Doing a little research today on a Fredericksburg-related project, I came across an old favorite. During the battle on December 13, 1862, Federal troops stationed along the Rappahannock River near the middle pontoon crossing found some historical inspiration from their location.
Even as the cannonballs flew, they noticed George Washington’s boyhood home on the east bank of the river. As the story goes, young George Washington threw a stone—or a silver dollar, depending on the version of the story—across the river at this site.
Despite the battle, some of the Federals felt inspired to tap into their “inner Washington.” According to the regimental historian of the 13th New Hampshire:
“even in the midst of the shelling, the shells constantly flying each way over our heads, the men enter into a context of stone throwing for amusement; attempting to throw a stone across the Rappahannock, where it is said that Gen. Washington did, from the Washington farm to the Fredericksburg shore at the ferry landing, just where the central pontoon bridge now is. Many make the trial, but only one succeeds, a huge fellow from Michigan.”
S. Millet Thompson, Thirteenth regiment of New Hampshire volunteer infantry in the war of the rebellion, 1861-1865. A diary covering three years and a day (Houghton, Mifflin and Company: Boston, 1888), 68.