11/10/2014 - Arthur H. H. Bernard
Editors Note: Today Mannsfield is a distant memory. Part of the plantation lies on the grounds of Shannon Airport which recently renovated its Terminal Building with new exhibits focusing on the airport history and the Civil War. Lost to time is the story of one of Spotsylvania’s most notable citizens, Arthur Bernard. If we only had a photo of him!

Arthur H. H. Bernard was born on October 16th, 1801 in Spotsylvania County, Virginia. He was the son of William Bernard who was born in 1770 and his second wife, Elizabeth “Fanny” (Hooe) Fauntleroy Bernard who was born in 1774. Both parents died in the year 1870. William Bernard’s father also William Bernard, fought in the American Revolution and trained the future president James Monroe in his law office. Arthur attended the University of Virginia in Sessions I and II in the years 1825-1826. During this period, Thomas Jefferson often invited a number of students enrolled in the University to dinner at Monticello. In a 1891 letter to his niece, Arthur recalled an occasion when he had been a dinner guest at Monticello. During conversation he recalls Jefferson had spoken very highly of the Revolutionary War Veteran, William Bernard, stating that his only flaw was that he was too modest.

This is a sketch of Mannsfield.

Arthur was a successful plantation owner and took an active role in local affairs. He resided at his farm “Mannsfield” in Spotsylvania County near Fredericksburg, on the Rappahannock River. He was an active member of the Democratic party serving as a delegate in 1838. He also served on the “fair” committee. During the Civil War battle of Fredericksburg in December 1862, Mannsfield was used as a hospital. It was on this property that the portion of the battlefield called “Slaughter Pen” and Shannon Airport were located.

Unlike his brother Alfred, Arthur Bernard remained at home and was appalled by the Federals trampling his gardens. He accosted General Reynolds demanding satisfaction. Reynolds quickly had him arrested and removed to Aquia Landing for safekeeping. In 1863 the house suffered damage from artillery shells and was destroyed by Confederate soldiers. The beautiful mansion was never rebuilt.
Col Charles Wainwright

The night before the battle, Colonel Charles Wainwright would write this description of Mannsfield:

“It seemed as a sin to take possession of so handsome a drawing room, as I stretched my blankets on the fine Bruxelles carpet and looked around at handsome pictures and bright fire. I for once thanked my stars that I was a staff officer.”

This is a picture of Mannsfield that was published in Harper’s Weekly.

This is a photograph on Mannsfield taken in 1870.

This is a photograph taken of Mannsfield in 1870.

This is a photograph of the arched cellar in Mannsfield.