However, Burnside demurred and the order did not reach Franklin until 7:15 or 7:45 a.m. Gen. Winfield S. Hancock to support French and Hancock sent forward his brigade under Col. Samuel K. Zook behind Palmer's. 25–32; Eicher, p. 397; Welcher, p. 700; Kennedy, p. 145; Salmon, p. 145. battle of fredericksburg confederate casualties 390–429; Rable, pp. Kimball was severely wounded during the assault, and his brigade suffered 25% casualties. "[61], Reactions were opposite in the North, and both the Army and President Lincoln came under strong attacks from politicians and the press. After two hours of desperate fighting, four Union divisions had failed in the mission Burnside had originally assigned to one. The Second Battle of Fredericksburg, also known as the Second Battle of Marye's Heights, took place on May 3, 1863, in Fredericksburg, Virginia, as part of the Chancellorsville Campaign of the American Civil War. She received her bachelor’s degree in philosophy and creative writing in 2020 at the University of Iowa. 85–86; Rable, pp. Give it to them!" Skirmishing and artillery duels continued until dark, but no additional major attacks took place, while the center of the battle moved north to Marye's Heights. Eventually some of the Federals reached the crest of the ridge and had some success during hand-to-hand fighting—men on both sides had depleted their ammunition and resorted to bayonets and rifle butts, and even empty rifles with bayonets thrown like javelins—but they were forced to withdraw back across the railroad embankment along with Meade's men to their left. Eicher, pp. Gens. 211–14; O'Reilly, pp. [citation needed], Major battle (1862) of the American Civil War. The plan relied on quick movement and deception. 53–58. Crossings resumed at dawn and were completed by 1 p.m. on December 12. Gen. Joseph B. Kershaw, Kirkland gathered canteens and in broad daylight, without the benefit of a cease fire or a flag of truce (refused by Kershaw), provided water to numerous Union wounded lying on the field of battle. Edwin V. Sumner and Joseph Hooker to launch multiple frontal assaults against Lt. Gen. James Longstreet's position on Marye's Heights – all were repulsed with heavy losses. Gallagher, p. 23, "nearly 8,000." By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. He would concentrate his army in a visible fashion near Warrenton, feigning a movement on Culpeper Court House, Orange Court House or Gordonsville. 80–84; Welcher, p. 710; O'Reilly, pp. John G. Hazard's Battery B, 1st Rhode Island Light Artillery, to within 150 yards of the Confederate line. On December 13, the Left Grand Division of Maj. Gen. William B. Franklin was able to pierce the first defensive line of Confederate Lt. Gen. Stonewall Jackson to the south, but was finally repulsed. 398–99; Goolrick, pp. Burnside ordered the Right and Center Grand Divisions of Maj. Gens. Gregg at first mistook the Union soldiers for fleeing Confederate troops and ordered his men not to fire on them. Corrections? Lee’s army wintered along the Rappahannock, and, when Union forces once again crossed the river in the spring, he won what was perhaps his most audacious victory, at Chancellorsville in May. The Battle of Chancellorsville casualties totaled 12,764 from the Confederate side and 17,287 from the Union side.This battle is considered to be the heigh of Robert E. Lee’s military career. [27], The Union artillery fire was lifted as Meade's men moved forward around 1 p.m. Jackson's force of about 35,000 remained concealed on the wooded ridge to Meade's front. While he sat down to wait for them, Lee moved into a strong position on the south bank, with his left flank on the river above Fredericksburg and his right near Hamilton’s Crossing on the Richmond railway. The 19th Georgia's flag was captured by the adjutant of the 7th Pennsylvania Reserves; it was the only Confederate regimental flag captured and retained by the Army of the Potomac in the battle. Civilian casualties were unusually low given the widespread violence; George Rable estimates no more than four civilian deaths. Before the Wall. The Cincinnati Commercial wrote, "It can hardly be in human nature for men to show more valor or generals to manifest less judgment, than were perceptible on our side that day." Humphreys led his first brigade on horseback, with his men moving over and around fallen troops with fixed bayonets and unloaded rifles; some of the fallen men clutched at the passing pant legs, urging their comrades not to go forward, causing the brigade to become disorganized in their advance. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. Union troops prepared to assault Confederate defensive positions south of the city and on a strongly fortified ridge just west of the city known as Marye's Heights. 