The Battle of Fredericksburg, December 13, 1862

James N.

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#1
Part I - March to Battle
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Postwar Chicago printmakers Kurz & Allison decided to concentrate on the successful bridging of the Rappahannock River, improbably directed by General Ambrose Burnside in person at far right, rather than the disastrous assault on Mary's Heights that followed.

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November 11, 1862 on the verandah below of the Warren Green Hotel in Warrenton, Virginia, Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan said goodbye to the assembled officers and many of the men of the Army of the Potomac, which he had led for over a year. McClellan had finally been relieved of command by order of President Abraham Lincoln because of his seemingly habitual tardiness in pursuing his Confederate opponents despite the victory in September at the battle of Antietam or Sharpsburg, Maryland. This change of command set in motion the actions which were to lead to the tragedy on the Rappahannock River known as the Battle of Fredericksburg only a month later.

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McClellan, at right above, was replaced by the commander of his Ninth Army Corps, Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside at left, whose own mishandling of his part in the battle at Antietam had contributed largely to the failure to destroy the Confederate army and served as an inauspicious forecast of what was to come. Another witness to the Union change of command was according to legend Rebel scout, spy, and raider Capt. John S. Mosby at center who soon brought word to his superiors, alerting them to impending movement by the Federals.

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Burnside divided his huge command, numbering some 120,000 men, into three formations called the Right, Center, and Left Grand Divisions. The army had previously in the year had its infantry divisions grouped into army corps; now those corps were again grouped into the three Grand Divisions led by the men above. From left to right: Maj. Gen. Edwin Vose Sumner, the oldest general in the army had formerly led the Second Corps but now commanded the Right Grand Division; Maj. Gen. Joseph "Fighting Joe" Hooker now led the Center Grand Division and had only recovered from a wound in the foot at Antietam - in this photo taken around this time his left hand grips the handle of a cane he soon afterward discarded; Maj. Gen. William B. Franklin, who had led the Sixth Corps at Antietam where his lackluster leadership kept it out of the battle now led the Left Grand Division.

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Burnside knew the Lincoln administration had promoted him to the command of the army in the expectation that he would continue the forward movement begun by his predecessor; the target for his army was the town of Fredericksburg on the Rappahannock River, as seen above from a line of hills known as Marye's Heights; Burnside hoped that by sudden, unexpected, and atypical hard marching a part of his force could arrive and cross the river before the Confederates realized what was happening. Fredericksburg had been occupied previously during the spring and summer months of 1862 by Federal units for varying periods of time but thus far had been spared any real action; that would soon change, however, as Union troops of Sumner's Right Grand Division seized Stafford Heights on the opposite riverbank from the town.

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The Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, though having suffered disproportionally high losses in the just-completed Maryland Campaign, was nevertheless probably at its peak, some 75,000 superbly led men grouped into two evenly-balanced army corps with attached cavalry and artillery led by the men above: Gen. Robert E. Lee at center, at the height of his powers before health concerns began to worry him, flanked at right by Lt. Gen. James Longstreet leading the First Army Corps; and at left by Lt. Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson commanding the Second Corps. When Lee learned of the Federal change in command he was at first uncertain exactly what it meant, but soon sent elements of Longstreet's corps to Fredericksburg, while retaining Jackson's corps at Winchester in the Northern Shenandoah Valley as shown on the map below.

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Map by Hal Jespersen, www.posix.com/CW

After arriving before Fredericksburg Burnside foolishly waited several weeks for the arrival of promised pontoon boats with which to bridge the Rappahannock, thereby throwing away the element of surprise he had achieved through his unexpectedly rapid movement. At first, only elements of Longstreet's corps occupied Marye's Heights and could offer little in the way of resistance to the Federal host; fortunately, they were soon joined by Lee and the rest of Longstreet with Jackson coming up fast from the Valley. Still, Lee remained unsure of Burnside's intentions, at first sending Jackson far to the east to cover possible crossings downstream as shown on the map. At long last the pontoons arrived, and on the foggy morning of December 11 Burnside finally sent his leading elements across the river under heavy fire from the Mississippi brigade of William Barksdale, as depicted in the print at the top of this page.

