Local businessman Lee Garrison donated to the CVBT a 10.3-acre tract on the Fredericksburg battlefield near Deep Run. The location is in the middle of a deep curve in General R. E. Lee’s Confederate defenses, far enough west of the longitude of Marye’s Heights and Hamilton’s Crossing that the Federals could not attack. The 10.3-acre tract lies within Fredericksburg’s “core” battlefield as designated by the federal Civil War Sites Advisory Commission, the nation’s top authority on where Civil War actions took place.
Military engineers would have described that configuration as a “re-entrant angle,” the reciprocal of the more familiar “salient” projection toward an attacking enemy. Hundreds of men from Fredericksburg and its environs had rallied to the colors to defend Virginia early in 1861. Some went into the Fredericksburg Artillery or the 9th Virginia Cavalry. Musket-toting foot soldiers from around Fredericksburg joined companies that made up the 30th Virginia Infantry, with local names like Fredericksburg Grays, Gordon Rifles, Caroline Grays, Sparta Grays and Washington Guards.
The captains they elected to command their companies reflected Fredericksburg’s society both before and after the war: Robert Stanard Chew, long-time clerk of the court; Hugh Stephens Doggett, sometime mayor; James Soutter Knox, who owned a factory in town; and C. Wistar Wallace (for whom the library still is named).
The Fredericksburg regiment—and most other Confederates in Virginia—saw little active operations during the war’s first year. On September 17, 1862, battle caught up with the 30th Virginia in a brutal action around the famous Dunkard Church, near Antietam Creek. Within about a quarter-hour, the 30th lost some 180 men, including more killed than all but two other regiments in Lee’s whole army. “It is a wonder,” one 30th survivor wrote, “that any of us escaped.” In the aftermath of that violent ordeal, some 30th men deserted. Isaac Hirsch, who had emigrated from Germany to Fredericksburg at age 13, abandoned the regiment and never returned. After the war
Hirsch became one of the wealthiest men in town and served on city council—and insisted in an autobiographical publication that he had not come to America until after the Civil War.
When the 30th came home to Fredericksburg in the fall of 1862, still recovering from the Antietam maelstrom, a position at the heart of Lee’s line, looking down on their own homes and families, would have seemed axiomatic. In fact, they wound up south of town, waiting for an enemy who never attacked. The regiment first camped, late in November, along the Telegraph Road.
Families and friends converged on the 30th, bringing food and clothes and affection. On December 9 one of the 30th soldiers proved himself a poor prophet. He was “busy as a bee making fires to keep from freezing” in the “bitter cold,” he wrote, and added: “I do not see any prospects of a fight.”
Two days later the Yankees came across the river but they never approached the portion of the line held by Fredericksburg’s own riflemen, on ground newly protected by the CVBT.
Mr. Garrison’s public-spirited largesse has ensured the perpetual preservation of another piece of historic ground near Fredericksburg.