Union General Edwin Vose Sumner, commander of the Army of the Potomac's Right Grand Division, had Chatham Manor as
his headquarters as the Union Army moved into Fredericksburg in December of 1862. Huge cannons boomed from Chatham's yards, sending
screaming iron towards the Army of the Potomac's Confederate adversaries. After the disastrous assaults, Chatham served as a Union
Hospital. One of the soldier's caretakers offered, "Here and there a poor fellow coiled upon the floor, too full of pain and
weariness to bear his own weight...Seated along the table, as close by as possible, were others, whose expressions of thanks
told how grateful the simple repast was...bread, stewed fruit, and coffee."
During a recent visit to Chatham Manor, a National Park Service Volunteer relayed a
story of Walt Whitman visiting Chatham while searching for his brother, George Whitman of the 51st New York, who appeared on the list
of wounded after the battle. According to the National Park Service, this visit inspired Whitman's volunteering as a nurse during the
war. He would later write witnessing horrible sites at this grand home. He spoke specifically of Union surgeons using one of the rooms,
pictured to your left, for the ghastly proceedings, and then heaving the severed limbs out one of the windows. The
catalpa trees, under which Whitman said the pile grew, still cling to life on the
Chatham grounds outside the windows of the room pictured. The painting of George Washington above the fireplace is original to the
house. Both George Washington and Abraham Lincoln visited Chatham Manor, one of few residences to claim such an honor.
Predictably, despite the best efforts of the Federal medical officers and
volunteers, many of the soldiers who stayed at Chatham would never leave the grounds to again see home or friends. After the battle,
an unknown number were buried in the yards around the manor, with most being re-interred to the National Cemetery near the Sunken Road
years later. However, those moving the deceased to their final honorable resting place would not succeed in locating all who laid at
rest under Chatham's soil. At least three soldiers, each unidentified, remain buried at Chatham. All have small modest markers with one
of those markers pictured here.