When we think of places that connect us with Civil War history, battlefields are often top of mind, but Fredericksburg churches bore witness to the battles of more than 150 years ago. Many of them served as field hospitals, headquarters and places of refuge. Churches have provided rich additions to the Fredericksburg story.
- Fredericksburg Baptist Church (1019 Princess Anne St.) – Fredericksburg Baptist Church was founded in 1804 on Sophia Street, at what is now the location of the Shiloh Baptist Church. In 1855 the congregation split between their black and white members, with the white members moving to the current location on Princess Anne Street. Fredericksburg Baptist is the second largest church in the city. It suffered critical damage during the Civil War, and eventually served as a field hospital for wounded soldiers.
- Fredericksburg Presbyterian Church (810 Princess Anne St.) – Built in 1833, this church of Greek Revival style is the second oldest church in the city of Fredericksburg. Fredericksburg Presbyterian survived through the Civil War, even though it was severely damaged in the process. The church bell, which has since been replaced, was melted down to help build Confederate cannons. Eventually it operated as a Union hospital, where Clara Barton (found of the American Red Cross) attended to many soldiers.
- Fredericksburg United Methodist Church (308 Hanover Street) – Originally constructed in 1802 on George Street, Fredericksburg United Methodist served as a station for the Baltimore Conference. It was in the 1820s that John Kobler, a retired Methodist minister, became a member and strengthened the church to what it is today. But in 1862, in the midst of the Civil War, the church was destroyed. It was later rebuilt in 1882, and has been in operation ever since.
- Shiloh Baptist Church (801 Sophia St.) – Once the location of Fredericksburg Baptist Church, Shiloh was sold to its predominantly black congregation for $500. Once it became an independent church, the congregation of Shiloh expanded significantly; it was a source of comfort for both free and enslaved members. During the Civil War, Shiloh served as a hospital for Union soldiers. After the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, Shiloh’s first black pastor, Reverend George Dixon, was appointed to lead their congregation. Following the surrender of the Confederacy, slaves who had fled the south returned to rejoin Shiloh’s congregation. Shiloh now has two sites: the Old Site on Sophia Street, and the New Site on Princess Anne Street.
- St. George’s Episcopal Church (905 Princess Anne St.) – Colonel Henry Willis was the initial mind behind the foundation and location of St. George’s, having constructed the original church in 1732. However, St. George’s is in fact the third church constructed on the premises of 905 Princess Anne Street, where it was built in 1849. During the Battle of Fredericksburg, St. George’s was dealt a number of artillery strikes, yet managed to survive. It was eventually a meeting location for Confederate officers, followed by a hospital for wounded Union soldiers. The green spire St. George’s Episcopal Church is actually the tallest marker in downtown Fredericksburg.
NOTE: The information for these churches was obtained from the book Historic Churches of Fredericksburg by Michael Aubrecht. You can purchase a copy at the Fredericksburg Visitor Center.