This site was an entrenched defensive position along the Old Richmond Stage Road, also known as the Bowling Green Road. The earthworks were part of the extensive Confederate defenses established along the Rappahannock River during the winter and spring of 1862/63. Military theory in the mid-nineteenth century favored allowing an enemy force to partially cross a river so they could be attacked while divided. The terrain in the Virginia Tidewater is generally flat and this gentle rise of ground caught the attention of the Confederate engineers. From this slight hill, a battery of cannons and their covering infantry could observe and bring under fire anything that moved along the road or attempted to cross the Rappahannock River.
This terrain did not see any combat action, but it serves as a reminder that the Confederate position in and around Fredericksburg could be approached from many different directions. Each approach needed to be covered, even if the available troops had to be stretched thin to do so.
The name Pelham’s Crossing comes from the residential subdivision that surrounds this preserved ground. The 11.9 acres were donated to CVBT by the developers in October 2002.