Say “Fredericksburg” and most people think of Civil War history. That’s understandable; the Virginia town was home to one of that conflict’s bloody battles, one that the Confederates won and probably thus lengthened the War.
But first settled in 1607, Fredericksburg’s history goes further back. George Washington‘s “great reception” after the battle of Yorktown took place at what’s now the Rising Sun Tavern, originally built in 1760 as a private home by Gen. Washington’s brother Charles.
Their mother Mary lived out her days nearby in a home that the General purchased for her in 1772.
Perhaps nowhere does the early American history of Fredericksburg come together more fully than at Chatham Manor. Built during 1768-71 by planter William Fitzhugh, the Georgian-style house overlooks the Rappahannock River.
Having served together in the House of Burgesses with Fitzhugh, George Washington visited during the 1780s, and Thomas Jefferson visited in 1793.
By the Civil War, the home had been purchased by schoolteacher-turned-planter James Horace Lacy, who left to serve as a staff officer in the Confederate Army. His wife and children remained until the spring of 1862, when the Union Army, as it had a habit of doing, took over the home and occupied it as a local headquarters.
Seven months before the Battle of Fredericksburg, Abraham Lincoln visited to meet with General Irvin McDowell and his staff, making it the only building known to have been visited by both the first and the sixteenth presidents.