Fredericksburg Virginia is one of our nation’s most historic cities. It was founded in 1728 and named for Crown Prince Frederick, eldest son of King George II of England. George Washington and his family made their home in Fredericksburg during the early years of our nation. There were also four major battles of the US Civil War fought in and around Fredericksburg; the Battle of Fredericksburg, Battle of Chancellorsville, Battle of Spotsylvania and Battle of The Wilderness. Over 110,000 Union and Confederate soldiers lost their lives in those four battles.
One of the reasons that Fredericksburg has had such a long and interesting history is its strategic location at the falls of the Rappahannock River. To the Indians, the falls were favorite fishing and hunting grounds. To Virginia’s early settlers, the fall line was the colony’s first frontier.
Just below the falls of the Rappahannock River, the town of Fredericksburg prospered as a frontier river port. The town’s importance grew with increased river traffic. In 1728, it became an official inland port. Tobacco trade brought prosperity.
Perhaps it was its proximity to George Washington’s boyhood home or maybe it was its safe distance from the Colonial government in Williamsburg, but Fredericksburg contributed heavily to the American cause in the Revolutionary War. Munitions were manufactured here; five generals left their families here to fight; and Fredericksburg fortunes were devoted to the fight. Thomas Jefferson and others met in 1777 in Fredericksburg to draft the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom.
Today’s Fredericksburg has preserved its memories well. Its large downtown historic district is dotted with Colonial structures and reminders of the people who lived and worked here. Its Civil War past is inescapable. A major National Park interprets the battles, and the city still shows its glories and its scars.