Chatham Manor is a beautiful house in a gorgeous setting overlooking the Rappahannock River. During the Civil War, it was Union headquarters and a field hospital. Clara Barton and Walt Whitman provided care for wounded soldiers here.
250 years of history come together at this National Park property atop Stafford Heights. Tour the home and its gardens. More by clicking here.
During the Civil War, Chatham Manor was a Union Army headquarters and later a hospital for wounded soldiers. Among the volunteers who cared for the wounded were poet Walt Whitman and Clara Barton, the founder of the American chapter of the International Red Cross.
General Irvin McDowell used the house as his headquarters in April 1862 while overseeing repairs to bridges over the Rappahannock River and on the Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad. He also visited troops encamped on Marye’s Heights during the Battle of Fredericksburg.
The original front of the house faces the Rappahannock River and offers a spectacular view of downtown Fredericksburg. Five rooms are open to the public as a museum, and the grounds are free to explore. The gardens are particularly lovely in the spring when they bloom with tulips, daffodils, and irises.
On a hilltop overlooking the Rappahannock River and the town of Fredericksburg, Chatham Manor has stood for 250 years. Its residents witnessed the founding of a nation, conflict over slavery, the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the current struggles to understand and reconcile America’s past.
The house was built in 1771 by William Fitzhugh. During the Civil War, the house and its grounds became a Union Army hospital. Volunteers including the poet Walt Whitman and Clara Barton treated the wounded soldiers. The bodies of the dead were buried on the property until they could be moved to Fredericksburg National Cemetery.
The war badly damaged the house and after it was abandoned by the Lacy family, it fell into disrepair. Today the National Park Service operates the estate. Five rooms in the house are open for exhibits and the rest of the buildings serve as park offices. Explore more!
Chatham Manor is surrounded by a series of evocative gardens. In spring you can see cherry trees, tulips, and daffodils, and in fall irises and monarch butterflies.
During the Civil War, the house became Union headquarters and later a field hospital for wounded soldiers. Clara Barton was among the volunteers who cared for the patients. Over 130 men died at the property and were initially buried on the grounds.
The estate’s front garden is especially impressive. Designed by landscape architect Elizabeth Shipman, it exudes opulence with an encyclopedic choice of perennials, annuals, bulbs, shrubs, hedges, and vines. The gardens are open daily, as is the house. Five rooms are a museum and the rest of the house and outbuildings serve as park offices. The entire property is part of the Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park.
Chatham Manor has seen 250 years of American history. From the time local planter William Fitzhugh built it in 1771, to the last private owner John Pratt (retired General Motors executive and government official), the house has been associated with famous people both locally and nationally.
During the Civil War, its perch on Stafford Heights made it attractive to the Union Army for use as a headquarters and field hospital. Among the wounded brought to Chatham was Clara Barton, who went on to found the American Red Cross.
Guests can view informational exhibits in the first-floor rooms of the house, tour the peaceful 1920s gardens, and reflect on the many lives that were either lived or lost at this historic site. There is also a short film about the house that can be viewed on demand at the visitor center.
The staff is very friendly and helpful. They have a wealth of knowledge and they are always willing to answer any questions you may have.
This place is a great place to learn about the Civil War and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves history. The grounds are well-maintained and the views of Fredericksburg from the bluffs are breathtaking.
During the Civil War, Chatham was used first as the Union Army headquarters and later as a hospital. One of the bedrooms was used by Yankee surgeons who amputated limbs and other body parts. The house was later abandoned by James Horace Lacy and his family, who moved across the river to a safer area of Virginia. Eventually, the house was acquired by the National Park Service. Next article.
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