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Battle of Fredericksburg Remembrance Weekend Events

By Rebekah Oakes, Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park historian and webmaster. Photos copyright Susan Larson, Fredericksburg.Today.

Fredericksburg, VA — Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park will join with the community to present a series of special programs and tours that will recall the Battle of Fredericksburg on the 154th anniversary of the battle the weekend of December 10 – 11, 2016.

The weekend will feature both traditional programs and new events that tell the story of the battle and its impact on the people who lived here, the soldiers who fought here, and the nation at large.

Each of the two days will conclude with a culminating event.

On Saturday evening, National Park Service (NPS) staff will join with members of the community and the congregation of historic St. George’s Episcopal Church to present a program entitled “Voices from the Storm: Fredericksburg.” This program, in the sanctuary of St. George’s (built 1849), will feature a dramatic mix of narration, images, music, the words of those who were there, and the power of place.

Sunday’s events will culminate with a Program of Remembrance along the historic Sunken Road. Dr. Barton Myers, Associate Professor of History at Washington & Lee University (and a former historian at the park), will offer the keynote address. The program will take place in front of the monument to Richard Kirkland, who risked his life to save the lives of his foes at Fredericksburg.

The full schedule:
Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016
10 – 11:30 a.m. – Battle in the Balance: Prospect Hill. Historian Frank O’Reilly will explore the south end of the field, where for a time on December 13, the battle hung in the balance. Meet at Tour Stop 6, Prospect Hill.

2 – 3:30 p.m. – Across the Bloody Plain—from Hurkamp Park to Sunken Road. Join Frank O’Reilly to follow the footsteps of the men who charged across the Bloody Plain, only to be stopped before they reached the Sunken Road. Meet at Hurkamp Park, William and Prince Edward Streets, downtown Fredericksburg. Plan for a return walk to your vehicle.

4 – 5 p.m. – Soldiers of the Road. Historian Becky Oakes will look at the fighting along the Sunken Road from the perspective of the Confederate soldiers who fought in the road itself. Park at the Fredericksburg Battlefield Visitor Center, 1013 Lafayette Blvd., Fredericksburg.

7 – 8 p.m. – Voices from the Storm: Fredericksburg. Chief Historian John Hennessy will be joined by members of the community and the congregation at St. George’s Episcopal Church to present a dramatic mix of images, narration, music, and the words of those who bore witness to the events of December 1862. At St. George’s Episcopal Church, 905 Princess Anne St., downtown Fredericksburg.

Sunday, December 11
8 – 9:30 a.m. – Bridge to Destruction: The Struggle at the Upper Crossing. Historian John Hennessy will lead a walk from Chatham to the site of the upper pontoon crossing, where Union engineers struggled to build a bridge across the Rappahannock. A “real time” program, 154 years after the event. Meet at Chatham, 120 Chatham Lane, Stafford. Moderately difficult walk due to uneven terrain.

10 – 11 a.m. – The Bombardment and Looting of Fredericksburg. Join John Hennessy for a short walk through Fredericksburg’s streets, telling the story of Fredericksburg’s most difficult day, December 11, 1862. Meet at the Upper Pontoon Crossing site, 1401 Sophia St. Park on Caroline Street.

12 – 2 p.m. – In the Footsteps of the Irish Brigade. Join Historian Frank O’Reilly for what has become a legendary walk through the streets of Fredericksburg to the Sunken Road. Meet at the City Dock, 201 Sophia St. Note: plan for a walk back to your car after the 2 p.m. Remembrance Ceremony.

2 p.m. – A Nation Remembers: Fredericksburg. Join park staff, the superintendent, community groups, and keynote speaker Dr. Barton Myers at the Kirkland Monument for 30 to 40-minute ceremony recalling the events of December 1862, and their enduring legacy. Park at the Fredericksburg Battlefield Visitor Center, 1013 Lafayette Blvd.

For more information, call 540-693-3200, or visit http://www.nps.gov/frsp/

Editor’s Note
“The Battle of Fredericksburg, fought December 11-15, 1862, was one of the largest and deadliest of the Civil War,” according to the Civil War Trust.

“It featured the first major opposed river crossing in American military history. Union and Confederate troops fought in the streets of Fredericksburg, the Civil War’s first urban combat. And with nearly 200,000 combatants, no other Civil War battle featured a larger concentration of soldiers.”
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