Hurkamp’s Tannery and Sumac Mill

This is my 50th blog post. Thanks to each of you who follow my blog.

John Herman Gerhardt Hurkamp was born in Quakenbrueck, Hanover (Germany) on December 10, 1818. He learned his trade as an apprentice currier (someone who dyes and preserves leather from hides) prior to emigrating to America in 1840. He began in Baltimore, Maryland, but moved Continue reading

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George Rowe House

In 2018 the house that George Rowe built will be 190 years old, which by American standards is quite a milestone. The building was originally constructed in 1828 as a Federal style dwelling. Technically, the main building is classified as a two-story, four-bay, double-pile, side-passage-plan dwelling. The brick house, with its English basement, molded brick cornice, deep gable roof, and two-story front porch, stands on a one acre lot on Hanover Street. George Rowe purchased the land in 1827. At that point in time, the property was outside the incorporated boundaries of Fredericksburg. A previous owner established it as a site for butchering animals, a trade in which George Rowe participated. The house was built just before where Hanover Street split into the Swift Run Gap Turnpike, which crested Marye’s Heights on its way to the city of Orange to the west, or into Courthouse Road, later named the Sunken Road, which went southwest to Spotsylvania Court House. In fact, deed and property tax records note that it was “along Continue reading

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National Cemetery (Part 6) – Luminaria 2017

This last Saturday, I volunteered to assist again with the illumination of the Fredericksburg National Cemetery program. This was the 22nd annual Luminaria program of the National Park Service (NPS) conducted by the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park unit. It was a fitting end to my five part series on the Fredericksburg National Cemetery. On the same evening, a similar remembrance Continue reading

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National Cemetery (Part 5) – Remembering the Fallen

This is the final post in my series on the Fredericksburg National Cemetery. Memorial Day is the time when our nation honors those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country. For this post, I selected about a dozen soldiers. These men range from those who fought in the Civil War to one who died in WWII. The Fredericksburg National Cemetery is the final resting place for men who died during the Civil War within a thirty mile radius of the cemetery. As such, here are short histories of men who fought and died during the battles of: Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, North Anna, Mine Run, Massaponax and WWII, as well as some who died of Continue reading

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National Cemetery (Part 4) – Creation of the Cemetery

The National Cemetery in Fredericksburg was officially created on February 22, 1867 when Congress passed an “Act to establish and protect national cemeteries.” This act “authorized the Secretary of War to purchase cemetery land, build enclosures, appoint superintendents, construct caretaker lodges, and erect markers over each grave.” This legislative action caught up with what was already happening in the field. What was behind all this?

Before going further, I must acknowledge the work of Don Pfanz, former National Park Service Historian who researched and pulled together information concerning the Fredericksburg National Cemetery. I liberally borrowed ideas and information found in his unpublished manuscript titled Where Valor Proudly Sleeps. Thanks Don.

As far back as September 1861, shortly after the first battle of Manassas, the army directed its commanders to bury their dead. By April 1862, when it was apparent that the ongoing Civil War would be long and hard fought, Congress empowered President Abraham Lincoln, “to purchase cemetery grounds and cause them to be securely enclosed, to be used as a national cemetery for the soldiers who shall die in the service of the country.” This small but significant new presidential power was given in “[A]n act to define the pay and emolument of certain officers of the Army, & for other purposes.” The army then directed its commanding generals to establish cemeteries near battlefields, to mark graves with headboards, and to keep a register of the burials. Continue reading

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