Login | Register

Advanced Search


All Titles

  • Brompton

Dublin Core




Date of Construction: by 1824 (Original Structure), c. 1836 (addition)

1860 Census Data: THis was the home of the Marye Family. John Marye, age 62, was the head of the household here; his occupation was listed as "lawyer," his real estate was valued at $67,000, and his personal estate was valued at $20,000. The other members of the household were: Edward Marye, a "clerk" (26), Stewart Marye (19), and Eveline Marye (16). The Maryes were born in Virginia.
John Marye controlled 780 acres of land. Of these, 300 acres were described as "improved" and 480 acres were described as "unimproved." The census enumerator valued Marye's agricultural implements at $400. Present on the farm were animals valued at $1,100: three horses, five mules, four dairy cows, two oxen, and 30 hogs. Between June 1, 1859 and June 1, 1860, Marye's agricultural operations produced: 950 bushels of wheat, 500 bushels of corn, 12 bushels of potatoes, 80 pounds of butter, six tons of hay, and slaughtered livestock valued at $270.
John Marye owned at least 14 slaves in Spotsylvania County: two 60-year-old black males, a 58-year-old mulatto female, two 50-year-old black females, a 50-year-old black male, a 45-year-old black female, a 35-year-old black male, a 34-year-old black male, a 22-year-old black female, a 22-year-old black male, a 20-year-old black male, a 16-year-old black male, and a 15-year-old black male. Marye also hired two slaves: a 70-year-old black male and a 16-year-old black male, both owned by a John Marye, Jr.

Prewar Description: Brompton was two stories tall and built of brick. It was ornamented by an elliptical fanlight; a columned, full-acade entry porch; and one-story wings. A wooden kitchen, linked to the house by a covered way, at least four slave quarters, and several other dependencies were situated nearby. The complex was located just south of Swift Run Gap (Orange) Turnpike- to which it was connected by a short drive- and near the southern end of Marye's Heights, overlooking Fredericksburg.
In 1851, Brompton was the scene of an idyllic Mayday ceremony, recounted by Fredericksburg diarist Jane Beale: The 'coronation' took place at Mr. Marye's beautiful residence and I have rarely if ever, seen a more lovely sight, all the older girls dressed in white with blue sashes, garlands or flowers, and happy faces, made up a group upon the fresh Green grass which was deeply interesting and highly picturesque in its effect, the Queen and her attendants had appropriate speeches to repeat which was performed in handsome dignified style and the evening ended in a dance. --Beale, entry for May 1, 1851

Confederate Military Service: Both Alexander and Edward Marye served in the Fredericksburg Artillery. Edward died of disease on October 5, 1864. Alexander survived the war.

General Wartime Significance: Brompton was a prominent landmark on the Confederate front line during the December 1862 and May 1863 Battles of Fredericksburg. In May 1864, the house was the site of a hospital for the wounded of the Union Ninth Corps' Second Division. On May 19 or 20, 1864, Northern photographers produced at least seven images of Brompton and the men receiving treatment there. One of these photographs were destined to be published and otherwise publicized as a classic illustration of the suffering of soldiers wounded in battle.

Wartime Description: In May 1864, Brompton was converted to a hospital for Union soldiers wounded in the Battles of Wilderness and Spotsylvania Court House. A Northern physician described their sufferings: In one corner, upon a stretcher, lay a soldier...He was wounded through the lungs, and breathed only with sharp stitches of pain...Another lad, in the corner...was slowly wasting away. We kept him alive with stimulants...Upon the same floor, only a little apart from the rest, in a store-room, lay a soldier in the last agonies of death- a poor, mutilated remnant of a man, and a most loathsome sight. His case was too bad to be placed with others, and he was laid carefully upon such ragged garments as we could collect for a bed, not enough to keep his shattered frame from the floor... Even the entries of this old mansion were crowded with sick and dying men. No available space was left unoccupied. The poor fellows just arrived had not had their clothes off since they were wounded, and were sleeping in blood and filth, and were swarming with vermin. They lay as close as they could be packed, the contaminated air growing worse every hour. The openings in the torn and battered walls assisted somewhat in ventillation...In a group of four Indian sharpshooters, in one corner of this entry, each with the loss of...and arm at the shoulder, of a leg at the knee, or with an amputation of the thigh, never was patience more finely illustrated. They neither spoke nor moaned...Monday, the 23d of May, 1864, was a most lovely day. The breeze came fresh and cool from the north; the air was pure and clear; the sky perfectly cloudless...It was a day for the convalescents, and it seemed as if those who were near to death must be revived by the delicious softness of the bracing air. We moved then out of the stifiling rooms to the lawn...a grand old oak...gave shelter to nearly fifty men... --Reed

Judging from a wartime diary and a postwar travelogue, Martha Stephens apparently helped manage Brompton for John Marye, who had moved to Forest Hill, as early as December 30, 1862 and as late as September 1865. She may have forsaken her own dwelling- riddled by "thousands" of bullets during the December 1862 battle- while serving in this capacity and acutally resided in brick-walled Brompton. In July 1864, the Fredericksburg Common Council reimbursed Martha Stephens for the expenses she incurred in lodging Union soldiers who "under flag of truce" escorted civilian prisoners - arrested in May - from Washington, D.C. to their homes in Fredericksburg.

Present Condition: Brompton is still standing. As noted by a visiting Northern correspondent, repair work was underway by September 1865: Now if you would [wish to] witness the results of artillery and infantry firing, visit that house. The pillars of the porch...were speckled with the marks of bullets. Shells and solid shot had made sad havoc with the walls and the woodwork inside. The windows were shivered, the partitions torn to pieces, and the doors perforated. I found a gigantic negro at work at a carpenter's bench in one of the lower rooms. He seemed glad to receive company, and took me from the basement to the zinc-covered roof, showing me all the more remarkable shot holes... "Where is your master?" I asked. "I ha'nt got not master now; Mr. Marye was my master. He's over de mountain. I was sold at auction in Fredericksburg oncet, and he bought me fo' twelve hundred dolla's. Now he pays me wages...thirty dolla's a month...he pays me fo' tak'n keer o' dis sher place and fitt'n' it up a little." "Are you a carpenter?" "Somethin' of a carpenter; I kin do whatever I turns my hand to." --Trowbridge

By 1884, the renovated Brompton was surrounded by "thousands of dollars worth of thoroughbred cattle...grazing upon...hillsides that but a few years ago echoed and re-echoed with [the] rude shock of war." With the exception of a postwar pediment, the exterior of the building and its immediate grounds retain much of their appearance on the eve of the Civil War.
In 1866-68, workmen disinterred the remains of 19 Union soldiers on "Marye's Heights," perhaps on the grounds of Brompton, and moved them to the nearby Fredericksburg National Cemetery. At about the same time, workmen also disinterred the remains of two Confederate soldiers "Inside of Marye's enclosure back of the house" and moved them to the Fredericksburg Confederate Cemetery.

From: Harrison, Noel G. Fredericksburg Civil War Sites: Volume Two, December 1862-April 1865. Lynchburg, VA: H.E. Howard, 1995.

For more information on Brompton, visit: www.bromptonresearch.umwblogs.org -another student-built website


Courtesy of Dr. John Hennessy of the National Park Service.


c. 1860s

Still Image Item Type Metadata



"Brompton," in Fredericksburg: City of Hospitals, Item #129, https://projects.umwhistory.org/cwh/items/show/129 (accessed October 23, 2021).

Added by tbrann