RARE Civil War Soldier Artist Hopkins Orig Drawing & Papers Nashville Camp 1865 For Sale
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RARE Civil War Soldier Artist Hopkins Orig Drawing & Papers Nashville Camp 1865:
VERY RARE Original Civil War Drawing & Ephemera
Known Soldier & Artist - Owen J. Hopkins
182nd Ohio VolunteersNashville, Tenn., etc.
For offer, a rare ephemera lot! Fresh from a prominent estate.Vintage, Old, Original, Antique, NOTa Reproduction - Guaranteed !!
A great find - the items shown were found folded up inside the envelope (shown). O.J. Hopkins / Owen Johnston Hopkins is known for his drawings used in the extensive landmark book Andersonville: a story of Rebel military prisons, by John McElroy, published in 1879. Hopkins is also known for his eloquentlywritten letters and diaries, published under the title Under the flag of a nation - through Ohio State University. He served in the 42nd OVI and the 182nd OVI.
The drawing offered here for sale was done by Hopkins, detailing a Camp / Office of the 182nd OVI, Nashville, Tennessee, March 28th, 1865, just days before the end of the Civil War. Identified in the drawing are the sentinel, Adj. office, another sentinel, Col's office, Q.M. Office, house, etc. The card with canon imprinted on it, and calling card to Mr. Hopkins, from Toledo, Ohio, I believe is from after the war when he was Captain of battery D, First Atillery, ONG - Ohio National Guard. There is an autograph note, signed, on back about meeting someone in Washington - Annie - probably his daughter. The cover / envelope, from the war, is dated Dec. 1864, and addressed to future wife, Miss Julia Allison, Bellefontaine, OH - they were married in Feb., 1865.
A unique - one of a kind - original little archive intact. In good condition overall - as shown in photos.Please seephotos. If you collect19thcentury Americana history, American art, military, etc.this is a treasureyou will not see again!Add this to your image orpaper/ ephemera collection.Important genealogy research importance too. Combine shipping on multiple offer wins! 2212
Husband to Julia Sophronia Allison, they married Feb 24, 1865 in Logan County, Ohio. Served in the Civil War, the 42nd OVI and the 182nd OVI.
The 182nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry (or 182nd OVI) was an infantry regiment in the Union Army during the American Civil War.
The 182nd Ohio Infantry was organized at Camp Chase in Columbus, Ohio August 4 through October 13, 1864, and mustered in for one year service on October 27, 1864, under the command of Colonel Lewis Butler. Five companies were first organized at Camp Toledo in Toledo, Ohio, before being sent to Camp Chase to complete organization of the regiment.
The regiment was attached to Post and Defenses of Nashville, Tennessee, Department of the Cumberland, to December 1864. 2nd Brigade, 4th Division, XX Corps, Department of the Cumberland, to March 1865. Garrison at Nashville, Tennessee, Department of the Cumberland, to July 1865.
The 182nd Ohio Infantry mustered out of service July 7, 1865, at Nashville, Tennessee, and was discharged at Camp Chase on July 13, 1865.
This regiment was organized in the state at large from Aug. 4 to Oct. 27, 1864, to serve for one year. On Nov. 1 it was ordered to Nashville Tenn., and on the 6th joined Gen. Thomas' forces at that place. The regiment took part in the Battle of Nashville, where it remained performing guard and provost duty until July 7, 1865, when it was mustered out in accordance with orders from the war department.
The regiment lost a total of 61 enlisted men during service, all due to disease.
Colonel Lewis Butler
Lieutenant Colonel John A. Chase
The 42nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry (or 42nd OVI) was an infantry regiment in the Union Army during the American Civil War.
The 42nd Ohio Infantry was organized at Camp Chase in Columbus, Ohio September through November 1861 and mustered in for three years service on December 7, 1861, under the command of Colonel James Abram Garfield.
The regiment was attached to 18th Brigade, Army of the Ohio, to March 1862. 26th Brigade, 7th Division, Army of the Ohio, to October 1862. 4th Brigade, Cumberland Division, District of West Virginia, Department of the Ohio, to November 1862. 3rd Brigade, 9th Division, Right Wing, XIII Corps, Department of the Tennessee, to December 1862. 3rd Brigade, 3rd Division, Sherman's Yazoo Expedition, to January 1863. 3rd Brigade, 9th Division, XIII Corps, Army of the Tennessee, to February 1863. 2nd Brigade, 9th Division, XIII Corps, to July 1863. 4th Brigade, 1st Division, XIII Corps, Department of the Tennessee, to August 1863, and Department of the Gulf to September 1863. 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, XIII Corps, Department of the Gulf, to November 1863. Plaquemine, District of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Department of the Gulf, to March 1864. 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, XIII Corps, Department of the Gulf, to June 1864. 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, XIX Corps, to December 1864.
Companies A, B, C, and D mustered out September 30, 1864; companies E and F mustered out November 25, 1864; companies G, H, I, and K mustered out December 2, 1864 (all at Camp Chase). Veterans and recruits were transferred to the 96th Ohio Infantry.
Moved to Catlettsburg, Ky., December 14, 1861; then to Louisa, Ky. Garfield's Campaign against Humphrey Marshall December 23, 1861, to January 30, 1862. Advance on Paintsville, Ky., December 31, 1861, to January 7, 1862. Jennies Creek January 7. Occupation of Paintsville January 8. Middle Creek, near Prestonburg, January 10. Occupation of Prestonburg January 11. Expedition to Pound Gap, Cumberland Mountains, March 14–17, Pound Gap March 16. Cumberland Gap Campaign March 28-June 18. Cumberland Mountain April 28. Occupation of Cumberland Gap June 18 to September 16. Tazewell July 26. Operations about Cumberland Gap August 2–6. Big Springs August 3. Tazewell August 6. Evacuation of Cumberland Gap and retreat to the Ohio River September 17-October 3. Expedition to Charleston October 21-November 10. Ordered to Memphis, Tenn., November 10, and duty there until December 20. Sherman's Yazoo Expedition December 20, 1862, to January 3, 1863. Chickasaw Bayou December 26–28. Chickasaw Bluff December 29. Expedition to Arkansas Post, Ark., January 3–10, 1863. Assault and capture of Fort Hindman, Arkansas Post, January 10–11. Moved to Young's Point, La., January 17. Duty there and at Milliken's Bend, La., until April 25. Operations from Milliken's Bend to New Carthage March 31-April 17. Movement on Bruinsburg, Mississippi and turning Grand Gulf April 25–30. Battle of Port Gibson May 1. Skirmish near Edwards Station May 15. Battle of Champion Hill May 16. Big Black River May 17. Siege of Vicksburg, Miss., May 18-July 4. Assaults on Vicksburg May 19 and 22. Advance on Jackson, Miss., July 5–10. Near Clinton July 8. Siege of Jackson July 10–17, Moved to New Orleans, La., August 13. Duty at Carrollton, Berwick, and Brashear City until October. Western Louisiana Campaign October 3-November 20. Duty at Plaquemine November 21, 1863, to March 24, 1864. Provost duty at Baton Rouge until May 1. Expedition to Clinton May 1–3. Comite River May 1. Moved to Simsport May 18, thence to Morganza and duty there until September 6. Expeditions up White River July 15 and September 6–15. Moved to Duvall's Bluff, Ark., September 15, and duty there until November.
The regiment lost a total of 240 men during service; 1 officer and 58 enlisted men killed or mortally wounded, 3 officers and 178 enlisted men died of disease.
