History at Sunset

Sun setting at Prospect Hill behind cannon
Many History at Sunset programs explore sites "off the beaten path." Others tell new stories at familiar locations.

Buddy Secor

History at Sunset is an annual program series held by the park during the summer season. Park historians will lead an evening tour or special program in the park or the surrounding area. These approximately 90 minute tours focus on areas rarely visited or stories rarely told. Be prepared for some walking, and please bring a flashlight.

History at Sunset 2019 Schedule

Programs Shift to Saturday Evenings, 6:30 Start Time

The National Park Service is pleased to announce the 2019 schedule for its popular History at Sunset programs, a community tradition now in its 17th year. This year, the programs have been shifted to Saturday evenings with an earlier start time—6:30 p.m. The change away from Friday nights will make the programs accessible to more people, including out-of-town visitors here for the weekend and commuters who had trouble attending programs on Friday nights.

This year’s schedule features seven programs, commencing on June 15 and ending on August 3, with a hiatus for the July 4 weekend. Highlights include a program at Spotsylvania’s Mule Shoe Salient that will feature living historians (who in turn will be part of a larger living history weekend at Spotsylvania); traditional battle walks with Frank O’Reilly at Chancellorsville; a program on Chatham and war; the first-ever History at Sunset focused on historic Belmont in Falmouth; and a fresh look at the Sunken Road, not just as a battle site, but as a byway, homeplace, and iconic landscape.

The goal of History at Sunset is to offer visitors access to sites not typically accessible for tours or to see familiar sites through a different lens. All programs start at 6:30 p.m. and will last about 90 minutes. While the walks are generally not long, they often cover uneven ground. Wear sturdy shoes, bring water, and wear bug repellant. For one program—at Belmont on August 3—bring a lawn chair.

In the event of questionable weather, check our Facebook page for update or call 540 693-3200 x4040. www.facebook.com/fredericksburgspotsylvanianmp

2019 Schedule:

June 15: Chatham at War. John Hennessy. We have looked at Chatham as a home, as a plantation, and as a hospital. But this program will walk the footsteps of Whitman & Barton to explore Chatham’s harsh and varied experience during the war—as a component of a major battlefield, as a destination for enslaved people seeking freedom, as a place of care and comfort, and as a home devastated and transformed. Meet at 120 Chatham Lane, Fredericksburg, 22405.

June 22 Building the Mule Shoe Salient. Eric Mink and Beth Parnicza will explore the battlefield feature that begot some of the war’s most horrific fighting—its construction amid darkness, its use by the Confederates, and its role in the fighting that climaxed at the Bloody Angle on May 12, 1864. This program is part of a larger living history weekend at Spotsylvania Court House Battlefield, June 22-23. Meet at the terminus of Anderson Drive, GPS Coordinates 38.214375, -77.607676

June 29 Spark of Battle—The First Day at Chancellorsville. Join Frank O’Reilly for a walk on the May 1 battlefield at Chancellorsville—on land owned by the American Battlefield Trust. Here, Lee would regain the initiative he would keep until July 3 at Gettysburg. Meet at the First Day site at 6159 Plank Road, 22407

July 13 May’s Bloodiest Dawn: Hazel Grove and Fairview. Frank O’Reilly will explore the landscape associated with the fight for Fairview, the key to the Chancellorsville Battlefield. Meet at Hazel Grove, Chancellorsville Tour Stop #9, GPS Coordinates 38.303511, -77.651220

July 20 Home Turned Battlefield: The Higgerson Farm. Join Greg Mertz to learn the story of Permelia Higgerson her farm-turned-battlefield, and combat in the gloom and swamps of the Wilderness. Meet at Wilderness Battlefield Tour Stop 4 on Hill-Ewell Drive, GPS Coordinates 38.308676, -77.749744

July 27 Byway, Battlefield, Homeplace, Iconic Landscape: The Sunken Road. Join Hilary Grabowska and John Hennessy to explore the Sunken Road across decades—its status as the I-95 of the 19th century, the people who lived there, the momentous events that occurred there, and how we remember and preserve this world-famous site. Meet at the Fredericksburg Battlefield Visitor Center, 1013 Lafayette Boulevard, 22401.

August 3 Family Conflicted, Home Afflicted: Belmont Amidst War. John Hennessy, joined by staff at Gari Melchers Home and Studio at Belmont, will explore the experience of historic Belmont, its owners, and the surrounding community of Falmouth during the Civil War. Meet at Belmont, 224 Washington Street, Falmouth, 22405. Bring a lawn chair!

Last updated: June 28, 2019

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Mailing Address:

120 Chatham Ln
Fredericksburg, VA 22405


(540) 693-3200

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