2–3; Kennedy, p. 145; O'Reilly, p. 137. Omissions? Between 11:00 AM and dusk seven union divisions attacked one after the other, often attacking a brigade at a time. The fighting cost the Federals 12,600 killed, wounded, or missing, while the Confederates sustained 5,300 casualties. A visitor to the battlefield described the battle to U.S. President Abraham Lincoln as a "butchery". Kathleen Lohnes was an editorial intern at Encyclopaedia Britannica in 2017 and 2018. Goolrick, p. 84; O'Reilly, pp. McClellan had stopped General Robert E. Lee's forces at the Battle of Antietam in Maryland, but had not been able to destroy Lee's army, nor did he pursue Lee back into Virginia aggressively enough for Lincoln. The next day the Federal forces retreated across the river, and the campaign came to an end. O'Reilly, pp. 219–20; O'Reilly, pp. General Longstreet had been assured by his artillery commander, Lt. Col. Edward Porter Alexander, "General, we cover that ground now so well that we will comb it as with a fine-tooth comb. Hill's at Thomas Yerby's house, "Belvoir", about 6 miles southeast of town; and Taliaferro's along the RF&P Railroad, 4 miles south at Guinea Station. Although each had been turned back, those armies remained intact and capable of further action. Gen. Nelson Taylor proposed to Gibbon that they supplement Meade's assault with a bayonet charge against Lane's position. Hooker's Center Grand Division crossed on December 13, using both the northern and southern bridges. Neither Franklin nor Reynolds took any personal involvement in the battle, and were unavailable to their subordinates at the critical point. Once again he squandered his opportunity. [73], The battle of Fredericksburg and what led up to it, and the nearly disastrous aftermath of the battle on Lincoln's administration, which faced U.S. Senate efforts to usurp Lincoln's role as commander in chief, is the subject of the novel "The Wastage," by Dean Halliday Smith. Stationed at the stone wall by the sunken road below Marye's Heights, Kirkland had a close up view to the suffering and like so many others was appalled at the cries for help of the Union wounded throughout the cold winter night of December 13, 1862. 273–323; Rable, pp. He would then rapidly shift his army southeast and cross the Rappahannock River to Fredericksburg, hoping that Lee would not move, unclear as to Burnside's intentions, while the Union Army made a rapid movement against Richmond, south along the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad (RF&P) from Fredericksburg. [41], While the Union Army paused, Longstreet reinforced his line so that there were four ranks of infantrymen behind the stone wall. This behavior enraged Lee, who compared their depredations with those of the ancient Vandals. Gen. David B. Birney, whose division of the III Corps had been designated to support the attack as well. James Archer meanwhile was being pressed hard on his left flank and sent word for Gregg to reinforce him, unaware that he had been shot and his brigade had disintegrated. This resulted in a majority of Republican senators voting for the removal of Secretary of State William Seward—the chosen scapegoat for the battle’s administrative blunders. Col. Atkinson was struck in the shoulder by canister shot and abandoned by his own brigade; Union soldiers later found and took him prisoner. 113,897 (deduct cavalry of Right and Centre Grand Divisions) according to Livermore, p. 96. That night, Burnside attempted to blame his subordinates for the disastrous attacks, but they argued that it was entirely his fault and no one else's. Maj. Gen. Edwin Vose Sumner, commanding the Union right, was to cross at Fredericksburg, and Maj. Gen. William B. Franklin commanded the left some miles below, while the centre, under Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker, was to connect the two attacks and reinforce either at need. The battle’s outcome—a crushing Union defeat—immeasurably strengthened the Confederate cause. A canal stood about 200 yards west of the town, crossed by three narrow bridges, which would require the Union troops to funnel themselves into columns before proceeding. [44], A soldier in Hancock's division reported movement in the Confederate line that led some to believe that the enemy might be retreating. 57–126; Eicher, pp. James H. Lane and James J. Archer. Longstreet Account. [63], The Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park was established in 1927 under the War Department and transferred to the National Park Service in 1933. Confederate soldiers were strategically placed behind a stone wall along the Sunken Road. The battle of Fredericksburg (December 11-15, 1862) was a decisive Confederate victory, with the Union suffering more than 12,000 casualties. With ammunition on both sides running low, hand-to-hand fighting ensued with soldiers stabbing at each other with bayonets and using muskets as clubs. One of the most one-sided battles of the Civil War, the Battle of Fredericksburg cost the Army of the Potomac 1,284 killed, 9,600 wounded, and 1,769 captured/missing. Confederate armies had been on the move earlier in the fall, invading Kentucky and Maryland. The casualties sustained by each army showed clearly how disastrous the Union army's tactics were. Rush Hawkins's brigade, followed by Col. Edward Harland's brigade, moved along an unfinished railroad line just north of Hazel Run, approaching close to the Confederate line without detection in the gathering twilight, but they were eventually