Colonel James Abram Garfield
Colonel Lionel Allen Sheldon
Lieutenant Colonel Don Albert Pardee - commanded during the siege of Vicksburg
Major Frederick A. Williams - commanded at the Battle of Champion Hill
Colonel James A. Garfield - 20th President of the United States, 1881
Colonel Lionel Allen Sheldon - U.S. Representative from Louisiana (1869–1875) and Governor of New Mexico Territory, 1881-1885.
Don Pardee - Commanded the 42 OVI in the assault on Vicksburg. Appointed by President Garfield a United States federal judge, United States circuit court for the Fifth Circuit (1881-1917)
Orlando C. Risdon - 1LT in the 42 OVI was promoted to LTC of United States Colored Troops in 1863. Promoted Colonel and Commander of 53d Regiment USCT 1864. Promoted Brigadier General (Brevet) March 13, 1865. <Whitelaw Reid, 'Ohio in the War' p. 982>
During the American Civil War, the State of Ohio played a key role in providing troops, military officers, and supplies to the Union army. Due to its central location in the Northern United States and burgeoning population, Ohio was both politically and logistically important to the war effort. Despite the state's boasting a number of very powerful Republican politicians, it was divided politically. Portions of Southern Ohio followed the Peace Democrats and openly opposed President Abraham Lincoln's policies. Ohio played an important part in the Underground Railroad prior to the war, and remained a haven for escaped and runaway slaves during the war years.
The third most populous state in the Union at the time, Ohio raised nearly 320,000 soldiers for the Union army, third behind only New York and Pennsylvania in total manpower contributed to the military and the highest per capita of any Union state. Several leading generals were from Ohio, including Ulysses S. Grant, William T. Sherman, and Philip H. Sheridan. Five Ohio-born Civil War officers would later serve as the President of the United States. The Fighting McCooks gained fame as the largest immediate family group ever to become officers in the U.S. Army.
The state was spared many of the horrors of war as only two minor battles were fought within its borders. Morgan's Raid in the summer of 1863 spread fear but little damage. Ohio troops fought in nearly every major campaign during the war. Nearly 7,000 Buckeye soldiers were killed in action. Its most significant Civil War site is Johnson's Island, located in Sandusky Bay of Lake Erie. Barracks and outbuildings were constructed for a prisoner of war depot, intended chiefly for officers. Over three years more than 15,000 Confederate men were held there. The island includes a Confederate cemetery where about 300 men were buried.
Ohio politics during the War
Much of southern Ohio's economy depended upon trade with the South across the Ohio River, which had served for years as passage and a link with the slave states of Virginia and Kentucky. The culture of southern Ohio was closer to those states than it was to northern parts of the state, owing to many settlers coming from the South and being formerly territory of the state of Virginia as part of the Virginia Military District. Most of the state's population was solidly against secession. During the 1860 Presidential Election, Ohio voted in favor of Abraham Lincoln (231,709 votes or 52.3% of the ballots cast) over Stephen Douglas (187,421; 42.3%), John C. Breckinridge (11,406; 2.6%), and John Bell (12,194; 2.8%).
A number of men with Ohio ties would serve important roles in Lincoln's Cabinet and administration, including Steubenville's Edwin M. Stanton as Attorney General and then Secretary of War, and former Ohio U.S. Senator and Governor Salmon P. Chase as Secretary of the Treasury. Prominent Ohio politicians in Congress included Senators John Sherman and Benjamin F. Wade.
During the war, three men would serve as Governor of Ohio– William Dennison, David Tod and John Brough. Without being asked by the War Department, Dennison sent Ohio troops into western Virginia, where they guarded the Wheeling Convention. The convention led to the admission of West Virginia as a free state. Tod became known as "the soldier's friend," for his determined efforts to help equip and sustain Ohio's troops. He was noted for his quick response in calling out the state militia to battle Confederate raiders. Brough strongly supported the Lincoln Administration's war efforts and was key to persuading other Midwestern governors to raise 100-day regiments, such as the 131st Ohio Infantry in early 1864, to release more seasoned troops for duty in Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's spring campaign.
Through the middle of the war, the Copperhead movement had appeal in Ohio, driven in part by noted states rights advocate, Congressman Clement Vallandigham, a leading Peace Democrat. After General Ambrose E. Burnside issued General Order Number 38 in early 1863, warning that the "habit of declaring sympathies for the enemy" would not be tolerated in the Military District of Ohio, Vallandigham gave a major speech charging the war was being fought not to save the Union, but to free blacks and enslave whites.
Burnside ordered his arrest and took Vallandigham to Cincinnati for trial. At the trial, Vallandigham was found guilty. The court sentenced him to prison for the duration of the war. President Lincoln attempted to quiet the situation by writing the Birchard Letter, which offered to release Vallandigham if several Ohio congressmen agreed to support certain policies of the Administration. To try to prevent political backlash and preserve authority of Gen. Burnside, Abraham Lincoln changed Vallandigham's sentence to banishment to the South. The threat was imprisonment if Vallandigham returned to northern soil. The South allowed Vallandigham to migrate to Canada, from where he ran an unsuccessful campaign for governor against Brough in 1863. Vallandigham's campaign bitterly divided much of Ohio, Vallandigham's votes were especially heavy in central and northwestern Ohio. He lost his home county of Montgomery (Dayton) but by a narrow margin.
Public sentiment shifted more in favor of the Lincoln Administration, particularly as Ohio generals rose in prominence, with military successes in the Atlanta Campaign, the Siege of Petersburg, and Sheridan's Valley Campaigns. In the 1864 Presidential Election, Ohio strongly supported Lincoln's reelection. The state gave the president 265,674 votes (56.4% of the total) versus 205,609 votes (43.6%) for General George McClellan.
En route to Washington, D.C. for his inauguration, President Lincoln passed through Ohio by train, with brief stops in numerous cities. His first formal speech given after his election was in Hudson, Ohio, a stop he made en route to Cleveland. Although Lincoln had visited the state several times before the war, he would not return during the Civil War. In 1865 his funeral train carried his body through the state, bound for Springfield, Illinois.
Newspapers engaged in very lively discussion of war issues, from the Republican, War Democrat and Copperhead perspectives.
Camp Dennison near Cincinnati, Ohio, set up to train and drill Ohio soldiers.
At the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, in response to a call to arms by President Lincoln, Ohio raised 23 volunteer infantry regiments for three months' service, 10 more regiments than the state's quota. When it became evident that the war would not end quickly, Ohio began raising regiments for three-year terms of enlistment. At first the majority were stocked with eager volunteers and recruits. Before the war's end, they would be joined by 8,750 draftees.
Nearly 320,000 Ohioans served in the Union army, more than any other northern state except New York and Pennsylvania. Of these, 5,092 were free blacks. Ohio had the highest percentage of population enlisted in the military of any state. Sixty percent of all the men between the ages of 18 and 45 were in the service. Ohio mustered 230 regiments of infantry and cavalry, as well as 26 light artillery batteries and 5 independent companies of sharpshooters. Total casualties among these units numbered 35,475 men, more than 10% of all the Buckeyes in uniform during the war. There were 6,835 men killed in action, including 402 officers.
Dozens of small camps were established across the state to train and drill the new regiments. Two large military posts were created: Camp Chase in Columbus and Camp Dennison near Cincinnati. The 1st Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI) would eventually be joined on the muster rolls by more than 100 additional infantry regiments.
1st Ohio Infantry in action, June 1861.