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Despite eventually driving the Mississippians away, it took Sumner's men the rest of the day and most of the following one as well to cross into the town where they sheltered in the streets for the night and began to systematically loot the largely abandoned houses. Fredericksburg was the first large town or city to feel the destructiveness of shelling during the war, and although not as severe as later at Vicksburg, individual houses were greatly damaged by deliberate vandalism and looting of the occupying Federal army. The house pictured here, currently a restaurant, is one such survivor dating to the 1700's and is located on the very first street nearest and parallel with the river. Like its now-vanished neighbors it was likely used, as were most of the houses in town, as a hospital following the battle.

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Next, Part II - Franklin vs. Jackson at Hamilton's Crossing
 
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James N.

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#2
Part II - The Fight for Hamilton's Crossing
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The Don Troiani painting above, Bronze Guns and Iron Men, depicts Maj. John Pelham at the left directing the fire of a single Napoleon against the forces of Franklin's Left Grand Division at the lower crossing of the Rappahannock River.

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Following the Union occupation of dominant Stafford Heights opposite Fredericksburg it was no longer practicable for the Confederates to run supply trains all the way to the beleaguered town; Hamilton's Crossing was a stop on the railroad just south of town which became the new railhead and was closely guarded by Jackson's corps. Once Sumner's and Franklin's troops crossed in strength making it obvious where Burnside intended against all logic to strike, Lee directed Jackson to bring all of his units to this point.

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Jackson placed his four infantry divisions in two lines covering Hamilton's Crossing with his right flank anchored on Prospect Hill overlooking the railroad. The two divisions of Maj. Gen. Daniel H. Hill and Brig. Gen. Jubal Early had just arrived from their positions covering downstream crossings so were held in reserve in the second line behind those of Maj. Gen. Ambrose P. Hill and Brig. Gen. A. R. Lawton. Prospect Hill below was a good artillery position whose guns commanded the approaches from the river.

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As shown on the map above, Franklin disposed two corps in his bridgehead and began to cautiously advance into the open plain south of town facing Jackson's line which was concealed in the woods. The most aggressive of Franklin's corps, the First, led the advance and was commanded by the men below: corps commander Maj. Gen. John F. Reynolds, seen at center as a brigadier in a photo taken earlier, standing beside Burnside; at left, Brig. Gen. John Gibbon and at right then-Brig. Gen. George Meade led Reynold's divisions which broke through the Confederate lines while the third division of Brig. Gen. Abner Doubleday covered their flank.

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Jackson's right flank between Prospect Hill and the river was guarded by the cavalry of Maj. Gen. James E. B. "Jeb" Stuart and included batteries of horse artillery led by Maj. John Pelham. When Pelham saw Reynolds' men advance from their bridgehead he led a single section of two guns forward to harass the Federals, thereby delaying their assault for nearly an hour.

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From this general area Pelham kept up the unequal contest with Franklin's guns, firing single shots then rapidly changing position to create the impression of many more guns than the pair he had deployed. Even after the ordnance rifle was disabled he continued to use the single Napoleon as depicted by Troiani above and reproduced at the site on the sign below until he was eventually called back by Stuart. "It is well to see such courage in one so young" Lee reportedly remarked on hearing of Pelham's exploit.

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Next, Part III - Federal Breakthrough
 
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James N.

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Part III - Meade Breaks Jackson's Line
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The men of the 114th Pennsylvania or Collis's Zouaves, charge through the aptly named Slaughter Pen to assault Jackson's line in the edge of the woods in the background in a painting by Carl Rochling.

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Stonewall Jackson had established his line as an extension of that of fellow corps commander James Longstreet from the right of Hood's Division of the First Corps to Prospect Hill in shallow trenches like those above and below. At the time of the battle this was at the edge of a considerable wood overlooking cleared land all the to and past the railroad embankment and on to the river, offering a clear view of the Federal deployment and advance.

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As indicated on the National Battlefield Trust map above, the assault of the Union First Corps and its aftermath wasn't exactly a clean, orderly maneuver - units advanced and retired under heavy fire in somewhat confused order, broken by the unevenness of the ground and the necessity of crossing the railroad embankment. After they were repulsed an attempt by Jackson to lead a counterattack was similarly doomed.

