Our Virginia adventure continues on the Northern Neck peninsula camped near Colonial Beach. Virginia’s Northern Neck is bounded on the south by the Rappahannock River and on the north by the Potomac River. Fredericksburg is the largest city in the area.
Stratford Hall is the birthplace of Robert E. Lee. He was born in this great house built by Thomas Lee in the 1730s. Four generations passed through its stately doors including the only two brothers to sign the Declaration of Independence, Revolutionary War hero Light Horse Harry Lee and of course the great civil war general. It sits on the Potomac River. We had a great tour and highly recommend a visit.
George Washington Birthplace is a National Monument also sits on the Potomac. The home is a 1931 replica of the original which burned in 1779. The National Park Service does its usual great job of interpreting the site. This park is viewed as a living memorial with a Colonial era kitchen, garden and farm. Compared to the Lee family the Washington’s home was very modest
Fredericksburg is a very old city on the Rappahannock River. Our first stop there was Chatham Manor, a home whose entrance hall is larger than 99% of the entire homes in Virginia at the time of the Civil War. The home sits on high bluffs above the river overlooking the city. It was used as Union Headquarters during the bombardment and assault December 11-13, 1862. The city was badly damaged but the Union was soundly defeated by Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson’s forces. We went on to tour the battlefield known as Chancellorsville which was fought April 27 to May 6, 1863. This was another great Confederate victory but cost the life of Lee’s top general, Stonewall Jackson. It was from here that Lee went on the offensive marching northward to Pennsylvania and a little town called Gettysburg.
Tangier Island is tiny island in the middle of Chesapeake Bay. It is reached daily by seasonal ferry from Reedsville. We went on the very first sailing of the season. 99% of all soft shell crabs are harvested by crabbers on Tangier and nearby Smith Island. The season was just about to open so the boats were getting ready. It is a very quaint island where everyone knows everyone and the streets are golf cart paths. We had heard they spoke an Elizabethan English due to their isolation but we never heard that. The island may not be around for long. It is very very low and ocean rise is a huge threat.
Reedville Virginia is at the eastern end of the Northern Neck peninsula. It is the home the menhaden fishing industry and brings in the second largest tonnage of any fishery in the US (Dutch Harbor Alaska is 1st). Menhaden is a small fish harvested for its oil.
We always know we’re in a good place when we have much to come back for and the Northern Neck checks that box.