Here in Historic Fredericksburg, it’s not unheard-of for the sale of an older home to include a waiver that states the buyers understand that lingering ghosts and spirits convey with the property. Chat up residents around here, and you’ll start hearing stories of paranormal encounters. Some are modern tales of hearing the name of a former resident of the house whispered in the halls. Others have become part of the lore of this area rich in history.
Col. Fielding Lewis is said to have been seen from time to time agonizing over the financial burden of supporting the American Revolution around Kenmore Plantation, the home where he lived with wife Betty Washington Lewis.
Previous inhabitants of the Rising Sun Tavern, originally built as a residence by George Washington’s brother Charles, have been reported to play tricks on tavern guides, removing their caps, unplugging lights and moving candlesticks and other items around the building.
St. George's Episcopal Church in downtown Fredericksburg is said to be the site of a young woman's encounter with a "lady in white," seen kneeling at the altar before disappearing into thin air.
Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, which comprises the sites of the battles of Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Spotsylvania Courthouse and the Wilderness, was named one of the top 10 most haunted battlefields in the United States in 2009 by Haunted America Tours. Ghost sightings are legend at many of the park’s properties.
At Chatham Manor in Stafford County, a young girl is said to be seen walking the grounds every seventh year in June to meet her true love, from whom she was separated by her family, who desired a wealthier husband for their daughter.
Bloody Angle, part of the Spotsylvania Courthouse Battlefield, was the site of the longest bout of hand-to-hand combat of the Civil War for 20 hours on May 12, 1864. Bloody Angle is a popular destination for ghost hunters, some of whom have been known to drop bits of beef jerky and chewing tobacco on the ground to try to lure the spirits of dead soldiers from hiding.
If you’re keen to explore the area’s paranormal history, consider booking one of Mark Nesbitt’s Ghosts of Fredericksburg Tours. Nesbitt is a Civil War historian and former National Park Service employee who has extensively researched the paranormal history of Fredericksburg. Ghosts of Fredericksburg Tours last 90 minutes and pass by many properties in historic downtown Fredericksburg. The tours are constantly updated with new stories of ghost sightings and encounters. Make reservations ahead of time here.
For other haunting experiences in the Fredericksburg region:
- Olde Towne Carriage Tours of Fredericksburg offers “Witch, Ghosts, Thieves, Murder and Mayhem Tours,” 60-minute carriage tours that run every weekend evening through October. Find details here.
- The University of Mary Washington’s Historic Preservation Club puts on a Ghostwalk each year. Club members in costume serve as guides and “ghosts” along the tour, which uses city history and documented ghost sightings to inform participants. For more information, email [email protected].
- The Haunted Trail at Wilderness Presidential Resorts is an event intended for ages 10 and up, and is one of many events Wilderness Presidential Resorts hosts throughout the season, including family hayrides, a bonfire and hot beverages. Find out more here.