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Unfortunately for the Confederates, their front was interrupted by a rather large marsh or area of boggy ground thought to be too difficult for formed troops to pass through. Despite Jackson's direct instructions to A. P. Hill to see to it the area was secured, somewhere there was a fatal breakdown in communications leaving the spot unprotected. It was through this gap that the division of George Meade struck, passing unobserved through it and scattering the brigade of Brig. Gen. Maxey Gregg behind the gap and driving a wedge into Jackson's line. Although ably supported on his right by Gibbon's division, Meade was ejected by the timely arrival of Confederates from Jubal Early's supporting division.

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Above, left to right: Maj. Gen. A. P. Hill, whose neglect of the gap in his lines created a temporary crisis until it could be plugged by Early's supporting division; Brig. Gen. Maxey Gregg, who was mortally wounded in Meade's onslaught, had previously quarreled with Jackson but reconciled with him on his deathbed; and Maj. John "The Gallant" Pelham who commanded Stuart's Horse Artillery until his untimely death at Kelly's Ford on the Rappahannock in March, 1863.

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Following the repulse of Meade's division the Federals withdrew back across the railroad to a position on the Richmond Stage Road covering their bridgehead. As usual, the ever-pugnacious Jackson sought a way throughout the rest of the afternoon to counterattack, going so far as to advance his infantry onto the vacated open plain where severe Federal artillery fire soon convinced him to return to his original position. The fire was so severe as to give the name Dead Horse Hill to the exposed and overmatched Confederate artillery position above.

Next, Part IV - Marye's Heights
 
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James N.

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Confederate Battery Position
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There was a time when I could climb Lee's Hill under my own power and look over the whole battlefield and the city. I think it would take a golf cart or something like it to get me up there today.
Although we didn't get all the way to Lee's Hill because of similar disabilities, we did make it to the next nearby stop which had been an important elevated artillery position near the center of the Confederate lines.

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I was especially surprised to see there this magnificent 30-pounder Parrott and to learn that Lee had had enough time prior to the battle to have one of these behemoths shipped from the defenses of Richmond to bolster his defenses here! The Federals were using some guns at least as large firing from Stafford Heights on the opposite shore of the Rappahannock River but I was unaware that the Confederates had at least one as well. From here such a gun could've likely hit any place along the opposing Union line.

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#7
A few more photos from the Dec. 13 action on the south end of the Fredericksburg battlefield.

View from site of Bernard's Cabins, looking east to the railroad (at treeline in the distance).

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Marker at Bernard's Cabins site

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Boggy ground along trail south of Bernard's Cabins.

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Meade Pyramid near Union breakthrough

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Marker for Meade Pyramid, indicating it was modeled after the monument to unknown Confederate dead at Richmond's Hollywood Cemetery.

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James N.

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Part IV - Confederate Positions on Marye's Heights
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The National Park Service painting above by artist Sidney King shows clearly the open field of fire enjoyed by Confederate batteries atop Marye's Heights. The Stone Wall at the Sunken Road manned by a brigade of Confederate infantry is also visible near the base of the heights. The view below is from approximately the same vantage point as that in the painting.

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James Longstreet's Confederates had weeks to prepare their defense of the high ground west of Fredericksburg, including carefully gauging the ranges for their considerable artillery positioned here. During the battle Marye's Heights was held primarily by the battalion of Colonel Walton commanding the Washington Artillery of New Orleans, supported by another battalion commanded by Col. E. Porter Alexander. When Walton's ammunition ran low, Alexander's guns were substituted during one of the lulls between the Union assaults.

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The Willis Hill Cemetery above is a private family one, located just behind the battery positions; overshots from Federal batteries back on Stafford Heights caused damage to the brick wall surrounding it as well as to some of the headstones within.

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Confederate infantry defenders of Marye's Heights were mainly members of the division of Maj. Gen. Lafayette McLaws, seated at center above, flanked by commanders of two of his brigades: at left, Brig. Gen. William Barksdale's Mississippians had contested the construction of the pontoon bridges on December 11, fighting and falling back through the streets of Fredericksburg; at right, Brig. Gen. Thomas R. R. Cobb of Georgia, whose brigade held the stone wall at the edge of the Sunken Road below, and who was to lose his life in the contest here.

