"The General punishes most severely any [soldier] caught in the most trivial act. He says [we must] show the Southern People we will act with true Yankee Hospitality even to the worst treasonable communities."
??????????—Charles Scriber, 24th New York
????????????May 23, 1862
War first came to Fredericksburg in the spring of 1862 when more than 30,000 Union troops under General Irvin McDowell occupied the area.
Though most of the Union camps lined the ridges east of the river, one brigade occupied the city proper. The Federals' presence annoyed but little disrupted the city's 5,000 inhabitants. Few residents fled, and, thanks to strict enforcement of orders in the Union army, the city suffered little damage. The highlight of the occupation came on May 23, when President Abraham Lincoln visited General Marsena Patrick at the Farmer's Bank building, across the intersection from you.
During his visit to the bank, Lincoln delivered a few words from the steps of the building. By winter the bank would be looted, a victim of the Union depredations prior to the Battle of Fredericksburg.
Caption of picture on the right: General Marsena Patrick, whose headquarters were in the basement of the bank building. The gruff Patrick was a stern disciplinarian; his stringent orders helped spare Fredericksburg from damage during the first Union occupation.