Unfinished Railroad Cut – part 2

In the last post, I explored the unfinished railroad cut located in Fredericksburg.  It was created in the early years of American railroad construction in Virginia. In this post, I will be looking at the Union infantry regiments who traversed the cut during the battle of Fredericksburg and the Confederate artillery units who fired upon their movement in the cut.

This post is heavily indebted to the work of National Park Service (NPS) historian and author Francis Augustin O’Reilly and his book on the battle of Fredericksburg.

In total, parts of five Union brigades from three separate Corps played a part in the “unfinished” railroad cut story. All these brigades began their movement in lower Continue reading

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Unfinished Railroad Cut – Part 1

This is the first of two posts on the unfinished railroad cut at Fredericksburg. In this piece I will look at the cut and its development from the mid-1850 to the present. Part two will look at how the cut impacted the battle of Fredericksburg. It will address how the Union infantry units maneuvered by way of the cut, and how the Confederate artillery batteries were primarily responsible for causing casualties in the cut.

When the Fredericksburg and Gordonsville (F&G) railroad company first excavated the ridges/hills in 1854 and filled the low points along its proposed route, they did so for only one track in width. This construction method is still used today to build roads, railroads and airports which require level ground.  The minimum amount of earth is moved the least distance in order to keep construction costs down. The founders of the F&G had the same financial constraints. Their first task was to dig through, or as we call it, ‘cut’ through a minor ridge on the immediate outskirts of town. The other railroad company, Continue reading

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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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