Fredericksburg, Virginia


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, April 26, 1862

This site presents online editions of all the Harper's Weekly newspapers published during the Civil War. These newspapers are available for your perusal and study. The information on these pages is simply not available anywhere else!

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APRIL 26, 1862.]




IN connection with Major-General McDowell's statement that FREDERICKSBURG has been evacuated by the rebels, we publish herewith a view of the place. The following is a description:

Fredericksburg is the chief town of Spottsylvania County, in Virginia, and is situated on the right bank of the Rappahannock River, at the head of tide-water. It is between fifty and sixty miles from Richmond by railroad, and sixty-five miles by the turnpike, in a northerly direction. Turnpike roads connect it with Falmouth and Newport—the former by a ferry across the Rappahannock—and another turnpike leads through a wilderness to Orange Court House, where a railroad connects it with Gordonsville. The town itself is pleasantly situated in a fertile valley, and has great advantages for commerce and manufactures. The railroad from Washington, via Aquia Creek, passed through it, and thereby a large traffic and trade was done previous to the rebellion. As the through trains generally stopped at Fredericksburg Station for about an hour on each trip, a not inconsiderable chance trade was caused thereby in the immediate locality of the depot. It is distant from Aquia Creek by railroad about fifteen miles, from which point part of the Potomac River traffic used to be carried to Fredericksburg. A good canal had also been constructed from the town to a point on the Rappahannock River, about forty miles above, by which large quantities of wheat, flour, and tobacco were received for exportation. The river afforded extensive water power, which, however, was not much used. The hills in the neighborhood, varying in height from forty to one hundred feet, abound in fine granite and freestone. About thirty years since the prospect of Fredericksburg being a rapidly rising town was very great; but it suddenly stopped in its prosperity, and after, as it were, standing still for about twenty years, it gradually retrograded in its importance. In 1840 its population numbered nearly four thousand souls; and in 1850, ten years after, it had only increased eighty-eight persons—less than nine each year, and being about two per cent. in a decade—a remarkably small increase. Before the rebellion it contained five churches, one orphan asylum, two seminaries, four newspaper offices, and two banks.

[Entered according to Act of Congress, in the Year 1862, by Harper & Brothers, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Southern District of New York.]





Printed from the Manuscript and early Proof– sheets purchased by the Proprietors of "Harper's Weekly."


THE sun sank lower; the western breeze floated cool and fresh into the house. As the evening advanced the cheerful ring of the village clock came nearer and nearer. Field and flower-garden felt the influence of the hour, and shed their sweetest fragrance. The birds in Norah's aviary sunned themselves in the evening stillness, and sang their farewell gratitude to the dying day. Staggered in its progress for a time only, the pitiless routine of the house went horribly on its daily way. The panic-stricken servants took their blind refuge in the duties proper to the hour. The footman softly laid the table for dinner. The maid sat waiting in senseless doubt, with the hot-water jugs for the bedrooms ranged near her in their customary row. The gardener, who had been ordered to come to his master with vouchers for money that he had paid in excess of his instructions, said his character was dear to him, and left the vouchers at his appointed time. Custom that never yields, and Death that never spares, met on the wreck of human happiness—and Death gave way. Heavily the thunder-clouds of Affliction had gathered over the house—heavily, but not at their darkest yet. At five that evening the shock of the calamity had struck its blow. Before

another hour had passed the disclosure of the husband's sudden death was followed by the suspense of the wife's mortal peril. She lay helpless on her widowed bed; her own life, and the life of her unborn child, trembling in the balance.

But one mind still held possession of its resources—but one guiding spirit now moved helpfully in the house of mourning.

If Miss Garth's early days had been passed as calmly and as happily as her later life at Combe-Raven she might have sunk under the cruel necessities of the time. But the governess's youth had been tried in the ordeal of family affliction, and she met her terrible duties with the steady courage of a woman who had learned to suffer. Alone she had faced the trial of telling the daughters that they were fatherless. Alone she now struggled to sustain them, when the dreadful certainty of their bereavement was at last impressed on their minds.

Her least anxiety was for the elder sister. The agony of Norah's grief had forced its way outward to the natural relief of tears. It was not so with Magdalen. Tearless and speechless, she sat in the room where the revelation of her father's death had first reached her; her face, unnaturally petrified by the sterile sorrow of old age—a white changeless blank, fearful to look at. Nothing roused, nothing melted her. She only said, "Don't speak to me; don't touch me. Let me bear it by myself!"—and fell silent again. The first great grief which had darkened the sisters' lives had, as it seemed, changed their everyday characters already.

The twilight fell and faded, and the summer night came brightly. As the first carefully-shaded light was kindled in the sick-room the physician who had been summoned from Bristol arrived to consult with the medical attendant of the family. He could give no comfort:


Fredericksburg, Virginia




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