Trip to the South: Fredricksburg and Williamsburg

Travel Date: October 1, 2019

The first full day of our trip was spent going through the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C.; the second day we visited the African American Museum to learn more about slavery and racial injustice. So, what better way to spend our first day traveling south than to visit a Civil War battlefield.

Carla is a history buff with a special interest in the American Civil War; we have talked in the past about how interesting it would be to visit the various battlefields of the Civil War. This visit to the Fredricksburg, Virginia battlefield adjusted our notion. The battle took place over 5 days in mid December 1862. The Union troops overtook the town at first and destroyed a good part of it. It was part of the new total war doctrine of the Union to disable the ability of the South to wage war. The Union army then attacked what was later described as the best defensive position the South had in the entire war. The Union soldiers marched up a long gradual slope to the top of a hill. The Southern troops had artillery behind the top of the hill and the infantry behind a large block wall. It was a huge loss for the Union Army.

Southern Army defensive position at Fredrickcsburg , VA

Later, after the slaughter of thousands of soldiers, Union General Burnside admitted he had not thought through the problem adequately. He was one of the several inadequate generals before Lincoln chose Ulysses S. Grant.

There was at least one small house that provided some temporary cover for the attacking force. It is still maintained today with a few of the bullet holes still in place.

Bullet hole at the Fredricksburg, VA battlefield

That’s a big hole. I imagine it has been “maintained” over time because I don’t think the powder burns would still be in place 157 years after the fact. Nevertheless, it was all a chilling reminder of the brutality of this – and all – wars.

Now it was lunch time, Carla, Linda and I had made a vow to eat as much barbecue as we could while in the south. While stopped at a small mall to get some travel supplies we saw “Dixie Bones” a small nondescript joint in the mall. We had delicious pulled pork sandwiches topped with coleslaw. I had collard greens as a side.

Barbecue at Dixie Bones in Fredricksburg, VA

Entering the restaurant we passed by cases of sauce supplies: vinegar, mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, and more. There were so many sauce options in giant dispensers

BBQ sauce options at Dixie Bones in Fredricksburg, VA

I started with small samples of the Traditional, White, and Vinegar sauces. Once I tasted that Vinegar sauce I went back for more, and then more again. It had a bit of tang but without overpowering sweetness, heat, or vinegar pucker. I’ve made Vinegar BBQ sauce myself but nothing this good. I’ll be working on my recipe in the future.

When traveling in the South be sure to know which type of tea you want – sweetened or unsweetened. All three of us go unsweetened. Like the sauces, Dixie Bones makes tea in large batches.

It was getting on into the afternoon and we still had a couple of hours drive to get to Williamsburg, VA which was our stop for the night. While driving south we discovered that the Colonial Williamsburg living museum closed at 5:00. Even though we would have just over two hours to make the rounds we decided to go for it.

It was a beautiful – but warm – day for strolling the grounds. Colonial Williamsburg is on the site of an old colonial town.

Colonial Williamsburg

We stopped by one of the taverns but it wasn’t open for business that day.

King’s Arms Tavern. Colonial Williamsburg

People dressed in period costumes are in the shops and demonstrate and describe their work using tools of the day. We dropped into the silversmith shop. There wasn’t any work being performed but I loved the workshop.

Silversmith’s Workshop: Colonial Williamsburg, VA

The local apothecary shop was also open and the woman in charge described many of the compounds they made to help people’s ailments back in the day. I loved the mortar and pestle.

Apothecary shop: Colonial Williamsburg

I loved store sign for Chownings Tavern.

One of the benefits of arriving late is we got to watch the drum and fife corps perform their end of day ritual. They started at one end of town marching and playing to an open field. They were a blast to watch.

Fife and drum corps. Colonial Willamsburg

Time and again on this trip we marveled at the fortitude of the nation’s forefathers. Like the marching band above, they worked in the heat and humidity of the south in layers of hot clothing. We were exhausted walking around in shorts and T-shirts.

We ate dinner – salads after that BBQ lunch – at a little establishment near the site. We were exhausted by all the walking in the hot day. We were a long way from our car and thought of taking a Lyft back to the parking lot; but we discovered a shuttle bus! We finally made our way to the Best Western hotel which was comfortable. The breakfast the next morning was awful. Terrible.

The next morning we packed up and headed to Beaufort, North Carolina; not to be confused with Beaufort, South Carolina which we also visited the following week.

2 thoughts on “Trip to the South: Fredricksburg and Williamsburg

  1. Ed was assigned to the Pentagon when our 3 kids were in high school. Son Cameron went to college at William & Mary. I loved visiting CW and the campus…so much history! Loved eating at King’s Arms. Fredericksburg was a favorite stop on our way south to Richmond (daughter Kate went to University of Richmond) and Williamsburg. I ❤️ Virginia!

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