As America marks the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, the tragic events of that era still haunt the Fredericksburg Region.
Dubbed the “crossroads of the Civil War” due to its location between the capitals of the Union and the Confederacy, this community endured more of the terrors of war than any other in North America. Four major battles – Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Wilderness and Spotsylvania Courthouse – ravaged the landscape and resulted in more than 100,000 casualties. Today, visitors and residents can walk more than 8,000 acres of this hallowed ground.
The tapestry of the region’s history carries visitors back more than 400 years to the days when the Powhatan Indians greeted Captain John Smith as he explored the Rappahannock and Potomac rivers.The community played a pivotal role in the rise of America from English colony to independent nation.
George Washington grew up on Ferry Farm on the banks of the Rappahannock River. James Madison, the father of the U.S. Constitution, was born here. James Monroe – diplomat, statesman and the last of the Revolutionary generation to win the presidency – began his law career in the city. While visiting Fredericksburg in 1777, Thomas Jefferson penned Virginia’s Statute of Religious Freedom – the inspiration for the First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution.
Stafford County (named for Staffordshire, England) was formed in 1664. Land carved from neighboring localities formed King George County in 1720. A year later, Spotsylvania County was added to the map in honor of Lt. Gov. Alexander Spotswood. Caroline County was formed in 1728, named for Caroline Ansbach, wife of King George II.
Fredericksburg was established in 1728 as a bustling frontier river port near the falls of the Rappahannock. The 50-acre town took its name from Crown Prince Frederick.
Fredericksburg became a regional commercial center, receiving manufactured goods from England and exporting agricultural products and gold. Early business ventures in the region included Spotswood’s Tubal Furnace, James Hunter’s Ironworks and a variety of commercial mills.
Once a largely rural area, this is now one of the fastest-growing regions in the U.S., a testament to its prosperity and appeal. In the past decade between 2000 and 2010, the region’s population boomed by nearly 90,000 residents, an increase of more than a third. The region’s Gross Regional Product shows a substantial increase, nearly doubling between 2001 and 2011. The exciting economic environment and growth of the region coupled with its suburban and small-town feel make it an excellent place to raise a family.