union commander General Joseph Hooker called for a retreat.
The Battle of the Wilderness was a turning point in the war. It marked the first battle between Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant. The dense forest meant Grant could not take advantage of his artillery. The battle rages for hours with high casualties on both sides. The battle is considered a stalemate but proved to be a win for the Union. Grant withdrew to fortify his troops to force a battle in a more open country where the Union had the advantage.
Spotsylvania marked a key crossroads position for both the North and the South. Grant hoped to take Spotsylvania and cut Lee and his forces off from the Confederate capital in Richmond. Lee was able to take the position ahead of Grant. The battle of Spotsylvania was fought in heavy rain. Gunpowder was dampened. The intense battle was waged mostly hand-to-hand.
The Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park preserves four historic buildings. They are the Chatham Manor, the Salem Church, Ellwood Manor, and the house where Stonewall Jackson died. There are also ruins of the Chancellor family mansion. All the homes are open daily to visitors for free. The park is closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.
The Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park has the longest name of any park in the National Park System at 75 letters. On February 214, 1927, the park was established by the War Department. It was transferred to the National Park Service on August 10, 1933. On October 15, 1966, the park was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Over half a million people visit the park annually. It covers 8,374 acres of which 7,369 acres are federally owned.
If you’d like to learn more about Fredericksburg, click here to read about The James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library