Introduction - Battle of Fredericksburg
The American Civil War Battle of Fredericksburg was fought from December 11th through December 15th of 1862 in and around the town of Fredericksburg Virginia. The Union Army was led by General Ambrose Burnside whereas the Confederate Army was commanded by General Robert E. Lee. It was the most lopsided victory in terms of casualties during the American Civil War. Union deaths were approximately 1,284 with another 9,600 wounded; whereas Confederate deaths were about 608 with an additional 4,116 wounded. The battle of Fredericksburg was a perfect example of how the appointment of incompetent and poorly qualified Union Army commanders led to the useless loss of thousands of brave Northern soldiers during the American Civil War.
On this page you will find a list of interesting facts about this great battle including information about the numerous tactical mistakes made by Union General Ambrose Burnside. All of our Civil War facts are written in such a manner for both kids and adults to enjoy.
Battle of Fredericksburg Timeline
- On November 14th of 1862 the Union Army arrived in Falmouth across the Rappahannock River from the Confederates occupied town of Fredericksburg.
- The Union Army did not start its attack for several weeks after arriving across the river from the town. General Burnside waited for pontoons to arrive in order to build a pontoon bridge on which his army could cross the river.
- General Lee uses the Union delay to position the bulk of his army on the hills just west of Fredericksburg and prepare for the Union assault.
- On December 11th the Union Army finally sets up its pontoon bridge across the Rappahannock River. Confederate snipers harass the engineers as they deploy the bridge.
- On December 12th the Union Army crosses the pontoon bridge and attacks Confederate soldiers in the town of Fredericksburg.
- General Burnside launches several assaults on December 13th against the Confederate defensive positions on the hills just west of Fredericksburg (Marye's Heights and Prospect Hill).
- On December 14th there were minor skirmishes between the two armies.
- On December 15th the Union army retreats back across the Rappahannock River.
Battle of Fredericksburg Interesting Facts
- Many Union Army mistakes led to the overwhelming Confederate victory at this battle. The first mistake was the huge delay in getting the supplies needed to build the pontoon bridge across the river which allowed the Confederates ample time to prepare for the attack. This mistake was followed by General Burnside's horrible decision to attack the well entrenched Confederate positions just outside of Fredericksburg. Wave after wave of brave Union soldiers were mowed down as they repeatedly attacked the Confederates.
- Union casualties were more than double that of the Confederates.
- When the Union Army finally crossed over the Rappahannock River they became engaged in street to street and house to house fighting with Confederate soldiers who occupied the town. This was one of the first times in history that armies engaged in urban warfare.
- On the morning of December 14th, after the failed Union assaults on Marye's Heights, many wounded Union soldiers lied helpless on the battlefield. A confederate soldier, Richard Kirkland, at risk of being fired upon by Union soldiers repeatedly ventured out onto the battlefield. He brought the wounded Union and Confederate soldiers water and blankets for protection from the freezing cold temperature. He is referred to as the "The Angel of Marye's Heights".