Ohioans first had military action at the Battle of Philippi Races in June 1861, where the 14th and 16th Ohio Infantry participated in the Union victory. Ohioans comprised one-fifth of the Union army at the April 1862 Battle of Shiloh, where 1,676 Buckeyes suffered casualties. Ohio would suffer its highest casualty count at the Battle of Chickamauga in September 1863, with 3,591 killed or wounded. Another 1,351 men were taken prisoner of war by the Confederates. Among these prisoners, 36 men from the 2nd Ohio Infantry would perish in the infamous Andersonville prison, as did hundreds more Buckeye soldiers there.
Several Buckeye regiments played critical roles in other important battles. The 8th OVI was instrumental in helping repulse Pickett's Charge at the Battle of Gettysburg. At the same battle, the 66th OVI flanked repeated Confederate assaults and helped secure the crest of Culp's Hill. George Nixon, great-grandfather of President Richard Nixon, died at Gettysburg in the 73rd OVI.
John Clem, celebrated as "Johnny Shiloh" and "The Drummer Boy of Chickamauga," became the youngest person to become a noncommissioned officer in United States Army history. More than 100 soldiers from Ohio units earned the Medal of Honor during the conflict. Several were awarded it for the ill-fated Great Locomotive Chase.
President Lincoln had a habit on the eve of a battle of asking how many Ohio men would participate. When someone inquired why, Lincoln remarked, "Because I know that if there are many Ohio soldiers to be engaged, it is probable we will win the battle, for they can be relied upon in such an emergency."
Small-scale riots broke out in ethnic German and Irish districts, and in areas along the Ohio River with many Copperheads. Holmes County, Ohio was an isolated localistic areas dominated by Pennsylvania Dutch and some recent German immigrants. It was a Democratic stronghold and few men dared speak out in favor of conscription. Local politicians denounced Lincoln and Congress as despotic, seeing the draft law as a violation of their local autonomy. In June 1863, small scale disturbance broke out; they ended when the Army send in armed units.
John A. Gillis, a corporal from the 64th Ohio Infantry, gave his reasons for fighting for the Union in the war, stating in his diary that "We are now fighting to destroy the cause of these dangerous diseases, which is slavery and the slave power."
Military actions in Ohio
Unlike its neighbors West Virginia, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania, Ohio was spared from serious military encounters. In September 1862, Confederate forces under Brig. Gen. Henry Heth marched through northern Kentucky and threatened Cincinnati (see Defense of Cincinnati). They turned away after encountering strong Union fortifications south of the Ohio River. Not long afterwards, Brig. Gen. Albert G. Jenkins briefly passed through the extreme southern tip of Ohio during a raid.
It was not until the summer of 1863 that Confederates arrived in force, when John Hunt Morgan's cavalry division traversed southern and eastern Ohio during Morgan's Raid. His activities culminated in Morgan's capture in Columbiana County. The Battle of Buffington Island was the largest fought in Ohio during the Civil War.
Notable Civil War leaders from Ohio
Numerous leading generals and army commanders hailed from Ohio. The General-in-Chief of the Union armies, Ulysses S. Grant, was born in Clermont County in 1822. Among the 19 major generals from Ohio were William T. Sherman, Philip H. Sheridan, Don Carlos Buell, Jacob D. Cox, George Crook, George Armstrong Custer, James A. Garfield, Irvin McDowell, James B. McPherson, William S. Rosecrans, and Alexander M. McCook (of the "Fighting McCook" family, which sent a number of generals into the service). The state would contribute 53 brigadier generals.
A handful of Confederate generals were Ohio-born, including Bushrod Johnson of Belmont County and Robert H. Hatton of Steubenville. Charles Clark of Cincinnati led a division in the Army of Mississippi during the Battle of Shiloh and then became the late war pro-Confederate Governor of Missouri. Noted Confederate guerrilla Capt. William Quantrill was also born and raised in Ohio.
In addition to Grant and Garfield, three other Ohio Civil War veterans would become President of the United States in the decades following the war: William McKinley of Canton, Rutherford B. Hayes of Fremont, and Benjamin Harrison of the greater Cincinnati area.
Ulysses S. Grant
William T. Sherman
Philip H. Sheridan
Sec. of War
Edwin M. Stanton
Sec. of Treasury/Chief Justice
Salmon P. Chase
James B. McPherson
Jacob D. Cox
James A. Garfield
Rutherford B. Hayes
William S. Rosecrans
George A. Custer
Don Carlos Buell
Alexander M. McCook
John A. Bingham
Civil War sites in Ohio
Monument in Hillsboro.
The only battlefield of significance in Ohio is Buffington Island. Today it is threatened by development. This was the site of the largest fight of the July 1863 dash across Ohio by Confederate cavalry under John Hunt Morgan. The incursion was immortalized as "Morgan's Raid". A lesser engagement was the Battle of Salineville, which resulted in the capture of General Morgan. He and a number of his officers were incarcerated in the Ohio Penitentiary before escaping. Extreme south-central Ohio had previously been briefly invaded in early September 1862 by cavalry under Albert G. Jenkins.
Two important cemeteries for the dead from the Confederate States Army can be found in the Buckeye State. One is at the prisoner-of-war camp on Johnson's Island, the most significant Civil War site in the state and intended mostly for officers. Estimates are that 10,000–15,000 Confederate officers and soldiers were incarcerated during the camp's three years of operations, with 2,500–3,000 at any one time. About 300 Confederates died and were buried there. A museum about Johnson's Island is located in Marblehead on the mainland. The Civil War buildings were dismantled shortly after the war. Archeological work by Heidelberg University has revealed the boundaries of the camp and new materials. At one time part of the island was used for a pleasure resort. Another cemetery is located at Camp Chase, where more than 2,000 Southerners were interred. Union Cemetery in Steubenville, Ohio, is the final resting place of Civil War soldiers, including several generals and colonels, including several of the "Fighting McCooks".
Monuments in Cincinnati and Mansfield commemorate the hundreds of Ohio soldiers who had been liberated from Southern prison camps, such as Cahaba and Andersonville, but perished in the Sultana steamboat tragedy. In the aftermath of war, women's groups were instrumental in raising money and organizing activities to create the memorials.
Many Ohio counties have Civil War monuments, statues, cannons, and similar memorials of their contributions to the Civil War effort. These are frequently located near the county courthouses. The Ohio State Capitol has a display of Civil War guns on its grounds. In downtown Cleveland's Public Square is the impressive Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument. Other large monuments are in Dayton, Hamilton, and Columbus. A large equestrian statue of General Sheridan is in the center of Somerset. New Rumley has a memorial to George Armstrong Custer. A number of Ohio Historical Markers throughout the state commemorate places and people associated with the Civil War.
Some of the homes of noted Civil War officers and political leaders have been restored and are open to the public as museums. Among these are the Daniel McCook House in Carrollton, Ohio. The Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center and Library in Fremont contains a number of Civil War relics and artifacts associated with General Hayes. Similarly, "Lawnfield", the home of James A. Garfield in Mentor, has a collection of Civil War items associated with the assassinated President.
The Ohio Historical Society maintains many of the archives of the war, including artifacts and many battle flags of individual regiments and artillery batteries. More relics can be found in the Western Reserve Historical Society's museum in Cleveland.
Camp Chase Prison was a Union Army prison in Columbus. There was a plan among prisoners to revolt and escape in 1863. The prisoners expected support from Copperheads and Vallandigham, but never did revolt.
flag Ohio portal
List of Ohio Civil War units
List of Ohio's American Civil War generals
Cincinnati in the Civil War
Cleveland in the Civil War
Uriah Brown, U.S. Medal of Honor winner
Ephraim C. Dawes, Major in the 53rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry
Bellefontaine (/bɛlˈfaʊntən/ bel-FOWN-tən) is a city in and the county seat of Logan County, Ohio, United States, located 48 miles northwest of Columbus. The population was 13,370 at the 2010 Census. It is the principal city of the Bellefontaine, OH Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Logan County. The highest point in Ohio, Campbell Hill, is within the city limits.
