Fodor's Expert Review Chatham Manor
Now part of the Fredericksburg/Spotsylvania National Military Park, Chatham was built between 1768 and 1771 by William Fitzhugh, a plantation owner, on a site overlooking the Rappahannock River and the town of Fredericksburg. Among Fitzhugh's guests were the likes of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. During the Civil War, Union forces commandeered the house and converted it into a headquarters and hospital. President Abraham Lincoln conferred with his generals here, Clara Barton (founder of the American Red Cross) tended the wounded, and poet Walt Whitman visited for a few hours looking for his brother, who had been wounded in a battle. After the war, the Georgian house and gardens were restored by private owners and eventually donated to the National Park Service. The home itself is now a museum. Five of the 10 rooms in the 12,000-square-foot mansion house exhibits spanning several centuries and are open to the public.