Exhibit renovations at Chancellorsville Battlefield Visitor Center
Exhibits and the film are currently unavailable at the Chancellorsville Battlefield Visitor Center while we prepare the building for new exhibits. The information desk, bookstore, and restrooms are available.
Exhibit renovations at Fredericksburg Battlefield Visitor Center
Exhibits are currently unavailable at the Fredericksburg Battlefield Visitor Center, as we remove old exhibits and prepare the building for new exhibits in June 2014. The information desk, bookstore, and restrooms are available.
Below is the text of the park brochure. Click here for the overall park map.
-Fredericksburg Battlefield: North Lee Drive trail map
-NEW! Wilderness Crossing trail map
Touring the Battlefields
Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park commemorates the Battle of Fredericksburg, the Chancellorsville Campaign (encompassing the battles of Chancellorsville, Second Fredericksburg, and Salem Church), the Battle of the Wilderness, and the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House.
A self-guided tour of the four battlefields and three historic buildings begins at Fredericksburg Battlefield Visitor Center on U.S. 1, Lafayette Blvd. A complete tour consists of stops 1 through 16, shown in red on the map. Let your time and interest determine how much you see.
Folders containing further information about each tour stop are available to purchase at both visitor centers as well as Chatham Manor and the Stonewall Jackson Shrine. Recorded CD tours are also available to rent or purchase, one for each of the three military campaigns. Walking tours and other interpretive programs are presented from early June through Labor Day. Park historians are on duty at each visitor center and at Chatham to provide information about the park and its story. A variety of publications about Civil War history can be purchased in the bookstores at both visitor centers, Chatham Manor and the Jackson Shrine.
Stonewall Jackson Shrine is open daily during summer months, with reduced hours the rest of the year.
Picnic tables are available in each battlefield unit, as well as at Chatham and the Stonewall Jackson Shrine. The park has no overnight camping facilities. National Park Service campgrounds with various camping options are available at Prince William Forest Park, 23 miles north of Fredericksburg. Call (703) 221-7181 for information.
Interpretive walking trails are along the Sunken Road, Marye's Heights, the Fredericksburg National Cemetery, Lee Hill and Hamilton Crossing on the Fredericksburg Battlefield; the site of Stonewall Jackson's wounding, Hazel Grove, a four mile Chancellorsville History Trail, a two mile trail starting on McLaws Drive and at Salem Church on the Chancellorsville Battlefield; the Gordon Flank Attack Trail, the Tapp Field Trail, the Chewning Plateau Trail and the Vermont Monument Trail on the Wilderness Battlefield; a seven mile loop trail connects important spots of the Spotsylvania Battlefield including a loop through the Bloody Angle portion of the battlefield.
For Your Safety
You may also encounter stinging insects, poisonous snakes and plants during your visit. Wear proper walking shoes while hiking park trails and be alert for footing hazards. Please use caution while you are with us and have a safe, enjoyable visit.
Where Uncommon Valor Was Commonplace
Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park memorializes the battles of Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, the Wilderness, and Spotsylvania Court House - four major engagements of the Civil War. No other area in North America has witnessed such heavy and continuous fighting. Here, within a radius of 17 miles, occurred more than 100,000 American casualties (killed is ten percent of the casualty count for most Civil War battles). The park preserves and interprets some of the scenes of those battles. The quiet, peaceful woods and fields are constant reminders of how much we owe to the sacrifice of others.
Fredericksburg The Union army commanded by Ambrose E. Burnside arrived on Stafford Heights overlooking Fredericksburg in mid-November 1862. Not until December 11, however, did the Federals cross the Rappahannock River. By that time Robert E. Lee's forces were firmly posted on the high ground west of the city. On December 13, Burnside ordered two attacks. An assault led by George G. Meade against Jackson's Corps at Prospect Hill achieved temporary success before Confederate reserves drove the Federals back to their original position. The second attack was launched against the heart of Lee's defenses at Marye's Heights west of Fredericksburg. Confederate artillery on the heights and infantry behind a stone wall slaughtered the Union soldiers. When the day ended, Lee had won his most one-sided victory of the war.
Chancellorsville Following the Fredericksburg debacle, President Abraham Lincoln replaced Burnside with Joseph Hooker. On April 27, 1863, the new commander marched most of his army upstream, crossed the Rappahannock and Rapidan rivers at various fords, and within three days was at the Chancellorsville crossroads. Lee discovered this threat to his position and rushed westward, prompting Hooker to abandon the initiative and establishing a defensive line, which was vulnerable on the right flank. Stonewall Jackson exploited this weakness on May 2 by leading his corps on a risky 12-mile march around the Union army and destroying Hooker's right in a spectacular surprise attack. The day ended tragically for the Confederates when Jackson was unwittingly shot and mortally wounded by his own troops. For three more days Lee pressed his advantage and eventually drove the Federals back across the river.
The Wilderness The first of the classic encounters between Lee and Ulysses S. Grant took place in the dense thickets and tangled undergrowth of the Wilderness on May 5-6, 1864. Along the Orange Turnpike the armies sparred indecisively for two days. To the south, on the Orange Plank Road, the Federals almost crushed A.P. Hill's troops on May 5, only to be thrown back by a dramatic Counterattack the next day. tactically the battle was a draw, but Grant broke the stalemate by marching his army south toward Spotsylvania Court House.
Spotsylvania Court House
Stonewall Jackson Shrine Following his accidental wounding on the night of May 2, 1863, Jackson's left arm was amputated at a field hospital near Wilderness Tavern. On May 4, he endured a 27-mile ambulance ride to Thomas C. Chandler's Fairfield Plantation at Guinea Station. Here, well behind Confederate lines and at a point convenient to the railroad, Jackson lay in a small frame office building. Pneumonia set in after his arrival and he died here on May 10, 1863.
Old Salem Church Built in 1844 to provide the Baptists of upper Spotsylvania County a more geographically convenient place of worship, this structure harbored scores of refugees who fled Fredericksburg during the 1862 battle. Union and Confederate soldiers later fought here during the Battle of Chancellorsville. When the fighting ended, Southern surgeons attended to wounded soldiers of both armies in the building.
Chatham This gracious Georgian plantation house, built by William Fitzhugh beginning in 1768, hosted three of America's most famous Presidents - George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln. During the Battle of Fredericksburg the building served as headquarters for Edwin V. Summer, commander of the Union army's Right Grand Division, and as a field hospital. Army medical personnel, assisted by volunteers like Clara Barton, treated hundreds of Union soldiers within its walls. Graffiti scrawled by soldiers is still visible today.
Fredericksburg National Cemetery More than 15,000 Union soldiers killed in and around Fredericksburg are buried in this 12-acre cemetery located on Marye's Heights. The identities of 85 percent of the soldiers are unknown. Confederate soldiers are buried in Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania Confederate cemeteries.
Did You Know?
While laying out the Chancellorsville History Trail, the park staff in places had to literally hack their way through a jungle of underbrush that resembled the Wilderness that the soldiers struggled through during the Battle of Chancellorsville.