December 13, 2005

Gratuitous Historickal Posting (TM)


Today is the anniversary of the Battle of Fredericksburg, fought in 1862, in which Union General Ambrose Burnside launched a virtually suicidal frontal assault from the streets of the town against Lee's army, heavily entrenched on the hills immediately behind it. Here is an overall map of the battle front:

Battle Map.gif

Here is an account of the battle, the decisive day of which (today) was the culmination of several days worth of manuevering along and across the river. By the time it was all over, the Federals had lost more than 12,000 men, the majority of them attempting to storm Marye's Height.

The Missus and I were in Fredericksburg a few weeks ago and hiked up Telegraph Hill to the spot where Lee had his headquarters during the battle. There are too many trees now to get any real sense of what Lee could have seen from this position. However, it was at this spot that, as he watched the Federal troops blown to pieces, Lee is supposed to have turned to General Longstreet and said, "It is well that war is so terrible. We should grow too fond of it."

UPDATE: By the way, I know the painting above depicts the Federal bridging of the Rappahanock on December 11, but it is found in one of my childhood Civil War books and has a certain sentimental value to me.

UPDATE DEUX: Here's a picture of the fighting on December 13 as seen from the Confederate perspective - artillery on the heights and fortified infantry position at the base of the hill:

Image courtesy of Kenmore House.

Posted by Robert at December 13, 2005 09:04 AM | TrackBack

Go watch Gods and Generals, the portrayal of Fredericksburg is pretty good (not to mention my husband is right behind Jeff Daniels on the way up the hill).'re historical postings are why I keep coming back!!!

Posted by: GroovyVic at December 13, 2005 02:20 PM

Prior the battle, after his battery's guns were in place and ready on Marye's Heights, a Confederate artillary officer predicted "a chicken couldn't live on that field when I open on it". He was right

Posted by: KMR at December 13, 2005 07:51 PM

Jeebus, Burnside was an idiot.

What that little article doesn't mention is that the "river" is Anetietam Creek. I have waded across it at that very spot as a kid, and the bridge would have made great cover for a force wading in strength.

Posted by: John at December 14, 2005 01:52 PM