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50 States, Day 200

  50 States, Day 200 Fredericksburg  16 miles
"A Man certainly stands much more in kneed of religion in the Army than at Home."
~ Private Jerome Yates, Company C, 16th Mississippi

We followed the trail to track the progress of the Slaughter Pen, battle of Fredericksburg. A simple field, yet the Civil War opponents engaged in a bitter battle over control of this area.   Another crazy record setting battlefield. While Gettysburg carried the most casualties of a single battle (50k in three days) and Antietam the most casualties in a single day (23k), Fredericksburg holds the sad distinction of the most casualties overall, as four separate battles were fought around the
city, with a staggering 105,000 casualties total. This place offered key strategic advantage, as it was the link between Washington DC and Richmond, VA, the Confederate Capitol. And so the sides fought with vigor.

Enough of the field, we rode into town to the Fredericksburg Battlefield Visitors Center. Much more informative and warmer.   Fredericksburg also suffered the most damage of any battlefield city, as the fighting occurred just outside the city and building after building fell as collateral damage, or burned by the Confederates to prevent the Union from using them.
Amidst all the death and destruction, a Confederate soldier offered assistance to hurt and dying Union soldiers. Richard Rowland Kirkland brought water to the fighting men on both sides of the line, and they called him 'The Angel of Marye's Heights" - a section of the city hard under siege.

Imagine getting word that the War was coming to your town, and you had a few hours to pack up what you could and leave for - where? Yet hundreds of citizens did just that. What they didn't manage to take with them got burned or destroyed in the heat of the battle. Union soldiers took that place apart, another example of collateral damage.

We walked the Sunken Road, a roadway (obviously) with a stone fence along it, where the Confederates stationed themselves behind it and picked off Union soldiers at will, the placement and strategic advantage enormous. The South won that battle, yet it was hard fought too. On a hill above town sits a Union military cemetery, with over fifteen thousand graves, unmarked save around three thousand. Incredible, walking past hundreds at a time, only a number to indicate the resident.

We rode into town and decided to wash our brains out with James Monroe, the fifth president of the U.S. Of course, we couldn't take photos (Horrors! Just the thought makes one's blood run cold!) but the museum was really interesting. He fought (here we go again) in the Revolutionary War in numerous battles, then gave up soldiering to study law under Thomas Jefferson. Next came politics and he served as Governor to Virginia four terms, a term in Congress, and two terms as President. He received every electoral vote save one, and ran unopposed the second time. Quite different from our recent election, for sure.

Monroe is famous for the Monroe Doctrine, which basically gave notice to Europe (or anyone else) that they were done colonizing (or terrorizing, or attacking) in this hemisphere. Not just in the USA, mind you. A very interesting and intriguing museum.

Darkness set in and we walked across the street to Castiglia's Restaurant, very Italian.

And now, the Princess of Pasta, Quilter Girl!

This day has been full of history and much more enjoyable than a classroom.  As we walked from one information sign to another at Slaughter Pen, the sunshine warmed us as the wind tried to freeze us.  The battle was fought at this time of year, very cold and muddy.  We didn't have to deal with mud, thank goodness. The signs were very good, leaving me almost believing that I understood what happened.  This battle was crazy, as it was in a basically flat, empty field.  I'm not sure who picked the battlefield, but there didn't seem to be a good defensible position anywhere. The battlefield at Fredericksburg had a good defensible position and the Confederates had it and held it all day.  It was very sad.  

We learned a lot about James Monroe from a very passionate woman who feels like he has been short changed by history.  Besides holding all the political offices, he was also Ambassador to France and to Spain.  His wife charmed all the foreigners and secured the release of Madam Lafayette from a French prison where she was waiting for her turn at the guillotine.  The Monroes helped give the new nation credibility in Europe.  
Dinner was awesome, recommended by the staff at the Monroe museum.  Kevin had Pasta Primavera and I had my favorite, Fettuccine Carbonara, both very tasty.  It smelled wonderful, too.  We only rode 16 miles, but my feet toured a whole lot more than that.  They are ready for a rest!  
Tomorrow more battlefields, more history. See you then and thanks for following.


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