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The wartime view below was taken from the edge of town and provides a Federal's-eye-view of the open plain from there to Marye's Heights on the background horizon. The Heights were crowned by Confederate batteries and at the base of the hill ran a somewhat sunken lane bordered on the downhill or town side by a substantial stone wall, behind which Cobb's Georgians had taken shelter with a clear field of fire before them awaiting the Federal attacks which were soon to come, as soon as the thick morning fog lifted.


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Next, Part V - Sumner assaults Marye's Heights
 
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James N.

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Part V - "Clear the Way!"
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Don Troiani's painting Clear the Way! depicting the attack of the renowned Union Irish Brigade against the Stone Wall depicts only one of repeated failed attempts to storm Marye's Heights.

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Map by Hal Jesperson, http://www.posix.com/CW

The map above shows the main problem the men of Burnside's Federal army encountered when they finally moved out of the streets of Fredericksburg: the approach was funneled into a narrow space by a canal and drainage ditch that was largely unnoticeable before units were right on top of them. On their left a gully formed by Hazel Run into which the drainage ditch flowed provided a little cover for attackers but led right into the waiting Confederate defenses. The available space allowed frontage for a single deployed division at a time to approach. Burnside had issued orders forbidding the impetuous Sumner to cross the Rappahannock, so he was forced to wait out the battle in his riverside headquarters while his corps commanders conducted the attack.

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Leading Sumner's Right Grand Division into the fray was the Second Corps, formerly at Antietam Sumner's own but now led by Maj. Gen. Darius N. Couch at right above. His first division, that of Maj. Gen. William French which had been savaged attacking the Sunken Road at Antietam suffered a similar fate here, stopping well short of the Stone Wall. Next to take up the challenge was the division of Brig. Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock at left; his brigades included the famous Irish Brigade of Brig. Gen. Thomas Francis Meagher, center, which had similarly suffered at Antietam.

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The assault of the Irish Brigade is depicted on the sign above using the Troiani painting at the top of this post. Unfortunately, the Irishmen had no better luck in their attack than French before them, nor the division of Maj. Gen. Oliver O. Howard afterwards - all got to about the same distance in front of the wall before survivors went to ground creating a jumbled mass of attackers who had lost all formation and many of their officers.

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Although the Confederate defenders had by far the easier task in holding the wall, their position amid the hail of bullets was by no means neither secure nor pleasant; one of the many inevitable casualties was Gen. Cobb who was mortally wounded while observing the battle from behind the Stevens House. The marker below is supposedly on the spot where he was struck down by a shell fragment.

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The marker above commemorates the owner of the house which formerly stood here, Mrs. Martha Stevens; all that remains of the Stevens House today is the outline where it once stood.

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A little farther along the length of the Stone Wall the wartime Innis House still stands, riddled with bullet holes. Below, the house photographed from the side the attackers saw, with a trail leading up Marye's Heights to the Confederate artillery positions behind it.

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Here just below the Marye House atop the heights and near the Innis House in the background the road is truly sunken, and instead of being bordered by a stone wall, instead there is a stone revetment or facing to the cut made by the road over the years, as also seen in the photo below taken from the same vantage point, again showing the Innis House. Here in the Sunken Road and behind the Stone Wall Confederate defenders stood as many as four deep, those in the rear ranks loading and passing their rifles to the men in the front two ranks, keeping up a deadly fire.

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Next, Part VI - The battle sputters out around dark
 
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BlueandGrayl

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#11
Fredericksburg was one of the worst Union defeats and its devastating casualty rate (especially Union) really shook morale to its lowest point second only to Seven Days Summer 1862-early to mid September fall pre-Antietam 1862 and Bull Run July 1861-post Trent Affair 1862. Even William Seward was nearly deposed and the value of gold in the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street fluctuated.
 

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Part VI - Final Union Attacks End a Bloody Day
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The division of Maj. Gen. Andrew Humphreys delivers the final pointless assault on the Confederate stronghold as the sun sets in the western sky behind Marye's Heights in this woodcut that appeared in Harper's Weekly Magazine.

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Unfortunately the open ground across the repeated Federal assaults came long ago disappeared beneath the streets of a growing Fredericksburg neighborhoods like that above; the street here leads directly away from the base of Marye's Heights and the Stone Wall through what would've been the remnants of Northern units piled up and hugging the ground in the distance like in the woodcut below.