Nearby towns :
Bellefontaine (county seat)
The American Civil War (also, known by other names) was a civil war that was fought in the United States from 1861 to 1865. As a result of the long-standing controversy over slavery, war broke out in April 1861, when Confederate forces attacked Fort Sumter in South Carolina, shortly after U.S. President Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated. The nationalists of the Union proclaimed loyalty to the U.S. Constitution. They faced secessionists of the Confederate States, who advocated for states' rights to expand slavery.
Among the 34 U.S. states in February 1861, seven Southern slave states individually declared their secession from the U.S. to form the Confederate States of America, or the South. The Confederacy grew to include eleven slave states. The Confederacy was never diplomatically recognized by the United States government, nor was it recognized by any foreign country (although the United Kingdom and France granted it belligerent status). The states that remained loyal to the U.S. (including the border states where slavery was legal) were known as the Union or the North.
The Union and Confederacy quickly raised volunteer and conscription armies that fought mostly in the South over four years. The Union finally won the war when General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant at the Battle of Appomattox Court House, followed by a series of surrenders by Confederate generals throughout the southern states. Four years of intense combat left 620,000 to 750,000 people dead, more than the number of U.S. military deaths in all other wars combined (at least until approximately the Vietnam War). Much of the South's infrastructure was destroyed, especially the transportation systems, railroads, mills, and houses. The Confederacy collapsed, slavery was abolished, and 4 million slaves were freed. The Reconstruction Era (1863–1877) overlapped and followed the war, with the process of restoring national unity, strengthening the national government, and granting civil rights to freed slaves throughout the country. The Civil War is the most studied and written about episode in U.S. history.
The Battle of Fredericksburg was fought December 11–15, 1862, in and around Fredericksburg, Virginia, between General Robert E. Lee's Confederate Army of Northern Virginia and the Union Army of the Potomac, commanded by Major General Ambrose Burnside, as part of the American Civil War. The Union Army's futile frontal attacks on December 13 against entrenched Confederate defenders on the heights behind the city are remembered as one of the most one-sided battles of the war, with Union casualties more than three times as heavy as those suffered by the Confederates. A visitor to the battlefield described the battle to U.S. President Abraham Lincoln as a "butchery."
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. Bureaucratic delays prevented Burnside from receiving the necessary pontoon bridges in time and Lee moved his army to block the crossings. When the Union army was finally able to build its bridges and cross under fire, urban combat in the city resulted on December 11–12. 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.
On December 13, the "grand division" of Maj. Gen. William B. Franklin was able to pierce the first defensive line of Confederate Lieutenant General Stonewall Jackson to the south, but was finally repulsed. Burnside ordered the grand divisions of Maj. Gens. Edwin V. Sumner and Joseph Hooker to make multiple frontal assaults against Lt. Gen. James Longstreet's position on Marye's Heights, all of which were repulsed with heavy losses. On December 15, Burnside withdrew his army, ending another failed Union campaign in the Eastern Theater.
Further information: Peninsula Campaign, Seven Days Battles, Northern Virginia Campaign, Maryland Campaign, Eastern Theater of the American Civil War, and American Civil War
In November 1862, Lincoln needed to demonstrate the success of the Union war effort before the Northern public lost confidence in his administration. Confederate armies had been on the move earlier in the fall, invading Kentucky and Maryland, and although each had been turned back, those armies remained intact and capable of further action. Lincoln urged Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant to advance against the Confederate stronghold of Vicksburg, Mississippi. He replaced Maj. Gen. Don Carlos Buell with Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecrans, hoping for a more aggressive posture against the Confederates in Tennessee, and on November 5, seeing that his replacement of Buell had not stimulated Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan into action, he issued orders to replace McClellan in command of the Army of the Potomac in Virginia. McClellan had stopped Robert E. Lee 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.
McClellan's replacement was Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside, the commander of the IX Corps. Burnside had established a reputation as an independent commander, with successful operations earlier that year in coastal North Carolina and, unlike McClellan, had no apparent political ambitions. However, he felt himself unqualified for army-level command and objected when offered the position. He accepted only when it was made clear to him that McClellan would be replaced in any event and that an alternative choice for command was Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker, whom Burnside disliked and distrusted. Burnside assumed command on November 7.
Fredericksburg Campaign, Situation 19 November 1862 and Movements Since 10 October.
In response to prodding from Lincoln and general-in-chief Maj. Gen. Henry W. Halleck, Burnside planned a late fall offensive; he communicated his plan to Halleck on November 9. The plan relied on quick movement and deception. He would concentrate his army in a visible fashion near Warrenton, feigning a movement on Culpeper Court House, Orange Court House, or Gordonsville. Then he would rapidly shift his army southeast and cross the Rappahannock River to Fredericksburg, hoping that Robert E. Lee would sit still, unclear as to Burnside's intentions, while the Union Army made a rapid movement against Richmond, south along the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad from Fredericksburg. Burnside selected this plan because he was concerned that if he were to move directly south from Warrenton, he would be exposed to a flanking attack from Lt. Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, whose corps was at that time in the Shenandoah Valley south of Winchester. He also believed that the Orange and Alexandria Railroad would be an inadequate supply line. (Burnside was also influenced by plans McClellan began developing just prior to being relieved. Aware that Lee had blocked the O&A, McClellan considered a route through Fredericksburg and ordered a small group of cavalrymen commanded by Capt. Ulric Dahlgren to investigate the condition of the RF&P.) While Burnside began assembling a supply base at Falmouth, near Fredericksburg, the Lincoln administration entertained 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. Lincoln reluctantly approved the plan on November 14 but cautioned his general to move with great speed, certainly doubting that Lee would react as Burnside anticipated.
Movement to battle
Initial movements in the Fredericksburg campaign.
The Union Army began marching on November 15, and the first elements arrived in Falmouth on November 17. Burnside's plan quickly went awry—he had ordered pontoon bridges to be sent to the front and assembled for his quick crossing of the Rappahannock, but because of administrative bungling, the bridges did not arrive on time. Burnside first requisitioned the pontoon bridging (along with many other provisions) on November 7 when he detailed his plan to Halleck. The plan was sent to the attention of Brig. Gen. George Washington Cullum, the chief of staff in Washington (received on November 9). Plans called for both riverine and overland movement of the pontoon trains to Falmouth. On November 14, the 50th New York Engineers reported the pontoons were ready to move, except for a lack of the 270 horses needed to move them. Unknown to Burnside, most of the bridging was still on the upper Potomac. Communications between Burnside's staff engineer Cyrus B. Comstock and the Engineer Brigade commander Daniel P. Woodbury indicate that Burnside had assumed the bridging was en route to Washington based on orders given on November 6.
Skinkers Neck on the Rappanhannock below Fredericksburg, VA, 1862 sketch by Alfred Waud
As Maj. Gen. Edwin V. Sumner arrived, he strongly urged an immediate crossing of the river to scatter the token Confederate force of 500 men in the town and occupying the commanding heights to the west. Burnside became anxious, concerned that the increasing autumn rains would make the fording points unusable and that Sumner might be cut off and destroyed, ordering Sumner to wait in Falmouth.
