Photo: Stafford County Tourism
Just across the Rappahannock River from Fredericksburg, VA, you can explore the charming community of Falmouth.
Falmouth was an important center of trade, shipping and milling in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and a few grand homes, including Chatham Manor and Belmont, remain as symbols of this era of prosperity.
Chatham Manor, known then as the Lacy House, in December 1862, photographed by Alexander Gardner. Photo: Library of Congress
Chatham Manor and grounds today. Photo: VisitFred.com
Exploring this town today is kind of like treasure-hunting, as gems from the past emerge from development along U.S. 1 or the natural surroundings of the Rappahannock.
But each year, the history of Falmouth literally comes to life for a weekend in September, as re-enactors and historians gather for Yankees in Falmouth, an engaging living history event that marks the first arrival of the Union Army in Falmouth in 1862. This year’s event takes place Sept. 12-13.
The Moncure Conway House. Photo: Stafford County Tourism
The event takes place at the Moncure Conway House, which has been recognized by the National Park Service as an Underground Railroad Network to Freedom historic site. Moncure Conway was an abolitionist whose conviction in his own beliefs led him to give up his Southern aristocratic birthright, and lead more than 30 slaves to freedom while his two brothers served in the Confederate Army.
Photo: Stafford County Tourism
The opportunities to make a personal connection with history at Yankees in Falmouth are many. On Saturday from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m., and on Sunday from 9:30 a.m. until 3 p.m., attendees can see what life in Falmouth was like:
· Take photos with reenactors portraying President Abraham Lincoln and Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant.
· See firing demonstrations throughout the weekend, including a dramatic nighttime cannon firing at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 12.
· Have a tintype photo made with a photographer using Civil War-era techniques.
· Participate in a Civil War-era church service with reenactors at 11 a.m. on Sunday Sept. 13.
This year, Stafford County is holding an Instagram Photo Contest, awarding prizes for the best photos of the evening cannon firing, reenactors, President Lincoln and more. To enter, post your photo to Instagram, use the #YankeesinFalmouth hashtag and be sure to tag @TourStaffordVa in your post.
While you're in the area, you might want to take a stroll along the Belmont-Ferry Farm Trail, dine at Amy's Cafe and tour Gari Melchers Home and Studio at Belmont. Lavender Heights Bed and Breakfast also offers a peaceful retreat nestled right in historic Falmouth.
Make plans to attend Yankees in Falmouth, or put this little community on your list of places to explore on your next free weekend. You'll walk away with a new perspective on history.
Union Gen. Joseph Hooker and staff in Falmouth, Va., June 1863, photographed by Timothy O'Sullivan. Photo: Library of Congress
Reenactors at Yankees in Falmouth. Photo: Stafford County Tourism