Middle Pontoon Site, Fredericksburg city docks, Fredericksburg, Virginia, December 2020
On the far side of the river is Ferry Farm, the boyhood home of George Washington.
On this date, December 11, 1862, the Army of the Potomac began crossing the Rappahannock River here on the lower end of town and at the upper end of town, as well. They also established a third crossing site further downriver at a place that became known as Franklin’s Crossing.
To support the amphibious assault, Federal artillerists bombarded the city. “Tons of iron were hurled against this place,” one of the city’s defenders recalled. “[T]he deafening roar of cannon and bursting shells, falling walls and chimneys, bricks and timbers flying through the air, houses set on fire, the smoke adding to the already heavy fog, the bursting flames through the housetops, made a scene which has no parallel in history. It was appalling and indescribable, a condition which would paralyze the stoutest heart….”