Lee at first anticipated that Burnside would beat him across the Rappahannock and that to protect Richmond, he would assume the next defensible position to the south, the North Anna River. But when he saw how slowly Burnside was moving (and Confederate President Jefferson Davis expressed reservations about planning for a battle so close to Richmond), he directed all of his army toward Fredericksburg. By November 23, all of Longstreet's corps 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. He sent for Jackson on November 26, but his Second Corps commander had anticipated the need and began forced-marching his troops from Winchester on November 22, covering as many as 20 miles a day. Jackson arrived at Lee's headquarters on November 29 and his divisions were deployed to prevent Burnside crossing downstream from Fredericksburg: D.H. Hill's division moved to Port Royal, 18 miles down river; Early's 12 miles down river at Skinker's Neck; A.P. 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.
The boats and equipment for a single pontoon bridge arrived at Falmouth on November 25, much too late to enable the Army of the Potomac to cross the river without opposition. Burnside still had an opportunity, however, because by then he was facing only half of Lee's army, not yet dug in, and if he acted quickly, he might have been able to attack Longstreet and defeat him before Jackson arrived. Once again he squandered his opportunity. 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.
Burnside originally planned to cross his army east of Fredericksburg at Skinker's Neck, but an advance movement by Federal gunboats to there was fired upon and drew Early's and D.H. Hill's divisions into that area, a movement spotted by Union balloon observers. Now assuming that Lee had anticipated his plan, Burnside guessed that the Confederates had weakened their left and center to concentrate against him on their right. So he decided to cross directly at Fredericksburg. On December 9, he wrote to Halleck, "I think now the enemy will be more surprised by a crossing immediately in our front than any other part of the river. ... I'm convinced that a large force of the enemy is now concentrated at Port Royal, its left resting on Fredericksburg, which we hope to turn." In addition to his numerical advantage in troop strength, Burnside also had the advantage of knowing his army could not be attacked effectively. On the other side of the Rappahannock, 220 artillery pieces had been located on the ridge known as Stafford Heights to prevent Lee's army from mounting any major counterattacks.
Further information: Union order of battle
Key commanders (Army of the Potomac)
Ambrose E. Burnside,
Edwin V. Sumner,
Right Grand Division
Center Grand Division
William B. Franklin,
Left Grand Division
Burnside organized his Army of the Potomac into three so-called Grand Divisions, organizations that included infantry corps, cavalry, and artillery, comprising 120,000 men, of whom 114,000 would be engaged in the coming battle:
The Right Grand Division, commanded by Maj. Gen. Edwin V. "Bull" Sumner, consisted of the II Corps of Maj. Gen. Darius N. Couch (divisions of Brig. Gens. Winfield S. Hancock, Oliver O. Howard, and William H. French) and the IX Corps of Brig. Gen. Orlando B. Willcox (divisions of Brig. Gens. William W. Burns, Samuel D. Sturgis, and George W. Getty). A cavalry division under Brig. Gen. Alfred Pleasonton was attached.
The Center Grand Division, commanded by Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker, consisted of the III Corps of Brig. Gen. George Stoneman (divisions of Brig. Gens. David B. Birney, Daniel E. Sickles, and Amiel W. Whipple) and the V Corps of Brig. Gen. Daniel Butterfield (divisions of Brig. Gens. Charles Griffin, George Sykes, and Andrew A. Humphreys). A cavalry brigade under Brig. Gen. William W. Averell was attached.
The Left Grand Division, commanded by Maj. Gen. William B. Franklin, consisted of the I Corps of Maj. Gen. John F. Reynolds (divisions of Brig. Gens. Abner Doubleday and John Gibbon and Maj. Gen. George G. Meade) and the VI Corps of Maj. Gen. William F. "Baldy" Smith (divisions of Brig. Gens. William T. H. Brooks, Albion P. Howe, and John Newton). A cavalry brigade commanded by Brig. Gen. George D. Bayard was attached.
The Reserve, commanded by Maj. Gen. Franz Sigel of the XI Corps, was in the area of Fairfax Court House. The XII Corps, under Maj. Gen. Henry W. Slocum, was called from Harpers Ferry to Dumfries, Virginia, to join the reserve force on December 9, but none of these troops participated in the battle.
Further information: Confederate order of battle
Key Commanders (Army of Northern Virginia)
Robert E. Lee,
Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia had nearly 78,000 men, with 72,500 engaged. His organization of the army in corps was approved by an act of the Confederate Congress on November 6, 1862 and consisted of:
The First Corps of Lt. Gen. James Longstreet included the divisions of Maj. Gens. Lafayette McLaws, Richard H. Anderson, George E. Pickett, and John Bell Hood, and Brig. Gen. Robert Ransom, Jr.
The Second Corps of Lt. Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson included the divisions of Maj. Gens. D.H. Hill and A.P. Hill, and Brig. Gens. Jubal A. Early and William B. Taliaferro.
Reserve Artillery under Brig. Gen. William N. Pendleton.
The Cavalry Division under Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart.
The two armies at Fredericksburg represented the largest number of armed men that ever confronted each other for combat during the Civil War.
Crossing the Rappahannock, December 11–12
Union Army pontoon boats mobilized for deployment
Model of a portion of the pontoon bridge built for the film Gods and Generals, displayed at the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park
Pontoon bridges at Franklin's Crossing
Barksdale's Mississippi brigade fires at the Union engineers
Union engineers began to assemble six pontoon bridges before dawn on December 11, two just north of the town center, a third on the southern end of town, and three farther south, near the confluence of the Rappahannock and Deep Run. The engineers constructing the bridge directly across from the city came under punishing fire from Confederate sharpshooters, primarily from the Mississippi brigade of Brig. Gen. William Barksdale, in command of the town defenses. Union artillery attempted to dislodge the sharpshooters, but their positions in the cellars of houses rendered the fire from 150 guns mostly ineffective. Eventually Burnside's artillery commander, Brig. Gen. Henry J. Hunt, convinced him to send infantry landing parties over in the pontoon boats to secure a small bridgehead and rout the sharpshooters. Col. Norman J. Hall volunteered his brigade for this assignment. Burnside suddenly turned reluctant, lamenting to Hall in front of his men that "the effort meant death to most of those who should undertake the voyage." When his men responded to Hall's request with three cheers, Burnside relented. At 3 p.m., the Union artillery began a preparatory bombardment and 135 infantrymen from the 7th Michigan and the 19th Massachusetts crowded into the small boats, and the 20th Massachusetts followed soon after. They crossed successfully and spread out in a skirmish line to clear the sharpshooters. Although some of the Confederates surrendered, fighting proceeded street by street through the town as the engineers completed the bridges. Sumner's Right Grand Division began crossing at 4:30 p.m., but the bulk of his men did not cross until December 12. Hooker's Center Grand Division crossed on December 13, using both the northern and southern bridges.
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 the war. Union gunners sent more than 5,000 shells against the town and the ridges to the west. By nightfall, four brigades of Union troops occupied the town, which they looted with a fury that had not been seen in the war up to that point. This behavior enraged Lee, who compared their depredations with those of the ancient Vandals. The destruction also angered the Confederate troops, many of whom were native Virginians. Many on the Union side were also shocked by the destruction inflicted on Fredericksburg. Civilian casualties were unusually sparse in the midst of such widespread violence; George Rable estimates no more than four civilian deaths.
River crossings south of the city by Franklin's Left Grand Division were much less eventful. Both bridges were completed by 11 a.m. on December 11 while five batteries of Union artillery suppressed most sniper fire against the engineers. Franklin was ordered at 4 p.m. to cross his entire command, but only a single brigade was sent out before dark. Crossings resumed at dawn and were completed by 1 p.m. on December 12. Early on December 13, Jackson recalled his divisions under Jubal Early and D.H. Hill from down river positions to join his main defensive lines south of the city.
