Spotsylvania County (population 90,395) was formed in 1721 and named for Alexander Spotswood, lieutenant governor of Virginia. Spotswood’s iron furnace, founded in 1725 at Germanna, was the first fully equipped iron furnace in the colonies and Spotsylvania County’s first industry.
Spotsylvania County is probably best known for the battles fought on its soil during the Civil War. Because of its strategic location between the Confederate and Union armies, several major battles were fought in the county, including ones at Chancellorsville, the Wilderness, Fredericksburg, and Spotsylvania Court House. The National Park Service maintains more than 4,400 acres of the Civil War battlefields in Spotsylvania County.
A portion of the Chancellorsville Battle took place on a property known as Mullins Farm, which was slated for residential and commercial development in the 1990s. Spotsylvania County recently partnered with a private developer of part of the property and the Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT) to preserve a key portion of the battlefield. By permitting increased density in the development in some areas, the County facilitated transfer of over 100 acres of battlefield from the developer to the CWPT.
The community of Spotsylvania is the county seat, and it includes the Spotsylvania Court House Historic District, one of eight historic overlay districts in the county. In the Spotsylvania Court House Historic District, the County and a local non-profit are currently partnering to restore and interpret the Old Jail (1855). The district is also the location of the Spotsylvania County Museum, housed in Old Berea Christian Church (1856).
Designated a Preserve America Community in November 2005.