Stafford’s Civil War
Stafford’s Civil War primarily consisted of four major military occupations: a 12-month Confederate occupation (April 1861-April 1862) and three major Federal occupations (April-September 1862; November 1862-June 1863; and May-June 1864) – totaling 13 months. Also there were other, brief actions. These all resulted in near-total economic destruction of rural and impoverished Stafford.
- Stafford became the “Gateway to Freedom” for escaped slaves seeking freedom in Union lines. A “first exodus” (April-September 1862) saw at least 12,000 (by Confederate estimates) escapees. A “second exodus” (January 1863), in conjunction with the effective date of the Emancipation Proclamation, produced substantial but presently unknown macro numbers.
- Two major battles (Fredericksburg [December 11-15 1862] and Second Fredericksburg-Chancellorsville [April 27-May 5, 1863]) were fought from Stafford. Between January 25-April 27, 1863, Stafford witnessed the 1863 Union Army of the Potomac’s “Valley Forge,” a non-battle turning point during a strategic pause. Grant’s 1864 Overland Campaign (battles of Wilderness [May 5-7]; Spotsylvania Courthouse [May 8-21]; North Anna [May 22-June 1]; and Cold Harbor [May 31-June 12] ) was supported logistically from Stafford.
- A large number of “Civil War Firsts” took place in Stafford during the war.