Burnside's verbal instructions on December 12 outlined a main attack by Franklin, supported by Hooker, on the southern flank, while Sumner made a secondary attack on the northern. His actual orders on December 13 were vague and confusing to his subordinates. At 5 p.m. on December 12, he made a cursory inspection of the southern flank, where Franklin and his subordinates pressed him to give definite orders for a morning attack by the grand division, so they would have adequate time to position their forces overnight. However, Burnside demurred and the order did not reach Franklin until 7:15 or 7:45 a.m. When it arrived, it was not as Franklin expected. Rather than ordering an attack by the entire grand division of almost 60,000 men, Franklin was to keep his men in position, but was to send "a division at least" to seize the high ground (Prospect Hill) around Hamilton's Crossing, Sumner was to send one division through the city and up Telegraph Road, and both flanks were to be prepared to commit their entire commands. Burnside was apparently expecting these weak attacks to intimidate Lee, causing him to withdraw. Franklin, who had originally advocated a vigorous assault, chose to interpret Burnside's order very conservatively. Brig. Gen. James A. Hardie, who delivered the order, did not ensure that Burnside's intentions were understood by Franklin, and map inaccuracies about the road network made those intentions unclear. Furthermore, Burnside's choice of the verb "to seize" was less forceful in 19th century military terminology than an order "to carry" the heights.
South of the city, December 13
Overview of the battle, December 13, 1862
December 13 began cold and overcast. A dense fog blanketed the ground and made it impossible for the armies to see each other. Franklin ordered his I Corps commander, Maj. Gen. John F. Reynolds, to select a division for the attack. Reynolds chose his smallest division, about 4,500 men commanded by Maj. Gen. George G. Meade, and assigned Brig. Gen. John Gibbon's division to support Meade's attack. His reserve division, under Maj. Gen. Abner Doubleday, was to face south and protect the left flank between the Richmond Road and the river. Meade's division began moving out at 8:30 a.m., with Gibbon following behind. At around 10:30, the fog started lifting. They moved parallel to the river initially, turning right to face the Richmond Road, where they began to be struck by enfilading fire from the Virginia Horse Artillery under Major John Pelham. Pelham started with two cannons—a 12-pounder Napoleon smoothbore and a rifled Blakely—but continued with only one after the latter was disabled by counter-battery fire. "Jeb" Stuart sent word to Pelham that he should feel free to withdraw from his dangerous position at any time, to which Pelham responded, "Tell the General I can hold my ground." The Iron Brigade (formerly Gibbon's command, but now led by Brig. Gen. Solomon Meredith) was sent out to deal with the Confederate horse artillery. This action was mainly conducted by the 24th Michigan Infantry, a newly enlisted regiment that had joined the brigade in October. After about an hour, Pelham's ammunition began to run low and he withdrew. General Lee observed the action and commented about Pelham, age 24, "It is glorious to see such courage in one so young." The most prominent victim of Pelham's fire was Brig. Gen. George D. Bayard, a cavalry general mortally wounded by a shell while standing in reserve near Franklin's headquarters. 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.
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. His formidable defensive line had an unforeseen flaw. In A.P. 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. Gens. James H. Lane and James J. Archer. Brig. Gen. Maxcy Gregg's brigade stood about a quarter mile behind the gap. Meade's 1st Brigade (Col. William Sinclair) entered the gap, climbed the railroad embankment, and turned right into the underbrush, striking Lane's brigade in the flank. Following immediately behind, his 3rd Brigade (Brig. Gen. Feger Jackson) turned left and hit Archer's flank. The 2nd Brigade (Col. Albert L. Magilton) came up in support and intermixed with the leading brigades. As the gap widened with pressure on the flanks, thousands of Meade's men reached the top of the ridge and ran into Gregg's brigade. Many of these Confederates had stacked arms while taking cover from Union artillery and were not expecting to be attacked at that moment, so were killed or captured unarmed. Gregg at first mistook the Union soldiers for fleeing Confederate troops and ordered his men not to fire on them. 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. In the confusion, a bullet struck his spine and fatally wounded him; he died two days later. Col. Daniel Hamilton of the 1st South Carolina assumed command, but Gregg's brigade was totally routed and was no longer an organized unit for the rest of the day. 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. 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. The Georgians broke and ran. The 14th Tennessee resisted the onslaught for a time before also breaking; a sizable number of its men were taken prisoner. Archer frantically sent messages to the rear, calling on John Brockenbrough and Edmund Atkinson's brigades for help. 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. Most of the regimental officers on both sides went down as well; on the Confederate side, the 1st Tennessee went through three commanders in a matter of minutes. Meade's 15 regiments also lost most of their officers, although Meade himself survived the battle unscathed despite being exposed to heavy artillery fire.
Part of Franklin's "Left Grand Division" charges across the railroad
Confederate reserves—the divisions of Brig. Gens. Jubal A. Early and William B. Taliaferro—moved into the fray from behind Gregg's original position. Inspired by their attack, regiments from Lane's and Archer's brigades rallied and formed a new defensive line in the gap. Now Meade's men were receiving fire from three sides and could not withstand the pressure. Feger Jackson attempted to flank a Confederate battery, but after his horse was shot and he began to lead on foot, he was shot in the head by a volley and his brigade fell back, leaderless (Col. Joseph W. Fisher soon replaced Jackson in command).
Overview of the battle, December 13, 1862 (additional map 1).
Overview of the battle, December 13, 1862 (additional map 2).
To Meade's right, Gibbon's division prepared to move forward at 1 p.m. Brig. Gen. Nelson Taylor proposed to Gibbon that they supplement Meade's assault with a bayonet charge against Lane's position. However, Gibbon stated that this would violate his orders, so Taylor's brigade did not move forward until 1:30 p.m. 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. 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. Committing his reserve at 1:45 p.m., Gibbon sent forward his brigade under Col. Adrian R. Root, which moved through the survivors of the first two brigades, but they were soon brought to a halt as well. 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. Gibbon's attack, despite heavy casualties, had failed to support Meade's temporary breakthrough and Gibbon himself was wounded when a shell fragment struck his right hand. Brig. Gen Nelson Taylor took over command of the division.
My God, General Reynolds, did they think my division could whip Lee's whole army?
Maj. Gen. George G. Meade to Maj. Gen. John F. Reynolds, afternoon of December 13
It is well that war is so terrible, or we should grow too fond of it.
Gen. Robert E. Lee, watching the carnage of the Confederate counterattack from the center of his line, a position now known as Lee's Hill
After the battle Meade complained that some of Gibbon's officers had not charged quickly enough. But his primary frustration was with Brig. Gen. David B. Birney, whose division of the III Corps had been designated to support the attack as well. 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. When Meade galloped to the rear to confront Birney with a string of fierce profanities that, in the words of one staff lieutenant, "almost makes the stones creep," he was finally able to order the brigadier forward under his own responsibility, but harbored resentment for weeks. By this time, however, it was too late to accomplish any further offensive action.
Early's division began a counterattack, led initially by Col. Edmund N. Atkinson's Georgia brigade, which inspired the men from the brigades of Col. Robert Hoke, Brig. 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. Early's orders to his brigades were to pursue as far as the railroad, but in the chaos many kept up the pressure over the open fields as far as the old Richmond Road. Union artillery crews proceeded to unleash a blast of close-range canister shot, firing as fast as they could load their guns. The Confederates were also struck by the leading brigade of Birney's belated advance, commanded by Brig. Gen. J. H. Hobart Ward. Birney followed up with the brigades of Brig. Gens. Hiram G. Berry and John C. Robinson, which broke the Rebel advance that had threatened to drive the Union into the river. Col. Atkinson was struck in the shoulder by canister shot and abandoned by his own brigade; Union soldiers later found and took him prisoner. Any further Confederate advance was deterred by the arrival of the III Corps division of Brig. Gen. Daniel E. Sickles on the right. General Burnside, who by this time was focused on his attacks on Marye's Heights, was dismayed that his left flank attack had not achieved the success he assumed earlier in the day. He ordered Franklin to "advance his right and front," but despite repeated entreaties, Franklin refused, claiming that all of his forces had been engaged. This was not true, however, as the entire VI Corps and Brig. Gen. Abner Doubleday's division of the I Corps had been mostly idle, suffering only a few casualties from artillery fire while they waited in reserve.
