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Fredericksburg Walking Tour
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The Fredericksburg Confederate Cemetery was dedicated by the Ladies Memorial Association in 1870. The Association was founded in 1866 to create a cemetery for the reinterment of Confederate soldiers buried in the Fredericksburg area. Over 3,500 soldiers are buried within the cemetery walls. Because of the chaotic nature of battle during the Civil War, 2,184 of the remains are unidentified; they are buried under a twenty-foot-high monument in the center of the cemetery. Grave plots in other parts of the cemetery were also sold to local civilians to raise money for its upkeep. A yearly Memorial Day ceremony—one of the longest-running such events in the country—is held by the Association to preserve the memories of those lost in the Civil War. The cemetery is located on Washington Avenue next to the Fredericksburg City Cemetery and is open daily from dawn to dusk.


  • The Fredericksburg Confederate Cemetery
  • The 1870 Classical Revival-style cast iron cemetery gate
  • The mock artillery shell that sat on top of the monument in the center of the cemetery from its completion in 1881 until it was replaced with the current Confederate statue in 1891
  • The Confederate monument in the middle of the cemetery, on top of the mass grave of unidentified remains
  • Headstones in the cemetery

The Fredericksburg area was ravaged by four major battles during the Civil War – the Battles of Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, the Wilderness, and Spotsylvania Court House. These caused over 15,000 deaths, not to mention thousands and thousands more from illness and disease. Many soldiers were buried where they fell or in the fields surrounding homes that had been taken over as hospitals. Once the war ended, the United States government made a concerted effort to recover Union soldiers’ remains and bury them in national cemeteries. The military had reburied 300,000 men in 73 such cemeteries, including Fredericksburg National Cemetery, within five years of the war’s end. However, there was no matching national effort for Confederate troops. This spurred the creation of dozens of Ladies’ Memorial Associations, dedicated to creating and maintaining Confederate cemeteries, across the south. Many of these organizations were simply postwar outgrowths of groups of civilians that had been supporting the Confederate army during the war. They were quite successful; in fact, over a quarter of all the Confederate dead are buried in cemeteries established by just seven of Virginia’s Ladies’ Memorial Associations.

The chief sponsors of Fredericksburg’s Ladies’ Memorial Association were J. Horace and Betty Lacy. They owned Ellwood Manor, which was used as a Confederate hospital during the war, and Horace served as an aide to several Confederate generals. Rebel soldiers were buried on their property, and the Lacys attempted to keep records of the graves on their land. As a result, they saw the need for official Confederate cemeteries in the region. Betty began organizing Fredericksburg’s Ladies’ Memorial Association in the spring of 1866. On Sunday, May 6th, preachers across the city advertised a new effort to create a cemetery for the Confederate dead buried throughout the region. The Association’s first meeting was held on May 10th and was addressed by Horace Lacy. They recruited him to go on a speaking tour throughout both the north and the south to collect donations for their project; his oratorical skill earned him the nickname “the Lion of the Wilderness” and raised over $10,000. The members of the Association hosted shows and fairs to further fund the new cemetery.

 

The Association soon purchased two lots immediately north of the Fredericksburg City Cemetery; there was talk of a merger, but it never occurred. The new Confederate Cemetery was dedicated in May 1870. It is the final resting place of 3,553 Confederate soldiers from fourteen states, including 2,184 unidentified sets of remains. The unknown soldiers are buried in the center of the cemetery, while the other graves are located in a St. Andrews Cross/”Southern Cross” arrangement. These graves were originally marked by wooden posts, which were replaced in the 1880s by Georgia marble headstones. The unknown graves are marked by a monument that was begun in July 1874. The dirt mound and granite base were completed by May 1881 and topped by a mock artillery shell. The shell was replaced by a life-size bronze statue of a Confederate soldier in 1891.

There are six Confederate generals buried here: Seth Barton, Dabney Maury, Abner Perrin, Daniel Ruggles, Henry Sibley, and Carter Stevenson. Perrin was killed in battle near Fredericksburg, but the others died after the war and were buried here. Only about a third of the three-acre cemetery is used for Confederate burials, as plots on the remaining land were sold to local civilians to help pay for the cemetery’s upkeep. This makes it somewhat difficult to differentiate the Confederate Cemetery and the City Cemetery, which are still owned and operated by separate entities. The Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park has a list of all those interred in the Confederate Cemetery, and inquiries can be made by calling (540) 373-6122.