detected, fired on, and repulsed. "[62] Burnside was relieved of command a month later, following an unsuccessful attempt to purge some of his subordinates from the Army and the humiliating failure of his "Mud March" in January. Miles suggested to Caldwell that the practice of marching in formation, firing, and stopping to reload, made the Union soldiers easy targets, and that a concerted bayonet charge might be effective in carrying the works. [citation needed], In March 2003, the Civil War Trust (a division of the American Battlefield Trust) announced the beginning of a $12 million national campaign to preserve the historic Slaughter Pen Farm, a key part of the Fredericksburg battlefield. Kirkland was nicknamed the "Angel of Marye's Heights" for these actions, and is memorialized with a statue by Felix de Weldon on the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park where he carried out his actions. 73–77; Welcher, pp. Gen. Joseph B. Kershaw. Gen. George Washington Cullum, the chief of staff in Washington (received on November 9). Gen. George Sykes was ordered to move forward with his V Corps regular army division to support Humphreys's retreat, but his men were caught in a crossfire and pinned down. Union soldiers held their fire as it was obvious what Kirkland's intent was. Maxcy Gregg and T. R. R. Cobb were both mortally wounded. The Confederate army lost 5,377 (608 killed, 4,116 wounded, 653 captured/missing),[12][58] most of them in the early fighting on Jackson's front. Hiram G. Berry and John C. Robinson, which broke the Rebel advance that had threatened to drive the Union into the river. This page was last edited on 17 December 2020, at 19:25. [71], The Battle of Fredericksburg was depicted in the 2003 film Gods and Generals, based on the novel of the same name, a prequel of The Killer Angels from which the earlier film Gettysburg was adapted. Many blamed Lincoln, claiming that he had allowed Burnside to embark on an offensive that was inevitably going to fail. [23], The clearing of the city buildings by Sumner's infantry and by artillery fire from across the river began the first major urban combat of both the war and American history. The Battle of Fredericksburg was a resounding Confederate tactical victory, as the lopsided casualty figures suggest. Both the novel and film focused primarily on the disastrous charges on Marye's Heights, with the movie highlighting the charges of Hancock's division of II Corps, the Irish Brigade, Caldwell's brigade, and Zook's brigade, and the 20th Maine Infantry Regiment (V Corps). Eventually Burnside's artillery commander, Brig. Gen. William H. French's division of the II Corps prepared to move forward, subjected to Confederate artillery fire that was descending on the fog-covered city of Fredericksburg. The Battle of Fredericksburg was fought December 11–15, 1862, in and around Fredericksburg, Virginia, in the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War. "[42], By mid-afternoon, Burnside had failed on both flanks to make progress against the Confederates. The attack did not have the benefit of a gap to exploit, nor did the Union soldiers have any wooded cover for their advance, so progress was slow under heavy fire from Lane's brigade and Confederate artillery. While Burnside began assembling a supply base at Falmouth, near Fredericksburg, the Lincoln administration undertook a lengthy debate about the wisdom of his plan, which differed from the president's preference of a movement south on the O&A and a direct confrontation with Lee's army instead of the movement focused on the city of Richmond. The maneuver was successful and by April 30, elements of Hooker's Army of the Potomac had reached the crossroads of Chancellorsville, nine miles in Lee's rear. Historians differ in reporting Union casualties in the Marye's Heights sector. Battle of Fredericksburg, (December 11–15, 1862), bloody engagement of the American Civil War fought at Fredericksburg, Virginia, between Union forces under Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside and the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia under Gen. Robert E. Lee. The plan was sent to the attention of Brig. Gen. Feger Jackson) turned left and hit Archer's flank. Brig. The money was provided through a U.S. Congressional appropriation from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Some soldiers were able to get as close as 40 yards, but having suffered severe casualties from both the artillery and infantry fire, the survivors clung to the ground. Caldwell himself was soon struck by two bullets and put out of action. Although some of the Confederates surrendered, fighting proceeded street by street through the town as the engineers completed the bridges. Also concerned about Sturgis, Couch sent the six guns of Capt. Goolrick, p. 779, agrees with this figure. By November 23, the corps commanded by Lt. Gen. James Longstreet had arrived and Lee placed them on the ridge known as Marye's Heights to the west of town, with Anderson's division on the far left, McLaws's directly behind the town, and Pickett's and Hood's to the right. Goolrick, p. 87, cites 7,000. Heavy