The Confederates withdrew back to the safety of the hills south of town. Stonewall Jackson considered mounting a resumed counterattack, but the Federal artillery and impending darkness changed his mind. A fortuitous Union breakthrough had been wasted because Franklin did not reinforce Meade's success with some of the 20,000 men standing in reserve. Neither Franklin nor Reynolds took any personal involvement in the battle, and were unavailable to their subordinates at the critical point. Franklin's losses were about 5,000 casualties in comparison to Stonewall Jackson's 3,400, demonstrating the ferocity of the fighting. 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. Brig. Gen George D. Bayard, who commanded a cavalry brigade in the VI Corps, was struck in the leg by a shell fragment and died two days later.
As the fighting south of Fredericksburg died down, the air was filled with the screams of hundreds of wounded men and horses. Dry sage grass around them caught fire and burned many men alive.
Marye's Heights, December 13
Attack on the Rebel Works, 1862 sketch by Alfred Waud
Sumner's assault, 1:00 p.m., December 13, 1862. The sequence of Union division attacks was French (II Corps), Hancock (II), Howard (II), and Sturgis (IX).
Hooker's assault, 3:30 p.m., December 13, 1862. The sequence of Union division attacks was Griffin (V Corps), Humphreys (V), and Getty (IX).
On the northern end of the battlefield, 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. General Burnside's orders to Maj. Gen. Edwin V. Sumner, commander of the Right Grand Division, was to send "a division or more" to seize the high ground to the west of the city, assuming that his assault on the southern end of the Confederate line would be the decisive action of the battle. The avenue of approach was difficult—mostly open fields, but interrupted by scattered houses, fences, and gardens that would restrict the movement of battle lines. 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. About 600 yards to the west of Fredericksburg was the low ridge known as Marye's Heights, rising 40–50 feet above the plain. (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.) Near the crest of the portion of the ridge comprising Marye's Hill and Willis Hill, a narrow lane in a slight cut—the Telegraph Road, known after the battle as the Sunken Road—was protected by a 4-foot stone wall, enhanced in places with log breastworks and abatis, making it a perfect infantry defensive position. Confederate Maj. Gen. Lafayette McLaws initially had about 2,000 men on the front line of Marye's Heights and there were an additional 7,000 men in reserve on the crest and behind the ridge. Massed artillery provided almost uninterrupted coverage of the plain below. 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. A chicken could not live on that field when we open on it."
The Confederate troops behind the stone wall
The fog lifted from the town around 10 a.m. and Sumner gave his order to advance an hour later. French's brigade under Brig. Gen. Nathan Kimball began to move around noon. They advanced slowly through heavy artillery fire, crossed the canal in columns over the narrow bridges, and formed in line, with fixed bayonets, behind the protection of a shallow bluff. In perfect line of battle, they advanced up the muddy slope until they were cut down at about 125 yards from the stone wall by repeated rifle volleys. 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. Kimball was severely wounded during the assault, and his brigade suffered 25% casualties. French's brigades under Col. John W. Andrews and Col. Oliver H. Palmer followed, with casualty rates of almost 50%.
Sumner's original order called for the division of Brig. Gen. Winfield S. Hancock to support French and Hancock sent forward his brigade under Col. Samuel K. Zook behind Palmer's. They met a similar fate. Next was his Irish Brigade under Brig. Gen. Thomas F. Meagher. By coincidence, they attacked the area defended by fellow Irishmen of Col. Robert McMillan's 24th Georgia Infantry. One Confederate who spotted the green regimental flags approaching cried out, "Oh God, what a pity! Here comes Meagher's fellows." But McMillan exhorted his troops: "Give it to them now, boys! Now's the time! Give it to them!" Hancock's final brigade was led by Brig. Gen. John C. Caldwell. Leading his two regiments on the left, Col. Nelson A. 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. Caldwell denied permission. Miles was struck by a bullet in the throat as he led his men to within 40 yards of the wall, where they were pinned down as their predecessors had been. Caldwell himself was soon struck by two bullets and put out of action.
The commander of the II Corps, Maj. Gen. Darius N. Couch, was dismayed at the carnage wrought upon his two divisions in the hour of fighting and, like Col. Miles, realized that the tactics were not working. He first considered a massive bayonet charge to overwhelm the defenders, but as he surveyed the front, he quickly realized that French's and Hancock's divisions were in no shape to move forward again. He next planned for his final division, commanded by Maj. Gen. Oliver O. Howard, to swing to the right and attempt to envelop the Confederate left, but upon receiving urgent requests for help from French and Hancock, he sent Howard's men over and around the fallen troops instead. The brigade of Col. Joshua Owen went in first, reinforced by Col. Norman J. Hall's brigade, and then two regiments of Brig. Gen. Alfred Sully's brigade. The other corps in Sumner's grand division was the IX Corps, and he sent in one of its divisions under Brig. Gen. Samuel Sturgis. After two hours of desperate fighting, four Union divisions had failed in the mission Burnside had originally assigned to one. Casualties were heavy: II Corps losses for the afternoon were 4,114, Sturgis's division 1,011.
The sunken road at Marye's Heights in 2010. Approximately 3,000 Georgians under Thomas R. R. Cobb were lined up in multiple ranks behind the stone wall, and another 3,000 were atop the slope behind it, along with their artillery.
Genl. Humphreys charging at the head of his division after sunset of Dec 13, 1862 sketch by Alfred Waud
While the Union Army paused, Longstreet reinforced his line so that there were four ranks of infantrymen behind the stone wall. Brig. Gen. Thomas R. R. Cobb of Georgia, who had commanded the key sector of the line, was mortally wounded by an exploding artillery shell and was replaced by Brig. Gen. Joseph B. Kershaw. General Lee expressed concerns to Longstreet about the massing troops breaking his line, but Longstreet assured his commander, "General, if you put every man on the other side of the Potomac on that field to approach me over the same line, and give me plenty of ammunition, I will kill them all before they reach my line."
By midafternoon, Burnside had failed on both flanks to make progress against the Confederates. Rather than reconsidering his approach in the face of heavy casualties, he stubbornly decided to continue on the same path. He sent orders to Franklin to renew the assault on the left (which, as described earlier, the Left Grand Division commander ignored) and ordered his Center Grand Division, commanded by Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker, to cross the Rappahannock into Fredericksburg and continue the attack on Marye's Heights. Hooker performed a personal reconnaissance (something that neither Burnside nor Sumner had done, both remaining east of the river during the failed assaults) and returned to Burnside's headquarters to advise against the attack.
Brig. Gen. Daniel Butterfield, commanding Hooker's V Corps, while waiting for Hooker to return from his conference with Burnside, sent his division under Brig. Gen. Charles Griffin to relieve Sturgis's men. By this time, Maj. Gen. George Pickett's Confederate division and one of Maj. Gen. John Bell Hood's brigades had marched north to reinforce Marye's Heights. Griffin smashed his three brigades against the Confederate position, one by one. Also concerned about Sturgis, Couch sent the six guns of Capt. John G. Hazard's Battery B, 1st Rhode Island Light Artillery, to within 150 yards of the Confederate line. They were hit hard by Confederate sharpshooter and artillery fire and provided no effective relief to Sturgis.