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The Confederate defenders also suffered from thinning ranks and called for support from other units waiting in support upon the heights. As Cobb's men tired, regiments from the division of Robert Ransom were sent to their aid, passing down the hill here and making a splendid target for Federal gunners as they did so.

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Map by Hal Jesperson, http://www.posix.com/CW

As seen on the map above, the units of Sumner's Grand Division had "played out" and were replaced by those of the Center Grand Division; Sumner's mixed-up regiments, brigades, and divisions are represented by the dotted lines as they milled around or lay hugging the ground. Below, military artist and uniform historian Henry Ogden gives two views of the contrast in command at Fredericksburg: at left Burnside in frustration orders a remonstrating Hooker to send his men into the meat grinder, while at right a serene Robert E. Lee and James Longstreet calmly watch the unfolding battle, of which Lee memorably said, "It is well that war is so terrible - we should grow too fond of it."

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At long last the December sun began to set on the carnage as Brig. Gen. Andrew Humphreys at left below led his division in the final assault on the Confederate lines. In center is Colonel Edward Porter Alexander who commanded and placed Longstreet's artillery on Marye's Heights; when Longstreet questioned the placement of some of Alexander's guns, the latter retorted, "General, when we open a chicken could not live on that field!" At right is then-Sergeant Richard Kirkland who brought water to wounded Federals near the Stone Wall and who would die himself the following September in the battle at Chickamauga, Georgia.

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Above, Kirkland's statue stands in front of the Stone Wall where he brought aid to Federal wounded at the peril of his own life; below, Andrew Humphreys' statue graces a monument in the National Cemetery dedicated to the division he led in the final failed assault.

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#13
Excellent thread. Here's some more detail regarding the fighting during Gibbon's Advance.

As dawn broke on a cold foggy morning, the men of the 13th North Carolina infantry regiment were in position just behind and in support of nine pieces of Confederate artillery–3 batteries and one section of a battery under the overall command of Capt. Greenlee Davidson. The 13th N.C. regiment was commanded by Col. Alfred Scales and was part of Pender’s Brigade, A.P. Hill’s division, Jackson’s Corps.
Davidson’s guns were deployed around what had been a cluster of slave cabins on Alfred Bernard’s Mannsfield's plantation. The cabins had been torn down to clear the sight lines for the gunners.

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This shows the Confederate positions as the Federal assault began. The 13th NC is part of the line behind Davidson’s batteries.

The advanced guns under the command of Capt. J.B. Brockenborough slowed the Federals, but were brought under the concentrated fire of skirmishing infantry and 20 Federal batteries. After taking heavy casualties, they were forced to withdraw.

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The Federals are approaching Lane’s brigade, which is defending the railroad cut. Note the 13th and 22nd North Carolina behind Davidson’s batteries. Brockenborough’s artillery is now under the command of Lt. McKendree and has been repositioned just north of Davidson.

As the assault continued, the men of Lane’s brigade, deployed along the railroad cut, began to run out of ammunition. Eventually they were overwhelmed and forced back.

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Lane’s brigade defended from the wood line here, along the tracks. The Federal assault approached from the field beyond the tracks.

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During this time the federal artillery had been targeting Davidson’s guns at the Bernard cabins. The 13th and other supporting infantry behind the guns took heavy casualties in the shelling.

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A view from the railroad back toward the site of the Bernard cabins, just in advance of the woods in the distant foreground.

Eventually Pender’s brigade, including the 13th NC, participated in the counterattack that drove back the attackers and retook the railroad.

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This story is best told with maps. But to understand the experience of soldiers that day, it is better told in their voices.