artillery fire from Longstreet's men prevents Union troops from advancing, and thousands are killed. Others criticized the competence of Lincoln’s cabinet choices. Any further Confederate advance was deterred by the arrival of the III Corps division of Brig. Despite the unlikeliness of this supposition, the V Corps division of Brig. 180–87; Center for Military History, pp. Jackson's main artillery batteries had remained silent in the fog during this exchange, but the Union troops soon began to receive direct fire from Prospect Hill, principally five batteries directed by Lt. Col. Reuben Lindsay Walker, and Meade's attack was stalled about 600 yards from his initial objective for almost two hours by these combined artillery attacks. While he rode prominently in front of his lines, the partially deaf Gregg could not hear the approaching Federals or their bullets flying around him. Gen. James J. Archer, and Col. John M. Brockenbrough to charge forward out of the railroad ditches, driving Meade's men from the woods in a disorderly retreat, followed closely by Gibbon's. Birney claimed that his men had been subjected to damaging artillery fire as they formed up, that he had not understood the importance of Meade's attack, and that Reynolds had not ordered his division forward. Leading his two regiments on the left, Col. Nelson A. Immediately following Taylor was the brigade of Col. Peter Lyle, and the advance of the two brigades ground to a halt before they reached the railroad. Gens. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. [51], During a dinner meeting the evening of December 13, Burnside dramatically announced that he would personally lead his old IX Corps in one final attack on Marye's Heights, but his generals talked him out of it the following morning. Is the Richard Kirkland Story True? 237–43. These included ammunition, smoking pipes, and food tins. Gens. That afternoon, Burnside asked Lee for a truce to attend to his wounded, which the latter granted. The full complement of bridges arrived at the end of the month, but by this time Jackson was present and Longstreet was preparing strong defenses. Maxcy Gregg and T. R. R. Cobbwere both mortally wounded. Massed artillery provided almost uninterrupted coverage of the plain below. The senators also pushed for Lincoln to reorganize his cabinet, something Lincoln refused to do. Now Meade's men were receiving fire from three sides and could not withstand the pressure. With the battle all but over, the cries of the wounded begging for water could be heard all through "no man's land", the ground between the armies. The following Confederate States Army units and commanders fought in the Battle of Fredericksburg of the American Civil War.Order of battle compiled from the army organization during the campaign. For the Confederates, casualties were 608 killed, 4,116 wounded, and 653 captured/missing. Burnside's plan was to cross the Rappahannock River at Fredericksburg in mid-November and race to the Confederate capital of Richmond before Lee's army could stop him. Brig. [49] The falling of darkness and the pleas of Burnside's subordinates were enough to put an end to the attacks. They were hit hard by Confederate sharpshooter and artillery fire and provided no effective relief to Sturgis. Gen. Nathan Kimball began to move around noon. O'Reilly, p. 363; Eicher, p. 403; Goolrick, p. 85; Rable, p. 254; Marvel, pp. Welcher, p. 710; O'Reilly, pp. Lee's Account of Fredericksburg. (Although popularly known as Marye's Heights, the ridge was composed of several hills separated by ravines, from north to south: Taylor's Hill, Stansbury Hill, Marye's Hill, and Willis Hill.) 363–88. We had really accomplished nothing; we had not gained a foot of ground, and I knew the enemy could easily replace the men he had lost, and the loss of material was, if anything, rather beneficial to him, as it gave an opportunity to contractors to make money. 65–67; Rable, pp. XI Corps at Fairfax Court-House; XII Corps at Harper's Ferry. [45], By 4 p.m., Hooker had returned from his meeting with Burnside, having failed to convince the commanding general to abandon the attacks. [37], On the northern end of the battlefield, Brig. Hill's division's line, a triangular patch of the woods that extended beyond the railroad was swampy and covered with thick underbrush and the Confederates had left a 600-yard gap there between the brigades of Brig. Burnside first requisitioned the pontoon bridging (along with many other provisions) on November 7 when he detailed his plan to Halleck. 709–10. Gallagher, p. vii, discusses the exact wording of Lee's famous quotation. Although the Union vastly outnumbered the Confederates (120,000 Union men to 85,000 Confederate men) they suffered over twice as many casualties (12,653 to 5,377). Disposition of forces prior to the Battle of Fredericksburg. The fighting on this southern portion of the battlefield, later named the Slaughter Pen, produced 5,000 casualties and five Medal of Honor recipients. Invading Kentucky and Maryland fire on them a chicken could not withstand the pressure Wilcox... 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