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Monday, June 14, 2010

Among Buildings Now Gone - Warehouses Along City Dock, Fredericksburg

Up until the 1930s, two, large, warehouse and tenement complexes dominated the 300 block of Sophia Street in Fredericksburg. In December of 1862, they would play an important role for some of the combatants of this infamous battle. Located just up from the City Dock area, these imposing structures provided temporary shelter for Union Brigades forming up prior to their advance through town, and onto the open ground in front of Marye's Heights. Today, a small memorial stands nearby, commemorating the men of the Irish Brigade. The detail images below, are taken from what is thought to be a May 1863, panoramic view of Fredericksburg, as seen from the Stafford County side of the Rappahannock River.
For our purposes here, we will call them "Complex A", the one furthest south, and "Complex B", nearer to the intersection with Frederick Street.

Complex A, looking abandoned and possibly showing effects of
the Union shelling of the town. Note what may be a puncture
through the brick wall between the upper floor windows, on
the left most portion of the main structure. Click picture for greater detail.

Complex B

Complex A, photographed in the late 1920s or early 1930s, by Frances Benjamin Johnston.
During this final stage of its existence, the buildings served as a "Pickle Factory." It is difficult to see if there is easily identifiable repair work to the brick wall, as mentioned in the description of the May 1863 view. Click picture for greater detail. Complex B is also visible from this angle, its northern most portion ending before the cluster of barren trees at right. Photograph from the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs
Online Catalog.

Modern view of the Complex A site, showing how the City of Fredericksburg
 has reclaimed the river front area for public park use. June 2010.

Complex B as seen in another view taken by noted
photographer Frances Benjamin Johnston. Here it functioned
as a "Hoop-Pole Factory." Photograph from the Library of Congress,
 Prints & Photographs Online Catalog.                                     
The now empty landscape of Complex B.
June 2010

As quiet as it usually is today, it is sometimes hard to imagine the thousands of soldiers that stood in regimental marching order, shoulder to shoulder, here. Many never returned to this area alive after the fatal fighting of December 13, 1862. In May 1863 and 1864, the Union Army would return again to these sites as part of the Chancellorsville Campaign and the Overland Campaign, respectively. 

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