December 11, 1862. The peacetime bridges having been destroyed, engineers of Burnside's Federal Army began laying pontoons across the Rappahannock. Here, overlooking the upper pontoon site, Confederates of Barksdale's Mississippi Brigade, sheltered in houses and cellars along this street, stopped the work. Bombardment by Federal cannon failed to dislodge the sharpshooters. Finally, the 7th Michigan Regiment, followed by the 19th Massachusetts, crossed the river in boats to establish a bridgehead. The pontoon bridges were completed and the 20th Massachusetts secured the streets. Barksdale's Mississippians fell back during the night. The next day thousands of Federals poured over two bridges here and others down river, in preparation for the attack against Lee's main line.
Below the marker is another marker commemorating the donation of the land. It reads:
This historic site was donated to the United States in 1964 by Miss Mary B. Garnett and Dr. Thomas B. Payne and wife, Virginia Garnett Payne, in memory of Robert Mercer Taliaferro Hunter, distinguished statesman, and Robert Mercer Payne, son of Dr. and Mrs. Payne.