News and notes from Fredericksburg's entertainment scene
Walks shed light on area’s history
BY CLINT SCHEMMER
No matter how many times you’ve tromped or strolled through the Civil War battlefields in and around Fredericksburg, there’s always a surprise around the corner.
At no time is that clearer than summer, when National Park Service historians take to the earthworks, woods and city streets to probe the whats and whys of the ground where 100,000 fell.
Yes, if Memorial Day is just past, “History at Sunset” must be here.
On Saturday, the free tours will begin their 11th year of exploring the best-known and most little-known spots in and around Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park.
Every 2012 event looks like a winner, but three stand out: The July 20 tour—a first—of the beautiful Cedar Mountain battlefield in Culpeper County. The July 17 visit to Moss Neck, a favorite spot of “Stonewall” Jackson’s, as depicted in the movie “Gods and Generals.” (It was his 1862–63 winter quarters.) And the park’s first campfire program, on Aug. 10.
Careful readers of the list will spot a theme: It focuses on the Battle of Fredericksburg, which took place 150 years ago this December.
The rangers’ tours will cover “a wide range of topics, including the fighting in the streets of town, the Union breakthrough at Prospect Hill, the looting and bombardment of Fredericksburg, and burial of Union soldiers after the battle,” said Donald Pfanz, the park’s staff historian. “For Civil War buffs and novices alike, it promises to be an interesting and enlightening series.”
John Hennessy, the park’s chief historian, marvels at the program’s success.
“We try a lot of things, but few things we have ever done have caught on as has ‘History at Sunset,’” he said. “And it’s not just here; other parks have taken the idea and created their own summertime series.
“I think the key to the series is its very variety—civilian, military, in the park, outside the park—which gives most everyone, a gateway to history that matches their interest. Every year, we are astonished at the enthusiasm and commitment visitors have for this series. Their commitment is also fuel for the staff, who in turn enjoys very much getting ready for these programs.”
WANT TO GO?
June 8: Fighting in the Streets. Meet at Central Rappahannock Regional Library, 1200 Caroline St., in downtown Fredericksburg.
June 15: Falmouth—Occupied! Meet at historic Belmont, 224 Washington St., Falmouth.
June 22: Voices and Footsteps: The Bloody Angle. Meet at McCoull House, Tour Stop 5, Spotsylvania Battlefield.
June 29: Lost, Then Found: The Evolution and Reclamation of Fredericksburg’s Sunken Road and Willis Hill. Meet at Fredericksburg Battlefield Visitor Center.
July 6: Breakthrough! Prospect Hill. Meet at Prospect Hill, Tour Stop 6, South Lee Drive, Fredericksburg Battlefield.
July 13: Looting and Bombardment of Fredericksburg. Meet at Market Square, Princess Anne and William streets, downtown.
July 20: Stunned at Cedar Mountain. Look for Cedar Mountain Battlefield sign at James Madison Highway (U.S. 15) and General Winder Road (State Route 657) in Culpeper County. Drive 0.2 mile on Route 657 to parking area.
July 27: Jackson at Moss Neck. Park along Burma Road (State Route 766), off U.S. 17 in Caroline County, six miles east of New Post.
Aug. 3: The Bone Collectors. Meet at Fredericksburg Battlefield Visitor Center.
Aug. 10: A Soldier’s Nightfall: A Campfire Program. Meet at Fredericksburg Battlefield Visitor Center. Begins at 8 p.m. Bring lawn chairs.
Info: All programs begin at 7 p.m., except campfire program. Free. 540/373-6122, bit.ly/LjXL3A
Clint Schemmer: 540/368-5029