Spring Campaign

Virginia Tech student Jillian Sasso at a VCCWS-funded internship at the Fredericksburg-Spotsylvania National Military Park.
A previous Spring Campaign group at Pamplin Historical Park near Petersburg.
The Bloody Angle memorial at the site of the Battle of Spotsylvania.


Extend your Civil War Weekend experience with an optional two-night field trip to Fredericksburg, Virginia, led by historian and tour guide John Hennessy. Leaving directly from the Inn at Virginia Tech on March 24, we’ll travel together by charter bus to Fredericksburg, our base for the next two days. 

On Monday, our day will encompass two years of evolving war, as experienced by a community and the armies that engulfed it. We will spend the morning in Fredericksburg proper, looking at what the experience of the town and its residents (free and enslaved) can tell us about how this war changed — the policies and practices that shaped civilians’ and soldiers’ experience on the ground — and the legacy of that war in a community that still struggles with its past.

After lunch we will take to the battlefields of the 1864 Overland Campaign. We will explore the connection between events on the ground and the progress (or not) of the war at large — the great stakes as understood by each side. We will explore what a changing war meant for the men who fought it — physically, emotionally and politically. We will end our day at Spotsylvania. If effort is the measure of commitment, if sacrifice is the measure of will, then no place measures the depth, nature and intensity of the American Civil War more so than Spotsylvania. 

We will conclude our visit Tuesday with an exploration of the war’s aftermath, efforts to memorialize those who fell, and the evolution of the NPS interpretive program over the decades. We will visit the Fredericksburg National Cemetery, Richard Kirkland Memorial, the Fredericksburg Confederate Cemetery, and, finally, the site of a stone block long associated with the sale of enslaved people in downtown Fredericksburg, which in 2020 was removed from the landscape and placed in the Fredericksburg Area Museum. Dr. Gaila Sims, Curator of African American History at the museum, will join us.
The cost of the Spring Campaign includes accommodation, all meals, tours, and round-trip transport between Blacksburg and Fredericksburg. Space is limited so please register right away!


Sunday, Mar 24

11:30 a.m. Depart Inn at Virginia Tech; lunch on bus

3:00 p.m. Visit Graffiti House

5:00 p.m.  Arrive at hotel 

6:30 p.m.  Dinner 

Monday, Mar 25

7:30 a.m.  Breakfast 

9:00 a.m.  Depart hotel for tour of Fredericksburg area 

12:00 p.m.  Lunch

5:00 p.m.  Return to hotel

6:30 p.m. Dinner 

Tuesday, Mar 26

7:30 a.m.  Breakfast 

9:00 a.m. Depart hotel to continue tour of Fredericksburg area 

11:30 a.m. Depart Fredericksburg

1:00 – 2:30 p.m. Lunch at Michie’s Tavern

5:00 p.m. Return to Inn at Virginia Tech

Historian John Hennessy, tour leader for the 2024 Spring Campaign in Fredericksburg.

John Hennessy recently retired as the Chief Historian at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, where he worked for the final 26 years of his NPS career. During his tenure, he engaged deeply in the effort to expand interpretation across NPS sites related to the Civil War period, challenging visitors to see the Civil War through not just the traditional lens of the military, but also through the eyes of civilians and enslaved people. He is the author of four books, most notably, Return to Bull Run: The Campaign and Battle of Second Manassas, published by Simon & Schuster and once the Main Selection of the History Book Club. His books and dozens of articles and essays have appeared under the imprint of Simon & Schuster, Cambridge University Press, Stackpole Books, LSU Press, the University of North Carolina Press, and another dozen publications.  He is a frequent speaker on preservation, history, and memory, and has been especially active as the nation reconsiders its relationship with the Civil War and the institution of slavery. He is presently at work on several projects, including a history of the Fredericksburg region before, during, and after the Civil War, and a book exploring the sometimes-tenuous relationship between the Army of the Potomac and the government it served. He lives in Fredericksburg.

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