Saturday is our inaugural Sesquicentennial event, which in fact helps explain the slow pace of posts on here this week. Bill Freehling will be speaking on Virginia’s tortuous descent to war, illuminating his book Showdown in Virginia. George Rable will speak on Secession and the Confederate nation. And I will treat secession as it played out in the Fredericksburg area. Bill and George are heavy hitters and great speakers. The speakers get going at 1 p.m. The event is in the historic Fredericksburg Baptist Church on Princess Anne Street. Registration is requested (famcc.org) but not required. We have well over 250 registered. Everything is free, except the books. They will be on sale throughout, and a book signing and reception will follow at the Fredericksburg Area Museum. The weather is supposed to be great, the Fredericksburg Area Museum has done a great job of organizing the event. We hope to see you.
As we have mentioned here before, in the morning we will be doing a walk-around at Brompton, featuring Frank O’Reilly, Greg Mertz, Eric Mink, and me–each of us covering a different aspect of the place and its story. That starts at 10:30 and runs till noon. You can join in any time–we’ll be rotating people around the grounds from stop to stop. We’re very grateful to the University of Mary Washington and President Rick Hurley for giving all of us the chance to spend some time on the grounds of Brompton, the home of Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania’s delegate to the secession convention, John L. Marye. The walk around too is free. Just come along.
In advance of that, I wanted to share a an image that has rarely been seen–a nice addition to our earlier post on Brompton. We present it here today courtesy of Jerry Brent, one of the premier collectors of things Fredericksburg, and, fortunately, incredibly generous in sharing his finds. It is an immediate postwar image taken from the ravine that borders Brompton to the South. The camera is located almost directly across the Sunken Road from the Stephens house site, facing northwest. At the Second Battle of Fredericksburg on May 3, 1863, it was up the ravine in this view that men of the 6th Maine rushed after breaking through the paltry Confederate defenses in the formerly unassailable Sunken Road. The bullet holes that still mark the house and the outbuildings of Brompton are likely from the combat that attended this breakthrough.
Now look at this wartime image taken from atop the hill. The farm office and barn are both clearly visible in the postwar view.
The farm office and the barn are both clearly visible in the postwar view. The quarters are likewise visible in both images–though you have to look through the pillars of the porch on the farm office to see it in the above view.
The value of this image is that it forces us to pay attention to the landscape at Brompton beyond the big house–on a part of the Sunken Road battlefield that’s usually overlooked. Brompton stood atop the hill. Along the driveway to the base of Marye’s Heights are these utilitarian buildings. Today, as we shows in our earlier post, they still bear the scars of battle.
Just another little piece that helps us see more clearly the landscapes we manage and interpret. Greg Mertz will be covering this ground during the walkaround on Saturday. See you then.