155th Fredericksburg Remembrance Walk (Pt 2)

I continue to review the Remembrance Walk conducted by the National Park Service (NPS) on Sunday, December 10th. This was the 155th Anniversary of the Battle of Fredericksburg, conducted by the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. This innovative approach focused on remembering the entire Fredericksburg community and its trial under fire from the perspective of: Union and Confederate soldiers, the people of the community, free and enslaved, young and old, those who evacuated and those who remained the living and the dead. NPS Chief Historian John Continue reading

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155th Fredericksburg Remembrance Walk (Pt 1)

Sunday, December 10th, marked the 155th Anniversary of the Battle of Fredericksburg. The Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park decided to make a significant programmatic change in how the anniversary was remembered. According to National Park Service (NPS) Chief Historian John Hennessey, they “decided to take a different approach to the Fredericksburg Battle Anniversary. For the last two decades we have held a rather static event, always in front of the Kirkland monument, always with re-enactors providing color and presence, an emcee, and a keynote speaker.

This year we experimented with something more dynamic, something that was not explicitly commemorative, but instead allowed visitors to make a gesture if they wished to, at the site of their choosing.”


City of Fredericksburg Memorial Park located at George and Barton Street with National Park Service historian Frank O’Reilly addressing members of the Irish Brigade re-en-actors and 85 members of the public at a war memorial park.

Those who braved the cold weather on Sunday were in for a real treat. Following the traditional walk at 11:30 A.M. of the Irish Brigade from City Docks – the middle crossing site – up to the Sunken Road, the program took on an entirely new look and feel. At 2:00 Continue reading

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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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