A soldier in Hancock's division reported movement in the Confederate line that led some to believe that the enemy might be retreating. Despite the unlikeliness of this supposition, the V Corps division of Brig. Gen. Andrew A. Humphreys was ordered to attack and capitalize on the situation. 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. The charge reached to within 50 yards before being cut down by concentrated rifle fire. Brig. 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.
By 4 p.m., Hooker had returned from his meeting with Burnside, having failed to convince the commanding general to abandon the attacks. While Humphreys was still attacking, Hooker reluctantly ordered the IX Corps division of Brig. Gen. George W. Getty to attack as well, but this time to the leftmost portion of Marye's Heights, Willis Hill. Col. 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.
Seven Union divisions had been sent in, generally one brigade at a time, for a total of fourteen individual charges, all of which failed, costing them from 6,000 to 8,000 casualties. Confederate losses at Marye's Heights totaled around 1,200. The falling of darkness and the pleas of Burnside's subordinates were enough to put an end to the attacks. Longstreet later wrote, "The charges had been desperate and bloody, but utterly hopeless." Thousands of Union soldiers spent the cold December night on the fields leading to the heights, unable to move or assist the wounded because of Confederate fire. 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.
Lull and withdrawal, December 14–15
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. The armies remained in position throughout the day on December 14. That afternoon, Burnside asked Lee for a truce to attend to his wounded, which the latter graciously granted. The next day the Federal forces retreated across the river, and the campaign came to an end.
Testament to the extent of the carnage and suffering during the battle was the story of Richard Rowland Kirkland, a Confederate Army sergeant with Company G, 2nd South Carolina Volunteer Infantry. 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. After obtaining permission from his commander, Brig. 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. Union soldiers held their fire as it was obvious what Kirkland's intent was. 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. Details of this story (first recorded in 1880) conflict with multiple after-action reports and may have been embellished and personalized for effect.
On the night of December 14, the Aurora Borealis made an appearance unusual for that latitude, presumably caused by a large solar flare. One witness described that "the wonderful spectacle of the Aurora Borealis was seen in the Gulf States. The whole sky was a ruddy glow as if from an enormous conflagration, but marked by the darting rays peculiar to the Northern light." The event was noted in the diaries and letters of many soldiers at Fredericksburg, such as John W. Thompson, Jr., who wrote "Louisiana sent those famous cosmopolitan Zouaves called the Louisiana Tigers, and there were Florida troops who, undismayed in fire, stampeded the night after Fredericksburg, when the Aurora Borealis snapped and crackled over that field of the frozen dead hard by the Rappahannock ..."
Western view from Fredericksburg down Telegraph Road with Marye's Heights visible in the distant center
Marye's House upon Marye's Heights was the center of the Confederate position during the battle. Confederate troop encampments are visible to the right
Burnside's headquarters at Phillips House during the battle.
Sumner's headquarters, Chatham Manor, on Stafford Heights. Burnside observed the battle primarily from this location.
The Union army suffered 12,653 casualties (1,284 killed, 9,600 wounded, 1,769 captured/missing). Two Union generals were mortally wounded: Brig. Gens. George D. Bayard and Conrad F. Jackson. The Confederate army lost 5,377 (608 killed, 4,116 wounded, 653 captured/missing), most of them in the early fighting on Jackson's front. Confederate Brig. Gens. Maxcy Gregg and T. R. R. Cobb were both mortally wounded. The casualties sustained by each army showed clearly how disastrous the Union army's tactics were. Although the fighting on the southern flank produced roughly equal casualties (about 4,000 Confederate, 5,000 Union), the northern flank was completely lopsided, with about eight Union casualties for each Confederate. Burnside's men had suffered considerably more in the attack originally meant as a diversion than in his main effort.
Confederate reaction to the news of the victory
The South erupted in jubilation over their great victory. The Richmond Examiner described it as a "stunning defeat to the invader, a splendid victory to the defender of the sacred soil." General Lee, normally reserved, was described by the Charleston Mercury as "jubilant, almost off-balance, and seemingly desirous of embracing everyone who calls on him." The newspaper also exclaimed that, "General Lee knows his business and the army has yet known no such word as fail."
Effect on the Union
Reactions were opposite in the North, and both the Army and President Lincoln came under strong attacks from politicians and the press. 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." Senator Zachariah Chandler, a Radical Republican, wrote that, "The President is a weak man, too weak for the occasion, and those fool or traitor generals are wasting time and yet more precious blood in indecisive battles and delays." Pennsylvania Governor Andrew Curtin visited the White House after a trip to the battlefield. He told the president, "It was not a battle, it was a butchery." Curtin reported that the president was "heart-broken at the recital, and soon reached a state of nervous excitement bordering on insanity." Lincoln himself wrote, "If there is a worse place than hell, I am in it." 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.
Civil War Trust President Jim Lighthizer at Slaughter Pen Farm
Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County Battlefields Memorial National Military Park
U.S. National Register of Historic Places
U.S. National Military Park
Virginia Landmarks Register
Artillery Marking Longstreet's Line in Fredericksburg National Cemetery.jpg
A piece of artillery forming part of "Longstreet's Line" on Marye's Heights during the Battle of Fredericksburg.
Area 4,601.1 acres (1,862 ha)
NRHP reference # 66000046
VLR # 111-0147
Added to NRHP October 15, 1966
Designated VLR January 16, 1973
In March 2003, the Civil War Trust announced the beginning of a $12 million national campaign to preserve the historic Slaughter Pen Farm, a key part of the Fredericksburg battlefield. The 205-acre (0.83 km2) farm, known locally as the Pierson Tract, was the scene of bloody struggle on December 13, 1862. Over this ground Federal troops under Maj. Gen. George Meade and Brig. Gen. John Gibbon launched their assault against Lt. Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson's Confederates holding the southern portion of the Army of Northern Virginia's line at Fredericksburg. Despite suffering enormous casualties the Federal troops under Meade were able to temporarily penetrate the Confederate line and for a time represented the North's best chance of winning 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.
The Slaughter Pen Farm was considered to be the largest remaining unprotected part of the Fredericksburg battlefield. It is also the only place on the battlefield where a visitor can still follow the Union assault of December 13 from beginning to end. Nearly all the other land associated with Union attacks at Fredericksburg—either on the southern end of the battlefield or in front of Marye's Heights—has been degraded by development. The $12 million acquisition of the Slaughter Pen Farm at the Fredericksburg battlefield has been called the most ambitious nonprofit battlefield acquisition in American history.
In October 2006, the Department of the Interior awarded a $2 million grant based on the significance of the Slaughter Pen Farm. The money was provided through a U.S. Congressional appropriation from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The fund supports non-federal efforts to acquire and preserve meaningful American Civil War battlefield lands. The program is administered by the American Battlefield Protection Program, an arm of the National Park Service. In addition, the Central Virginia Battlefields Trust (CVBT) committed $1 million toward the Slaughter Pen Farm fundraising campaign.
In November 2012, during archaeological investigations at the construction site for a new courthouse, remains of Union artifacts were recovered. These included ammunition, smoking pipes, and food tins.
In popular media
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. 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).
American author Louisa May Alcott fictionalized her experience nursing soldiers injured in the Battle of Fredericksburg in her book Hospital Sketches (1863).
American heavy metal band Iced Earth wrote a song inspired by the battle, titled "Clear The Way (December 13th, 1862)", and included it in their 2017 album Incorruptible.
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.
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