The Battle of Fredericksburg was a battle that America could not forget. It was one of the worst Union defeats in the Civil War. This battle lasted from December eleventh to December fifteenth; however, most of the fighting was done on December thirteenth. After all was said and done thousands of bodies littered the fields of Virginia. Blood spilled out across the vast lands, it soaked the grounds and was a horrible sight to behold. Although the rain eventually washed the blood away; it could never wash away the horrors of that battle. The Battle of Fredericksburg will haunt the Union soldiers long after the Civil War ends. Even today we mourn and respect all the soldiers who lost their lives on that fatal battlefield.
Ambrose Burnside was given command of the Union army on November, 7th 1862 he replaced George McClellan. He led the North at the Battle of Fredericksburg and will be forever known as the commander who led his men into a slaughter. Burnside was born on May 23rd 1824, to Edghill and Pamela Burnside. He graduated eighteenth in his class in 1847. His first position in the military was as the Major General of the Rhode Island Militia. He would eventually organize the first Rhode Island Infantry. In September 1861, he was given command of three brigadiers known as the North Carolina Expeditionary Forces. Together they successful attacked the North Carolina Coast. This led to Burnside’s promotion to Major General of volunteers in March 1862. Before long, he was promoted again; this time he would be given command of the Army of the Potomac. Unlike his success in the past few jobs, Burnside would not rise to the occasion because he makes a few costly mistakes but in Burnside’s defense he had no idea who he was up against. Burnside was up against a skilled leader named, Robert E. Lee.
Robert E. Lee commanded the Army of Northern Virginia. He was an experienced and beloved general whose army was very successful. He was born on January 19th 1807 in Virigina. His father was a Revolutionary War hero named, “Light-Horse” Harry Lee. Lee deiced to follow his father’s path and he graduated from West Point in 1829; he was second in his class. Three years later he married, Mary Anna Randolph Custis; they had seven children together. Lee served seventeen years as an officer in the Corps of Engineers, where he inspected and supervised the construction of the nation’s coastal defense. During the Mexican War, Lee served as a member of Winfield Scott’s staff. By the end of the war, Lee has been promoted several times, rising to the rank of colonel. From 1852 to 1855 Lee served as the superintendent of West Point. In 1859 he stomped out the rebellion at Harpers Ferry. A few years later he caught Lincoln’s eye and in April 1861, he was offered command of the Union forces. Lee respectfully declined and when Virginia seceded; he resigned from the United States Army. He became Jefferson Davis’ Military Advisor; he held this position until Joseph Johnston was wounded at the First Battle of Bull Run. In June 1862 Lee became the commander of the Army of Northern Virginia. Battle after battle, Lee brought home victories for the South and at Fredericksburg Lee didn’t just beat the Yankees, he demolished them.
Burnside’s first move as Commander was to move all one hundred and thirteen thousand Union soldiers forty miles from Warrenton, Virginia to Stafford Heights, across the Rappahannock River was Fredericksburg. Fredericksburg was a town located midway between Richmond (Southern capital) and Washington (Northern capital). Lincoln hoped that the Union could win at Fredericksburg and be able to get an advantage in the war. He also hoped for a Union victory to help support the Emancipation Proclamation, which was to go into effect on January first. Burnside’s plan was to quickly cross the river, defeat the rebels and advance on towards Richmond. Lincoln approved of the plan but he urged Burnside to move quickly. The plan was...
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