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Civil War Battle Roars To Life:



Spotsylvania, Va. Commemorates the 145th Anniversary of the Battle of Chancellorsville with Historic Reenactments

Rachel DeLooze  
County of Spotsylvania 

Chris Mordi
(757) 497-4811

(Spotsylvania, Va., April 14, 2008) – The night of April 29, 1863 was not a night to rest easy for almost 200,000 American men and boys. It was the prelude to a week of heroism, strategic brilliance, stunning losses and mighty suffering. It was the night before a battle so profound that it continues to be recounted 145 years later.

Crowded into the fields surrounding the town of Chancellorsville were 60,892 Confederate soldiers spoiling for a fight against the numerically superior Union Army of 133,868 men. Despite the long odds the Confederate Army, under the direction of General Robert E. Lee, went into battle unbowed.

This epic collision comes back to life May 3 and 4 at the site of the First Day of the Battle of Chancellorsville, 6301 Plank Road, Fredericksburg, Va., when more than 800 Civil War devotees conduct a re-enactment that commemorates the 145th anniversary of this historic battle. Saturday’s performance runs from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sunday’s portrayal takes place from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Admission is $8 per person, children 12 and under enter free; the ticket is valid for both performance days and
may be purchased by visiting: Spotsylvania County teachers, students admitted free of charge.

The schedule of events is as follows:
Saturday, May 3
9 a.m. - Gates open to the public
All day - display and discussion - "19th Century Mourning Practices and Medical Equipment"
10 a.m.-10:45 a.m. - Opening Ceremony. CWPT/Spotsylvania County
11 a.m.-11:45 a.m. - Tour of May 1, 1863 battlefield with historian Eric Mink
12:p.m.-12:45 p.m. - May 1, 1863: Opening Battle Re-enactment on actual ground
1 p.m.-1:45 p.m. - Lecture: "The Aftermath of Battle and Refugee Experience", with historian John Hennessy
2 p.m.-2:45 p.m. - Lecture: "Civil War Photography," with wetplate photographer
Robert Szabo
3 p.m.-3:45 p.m. - Honor Ceremony for descendants of combatants and local area civilians
5 p.m. - Closed to the general public

Sunday, May 4
All day - display and discussion - "19th Century Mourning Practices and Medical Equipment"
10 a.m. - Gates open to the public
Noon - 12:45 p.m. - Tactical battle re-enactment
1 p.m. - 1:45 p.m. - Field hospital immersion
2 p.m. - Event closes

There will be no on-site parking. Visitors are asked to park at satellite locations and ride one of the free shuttles to the site; Riverbend High School, 12301 Spotswood Furnace Road, Fredericksburg, Va. or Spotsylvania Towne Centre, 137 Spotsylvania Mall, Fredericksburg, Va.

The Battle of Chancellorsville – A brief recounting
While the Union had superior forces, General Lee brilliantly executed a plan that broke with conventional military tactics, putting his troops on the offensive and strategically dividing them to face the Union army from different locations—a head-on approach at Chancellorsville and a right flank maneuver with a second corps led by Lee’s right hand man, Lt. Gen. Stonewall Jackson. The Union was completely unprepared, which worked to the Confederates’ advantage. Communication errors between Union leaders and a timid performance also contributed to the army’s retreat.

The fighting during The Battle of Chancellorsville lasted six days, ending May 6, 1863, and was some of the most furious anywhere in the war, holding the dubious honor as one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. More than 29,000 men fell, were wounded, or went missing during the hostilities of that week. The most notable soldier to fall was Lt. Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson who, during the brilliant maneuverings, ironically lost his life to “friendly fire.”

Walking through history
For those wanting to continue their journey into history, the County of Spotsylvania and the greater Fredericksburg area offer additional sites of historic importance.

Chancellorsville Battlefield
Historians lead special walking tours on and around the battlefield, bringing to life the different, history changing events that occurred in the area surrounding Chancellorsville. Visitors can choose from powerful events that include Chaos in the Night: The Wounding of Stonewall Jackson, Opening Shots - Changing the Tide of Battle, Courage Beyond Measure: the Fight from Hazel Grove to Fairview. Those interested in seeing the full schedule of events can find them by clicking here for tour and program dates and times.

Civil War Life – The Soldier’s Museum
The museum, located next to the Spotsylvania County Visitor Center features displays of original Civil War arms, equipment and a life-size diorama giving visitors an understanding of the hardship of camp life and the carnage of the battlefield. A narrated, 3-D slide show tells the story of Civil War life; a children’s area gives young visitors an opportunity to learn through hands-on play. Well stocked museum store. Admission: Adults: $4, Children (7-16): $2, discounts for Seniors, Military and groups. Open 9 am – 5 pm. Handicapped accessible. Bus and RV parking available.

Spotsylvania Historic Courthouse District
The Spotsylvania Court House leaves a significant Civil War legacy and is recognized by the Virginia Historic Landmark Commission. The Court House had many uses during the war, serving as a headquarters for both the North and the South, a stable and a hospital. The district around the Court House represents important historical periods in Spotsylvania County, from the building of the Spotswood Inn, 1838, through the Civil War, to serving as the present location of the Spotsylvania Government Center.

White Oak Civil War Museum (Falmouth, Va.)
A unique collection of Union and Confederate artifacts collected from encampments and battle sites around the Fredericksburg area. Open 9 a.m. - 5 p. m. Wednesday through Sunday, admission for adults, $3. Seniors, $1.50. Students 13-17, $1.50. Children 7-12, $1. Under 7, free.

The Fredericksburg Area, which includes the city of Fredericksburg and the counties of Spotsylvania and Stafford, is a classic blend of modern life with small town charm. The area is conveniently located along I-95, between Washington and Richmond and is unlike any other in America. The city of Fredericksburg features a variety of chef-owned restaurants, numerous art galleries, a wide range of specialty shops, and one of America’s most authentic, historic downtowns. Stafford is host to George Washington’s boyhood home, Ferry Farm and Belmont, the residence of famous artist Gari Melchers. Spotsylvania is not only the site of 4,400 acres of Civil War battlefields; it also boasts the beautiful Lake Anna Winery. The Fredericksburg Area rests on the banks of the picturesque, well-preserved, Rappahannock River. For more information: or call 1-800-654-4118.

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