Chatham Manor

Historic Site

Editorial Review

Chatham's history goes back to pre-Revolutionary times (it was built in 1768, and George Washington slept here), but all other associations are overshadowed by its Civil War period. It stands on a bluff commanding the head of navigation of the Rappahannock River and the City of Fredericksburg. During various campaigns around that city it served as the headquarters of at least five Union generals, and President Abraham Lincoln visited the house. It served as a hospital in which the wounded were tended by Clara Barton, Dorothea Dix, Walt Whitman and physician Mary Walker, the only woman to win the Congressional Medal of Honor during the Civil War. Federal troops trashed the place pitifully, ripping out the paneling for firewood, riding their horses through the mansion and carrying off anything movable. The place was restored to its original elegance, but the 1,288-acre estate had shrunk to just 30 by 1900. When the 15th and last private owner, industrialist John Lee Pratt, died in 1975 he willed Chatham Manor to the National Park Service, which maintains exhibits on the house's history and is restoring the Colonial-era gardens.

Open daily from 9 to 4:30. Admission is $3 (which gives seven-day access to all Civil War sites in the area).

-- Hank Burchard