The Battle of Fredericksburg: December 11-15, 1862.
When General Ambrose Burnside took command of the Army of the Potomac in November of 1862 he was anxious to mount another push on Richmond. He decided that the the best course of action was to push his army across the Rappahannock River at Fredericksburg, and try and go around Robert .E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. Burnside’s forces moved to the south-side of the Rappahannock across from Fredericksburg, but was unable to cross for over two weeks as they didn’t have the material for pontoon bridges. While the Union Army sat and waited, General Lee capitalized on the lull, and entrenched his forces on the bluffs behind Fredericksburg. Finally on December 11, Ambrose and his men were able to cross. Union engineers built the pontoon bridges while under fire from rebel skirmishers and Confederate artillery on the bluffs. At the same time Union artillery began shelling the town in an attempt to drive the skirmishers out. By the next day the entire Union Army was across, and on the 13th Burnside ordered a series of attacks on the strategic positions of Prospect Hill and Marye’s Heights. Although the Union left under the command of General George Meade managed to break through the Confederate line commanded by “Stonewall” Jackson, they were quickly pushed back. This set the tone for the rest of the battle. After a series of failed and costly assaults by the Northern troops they were finally called off on the 15th and ordered to re-cross the river. The Union forces lost 12,500 of their 100,000 man force. The Confederates Lost 6,000 of a force initially totaling 72,000. A handful of important generals were among the fallen. Those being C. Feger Jackson and George Bayard of the United States Army, as well asThomas R. R. Cobb and Maxey Gregg of the Confederate States Army. General Burnside was relieved of his commanding January of 1863.
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