George Washington's Ferry Farm, seen here from the opposite side of the river, was in the middle of the Union lines during the Battle of Fredericksburg in December 1862. On December 11th Union engineers began building a pontoon bridge at the ferry landing, but work was halted by sniper fire. Late in the day soldiers of the 89th New York crossed the river in pontoons and drove the Confederates back. The bridge was completed and artillery was stationed to cover the crossing of the Union army on its way to defeat in the Battle of Fredericksburg. Pontoon bridges were also constructed here during the Chancellorsville Campaign in May 1863 and the Overland Campaign in May 1864.
A soldier of the 5th New Hampshire recalled the night march down the ferry road to the pontoon bridge: "The road to the descent was steep and narrow, and was bordered on one side by a chasm ten or fifteen feet deep. As my train went down, one mule driver overturned his wagon, mules and all, into the chasm. The wagon alighted on its top and its wheels loomed up vaguely through the darkness."
Soldiers assigned here were aware of the historical significance of Ferry Farm. William Draper of the 36th Massachusetts wrote: "The part of the line that it usually fell to my lot to hold was the old Washington Farm, where General Washington passed most of his earlier years, and where he cut the cherry tree with his little hatchet cut could not tell a lie."
Members of the 148th Pennsylvania tried to throw stones across the river, but none could equal Washington's legendary feat. One wrote: "Could General Washington have beheld...the havoc that was to be wrought by those mighty hosts of his countrymen in fratricidal strife on the very ground, every nook and corner of which must have been familiar to him in his youthful days... his patriotic soul would have been overwhelmed by grief."
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