We attracted at least 175 to St. George’s on Aug. 3, 2016 to hear Steward Henderson talk about St. George’s role in the Civil War. Steward is second from the right in the picture, above. The talk was sponsored by St. George’s Docents.
Rev. Joe Hensley introduced Steward while emphasizing the importance of history to St. George’s story as well as to the community. The role of the church to provide a spiritual home was present then and today.
Steward’s biography is here. He was a banker for 35 years before retiring and joining the National Park Service, first as a volunteer for 2 years and then May, 2007 as a staff member. He worships at St. George’s with his wife Malanna.
Steward began his lecture describing events in the area from April, 1862 when Fredericksburg was first occupied to the end of the war and zeroed in on the war time experience as of the church. It functioned as a fortress on Dec. 11 just before the main battle when there was fighting in the streets, a center of revival in March, 1863 after the main battle and as a hospital twice, 1862 and 1864. While the Confederates occupied St. George’s as a fortress and used it as a place to hold revivals, the Union forces, the Irish brigade, adapted Sydnor hall in 1862 to treat men directly after the main battle on Dec. 13. Two years later in 1864 after the Battle of the Wilderness, it was a hospital prior to evacuation.
Steward highlighted parishioners who played a role in the war and in particularly Montgomery Slaughter as mayor and St. George’s rector Rev. Alfred M. Randolph. St. Georgians were prominent in a group of Fredericksburg leaders imprisoned for a time Capital prison in Washington, DC. Most parishioners left after the forced evacuation in November, 1862. Thus there were no formal services from November, 1862 until well into 1864.
It took 5 years after the war to repair the church, its steeple hit by at least 17 cannon rounds. Not everything could be repaired. Steward speculated the greatest loss to the church was the loss of it 1817-1865 Vestry minutes book burned in Richmond in April, 1865 at the end of the war.
We collected $240 to be split between the building and the National Park Service. Thanks for the Docents for sponsoring and promoting the talk and to those who greeted.