The Confederate Cemetery is open daily from dawn to dusk and can be accessed through the 1870 Classical Revival-style cast iron gate on Washington Avenue. A map is displayed at the entrance to help guide visitors through the cemetery and its different sections. It remains in the care of the Ladies’ Memorial Association, one of only two remaining in Virginia. They hold one of the country’s longest-running Memorial Day ceremonies there every year. It was added to the Virginia Landmarks Register in 2018 and the National Register of Historic Places in 2019. Recently, the Association and the community have begun working to acquire and set new flat granite headstones in front of the deteriorating 1880s markers.

Baron, James. New granite enhances old grave markers at Fredericksburg's Confederate Cemetery, The Free Lance-Star. December 2nd 2019. Accessed September 13th 2020. https://fredericksburg.com/news/local/new-granite-enhances-old-grave-markers-at-fredericksburg-s-confederate/article_5093a8f4-df59-5f9c-85b7-a448fb366f55.html.

Cunningham, S. A. Annual Reunion of Mosby's Men. Confederate Veteran: Volume 13. Nashville, TN. S. A. Cunningham. Volume XIII, Issue 11. November 1905. p. 511. Google Books from the University of Minnesota. March 21st 2014. Accessed September 13th 2020. https://books.google.com/books?id=w2xAAQAAMAAJ.

Epp, Bob. Memorial Day Speech 2019, Fredericksburg Confederate Cemetery and the Ladies' Memorial Association. Accessed September 13th 2020. http://fredericksburgconfederatecemetery.org/memorial-day/memorial-day-speech-2019/.

Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania Confederate Cemeteries; Places; History & Culture; Learn About the Park, Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park, Virginia - National Park Service. June 13th 2017. Accessed September 11th 2020. https://www.nps.gov/frsp/learn/historyculture/rebcem.htm.

Fredericksbrug & Spotsylvania National Military Park, Virginia (NPS). July 13th 2020. Accessed September 13th 2020. https://www.nps.gov/frsp/index.htm.

Fredericksburg National Cemetery; Places; History & Culture; Learn About the Park, Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park, Virginia (NPS). June 11th 2020. Accessed September 13th 2020. https://www.nps.gov/frsp/learn/historyculture/natcem.htm.

Glyer, Peter. Fredericksburg Confederate Cemetery – Part 1, Mercer Square. May 13th 2016. Accessed September 13th 2020. https://mercersquare.wordpress.com/2016/05/13/fredericksburg-confederate-cemetery-part-1/.

Hennessy, John. Forgotten in Plain Sight: The City Cemetery at the Head of Amelia Street, Mysteries & Conundrums. July 1st 2015. Accessed September 13th 2020. https://npsfrsp.wordpress.com/2015/07/01/forgotten-in-plain-sight-the-city-cemetery-at-the-head-of-amelia-street/.

History, Fredericksburg Confederate Cemetery and the Ladies' Memorial Association. Accessed September 13th 2020. http://fredericksburgconfederatecemetery.org/history/.

James Horace Lacy; Ellwood Legacy Biographies; Heritage Programs; Take Action, Friends of Wilderness Battlefield. Accessed September 13th 2020. http://www.fowb.org/index.php/take-action/heritage-programs-page/ellwood-legacy-biographies/james-horace-lacy/.

Janney, Caroline E.. Ladies' Memorial Associations, Encyclopedia Virginia: Virginia Humanities. March 8th 2012. Accessed September 13th 2020. https://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/ladies_Memorial_Associations.

Lavelle, Maureen. J. Horace Lacy; Politicians; People; History & Culture; Learn About the Park, Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park, Virginia (NPS). July 24th 2016. Accessed September 13th 2020. https://www.nps.gov/frsp/learn/historyculture/j-horace-lacy.htm.

Peckler, Danae. National Register of Historic Places Registration Form - Fredericksburg and Confederate Cemeteries, Virginia Department of Historic Resources. May 21st 2019. https://www.dhr.virginia.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/111-5265_Fredericksburg_and_Confederate_Cemeteries_2018_NRHP_FINAL.pdf.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

Courtesy of Amy Messnick (https://www.findagrave.com/user/profile/50140767)

Courtesy of Amy Messnick (https://www.findagrave.com/user/profile/50140767)

By Hilton Lieberum on Traces of War (https://www.tracesofwar.com/sights/101636/Confederate-Cemetery-Fredericksburg.htm) - CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0)

Courtesy of Amy Messnick (https://www.findagrave.com/user/profile/50140767)

Courtesy of Amy Messnick (https://www.findagrave.com/user/profile/50140767)