At Ease: Presidents at the Battlefields
Historic Presidential Visits to Civil War Battlefields
In February, Lincoln and Washington's birthdays are on the calendar and sometimes combined for "Presidents' Day." With this in mind, we've been looking at presidential visits to the battlefields in Central Virginia and the survey answers have given us some new ideas for upcoming research. Thank you!
Today, you'll find a new video of Coolidge's dedication speech, Harding's trip to The Wilderness (and a free e-book to download), and some resources for exploring Lincoln's visit in 1862. We hope you're staying safe and warm with all these winter storms and enjoy the extra history in your inbox.
Last time we asked about your favorite accounts of presidential visits to Civil War battlefields, and the answers were great and have even started some new research rabbit trails! Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Hoover, and Eisenhower all made the list, and there was an "honorable mention" for Winston Churchill—another leader who visited and explored historic battlefields.
Creating a National Park
President Calvin Coolidge signed the bill which created Fredericksburg-Spotsylvania National Military Park on February 14, 1927. In October 1928, he attended the dedication ceremony, and the new video highlights a few quotes from his speech.
President Harding at The Wilderness Battlefield
Have you had a chance to download CVBT's newest e-book? It details President Harding's trip and overnight stay at The Wilderness Battlefield in 1921 while observing the U.S. Marine Maneuvers. Lots of photos and details and his interactions with Civil War veterans during the event.
President and Mrs. Harding meeting with Civil War Veterans at The Wilderness.
President Lincoln in Fredericksburg?
In May 1862, Abraham Lincoln visited Union troops who were occupying Fredericksburg. The Christian Banner reported about the trip: "President Lincoln and Hon. Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War, visited Fredericksburg on last Friday, the 23d instant (May). They rode in a carriage drawn by four fine iron-gray horses. They crossed the Rappahannock River on the canal-boat bridge, and passed up Princess Anne Street to the Farmer’s Bank, the head-quarters of General Patrick, where the carriage stopped about five minutes, and then moved off, as we were informed, to visit some camp of soldiers out of the town..." Betty Herndon Maury, a civilian woman living in town, recorded a lack of enthusiasm from the locals: “Abraham Lincoln was in town on Friday. Our Mayor did not call on him, and I did not hear a cheer as he passed along the streets.” Learn more in this blog post from Mysteries & Conundrums.
National Park Service Research Map
Central Virginia Battlefields Trust's mission is to preserve, protect, and educate about Civil War hallowed ground at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, The Wilderness, and Spotsylvania.