John W. S. Guerrant of Rockingham County was a 20 year old private in the 13th N.C. on the day of the battle. Here is the story as told by him in a letter he wrote in 1915, at age 73.
“Our regiment supported a battery in an open field, with a body of woods immediately behind us, which was so badly riddled during the day with cannon balls, grape shot and shells that it looked like a tobacco field after a hail storm had struck it. A great many men of our regiment were killed or wounded on that occasion. We were lying on the ground when a shell or cannon ball went into the ground under a man by the name of Hawkins from Yanceyville (my note–he was Cpl. Charles O. Hawkins, of Company A—a 24-year-old farmer), and while he was not wounded at all, the concussion killed him immediately.
Another man, whose name was Soyers, also from Yanceyville, (my note—Thomas L. Sawyers, a 20 year old farmer in Company A) and who was seriously wounded, asked my old friend Tom Fitzgerald (my note—Richard Thomas Fitzgerald of Company A), who now lives at Ruffin, and was at that time a litter-bearer, and whose duty it was to take the wounded off the battlefield to assist him in getting off the field. Mr. Fitzgerald tried to impress Soyers what a hazardous undertaking it would be. Still Soyers insisted, and placing his arms around Fitzgerald’s neck they started, when immediately a piece of shell struck Soyers, tearing off a large portion of his side. Fitzgerald sat him down by a tree, where he died in a few hours.
That night a detail of fifty men—five from each company—was taken from our regiment. I was one of the number. We were carried out between the lines of battle among the dead and posted with instructions to be vigilant and alert, and if the enemy advanced we were to fire and retreat, otherwise to remain until we were relieved.
Heavy snow had fallen, a good deal of which was still lying on the north hillsides, yet we lay there all night to find the next morning that the enemy had covered the pontoon bridges with pine-tops and broom-straw to keep from being heard and had crossed the river.
I could mention a great many things that happened that day, but it would make my letter too long.
The first day after the battle we remained on the battlefield to bury the dead. The second day we marched some six or eight miles to a heavily timbered body of woods, where we soon stretched tents and built chimneys to them, and made ourselves comparatively comfortable.”​
In a letter from earlier that year John wrote, “While supporting a battery at Fredericksburg, John Tulloch, who was lying by my side, received the wound he will carry to his grave.” John Tulloch, a 22 year old “hireling” when he enlisted, was wounded in the left ankle and retired to the invalid corps.

John was promoted to Corporal, effective December 13, 1862, presumably for his service that day. With the promotion came a raise. John went from earning $11 per month, to $13 per month.
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John Wyatt Stubblefield Guerrant
 

James N.

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Part VII - Touring the Battlefield Today
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The Visitor Center for Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park is located adjacent to the Stone Wall at the base of Marye's Heights along the old Telegraph Road. The Park includes sites here at Fredericksburg and also nearby Chancellorsville, The Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and the Stonewall Jackson Shrine at Guinea Station where Stonewall died following the amputation of his arm at Chancellorsville. The museum here primarily interprets the battles of Fredericksburg, both the December, 1862 and subsequent one of May 3, 1863: for information about the latter, please see: https://www.civilwartalk.com/thread...cellorsville-may-1-5-1863.145416/post-1806090

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Exhibits include a film about the battle plus artifacts like the uniform of a member of Collis' Zouaves who fought Jackson's men at the Slaughter Farm, below, and a diorama above showing the devastation in Fredericksburg following the Union retreat back across the Rappahannock the night of December 15, 1862. From here a trail leads along the length of the Stone Wall and up Marye's Heights to the National Cemetery; a short distance west leads to the entrance to Lee Drive along which Confederate entrenchments and artillery emplacements can be seen all the way to Jackson's position at Prospect Hill.

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Fredericksburg National Cemetery
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Ferdericksburg National Cemetery was established atop Marye's Heights in the years following the war and contains the remains of fallen Federals from not only this battle but all the others fought in the vicinity, principally Chancellorsville, The Wilderness, and Spotsylvania Court House.

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During the battles here this ground served as a perfect platform for guns of the Confederate artillery batteries; above, ranks of the unknown Federal dead, and below, a monument dedicated to the Union Fifth Corps which fought here.

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James N.

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Part VIII - Fredericksburg Sources
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Since Fredericksburg is unquestionably one of the great battles of the Civil War it is covered to a greater or lesser degree in all general histories and biographies of principals such as Lee, Jackson, Burnside, and some others. However, unlike Gettysburg, Vicksburg, and even its "companion" Chancellorsville it suffers somewhat by comparison. Although there are probably additional newer individual studies, two older ones I have are both titled The Fredericksburg Campaign, one from the 1950's by military historian and publisher Lt. Gen. Edward Stackpole and a more recent Ca. 1990 volume in the series Great Campaigns by Victor Brooks. Both provide good overall accounts, though Stackpole goes into more depth, not to forget the addition of the excellent maps by his longtime collaborator Col. Wilbur S. Nye that add a great deal to understanding the various phases of the action. A volume in the 1990's Time-Life series The Civil War entitled Rebels Resurgent which covers both Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville in a lively manner in fewer than two hundred pages.

