Here we have an overview of Lee's Hill (North) near the Shopping Center. I created these maps for use throughout my presentation to give you an idea of how close in proximity many of these places are. Some of these landmarks may be familiar to you, others may not. I myself discovered a few sites while writing this that I never knew existed.

"Lee's Hill," like everything else in the South, was named after the Confederacy's supreme commander in the eastern theater, Maj. Gen. Robert Edward Lee. It is certainly one of the nicest communities in Spotsylvania County and its landscape is rich in historical places and events. Before we examine our first site, let's recall Fredericksburg, Virginia during the winter of 1862:

What was the area like and what was going on at the time? Well the Battle of Fredericksburg had recently transpired. This battle of course was fought in and around the city on December 13, 1862. The engagement was between Lee's Confederate Army of Northern Virginia and the Union Army of the Potomac, commanded by Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside. It is remembered as one of the most one-sided battles of the American Civil War. The Union Army suffered terrible casualties in futile frontal assaults against entrenched Confederate defenders on the heights behind the city, bringing to an early end their campaign against the Confederate capital of Richmond.

The Richmond Examiner described it as a "stunning defeat to the invader, a splendid victory to the defender of the sacred soil." General Lee, normally reserved, was described by the Charleston Mercury as "jubilant, almost off-balance, and seemingly desirous of embracing everyone who calls on him." Another paper exclaimed that, "General Lee knows his business and the army has yet known no such word as fail."

A Union soldier wrote that, "We might as well have tried to take hell."

At this point in the war, the North had to be asking themselves, "How in the world do these barefoot farm boys keep whipping us? We have more guns, more supplies, and more men." The answer in my opinion is a little luck and #1. The South's commanders were superior in every way. (Their line-up card read like the 1927 New York Yankees "Murderer's Row" with names like Lee, Jackson, Stuart, and Longstreet.) And #2. Up to this point, they pretty much had "home field advantage." The Confederacy was fighting on their own land in an effort to protect it. They were more familiar with the topography and used it to their advantage at every turn. Additionally they were protecting their own. When you meet someone on a foreign or neutral ground it is one thing, but when they come into your town and threaten your loved ones, you're going to respond with fire and vengeance. These factors were also true in the North. Antietam was a tactical draw and the disastrous Battle of Gettysburg witnessed the "High Water Mark of the Confederacy."

The Union Army had held the upper-hand on paper, yet they were unable to finish the job. The rebels had such a resolve that they repeatedly beat the odds and had to, at times, feel invincible. The President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, was a very smart guy. And he knew that the morale of the Federal troops following their defeat at Fredericksburg was exceptionally wounded, perhaps even more severely than its men. So he immediately dispatched a letter that reads as the following:

December 22, 1862: To the Army of the Potomac, I have just read your commanding general's report of the battle of Fredericksburg. Although you were not successful, the attempt was not an error, nor the failure other than accident. The courage with which you, in an open field, maintained the contest against an entrenched foe, and the consummate skill and success, with which you crossed and re-crossed the river in the face of the enemy, show that you possess all the qualities of a great army, which will yet give victory to the cause of the country and of popular government. Condoning with the mourners for the dead, and sympathizing with the severely wounded, I congratulate you that the number of both is comparatively so small. I tender to you, officers and soldiers, the thanks of the nation. - A. Lincoln

On the other hand, the Army of Northern Virginia was sitting on top of the world. They had not only defeated the invaders (again), they had decimated them and sent them retreating back across the river. Still the trauma that was experienced by the local citizens was devastating regardless of the Confederate's victory. Matilda Hamilton, who was the daughter of the original owners of Forest Hill, recorded in her diary insights about the battle and its aftermath. Initially there is a sense of romance and pageantry. She wrote:

Friday, 12th Dec: The Yankees took possession of Fredericksburg last night. They shelled the town all yesterday beginning about daylight. We made every preparation for leaving home today. We sent our trunks and valuables to the forest for protection. At night a striking scene was presented. All our troops in battle array were encamped on the lawn. Every fence and gate has been taken for firewood. The Camp fires, looking beautiful, studded the place like bon fires. I stood at the door and heard one party singing gay songs, at another, a graver set preparing for battle by singing hymns and holding a prayer meeting.

Her mood however changes greatly following the engagement. The next day she penned a disturbing account of the carnage:

This day the battle was fought. A continued roar of cannon and musketry, an awful sound producing an excitement of feeling hard to define, kept me from realizing that human beings were standing up deliberately to murder one another. Our place was covered with soldiers. The parlor was filled with wounded men when I got there. A soldier came up as we all sat in the porch at Belvoir and asked if he could get any nails. We asked what was the matter, and he told us his friend, a young Barton was killed, and he wanted to make a coffin for him.

As with most wars fought back then, the armies tended to take the winter off. It was far too difficult to transport artillery and ammunition. The horses were very susceptible to the cold and the troops could not maneuver in the snow. This gave both sides time to rest, recuperate, train new recruits (if there were any) and plan for the spring. Perhaps the best example of 'winterizing an army' was General George Washington's troops at Valley Forge. Like the Continentals, the Confederate Army found familiar ground and set up camps around the surrounding area. Robert E. Lee stationed his troops right here around Lee's Hill (North) near the Mine Road entrance.