Chatham Plantation A Living History

With its sweeping lawns and tactical positioning, Chatham Plantation was a big piece of the puzzle at the Battle of Fredericksburg.

The 154th adversary of the battle of Fredericksburg was celebrated this past weekend. This battle which was fought on December 11- 15th 1862, was marked b y a Celebrations at the park.

Statue In back yard of Chatham Plantation (Photo: S.K. Allen

 

The Union Army began marching on November 15, 1862, and arrived at Falmouth on November 17th.  Sitting high on the hill and looking out at the City, Chatham was in perfect position.

Chatham Manor Back Yard (Photo: S.K. Allen)

Chatham overlooked the city of Fredericksburg on one side of the Rappahannock River.  While there, Ambrose Burnside, general in charge ordered Pontoon Bridges to be built so that they could swiftly infiltrate Fredericksburg by crossing the Rappahannock.  But in a typical administrative manner, the bridges arrive late.  Meanwhile, 500 confederate soldiers convene on the other side of the Rappahannock.

General Robert E. Lee correctly assumed that Burnside was going to come across the Rappahannock, and in order to protect Richmond, he directed his attention at Falmouth.  When the pontoon Bridge finally arrived on Burnside’s camp, it was too late for the Union to infiltrate without opposition.

The back gates at Chatham (Photo: S.K. Allen)

The Battle of Fredericksburg was a major Union Forces defeat.  It was after this battle that the Union Forces faced their darkest hour.  This was the battle fought after the Battle of Antietam between the time the Preliminary document of the Emancipation Proclamation and the signing of the official document on January 1, 1863.

The battle represented a show of Force from the president in order to show strength before the proclamation is signed.  But It doesn’t happen, “If there is a place worse than hell, I am in it.” President Abraham Lincoln said of the battle.

Gardens at Chatham Manor (Photo: S.K. Allen)

In the bigger picture, this one day of fighting, and small scrimmages the days following was an important piece within the context of the Civil War.

Chatham plantation was built on the eve of the American Revolution as part of a Plantation Complex by William and Anne Fitzhugh .  It was not built only as a means for income generation as a plantation, but also as a place where they could entertain guests.

Chatham has been a working farm from its beginnings until now, starting at the 1200-acre plantation that ran on slave labor until the Civil war, where they endured a revolt and soon became a Union Hospital.  After the Civil war, Chatham was again a family home.

Chatham Plantation encompasses 200 years of History and Americana.

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