The battle figures in reminiscences and memoirs of Northern and Southern participants but the best I've read is My Life in the Irish Brigade by William McCarter who was a member of the 118th Pennsylvania. This short volume contains a record of McCarter's brief service as a member of the brigade in the fall of 1862 from his enlistment in Philadelphia until his serious wounding at Fredericksburg which rendered him unfit for further service. Since this was his only battle he goes to great length to describe his part in it including a terrible period lying wounded on the battlefield, in a makeshift "hospital" in the attic of a house in town, and finally his removal to a more normalized general hospital back in Alexandria, Virginia. Rounding out the sources is another more famous memoir, Hospital Sketches by Louisa May Alcott; although it takes place in another medical institution in Alexandria, Alcott's equally brief service concerned treating the wounded from the battle and joined with the McCarter work give a pretty complete idea of the difficulties involved and sufferings occasioned. Another Time-Life volume in the series Voices of the Civil War called Fredericksburg (pictured above) collects first-person accounts from officers, soldiers, and civilians of both sides along with period photos, maps, and drawings together with modern photos of artifacts to present a well-rounded account of the battle and its aftermath.

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gary

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#17
What time did Lee summon Jackson's Corps up from down river and what were their arrival times?

Can any positively ID these officers who are with Lee?
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Jimklag

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#19
Part III - Meade Breaks Jackson's Line
View attachment 213838 The men of the 114th Pennsylvania or Collis's Zouaves, charge through the aptly named Slaughter Pen to assault Jackson's line in the edge of the woods in the background in a painting by Carl Rochling.

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Stonewall Jackson had established his line as an extension of that of fellow corps commander James Longstreet from the right of Hood's Division of the First Corps to Prospect Hill in shallow trenches like those above and below. At the time of the battle this was at the edge of a considerable wood overlooking cleared land all the to and past the railroad embankment and on to the river, offering a clear view of the Federal deployment and advance.

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As indicated on the National Battlefield Trust map above, the assault of the Union First Corps and its aftermath wasn't exactly a clean, orderly maneuver - units advanced and retired under heavy fire in somewhat confused order, broken by the unevenness of the ground and the necessity of crossing the railroad embankment. After they were repulsed an attempt by Jackson to lead a counterattack was similarly doomed.

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Unfortunately for the Confederates, their front was interrupted by a rather large marsh or area of boggy ground thought to be too difficult for formed troops to pass through. Despite Jackson's direct instructions to A. P. Hill to see to it the area was secured, somewhere there was a fatal breakdown in communications leaving the spot unprotected. It was through this gap that the division of George Meade struck, passing unobserved through it and scattering the brigade of Brig. Gen. Maxey Gregg behind the gap and driving a wedge into Jackson's line. Although ably supported on his right by Gibbon's division, Meade was ejected by the timely arrival of Confederates from Jubal Early's supporting division.

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Above, left to right: Maj. Gen. A. P. Hill, whose neglect of the gap in his lines created a temporary crisis until it could be plugged by Early's supporting division; Brig. Gen. Maxey Gregg, who was mortally wounded in Meade's onslaught, had previously quarreled with Jackson but reconciled with him on his deathbed; and Maj. John "The Gallant" Pelham who commanded Stuart's Horse Artillery until his untimely death at Kelly's Ford on the Rappahannock in March, 1863.

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Following the repulse of Meade's division the Federals withdrew back across the railroad to a position on the Richmond Stage Road covering their bridgehead. As usual, the ever-pugnacious Jackson sought a way throughout the rest of the afternoon to counterattack, going so far as to advance his infantry onto the vacated open plain where severe Federal artillery fire soon convinced him to return to his original position. The fire was so severe as to give the name Dead Horse Hill to the exposed and overmatched Confederate artillery position above.

Next, Part IV - Marye's Heights
Great thread. The right wing (Confederate) of the battlefield at Fredericksburg is a gem and is visited by only a fraction of the people who visit Marye's Heights to their bad luck. It is my favorite part of that field.
 

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