Ashland is part of Hanover County Virginia. The area known as The Slashes, later became Ashland, when it was developed by the Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Potomac Railroad as a mineral springs resort in the 1840s. The name came from the Lexington, Kentucky estate of the towns most famous native and statesman Henry Clay.
In 1860 Ashland was a quiet, charming village. Its 150 residents lived in cottages on tree lined streets. A fashionable hotel, a notable racecourse and a famous mineral springs resort made Ashland a social center and a place to visit. The train rails running through town made it a great destination place for residents from DC and Richmond. Then came the war.
In the summer of 1861, hundreds of volunteers from across Virginia camped at the racecourse where they received their first military instruction. During 1862, homes and churches filled with battle casualties; more than 400 soldiers died in these makeshift clinics. Union raiders frequently ripped up railroad track and burned nearby bridges making it hard to receive aid and supplies for the wounded and the inhabitants alike.
In May 1863, the funeral train carrying Gen. Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson’s body stopped here on its way to Richmond. A year later, part of Lee’s weary army marched southward along the tracks that run through the center of the town.
One veteran recalled that they “marched in such deep silence that a man with his eyes shut would only have known that anyone was on the road by the occasional rattle of a canteen.”
Places like Wilderness, Spotsylvania and North Anna lay behind them. Totopotomy Creek, Cold Harbor, Petersburg and ten more months of war lay ahead of them.
Today, the Old train station still stands by the tracks. Serving as a local Visitors Center and a place for train enthusiasts to gather, commune and watch the passing freight and passenger trains. Check out the Ashland Visitor Center for more information about the town. Or check out Wikipedia to learn more about the history of Ashland.
© 2006-2013 Evilwordsmith.com. All Rights Reserved, Springwolf, D.D., Ph.D.