Past is Prologue

Clint Schemmer writes about history, heritage preservation and the American Civil War.  On Facebook: Past is Prologue  On Twitter: @prologuepast  ContactEmail Clint or call 540/374-5424.

RSS feed of this blog


MORE: Read more news from Fredericksburg

Dawn illuminates the bullet-pocked Innis House and the Stone Wall in Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. (BUDDY SECOR)


All day: Virginia Civil War HistoryMobile; living history at Chatham, medicine, civilians, music and headquarters. Hourly tours of Sunken Road and Marye’s Heights, until 2 p.m. Battle-damaged Innis House open along Sunken Road. Children’s muster, Fredericksburg Battlefield Visitor Center.

HFFI Christmas Candlelight Tour, 11a.m.–5p.m.: Historic Fredericksburg Foundation Inc. hosts 42nd annual tour along Union troops’ attack route; Brompton and Braehead figured in the battle. Same-day tickets are $30; one-house tickets $10.

Various programs:

9–11 a.m.: “Breakthrough at Prospect Hill” NPS walking tour. Here, armies battled for key terrain on south end of the field. Big Union attack took Ambrose Burnside to brink of victory, prevented only by intense fighting. Meet at Prospect Hill (Tour Stop 6) on South Lee Drive.

10 a.m.: Professor Thaddeus Lowe (portrayed by Kevin Knapp, a former Green Beret) will inflate his gas balloon, one of seven in the pioneering U.S. Army Balloon Corps, at Ferry Farm in Stafford. Lowe was last seen in Stafford in December 1862, when he ascended into the air to spy on Confederate forces.

10–11 a.m.: Period church services. Join re-enactors for worship at Slaughter Pen Farm.

11 a.m.–3 p.m.: Ferry Farm ($1 ages 6 and up), living-history programs, U.S. Army Balloon Corps, laundry, quilting, horses and saddles, provost marshal.

12 p.m.: Re-dedication of Irish Brigade monument, City Dock. Irish Defence Forces soldiers, historian Frank O’Reilly, Sons of Union Veterans officer, Irish Embassy representative and Fredericksburg Councilman Matt Kelly will honor Irish immigrants who fought in the Battle of Fredericksburg.

Noon–3 p.m.: Field hospital and surgery at Brompton on Marye’s Heights above Sunken Road.

Culminating Event: A Nation Remembers

The Battle of Fredericksburg

1–4 p.m.: Public, soldiers and re-enactors participate in National Park Service’s Hallowed Ground Processional and Culminating Ceremony. Irish Defence Forces troops and 69th New York Infantry (Irish Brigade legacy unit) will march. Starts at 1 p.m. at Riverfront Park, Sophia Street.

1 p.m.: Crossing Hallowed Ground—A Procession. Walk in the footsteps of soldiers through town—enveloped by sound, accompanied by the words of those who were there, and witness to the names of those who fell. The simulated explosion of 100 shells per minute will symbolize the ordeal of the town. Tolling bells will reflect the grief of a nation. Drums will speak to the sacrifice of soldiers. Each participant may carry a flower to the Sunken Road. From Riverfront Park, Sophia Street, to the Sunken Road.

3 p.m.: The Culmination. A program of music, words, reflection and salutes, including descendant units of Virginia’s Stonewall Brigade and the Union’s Irish Brigade. Participants will lay flowers upon the Stone Wall in remembrance of the fallen. National Guard howitzers will fire a 21-volley salute. At Sunken Road, behind Fredericksburg Battlefield Visitor Center, 1013 Lafayette Blvd.

More events Dec. 11–13 and Dec. 15:

National Park Service to host “real-time” tours on the days of the battle. Renowned historians Gary Gallagher and Robert K. Krick to lecture Thursday to benefit battlefield preservation. Park will host rare visits to three evocative historic  sites Saturday. Click here for a program booklet. Or here for an online calendar.