|Original Stone Wall built by|
Confederate Soldiers to provide
cover at the Sunken Road
I hesitated to go to this National Park site. I typically avoid studying events where so many experienced violent deaths at the hands of others. This area is considered the "bloodiest landscape in America" where 85,000 were wounded and 15,000 killed, 1861-1865.
|Wall with bullet holes from|
Battle at Fredericksburg
Yet, when I can distance myself from that horrid reality, there is much of interest -- each side's passion, political thinking, military strategies, and the documented perceptions of the soldiers and civilians. To manage my time and emotions, and to do this visit justice to the enormous amount there is to learn, I choose to focus on the first battle of the 4, the Battle at Fredericksburg.
Confederate soldier giving water
to a wounded Union soldier
Although the battle took place on December 13, 1864 on a large open field outside of town, the killing actually began on December 11th in the town of Fredericksburg among its businesses, churches, and family homes. This is the first instance of urban warfare on US soil. The Union Army crossed the Rappahannock River onto the streets of Fredericksburg where Confederate Soldiers were hidden in buildings shooting and delaying the Union's arrival to the battlefield. This gave the Confederates more time to prepare for battle. I was fortunate to take a walking tour of the town of Fredericksburg with a NPS historian who shared some of the documented words from both the soldiers and civilians affected by the river crossing and urban warfare of the 11th ... both interesting and sobering.
|One "soldiers" camp at|
the Yankees at Falmouth event
I was also fortunate to have the timing of my visit coincide with a couple of activities that highlighted Civil War history. One was the Living Legacies "A Century Later" event featuring people dressed and acting as though in the Civil War era. I took tours of the Rising Sun Tavern, Dr. Mercer's Office & Apothecary, and the home of Mary Washington (the mother of George Washington).
The Battle at Fredericksburg ended with a resounding Confederate win -- 5,300 Confederate casualties, 12,600 Union dead, wounded or missing, 2/3 in front of the stone wall at the Sunken Road.
originally posted 10/22/10