Named for Alexander Spotswood, an adventurous, enterprising, Colonial-era governor, Spotsylvania was formed in 1721 from the western expanses of Essex, King and Queen, and King William Counties. A burgeoning industrial and agricultural region during America's formative years, Spotsylvania County remained an important trade hub in the years leading up to the Civil War. Located between the warring capitals of Richmond and Washington, D.C., Spotsylvania became the battleground of four major land engagements, leaving more than 100,000 casualties over an 18-month period. Left in economic desolation at the war's end, the citizenry reclaimed the ravaged countryside and, with admirable perseverance, sought a return to normalcy. Today Spotsylvanians struggle to reconcile the advantages of a tourism industry, which is based on a history that was thrust upon them, with finding their place in a sprawling suburban future.
Author Bio: John F. Cummings III, a visual historian, served on the Spotsylvania Courthouse Tourism and Special Events Commission and is chairperson of the Friends of Fredericksburg Area Battlefields. Many of the images presented here are from his personal collection, as well as the archives of the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park and the Library of Congress.
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