Posted by: The staff | December 6, 2012

The Clock on St. George’s

From John Hennessy, on the eve of the 150th of Fredericksburg.

St George Epis Ch5 crooped someWhen next you are in town, look at the clock on the steeple of St. George’s Episcopal Church.  That’s the town clock, overlooking Market Square, keeping time for everyone to see for more than 160 years–laborers and lawyers, slaves and soldiers, mothers and middlemen.

 That clock measured Abraham Lincoln’s visit to Fredericksburg in May 1862.  It signaled time for the church’s bells to ring on the hour and half hour—even in the darkest days of war–which in turn begged passersby to look up (we still do).  It marked the appointed time for auctions of slaves at the corner of Charles and William and for school in Jane Beale’s schoolhouse on Lewis.  It counted away the last minutes of thousands of lives. 

 On December 11, 1862, several Union cannoneers, their view of town obscured by smoke, chose to fire at the one thing they could see above the chaos below—the steeple with the clock on it.   At least one of them claimed to have hit it.

 The clock may have stopped. We don’t know. If  so, it, like the war-torn rhythm of Fredericksburg’s days, soon started again. 

 Nothing more tangible than the turns of that clock, accumulated one-by-one over days and years and decades, separates us from Fredericksburg’s most tumultuous days. 

[From part of Sunday's culminating program.  We hope you'll join us.]

About these ads

Responses

  1. Good article about my old home church.

  2. An appropriate reminder of the daily history we live and relive. sometimes the ghosts are almost real – i love walking in the footsteps and imaging them.

  3. Lovely and lyrical description…John Hennessy as NPS’s Poet Laureate!
    Thanks.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 898 other followers

%d bloggers like this: