The Angel of Marye’s Heights…

Today we took a foray out from the marina by courtesy car and headed to Fredericksburg sixty miles away. Our original intent was to visit the National Battlefield but ultimately we found much more than that.

The drive over was through beautiful countryside where agriculture abounds. We saw barley, corn, asparagus and strawberries. I never realized there was so much farming in this part of the country.

After a Subway lunch we drove into historic downtown Fredericksburg to the Visitors Center. There they had a trolley that was about to leave at that very moment. The lady at the ticket counter said I looked honest ( little does she know me ) and told us to just get on and pay her when we got back. We have had more people extend us credit like that on this trip. See, it pays to be stable looking.

The trolley driver was most knowledgeable and for over an hour he regaled us with stories of history and famous names that had graced Fredericksburg since the beginning. Everyone who was anyone had made contact with this town. George Washington slept here many times as he moved his mother Mary here after his father died. He built her a house and she became a pilar of the community. They even built a monument to her when she died.

Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Jackson and Groover Cleveland are just a few presidents who spent time here. Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Jefferson Davis were all here. The list goes on and on.

The visit to the Fredericksburg Battlefield was most informative about this battle that killed over 18,000 men, mostly Union troops. It was a slaughter as General Burnside, for whom sideburns are named, ordered seven futile charges against Confederates who were firmly entrenched behind a stone wall on Marye’s Heights. It was almost like shooting fish in a barrel. Burnside would later be forced to resign.

One of the more poignant episodes occurred after one of the ill fated charges left so many Union dead and wounded on the field that their cries for help and water pulled at the heart of a Confederate soldier. He asked permission to go out and take water to these dying enemy troops. His commander at first refused saying it as suicide but eventually relented and thus the Angel of Marye’s Heights became legend. Sgt Richard Rowland Kirkland, a South Carolina Volunteer, gave comfort to desperate men in their final hours. Men that he had been shooting at hours before. Even the Union troops cheered him. Ironically Kirkland would rise through the ranks from battlefield to battlefield until the end of the war when he was shot himself and killed on Chickamauga Battlefield in my home state of Georgia, the last battle the Confederates won though not decisively. The State of South Carolina built a touching monument to him that is the centerpiece of the battlefield. Unlike many Civil War sites that are spread over large areas, this battlefield is all in close proximity to the city and is easy to walk. Another shot glass added to the collection.

A stainless steel DeLorean! Michael J. Fox where are you?

Lastly a word about this marina. Absolutely top flight people here that are so friendly and helpful. I would recommend it without reservation.

Weather permitting we are on the move upriver tomorrow morning. Exactly where we are going remains to be seen.